The idea of Bear “utility” is an incredibly sore subject for a lot of people (yay controversy!), because when you get right down to it there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot we have. We don’t have fancypants buttons to push for every situation while tanking. The spells we have that are useful to the raid require us to leave Bear Form. We don’t have really good self healing (who needs it? Those silly DKs get absolutely trucked if they’re not being played by a robot), and we don’t have any kind of raid cooldown outside of a short sprint with a tiny range (Hey… hey. I like that spell and use it all the damn time when I’m tanking, thank you very much).


A lot of people look at tank utility as something that has to be done while tanking.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  If you can’t be uber while tanking, then what good are you?  I personally feel that’s a load of bollocks(am I allowed to say that without being British?).  Okay sure… You look cool charging around all over the place, stunning mobs, or finishing off a boss when the healer and DPS have died.  Fine.  We have the short end of the stick for Heroics utility and that makes people angry.


Let’s reign in the self pity, here(because I am way too lighthearted for that nonsense).  Heroics are not the only facet of level 85 gameplay.  I am a raiding Feral.  Plain and simple.  I speak about Bears with raiding in mind.  And aside from the casualist of casuals(or rarely played alts), raiding is where a lot of tanks want to end up.  What we lack in Heroics utility, we make up for by kicking ass in Raids.  We have raid utility.  But here’s the deal, it’s not what everyone wants it to be.


Alright, so if it’s not some super cool button, then what is it?



(Told you it’s not what you wanted it to be)

How is more DPS considered Utility?  Reesi, you be crazy.  Well that I won’t deny.  If I ever remember to push record before a podcast starts, I’m sure Arielle would delight in blackmailing me with some of the random crap I say and do.  But seriously here, a Feral Druid’s ability to DPS is most certainly utility.  We are the DPS tanks.  We use DPS gear, we gem a DPS stat, we use DPS trinkets.  The only that isn’t centered around DPS is our reforging and some of our enchanting choices.


We are capable of doing very good DPS while tanking.  It’s also dependent upon your RNG with missed hits, crits, how long you’re on the boss for, and how much average vengeance you have during the fight.  But here’s the thing, this extra DPS is not something we can do while tanking.  The real DPS starts when there’s a tank swap and we can go to Cat and tear is up.  That’s why so many people, and not just druids, have a problem with this kind of utility.  It isn’t a massive self heal, or raid-saving cooldown.  It’s extra DPS which just equates to seconds shaved off the kill time.  It doesn’t provide tangible results for anything that’s stressing the raid right then and there, and often times is just something to gloat about.  And to be quite honest, it doesn’t feel very Tanky.


To which I reply:  So freaking what?


Feral Tanks are the only tanks that are able to have high DPS when not tanking.  All other tanks lose Vengeance (except smart warriors, but Vengeance gained from Vigilance isn’t much) during swaps and with it, their DPS.  If a Bear chooses to do nothing but stay in Bear Form for the entirety of a fight, that’s his choice.  But he is definitely not maximizing his potential as a feral.


Well blah, blah, it’s not a tank’s job to carry bad DPS or to care about it.  It’s not really about carrying DPS.  But you should care about what you’re doing when not tanking because if you’re not tanking for a period of time there is no reason NOT to be DPSing in Cat and trying to maximize that.  Being a Feral Tank is not about being a Bear ALL the time.  It just isn’t.  Druids were built with the ability to be hybrids.  The only tree to retain that original hypothesis from Vanilla to some degree is Feral, so what’s the harm in making use of it?


Not convinced yet?


Over half the boss fights in Tier 11 allow Cat DPS.  Argolath(Okay, he might not count because he’s loleasy), Al’akir(depends on strat in P1 and P2, but definitely in P3), Magmaw, Chimaeron (if you’re pro), Nefarian(again, depends on strat/raid size), Halfus, Twin Dragons(heroic only), Ascendant Council and Cho’gall all present the opportunity to throw more DPS into the fight by going into Cat Form.  That’s a significant amount of fights.


But why would you want to?  Why is more DPS utility?  Simple: It kills the boss faster.  If you have ever done any kind of progression, hardcore or not, you can appreciate high DPS and getting that boss dead.  And even if you haven’t, you most certainly have been in a pug or raid where the DPS just plain sucked(Did you know Anub’rekhan in Naxx2.0 has an enrage timer?).  In addition to being phenomenal single target tanks, we help our raid kill a boss better than any other tank.  DPS Check with tank swaps?  Bring a Feral tank.


I’ll even throw in an example or two:  Heroic Ascendant Council is probably the most frustrating Heroic I have ever tanked.  Phase 1 was okay, Phase 2 made you want to choke something, and Phase 3 could go south very quickly and has one of the tightest DPS checks I have seen in a while.  We were getting 1-5% wipes constantly(when we made it to p3, that is).  The next raid night I adopted a hybrid build and was doing significant damage to the Monstrosity.  More than even some of the real DPS, and all I had to do was Shred (more to it than that, but you know).  We eventually killed it that night, and I don’t think we could have when we did if I was not going beyond “just a tank”.


Example two:  I was not part of our first Heroic Cho’gall kill.  This for 2 reasons: I didn’t have Divine Guardian, and I didn’t have Heroic Leap to handle the Adherent placement.  Fine.  Progression is progression.  I understand the need for custom made comps, even if I’m not included.  The next week back was the repeat kill, which is just as important as the first.   You typically bring the same composition if you can help it, and it’s pretty important to keep the same tanks.  Our Warrior started having internet blackouts, so they brought me in and made a tweak to the Adherent strategy so our Paladin could tank them and position well for the AoE.

I used the same hybrid spec and DPS’d when the paladin was tanking Cho’gall(“Reesi, fucking taunt.” I NEED MY RIP UP DAS, GOD).  Not only are Rip and Rake awesome for tank swaps (90k TPS, sup?), but I had the GM wonder why we were beating the DPS timer for the P2 transition with the same DPS comp.  The same transition they used Heroism in order to even get to it quick enough.  14k sustained DPS on Cho’gall from the tank might have had something to do with it… Opposed to the, what… 7k? 8k? a non-feral tank does with zero vengeance.  The raid could use Heroism to get through P2 faster for the kill now, not to get to the transition faster. 

That has a tangible benefit and is extremely useful.  And that is my utility to my raid(aside from being an uber tank in general ;) ).


Even if your raid has no problems meeting the DPS checks, there is still no reason for you to frump around in Bear Form when you aren’t tanking anything.  Okay, there is one, but that involves the other tank dying and you having immediate aggro and going splat before you notice in time to shift(I blame Das).  If it’s something you’ve never done, then do it. At the very least, give it a try.  One of the biggest things that drew me into Bear tanking was their ability to have high damage while tanking.  It made the other tanks cry(why can’t WE do that damage, qq!).  And now we can do high damage while both tanking and not tanking.  (Whee 19k on Magmaw in tank gear – I coulda done better!)


Don’t take your spec for granted.  There’s much more to being a good tank than just letting the boss hit you in the face.  Using everything you have available to you makes you a good tank.  The reason some warriors are considered amazing?  They use everything at their disposal whenever they can.  The same goes for Paladins and DKs.  For Druids, using everything involves using Cat Form.  You’d only be hurting yourself by ignoring it as a possibility just because it doesn’t involve tanking.


  • Dasmaul says:


  • seriallos says:

    Yay tank DPS! Once I figure out the mechanics of a fight I start pushing to see how much DPS I can do (I’ve made a few high ranking records on WOL: On farm fights where I get a decent amount of time as cat, I’ll even glyph cat glyphs (usually Rip and Shred – on a fight like Chimaeron the Mangle and Lacerate glyphs are all but useless).

    In addition, given that agility trinkets are pretty damn good for bears, there’s no reason not to use them unless you really need the additional stam or on-use effect (aka the Mirror trinket for resist cooldowns).

    As long as you’re not putting the raid in danger by being in cat form and DPSing your heart out, it really is one of the best ways to use the common “non-tank” time on fights.

  • Tass says:

    Okay… This is a fantastic post! Very helpful!

    But, could you clarify for me (can’t get in game atm to futz with it) the conditions under which vengeance drops?

    My understanding is:
    - Can shift from bear to caster (say, to brez) and back to bear without losing vengeance.
    - A shift from bear to cat drops vengeance, and I’d be shifting back to bear without any vengeance.

    Is that correct?

    I’m absolutely going to start looking for conditions under which I can do this more frequently! Thanks!

  • Alaron says:

    I discussed this very issue (well, coming from a cat perspective) in my latest column on WoW Insider:

    The issue this raises, though, is one of assignments from a minmax perspective. Since bears are clearly the best DPS when non-tanking, does that mean the bear always gets the OT job? (Personally, I was fine with it, but a surprising number of people told me that they had fought for a long time in their guild to land the MT role, and they didn’t want anything to compromise that.)

    • Reesi says:

      I think if you prove yourself to be one of the main tanks for your guild(and I think the title MT is too archaic for current raiding, but that’s another thing), it’s not really going to hurt you to find times to push out extra DPS like that. It’s a human perception issue, I think, more than it is a class concern. Even if we don’t go cat to squeeze out the extra DPS, we are still excellent tanks. An “MT” should be an “MT” no matter what else they are capable of doing in the meantime. You keep a good tank. You don’t shove him/her to the side because of the available DPS.

  • Sunnier says:

    It’s great to hear this from another bear. I recently blogged about a similar topic, but to be honest it’s a huge concern of mine. Even if the extra dps is totally worth it, I somehow doubt raid leaders will see it that way.
    Besides that, these days I always run with a hybrid spec (picking up King of the Jungle, swapping Berserk glyph for Rip glyph, etc) because there are so many opportunities to dps and it’s a lot of fun to embarrass both the plate tanks and the full time dps. :P

  • Fasc says:

    Nicely done Reesi.

    I’ll take the utility of Cat damage on the vast majority of fights where we can use it over the “utility” that some other Tanks bring, but can seldom use. Maybe some of the trolls will be happy if they gave us something like:

    Head Chomp
    30 Rage
    1 min CD

    The victim’s head and face are smothered in one large, monstrous bite. Target is silenced for 5 seconds while they attempt to dislodge themselves from the bear’s mouth.

    Then the Devs can make sure that not a SINGLE Boss can be afflicted by the ability, but some 5man mobs and some raid trash can be. We’ll have oodles of utility then!!

    Good post :P

  • Findalas says:

    You make an interesting point about Tanks mainly wanting raid action and not the casual experience of the “Heroics only crawl to your first VP item”.

    In WotLK I was feral Main Tank up until my real life schedule cut me off from playing entirely. I loved it so much, I would whine up a storm when asked to off-heal (my secondary spec). There was a lot to brag about with feral tanking back then – large health pools, insane dodge rates, etc and for me at least the rotation was fun and we had no problems with the spectrum of available content.

    So when I got back into WoW a few weeks after Cata launched I was horribly disappointed in the state of feral tanking. I specced dps and leveled quickly to 85, fully intending on going Tank to tackle Heroic content since I knew my raiding availability was going to close to nil. But like you said, feral tanking utility in Heroics was and is crap (I don’t really know how much the shortened swipe cooldown will help that as more and more groups faceroll AOE tank heroics. A little help – a lot late). In the hundreds of heroic randoms I’ve run (yes, hundreds) I’ve come across ONE bear tank. And he sucked. Not as a player per se, but as a tank in Heroic Throne of the Tides no less.

    I have no interest in going back to tanking. Granted, I’ve only been on two BoT raids up to Ascendant Council and the majority of my play time is Heroics and hunting down rare Achievements, it sucks that there is no room to enjoy tanking as a feral at this level of content. Perhaps this is balanced out by my considerably sick feral DPS, but standing just under the ass of most bosses is just not the same as face mauling them from the front. Blizzard has done such a great job evening the playing field for the three roles (dps, tank, heals) across the classes, it seems like they forgot about feral tanking and just made it “good enough”.

  • Furzee says:

    You are exactly right! I am GM, raid leader, and the lead bear tank in my semi-hardcore guild. Some people look at me funny when I pop cat form every chance I get, but it really does make a difference. I especially make good use of it on Magmaw, Cho’gall, and Halfus. I wish I could go kitty on fights like Ascendant Council as well, but the DPS like my berserk so they can go nuts with no worries.

    In my opinion, being a RAIDER means much more than being a tank. Being a raider means you do every last thing you can to benefit the raid as a whole, and not your specific niche in it. That means, as a bear tank, you should be popping anything and everything you have for any given situation, even if it is very situational (Stampeding Roar to get my fail melee DPS away from blood on Cho’gall, for instance). It not only benefits the raid immensely, but it makes you feel that much more cool too – like you are making a difference!

  • mackejn says:

    Any chance you can do a post giving some more detail about how you did that? I’m only at ilevel 355, but I’m not blowing away the competition on dps unless I’m swapping specs/glyphs/gear. I end up dpsing a lot for my 10 man, but I’d like to be able to pump out more without having to swap everything around.

    • Reesi says:

      My post is basically forcing Tangedyn to finish his hybrid guide he had in our drafts. (And I knew it would. I’m evil)

      He should hopefully have it available soon. In the meantime, you can look at his or my armory, as I stole the spec from him.

  • mackejn says:

    Awesome. I feel like a moron. I keep hearing from people tearing it up and I’m just doing something wrong. Thanks for all the work you guys do.

  • Wildpaw says:

    I could be better about using cat form, but my god do I love /dancing and jumping up and down like a loon in bear. :D

  • Aldamarth says:

    It’s bollocks, bullocks means something slight different. =P

  • Goodmongo says:

    In a vacum this may sound all nice and good, but unfortunately we don’t live or raid in one. For 25 man normal modes bears are third in DPS and this does include the cat dps. My source BTW is world of logs and stateodps.

    For heroic 25 man mode which has much better druid players a bear/cat dps is second overall and about 8 or 9% behind prot warriors. So why not use a prot warriors who have higher dps and better utility?

    Bottom line is this sounds like trying to be happy with the scraps that fall off of blizzard’s table when we should be arguing for a full seat at that table.

  • Sylani says:

    “You look cool charging around all over the place, stunning mobs, or finishing off a boss when the healer and DPS have died”

    This reminded me of last weeks twilight council kill :)

  • Rinaya says:

    So I’m not the only one who noticed this. I’m glad. :)

    Since we started doing Cho’gall I found I could do reasonable damage whenever my DK buddy is doing his share of the tanking. I changed my spec to a hybrid spec and voila – Cho’gall went down, not just because we improved on execution, but there was also one less wave of blood adds…

    I definitely love THAT utility ;)

  • Laurind says:

    Please explain the Chimaeron kitty part :S
    the other night I was geting spitted, and for that smacked in the face and dead :(
    seems like I’m no pro… (ok, this I knew)

    • Tangedyn says:

      Hmm… if you are in cat form and standing separate from everyone else, and you are not supposed to be tanking, then it’s probably a healing issue if you died to Caustic Slime.

      Chimaeron is pretty simple, you go into Cat Form whenever you are not tanking. With my raid I start off as Cat all the way through the first Feud and perhaps for 5-10 more seconds after the end of the first Feud phase, before switching to Bear Form to get ready to taunt off a Double Attack. After which I stay in Bear Form until the end of the next Feud phase.

      Oh… I think I see your problem. You can only really Hybrid against the Heroic version of Chimaeron. Probably not a good idea against the Normal version.

    • Laurind says:

      oh yes, i forgot heroic :P
      not on heroics yet :S
      it was bad timing with caustic and double attacks, i just stayed in bear… how boring was that :S

  • blackmatt says:

    reminds me of how i earned my raid spot in bc. good times.

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