I am going to do more of a series on various pulls. They will be short, and very specific. I will get right to it.
This is about the bear version of ‘charge’; not the cat or warrior versions. ‘Feral Charge – Bear’ is a ability that makes you dash in toward the opponent. It also interrupts spell casting and roots the target for 4 seconds. It can be useful in a fight for interrupting a cast when your ‘Bash’. I will cover that in a bit but the real focus here is on pulling with it.
When you get this:
You get this ability 20 talent points into the feral tree. Sadly this means you don’t have it until lvl 30. (Does anyone know if they are changing this in cata?)
The range on Feral Charge is 25 yards. It also has an 8 yard minimum range. The minimum does not matter if you are using it to pull but is a factor if you are trying to use it as a spell interrupt.
Bear charge applies a 4 second ‘root’ and a 4 second spell casting lockout. Not that these add up to be similar to the ‘stun’ that a warrior charge applies but they are NOT the same.
The main use of this is of course, to pull. The goal of a pull is to round up all of a pack and get it on you. A charge is useful for that in two ways. One it gets you into the fight slightly ahead of your DPS and heals so you have a moment to build up some agro (maybe). Two it lets you get in close on the pack before they spread out. Spreading out happens when the melee ones run at you and the caster/ranged ones stand back to shoot at you. It happens because the targets spot you and ‘agro’ when you are still well out of melee range. By arriving fast you don’t give them time to spread. This means that ideally you use charge just inside of 25 yards but well outside of their ‘minimum agro radius’. I often do this by spamming the charge key as I am getting near the 25 yard point. Not that if you are doing content that is over your level the min agro range might be greater than 25 yards!
Generally tanks target the closest target in a pack. The idea is as I said above, to get in close before they even spot you. The technique is simple. Move in until your ‘charge’ hotkey lights up (it is gray when you are out of range) and then fire it off. You have to have a target selected for your button to indicate range so don’t forget to click one. Right click it so you will auto attack the instant you are close enough.
Now you are in the fight. You next step is still to round up the rest of the pack. This technique leaves most or all of the pack in front of you which is a good way to start the fight.
This works but is not always optimal.
It makes a lot of sense to instead charge a caster in on the pack and let the melee come to you. Since bears lack a ranged silence or any other ability to ‘move’ caster mobs around it makes sense to locate the fight where they are standing. Unless a caster is in the front of the pack you will probably have to charge through the pack to get to them. This means you probably agro them by your proximity before you even trigger your charge. Depending on the group you might even have time to hit one target in the front with a melee hit and then charge for the caster in the back.
This is a more tricky pull.
First of all it puts you in the back of the pack and it puts some of the pack behind you as you finish your charge. There are two big risks here. One, your dps has probably targeted someone in the ‘front’ of the pack and is not agroing them off of you. And two, as those melee come up behind you (if your party did not pull them off) they will be behind you. As all tanks should know (but often don’t) you take a TON more damage when targets are behind you. This is because you can’t dodge, parry, or block any blow coming at you from your aft 180 degree arc. Bears only dodge and don’t care about block or parry but this is still a big deal. Just the other day I was healing my brother-in-law as he tanked an instance and I had to point it out to him. You take a LOT more damage if you are surrounded. Don’t be.
Your follow up has to be maneuvering so you are no longer surrounded and also checking on those targets you passed and getting plenty of threat on them if the DPS are ‘primarying’ them. This will involve a lot of moving, turning and AOE threat with swipe.
When thinking about this ‘option 2’ pull mentally include how you are going to maneuver immediately after the pull. One of the easiest options is to, while your charge target is rooted and interrupted, move ‘through’ it and then turn around on the other side. Now the whole pack should be in front of you. Also if you lost one of the ones you passed you will need to be ready with a taunt and/or a feral feary fire.
Other use of Charge:
As I said you can use it as a spell interrupt. For that you have to run away when they start a cast and then turn back and charge when you get outside of 8 yards.
You can also ‘chain charge’ and use it to zip back and forth between members of a pack that you just can’t get to bunch up. This works well but carries the same risks as the ‘option 2’ pull.
Macros and combos:
Feral charge does not have much you want to directly macro it with. You can put ‘enrage’ in a macro with it but that damage debuff is annoying. You might macro it up to remove the debuff also. You can also macro tanking cooldowns to it. This is particularly good if you are charging out of range of your heals.
Risks and drawbacks:
The big risk to charging is getting out of range of your heals. Particularly new healers are often not ready for you to charge and are left out of range. If you are a fast moving tank it is nearly certain that you will have no healing for a few seconds after you charge. Don’t be surprised by it and don’t blame the healer if it gets you in trouble. You can counter this risk by waiting for your party to catch up before charging, or popping tanking cooldowns as you pull.
In other news, bear charge and cat charge share a cooldown so ‘power shifting’ to get a second charge does not work L
Charge can be done while jumping or falling. Charge can go around corners and in some strange paths, provided there IS a path. While in the middle of your charge, if you are fast, you can change targets and fire ‘feral faery fire’ at some other target for a little extra threat. In a multi group pull you can shoot that at one group and charge another.
Because you can use this in combat don’t spare it. Any time you are more than 8 yards from something you want to “RWR!OMNOMNOM” just fire it off. The instant you save getting there can save your party.