Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Encounter in Bear Form

Fresh from the Moonglade at level 10, and flush from having just achieved my Bear Form, the first thing I did was savor the beautiful new druid bear model, then promptly ran off into the forest to pick a pixel fight and get a sense of where I need to improve.

Immediately, insight. Armed only Growl, Maul, and vendor whites, I took a few nasty hits and a year and a half of tanking memories came flooding back to me.

The lesson I took away was this: the essence of playing a druid tank is knowing when and how to use your abilities from non-bear forms to amplify your bear abilities. In my case, as a level 10 Bear fresh from the press, this means using Thorns, Mark of the Wild, Wrath, and Moonfire, and then switching to Bear form. In the first few levels as a feral druid, we really need to learn to get the most out of our other abilities, and to get used to switching between our forms.

And, as the march of progress slowly drums along, it's very easy to forget that lesson. I'm glad that I'm coming back to the game in this way--starting from scratch really makes me appreciate my other Druid, and what other players go through on their first journey to the top.

One thing I'm doing right away, as long as I'm relearning how to tank from scratch, is teaching myself to strafe backwards. Instead of tucking tail and running from an encounter, a Bear tank should turn sideways and strafe away from the attacking mob. This back-strafing technique allows us to dodge attacks even as we withdraw at full speed. Tucking tail is (rightly) punished by completely disabling our Dodge ability. This technique can save our skin when shadowmeld is on cooldown.

Remember: A Leatherbelly never runs away from a fight. They backstrafe. Also, a Leatherbelly goes into combat buffed, with the target debuffed, whenever possible.


  1. I'd like to echo Kalon in saying, "Welcome back!"

    And at a time when we need MORE useful/interesting feral blogs not LESS. I hope you will continue to write, because there are certainly people willing to read.

  2. I appreciate the homecoming greetings, gentlemen! Glad to be back, and very eager to write on the subject of bear tanking. I'm also really excited for the changes coming with Cataclysm and am eager to see how our class adapts to the broken world.