by Allison Robert

I wrote a lot of today’s article because I’m lazy as sin and wanted a quick reference guide available. Past the cut you’ll find information for bear and cat druids on hit caps, reputation grinds, the numbers you should have before stepping into heroics, reforging, and a host of other things that would otherwise have required me to get off my butt and Google something.

The bear

I encountered bear tanks just as infrequently on the Cataclysm beta as I did on the Wrath of the Lich King beta, so I’ll be watching feral numbers as the expansion kicks into high gear. When things settle down a bit, I’ll be revisiting the 101 guides for all three specs covered in the Tuesday column (bears, cats, and restoration). This is just a quick guide to get you through leveling and dungeons on your way to level 85.


Hit cap at 85 In short, 961 hit if you’re tanking a tier 11 raid boss or 721 hit if you’re tanking a heroic 5-man boss. 8 percent hit will still be the cap for ferals in tier 11, which is960.872 hit rating at level 85 (see Elitist Jerks’ combat ratings at level 85). Blizzard is planning on having more hit required for future raid tiers, so keep in mind that this is probably going to change. However, you don’t need to care about hit as much as a DPS does. Don’t bother gemming or reforging it.

Expertise cap at 85 As always, try to reach the soft cap (26 expertise or 781 rating). Any expertise beyond that until 56 is nice but not absolutely necessary. At level 85, this is780.7072 rating for 26 expertise and 1681.5232 rating for 56 expertise. Beyond 56, you will gain nothing from expertise, although the odds of actually reaching the hard cap are basically zero anyway. As with hit, don’t bother gemming or reforging it, but do prioritize an +expertise piece over one without it.

How should I spec? This is a standard bear tanking spec at level 85. Assuming you have the required points in feral at level 80, you’ll be working toward Perseverance in the restoration tree. You’ll have one point left over in this build to do whatever you want. You’ll probably get the most direct use from Stampede, but it’s up to you. Yes, Natural Shapeshifteris still a useless pain in the ass.

For leveling purposes, I plan on maxing out Nurturing Instinct and possibly Predatory Strikes. Mob damage in Cataclysm leveling zones is very high, and you’ll be popping out to heal a lot. The points you’ll need to free up for one or both can probably be stolen most easily fromFeral Aggression and/or Endless Carnage.

How should I glyph?
Bears don’t have a lot of compelling glyph choices, but at least that makes this easy:

Numbers before entering 85 heroics? On the beta, Blizzard “strongly recommended” creating a premade character with Cataclysm blues in order to tackle heroic content, and the average item level on said premades was 333. Bear characters in this or comparable gear had around 29,000 armor, 106,000 health, and 27 percent dodge.

This is enough to keep you alive while tanking two or three heroic mobs. Anything beyond that and your healer will hate you. It goes without saying that you won’t have a huge margin for error, so abuse whatever form of crowd control your group offers while you’re still gearing up. Yes, this applies to normal dungeons too.

What should I reforge? Haste is our least desirable stat, and you should reforge it into dodge. This is reportedly the only way to reach the avoidance stats enjoyed by other tanking classes in tier 11. If there isn’t any haste on your gear, reforge the crit. If there isn’t any haste or crit on your gear, you can probably leave it alone, unless by some miracle you get hit-capped (not likely) before setting foot in raids. If your threat’s good enough that you can afford to dump some +hit, feel free to reforge that too. Ultimately the reforging question is a bit subjective.

Post-mastery nerf, don’t reforge to mastery; just look for it on your gear. It’s still a very good stat, but it doesn’t trump everything else by a country mile. To simplify things as much as possible, look for agility leather with mastery on it, then reforge the haste or crit on it into dodge.

What stats should I look for? The ideal piece of gear for a bear tank prioritizes armor, stamina, agility, mastery, dodge, expertise, crit, and hit in pretty much that order. (Thanks to Riftmaker on Twitter for correcting this!)

What should I gem for? You won’t encounter too much socketable gear while you’re leveling, but you’re bound to see a few pieces if you tank at all. Shifting Demonseyes should be the default gem if you don’t care about a socket bonus: Use Agility, stamina, and/or mastery gems if the socket bonus is useful. A useful socket bonus is anything granting agility, stamina, or mastery. This trifecta will never let you down.

What reputation should I grind first? Kintourn beat me to this just as I started drafting this article. In short, Therazane and the Earthen Ring are what you’ll want for their shoulderand helm enchants respectively. You can get to honored with both factions through Deepholm questing (although the Earthen Ring also has a strong presence in Vashj’ir and the Twilight Highlands). Buy their tabards at friendly and keep running dungeons.

However, the Guardians of Hyjal are notable for offering a useful chestpiece (ilevel 333, good enough for starting heroics) at honored, and it’s usable as early as level 83. While Blizzard may have tinkered with the rate of reputation gain, I hit revered with the Guardians of Hyjal just by finishing the zone at level 82. The next ilevel 333 chestpiece you’re likely to see will be off Setesh in Halls of Origination, so just keep that in mind.

  • The Therazane quartermaster is D’lom the Collector and can be found at 57, 13 in Deepholm.
  • The Earthen Ring quartermaster is Provisioner Arok and can be found at 49, 42 in Vashj’ir.
  • The Guardians of Hyjal quartermaster is Provisioner Whitecloud and can be found at 62, 25 in Mount Hyjal (the Nordrassil inn).

I’ll do a full guide to reputation faction rewards soon, but these are the ones likely to do the most for you early.

The cat

In marked contrast to their ursine cousins, there were quite a few cats in Cataclysmdungeons. However, the John F%^$ing Madden rotation’s going to be a bit harder to sustain with rapidly dwindling crit rates between levels 80 and 85.


Hit cap at 85 Like the bear, the cat is considered a one-handed attacker, so your hit cap in tier 11 will be 961 hit versus a raid boss or 721 hit versus a heroic 5-man boss. Again, the hit cap is likely to rise in tier 12. As with the bear, hit isn’t something you should go out of your way to get. Most of our damage is yellow with an inherently better chance to hit, and there’s only a small penalty for missing a finisher given that the now-vanished talent Primal Precision’s energy return component has been baked into the spec.

Expertise cap at 85 Try to get to the soft cap (26 expertise/781 rating), beyond which expertise is functionally useless for a melee DPS. Mobs can’t parry from behind, so once you’ve knocked dodge off their avoidance table you don’t need more expertise. As with hit, don’t drive yourself nuts trying to get it.

How should I spec?
This is the basic cat DPS spec at level 85. You’ll have four points left over to do whatever you want, and what you do with them is a function of in-game priorities. If you’re raiding, you’ll probably want Survival Instincts for the inevitable “Oh S%*t!” moments, and the three points left after that drop nicely into Perseverance. The additional survivability from both talents is extremely valuable in both heroics and raids while healers are struggling to keep groups alive, and Perseverance is the poster child for talents Ghostcrawler thinks you should take. Even if you’re not raiding, the cynic in me says to expect a lot of really bad 5-man and heroic groups at level 85, and the first and greatest contribution to your damage is simply going to be the ability to stay alive. Even in good groups, collective inexperience with new content tends to result in a lot of unnecessary damage taken.

Fights where you’ll be needed to interrupt will almost certainly require two points in Brutal Impact. If you expect to do any amount of tanking on your cat spec, three points in Thick Hide are required.

How should I glyph? Cat glyphs are a little more interesting than their bear counterparts.

  • Prime Glyph of Rip and Glyph of Shred are mandatory at level 85, but theorycrafters haven’t made up their minds as to whether Glyph of Savage Roar or Glyph of Tiger’s Furyis the larger DPS increase. On the beta, Glyph of Savage Roar was better for me personally at a target dummy, but you’ll probably want to experiment for yourself. AsAlaron observed, Glyph of Mangle will be a big help while you’re leveling as you’re unlikely to be behind mobs for an appreciable length of time.
  • Major Major glyphs for cats are pretty uninspiring. Glyph of Ferocious Bite is the only one that might result in a DPS increase, and even that’s not certain. Strictly speaking, it’s actually a DPS loss if your rotation is note-perfect, but there are two recommendations for it in Cataclysm. The first is that you won’t have the crit rate to guarantee a perfect rotation for quite some time, and the second is that Ferocious Bitewill replace Rip in your rotation once your target is below 25 percent health (assuming two points in Blood in the Water). You should be Biting at 5 combo points, and the glyph will prevent you from killing your energy supply. Otherwise, helpful major glyphs include Glyph of Faerie Fire and Glyph of Feral ChargeGlyph of Maul is required if you do 5-man tanking. For raids, I can’t over-emphasize the importance of Glyph of Rebirthnow that battle resurrections are limited.
  • Minor Cats have historically glyphed Dash, as that’s the only minor glyph that has any direct impact on us. If you tank at all, Glyph of Challenging Roar will be helpful, but otherwise you can glyph whatever’s most convenient for you personally.

Numbers before entering 85 heroics? On the beta, Blizzard “strongly recommended” creating a premade character with Cataclysm blues in order to tackle heroic content, and the average item level on said premades was around 333. For a cat, this worked out to around 8,000 attack power and 30 percent crit. Your hit and expertise are unlikely to be amazing as you step into heroics (I think I had around 5 percent hit and maybe 10 expertise, although my main was still saddled with a few greens), but don’t worry about it.

What should I reforge? Raw crit rating and haste are OK but not fabulous for cats; feel free to reforge them to mastery. If you have a choice whether to reforge one or the other, reforge haste before crit. If you encounter a piece of gear without either haste or crit, you can probably leave it alone.

As with the bear, look for agility leather with mastery, then reforge the haste or crit on it into additional mastery.

What stats should I look for? The ideal piece of gear for a cat prioritizes agility, mastery, haste, crit, expertise, and hit, in pretty much that order. Of these, agility and mastery are by far the most important in tier 11 content.

What should I gem for? Agility is king, but you should also try for useful socket bonuses (agility or mastery).

What reputation should I grind first? As with bears, you’ll want to get started on Therazane as early as possible for their shoulder enchants. However, your helm enchant will come from Ramkahen in Uldum, which you probably won’t encounter as early as they’ll find the Earthen Ring. Once you’ve gotten to revered with Ramkahen, schedule a trip to their quartermaster (Blacksmith Abasi at 54,33 in Uldum) for both the Arcanum and the Quicksand Belt.

As with the bear, keep an eye out for Guardians of Hyjal rep as well; their Sly Fox Jerkin can last you all the way to heroics, and you can get it as early as level 83.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 at 7:31 am and is filed under WoW Druid Guides, WoW Instance, WoW Leveling Guides, WoW PvP Guide, WoW Raiding Guides. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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