Tag Archives: tanking

Evaluating Feral Druid Tanks with World of Logs

This is another guest post by my guildmate Jaymz.  He wrote about how to evaluate feral kitties a little while ago, and now he’s taking a look at Bears. Rawr. My full guide on evaluating raiders (especially healers) with WoL can be found here.

Here are the things you should be looking for when evaluating Bear tanks.

Debuffs Applied

First things to look at is the player Details Page, under the Buffs Cast tab.

You need to know which buffs/debuffs the Bear is responsible for bringing. I’ll write this as if the Bear must bring all their own debuffs but I’ll do my best to describe those which can be brought by others to possibly maximize your raid.
Also be aware if the Bear is the main tank or the off-tank. If only one tank is needed for a phase of a fight, is it the Bear tanking or did the Bear become a Kitty for some extra DPS? If the Bear becomes a Cat, that will obviously cause some changes to happen in buff and debuff uptimes. I will write this as if the Bear is the main tank.

World of Logs - Feral bear debuffs cast

Faerie Fire
This should be cast early and stacked to three and should have close to 100% uptime (on boss/main target). It can be applied to multiple targets when necessary. It is on the spell hit table and Bears are not going to get spell hit cap for this one ability so some down time is okay, but not a lot. Some Bears will spec to apply all three stacks with one button, some won’t, it really depends on the other players in the raid. For example if there were a Feral Kitty in the raid, it would be beneficial for the Kitty to be the one to apply FF. This way the Bear could spec into another talent and use those GCDs for other (more damaging, higher threat) moves.

Mangle
This should have close to 100% uptime, it is a Bear’s 1# ability in terms of threat, damage, and overall utility. The only reason not to have high uptime is if another person like a Sub Rogue or Arms Warrior is also applying the debuff repeatedly. Feral Kitties shouldn’t interfere with this, since they should simply drop mangle from their rotation if there is a Bear in the raid.

Lacerate
This also should have high uptime, it is stacked to 3 and then spent on Pulverize (more on that later), its ticks allow Berserk to proc (also more on that later). This is a Bears filler ability.

Thrash
While this is an AoE bleed it hits hard enough that it should be used in single target rotation as well. It has a 6 second cooldown and the bleed lasts for 6 seconds so you might expect this to have extremely high uptime. However, there are other higher priority moves and procs that will cause uptime to be much lower. In my experience, somewhere between 40-60% uptime is a good number to look/shoot for. The higher the better, provided all other debuffs are maintained. Also if your Bear goes Cat, Thrash is Bear only, so that will drastically reduce Thrash uptime.

Demoralizing Roar
This should have high uptime but if you have a co-tank they too will bring this debuff in some form (Demo Shout, Vindication, Scarlet Fever). It can be applied from Warlock’s Curse of Weakness and some hunter pets also. Know your raid, Paladin tanks for example apply this without extra button presses, if your co-tank is a Paladin there is little need to use this if you are on the same target, but if you aren’t on the same target or if you are solo tanking, this falls on the Bear to keep it applied.

Infected Wounds
If specced into this, it will automatically apply and should have uptime equal to that spent attacking the target. This buff is brought by many other specs as well and is an excellent place to drop talent points if one of those other specs are in your raid. Frost and Blood DKs, Prot Paladins, and Prot Warriors all bring this debuff, as can DPS Shaman and some hunter pets. Again know your raid and work together to maximize your debuffs and minimize overlap.

Growl
Bear taunt, only matters if there is a mechanic that should be tank swapped for or you have DPS dying by pulling aggro.

If the Bear goes Cat at any point during the fight you might also see a new Mangle here along with other Kitty debuffs, refer to the Kitty evaluation guide for that information and cross-reference with the time your Bear was in Cat form under the Buffs section on this tab. That said, the most important one is Mangle and the two (Bear+Cat) combined should have as close as possible to 100% uptime, while keeping in mind the specifics listed above regarding Mangle.

Any other debuffs (Temporal Displacement, Exhaustion, Fiery Claws -2 T12-, etc.) are not controlled by the Bear.

Buffs Cast

Things like Leader of the Pack, Bear Form, Cat Form, Furor and Master Shapeshifter will usually only show up on World of Logs, if the Druid is changing forms during the encounter and can mostly be ignored, unless the druid is shifting more than they should be.

Feral Bear buffs cast - World of Logs

Savage Defense
While the Bear will not have control over how much uptime this has during the fight, there are things they can do with gear to make this buff stronger. Think of Savage Defense as you would Block for a plate wearing tank. The higher the amount of procs the better. Getting 2 T13 is a huge benefit to the uptime/chance to proc of this buff (provided Pulverize uptime is maintained).

Pulverize
You want extremely high uptime on this, and with 2 T13 you really want extremely high uptime on this, as it roughly doubles the chance to proc SD. However if the Bear spends any time in Cat Form the uptime will drop since it is a Bear-only ability so adjust for that when evaluating.

Berserk
You should see two of these listed for Bears, one is a player activated damage/threat increasing CD (3min CD, 15sec duration). The other is a proc generated by Lacerate’s ticks. The activated CD should be used early and whenever off of cooldown, or during times when the boss is taking extra damage (Zon’ozz, Hagara, Heroism/Bloodlust/Timewarp). The proc from Lacerate’s ticks should be immediately spent on Mangle. You would need to use Expression Editor to verify the latter.

Enrage
One minute cooldown, 10 second duration.  Most Bears will use this just before the pull or just before they taunt on tank swaps. If properly specced, (1/3 into King of the Jungle) it too can/should be used during phases when the boss takes extra damage or else used when off cooldown. If the Bear is in a raid group that allows for them to spec fully 3/3 into King of the Jungle they can do even more damage during this buff.

King of the Jungle
You should see this buff as many times as you see the Enrage buff above.

Barkskin
One minute cooldown, 12 second duration. Barkskin reduces damage taken by 20% – a huge survivability tool for Bears, and should be used often. Sometimes it should be saved for when the boss is doing a larger amount of damage, but regardless should be used as much as possible while keeping in mind mechanics of the encounter.

Survival Instincts
Three minute cooldown, 12 second duration.  This reduces damage taken by 50% – another very strong survivability tool for Bears, should be saved for those times when the boss is going to really blast the tank, or if/when the healer(s) need a breather.

Frenzied Regeneration
Three minute cooldown, 20 second duration.  Increases max health by 30% and if the Bear is below 30% health will bring them up to that. This can also be used (unglyphed) to turn rage into health via a HoT, each point of rage gives .3% of max health. Under normal circumstances most Bears will Glyph this ability so that healing done to them is increased by 30% rather than Rage being converted into Health. Think of this as a last resort button. This ability is the center of the Druid 4T13 bonus and can be used amazingly to help out your raid (both glyphed and unglyphed depending on the situation). Be sure to check with your Bear and discuss if you want that cooldown glyphed or unglyphed and when to use it to its best effect.

Stampede
You should not see this buff in your Bear’s buff list. This is not a talent a Bear should take, unless they have built some kind of hybrid build so that they use one spec for both bear and kitty – but that is not what is being discussed here.

Primal Madness
See Stampede above.

Other buffs you might see here are trinkets, shapeshifting buffs, or weapon procs and are usually not in control of the Bear. If the Bear has on-use trinkets they should treat them like Barkskin and Survival Instincts. Even on-use Agility trinkets are good for Bears as survival cooldowns since Agility provides Dodge. They can also be used like Enrage and Berserk for extra Damage. It really all depends on the trinkets your Bear is using. A good tank will always have an assortment of trinkets at their disposal, knowing which to use for a specific encounter can sometimes make the difference.

The Buffs Gained tab is much like the Buffs Cast tab only with more stuff the Bear doesn’t have control over. This IS a good place to look at the debuffs they received during a fight – stacking tank debuffs for example, that need to be taunted off, or need to be allowed to drop off.

The Damage by Actor tab will help you to know if your Bear was on the correct target for the correct amount of time, as well as let you know if they might have been tanking something they shouldn’t.

Healing by Spell is where you can partially see how effective the procs of Savage Defense are. This will become even more important with that 4T13 to see if you want Frenzied Regeneration glyphed or unglyphed.

Damage by Spell – You can see uptimes for abilities here just like you can on the Buffs Cast tab. You can also check the damage abilities being used. Mangle, Maul, Melee, and Lacerate should always be near the top. Fury swipes is not something you can control and will fluctuate wildly, it’s great to have but don’t look too much into it from an evaluation standpoint. You can also see dodges, parries, and misses on the far right (you’ll probably have to scroll). Then at the bottom you can see the damage taken and its source. Did Bear die? Check the Death log to see how, then here. Check the amount of Dodges, as well as absorbs (especially those from Savage Defense).

And there you have it, the “quickie” way to evaluate your Bear tank.

One last bit of advice concerning Savage Defense, use your expression editor (spell=”Savage Defense”) and check how often it’s being applied, overwritten, etc. The one downside to Savage Defense is that it can overwrite itself, and it can overwrite with a smaller proc (thanks to Vengeance changes). Look to see if it is fading with anything remaining. Many Bears look at the uptime and the absorbs and are either discouraged or encouraged by that number, that is not the proper way to judge SD. It must be looked at in-depth to fully see and understand its benefits. Is SD being used up (fades with 0 remaining), is it being overwritten, or is it fading with full power still left on it? All of these things factor into a Bears evaluation.

Chimaeron – All about the timing

I posted this on my guild forums a while back which seemed to help a couple of the raid groups that were having trouble with Chimaeron, I thought other people might find it useful too.


Chimaeron is a fight that is all about timing. As a healer, it’s easy to freak out a little when the tanks are taking massive hits and the raid is often sitting at 1 health. However, with a clear understanding of Chimaeron’s abilities and timing the fight becomes very predictable and the healing becomes quite simple.

Tank Damage

Chimaeron has a 5 second swing timer. The things that make this fight difficult for the tanks and their healers are Break and Double Attack.

Here’s what the timeline on those abilities looks like:

0:00   Fight starts
0:00   Melee swing
0:05   Melee swing
0:05   Break applied to current tank
0:05   Chimaeron gains Double Attack buff
0:10   Double Attack occurs
0:15   Melee swing
0:20   Melee swing
0:20   Break applied to current tank
0:20   Chimaeron gains Double Attack buff
0:25   Double Attack occurs

One important thing to note is that the Break (which increases damage taken) will only stack up to 4 times. Because of this, the easiest way (for the healers anyway) to handle the tanking is for the first tank to tank for the majority of the encounter and take all the Breaks, while the second tank only taunts when the Double Attack buff is gained, takes the double attack, then the first tank taunts back.

What does this mean?

  • The Double Attack tank must be topped off after each Double Attack.
  • The main (Break) tank only needs to be kept above 10,000 health during the non-Feud phase.

I know that as a healer it’s tough to let a tank sit at such low health, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time, effort and mana by doing it this way.

Raid damage

The basic timeline for raid damage looks like this (numbers are rounded slightly):

0:00    Fight starts
0:15    Caustic Slimes cast (2 in 10man, 5 in 25)
0:20    Caustic Slimes cast
0:25    Caustic Slimes cast
0:30    Massacre
0:45    Caustic Slimes cast
0:50    Caustic Slimes cast
0:55    Caustic Slimes cast
1:00    Massacre
1:00    Feud
1:15    Caustic slime cast on raid
1:20    Caustic slime cast on raid
1:25    Caustic slime cast on raid
1:30    End of Feud
1:30    Massacre
Repeat

Most of the fight is constant and predictable:

  • Chimaeron will start casting Caustic Slime 15 seconds after being engaged
  • Caustic Slime is cast on 2 people at a time (5 on 25), every 4.5 seconds.
  • After 3 rounds of Caustic Slime hits, there will be a Massacre (4.5 seconds after the last slime).
  • Feud will start at approximately the same time as a Massacre.
  • 15 seconds after the Feud starts, Caustic Slime will be cast on the raid every 4.5 seconds. It is cast 3 times.
  • 4.5 seconds after the third Slime, the Feud will end and a Massacre will happen.
  • 15 seconds after the Massacre, he will start casting Slimes again.

The only thing that is not constant:

  • How many Caustic Slime ‘cycles’ will happen in between Feuds. Sometimes you’ll get 1 cycle of slimes and then the Feud will hit, sometimes you will get 2 or 3.

So what do we learn from this?

Healing before the Feud:

  • If you are healing the people hit with Caustic Slime during the non-Feud phase, you must use your fast, direct heals (Regrowth for druids, Flash/Binding Heal for priests, Flash of Light/Word of Glory/Holy Shock for pallies, Riptide/hasted Healing Wave/Healing Surge for shaman)*. You only have 4.5 seconds before the next slimes hit, so you need to be able to get a couple 10K+ heals off in this time.
  • You have 15 seconds to get the raid healed up to 10k after the Massacre.

Healing through the Feud:

  • In normal mode, the tanks are not getting hit by melee attacks, so they don’t need any special attention – all healers should be healing the raid.
  • Use AoE heals to heal everyone through this. Remember that he won’t start casting slimes on the raid for ~15 seconds after the Massacre, so don’t waste your damage mitigation abilities (Barkskin, Power Word: Barrier) by using them immediately.
  • Plan your cooldown use ahead of time so you have some kind of large group heal or group damage mitigation up for each Feud (Tranquility, ToL, PW:B, Hymn of Hope).

Have fun storming the castle!

*Updated, with thanks to Kurn and Alacran.

Moving on to heroic mode? I’ve got stuff to say about that too.

Tank Abuse

My baby prot warrior dinged 80 last weekend and I’ve been doing a lot of random heroics since then. I’m finding tanking a completely different experience from healing or DPS. The tank is at the forefront and is the one who usually gets the blame or the credit for how well a run goes, whether it is warranted or not. I’ve run with all sorts of people with varying levels of skill, gear and social etiquette. I’ve gotten compliments on my tanking when runs go smoothly and I’ve gotten outright abuse when they don’t. Do my tanking skills fluctuate wildly from instance to instance? I doubt it. The quality of the rest of the group makes a huge difference. I have no delusions that I am the best tank ever – my gear isn’t very good and tanking hasn’t yet become instinctual like healing is, but I try my best and the dungeons I tank generally go quite well. Every once in a while though, I get a group where everything goes wrong. Who gets the blame? You guessed it, the tank!

The thing that gives me the most trouble is large trash packs with casters. The trash in Forge of Souls is the absolute worst. I run around and throw out taunt every time it’s off cooldown and try to gather all the mobs, but I still find it difficult. I accept that gathering the mobs is my responsibility but how the rest of the group acts can either help me or hinder me.

How to help the tank on tough pulls:

  • DPS the mob the tank is attacking
  • Use abilities like misdirect and tricks
  • If you get aggro, move towards the tank
  • If you are capable, silence or Death Grip a caster so that they move into the group
  • Crowd control a stray mob (hahaha – fear or sheep when you could be spamming AoE? I’m funny)
  • Heal the tank

How to be completely unhelpful:

  • Ass-pull the trash packs
  • Start AoE before the tank has even touched half the mobs
  • Every DPS attack a different target
  • When you get aggro, run away
  • Occupy yourself with telling other members of your group how much they suck rather than dps/heal

I had a particularly bad heroic Forge of Souls run yesterday. We wiped on a trash pack (where every member of the group subscribed to the unhelpful tactics listed above) and two people in the group just railed on me. You suck, your gear sucks, you can’t hold aggro, you’re retarded. The fact that people in an anonymous environment like LFD can be complete assholes shouldn’t surprise me but I’ve never been abused like that in a group before. I came away from the run (which obviously fell apart) torn between two thoughts: “Those people are assholes, fuck’em” and “Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be doing the Icecrown heroics quite yet”. I queued for another heroic and got Pit of Saron. I was a little wary at the beginning, but it went very smoothly. At one point the healer asked me to stand in more bad things on the ground so he would have something to heal and at the end two people in the group complimented my tanking.

People are so quick to cast blame in randoms when things go wrong, often without really knowing who is at fault or examining their own performance. People make mistakes, things go awry. Instead of the generic exclamation of “u suck” in party chat when things go wrong, try giving a helpful suggestion. Or do what I do and yell obscenities at your computer. If things are really bad, just leave the group. Does verbally abusing some random person you’re probably never going to run into again accomplish anything? Is there an Asshat achievement I don’t know about?