I recently had the misfortune of healing a druid tank who did not seem aware of the array of cooldowns available to the class. This first became apparent when he died. No, actually, it was probably apparent before that ... maybe when he was taking an absurd amount of damage at the start of every trash pull. Possibly when every boss ability was cause for quiet panic. Maybe when the combat log showed absolutely no cooldown use of any kind. I don't know. There were several signs along the way.
Not acceptable, druids.
Proper use of cooldowns is the difference between a player who goes home from a bar alone in the evenings and one who has to install a deli ticket counter outside his bedroom and periodically step outside, yelling, "Next!"*
*Note: Statement is not actually true.
Barkskin wasn't our first cooldown (that honor goes to Frenzied Regeneration), but it's arguably our most useful. It's a 20% reduction to all incoming damage on a 1-minute cooldown, no questions asked, and it is hands down the best short cooldown available to any tanking class. Why? Because you can pop it while stunned, feared, asleep, or otherwise incapacitated. You can still reduce the damage from whatever maddened enemy is hitting you even if your character can't do anything else, and that's an incredibly rare quality for any cooldown. If you habitually forget to use Barkskin, you may even want to macro it to your rotation, although that's not ideal. However, it's better than not getting much use from it at all.
Should I glyph it? No. The Glyph of Barkskin is a PvP-oriented glyph reducing your chance to be crit by 25% while Barkskin is active. With three points in Thick Hide, you will already be immune to all PvE critical strikes, so the glyph is functionally worthless for tanking purposes.
When to use Barkskin
- It's off cooldown.
- You feel like it.
- It's Tuesday.
- The party or raid is moving and you won't be receiving as many heals while the heal team is running.
- You're in a 5-man, it's the start of a pull, and you're taking maximum damage from the mobs.
- You're in a raid, it's the start of a boss pull, and you want to give your healers a few seconds to settle into the fight.
- You're stunned or incapacitated in PvE content (as your chance to dodge while stunned is 0%).
- You just made a minor mistake.
- You have no excuse for not using Barkskin, and if you don't, you are bad and should feel bad. Go back to the character creation screen, delete your druid, and roll a paladin to save the honor of the class. (Ours, not theirs.)
Survival Instincts is a kicked-up version of Barkskin at the cost of a longer cooldown. As it reduces half of all incoming damage for 12 seconds, this is our big damage reduction cooldown. However, it can't be popped while you're incapacitated like Barkskin can be, and you generally need to plan when you're going to use it. When to blow Survival Instincts and when to rely on an outside cooldown will form a core part of your strategy in heroic raid content and should always be discussed with your heal team.
When to use Survival Instincts
- It's time for a major, unavoidable boss ability with massive damage increase.
- You or your healer/s just made a huge mistake.
- A tank healer just died and the healing team is focusing on getting them resurrected and buffed.
- You're tanking a 5-man and your healer has just ragequit from listening to the rogue prattle on about the process of getting his legendaries.
- The healing team is likely to be distracted by massive damage elsewhere (and SI will give them some breathing room).
- In any situation when the incoming damage isn't serious enough to justify the use of a 3-minute cooldown, use Barkskin instead. Having said that, don't let that keep you from using it at all. A cooldown that you never use is functionally the same as one you don't have at all.
Frenzied Regeneration can be the most problematic cooldown in the bear arsenal, as it doesn't actually reduce any incoming damage. However, what it does do is buy you extra time until you shuffle loose the mortal coil. The unglyphed version is guaranteed to destroy your rage generation, which you should take into consideration whenever you'd need that rage.
Should I glyph it? The Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration trades the rage-to-health conversion in favor of 30% more incoming healing. If you're raiding, yes, you want the glyph. If you're a 5-man tank, it'll depend on how you typically use FR (e.g., do you tend to use it when your healer is dead and you need more healing than a Mythical Healing Potion will provide, or for more routine purposes?). If you're a dedicated solo player, don't glyph it, because you'll blow FR in situations where you won't be getting any outside healing anyway.
When to use Frenzied Regeneration
- Combine it with Survival Instincts to maximize survivability through a major boss ability.
- Your healer just died in a 5-man and you don't have FR glyphed.
- You have four-piece tier 13 and some big ugly is casting Level 5 Death to Raid.
- You have four-piece tier 13 and your raid leader is screaming at you to use it for any other purpose.
- You don't have Barkskin or Survival Instincts off cooldown.
- It's not glyphed and you're in any threat-sensitive situation (to the extent that threat-sensitive situations even exist anymore).
- It's not glyphed and a boss event is (or will shortly be) spawning extra mobs that need to be picked up. There is nothing more frustrating than not having any rage and being guaranteed not to have any for several seconds, when you desperately need to Swipe or Challenging Roar.
- Any major mob damage increase that should probably get Survival Instincts instead (or in tandem with FR).
Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid, breaks down the facts about haste for trees, and then digs into the restoration mastery. You might also enjoy our look at the disappearance of the bear.