People who think Druid tanking is over are nuts.
One big change to note, we can now use items IN FORMS.
Druid tanking just got a WHOLE lot more fun. We can now stagger potions, lock cookies, herbs, seeds, trinkets, Barkskin, Bezerk, Enrage (we take less DMG), and the Herbalism HoT (I am an herbalist) without the worry of getting caught OOF (out of form)
This is a big change to the current Mangle, Maul rotation bore. I like it, it will take more skill and attention from us as tanks.
How many druids have noticed people freaking out when they are tanking by starting a pull in stealth kitty form or caster form? It seems ever since the change came down in patch 2.3 with client side shifting people downright think I am crazy. Just the other night I was in Kara helping out a buddies guild and they were all confused as to why I was on the main tank list when I am sitting waiting to start things up in stealth cat form… lol. Then you hear “holy crap you just moonfired a mob in bear form”… lol Yeah, I switched to bear form before the pull started just to ease the minds of my fellow raiders and then moonfired pulled and instantly back to bear… apparently faster than this guy’s system kept up with lag.
I bring this up because people need to understand that with 5 points in Furor the last thing I want to do when pulling or running in to tank a boss is shift to bear. I am sure most people understand this, what they don’t understand is why I would be in kitty form prior to this shift… well, number 1, why not? It really makes no difference what form I start in, it is completely irrelevant actually. Druids can shift directly from 1 form to the next now and frankly I prefer starting almost everything from stealthed cat in case someone pulls a Leroy whether it be on purpose or by accident. It also allows me a little more control of the situation and what I agro when I am ready when off tanking in 25 mans.
Being able to start pulls or fights from the stealthed form is actually a huge bonus to feral tanking. It allows us to get great postioning for multi mob pulls. I love stealthing to certain groups in MrT and starting the pull by a pounce, bear, bash or roar while keeping all the mobs at a nice ranged distance from the rest of the party. I can also start the pull on one side while the other side of the pull is getting CCed allowing me to swipe away from trouble. I also use this technique on the 3rd boss in MrT… pounce the boss, mangle, shred for a couple combo points… go to bear bash or charge then bash then back to cat for a maim and a spell lock for 3 secs, another mangle… back to bear again… ect… I also like sneaking up into trash mobs in SSC so when the MT starts the pull I am exactly in range for a moonfire shot before my mob might get caught in a concecrate or agro the MT. Another great place for this is in Hyjal as the trash enters the camp I can stealth in right behind it and pounce a necromancer before he gets off his first shadow bolt, shift to bear, bash him, and then make sure I have agro… look, I just saved the pally tank 3k or more burst damage from the pull ma (P.S. The trash in Hyjal cannot see through stealth, so not a problem, unless you walk right into them of course which I have never done.)
I also like pulling from caster form especially using hurricane. The nice thing about hurricane is you can position it to grab agro from an entire group of mobs or just a portion of them leaving the ones outside the AoE for CC or to get picked up by another tank. Works great but most people don’t understand the why or how. Hurricane is a druids consecrate but it can be aimed and although brief its a great way to get multiple mob agro.
I also like the caster HoT’s to bear, FF pull. I use this method on Tidewalker, Kael in MrT, the 2nd boss in MrT, and the FLK shammy add. Cast HoT’s on myself for the added threat or at least initial damage buffer for my healers, shift to bear and FF an incoming misdirected mob or feral charge in…. works great.
Feral raiding is just downright fun. Currently my guild is in Hyjal, here are some of the things I typically do in there as an OT…
For starters I buff my DPS weapon with a stone since we will be at the boss fight within an hour, I save my food and pot for phase 6 of the trash to make sure the buffs are still up for the boss fight. 1st trash, 10 ghouls, switch weapon to Staff of Dark Mending and Hurricane the mobs being tanked by our pally… switch weapon, shift cat, run in and single target DPS. Next pull probably the same… 3rd pull I will be stealthing in as cat to pounce something to lighten the load on the pally… shift to bear and OT it until it’s dead maybe pick up another mob… when it dies if I don’t have agro on anything I shift and hurricane the current AoE group of mobs, shift back to cat and single target DPS… stealth and wait to start the process all over again. Right after the last trash phase I use my ItemRack addon and switch my gear to my raid setup with my PvP trinket… I have like 12 possible gear setups to chose from… (P.S. If you use ItemRack a word to the wise, apparently sometimes even though you get an out of combat message you might try to shift your gear before some kind of lag, your ItemRack icon will reflect your gear change but it won’t actually happen, make sure to stealth in cat as soon as you are out of combat and then change to 1-2 different gear sets and then to the setup you want just to be safe.) Then we get Rage and although he is a complete push over I think I have picked up tanking him after a MT death at least twice now and maybe even thrown in a battle rez or 2 also… fun stuff.
All of this means that I have decided to forgo testing Powershifting to boost my damage. I know that by using the currently available macro’s I could boost my damage when in a DPS role but I think feral druids are just too important from a raid utility standpoint to mess around with burning through ones mana like that. As it is now with the T4 energy proc and OOC proc I rarely find myself low on energy anyway and I view it as a time to drop some agro just to be on the safe side… so I get a couple less shreds… but at least the boss dies.
When tanking Void Reaver with warriors try to watch Omen and let the warriors get some initial agro and then try to balance your mauls and mangles to have your threat fall just below your fellow tanks, maybe bouncing above them from time to time. Last night I tanked Void Reaver for the first time and although I was able to maintain agro for the most part (sorry Kel, kitty burst damage is a bitch with GoA at our gear level) our 2 warriors most likely stood around with a finger up their nose as I fought for agro from the start and won the battle as the warriors sat rage starved from being totally ignored by the loot piñata.