Bear Necessities

So, you all convinced me. I caved. About the tanking, that is.


What do you mean, this isn’t what you had in mind? Needs more…paladin? She’s only level 17, but she’s tanked Ragefire Chasm about five times. I think it was about five times. She’s got an odd mix of some heirloom gear (feral shoulders) but no heirloom weapon (apart from the caster staff). Pugging at low levels is as hilarious as I remember it being, with a random assemblage of people who have come together to murder relatively low-level mobs. I didn’t make the mistake of missing out on queuing for RFC this time. When I hit level 15, I was right in there! Regretfully, a bear has only a few options at that level. Very few. My “taunt” button is well-loved. I’m beginning to hate hunters with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. Why must they attack before I’ve even hit anything? Maybe it’s a reflection of the hunter playstyle, which very strongly emphasizes the capability of soloing most things, because hunter and pet are a ready-made team. It doesn’t translate well to group play with other real people from what I’ve seen. I get that your pet could be tanking this instead of me, really I do. But, unfortunately for you, you have ME tanking it, so give me a chance! (Addendum: After I wrote most of this, I saw that Gameldar has written a post replying to some of my bear woes, so if you’re a lowbie bear tank with similar issues, it’s got some good advice in it!)

I don’t even have time to type things to them and berate my groups, because I’m too busy slamming buttons and spinning in circles and taunting mobs. At least once I hit level 16 I gained the ability to swipe things, both with my front AND my back, so that helps with packs of multiples. Most of the groups went decently well up until the last run where things were all over the place and I just couldn’t seem to handle them, so I decided I should quit while I was ahead and parked my fuzzy butt to gain some rested XP.

Highlights of lowbie tanking include:
Glyph of Maul. Thank you, Maul, for helping me with AoE aggro because every person wants to start AoEing before I’ve even reached the mobs, let alone gained enough rage to do anything more than auto-attack them.

At one point I did manage to speak up long enough to say, “OK guys, I don’t have many things I can do yet so please give me a bit of time with the mobs, you’re going to have to bear with me.”
“LOL he said bear”
“Yes, you see what I did there…”

That run seemed to go more smoothly than the others, perhaps because I made them laugh. One thing that I’m noticing though – everyone, everyone just assumes that I am “he.” This may be a function of bear form (after all, they don’t see anything else, it looks like a bear, and tanks are GUYS, amirite?). I wouldn’t remark on this except it seemed quite explicit, “Hey dude thanks for the run,” or “he” is doing this or that. It’s a bit bizarre, but I’m guessing I’m going to have to get used to it. It’s especially strange because my name (to me) is really quite feminine. But I guess that doesn’t matter. If thinking I’m a guy makes them more liable to respect my authoritah, I’ll take it.

Out of the five pugs, only one had one of those really strange sort of “WTF” moment so characteristic of random pugging. There was this restoration druid, you see. Well, I assume he was restoration. He had a plus symbol next to his face. And yet… my health was dropping, inexorably downward, never to recover. I can always count on a mouthy pugger though, someone said, “Heal the tank!” Nothing. In-between pulls, I dropped out of bear form to throw some HoTs on myself, and then pulled the next group. Still nothing. I don’t know what this “healer” was doing really. Someone else yelled at him. After the next pull, with me at about 20% life, I stopped.

“I don’t want to sound demanding or anything,” I said (no sarcasm, I swear, I would never) “But do you suppose you could heal me?” The oddest thing about being sarcastic with these sorts of pugs is that it doesn’t work. At all. Meaning… if someone said that to me, I’d get defensive. These people just seem to take it at face value. “K,” he said simply. As if, “Oh right, I was meant to be doing that. Well, since you’ve been kind enough to mention it, I’ll endeavor to do that in future.” And he did, for a little while. He’d HoT me… get distracted casting Wrath at some mobs… At a point near the end I thanked him for the heals – I was being genuine, although it strikes me as bizarre to thank someone for actually doing the job they were brought to do, but what do I know? I’m now at the mercy of healers instead of tanks, and it’s a strange feeling. Amazingly we finished the run without problems, even though I watched the healer pull additional mobs when I was already struggling and bear-flailing with the mobs I’d MANAGED to pull. I don’t know how that thought process goes.

“Hey look, there’s some guys over there! Let’s add them into the fray! Oh right, I’m supposed to heal. Well, here’s a rejuv, he’ll be fine…wheee, I’m casting Wrath!”

So I’m not sure what’s in the future for my baby bear. She definitely will not level with just pugs, but she’ll likely do quite a bit of pugging. Once I have cat form I think I can swap between the two fairly handily for questing/tanking. It’s funny, because people kept telling me they’re looking forward to “your next project,” I’m not sure if I really have a next “project,” at least not something with an overarching theme. I did do this:

Note the absence of a giant axe.

Yes, that’s right. That isn’t a retribution spec right there. It’s a shield. And a sword. It’s even 537 defense. I know, it’s three shy of an actual raid, but I haven’t done a 5-man. Unless you count Scholomance, which I went and did on my own, so as to not inflict my “tanking” on any other living person. Feeling confident, after Scholomance I ran a guildie’s alt through Blood Furnace. It was fine. He didn’t die, I didn’t die. I’m not sure when I’ll work up the gumption to actually run things at 80. As I told my guild, “I’m the kind of tank that makes healers drop group when they see me.” You know, tanks with less than eleventy-billion HP. (It’s around 27K self-buffed, for the record).

I don’t want to offend any warriors out there, but I think I actually take more naturally to the paladin tanking stuff than the abilities of a warrior. I have an unhealthy enjoyment of hurling a golden-light-shield in the face of mobs. It’s… sort of exhilarating. For now, it’s only my “soloing old instances” spec, but we’ll see where it goes.

Vid has been busy off and on. I never had a chance to write about the pug raids she did! Well, they were half pug and half not. We had an alt run night with five of us that required us to pick up five random people. And oh, such randoms they were. We did Trial of the Crusader, having found a hunter, a rogue, a death knight, a druid and a warlock. It all started out so casually. “We don’t need vent for this,” we decided. “ToC is old news, everyone has a handle on these fights.”

After the first wipe (I had a snobold on me the entire time, up until we died) a brief silence prevailed on Vent. “Maybe we should give them the vent info?” I ventured.

Soon we had most of the group in vent with us, excepting the hunter, who apparently had a moral opposition to being in Vent and just flatly ignored us, the same way he flatly ignored the targets we told him to attack or do anything else the raid leader asked.

The rogue, it turned out, had extensive raid experience, which he proceeded to expound upon at length, in-between trying to give mid-fight directions that were wrong, and being dead last for DPS done. He actually wasn’t too bad once we gently told him that all the talking in Vent was confusing things mid-fight, and he was endearingly earnest. “Good work, guys,” he enthused during Faction Champs. “We’ve got this, we’re doing great!”

But the star of the show really had to be the Death Knight. Apparently he’d never done ToC before, because when we finished Twin Val’kyr he completely lost it when the floor fell out from under us. “Sh** man this is crazy!” he said. We all kind of laughed, but the reason for his exclamations became clearer a few minutes later. I’ve carefully and lovingly smudged everyone’s name except mine to protect the innocent, but this conversation is best read in its original form. The DK asked what tier of gear he should be trying to get, and he was all ready to set off on a quest to acquire Tier 8, before the rogue set him straight, not without the opportunity to link all his hawt gear, of course.


After this we went on to do Onyxia with more or less the same group, except we brought our epic mage along with us. They kept asking us “Don’t we need more ranged” and we kept telling them, “We’ll be fine, you’ll see.” The fight, however, got messy (That’s a ****ing 50 DKP minus!) and we finished what has to be the longest Onyxia kill I’ve ever personally been a part of… with the tank, myself, the off-tank (feral druid) and our mage being the ONLY people alive. We basically did the final ground phase with only us. There was a hairy moment when I thought I’d been feared into her cleave, but fortunately I wasn’t.

The best loot of the night was definitely Anub’arak dropping the healing shield for me. I’d only dared hope, and now I can only conclude such a disjointed post with fun search engine terms, because I like them.

My top search term for the past few weeks has been variations of:
i seem to have misplaced my pants
i have misplaced my pants

I didn’t know what I was getting into once I disenchanted those puppies. It’s an epidemic, people. Think of the pants.

how blizz deals with ninjaing: Yeah, they really don’t. My best advice to you would be not put yourself in a position where someone can whisk something out from under everyone’s nose. If it’s something rare like a vanity item or BoE, make sure everyone knows to Need on it. If you’re pugging raids you’re somewhat more at their mercy, but if it keeps happening consider organizing your *own* pug raids. Sure, it’s more of a headache, but you’ll have control of loot distribution and know that nobody can ninja anything.

things you know about icc: You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… no, really. What do I know about ICC? Don’t cast Starfall on Marrowgar trash unless you’re as far as possible from anything that could possibly want to eat your face, ever. And even then you probably shouldn’t (but go ahead and do it anyway, you know I do).


36 responses to “Bear Necessities


    /rolls hunter

  2. “I don’t want to offend any warriors out there, but I think I actually take more naturally to the paladin tanking stuff than the abilities of a warrior.”

    I am sorry, but I can’t help but feel offended that you would prefer the flashy glamour of the pally compared to the raw awesomeness of the warrior. I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

    “Don’t we need more ranged” and we kept telling them, “We’ll be fine, you’ll see.”

    Yes, Fsob is extremely good. It was quite fun to see them shut up in awe when we did phase 3 with one DPS alive.

    Anyway, congratulations on trying out tanking. It is the best role to play in WoW, bar none. And if you need to take the easy route of the pally tank to get there, well, it’s still a noble goal. 😉

  3. Ha! Love the bear tank, Vid!

    Maybe it’s a reflection of the hunter playstyle, which very strongly emphasizes the capability of soloing most things, because hunter and pet are a ready-made team.

    They need to give the ol’ Ret Spec Pally a try. Of course, they’d probably be the type to Judge right before the tank grabs aggro, tho…

    Yes, that’s right. That isn’t a retribution spec right there. It’s a shield. And a sword. It’s even 537 defense. I know, it’s three shy of an actual raid, but I haven’t done a 5-man. Unless you count Scholomance, which I went and did on my own, so as to not inflict my “tanking” on any other living person.

    *sigh* Another Ret Offspec, lost to the void. All I ask is that you don’t do what the Pally Tank I had in Halls of Stone on Saturday did. He spent the first several trash pulls not bothering with Consecration, and he kept losing aggro. Once he started using it, he held onto aggro much better.

    “Sh** man this is crazy!” he said. We all kind of laughed, but the reason for his exclamations became clearer a few minutes later.

    There has to be some reason why a certain subset of people like to run stuff high. Maybe the graphics just look, well, more intense than usual, but I’ve discovered that their attention spans can wander quite a bit when they’re supposed to be focusing on actually doing things.

    Thanks for all the laughs, Vid. It’s been one of those Mondays at work, and I’ve needed them.

    • I may be Ret again later, I’m not sure! I still have the gear for it. I’m a true hybrid, Redbeard, which is code for “I couldn’t make up my mind if forced.” Except I still love Holy best.

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having a rough day, I hope it improves! Mondays are the pits.

  4. Issues of gender within Warcraft fascinate me. It doesn’t surprise me that you would be referred to as “he”, especially when you’re the tank. I don’t think people even bother to check whether the toon is female or male, and while being a tank might add to the masculine presumption, I don’t think it’s necessary. Most people refer to people as “he” anyway.

    A while ago this used to bug me intensely. After all, I was trying to immersively roleplay and people kept calling me “he”, in plain ignorance of the feminine qualities of my toon. I still very much prefer to be referred to as “she” or “her” because of my toon’s gender. In my view, that’s all a person should see. The fact that some large percentage (don’t know offhand, too lazy to look up) of Warcraft players are male shouldn’t enter into it. It’s the character. Gender pronouns should always refer to the character.

    Your post also reminded me of a time long long ago when I was complete newbie at the game. I joined up with a pug to run undead Stratholme. They asked me to heal, and I said sure, I’d give it a shot, I was a holy pally after all. I figured I’d pop into the mobs, consecrate a bit, hit them a few times with my sword then pop back out and toss a few heals on whoever was taking damage. After a couple people died, the leader of the group threw a well-deserved tirade my way about just standing back and healing. So I did that for the rest of the run, which went smooth enough, but it never felt right to me to do that. Perhaps not coincidentally, I have never played a healer since.

    • Now that you mention it, Traxy, it’s true. Most people call me “dude” or “he” on most of my characters (regardless of gender) although for some reason Vidyala seemed to have more people convinced about her gender than others. Many people as I leveled her would call me she or otherwise refer to my gender as feminine. It just seemed more pronounced with the druid tank – I wonder if all bears experience this?

      I’m sorry to hear that your experience turned you off of healing altogether. Although, I have found that paladin healing really is a most “active” sort of healing, and you really can heal that way (mid-mob pack etc.) just so long as you’re still keeping an eye on bars. Someone observed that it’s the only healing class/spec that has an “active” move in it that is mandatory, judging in order to keep up the Judgments of the Pure buff. Should you ever feel you’d like to give it a try again I’d be here cheering you on! Healing is a really rewarding part of the game for me… But it’s true it isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay too. 🙂

      • Now you’ve got me curious. We have two bear tanks in Traxy’s guild. Both of them are female characters, and one of them is played by a woman. I’m pretty sure most people refer to the one played by a guy as “he” because of his RL gender, but I’ll have to see if anyone refers to the one played by a woman as a he. I bet people in pugs do.

      • Let me know what you find out! I’m fairly certain I’ll get the “he” thing more as a tank than I would otherwise, especially as a bear (not so easy to tell if it’s a male or female toon since I’m in form most of the time).

    • I’ve always made a point to refer to a person via their toon as their gender. Unless, of course, I happen to know who is on the other end of the keyboard. Using the term “dude” is the one title that I’ve made gender neutral; I just hate the term “dudette” or “chick”.

      One of my blog co-authors, who until recently was a long time Horde player, prefers to think of all Blood Elves as feminine. Considering he feels that BEs don’t really belong in the Horde anyway, I really just can’t win sometimes.

      (Especially when you park your toon in the Brunnhildar Village, the Armory changes your gender to female whether you want it to or not.)

      • On the gender question, our raid community is apparently unusual. Two of our four main tanks are female players, as are both of our primary “backup” tanks. All 6 characters are female – two bears, a warrior and a paladin (myself), with a treebearcat and holy paladin as backup.

        There is a noticable difference in the style between the two males (including myself), and the two females – but I put that down more to the fact that I’m currently a raid leader, and the other bloke used to be, so we tend to be a bit more forward. However, I’m starting to win them over to my favourite strategy for a new boss – I call it “Just Charge”, and generally mischievous tanking ways. (Crash testing this strat in an SWP zerg resulted in Twins dying with both tanks elft alive. Despite the fact everyone else, I belive that this vindicates my faith in the strategy)

        On the “he” – I think that is just generic. The stereotype of a WoW player as far as I can tell is a teenage boy (even if only a minority of players are in fact teenage boys), which tends to make male the default gender.

  5. Yay for bear tanking! AKA ‘need more rage’ tanking.

    Here’s a tip – grab as many potions of rage as you can get your paws on:

    You only need someone with an alchemy level of 60, and you can normally pick up the sharp claws for pennies on the AH.

    Neck one of these as you pull and you should be able to get a quick charge & swipe in, which can help no end with initial aggro when your rage generation is really sucky, and will be for ages.

    Alternate these with an enrage when that’s up, and try to chain-pull whenever possible so as to not waste that precious rage.

    You could also stick a talent or two in furor and try powershifting to bear ’til you proc the 10 rage (it’s not like you’re using your mana for anything else!), but this is unreliable without all 5 points, and that gimps your feral progression quite a bit.

    If you do that, then get a LW to make you a as well, might as well get the most out of it.

    • What a great idea! The character is actually an alchemist – she nearly has 60 skill in Alchemy already. I can level my alchemy AND lay in a supply of rage potions for later! Thanks for the tips, Steves.

  6. “I have an unhealthy enjoyment of hurling a golden-light-shield in the face of mobs. It’s… sort of exhilarating.”

    See? I told you so 🙂

  7. When I play my paladins, (both tanks, both very female and I never have ‘show helm’ on because I like their long hair! and their faces. And mostly because most helms are awful and ugly) I get referred to as ‘he’ a lot. I tend to just refer to people by the gender of their character, but I’m on a RP realm.

    I was in a RFC pug a while back with my prot warrior (latest project) and after a few pulls and some near deaths I suggested the druid use regrowth as well as rejuv (he was just spamming rejuv on me..) at which point he tartly told me to stop telling him how to play and why would he use regrowth when rejuv is so much better….

    • Maybe it comes from being on an RP realm? I “grew up” on one before we transferred to our current realm and I still just call people by the gender of their characters.

      Also, resto druid facepalm. Didn’t he understand that two HoTs (one with a direct heal component) are better than one?!

  8. I just ditched my tankadin’s ret offspec for a Holy offspec. Of course she’s only got about half the gear she needs and I want more before I try it out… I put on what she had and it said “500 spellpower” and I shrieked and took it off again. I’m spoiled by my tree’s 3500 SP. Gotta find her another ring and some trinkets, I think, and one or two more badge pieces.

    Any hints for a Resto druid to try Holy Pally heals? Tanking her is such a faceroll but how do you heal without Rejuv?

    • It’s really a shift in mindset. Honestly, it may have been easier for me because my first healing character was a holy priest, and only afterward did I level and heal as a druid. This is a topic actually covered completely by Bellwether in this post about going from being a resto druid to a holy paladin.

      Become familiar with all of your awesome cool-downs, they are an extreme strength of being a Holy Paladin. Expect 5-mans to be a bit stressful at first. It’s still more hectic for me to heal, say, H HoR as a paladin than as a druid. But I can also throw Hand of Protection on a DPS with something all over them, I can bubble myself, and Beacon will heal the tank while I’m healing everybody else. At first it felt really counter-intuitive to be healing someone other than the tank. Healing as a paladin is almost more like being a DPS player, it’s all HITS. I have to confess that I really liked being a tank-healing resto druid, too – with my mad amount of HoTS and a beefed up Nourish, so maybe it’s a style thing.

      And the Rejuv thing? …I use Gift of the Naaru. I know, I know, it’s not the same thing, but having the little HoT tracker makes me feel better, haha.

      • Thanks, especially for the link! I can see Vuhdo and I are going to have to spend some quality time together to get me able to use this whole Holy thing…

  9. Yes! You’re tanking! All is going according to plan.

    • Yes and no, and we’ll see if it lasts. The annoying thing is I’d LIKE to try pally tanking more (while leveling) but so many of the fun tools are at higher levels and I really like the shiny fun things. Being a druid is always good though. Also, damn you! /fistshake

  10. youyankityoutankit

    In pugs, if I’m tanking, I’m just about always referenced as “dude”, “he” and “man”.

    If I’m dps or heals, it tends to be the toon’s gender – though my disc priest has been called “he” a couple of times 😛

    I suppose you see less female players in progression tanking, but I know of a few myself. I’m the only active 25 man tanking female player in my guild atm, though we have another lady who MTs one of the 10 man runs.

    I’ve been made to feel self-conscious twice for being a female in progression tanking. Incidently both times were males coming in demanding my tanking spot and neither is still in guild.

    Good luck with the bear tanking… my poor druid is so rusty and has threat problems on aoe pulls in pugs so I rarely tank with her.

  11. I have a theory as to why hunters often end up being huntards more often that not (and more often than other classes). This is not to be mean to hunters in general, I’ve met some damn fine hunters, but I think the reason so many hunters are so bad is that many levelling guilds (of which I have been in a few with all my darned alts) advise people correctly that hunters are the easiest class to level in.

    Now, I did not say hunters were easy in total, levelling and playing in a group of people are two totally different things. But because so many new players who have never played WoW before are directed to hunters as the “easy to play” class, so many hunters can be rather bad.

  12. Yeah low warriors and bears have rage issues for a good 30 or 40 levels. It was worse before they made FF and growl not cost any.

    One thing you can do is not use any abilities for the last 10-30% of a creature’s health. This can easily get you filled up for the next fight. Those last couple swipes aren’t useful for anything but padding your recount anyway.

    Something to note about bear rage is that they get a LOT from just hitting something. Basically one good hit and you are good for a swipe and then some.

    You can use your enrage between fights to keep your rage up. It gives you a nice chunk and then a slow but for 8 seconds or so. That means 15 or 20 seconds later you are where you started. So if you end a fight and then pop it you have 15 or twenty seconds to get into another fight while still having plenty of rage. That might even be enough to let the healer drink something 😛

    Another useful rage trick are those points in the resto talent tree that generate rage when you shift. Starting a hard fight with nothing? Drop out of bear and back in then pop enrage. Now you have more than enough for your charge and first couple swipes.

    Something else to think on is making carful use of taunting. You see your taunt gives you the other guys threat +1. So no reason to taunt too early. Let him shoot that thing until you are in melee range then taunt and maul in a quick 1-2. Economy of taunts is a big help to a lowbe tank but most probably don’t learn it until far past when they need it most.

    Man I was such a bad hunter to tanks. I laughed off their complains for years before rolling a tank. Ever wish you could go back and beg someone for forgiveness? Yeah…

    Not that I am any better now but what the heck. Misdirect covers all sins.

  13. Another thing you could do as a baby bear is start it in tauren form, Wrath or Moonfire one target, shift into bear and FFF a second target, and then start attacking a third, for relatively decent multi-target initial aggro. Kind of a pain though.

  14. Hi, there! I’ve returned with an update about my forays into holy pally healing after you gave me such awesome advice. Thus far, I’ve healed in bgs and Old Kingdom, and I finished all with the worry I’d broken my mouse with the frantic clicking. But healing the 5-man actually went really well! I told them I was new to holy pally healing, and they were encouraging and attentive to my non-epic mana pool. Once my server becomes less rickety, I’m hoping to get in there and heal more because healing without AoEs heals or group-wide HoTs is actually pretty exhilirating! 😀

  15. If it helps, I’m currently leveling a bear tank, too – I’m at 25 now (but leveling insanely fast, since I’ve dragged a friend in with RaF, she’s healing me).

    It really does get better – The first RFC run was *hell*, as was the first Deadmines run (a paladin running in and consecrating just as you start to swipe… ARGH!).

    Faerie Fire is awesome and helps a lot. I’ve also gotten a lot more mobile than I’m used to (I’ve leveled a paladin tank via LFD from Ramparts onwards), and I’m beginning to have a lot of fun. I’ve also stopped to worry about it if someone is totally pulling aggro temporarily, especially if it’s a paladin who can take it.

    People who start to pull additional mobs (in an annoying way, and *especially* if I’m standing there waiting because the healer is drinking)… well, I first tell them to please not do it. Then I warn them that I’ll leave them to tank these mobs if they keep it up. And then I do just that, I sit down and watch them (it helps that I’m on SkyPe with my healer). If they *still* don’t learn, I figure they want to be dead on the floor.

  16. Yay for the bears… I’m having good fun tanking again with a red bar – thanks for all the tips, it’ll hopefully make things better in the future!

    My bear is also an alchemist (and was before you could drink in bear form… what did I know?). So I’ll be rage potioning up too.

    I generally don’t use gender when referring to people in pugs – I use names. However, I always use ‘guys’ in the non-gender specific group sense. Sorry for offending you female players if that is the case!

  17. For some reason, my kitty druid always gets called a “he”, too, despite an equally feminine name. Something about animals and masculinity?

    I play a little warrior tank and I will be glad if I never see another hunter again. They move and type normally, like actual human beings, but they go into berserk Doberman mode as soon as a mob appears. And their pets.. keep… Growling. Grrrr.

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