- Author: Oxykitten
- Date: November 20, 2021
- Expansion: WoW Classic
Welcome to the home page to our Feral Druid tank guide for WoW Classic: Season of Mastery! This guide aims to take an in-depth look at everything to do with Feral Druid tanks; each facet of what it takes to play the class to its fullest will have its own guide, described in detail. Each of these guides are accessible via the navigation pane above. In all of them, the terms “Feral tank” and “Bear” will be used interchangeably.
The scope of this page includes:
- Role and viability of Feral tanks
- Profession choices
Role of a Feral Tank in Season of Mastery
Druids are often referred to as the ‘Jack of all trades’ of Classic WoW. Druids can heal, tank, and DPS. However, relative to other classes they do not excel at any one role, and thus they are also known as ‘master of none.’ For a long time, this was thought to apply to Feral tanks as well, whereby bears could tank dungeons passably, but not meaningfully contribute to an endgame raid. However, this mindset changed considerably throughout the course of Classic WoW, and playing a Feral tank to its maximum potential makes them completely viable in a raid environment.
When played correctly, a Feral can match the average threat of a Fury/Prot warrior tank while having significantly higher mitigation (reduction in damage taken, or ‘tankiness’). However, Fury/Prot tanks continue to have a higher maximum threat through the use of offensive cooldowns (namely recklessness and death wish), as well as a higher maximum mitigation by equipping a shield and using defensive cooldowns (namely shield wall and last stand). More importantly, Fury/Prot warriors do significantly more damage while tanking – and when not actively tanking – than bears do, and for this reason primarily feral tanks continue not to be the optimal choice of tank in Season of Mastery.
Pros and Cons of Feral tanking
Pros of Feral tanking
- Easy to play:
Feral tanks are very easy to play, with a simple rotation and straightforward gearing. This means that although warriors are the better tank with perfect execution, it is common for Ferals to perform better in an average guild.
- Great balance of threat and mitigation:
Through the use of Manual Crowd Pummelers, Feral tanks can produce a lot of threat. And, through their 460% armor modifier in Bear Form, they can reach high levels of armor and therefore mitigate a lot of damage. Although Fury/Prot warriors can reach higher levels of threat and higher levels of mitigation, they cannot do both at the same time, making Ferals strong on threat-sensitive, hard-hitting fights like Broodlord Lashlayer, Ouro, and Patchwerk.
- Hybrid tank/dps specialisation:
Since Feral Combat is a single talent tree, a Druid can easily pick up all the most relevant tanking and DPS talents, allowing them to tank and DPS at virtually full potential in both roles. This means that on encounters only requiring one or two tanks, an offtank druid can go into Cat Form and deal respectable damage. Furthermore, a Feral can even gear in a way that allows them to do both roles in a single encounter; for example, they can tank an add, then go back to Cat Form and continue DPSing once it dies.
- Reduced gear competition between tanks:
In Classic, raid gear is very scarce, and with 40 players in a raid, the competition is fierce. Having all warrior tanks in a raid leads to a lot of competition between the tanks who want the same pieces. Druid tanks wear leather, and therefore share only a few pieces (usually rings and trinkets) with other tanks. This makes them easy to gear up without taking loot away from other raid members.
Cons of Feral tanking
- Low DPS:
Although the threat produced by Ferals is very respectable (due to high threat multipliers on their abilities), their damage done is very low. Fury/Prot tanks can easily do twice as much damage as a bear, especially on cleave (multi-target) fights. While ferals get a strong damage boost in Cat Form when not actively tanking, this unfortunately cannot compare to the damage of a Fury/Prot warrior in Berserker Stance. This is the main reason top speed-running guilds will not bring Feral tanks to their raids.
- A lot of effort to be competitive:
In order to produce enough threat to be competitive with warrior tanks, Feral druids need to use Manual Crowd Pummeler. This weapon, when activated, increases a druid’s threat output by nearly 50%. However, it only has 3 charges, with each use lasting 30 seconds, and it drops off of a level 30 boss in Gnomeregan with an estimated 33% drop chance. This means that for every 90 seconds of threat sensitive tanking time, a Feral needs to use up a Pummeler.
In practice, druids will often farm 15 or more of these every week to use in raids, which on average takes 45 Gnomeregan runs. This translates to a little over 2 hours in Gnomeregan, but since we can only enter 5 instances per hour, this is spread out over 9 hours a week. You can see below what a typical Feral’s bank looks like! In addition to the flasks, potions, and other consumables used by tanks, this means that playing a Feral tank to its full potential is no small feat.
- Some bosses should not be tanked by a Druid:
Unfortunately, there are a few bosses in Classic that should not be tanked by a druid. The most obvious example is Nefarian in Blackwing Lair, who can force all druids into Cat Form for 30 seconds. On a Feral Tank, this massively increases their damage taken and equally reduces their threat generation. Other bosses include Loatheb and Sapphiron in Naxxramas, who simply deal too much damage per second for a Druid to comfortably tank them. To be clear, a Druid can tank any boss in the game; these bosses are simply far better suited to warriors.
In terms of maximising your character’s performance, there are very few professions that provide any value. Do note that it is not mandatory to go for these professions (depending on the expectations of your guild).
- Engineering: Engineering is by far the most impactful profession for Feral tanks, or indeed for any class in the game. The use of Goblin Sapper Charges allows for a source of threat on multi-target scenarios, a particularly weak point for Druids. When used by most or all players in a raid, they also allow for a massive burst of AoE damage which can help on a lot of encounters. Additionally, Gnomish Engineering allows you to craft and use Gnomish Battle Chicken, which when used correctly gives you and your party 5% melee haste for 5 minutes; this is the best trinket in the game. Finally, engineering unlocks a number of trinkets and other useful tools that make it exceptionally strong in PvP, as well as a lot of fun to play around with.
- Blacksmithing: The only other profession that gives long-term value. Blacksmithing allows you to craft and use Glimmering Mithril Insignia, which makes you immune to fear effects for 30 seconds. Because Druids have no innate ability to break fears, this trinket can be very impactful for tanking any fight with fears, such as Onyxia, Magmadar, Nefarian, or Gluth. Blacksmithing also allows you to craft and apply your own Iron Counterweights, which can be quite convenient when applying them to many Pummelers. This can be done in a trade window with another blacksmith, but must be done one at a time and can be quite time-consuming.
- Enchanting: Enchanting allows you to craft Smoking Heart of the Mountain, which is a Best in Slot trinket for Phase 1. However, you do not need to keep enchanting in order to equip the trinket, meaning you can level it to 265/300, craft it, and then drop it for another profession.
Overall the best professions for a Feral tank to keep are Engineering and Blacksmithing. Engineering is very impactful; Blacksmithing is much less so, but is the only other profession that provides any value to your character. Therefore, I recommend engineering as a must-have profession, with the other profession slot being personal preference.
I hope this guide has shown you that, despite the stigma around Feral tanks, they have the potential to fill a tank role in any raid. It cannot be denied that Warriors are the better class, primarily due to their massive damage output even while tanking. However, if you are willing to put in the effort (through consumables and gear planning), performing well as a Feral in Classic is a rewarding and fun experience.
Thank you for taking the time to read our Feral Tank guide for Season of Mastery. I hope it was helpful, and if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment below, or find me as Oxy on the Druid Classic discord.