Guardian Druid Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.3)

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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 WoD 6.0.3. 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 Dex, one of the best Guardian Druids in the world, who raids in Envy.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Druid Transition Guide!

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The single target rotation for a Guardian Druid is based on a priority system.

  1. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown (its cooldown has a chance to be reset by Lacerate Icon Lacerate, so you need to watch out for this).
  2. Use Lacerate Icon Lacerate until it has 3 stacks on the target.
  3. Use Pulverize Icon Pulverize (consuming the Lacerate stacks).
  4. Re-stack Lacerate to 3 before the 12-second buff from Pulverize expires.
  5. Keep up the Thrash Icon Thrash bleed (lasts 16 seconds).
  6. 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 (lasts 16 seconds).
  2. Use Lacerate Icon Lacerate until it has 3 stacks on the target.
  3. Use Pulverize Icon Pulverize (consuming the Lacerate stacks).
  4. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown.
  5. Re-stack Lacerate to 3 before the 12-second buff from Pulverize expires.

You will want to alternate using Mangle on various enemies, preferring those on which 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 (but this is affected by your Haste).
  • Savage Defense Icon Savage Defense increases your dodge chance by 45% for 6 seconds. This ability works on a charge system. You can have a maximum of 2 charges, and it has a 12-second recharge time.
  • Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts reduces all damage taken by 50% for 6 seconds. It works a charge system. It has a maximum of 2 charges, and it has a 2-minute recharge time.
  • Barkskin Icon Barkskin is a simple 20% damage reduction, lasting 12 seconds, with a 1-minute 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 20 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.

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:

  • Autoattacks generate 5 Rage.
  • Certain abilities generate fixed amounts of Rage.
    • Activating Bear Form Icon Bear Form gives you 10 Rage.
    • Mangle Icon Mangle generates 15 Rage.
    • Lacerate Icon Lacerate applications generate 2 Rage.
    • Thrash Icon Thrash generates 1 Rage each time it ticks.

Thanks to Primal Fury Icon Primal Fury, your critical strikes with attacks that require Bear Form Icon Bear Form generate an additional 8 Rage.

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. Resolve

Resolve Icon Resolve is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Guardian specialisation. Essentially, it increases your self-healing and your own absorption effects based on the amount of unmitigated damage you have taken in the last 10 seconds, including contributions from avoided melee attacks. Its value fluctuates with your damage intake during an encounter, and decays away over about 10 seconds if you stop taking damage. It has a built-in diminishing returns effect which limits the increase to 240% of the base healing or absorption value. In other words, at maximum Resolve your heals do 340% the amount they would do with zero Resolve.

5.3. Mastery: Primal Tenacity

Your Mastery is Mastery: Primal Tenacity Icon Mastery: Primal Tenacity. When you are hit by a physical attack, you gain a physical absorb shield equal to a percentage of of that hit's damage (which increases the more Mastery you have). Attacks which this effect absorbs (fully or partially) do not trigger Primal Tenacity.

Your Mastery also increases your attack power by a percentage that increases the more Mastery you have.

5.4. Procs

Lacerate Icon Lacerate 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 autoattacks 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. Tooth and Claw can accumulate up to 3 charges.

Finally, Ursa Major Icon Ursa Major is a passive ability that grants you 2% increased maximum health for 25 seconds, each time score a multistrike with your autoattacks, Mangle, or Lacerate. The effect stacks.

5.5. 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.

5.5.1. 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.

5.5.2. 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.

5.5.3. 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 40% 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.

You can have up to 3 charges of Tooth and Claw at one time. Any charges that you gain while you have 3 will be wasted. On the target, the debuff applied by these procs stacks. For example, applying one empowered Maul to the boss will reduce the damage of his next attack by 5,000. 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 10,000, 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 (or when Savage Defenses is active or not available), and when your Rage is reaching maximum capacity.

It is useful to pool charges of Tooth and Claw right as the boss is about to damage you with a special attack, so that you can reduce the damage of his melee attacks (that happen before and after the special attack) to soften the blow and make it easier for your healers to keep you alive.

5.5.4. 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.

5.5.5. 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.

A good example of liberal Barkskin usage is to use on the pull, or when you taunt the boss from another tank. These periods when you suddenly start taking damage can sometimes cause your healers to be off-guard, so having a (light) damage mitigation cooldown up can help.

5.5.6. 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.

5.5.7. 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.

5.5.8. 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.

5.5.9. Tier 6 Talents

If you pick Dream of Cenarius Icon Dream of Cenarius as a talent, you can use the procs to heal yourself (or, if need be, other raid members) with Healing Touch Icon Healing Touch.

Nature's Vigil Icon Nature's Vigil requires no management at all, and you can just perform your rotation as usual once you have activated it.

Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild should be used to allow you to DPS when you are not actively tanking the boss. Alternatively, you can use it to heal the raid.

5.5.10. Tier 7 Talents

As we have mentioned, Pulverize Icon Pulverize is the talent to use in this tier. The ideal usage has been described in detail in the rotation sections above.

6. Changelog↑top