Home > Eldoric's Blog, Player Blogs > Picking A Tank: Druid

Picking A Tank: Druid

Can You Bear It

I will be writing a series of articles geared towards helping a new player pick the tanking class that is right for him or her.  With that idea in mind, I will be attempting to keep them simple, accessible and as balanced as I possibly can while covering the two critical areas of the ‘feel’ of the tank and the play style.  After covering the iconic Warrior Tank last time, we will this time look to his closest brother-in-arms.  The Druid (Bear) Tank.

The Bear tank has often been called the ‘Little Brother’ to the Warrior tank because of all the similarities and common development legacy they both share.  While it is true that in Vanilla WoW, the Druid in Bear Form was little more then a watered down version of the Protection Warrior.  That was the design at the time and does not hold true today.  I have played a Warrior tank as my main in Cataclysm (due to a contest I ran off of my forums) for over half of the expansion and just switch back to my beloved Eldoric for some bear tanking goodness.  There are simularities between the two.  The fact that both use Rage as a resource system is the largest.  But the Druid is not and hasn’t been a watered down version of the Protection Warrior for a long time.  Instead of thinking of the Bear as the little brother to the Warrior, think of them as cousins.  I really wanted to get this out of the way to start because it can skew a person’s perceptions of Druid tanks a little too much before they even get a chance to begin to get an understanding of how the class is as a tank.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF):Druids great strength is that can fill any roll in the game they wish to play.  This gives the Druid the ability to reach into toolkits that other tanks do not have access too.  To do this effectively takes a lot of timing and skill but is very satisfying.  The Druid rotation has also greatly improved from a very stale one in The Burning Crusade to an engaging build and consume priority model with all required tools necessary to effectively tank.  The trick of the Druid is that its Bear Form alone can feel a little dry and restrictive if the player does not learn to effectively incorporate abilities from throughout the Druids total class tool bag.

The Bear Model Has Improved Since Vanilla

The ‘FEEL’ of the Druid Tank. I am going to freely admit upfront that my Night Elf Druid, Eldoric, has been my main since the release of World of Warcraft.  This creates the, not only probably but extremely likely, chance that my sense of the ‘feel’ of a bear is heavily influenced by my attachment and personal affinity for my primary tank and handle’s name sake.  I will attempt to my fullest to keep my own views from skewing this article’s appraisal of the Druid as a tank.

The largest factor you should keep in mind when playing a Druid tank is that you will be looking at the same Bear model anytime you step up to the front to tank.  This is important.  It may not seem so at the character selection screen or early on, but there will come a day that you roll your eyes because you have to shift out of caster form with all its fancy raid gear to the same static model you have been dealing with forever.  I really want to make that clear because for some the aesthetics of a character is a critical part of their enjoyment of the game.  Take a look at the bear form model.  If you dont think you can stand looking at it anytime you go into a dungeon or raid, then look somewhere else.

Roar, yo.

If you have decided you can handle no visional growth of your character while performing your primary roll, then you are going to find the Druid tank has little in the way of animations. You will then have to face the lack of visual ‘Pop” the form has.  The Bear’s animations are…..fine.  They are all basically modifications on  red swipes, explosions and streaks.  None are really bad.  They are just now going to give you a sense of  “WOW, THAT WAS AWESOME!”.

So far it may seem like all I am doing is QQ about the Guardian Druids.  I am really not.  I am trying to say, ‘feel-wise’ you are not getting the same depth as you get from a Warrior or Paladin.  Where you get most of the positives in the realm of feel comes from being a druid overall.  Those are great.  Quick shifting, casting, mobility from cat and other aspects of the Druid class feel awesome.  I hope and believe that Blizzard is taking a look at many animations that have been in the game for awhile and giving them an update.  Almsot all of the druid moves fall in that category.

Oh and Druid tanks are awesome.  I love my main, Eldoric.  That is all.

The Play Style: A Druid who tanks goes into Bear Form to preform that role.  When he or she shifts to Bear Form they do not stop being a druid.  This is important to remember because alot of people who play the Druid class tend to stick only to the form designated for their chosen role most if not all of the time.  I myself have been guilty of this in the past.  When a player does this they cut out one of the most important facets of the Druid class as a whole: abilities that cover every roll in the game.  Granted, if you choose to spec, gear, enchant and gem for a roll then the other rolls suffer greatly.  Try healing as a feral Druid and you will see what I mean.  But the overall point is that the Druid still has a large tool box they need to know and understand.   I will give you my favorite example: When pulling a group that have several casters in it, place a wild mushroom under each, explode them and shift to bear form.  It is a tricky line for a person playing a Bear tank to know when, how or even if they should play one ability or another that could put them at risk.  The ability to do so often shows the difference between a good Druid tank and an outstanding Druid tank.

Hair color dictates the look of your Bear model.

Focusing on just the Bear necessities (GET IT!?!), you get everything you need as a Bear tank.  They can feel like they are highly restrictive, and in some ways they are, but that comes from them not being able to access abilities used by other forms.  As I stated above, you can get to them.  You just need to know what you are doing.  The rotation of the Druid used to be one of the most static in the game.  You could macro the AoE and single target rotations into a single macro.  Blizzard has done a good job with the coming of Cataclysm to give the Bear a build/consume priority based tanking rotation that is involving (like a Warrior), feeds into survivability (like a Paladin), and forgiving of mistakes (unlike the Death Knights).  The threat rotation is built around Lacerate.  Two mechanics are built off of that one move.  The first is Pulverize, which consumes Lacerate stacks to give a healthy crit buff.  This crit buff feeds back into the Bear Tank’s Savage Defense shield.  The second is Berserk.  The passive portion of this talent allows for free mangles based off of your lacerate damage ticks.  The whole effect is simular to what you get with a Warrior’s Sword and Board ability.  Overall, the feel of this rotation is very nice and is, in fact, my favorite rotations of all the tanks.

Wrapping Up: Eldoric is my main.  He has been my main since I picked up the game long ago in vanilla about a week after release.  I have tried to be honest and fair when talking about the Bear tank.  They are fun.  Being a Druid is fun.  Bear form can be boring to look at all the time.  You have great tools as a Druid tank.  Go and try it yourself.  I think you will like it.  Oh, and one more thing: Generally, people trust a Bear tank because they are so rare.  If your tank is a Bear, they probably know what they are doing.
Go Druid TANKS!


  1. Wild
    November 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I have a level 74 Druid tank and a raiding warrior main. I love the Druid class but I honestly feel very limited when bear tanking. I feel like my warrior with moves taken away. Again I’m not maxed on my Druid but I feel it needs something added to increase the fun factor. Druids are the most versatile class and cat is so much fun it’s scary. Best of luck new tanks, we love u!!

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