View Full Forums : Sytaera's Bare Tank Guide (3.3.2)

03-05-2010, 10:22 PM
Syt's BARE TANK Guide


BARE IS 4 TANK! To be a bear is to embrace the ever loving idea of getting punched in the face endlessly for little reward. This guide is written with the understanding that you have a basic understanding of the skills and talents used by a bear.

Contrary to some skewed popular belief, having the same gear sets for kitty and bear tanking generally does not work. You can share a couple of pieces but overall it's important to figure this out early. The reason for this is mostly itemization priority. There is a wide ranged of leather gear that we find ourselves having to chose from. Despite Blizzard's half arsed 'let's put bear tanks in rogue gear and talent it to make it work' it still requires a bit of thought on picking pieces.

Pros of Bear Tanking: Crit immunity through talents and not having to worry about pesky defense rating. High Stam pools through bear form modifiers. Decent armor through bear form modifiers. Mild flexibility in gear choices. 4pt10.

Cons of Bear Tanking: Hunters, Other Tanks, Rogues and Cats will all want your gear. Threat is ridiculously gear dependent and AoE threat is mediocre. Limited utility in terms of skills and abilities.

Stat Breakdowns

Raw Stats

Stamina: Moar HP. The bread and butter of most any tank.

Agility: Your second raw stat to favor as a bear. Agility gives you dodge rating, critical strike rating (which in turn becomes like shield block rating because of Savage Defense), armor and attack power.

Mitigation Stats

Armor: Armor is hands down the best mitigation stat by far. Armor provides a flat percentage reduction of physical damage taken. 98% of raid bosses deal physical damage. Armor scales well because 65% damage reduced is pretty damned good whether the boss hits for 40k or 20k.

Dodge Rating: Used to be a great stat, but for Icecrown and the Chill of the Throne debuff, it's not as amazing anymore. A dodged attack will deal no damage, however stacking dodge can lead to putting yourself at the mercy of RNG gods and spike damage. 50% chance to dodge is good, but a bad rolls can mean you can get punched in the face 10x in a row still, even if you missed 5 in a row before. It makes for unhappy healers. As a note, because dodge is the only avoidance that a bear has, they have generally more of it than any other tank class. This being said, that means you should probably never, ever gem for dodge rating.

Dodge rating is subject to diminishing returns on value. This does not mean that after you dodge five hits you can't dodge again, like some people think. It means that the more dodge rating you have, the less each point does for you. Unlike most stats where it's a 1-1 linear growth, while you might get 1% of dodge per 10 dodge rating when you only have 100 dodge. When you have 200 dodge, you get like .5% of dodge per 10 dodge rating. Because druids have the most dodge rating, gemming for dodge is actually hurting you because we gain the least from dodge rating then any other tank.

Critical Strike: Savage Defense is our block mechanic which procs over critical strike and scales with attack power. Crit isn't bad but don't ever try to stack it for Savage Defense. Bear Shield isn't the most amazing thing ever, though it's handy and I don't hate it quite as much as I did when the concept was first released.

Threat Stats

Hit Rating: Hit Cap for bears is 263. Hit cap is important to keep in mind, but nothing you should obssess over. Don't gem for hit. Don't wear hit trinkets. You should try to pick up enough gear that you can reach hit cap because it helps your threat and your taunts. Keep in mind that Faeral Faerie Fire and Growl are spells though and can still miss even at 263 hit. If you're shy of hit cap and want to put in a hit/stam gem or get icewalker on your boots that's fine but straight hit gems are a waste of stats.

Expertise: Primal Precision gives us 10 expertise right off the bat. and that's not expertise rating, but expertise. Expertise is seriously one of the most retarded stats ever invented by Blizzard and confusing. 10 expertise is something like 150 expertise rating. To break it down easily. When you open up your character screen and click on melee, your expertise should be 26+. Expertise reduces the chance for enemies to dodge and parry your attacks. At 26 expertise (6.5% reduced chance), raid bosses will no longer dodge your attacks. Parry cap is like 55 expertise (14% reduced chance) and difficult to reach. Generally being between 26 and 55 is fine. There are very few bosses that parry thrash anymore so being parry capped isn't insanely important. Any boss where parry thrashing could kill you has had it disabled pretty much, however more expertise means less parries means more threat.

Haste: Honestly, haste is not really a prioritized stat to keep in mind for anything but it never hurts. Again, don't gem for it or enchant for it or anything but if it came down to picking a piece with haste vs Armor Pen, I would go for haste because haste lowers the GCD, along with faster auto attacks = moar threat.

How to Gear

There are two types of bear tanks I have encountered. The most usual kind is the STAM bear. Stam bears are bears who love stamina and embrace its existence in everything they gear for and gem for. Stam bears usually have extremely high HP pools making them fantastic punching bags. A stam bear generally floats around 60-65k hp raid buffed in ICC gear, though with the ICC buff it might be higher now. The threat of a stam bear though will scale poorly as stam bears don't usually think of much beyond 'STAM! MOAR STAM!'

The other type of bear I encounter is the agility loving, mitigation bear who remembers what it was like in BC to have 75% dodge rating and never get hit ever. This bear is slightly less favored, but can be quite succesful. However with Chill of the Throne, mitigation bears became armor bears versus dodge bears. I have seen some bears still try walk the way of dodge but I personally consider it swimming upstream in the river of Blizzard's oppressive river of bear hatred (I kid, really).

Well Syt, what kind of bear are you?

I personally call myself a Buddha Bear, which means I follow the middle path. I believe in having a healthy stam pool but also keeping in mind threat, mitigation and other stats important to tanking.

Well isn't that kind of saying you do everything half assed?

Probably, but I stand by my ways so you can either follow one of the paths above or if you think I suck, don't read my guide. =P

Skills, Rotations, The Like


Unlike some tanks, bears don't have too many skills. Your bread and butter of threat will be maul. Some bears like to macro maul to everything since it's a modifier to your auto attack and not on the GCD. I don't really like to do this because I'm stubborn and also there are times where I don't like to maul if I actually happen to be going rage starved. However, I hear many people have great success macroing maul.

The general creed of single target threat is the following 'rotation':

FFF -> Mangle -> Lacerate x 5 (maul all the time)

After your lacerate is at five stacks you should only lacerate to refresh the stacks and swipe in between hitting mangle off CD and FFF off CD.

For AE threat, there are a few ways to tackle it but it generally involves spamming swipe and tabbing around for mauls/mangle. Some druids still like to tab lacerate but I find on 3+ mobs it's more efficient to just use that GCD on swipe and tab around to spread the maul love. Mangle if you're about to lose threat on a mob.

Demoralizing Roar ( You should try to keep this up unless you have a warrior tank keeping up demo shout or a Ret Paladin with Vindication or some warlock actually applying Curse of Weakness. Generally we run a ret paladin so I happily ignore demo roar's existence.

Enrage ( The armor reduction is not the most horrid thing ever, but I tend to avoid using this during raid boss fights (unless you have 4pt10 and see below) just because of the scaling reduction of armor. I like to time boss pulls though based on my enrage. So 10 seconds before the fight starts, I'll enrage so I have ~30-40 rage to start off with.

Oh Crap Situations

Survival Instincts: ( Bear version of Last Stand.

Frenzied Regeneration: ( Actually worthwhile since they improved it to scale with HP. Because of this, it's best when used with Survival Instincts or an HP improvement trinket (Juggernaught's Vitality or Battlemaster) because you'll get healed for more. Glyphing Frenzied Regen makes this an even better oh crap tool.

Barkskin: ( 20% damage reduction every 60 seconds is very nice. Also if you have 4pt9, it's every 50 seconds which is nicer. It's also our only skill that reduces spell damage.

Enrage ( 4 piece Tier 10 Set Bonus): 4pt10 has gone down in druid history as the BEST tanking set bonus ever. If you have 4pt10 then enrage no longer reduces your armor AND reduces all damage taken by 12% for its duration (10 seconds). So combined with barskin that's 32% reduced damage every minute. That's a fairly awesome tool and means that every serious druid tank should work hard at getting 4pt10 versus picking up the other frost badge gear for instant gratification.


Base Talents (

This is a list of most of the core talents you need as a bear. As in must have stuff. The only thing to ignore really is Feral Instincts which is not uber mandatory but I had to put the point in to get the talent tree to go down.

I am not going to talk about any of the talents listed in the tree I linked. I am instead going to talk about the other talents because they are the optional ones. If you're not interested in reading about the breakdowns, I am linking the most cookie cutter spec that makes up most bears I see: Cookie Cutter (

You can use that if you'd like. It's a good solid base. I personally use slight variations. Anyway, onto explanations! I'm starting in the feral tree:

Tier 1:

Feral Aggression: ( Increased attack power reduction from your demo roar isn't bad, but is it worth the 5 talent points? Probably not. It'd be easier if you had a prot warrior spec into Improved Demo Shout or a Ret paladin with Vindication. Overall I don't consider Demo Roar such a key talent to make it worth going 5/5 FA over the reduced cost of skills.

Tier 2:

Feral Instinct ( At first glance the reduced chance to prowl makes it seem like a PvP talent, however it also increases the damage done to swipe, which in turn increases the amount of AE threat you can do. If you're not worried about AE threat you can skip this, but I prefer to take it personally, because 30% increased damage is pretty good.

Tier 3:

Should be fully filled out.

Tier 4:

Shredding Attacks ( The reduced cost of lacerate isn't really worth picking up this talent. However, if you off tank a lot and go kitty during fights, it might be worth picking this up though. Otherwise not being able to shred just kills any kitty potential.

I'm also going to quickly go over Primal Fury ( ( They're worth it. Some people say they don't have problems with rage so don't go for Primal Fury but really, it's worth the extra rage. I still go rage starved at times and it's pretty great. If nothing else Primal Precision is a must have. 10 expertise is huge.

Tier 5:

Feral Charge ( Not getting this will hurt you more than getting it. It may sound like you don't need a charge but the utility it gives you and the ability to jet across the room during combat to get mobs on the other side is well worth it.

Nurturing Instinct ( The increased healing done is for cat form only (a common mistake). It's not worth getting this as a tank talent. Even for off healing, how often do you get to do that as a tank?

Brutal Impact ( A debate on taking this. A lot of people see this as purely a PvP talent because of the increased stun duration. Back in BC, this was a pure PvP talent. However in Wrath this talent was modified so that bash actually interrupts spell casters on stun immune mobs (I.E: raid bosses). As a bear, you're very liable to caster damage and if your DPS are bad at catching interrupts, it might be worth picking up. It's also good for trash especially. I personally take it but it's use is debateable.

Tier 6:

Should be fully filled. Seriously.

Tier 7:

Primal Tenacity ( Not really worth it. The reduced damage while stunned is in cat form only now since like Patch 3.1 or something. Reduced fear isn't worth the talent points.

Tier 8:

Predatory Instincts ( The reduced AE damage is for cat form only. Worthless to bears in general.

Infected Wounds ( Reduced attack speed on bosses equals mitigation. If you have a prot warrior keeping up thunder clap though or a DK with Icy Touch, it's not worth it.

Tier 9:

King of the Jungle ( A questionably useful talent! The 15% increased damage for 10 seconds sounds okay, but it's only once every minute. Again if you off tank and go kitty halfway through fights a lot, it's not a bad talent to have. Mitigation wise and usefulness wise for pure tanking? Not the greatest. If you don't have 4pt10, you're usually not enraging during raid fights anyway.

Improved Mangle ( A decent talent though maybe not worth a full 3/3. I generally go for 2/3 for the second off. A half second isn't really worth the talent point that could go elsewhere.

Tier 10:

Rend and Tear ( 20% increased maul damage on bleeding targets is huge. Some people consider this a DPS talent but it's a great threat talent and is well worth the 5 talent points.

Primal Gore ( Another talent considered DPS but it's actually great for threat as well for a single talent point. The extra point from Improved Mangle could easily go here as lacerate is a good chunk of your threat on bosses.

Resto Tree

Tier 1:

Improved Mark of the Wild: ( A lot of old school ferals pass this up because apparently they missed when it was changed to a 2% stat increase. 2 talent points for 2% stat increase is definitely worth it.

Furor ( The ever loving debate on whether or not 3/5 Furor or 5/5 furor. For Cat DPS, 3/5 Furor is fine. For Bear tanking, 5/5 furor is preferred. Because basically when you shift into bear you always want to have that 10 rage available. My opinion at least.

Tier 2:

Naturalist ( This is a great talent to pick up. 10% increased damage in all forms is good. You can go 3/5 or 5/5. It's a good talent.

Natural Shapeshifter ( Three points are necessary even if you don't need it if you're interested in Master Shapeshifter.

Tier 3:

Intensity: ( If you're specced 5/5 Furor, then intensity feels like a massive waste of talent points. The rage it generates isn't the best though it can be useful.

Omen of Clarity ( The use of this for tanking is limited. You can easily pass up this talent if you want, but again if you ever kitty off you might want to pick this up. Also free attacks are never a bad thing.

Master Shapeshifter ( 2/2 gives you a 4% damage increase. Honestly if given a choice 5/5 Naturalist is a better investment. So if you have to choose 10% > 4%, but if you want to pick up both, that would be a good threat increase too.



Maul ( Essential for AE tanking. Useless for raid bosses, annoying especially for Saurfang because you have to very closely watch the blood beast spawns so you don't accidentally get aggro on them.

Growl ( If you're under hit capped and the fight is very dependent on tank swaps, I would keep a stack of these around to make sure you hit. Remember even if you're 263 hit, spell hit is 17% so you can still miss your taunts.

Survival Instincts ( A favorite amongst stam stacking druids. Who doesn't like to see themselves with 80k+ hp. It's a good glyph and more stamina never hurts in Oh Crap Situations.

Frenzied Regeneration ( A great glyph. Who doesn't need extra healing when you're popping FR. It's one of my favorites.

Beserk ( Okay for threat but not really worth it over the others.


Helm: Arcanum of the Stalwart Defender (

Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe ( | Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle ( | Greater Inscription of the Gladiator (

*Personally I use Axe only because AP and Crit I feel is better than the 20 dodge and 15 defense. See what I said about DR for dodge. There's debate about this since defense rating increases all avoidance stats but I've always gone with Axe. If you're more concerned about avoidance, go Pinnacle. If you like stam, go Gladiator.

Chest: Powerful Stats ( | Super Health (

I honestly think that +10 to all stats is way better than 275 extra HP in the general scheme of things.

Gloves: Major Agility ( | Precision ( | Heavy Borean Armor Kit ( | Expertise (

Major Agility I feel is the best, or if you're a stam stacker, a borean armor kit. Precision is good if you're in need of hit. Expertise is really horrible and I wouldn't bother unless you're like under dodge cap and the 15 rating will put you over, but the value is so low it probably won't.

Legs: Frosthide Leg Armor (

Feet: Superior Agility ( | Tuskarr's Vitality ( | Icewalker ( | Greater Vitality (

Personally, I go for the Superior Agility. Tuskarr's is 15 stamina but the run speed increase I don't feel is valid. There are few times you need to move or run as a tank that doesn't give you the time to shift to cat form. Most everyone should have 2/2 Feral Swiftness which is 30% increased run speed in cat form. Icewalker is good if you need the hit still. Greater Vitality is fine for stamina as well.

Weapon: Mongoose ( | Major Agility ( | Massacre (

Mongoose is pretty much the best you'll get. Some people prefer the set 35 Agility from Major Agility, but the uptime of mongoose is around 60-75% I feel, or at least over 50%. Massacre is mediocre at best. It's 110 AP which can be argued is turned into Savage Defense mitigation but it's not nearly as good as mongoose.


Meta: Austere Earthsiege ( | Relentless Earthsiege ( | Effulgent Skyflare (

Austere is the best choice. 32 Stam and 2% increased armor is pretty much the absolute best choice. The other two I listed are ones that I get asked about. Relentless is...I guess a decent choice for the agility but it's hard to beat Austere. If you absolutely have to share your DPS helm with your tanking helm then Relentless is the best choice. Effulgent isn't even worth it. The 2% reduced spellpower isn't going to help you on a good 75% of raid bosses.

If you're going for socket bonuses:

Red Sockets: Delicate (

Blue Sockets: Solid (

Yellow: Enduring ( | Deadly (

Enduring is said to be the best for yellow bonuses for mitigation. Deadly is fine otherwise. I personally prefer deadlies but I rarely actually use hybrid gems.

How to Gem:

Honestly if it's not 6 or more agility or stamina, I wouldn't bother worrying about socket bonuses. Most socket bonuses aren't really worth it and if you're going to try and get one, use a Nightmare's Tear ( Make sure you're getting the best set bonus possible out of your Nightmare's Tear too.

Other than that, for the most part, most tanks gem pure stamina. It's probably the best bet. I use about 75% stam gems and the rest are pure agility aside from my Nightmare's Tear. If you have red sockets, look at the bonus and decide whether it's a good enough bonus to put a red gem. Otherwise, most tanks go for pure stam. If you feel you have a very solid HP pool, you can swap some over to agility. Or if you don't want to go pure agility, use a Shifting Dreadstone (

Why do I not gem for Expertise/Dodge?: Because the value you get is so low. It's not a solid 20 expertise or 20% dodge from them. It's expertise rating and dodge. A gem of expertise nets you maybe 1 point of expertise. It's honestly wasted stats and it's better to gear for it through armor itemization then waste sockets gemming for it.

And that ends the wall of text. Any questions or if I made any mistakes, please feel free to yell at me.

03-06-2010, 06:18 AM
I get down on my knees and worship at the feet of Sytaera

brilliant, with 35% of level 79 to go before i spec as bear this arrived just in the nick of time!!!

thanx very much.


03-12-2010, 04:13 PM!
This is, by far, the most practical and simple bear guide I've seen. =)