Long time readers of my blog know that my favourite part about being a feral druid is the versatility. Yeah I'm a great tank, and I'm great DPS, and I can heal. But I'm happiest when I get to do a mix of all three things, preferably in the same fight. And Wrath of the Lich King makes it all the easier.
The biggest change in 3.0 that made feral druids more versatile is Survival of the Fittest. Thanks to this talent we are immune to critical hits. Always. Even when naked. We all appreciate that this means our gear is easier to deal with (no defense contraint optimization!). But it also means that at any given moment we can tank effectively. I can't count the number of times in the last month a tank has gone down and I've popped into bear form in my cat gear and helped save a wipe or at least gave folks time to learn a fight. I held Sapphiron for 50% in Naxx-10 last night in cat gear. I've tanked about a quarter of the Naxx bosses and all the Naxx trash in cat gear. Survival of the Fittest means we no longer have to say "I'll try to tank but I'm in DPS gear so I'm gonna get crit". It's amazing.
The second new versatility for feral druids is our new itemization. I was as nervous about relying on rogue gear for tanking as anyone. But what it means is that our gear is much more multi-function than before. All our "tank gear" has a lot of DPS on it, and most of our "cat gear" has enough survival to be able to tank. The coming armor nerf will bring our bear and cat sets even closer: no more special armor rings or trinkets and more armor from our core cat gear.
A related versatility is our amazing AoE DPS in bear form. I'm regularly in the middle to top of our raid DPS even when I spend most of the raid in bear gear tanking trash. Frankly, it's total h4xx to be able to do so much damage as a tank, but I'll take it. Druids are the off-tank that means you don't have to sacrifice raid DPS.
The final new versatility for feral druids is healing. I suspect I'm unusual in this, but I really like being able to fling the occasional HoT when a fight gets complicated. Nurturing Instinct gives us a useful amount of healing in feral gear. Heart of the Wild helps with the mana pool. And Improved Leader of the Pack lets us build our mana back up when doing feral attacks, particularly useful on multiphase fights like Sapphiron where you alternate between melee and healing. It's good stuff.
I've been seeing a lot of crybear blog posts and forum comments recently that somehow bears aren't great tanks. I really don't get it: I seem to be able to tank everything in Wrath just fine. But more importantly, the fun of being a druid is that we're not just tanks, we're also very good at DPS and can heal usefully. Enjoy it!