Bears: endangered?

March 2, 2010 at 6:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

It has been observed that there are not many bear tanks, particularly in comparison to the ubiquitous warrior tank.  While paladins and death knight tanks are not as common as warriors, they too seem to outpace bears at least in quantity.  Today, I think I figured out why.

I have been leveling up a druid for a little while now.  She’s level 46 and finally got bear form today even though it becomes available at level 10.  The reason?  Bear form requires doing a dumb quest chain where I run around and wish I wasn’t questing.  It’s not a horrible experience, but it’s also very easy to forget to do these quests or to drop them from one’s quest log altogether.  Also, I don’t think I understood the quest.  I had to beat up a big boomchicken to become a bear.  I would have thought that to gain the power of the bear I would need to steal it in mortal combat from, say, a bear.

Anyhow, I dropped 1000g on dual spec and decided to give bear tanking a try.  While I understand that I was playing at a low level and, thus, lacked several abilities, bear tanking felt very limited and uninteresting.  It seems to be mostly Swipe spam.  Rage generation was problematic, too, meaning that I spent a lot of time standing around and getting hit.  Worst of all, bear charge (or whatever woodlands creature-inspired name it has) costs rage instead of awarding it!  It’s very backwards.

I’m very jealous of bears for the crazy damage they are able to manage in top raids, but I don’t know how long my grand bear experiment will last.  Being a bear does not feel very active or exciting.  Maybe they’re endangered for a reason.



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  1. My druid reached 80 a few weeks ago, and since I’ve been dual-spec as Boomkin and Bear. The combination is fantastic, and I think I prefer Bear tanking to DK tanking. Certainly some excellent aspects of Bears that are totally different from when I tank as a Pally or Death Knight.

    I respect your statement, but I plan to tank more as a Bear. I’ll go against the flow and gear-up as bear. If the druid class stays this much fun in Raids as it is in heroics, then I’ll consider switching to druid as main in the next expansion.


    • This is interesting to hear, TyphoonAndrew. What is it that attracts you to bear tanking? Are there certain abilities that, when they come off cooldown, you get excited to hit? Are there tricks to playing a bear that make you feel very clever when you manage to properly execute them? Basically, what makes it fun for you. Given my brief experience as a bear tank, it’s very possible that I’m missing a lot. I’m going to plug away at it a little longer, but my first experience left me wishing for the frenetic pace of tanking as a warrior.

  2. “While I understand that I was playing at a low level and, thus, lacked several abilities, bear tanking felt very limited and uninteresting. ”

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t really change.

    I tanked with my bear in TBC (up to Tempest Keep with my former raidgroup’s alt runs) and recently dusted her off again with the introduction of the new dungeon finder. You’re always going to feel lacking in abilities as a druid – because you’re used to playing a warrior, who has the biggest toybox when it comes to tanking. Bears have some nice utility like Rebirth, LotP and MotW, those are great things to bring but they are not specific to bear tanking.

    Bears are basically “prot warrior lite”; both are rage-based, both have directly equivalent threat skills (HS = Maul, Sunder = Lacerate, Swipe = Cleave, Mangle = Shield Slam, etc), but bears get a more limited selection. Also, bears have the worst tanking PoV in the game. The camera angle can sometimes go crazy trying to accomodate that huge furry butt. I remember this especially being a problem in Magister’s Terrace, with all those narrow passageways *shudders*

    The only tanking advantage I considered my druid to have over my warrior in TBC was Feral Charge, but that changed in WLK when warriors got Warbringer. So I agree with you, I don’t see as many bears as I do DKs or tankadins (both of which I have too, and both of which have more fun tools in their tank specs)

    Having said that, the MT of the cutting edge Alliance guild on my server is a bear, so…

    Stick with the levelling, because druids offer far more than a tanking spec. It’s really nice to have options to heal, melee dps, caster dps, or tank in one class. Makes bagspace a pain though!

  3. I levelled my druid so long ago, I don’t remember the details. I’m now playing him as resto/boomkin (since my DK is for tanking, and I’m not into the idea of having several tanks).

    I laughed at the killing a boomchicken for bear form, though. :)

  4. Although it’s not my place or desire to evangelise bear tanking, I’m having a lot of fun with it!
    At 80 your rotation will include Faerie Fire, Mangle, Maul, Lacerate (maintaining 5 stacks), and Swipe as a last priority (unless it’s trash). And managing the usual three tanking cooldowns etc.

    Feral Charge only costs 5 rage on a short 15 second cooldown and is a lot of fun imo. You can use Enrage to generate rage from zero, as well as a talent later that gives you rage when you shapeshift.

    Interestingly I’m at a similar ‘flat spot’ with my baby prot warrior, who is level 50. I’m just not enjoying it much. Rage starvation is also an issue, got him twinked a bit with five heirlooms and decent blues. I’ve taken a break from him for a while, and will go back to him. You may want to do a similar thing.

    I learned tanking on the druid, and haven’t had as much fun in the game for a long time! But that was learning a new role as well as a new class, so ymmv.

    I’ve never had an issue with the ‘tanking PoV’ referred to by Shadamehr above. I keep things fairly zoomed out to be able to see what’s going on around me.

    Although you don’t have as big a tanking toolbox as a warrior, that is to be expected. You’re the only class that can heal, melee dps, ranged dps as well as tank.
    The tanking tools you do have are perfectly adequate for the job. It’s not overly complex, sure, but it means you can have more cycles for situational awareness, planning the next pull, raid leading or tank team leading etc. Apart from the obvious – not standing in the Bad.

    For example, when multi-tanking encounters in icc25, and another tank has boss aggro or we’re in a phase transition, I’ll battle rez, buff and innervate a fallen comrade, go back to bear form and taunt. That’s about as useful as you can be to a raid.

    I suggest sticking with it, or taking a break and coming back to your bear later. Fun, and a playstyle that suits you is a personal thing. It’s possible that it will never ‘click’ for you.

    Personally, levelling my druid was a bit of a pain in the butt – but it’s a blast raiding with him now!

  5. Enjoying this blog and all the comments! I got myself a drood alt sitting at lvl 39 right now and been doing the Cat form for a while. Gets kinda boring to just dps (after tanking a prot warrior for 3 yrs) so I might give Bear a shot later. Will try boomkin when I hit 40 first.
    The fun thing about druids is what Chev mentions – the multitasking role of dps, tank and healer. I know you never can be good at more than one, but you can be very helpful to your group (and I guess raid) when certain “accidents” happen.

    Back to topic: I see a lot of bears on my server, more than DK tanks. And ususally really good players, in high end guilds. So, not on the endangered species list over here yet.
    Seems to me Bears hold aggro easier, and I have always envied them for the ridiculous amounts of hp they seem to have. Still, if it’s about spamming just one button it doesn’t sound very interesting to play.


  6. I have a level 48 druid that is feral spec’ed as well and I feel the same way as you do Lujanera. Decent rage generation does seem to be the problem for bear tanking and yes the abilities do seem limited compared to a warrior. Looking at the upcoming abilities in the spellbook and feral talent tree it does seem to get a bit better with higher levels. But I think it will always feel limited tanking as druid versus a warrior – you may hold aggro better as a bear but it seems like you have no real control over threat since you don’t have the threat-generating tools at your disposal like a warrior. That said, I do enjoy playing a druid just for the versatility. Using cat form to hunt down pesky rogues or stealthing up to healers in battlegrounds is a lot of fun.

  7. May I use this picture for my project?

    I need to get permission because of the copyright issue.
    I am using the picture as an animation for my school project. (PSA)
    It’s a contest and it will be in youtube for a short time.

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