Last week, I promised I'd take a look at individual articles' popularity after the "Why (or why not) to play a druid" series finished, and here it is. In order of most to least popular:
- Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a worgen druid
- Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a night elf druid
- Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a tauren druid
- Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a troll druid
I wrote a lot of today's article because I'm lazy as sin and wanted a quick reference guide available. Past the cut you'll find information for bear and cat druids on hit caps, reputation grinds, the numbers you should have before stepping into heroics, reforging, and a host of other things that would otherwise have required me to get off my butt and Google something. Resto players, I haven't forgotten about you! Your version will go live later this week.
By the way, the above video is a quick look at healing one of the earliest pulls in heroic Grim Batol. I was sorting through my beta videos and realized I'd forgotten to upload it for the worgen lore article.
I encountered bear tanks just as infrequently on the Cataclysm beta as I did on the Wrath of the Lich King beta, so I'll be watching feral numbers as the expansion kicks into high gear. When things settle down a bit, I'll be revisiting the 101 guides for all three specs covered in the Tuesday column (bears, cats, and restoration). This is just a quick guide to get you through leveling and dungeons on your way to level 85.
- A feral guide to Cataclysm pre-raid progression A guide written by Kintourn at Elitist Jerks; covers leveling zones, reputation factions, and a brief look at useful gear.
- The Fluid Druid's feral 80-85 feral leveling guide Alaron wrote this with more of an eye toward cats than bears (see our cat section, below), but you'll find extremely useful information here nonetheless.
- Profession bonuses at 85 This is from a new blog called The Inconspicuous Bear that's really impressed me; a great read, though apparently leatherworking's returned to its unfortunate (and somewhat /headdesk-inducing) supremacy over everything else in the game, courtesy of no worthwhile wrist enchants. The author is also apparently the player behind the excellent Ah! Bears! Cataclysm Tanking thread on the forums.
- ThinkTank's bear FAQ for patch 4.0.1 and Cataclysm Some of the information Kalon posted is slightly outdated after the recent bear nerf, but the vast majority is still accurate.
Expertise cap at 85 As always, try to reach the soft cap (26 expertise or 781 rating). Any expertise beyond that until 56 is nice but not absolutely necessary. At level 85, this is 780.7072 rating for 26 expertise and 1681.5232 rating for 56 expertise. Beyond 56, you will gain nothing from expertise, although the odds of actually reaching the hard cap are basically zero anyway. As with hit, don't bother gemming or reforging it, but do prioritize an +expertise piece over one without it.
For leveling purposes, I plan on maxing out Nurturing Instinct and possibly Predatory Strikes. Mob damage in Cataclysm leveling zones is very high, and you'll be popping out to heal a lot. The points you'll need to free up for one or both can probably be stolen most easily from Feral Aggression and/or Endless Carnage.
How should I glyph? Bears don't have a lot of compelling glyph choices, but at least that makes this easy:
- Prime Glyph of Lacerate, Glyph of Mangle, and Glyph of Berserk are the only prime glyphs that have any effect on bears. The Lacerate glyph isn't as good as it used to be, given the recent bear nerfs, as bleed ticks no longer proc Savage Defense (a change that still makes me uneasy).
- Major Of the major glyphs, only Glyph of Maul is mandatory, and even that's only mandatory for multi-mob tanking. After that, Glyph of Faerie Fire and Glyph of Feral Charge will make your life easier but aren't really game-changers. I am not a huge fan of the new version of Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration and have yet to find anyone else who likes it either. It may be put to worthwhile use in raids, but for the purpose of questing, leveling, and 5-man tanking, I don't feel I can afford a neutered Frenzied Regeneration if a healer is absent or out of commission. A number of druids on the beta found Glyph of Rebirth to virtually required for raid purposes; with combat resurrections limited, you can't waste one on a player who might die right after the Rebirth. However, bear players are necessarily more limited in their opportunities to Rebirth than other druids, so use your best judgment.
- Minor Glyph of Challenging Roar is helpful. Otherwise, there are no minor glyphs that have any direct effect on bears. Most feral players traditionally use Glyph of Dash. Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth will save you money on reagents. Personally, I also like Glyph of Aquatic Form for fun, but you won't need Aquatic Form much in Vashj'ir (Cataclysm's underwater zone) due to a buff and mount you'll get there.
This is enough to keep you alive while tanking two or three heroic mobs. Anything beyond that and your healer will hate you. It goes without saying that you won't have a huge margin for error, so abuse whatever form of crowd control your group offers while you're still gearing up. Yes, this applies to normal dungeons too.
Post-mastery nerf, don't reforge to mastery; just look for it on your gear. It's still a very good stat, but it doesn't trump everything else by a country mile. To simplify things as much as possible, look for agility leather with mastery on it, then reforge the haste or crit on it into dodge.
What stats should I look for? The ideal piece of gear for a bear tank prioritizes armor, stamina, agility, mastery, dodge, expertise, crit, and hit in pretty much that order. (Thanks to Riftmaker on Twitter for correcting this!)
What should I gem for? You won't encounter too much socketable gear while you're leveling, but you're bound to see a few pieces if you tank at all. Shifting Demonseyes should be the default gem if you don't care about a socket bonus: Use Agility, stamina, and/or mastery gems if the socket bonus is useful. A useful socket bonus is anything granting agility, stamina, or mastery. This trifecta will never let you down.
- Austere Shadowspirit Diamond Say hello to your new best friend, the updated stamina/armor meta gem!
- Shifting Demonseye The best all-around bear gem.
- Solid Ocean Sapphire Pure stamina if your other stats are fine but you're worried about your health.
- Puissant Dream Emerald A very useful gem that can be slotted into blue or yellow slots if you're interested in a socket bonus.
However, the Guardians of Hyjal are notable for offering a useful chestpiece (ilevel 333, good enough for starting heroics) at honored, and it's usable as early as level 83. While Blizzard may have tinkered with the rate of reputation gain, I hit revered with the Guardians of Hyjal just by finishing the zone at level 82. The next ilevel 333 chestpiece you're likely to see will be off Setesh in Halls of Origination, so just keep that in mind.
- The Therazane quartermaster is D'lom the Collector and can be found at 57, 13 in Deepholm.
- The Earthen Ring quartermaster is Provisioner Arok and can be found at 49, 42 in Vashj'ir.
- The Guardians of Hyjal quartermaster is Provisioner Whitecloud and can be found at 62, 25 in Mount Hyjal (the Nordrassil inn).