Guardian Druid Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW MoP 5.4)

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Guardian Druid Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Guardian Druid core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Guardian Druid.

The other pages of our Guardian Druid guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Arielle, (@ArielleEJ), a prominent Guardian Druid theorycrafter and the main author of The Inconspicuous Bear (a very respected Guardian Druid resource).

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The single target rotation for a Guardian Druid is based on this very simple priority system:

  1. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown (its cooldown has a chance to be reset by some of your other abilities, so you need to watch out for this).
  2. Keep up the Thrash Icon Thrash bleed (lasts 16 seconds).
  3. Keep up the debuff provided by Faerie Fire Icon Faerie Fire (lasts 30 seconds).
  4. Spam Lacerate Icon Lacerate.
  5. Use Maul Icon Maul only when
    • you are under the effect of a Tooth and Claw Icon Tooth and Claw proc;
    • you are at or very close to maximum Rage;
    • you do not need to use your active mitigation.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

  1. Keep up the Thrash Icon Thrash bleed on the targets (lasts 16 seconds).
  2. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown.
  3. Use Swipe Icon Swipe on cooldown.

You will want to alternate using Mangle Icon Mangle on various enemies, preferring those on who your threat is lowest.

3. Taunting↑top

Growl Icon Growl is your main taunting ability. It only works on a single target and has an 8-second cooldown.

4. Cooldowns↑top

As a Feral Druid Tank, you have several important defensive cooldowns.

  • Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration converts up to 60 rage into health. The ability has a 1.5 second cooldown. If you are using the Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration Icon Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration, the ability always costs 60 rage, no longer converts that rage into health, but instead increases the healing you receive for the next 6 seconds by 40%.
  • Savage Defense Icon Savage Defense increases your dodge chance by 45% for 6 seconds. This ability has no cooldown, and it works on a system of charges. You can have a maximum of three charges at any given time, and each charge takes 9 seconds to recharge.
  • Might of Ursoc Icon Might of Ursoc increases your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds.
  • Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts reduces all damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds, with a 3-minute cooldown.
  • Barkskin Icon Barkskin is a simple 20% damage reduction, lasting 12 seconds, with a 30-second cooldown.

You also have one predominantly offensive cooldown, Berserk Icon Berserk. This has a 3-minute cooldown, and causes your Mangle Icon Mangle to hit 3 targets instead of 1, and have no cooldown, for 10 seconds.

More details about how to best use your cooldowns, and about the cooldowns you can gain from your talents, can be found in our detailed cooldown section.

4.1. Abilities Granted by Symbiosis

Symbiosis Icon Symbiosis is a buff that you can place on one party or raid member. The buff lasts for 1 hour, and grants you an ability belonging to the target's class, depending on what your specialisation is. At the same time, the target receives one of your spells. Both of these spells come in a slightly modified version (less powerful than the original). You can see the full list of spells here, but the spells useful to you as a Guardian are:

  • Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield serves as a minor defensive cooldown. It is gained from Death Knights.
  • Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew serves as a minor defensive cooldown. It is gained from Monks.
  • Consecration Icon Consecration helps with AoE threat/DPS. It is gained from Paladins.
  • Spell Reflection Icon Spell Reflection allows you to reflect a harmful spell cast against you back to the caster. This works on very few spells in PvE. It is gained from Warriors.

As a Guardian Druid, keep in mind that using Symbiosis on a fellow tank will grant them a minor defensive cooldown, so this is generally the best practice to follow.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Guardian Druid↑top

Tanking as a Guardian Druid is very simple, and the information provided above should be more than sufficient to allow you to perform your role at an excellent level. There are, however, a few details you should also understand in order to fully master your character.

5.1. Rage Generation

Guardian Druid tanks use a resource called Rage (Warriors are the only other class in the game to use it). For you to properly master your Druid, you must understand how Rage works.

The Rage bar has a maximum capacity of 100, and is empty by default. Rage decays at a rate of 1 per second when out of combat. In combat, Rage does not decay.

Rage is generated in following two ways:

  • Dealing damage with auto-attacks generates rage. Critical strikes from auto attacks generate extra rage.
  • Certain abilities (Mangle Icon Mangle, Enrage Icon Enrage) generate fixed amounts of rage.

The only factors which affect rage generation are attack speed, chance to hit (only up to the point where you are guaranteed to hit, so 7.5% chance to hit) and Expertise Rating. This is because the more you attack, the more times you will generate rage. For more details on white (normal) and yellow (special) attacks, and how they are influenced by Hit and Expertise Rating, you can check our guide on the mechanics of melee attacks.

5.1.1. Berserk

Berserk Icon Berserk boosts your rage generation if you score a Critical Strike against the additional targets that Mangle Icon Mangle hits. The regular hits from Mangle on these targets will not generate additional rage.

5.2. Vengeance

Vengeance Icon Vengeance is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Guardian specialisation. It increases your attack power for 1.5% of the unmitigated damage of each attack made against you (even those attacks that you dodge, where you receive Vengeance based on the amount of damage you would have taken). The amount of Vengeance you receive from an attack decays over time at a rate of 5% per second, until it eventually disappears altogether (only while you are taking damage). Shifting into Cat Form Icon Cat Form removes the buff. It is an essential mechanic in allowing you to maintain aggro of mobs.

Vengeance also has diminishing returns, in that each additional target attacking you generates less Vengeance than the previous one.

5.3. Mastery: Nature's Guardian

Your Mastery is Mastery: Nature's Guardian Icon Mastery: Nature's Guardian. It increases your armor by a percentage value. This provides you with passive mitigation against Physical damage. Note that some sources of Physical damage, such as bleeds, bypass armor and their damage is not reduced by it.

5.4. Detailed Cooldown Usage

Playing a Guardian Druid tank is an active experience, in the sense that you will have to regularly and wisely use your active defensive cooldowns to maintain your survivability.

You have two short-cooldown abilities, as well as a few abilities you can use only a few times during the encounter. Lastly, you have one offensive cooldown.

5.4.1. Frenzied Regeneration

Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration is a heal. It should be used when you have sustained damage and you wish to help your healers keep you up. It is important to learn to use this ability when needed, something that will come with practice and experience. Frenzied Regeneration is a reactive cooldown, meaning that it should be used after you have sustained damage.

5.4.2. Savage Defense

Savage Defense Icon Savage Defense increases your chance to dodge by a very large amount. While you generally dodge melee attacks, it is also possible to dodge certain types of special attacks. Knowing which special attacks you can dodge (something that you can really only find out by testing in practice) is useful, because it allows you to use Savage Defense right before the more damaging special attacks to dodge them. Otherwise, you should use Savage Defense right before you are about to take one or more powerful melee attacks. It is a proactive cooldown, meaning that it should be used before you have sustained damage.

5.4.3. Tooth and Claw

Generally speaking, Maul Icon Maul provides no survivability increase, and it is just a means of dumping Rage when you wish to increase your DPS/threat, at the expense of your survivability (because you are using up Rage that could have been used on Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration and/or Savage Defense Icon Savage Defense).

However, thanks to Tooth and Claw Icon Tooth and Claw, a passive ability, your auto attacks have a chance to cause your next Maul to reduce the damage done by the target's next attack. In this case, Maul gains a survivability component.

These procs from Tooth and Claw over-write each other, meaning that if you do not use the proc up before it procs again, the first proc is effectively wasted. On the target, however, the debuffed applied by these procs stacks. For example, applying one empowered Maul to the boss will reduce the damage of his next attack by 3,000. If you then manage to land another empowered Maul on him before he has had a chance to successfully attack, the damage reduction of his next attack will go up to 6,000, and so on.

While an empowered Maul is a survivability gain, it is a smaller one than using Frenzied Regeneration to heal yourself, or Savage Defense. You should use such Mauls when you do not need the self-healing or the extra dodge from Savage Defenses, and when your Rage is reaching maximum capacity. This way, you can avoid wasting Rage by being capped, while still increasing your survivability somewhat.

5.4.4. Might of Ursoc

Might of Ursoc Icon Might of Ursoc can be used both pre-emptively or reactively. It increases your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds.

5.4.5. Survival Instincts

Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts is best used pre-emptively. This means that you should use Survival Instincts before taking a large amount of damage (generally due to a boss mechanic). Additionally, you can use it to prolong your survival if your healers are dead or incapacitated.

It is not advised to wait until you are low on health to use Survival Instincts, since you will probably die before it has had a chance to benefit you fully.

Generally, it is best to make use of this cooldown as many times as possible during the fight (it is better to have wasted it than to have died with it available). Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to use it a very specific time, so make sure you save it for that moment.

5.4.6. Barkskin

Barkskin Icon Barkskin works like a weaker version of Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts, so the same usage guidelines apply. The only difference is that Barkskin's cooldown is much smaller, meaning that you can use it more freely.

5.4.7. Tier 2 Talents

Your Tier 2 talent of choice should be used as follows:

  • Ysera's Gift Icon Ysera's Gift is entirely passive.
  • Renewal Icon Renewal is an excellent minor survival cooldown.
  • Cenarion Ward Icon Cenarion Ward can be placed either on yourself or on allies. It should be used on cooldown.

5.4.8. Tier 4 Talents

Your Tier 4 talent of choice should be used as follows:

  • Soul of the Forest Icon Soul of the Forest produces its benefit passively, so there is nothing for you to do in this regard.
  • Incarnation: Son of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Son of Ursoc should be used whenever you need a boost of rage generation (and, implicitly, survivability) and threat. Alternatively, it can be used when you need to make extensive use of Growl Icon Growl.
  • Force of Nature Icon Force of Nature should not be taken, since it is currently very weak. If you do take it, note that it will not improve your survivability in any way against raid bosses (since the treants do not taunt them), and it should be used merely as a DPS boost, or against adds.

During Incarnation: Son of Ursoc, you should make maximum use of the reduced cooldown on Mangle Icon Mangle, by spamming it. During this time, you should forsake Lacerate Icon Lacerate, and simply focus on casting Mangle, and keeping up Thrash Icon Thrash and Faerie Fire Icon Faerie Fire.

5.4.9. Tier 6 Talents

Your Tier 6 talent of choice should be used as follows:

  • The active portion of Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild should be used when you need to perform a role other than the tanking one.
    • To DPS, you can use Heart of the Wild, an Agility potion, Berserk Icon Berserk, and Cat Form Icon Cat Form. Once your potion and Berserk run out, you can shift out of Cat Form and continue to spam Wrath Icon Wrath until Heart of the Wild ends.
    • To heal, you can use Tranquility Icon Tranquility while Heart of the Wild is up. Additionally, you can spam Rejuvenation Icon Rejuvenation on raid members while in Cat Form Icon Cat Form.
  • Dream of Cenarius Icon Dream of Cenarius requires that you cast Healing Touch Icon Healing Touches whenever you have a proc of the talent.
  • Nature's Vigil Icon Nature's Vigil should be used when you need to generate extra threat or when you want your self-heals to be more potent. The hybrid-enhancing part of this ability is rather weak.

5.4.10. Berserk

Berserk Icon Berserk is not a defensive cooldown. It it a powerful offensive, threat-generating and DPS-increasing cooldown. It removes the cooldown from your Mangle Icon Mangle and it causes Mangle to also hit two additional targets.

You should use this at the pull, in order to gain initial aggro. After that, you should use it whenever there are multiple targets up or simply on cooldown, in order to maximise your DPS.

It might be argued that the ability to use Mangle Icon Mangle more often will increase your rage generation and survivability, but even spamming nothing but Mangle during Berserk will only net you about 50 additional rage, hardly enough to make it worth considering as a defensive cooldown.

5.5. Procs

Hits from Lacerate Icon Lacerate, Thrash Icon Thrash, and Faerie Fire Icon Faerie Fire have a 25% chance to reset the cooldown of Mangle Icon Mangle. You should try to use these resource-free Mangles as quickly as possible.

Additionally, thanks to Tooth and Claw Icon Tooth and Claw, a passive ability, your auto attacks have a chance to cause your next Maul Icon Maul to reduce the target's next attack. You should make it a point to always use up these procs.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 12 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • Updated several areas of the guide to account for changes to talents and abilities.
    • Replaced mentions of Nature's Swiftness Icon Nature's Swiftness (removed from Guardian Druids) with Ysera's Gift Icon Ysera's Gift.
    • Updated the cooldown of Barkskin Icon Barkskin to 30 seconds.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing to change.
  • 05 Apr. 2013: Made several updates.
    • Removed Life Tap Icon Life Tap and Feint Icon Feint from the list of useful abilities gained from Symbiosis, since they are inefficient from a survival point of view. Added Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew.
    • Added a mention of how Berserk Icon Berserk influences rage generation as far as additional targets hit by Mangle Icon Mangle are concerned. Removed mention of base weapon speed affecting rage generation.
    • Updated the wording of the Vengeance section to be more accurate.
    • Removed mention of Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration Icon Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration, since this glyph should never be used.
    • Added a mention that certain Physical damage sources (such as bleeds) ignore armor.
    • Added mention that certain special attacks are susceptible to being dodged.
    • Added specific suggestions for how to DPS and heal with Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild.