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Shifting Perspectives: Bear 101, part 3

Allison Robert

9. Basic bear gameplay:

If you want to see this in action, I recommend viewing Darksend's video guide on the bear rotation. It's fairly straightforward:

  1. Before you do anything else, try not to start any pull with 0 rage. Assuming you have 3/5 Furor, you can powershift until you get a proc, and/or Enrage. If you Enrage and you're about to pull a mob with serious melee damage, wait for the armor debuff to drop before pulling.
  2. Feral Faerie Fire for the pull. Reapply on cooldown. FFF bears the distinction of being a completely free skill with a huge threat modifier, and you should use it as much as possible.
  3. Get Mangle up. The first Mangle should ideally be timed to coincide with a Maul (which follows your normal swing timer), and both hitting together should give you a nice threat lead as your DPS are starting up.
  4. If your DPS isn't likely to overtake you at this point, Demoralizing Roar. If they're riding you, focus on getting more threat on the boss now, and Demo Roar with a more comfortable threat lead later.
  5. Lacerate x 2 or 3 (depending on how long it takes Mangle to come off cooldown, i.e whether you have points in Improved Mangle or not).
  6. Mangle.
  7. Lacerate x 2 or 3. You should have a full 5-stack of Lacerate ticking on the boss, which you should try not to let drop.
  8. Mangle.
  9. If Lacerate x 5 is on the boss and FFF and Mangle are both on cooldown, Swipe. Even though it's our go-to AoE threat skill, it's still a great filler ability for single targets.
  10. Reapply Demoralizing Roar as necessary.
  11. For this entire series, keep queueing Maul as much as your rage generation allows (so, realistically your "rotation" looks more Mangle/Maul, Demoralizing Roar/Maul, Lacerate/Maul, FFF/Maul, etc.). Maul modifies your auto-attacks, so it's possible to keep it going the length of the fight while using other skills (provided you have the rage for it). If you're not fond of having to spam it manually, Kalon from ThinkTank wrote on article on the different ways to macro it to your rotation that is extremely helpful.
Maul at 80 continues to gobble rage the same way it did at earlier levels, but you've almost always got a lot more rage to use. With experience, you'll learn to recognize situations where Maul is not a good idea (e.g. in heroics and 5-mans where you outgear the content and have to work through some rage starvation), and where you'll want to avoid it for a few seconds until your rage bar's filled.

For AoE pulls, under ideal circumstances you would keep to the single-target rotation as much as possible, omitting the full Lacerate stack on one mob in favor of Swipe spam to glue everything in the pull to you. In practice, DPS has an unfortunate tendency to AoE as soon as they possible can. If you spend the majority of your time on one mob, you're likely to get others peeled off you if your DPS is well-geared. As such, your AoE threat "rotation" looks an awful lot like this:

  1. Swipe.
  2. Maul.
  3. More Swipe.
  4. More Maul. Tab-target around the pull to make sure that Maul (it is glyphed, right?) is being applied evenly to everything. If you have Infected Wounds, and you almost certainly should, an easy way to make sure Maul's making its way around the pull is to check for the IW debuff.
  5. If you have a decent-to-tolerable threat lead on all of the mobs, use global cooldowns to spread FFF, Mangle, and Lacerate around as much as possible. Lacerate is particularly useful as it will increase damage done by Maul.
  6. If DPS looks like it's going to overtake your threat on a mob, spend a few GCDs on it to get more single-target threat applied.
A more involved discussion on how to pull and position mobs is going to have to wait for another article. I should probably mention that, if you outgear your DPS, crazed Swipe and Maul spam is overkill; you'll have a nice threat lead on everything after a few seconds. If your DPS heavily outgears you, then you can do everything correctly and still lose aggro on an AoE pull. In the absence of better gear, the only thing that will prevent that is keeping a close eye on mobs that are likely to be pulled off of you, and applying more single-target threat. Of course, if geared DPS is all attacking different mobs, or you get stunned or feared in the interim, this is likely to be a lost cause.

When you start out tanking, it's generally wise to be honest about it with your DPS, and mark at least a skull on trash pulls.

10. Gems

As a general rule, plan on gemming solely agility and stamina (although, as with just about all the advice we can give concerning bears, Rawr is always going to be your friend here). The only time you should worry about gemming anything other than agility or stamina would be if you were absolutely desperate for hit or expertise, and even then you're almost always better off switching in more threat-oriented pieces than gemming to make up for their absence.

11. Glyphs

There aren't too many glyphs that bears really care about, and most of the time you won't be using anything other than the following three:For specific fights, you may want to substitute Glyph of Growl (which should almost always replace Glyph of Maul). Oddly, tank taunts are still subject to the spell +hit cap (17%), which means your taunt can still miss even if your melee attacks are hit-capped. For taunt-sensitive fights, glyphing Growl can be a good investment. Otherwise, it's really your only other option aside from the three main bear glyphs. Glyph of Berserk applies to both the bear and cat versions of Berserk, but it's definitely not worth glyphing over Frenzied Regen or Survival Instincts, and rarely worth glyphing over Maul or Growl.

Minor glyphs that have a direct impact on bear tanking include Glyph of Challenging Roar and Glyph of Thorns. Otherwise, glyph whatever you find most convenient. Common picks include Glyph of Dash and Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth.

12. Endgame enchants:

Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty, and insight concerning the druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

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