As a tank you have two main jobs: Keep the boss from attacking the other players in your raid and take as little damage as possible. At this time holding aggro is pretty simple so most of the suggestions made in this post will focus on reducing your damage intake.
You may also be called on to help the raid in other ways, such as interrupting, using Innervate or Rebirth, or even helping dps during periods of time that you don’t have to tank. Look for opportunities to use all of the tools available to you as a feral druid. As a druid, you have access to the best “Jack of All Trades” characters in the game. I consider the Druid to be the hardest character to play, and that’s why I love it! For more information about how to be the best druid you can be, check out the WoWWiki page HERE.
For choosing Feral as your spec you get Aggression (increases your AP by 25%), Vengeance (will be discussed later), and the ability Mangle. We also get a 2 part mastery, one for cats and one for bears. The bear portion of our mastery is called Savage Defender and increases the damage absorbed by Savage Defense by 4% per point of mastery.
For tanking you absolutely want to take Feral Swiftness, Infected Wounds, Primal Fury, Feral Charge, Thick Hide, Leader of the Pack, Survival Instincts, Endless Carnage, Natural Reaction, Rend and Tear, Pulverize, Berserk, and Heart of the Wild. A basic spec will look something like this: Talent Calculator – World of Warcraft
There are 4 leftover points plus a few spent in good but not necessary talents in order to move down the tree. For a full tanking spec I’d recommend filling out Perseverance. Feel free to skip talents like Brutal Impact or Feral Aggression if you need, but honestly there aren’t really compelling alternatives (unless you want to be able to dps reasonably well in the same spec, which I’ll discuss later).
Druid Tank’s get a lot of freedom when choosing Prime Glyphs because not too many affect our spec.
The Frenzied Regen glyph is the only one that affects your survivability and it comes with the minor drawback that it no longer gives you healing in exchange for Rage. This is negligible in Heroics and Raids because the amount healed by Rage is minute compared to the amount healed by Party Healers. Faerie Fire, Feral Charge, and Maul glyphs are mostly for quality of life.
The one major glyph that I strongly recommend for all feral tanks is actually the Rebirth glyph. Even as a tank it’s usually possible to toss a quick Rebirth at some point in a fight, and there is a world of difference between resurrecting someone mid-fight with 20% health and 100% health.
These are the only minor glyphs with any possible in-combat usefulness. Feel free to use other minor glyphs for quality of life purposes. I always use the [Glyph of Aquatic Form] myself.
General information on combat ratings can be found here: Combat Ratings at level 85 (Cataclysm)
Arguably the most important stat for tanks, armor consistently reduces your damage taken from physical attacks, which is almost always going to be your highest source of damage taken. With the Thick Hide talent and the Austere meta gem we have a 4.393752 multiplier on armor from leather gear. The amount of armor on gear is directly related to its item level and you can’t gem for it, so the only way to “stack” armor is by using an armor trinket.
Stamina is your other most important tanking stat. With Heart of the Wild we gain 17.1402 health per point of Stamina (17.99721 with Mark of the Wild). Like armor, the amount of stamina on an item is directly tied to its item level. Stamina also increases your Vengeance cap by 1 AP per stamina.
Agility increases your attack power, chance to crit, and chance to dodge. It does not provide armor anymore. Each point of agility provides 2 AP, which is good for both threat and Savage Defense. It takes 324.85 agility for 1% crit and 243.58281085 agility for 1% dodge (see the above link for details on diminishing returns). Agility is one of your primary mitigation stats. Like armor and stamina the amount of agility on gear is tied to item level, but it can also be affected by the presence of gem slots.
Although none of our gear (aside from possibly trinkets) comes with dodge on it, you can reforge your gear for dodge. It takes 176.71899 dodge rating for 1 point of dodge. The mechanics of diminishing returns on dodge can be found in the above link.
It takes 179.28 mastery rating to gain 1 point of mastery. Each point of mastery increases the size of your Savage Defense shield by 4%. Mastery and crit interact in a fairly complicated way when it comes to Savage Defense, so you should use Rawr or the spreadsheet to help you determine which is better for your current gear setup.
You need 179.28 crit rating to gain 1% crit chance. Increasing your crit chance increases your threat and also increases your Savage Defense procs.
You need 128.05701 haste rating for 1% haste. Haste increases your melee attack speed, which will increase your threat. It also has a marginal effect on Savage Defense uptime but is quite poor as a defensive stat.
You need 120.109 hit/expertise rating for 1% hit/expertise. Like haste these stats increase your threat and have marginal effects on Savage Defense uptime. Mobs do not parry haste anymore so expertise is no longer a significant defensive stat. In the event you need to interrupt it takes 961 hit rating to cap hit. Mobs and players do not dodge or parry while casting so expertise is not needed to interrupt.
Your only real meta gem choice for tanking is [Austere Shadowspirit Diamond]. In specific cases you may find [Effulgent Shadowspirit Diamond] or [Powerful Shadowspirit Diamond] useful, but generally speaking Austere will be just fine.
For the rest you’ll want stamina or hit for blue gems, crit, dodge, or mastery for yellows, and agility for reds. If you’re ever in doubt you can default to [Solid Ocean Sapphire], but be sure to keep your meta gem activated. Use Rawr or the spreadsheet to help you figure out what you need.
The 2T11 bonus is pretty useless since threat is not a problem as of now, but the 4T11 bonus is very nice. Oftentimes it allows you to have Survival Instincts up for 2 dangerous abilities instead of just 1 with proper timing.
Head: Arcanum of the Earthen Ring (90 stamina/35 dodge, revered Earthen Ring) or Arcanum of the Ramkahen (60 agility/35 haste, revered Ramkahen)
Shoulder: Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz (75 stamina/25 dodge, exalted Therazane) or Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal (50 agility/25 mastery, exalted Therazane)
Back: Major Agility (22 agility) or Protection (250 armor)
Chest: Greater Stamina (75 stamina) or Stamina (55 stamina) or Peerless Stats (20 to all stats) or Mighty Stats (15 to all stats)
Wrists: Dodge (50 dodge) or Major Stamina (40 stamina)
Hands: Glove Reinforcements (240 armor) or Heavy Savage Armor Kit (44 stamina) or Greater Mastery (65 mastery) or Mastery (50 mastery) or Major Agility (20 agility)
Legs: Charscale Leg Armor (145 stamina/55 agility)
Feet: Heavy Savage Armor Kit (44 stamina) or Assassin’s Step (25 agility/minor run speed) or Major Agility (35 agility) or Earthen Vitality (30 stamina/minor run speed)
Weapon: Mighty Agility (130 agility) or Windwalk (600 dodge/increased move speed on proc) or Mending (heal on proc)
Leatherworking offers more stamina than any other profession. Jewelcrafting is the next highest, although it’s only 3 stamina better than many other professions. Leatherworking, Jewelcrafting, and Blacksmithing all provide very flexible bonuses.
Alchemy: 120 stamina from [Flask of Steelskin] or 80 agility from [Flask of the Winds]. You also gain access to [Lifebound Alchemist Stone], which is potentially useful for a new tank.
Blacksmithing: 2 extra sockets for up to 120 extra stamina from [Solid Ocean Sapphire] or 80 agility from [Delicate Inferno Ruby]. One of the better professions as its bonuses are very flexible.
Enchanting: 120 stamina or 80 agility from ring enchants.
Engineering: Quickflip Deflection Plates – Spell – World of Warcraft boost armor by 1500 for 12 seconds on a 1 minute cooldown
Herbalism: Minor heal and 480 haste for 20 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown.
Inscription: 120 stamina from shoulder enchant.
Jewelcrafting: Up to 123 stamina or 81 agility from Chimera’s Eye gems. Another flexible profession.
Leatherworking: 155 stamina. Gives more stamina than other professions and can also be useful for the level 80 resistance enchants.
Mining: 120 stamina.
Skinning: 80 crit.
Tailoring: Swordguard Embroidery – Spell – World of Warcraft chance to proc 1000 AP for 15 seconds.
Generally speaking you want to look for the highest item level agility gear you can find. This is because armor and stamina directly correlate with item level. Agility jewelery is better than even perfectly itemized strength tanking jewelery. You’ll want to reforge haste/hit/expertise to dodge, crit, or mastery if possible. Use Rawr or the spreadsheet to determine which of the three is your best bet.
When it comes to deciding between gearing for stamina or going for mitigation in the form of agility/dodge/crit/mastery, a lot depends on how good your gear is and what content you’re going after. In normal mode raids, as long as you have mostly 346 gear from 5 man heroics or better, you probably have enough health to survive even without stacking stamina gems and enchants. In this case you may prefer to get as much avoidance and mitigation as possible to make yourself easier to heal. If you’re doing heroic raids, or if you’re attempting to raid while undergeared, you may find that you need all of the stamina you can get. Don’t be afraid to use all [Solid Ocean Sapphire] if necessary.
As a tank you need to be ready to alter your gear between fights if needed (note: trinkets are an excellent way to easily swap around large amounts of armor/stamina/agility). There is no one gearset for tanking that applies equally well to all fights. Again: There is no one gearset that is optimal for tanking for all fights. Test out different gearing strategies and talk to your healers to determine what’s best for your raid.
For the basic tanking rotation you want to follow a short set of rules:
1. Keep Demoralizing Roar up
2. Mangle on cooldown
3. Keep up a 3 stack of Lacerate
4. Keep up the Pulverize buff
5. Spend excess rage on Maul
6. Spend even more excess rage on Thrash
Keeping up Demoralizing Roar is the most important part of your rotation. If you Mangle on cooldown and spam Lacerate in between you’ll hold threat over 98% of dps players. Maul and Pulverize will handle the rest if necessary. On multi-target/AoE situations use Thrash and Swipe on cooldown while spreading Mangles, Lacerates, and Mauls around.
As mentioned above, as druids we offer a lot of potential raid utility even while tanking. Most fights have downtime or tank swaps that allow you to use Rebirth or Innervate if needed, so keep your eyes open for these opportunities. If you have a fairly extended period of time that you aren’t tanking you can use Tranquility as well, which is quite powerful now. Ferals are great at interrupting with 2/2 Brutal Impact thanks to the 13 yard range on Skull Bash, so help out on interrupts when needed.
We are also hands down the best at swapping between dpsing and tanking in a single fight. You can pick up every major tanking and dps talent in a single spec, you can use all dps glyphs since our tanking glyphs are very marginal, and agility serves both specs quite well. On any boss that allows a tank to dps for parts of the fight, a feral should take that role.
Every time you are attacked while in bear form you gain 5% of the damage done as attack power, up to a cap. Despite the tooltip your vengeance cap is stamina + 0.1*base_health. Vengeance decays over time so you must keep getting hit to keep it up, and is removed completely if you shift to cat form. For more on Vengeance, see the WoWWiki page HERE.