Monday, June 7, 2010

Bear Raiding Spec (3.3.3)

The following is my raid talent build for Bear tanking. "Raid" being the key word here. In this build I pass over abilities that are nice during solo or PvP play and focus strictly on what's useful for raiding. This is also not meant to be a hybrid build of any kind. It's optimized strictly for raiding as a Bear.

Bear tanking is tricky in that there's 3 basic types of talents you need to focus on: Survivability, Threat (DPS), and Utility. You won't get enough talent points to max out in all 3 categories, so you kind of have to pick and choose which are most important to you. This will typically vary based on your gear, your healers, your raid group make-up, and your role (MT or OT).

I'll try and explain why I picked the talents I did. In the Feral tree, I'll also explain why I passed on the talents that got no points.

Balance - 0 points
There's just nothing in there that's useful for bears.

Restoration - 10 points
Furor - 3/5 (Utility)
With some of the recent changes to Enrage, this is no longer a highly mandatory talent. You shouldn't be spending a lot of time shifting between forms anyway, so you don't have to worry much about needing rage immediately after shift. These points are mostly here to help get down to the second tier of the Resto Tree.

Improved Mark of the Wild - 2/2 (Utility)
The other 2 points to get past the first tier of the Resto tree. Easy buff to our buff and a stat increase to boot.

Naturalist - 5/5 (Threat)
10% extra physical damage equates to 10% more threat generation. This helps especially when trying to hold large groups of enemies using Swipe.

Feral - 61 points
Ferocity - 5/5 (Threat)
You should be using Maul every time it's up, and spamming Swipe is key to controlling groups of mobs. Saving 5 Rage every time you use these abilities is essential to your job.

Feral Aggression - 4/5 (Survivability)
Demoralizing Roar isn't a key talent, and it's redundant to a Warrior's Demoralizing Shout or a Paladin's Vindication if you have one of those in your group. Warriors can also spec into Improved Demoralizing Shout, which mirrors the bonus of Feral Aggression point for point. So these points are definitely optional, depending on your raid group's Warrior/Paladin situation. If you're lacking those, though, it's very nice to have.

Feral Instinct - 3/3 (Threat)
The extra 30% damage to your Swipe is key to controlling large groups of mobs, especially as your raid's DPS gets increasingly better. If you're not having any trouble holding threat on large groups, you may choose to move these points elsewhere.

Savage Fury - 2/2 (Threat)
The 20% threat increase on Maul, your primary threat generators on single (or double, if glyphed) targets, is good enough on it's own. But Mangle is a pretty big part of you rotation too. This is definitely a good place for two points.

Thick Hide - 3/3 (Survivability)
No question this is an absolutely essential talent unless you can reach the armor cap (49905) without it. I'd have to check, but I don't think that's possible. And if you're in a situation where it is, you're probably not reading my blog for tips. So max out this skill.

Feral Swiftness - 2/2 (Survivability)
Dodge is the only avoidance stat that bears have (we can't parry or block), so anything we can do to increase it is key to doing our job.

Survival Instincts - 1/1 (Survivability)
The bear equivalent of a Warrior's Last Stand. This is your main panic button. You definitely want this handy.

Sharpened Claws - 3/3 (Threat, Survivability)
Not only do crits increase our threat (obviously), but in 3.1 we took a nerf to armor and stamina with the expectation that Savage Defense will make up for it. Savage Defense procs off of crits, making this talent more or less mandatory.

Shredding Attacks - 2/2 (Threat)
Whereas Swipe is spammed for multi-target tanking, Lascerate is typically spammed for single-target control. So reducing the amount of Rage it requires makes sure you have enough for your other abilities when you need them.

Predatory Strikes - 3/3 (Threat)
3 points are required here to unlock Heart of the Wild, one of the essential talents for bear tanks. The threat increase is nice, too.

Primal Fury - 2/2 (Threat)
Free rage when you crit. Particularly helpful with rage generation if you're not getting hit as much as you should be for some reason (like when you're the OT on Marrowgar or Lana'thel, for example).

Primal Precision - 2/2 (Threat, Survivability)
Increasing your Expertise will lower a mob's chance of blocking, parrying, or dodging your attacks. Obviously the more attacks you land, the more threat you'll generate. There's also the Parry/Haste mechanic (where a boss's parry will reset their swing timer, to a point). This mechanic has largely been cleared from the game, but there's still a few bosses that maintain it.

Bear gear can have a fair amount of Expertise on it, since we share it with Rogues and Cats. But more (until you hit the cap) is always better, and this is a good cheap source of a lot of it. (Remember that 10 Expertise is roughly equal to 82 Expertise Rating, which is what you find on your gear.)

At the very minimum, Bears should be aiming for the Expertise Dodge cap, which is 6.5%, or 132 Expertise rating. Since 2/2 in Primal Precision is 62% of that, it's a good spot for some points.

Brutal Impact - 0/2 (Utility, Survivability)
While Bash does work as a spell interrupt, you'll often find that the mobs you really need it against are immune to it. And even with the cooldown cut in half by putting 2 points in this talent, you'll rarely get good use out of it. So many other classes have far more effective interrupts. You don't really need this.

Feral Charge - 1/1 (Utility)
I can't think of any reason any Bear shouldn't have this. From its interrupt ability to its close-that-25-yard-gap-instantly mechanic, you need this to be all the tank you can be.

Nurturing Instinct - 0/2 (N/A)
Bears get no benefit from this talent. Cats only.

Natural Reaction - 3/3 (Survivability, Threat)
Not only does this increase your chance to dodge (remember, the only avoidance stat we have) but now you'll get rage every time you do dodge. Awesome!

Heart of the Wild - 5/5 (Survivability)
10% increase to stam. Bears need all the stam they can get. Period.

Survival of the Fittest - 3/3 (Survivability)
The 6% increase to all stats is nice. The 33% increase to armor is a god-send. But the key to this talent is the 6% reduction to melee crits against you. This makes bears 100% uncrittable to melee attacks. All other tanks have to work hard and juggle gear to be able to say that. We get it for 3 talent points.

Leader of the Pack - 1/1 (Threat, Survivability)
Again, with Savage Defense, crit is a big deal for bears.

Improved Leader of the Pack - 2/2 (Utility, Survivability)
This is more about your raid group than you. As a tank, you're generally going to be taking too much damage for this to make a huge difference. But it does allow the healers to focus more time/mana on you as opposed to the rest of the raid group. So it's a toss-up. I like it, though.

Primal Tenacity - 0/3 (Survivability)
This is primarily a PvP talent. Not really worth spending points in a raiding build.

Protector of the Pack - 3/3 (Survivability, Threat)
12% incoming damage reduction and 6% threat generation? For 3 talent points? Yes, please.

Predatory Instincts - 0/3 (N/A)
Bears get nothing from this. Cat only talent.

Infected Wounds - 3/3 (Survivability)
20% slower enemy attack speed = 20% less incoming damage from that enemy. Plus this is a disease which means it should be spreadable by a DK's Pestilence. I haven't tested that yet, but I plan to soon.

King of the Jungle - 0/3 (Threat)
With the 20 Rage you get from Enrage, and an additional 60% chance to get another 10 when shifting into Bear form (from Furor), this isn't a very critical talent for Bears. Additionally, unless you have your 4pc T10 bonus, you should never be using Enrage while in combat, which makes the damage bonus next to useless. That said, if you do have your 4pc T10 bonus, moving some points around to fill out this talent may be a good move.

Mangle - 1/1 (Threat)
Absolutely required. No questions asked.

Improved Mangle - 0/3 (Threat)
Just like with Cats, the 3.3.3(.3.3.3) Mangle Change pretty much rendered this talent useless. Even moreso for Bears than Cats, I think. Even with its full cooldown, you're never really "waiting" for a Mangle in your full rotation. And now that a parried or blocked Mangle isn't guaranteed to drop the debuff on the boss, you don't really have too many situations where you need this to be available sooner.

Rend and Tear - 5/5 (Threat)
Since your primary target should always be bleeding (via Lacerate) this is a 20% threat increase for every Maul that hits that target.

Primal Gore - 1/1 (Threat)
Gives your Lacerates the ability to crit. Not essential, but definitely nice. And since it only costs one talent point...

Berserk - 1/1 (Threat, Survivability)
Another panic button for bears. When things get out of control, this lets you spam Mangle for 15 seconds, and hit 3 targets each time you do. Plus it will break untimely and inconvenient fears if you don't have the benefit of Fear Warding or a Tremor Totem.

Optional Moves
There are 10 points in this build that I consider "optional."
The 10 points are those spent in the following talents:
Feral Aggression (4)
Improved Leader of the Pack (2)
Infected Wounds (3)
Primal Gore (1)

The other places where I would consider putting some of these points are:
Brutal Impact (2)
Filling out Feral Aggression (1)
King of the Jungle (3)
Omen of Clarity (Resto, 1) - Bears are at a point in the game where they are almost never, ever rage starved. There was a point, when Naxx was progression, that OOC was still a good talent for Bears. And I think there will be again in Cata (if it doesn't get pushed too far down the Resto tree). Still, if you have extra points, this is one place to consider spending one. It will help you (minimally) in fights like Sindragosa or Festergut where you need to stay tank-ready, but could be spending a lot of your time DPSing as a Cat.
Master Shapeshifter (Resto, 2) (and the pre-req Natural Shapeshifter (Resto, 3)) - Only if you're having a really difficult time with threat generation. 5 points is a lot for 4% threat...

The link to the Wowhead build at the top of the post also includes my suggested glyph choices. Of course, you could carry a stack of glyphs to switch in and out based on the needs of a given fight (which isn't a bad strategy for anyone trying to min/max, really). But if you're like me and would rather set 'em and forget 'em, the ones attached to that build should serve you pretty well.

1 comment:

  1. Looks good to me!

    And hey. You. Super raiding person. I need a favor.

    Go kick Slad'ran's ass into the piranha-infested waters of Gundrak, please. I HATE HIM SO VERY MUCH.

    If you do it solo, I'll give you a cookie (and cry bitter tears of jealousy) :D