Dragon Soul Bearcat Guide

December 26, 2011

Updated 2012-01-10: Updated recommended glyphs/spec. Add Wowhead links

1. Introduction

This guide is an updated version of my previous Hybrid Feral guide. Quite a bit has changed since that guide has been written, and this guide supersedes all the information from the previous guide, mainly in the Talents and Glyphs section. I’ve also added more information about stats, reforging, and boss strategies into the guide.

I’d like to thank the following people who have helped with making this guide possible: Mihir, Yawning, Reesi, Arielle and Leafkiller.

2. Why Hybrid Feral Bear-Cat?

There are several reasons to go Feral Bear Cat for the 4.3 Dragon Soul expansion.

  1. Mists of Pandaria has been announced, where Cats and Bears will have two separate trees, Feral (for Cat DPS) and Guardian (for Bear Tanking). Dragon Soul represents our last chance to make use of of a hybrid bear-cat tree before we lose it forever.
  2. Dragon Soul has been released, and several of the fights have been made bearcat friendly. This guide will go into some details for each fight in Dragon Soul.
  3. Some encounters in Dragon Soul and single tanked while others are double tanked. Being an expert bear-cat allows us easily switch between tanking and DPS roles as needed without needing to change much gear.
  4. Bear Druids are lacking in utility compared to the other tanks, especially when it comes to raid cooldowns. The 4T13 bonus fixes some of that but all the other tanks are also receiving similar 4T13 bonus. Our only real utility is being able to go into cat form and do DPS that is competitive with the average Damage Dealers in the raid. If we do not make use of this utility, we can be somewhat gimped compared to the other tanks.

3. Talents

This is the talent build that I recommend. However there are viable alternatives depending on your preferences and requirements.

Stampede was not recommended in the previous guide, but the first point is mandatory now to make the 4T13 bonus useful. The second point in Stampede is optional.

Blood in the Water was optional in the previous guide, but you will now want to have two points in it to make the 2T13 bonus useful.

Brutal Impact was optional in the previous guide, but is not recommended now because none of the bosses in Dragon Soul (and Fireland) require any interrupting.

Infected Wounds was optional in the previous guide, but is not recommended now because the talent points are needed elsewhere and other optional talents have become mandatory.

Feral Aggression was optional in the previous guide, and is still optional now. It does not give as much DPS per talent point as Stampede, so Stampede has priority, but you may be able to drop points in other talents for it.

Perseverance was mandatory in the previous guide, but it can be optional and removed if you need to push more DPS out of the build, if you feel that you have sufficient magical mitigation to not worry your healers.

Nurturing Instinct is very nice to have. There is probably not enough room for this talent, but if you are willing to give up some other talents for this, it is definitely worth getting.

Primal Madness is the worst of the Cat DPS talents that directly increases DPS, but if you must maximize your Cat DPS, you can probably find other talents to drop for this.

Leader of the Pack can be dropped if someone else in the raid is able to provide the buff.

4. Glyphs

Generally, the choice of Primary Glyphs should be:

If you are spending very little time in Bearform for the fight (e.g. Madness) it may be worth switching Glyph of Mangle out for Glyph of Bloodletting.

The Secondary Glyphs are mostly optional, and you will choose from

  • Glyph of Maul – You definitely want to have this for Madness, Yor’sajh and Blackhorn
  • Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration – This affects the 4T13 bonus, so it depends if your raid wants the glyphed or unglyphed version. I prefer it glyphed
  • Glyph of Faerie Fire – Makes pulling more convenient
  • Glyph of Rebirth – You’ll definitely want to have this if there aren’t many other Battle Rezzers in the raid
  • Glyph of Feral Charge – A theoretical Cat DPS gain on Patchwerk like fights (especially if you can Feral Charge from melee range), it probably doesn’t help on any of the fights in Dragon Soul.

5. Stats and Gear

5.1 Stat Priority

For primary stat, there is no doubt about it, you will definitely want to be stacking Agility instead of Stamina.

The secondary stats priority for Hybrid Bear-Cat roughly follows the pure Bear priority except that Dodge is dropped since it doesn’t help cat form. Therefore the stat priority is:

Mastery > Expertise (up to 781) = Critical Strike > Hit (up to 961) > Expertise (up to 1682) > Haste

If you are using Reforge Lite, the recommended Stat Weights setting is:
Hit = 30, Crit = 60, Haste = 10, Expertise = 60, Mastery = 120, Hit>961 = 0, Expertise>781 = 20, Expertise>1682 = 0

5.2 Gems

Your gems should almost all be Delicate. Use Adept and Shifting/Glinting gems if you need to complete your metagem requirements or socket bonus.

If you cannot afford to change Metagems in between progression fights, you should stick to using Agile Shadowspirit Diamond, which makes a bigger difference than Austere Shadowspirit Diamond (however you definitely want to be using Austere Shadowspirit Diamond against Heroic Blackhorn). Ideally, you will have 2 helms gemmed differently to switch between, or carry one stack each of each shadowspirit diamond.

5.3 Trinkets

Your trinkets should have Agility, or proc Agility. However, avoid trinkets that have Haste or proc Haste (e.g. The Hungerer).

5.4 Enchants

Helm: Arcanum of the Ramkahen
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal
Cloak: Enchant Cloak – Greater Critical Strike or Enchant Cloak – Major Agility
Chest: Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Bracers: Enchant Bracer – Agility or Draconic Embossment – Agility (for Leatherworkers Only)
Gloves: Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery
Legs: Dragonscale Leg Armor or Charscale Leg Armor
Boots: Enchant Boots – Major Agility
Rings: Enchant Ring – Agility (for Enchanters only)
Weapon: Enchant 2H Weapon – Mighty Agility

6. Boss Strategy

6.1 Morchok (Normal)

This depends on the raid’s strategy. This fight was designed to be 2 tanked (taunting off the stacks and soaking the double stomp), but is easily doable with one tank, since the debuff is a joke and any plate class or feinting rogue can soak the double stomp without problem. You can probably soak the double stomp in cat form too with just Thick Hide, but I won’t recommend doing that during the Enrage without Barkskin or Survival Instinct.

6.2 Morchok (Heroic)

You will pretty much only be DPSing the first 10% of the fight which will only last ~20 seconds, before tanking the remaining fight. Note that you probably do not have Infected Wounds, so try to get a Death Knight on the boss you are tanking.

6.3 Zon’ozz

The is a single tank fight. If you have a pure Cat spec, switch to that.

6.4 Yor’sahj

Another good encounter to use a Feral Bearcat. You can single-tank this encounter especially in 10-man, but having a second tank makes it a lot easier, and with a Bearcat you don’t lose much DPS switching from one tanking to two tanking. Two tanking this fight makes keeping the MT up easier especially if Purple Oozes are left up. If you have the Mirror of Broken Images, it may be a good idea to equip it to make Void Bolt soaking easier.

When the oozes reach the boss, you want to be in bear form to taunt the boss and soak the first 2-3 stacks of Void Bolt. If you are in a tough ooze combo (yellow-red, or yellow-red-black in heroic), you will want to blow Frenzied Regeneration if you have 4T13 when your Recently Shapeshifted debuff drops off. If Black Ooze is up, stay in bear form to do AE DPS with Thrash and Swipe spam – with max vengeance this does more DPS than going to cat form. Be careful of switching to catform too soon after being taunted off if Purple is up – the DoT will still ticking hard on you for 20 seconds.

6.5 Hagara

This is a single tank fight. If you have a pure Cat spec, switch to that.

6.6 Ultraxion

Theoretically in Normal mode, this fight can be single tanked. You will need a plate DPS class or even yourself to be second on aggro to absorb one melee hit from the boss while the MT phases out in the last second and taunts immediately after. You will probably need to start the fight in Bear form to receive Thrall’s buff allowing you to soak every other Hour of Twilight with Survival Instinct, before switching to catform.

More likely (and single tanking isn’t possible in Heroic mode) you will need to switch to Bear Form just before Fading Light is cast on the MT (so that you don’t both receive Fading Light), and taunt the boss after the MT receives it. Once you receive the second Fading Light and the MT taunts back the boss, you can return to Catform until just before the next Fading Light is cast. This theoretically allows you to be in catform for 28 seconds out of every 45 second cycle, and requires a LOT of concentration so as not to screw up the timings to switch to bear, soak the Hour of Twilight and to phase out of Hour of Twilight.

It may be preferable to play it safe and remain in bear form for the rest of the fight after you switch to bear for the first Fading Light. You should therefore blow your Berserk at the start of the fight (after receiving Thrall’s buff while in bear form, of course)

6.7 Blackhorn

This is a very physical fight that, especially in heroic mode, and may require you to switch to Stamina trinkets, if you do not have enough cooldowns to handle most of the Vengeance for the boss. You will have some time to switch to cat for some Cat DPS in between taunts on Phase 2, but don’t count on it making any significant differences. Personally I have no problem tanking this fight with agility trinkets and 2 healers, so the incoming physical damage may have been overstated.

6.8 Spine of Deathwing

It is possible to single-tank this fight, allowing you to stay in cat form. Chances are your raid will be using a seperate Amalgation tank and Blood tank. Ideally, you’ll want to be the Amalgation tank, allowing you to switch to cat form to attack the Burning Tendon once the Amalgation is dead while the MT tanks the leftover Bloods and any extra Amalgations.

Note that the Burning Tendons can be shredded from the front, but there is no need to use Glyph of Bloodletting – the Tendon won’t last long enough to make it useful. Try to get Savage Roar and Stampede up using a spare Blood for the CP and Feral Charge. Use Berserk if it is not on CD – generally this will be on the first and third tendon.

Bearcatting works great on Heroic Spine too. As in Normal mode, you want to be tanking the Amalgations while the other tank tanks the Bloods. You should use be able to use Berserk for the first lift of each Tendon. Also, get the Kiroptyric Sigil it should be usable for every lift and will be better than both the Vial and the Wrath.

The optimal reforge for this fight is Hit > Crit > Mastery > Haste > Expertise

6.9 Madness of Deathwing

Another fight with the Bearcat build shines. It is possible to single-tank this fight if your raid has enough DPS to kill the Corruption before the second Impale and enough external cooldowns to allow the tank to survive tanking two Elementium Terrors, but most raids will probable be two tanking this.

Most of the attackable targets in this encounter can be shredded from the front, except for the Blistering Tentacles. You’ll be spending most of the fight in cat form, so use Glyph of Bloodletting instead of Glyph of Mangle.

In Phase 1, you will only be tanking the Corruption for one Impale per platform. Either the first or the second, but arrange with your MT so that you get the most DPS time on the Corruption – If you take the first Impale, you’ll want the MT to taunt right after while you go back to cat form. If you take the second Impale, you taunt only just before it is cast. This is the recommended cooldown usage for each platform.

Platform 1: Use Dream + Barkskin
Platform 2: Use Survival Instinct + Barkskin
Platform 3: Use Barkskin + Guardian Spirit or Hand of Sacrifice or Pain Suppresion
Platform 4: Use Survival Instinct + Barkskin

In Phase 2, you will take a LOT of magical damage from Tetanus. If you get targetted by shrapnel, do NOT use Dream, simply go into bearform to survive it. You want to save Dream for the Tetanus. Barkskin and Frenzied Regeneration should be ready – use them when your Terror is at 60%, then use Dream when your Terror is almost dead. Your Terror should be the first to die, wait for your stacks to drop then taunt the other Terror off the MT. For the second set of Terrors you will have Barkskin, Survival Instinct and Dream ready. If you have the Mirror trinket, you will want to use it on this encounter.

Berserk can be used 5 times in this fight, each platform last a little under 3 minutes, so if you use it whenever it is on CD, it should be ready just before the Elementium Bolt spawns on the 4th platform.

So my first real blogpost back on Death Kitty was about Death Knight tanking in 3.1.  Back then I tanked on a DK, and continued to do so until the great “nerf to the ground” partway through Ulduar. 

It’s interesting to see that my writing style has remained largely unchanged over the years.

Alright, so I admit.  I kinda lost track of this thing.  I blame all of the work that had to go into generating 2 different sets of gear for Bears.  Plus I just kinda wanted to vegetate on Skyrim, and PvP.

Anyways, we’re back with Day 8!  10 things people don’t know about me >.<

1) I live with a girl.  Totally platonic though.
2) I have a weakness for top 40 music.
3) I think Deadmau5 is the sickest nerd baller alive.
4) I’m a college dropout.  I do want to get my degree someday though.
5) I actually love my job, and would definitely love to make a career out of it.
6) I can cook.  Pretty well actually.
7) I avoided gym class like the plague, but loved winter sports. 
8) I took part in a french exchange program in high school.
9) I got to meet Ron McLean once.
10) My celebrity crush is Ellen Page.

Yawning has updated Mew for 4.3. Download here. Changes here.

I have updated my Cat DPS Guide for 4.3 on the Official WoW Forums. I should probably put that guide on TIB too. Maybe something I’ll do in my spare time later. Answering some common questions:

My Bear Spreadsheet has also been updated for 4.3

  • 2T13 bonus is ~400 AEP worth of mitigation.
  • Previously, vengeance will decay by 5% if you dodge or the get missed on all the attacks on yourself for the 2 second window. This no longer happens. Since all the boss seem to have 1.8s attack speed (debuffed), vengeance should not decay unless the boss does spellcasting.
  • I neglected the DPS portion of the spreadsheet for 4.2, but it’s now updated with the correct coefficients. If you need absolute accuracy for Bear DPS, use Mew instead, but the spreadsheet shouldn’t be too far off.

My Restoration Spreadsheet has also been updated for 4.3

  • Glyph of Wild Growth while it has been nerfed, is still a nett gain of HPC, SHPS and BHPS as long as you hit 6 targets with Wild Growth.
  • The value of the 2005 Haste Breakpoint is ~450 IEP. This can be found by setting your Haste Rating to 2004 and reading off the IEP value of haste.
  • The current default profile is based on Beruthiel@Llane’s (as recommended by Lissanna) iLevel 388 pre-4.3 gearset.
  • The stat values from my spreadsheet shouldn’t be too far off from TreeCalc’s. However, note that if you look at TreeCalc’s HPS values without accounting for the “Time to OOM” you WILL overvalue Haste Rating (in between the Haste Breakpoints). The Sustainable HPS values from my spreadsheet takes into account both HPS and Time-to-OOM, and shows that Haste Rating is inferior to all the other secondary stats in between the Haste Breakpoints.
  • Interestingly enough, Critical Strike Rating is only slightly behind Mastery Rating, and will even match Mastery Rating for Tank Healing with 3/3 Living Seed. The main thing keeping Mastery Rating in front is that Efflorescence double-dips into Mastery.

Sorry boomkins, I don’t have anything for you except this.

I hope to go into theorycraft hibernation until MoP, but if you have any questions, feature requests or other feedback, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Well another patch cycle is upon us.  I left it pretty late this time (shame on me!) mostly because I was hoping for some sort of better idea of what the EH requirements will be like in Dragon Soul.  I made a fairly reliable estimate based on previous patches, and we’ll see how accurate it is.  Remember that I don’t raid until Thursdays, so I don’t want to hear any complaining if I suddenly change something between now and then.

And lets be honest, one lost raid week isn’t the end of the world and you’re probably better off anyway since Mists is a longggggggg way away.

Bear Changes

120% Armor Bonus for Bear form is now available at all levels, not just after level 40. 

This was done to help out low level Bear tanks and their inherent squishiness.  It’ll have a side effect of making Feral even more broken and overpowered in low level BGs, but nobody claimed the brackets before max level were balanced.  Good change overall though.

Bear Form Bonus Stamina increased to 20% from 10%. 

The stated reason for doing this is to help keep us in line with block-capping shield tanks.  I’d go on a diatribe about how we predicted this back before Cataclysm even launched, but I think that’s old news at this point.  At any rate it’s not so much a good change as a bandaid.  However the hope is that “Mists will fix it.”

Bears and LFR

I had previously stated on twitter that LFR was largely going to be a waste of time for Bears outside of tokens, since we pretty much couldn’t roll on anything.  Thankfully after an empassioned plea to Bashiok the developers added some “special Bear rules” to prevent us from being completely screwed.  Which means now going to LFR to get gear as a Bear is a good idea, especially for Normal Mode raiders.

Notes for Normal Mode Raiding

These notes are entirely based on simulations of 215k unmitigated damage.  There are some things I still want to look at (such as weapon and trinket comparisons), but I can’t do that without more raw data.

  • Get Kiril, Wrath of Unchaining, Resolve of Undying and 2pc T13 bonus ASAP.  Even the LFR versions.
  • You’ll have to farm a lot of VP in order to get all of your offset items :(
  • You’re going to be over the Exp softcap on normal mode unless you use offset pieces.
  • I’d honestly probably use the offset pants instead of the tier pants unless your raid needs the cooldown.  They’re a lot better.
  • The 403 PvP sets are perfectly viable until you get normal mode or higher PvE gear.  2pc is Gloves+Hat.  4pc is Gloves+Hat+Shoulders+Legs.
  • If you’re the first tank for your guild, you should be reforging to Dodge.  If you’re going to be using Cat form often (say as the 2nd tank), then you can use Exp/Crit/Mastery.

You can expect more information in the future as we get more and more accurate results from live servers.