Season of Discovery (SoD) Druid Tank Build Guide & Best Runes

feral druid tank bear form

Bear tanking is going to be a fairly straightforward tank class that will have guilds Swipe-ing right on your application to join them. While simple, you will bring the group some much needed utility as well as some potential damage boosts with new rune offerings available.

Build Summary

With the addition of the rune spells a bear tank has a decent amount of options available to them to keep pulls controlled. The Lacerate rune will offer good damage, great threat generation, and a button to use repeatedly in single target encounters. You’ll also have Maul to keep up, increasing your damage and thus threat output. Then for AoE threat generation you have Swipe. While a hefty 20 rage to cast it (15 if discounted by Ferocity), it does allow you to quickly establish threat on a large amount of enemies around you, although this won’t be enough threat to give your group carte blanche to let loose immediately.

For those instances where things might start getting out of control there’s a lot of tools available to deal with this. Of course, the bread and butter taunt for bears is Growl. You’ll also have the option of Feral Charge through the talent tree, which can be a great engage tool as well as give you the ability to interrupt spellcasts or immobilize enemies who have escaped your melee range. But you’ll also have a second charge option through the Skull Bash rune (They share a CD) if you want to free up a talent point or like the added flexibility of this charge not having a minimum range of 8 yards and being usable in cat. Just don’t go thinking it’ll replace Bash to help manage a fight, as stunning a target in melee for 2s (3s if talented into Brutal Impact) is not to be underestimated.

As active upkeep you’ll have Demoralizing Roar to keep up on bosses that have adds or packs of multiple enemies to decrease the amount they hit for. For passive upkeep applying Thorns to yourself is essentially free damage and threat as you’ll be getting hit on a regular basis!

Faerie Fire is a bit awkward for bear tanks as you can’t cast it in feral form just yet as that option is further on in the feral talent tree. While an important debuff, it will require you to shift to humanoid form to cast it. If you have another non-tanking Druid it’s likely best for them to handle upkeep for this debuff.

Runes

Chest

Survival of the Fittest

This is the standard option, especially if main tanking, and offers a glut of passive damage reduction for only the cost of a rune slot. A 20% damage reduction while in bear form, combined with a 6% reduction in chance to be critically struck. The latter part will nullify the chance to be critically struck as mobs of the same level have a 5% baseline chance to crit with raid bosses being 3 levels higher having a 5.6% crit chance.

Wild Strikes

An extremely interesting choice that essentially turns your furball self into a mobile Windfury Totem. You will have to give up a considerable amount of damage reduction to take this rune, though, so this is best if you’re off-tanking or dealing with a part of the fight that doesn’t involve as much damage taken. If your group is lacking this effect, this could be a considerable increase to damage output for the team.

Gloves

Lacerate

A high-threat melee ability that gives added value by putting a bleed on your target? Why yes, we definitely want this. It also offers considerable damage with the bleed scaling off your weapon damage and stacking up to 5 times. It is a touch expensive at 15 rage, but even then it’ll be a high priority button. A high-damage 2h weapon is something that we’d already be aiming for, and this provides the extra cherry on top for value!

Legs

Skull Bash

This rune is useful, but it does come with the caveat of sharing a CD with Feral Charge. That said, there are advantages to this rune. First, you’ll be able to free up a talent point – and there’s a lot of real estate that provides benefits in the early tree for bears. Second, this spell has no minimum range, unlike Feral Charge, and so can be used as a point blank interrupt. Third, you can use this if you plan on popping into cat form to get some extra damage in without shifting back to bear.

Savage Roar

If you’re planning on spending a large amount of time in cat form DPS-ing and either put a talent point in Feral Charge to compensate or don’t feel like you’ll need an interrupt/charge ability this is basically the only other option available. Even at 1 combo point spent for this, it offers a considerable buff to your damage output while in cat form.

Talent Build

full tank talents druid sod
Talent Calculator

This is a full tank build that seeks to increase our tankiness through item armor contributions with points in Thick Hide. For increasing our threat generation there’s 4 points in Feral Instinct, although with the addition of the Lacerate rune if you find this unnecessary you can shift those points to more aggressive options like Sharpened Claws and Primal Fury. An extra 1s added to our stun ability, Bash, through points in Brutal Impact makes an already good CC even better.

For dungeon tanking, especially with pugs, you might want to invest in 5 points of Furor instead of going with the points in Feral Instinct, and move one point from Thick Hide as well. This will allow you to throw a HoT on yourself, morph bear, and have healing threat on top of some starter rage to get you off the ground.

For runes with this build type I’d suggest Survival of the Fittest, Lacerate, and Skull Bash for max survivability and threat generation. That said, there is another route you can take.

off tank talents druid sod
Talent Calculator

This build is more focused on you being able to shift back and forth from bear to cat to maximize your DPS output when you don’t need to be performing a tanking role. What will help most with that is the 5 points in Furor, allowing this swapping back and forth to not entirely drain your resources each time you do it. Points in Ferocity will offer a benefit to both your bear and cat form abilities by reducing the cost of key abilities. If Bash is not relevant to the fight and you need more tankiness you can shift the points in Brutal Impact to more armor with Thick Hide. I opted for Feral Charge here as that single point opens up the rune slot for legs to give more DPS to your cat form, but you’ll still have a tool to engage, gather adds, or peel with.

For your rune setup I’d suggest Lacerate, Wild Strikes, and Savage Roar. Do keep in mind you’ll lose a lot of tankiness swapping from Survival of the Fittest to Wild Strikes, so make sure you’re confident you can handle that for the encounter. Of course, Wild Strikes won’t stack if there’s more than one present in the party, so only take this if you’re the only one doing so within your group. The loss of tankiness might not be worth it if your group isn’t melee heavy as well, although it will benefit your personal damage, but is something to consider.

Key Spells and Abilities

Maul

Simple, clean, effective. Increases your next attack by a flat amount when cast. Good for single target damage, although our new friend, the Lacerate rune, is likely going to take priority in single target situations. Still a good rage dump if you’re close to capping.

Swipe

Fantastic AoE ability. Bit on the pricey side as far as rage goes, but once you’re rolling is great at generating threat on mobs surrounding you.

Bash

A 2s stun that upgrades to 3s with Brutal Impact talent points. Very powerful, don’t underestimate the value of giving yourself 3 free seconds to generate threat on a mob, peel something off your healer, or stop something from casting an important spell.

Growl

A taunt ability usable while in bear form. It forces the target you use it on to target you for 3 seconds and puts you as the highest player on that mob’s threat table by just a hair. Control is the name of the game as a tank, and this ability is the definition of what it means to be a tank.

Demoralizing Roar

At Rank 2 this allows you to reduce enemy melee attack power by 50 in an AoE around you for 30 seconds for the reasonable price of a measly 10 rage. Useful against large packs of non-casters. Not something to start a pull off with as it will burn your rage for a small amount of threat generation, but once you’re rolling something you can keep up easily enough.

Enrage

This ability generates 20 rage over 10 seconds. With only a 1 minute cooldown, this is exceptionally useful at getting the ball rolling on rage generation when starved at the start of pulls. This will put you in combat, and it does reduce your base armor by 27% in bear form. Your base armor is going to be significant at lv 25, but this number is before you add armor from gear you’re wearing – so is less of a debuff than you might first think. The rage generation definitely outweighs any of its downsides and you’ll be using this early and often.

Thorns

This is essentially free threat and will be most useful on yourself and other tanks as you’re the ones meant to be getting hit in the fact all the time! It has a 10 minute buff uptime, so should be fairly easy to keep applied. While the numbers might not be anything impressive, it requires no real effort on your part to make use of it.

Noteworthy Items

Arena Grand Master

There are very few trinket options available at this point in the game with the level cap being at 25. This would be a monster for a tank. That said, it’ll be exceedingly hard to get as you’ll be competing against other players in the dangerous zone of Stranglethorn Vale to get 12 Arena Master trinkets.

Heavy Dynamite

While it does have a cast time that you’ll need to keep in mind, it offers a massive upfront burst of damage in an AoE. This cannot be used in shapeshift form, so it’s recommended to use this on pull, shift to bear, and continue as normal from there. With points in Furor you’ll even get a small rage buff by shifting from humanoid to bear.

Smite’s Mighty Hammer

Easily attainable with some Deadmines runs, you simply need to train 2h maces at a weapon trainer to make use of it. It has solid stats for us, giving us both attack power and armor through agility and strength.

Green Tinted Goggles

While the spirit is not very useful, and the armor rating is low, there are not too many options for the head slot at this level. So this is definitely better than an empty slot. Ringed Helm or Humbert’s Helm are better options, but much tougher to get as they come from rare BoE drops. The latter of the two is likely pre-raid BiS if you can get your paws on it.

Race Choice

Night Elf

The only choice for Alliance players that want to become big ‘ol bears. There’s a small amount of value you can get from them, but it’s nothing game-changing.

  • Nature Resistance will give you a small buff to resistance against nature. Yep. Considering nature damage will be a thing, and you’re going to be likely face tanking some of it, that’s something, right?
  • Quickness is one of those that appears like it might be somewhat useful for us at first glance. While not awful, you mainly want to get hit but reduce the damage of that hit as that’s how you stay alive and generate rage. Dodging is the stuff of a clear mind. We bear, we angry, we smash.
  • Shadowmeld goes against bear code. Stealth? That’s a cat thing. Regardless, not very useful as it can only be used while standing in place and out of combat.
  • Wisp Spirit is something that only those who are not tanky thick skinned bears will have need for. But if you do happen to find yourself taking the great hibernation in the sky, this will at least be handy to get you back to stomping around more quickly.

Tauren

If you’re a Horde player this is going to be the choice to be a bear. And by the choice, I mean the only choice. There are some halfway decent buffs here from racials, and it’s definitely the stronger of the two options if you don’t mind mixing some cow with your bear.

  • Nature Resistance is the same buff available to Night Elves. Bears are an integral part of nature, it’s only right that they have some resistance to damage of that type, right?
  • Endurance is most definitely going to be useful for a big, strong bear. A 5% flat increase to total health? With our big bear health pools that’ll be nothing to turn our cute boopable bear noses up at. Not that’s it’s recommended to boop bear noses.
  • Cultivation gives +15 to the Herbalism skill. Berries, honey, flowers, or any other sort of bear accoutrement may be more easily attained using this skill.
  • War Stomp is quite useful as a tank as you’ll be in position to make the most of it with everything on you. That said, you will need to shift out of bear to stomp. For a melee AoE stun that lasts 2 seconds it’ll still be well worth it in many situations, but just be careful with how you go about it.

 

About the Author

Shadostruct

I've been playing WoW since beta with some breaks here and there. I'm a semi-hardcore to hardcore raider that focuses on retail mainly. I'm a big fan of giant dragons and am excited for all that Dragonflight will have to offer.
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Bean
Bean
6 months ago

Thanks for all you guys have been doing in these trying times.

Tman
Tman
6 months ago

Thick Hide is never worth taking It only applies on base armor and is such a horribly small amount of armor overall.

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