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Guardian Druid Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Oct 08, 2016 at 09:42 by Vlad 81 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Guardian Druid core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1. 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 Untameable, a top Guardian Druid who raids in DNOgaming. You can also watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation

The single target rotation for a Guardian Druid is based on a priority system, and its goal is to generate as much Rage as possible.

  1. Use Moonfire Icon Moonfire if you have a Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian proc (if you have chosen this talent).
  2. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown (its cooldown has a chance to be reset by Gore Icon Gore, so you need to watch out for this).
  3. Use Thrash Icon Thrash on cooldown.
  4. Apply and maintain Moonfire Icon Moonfire on the target.
  5. Use Swipe Icon Swipe.
  6. Use Maul Icon Maul.
    • Only use Maul when you do not need to use or pool Rage for your active mitigation and when you are at or close to maximum Rage.

Note that this does not include your active mitigation and your cooldowns or how to weave forms (if taking Feral Affinity Icon Feral Affinity), both of which we explain later on in the guide.

2. Multiple Target Rotation

The multiple target rotation is also based on a priority system, and like the single target rotation, this does not include your active mitigation and cooldowns.

2.1. Against 2-3 Targets

  1. Use Moonfire Icon Moonfire if you have a Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian proc (if you have chosen this talent).
  2. Use Thrash Icon Thrash on cooldown.
  3. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown.
  4. Apply Moonfire Icon Moonfire on as many targets as possible and refresh it when it is about to expire.
  5. Use Swipe Icon Swipe.
  6. Use Maul Icon Maul.
    • Only use Maul when you do not need to use or pool Rage for your active mitigation and when you are at or close to maximum Rage.

If you are not actively tanking and do not need to gain a lot of Rage, you can choose to use Swipe more and avoid using Mangle.

2.2. Against 4+ Targets

  1. Use Moonfire Icon Moonfire if you have a Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian proc (if you have chosen this talent).
  2. Use Thrash Icon Thrash on cooldown.
  3. Use Mangle Icon Mangle on cooldown.
  4. Use Swipe Icon Swipe.
  5. Use Maul Icon Maul.
    • Only use Maul when you do not need to use or pool Rage for your active mitigation and when you are at or close to maximum Rage.

If you are not actively tanking and do not need to gain a lot of Rage, you can choose to use Swipe more and avoid using Mangle.

3. Active Mitigation

As a Guardian Druid, you have two abilities that act as active mitigation: Ironfur Icon Ironfur and Mark of Ursol Icon Mark of Ursol. In addition to this, you have Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration, which is a self-heal but which is also used routinely as part of your playstyle.

3.1. Ironfur and Mark of Ursol

Ironfur Icon Ironfur increases your armor by 100% for 6 seconds. The ability has a 0.5-second cooldown, and applications of Ironfur can overlap. This means that their armor increase will stack, but their duration will not. For example, if you use Ironfur, and then use it again 3 seconds later, you will have 2 applications of Ironfur for 3 seconds, granting you 200% increased armor. After 3 seconds, the first application will have expired, leaving you with 100% armor for 3 more seconds.

Mark of Ursol Icon Mark of Ursol reduces magic damage taken by 30% for 6 seconds. It also has a 0.5-second cooldown, but there is no overlapping or stacking of its uses. Mark of Ursol is, evidently, best used to mitigate incoming magic damage.

While each of these two abilities is quite straightforward, keep in mind that they both cost a lot of Rage, and so using them freely is not easy. As such, you will always have to evaluate your surroundings and make a decision about which ability to use.

The most important factor to consider is the type of incoming damage. Obviously, if you are only faced with Physical damage (which is reduced by armor, something that is not always the case), then Ironfur is the obvious choice, while Mark of Ursol is to be used for magic damage.

If the incoming non-magic damage is not reduced by armor, then you will have to use one of your defensive cooldowns instead (Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts or Barkskin Icon Barkskin).

In case the amount of incoming physical damage is very high, you can use Ironfur multiple times to overlap them and gain a great armor increase. Note that doing so requires you to pool up Rage.

Alternatively, in case the incoming damage is mixed (Physical and magic damage), then you can even use both Ironfur and Mark of Ursol at the same time.

Finally, always consider your situation carefully before deciding to invest into one of these active mitigation abilities. They are pro-active in nature, so no matter how low on health you have been brought, using them if there is no new incoming damage is pointless.

3.2. Frenzied Regeneration

Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration heals you for 50% of all damage taken in the last 5 seconds, in the form of a 3-second HoT. It costs 10 Rage, has a maximum of 2 charges, and a 24-second recharge time (reduced by Haste). Note that Frenzied Regeneration is not on the global cooldown.

Whereas Ironfur Icon Ironfur and Mark of Ursol Icon Mark of Ursol are abilities that should be used pro-actively, Frenzied Regeneration is reactive in nature. The first step in using Frenzied Regeneration effectively is to make sure you only use it after you have taken a lot of damage in the previous 5 seconds, since this will ensure that you are actually healed by it.

However, this is not all you have to consider, since it is easy to waste Frenzied Regeneration and then not have it available when you need it most. The best time to use Frenzied Regeneration is when you have sustained high damage, will sustain high damage again in the next couple of seconds, and your healers are not in a good position to heal you (either because the rest of the raid is also taking damage, or because they are out of range of you or otherwise unable to heal you). These cases are ideal for using Frenzied Regeneration. Otherwise, if your healers can easily heal you back up (for instance, if you are the only raid member taking damage), then you should not use Frenzied Regeneration, as it is likely that you will be overhealed.

4. Taunting

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

5. Cooldowns

As a Guardian Druid, you two important defensive cooldowns.

  • Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts reduces all damage taken by 50% for 6 seconds. It has 2 charges, and a 4-minute recharge time. It is best used pre-emptively.
  • Barkskin Icon Barkskin reduces all damage taken by 20% for 12 seconds, with a 90-second cooldown. Barkskin is off the global cooldown and it can be used while stunned, incapacitated, or asleep. It is essentially a weaker version of Survival Instincts, and should be used in the same way.

Both of these abilities should be used to help you deal with particularly high amounts of incoming damage.

Additionally, your artifact weapon also provides you with  Icon Rage of the Sleeper, which prevents 25% of all damage you take for 10 seconds and which reflects 250% of your attack power in Nature damage back to your attackers for the same duration. The  Icon Embrace of the Nightmare trait further gives this ability offensive characteristics.

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.

6. Optional Read: Mastering Your Guardian Druid

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

6.1. 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 the following two ways:

  • Autoattacks generate 8 Rage.
  • Certain abilities generate fixed amounts of Rage.

6.2. Mastery: Nature's Guardian

Your Mastery is Mastery: Nature's Guardian Icon Mastery: Nature's Guardian. It increases your maximum health and healing received, as well as your attack power. The exact increase amount depends on how much Mastery you have.

Notably, your Mastery does not reduce the damage you take, which may lead you to take more damage than the other tanking classes. This is compensated for by the fact that you also have more health and receive more healing than other tanks.

6.3. Gore Procs

Your Thrash Icon Thrash, Swipe Icon Swipe, and Moonfire Icon Moonfire has a 15% chance to trigger Gore Icon Gore, which resets the cooldown of Mangle Icon Mangle, and causes it to generate an additional 4 Rage. Making quick use of Gore procs is essential to making sure you that they are not wasted by new procs.

6.4. 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 defensive abilities, your artifact ability, as well as a few abilities you gain from talents. Your active mitigation abilities have been discussed above.

6.4.1. 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.

6.4.2. 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 lower, 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.

6.4.3. Rage of the Sleeper

When using  Icon Rage of the Sleeper as a defensive cooldown, you want to follow the same liberal usage guidelines as for Barkskin Icon Barkskin. Most of the time, you want to use Barkskin before resorting to Rage of the Sleeper. An example of an exception to this rule would be if you need an immediate light cooldown but know you will be crowd controlled in the next minute, in which case you can save Barkskin to use during that period.

Alternatively,  Icon Rage of the Sleeper can be managed and prioritised as a damage cooldown, once you unlock the  Icon Embrace of the Nightmare artifact trait.

6.4.4. Tier 1 Talents

If you have the Brambles Icon Brambles talent, then you should be more greedy in using Barkskin Icon Barkskin, since you deal damage around you while it is active. That said, remember that Barkskin should still be used primarily for survival.

If you have taken Bristling Fur Icon Bristling Fur, you will just have to make sure to use all of the Rage you gain quickly, so that none is wasted. Since you actually want to take damage while Bristling Fur is active, you should avoid stacking it with Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts.

The formula for Bristling Fur is:

  • BristlingFurRage = 100 * Damage / MaxHealth

The formula is rather simple, and here is how it works. If you take 30% of your maximum health in damage, you generate 30 Rage. If you take 65% of your maximum health in damage, you generate 65 Rage.

Let us take into consideration that you take a total of 100% of your maximum health in damage each time you use Bristling Fur. The Rage provided by this talent will then be 150 each minute. Thrash Icon Thrash deals damage each third second, which means it will tick 20 times per minute. If you chose Blood Frenzy Icon Blood Frenzy, you need to have Thrash up and running on at least 4 targets throughout this minute to make it generate equal rage to Bristling Fur.

If you have taken the Blood Frenzy Icon Blood Frenzy talent, simply make sure your Thrash Icon Thrash bleed never drops off the target.

6.4.5. Tier 3 Talents

If you have taken the Feral Affinity Icon Feral Affinity talent and are looking to maximise your DPS by bear­catting, you will want to do so by rapidly switching back and forth between Bear Form Icon Bear Form and Cat Form Icon Cat Form when you get a pause from actively tanking a boss. You do not need to constantly switch, and you do not want to stay in Cat Form for very long. Here are a few general rules to follow.

  • Never wait for Energy while in Cat Form Icon Cat Form to use an ability. Once you drop below 35 Energy, you will want to swap back to Bear Form Icon Bear Form to continue your bear rotation while your Energy regenerates.
  • Never swap to Cat Form Icon Cat Form to DPS if you are actively tanking, or if doing so may get you killed. An example of the latter situation would be if you are not actively tanking, but you are taking moderate to high environmental damage.
  • Plan ahead; if you know you are going to taunt switch with your co­tank in the next 5 seconds, it would be generally better to use that time to pool your Rage for an Ironfur Icon Ironfur instead of doing Feral DPS.
  • Your goal is to keep Rip Icon Rip on the target as much as possible; Rip should be the highest percentage of the overall damage you do in Cat Form Icon Cat Form.
  • Using Combo Points on Ferocious Bite Icon Ferocious Bite is not worth doing so unless the Rip Icon Rip duration is higher than 15 seconds left and you are capped on Combo Points.

The actual "rotation" of bear-catting is something like this:

  1. Shift to Cat Form Icon Cat Form
    • Apply Rake Icon Rake and then spam Shred Icon Shred until you are out of Energy.
  2. Shift back to Bear Form Icon Bear Form and continue your rotation.
  3. Shift to Cat Form Icon Cat Form again
    • Apply Rake Icon Rake and, when you have 5 Combo Points, apply Rip Icon Rip. Continue to spam Shred Icon Shred until you run out of Energy.
  4. Shift back to Bear Form Icon Bear Form and continue your rotation.
  5. Go to step #1.

You can use the following macros to switch between Bear Form Icon Bear Form and Cat Form Icon Cat Form and to go directly to Bear Form to use Growl Icon Growl, respectively.

  • #showtooltip
  • /cast [nostance:1] Bear Form;[stance:1] Cat Form
  • #showtooltip Growl
  • /cast [nostance:1] Bear Form
  • /cast Growl

If you have taken the Balance Affinity Icon Balance Affinity talent, keep in mind that when you are not actively tanking or if you are out of melee range you can swap to Moonkin Form Icon Moonkin Form and quickly apply a Sunfire Icon Sunfire to the target. The more targets it will spread to, the more worthwhile doing so becomes. Remember that the range of your abilities is also increased if you have taken this talent.

If you have taken the Restoration Affinity Icon Restoration Affinity talent, then you can cast Swiftmend Icon Swiftmend on injured allies whenever it is needed and when you are not actively tanking (since it takes you out of Bear Form Icon Bear Form). If you find yourself in a situation where you are facing imminent death (next auto attack from a target kills you), as a last resort tactic you can Displacer Beast Icon Displacer Beast away and then Swiftmend Icon Swiftmend yourself to give your healer sometime to catch up.

6.4.6. Tier 5 Talents

Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc should be used whenever you need a boost of Rage generation (and, implicitly, of survivability) and threat. Alternatively, it can be used when you need to make extensive use of Growl Icon Growl. Remember that Mangle Icon Mangle hits up to 3 enemies while this cooldown is active.

6.4.7. Tier 6 Talents

It might be difficult to use every single proc of Guardian of Elune Icon Guardian of Elune, especially if you are at low Rage and you get a Gore Icon Gore proc (which resets the remaining cooldown of Mangle Icon Mangle). Generally, Guardian of Elune procs should be used mainly on Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration since the increased healing is more beneficial, but using them for a longer uptime on Ironfur is viable as well. We recommend creating a WeakAura that tracks this proc, if you chose Guardian of Elune.

7. ChangeLog

  • 08 Oct. 2016: Added a mention that the goal of the single target rotation is to generate as much Rage as possible.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 24 Jul. 2016: Added a section on using Guardian of Elune.
  • 20 Jul. 2016: Updated tier 1 talent discussion and added Moonfire (with Galactic Guardian procs) to the rotations.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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