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Guardian Mastery and Expertise

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Hello. I have a question about one of my tanks. Reading many forums it seems like you want 15 expertise cap and mastery is not a priority. If you look at the top rated Guardians in the world many only have their expertise capped at 7.5 and many reforge into mastery. Our tank is a good tank, but his expertise is only at 9.6 and he is gemmed full of mastery.


Since I know little about Guardians I would like to know if and why he should get his expertise to 15 and if and why he doesn't need to gem and forge into mastery.


I have found almost nothing on mastery for guardians, so this leads me to believe that he does not need to gem and forge for it and hitting the cap of 15 for expertise just makes sense, but I want to be able to explain to him why this is important if indeed it is.


Thanks in advance for any advice you could provide.

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Well, I have no idea what top guardians are doing if they arent doing what I'm about to say.  They may be experimenting, or they have some weird things that they do.


Basically, what mastery does for a guardian is increase their total armor.  Which basically means that they mitigate more melee/physical attacks. NOT magic attacks.


As for hitting 15% expertise, the reason behind it is that having that much will guarantee that your rage generating abilities will hit.  Basically if you're not expertise capped you run the risk of missing your mangles and not generating any rage while it still incurring its cooldown.


Now, the stat most guardians go for is Crit.  Crit rating will allow you to generate much more rage thus allowing you to use more of your active mitigation.  You can spend the rage on Savage Defense where it allows you to easily reach that theoretical 75%~ uptime on your dodge buff (though tanks would never want to try to do this since there is no mechanic that makes you have to keep that buff up for that long to dodge melee attacks) and the extra rage allows you to spend it more on Frenzied Regeneration to heal yourself.  The heal also scales with your attack power, so the higher your vengeance, the more self healing you're able to do.


Basically, 15% Exp = 7.5% Hit > Crit is the best bang for your buck in terms of stats as a guardian becasue it gives you a constant and significant amount of rage generation on top of doing more overall damage.  


The difference between stacking mastery vs crit is as such:

  1. Mastery, you will be taking much less PHYSICAL damage over the course of a fight, you will have much less rage generation than crit, thus not allowing you to use savage defense or Frenzied Regeneration as often. You have to pre-plan your rage much sooner to allow you to have enough to heal yourself back up from a magical attack.
  2. Crit, you will have much more rage generation than mastery, though you will take more physical damage (albeit scaling is very minor, so not a huge deal), but you are able to keep up savage defense more often with that extra rage to allow you to dodge melee attacks, which in turn will make you more spiky.  But with the extra rage you gain you are able to also use Frenzied Regeneration more often to heal yourself when you take damage. With this build you will be able to heal yourself from magical attack much more frequently.  Lasty you you will do significantly more damage.



Again, if that was too wordy for you

Mastery: smooth physical damage, less rage, less dodge, less self heals

Crit: spiky physical damage, more rage, more dodge, more self heals

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When it comes to what the best Guardians in the world are doing, I usually look to Sejta. You'll see that he hard caps Expertise at 15% and runs with over 23,000 static Critical Strike rating.




Your main source of survival as a Guardian is Rage. Rage is spent in three ways: on an avoidance buff, a powerful self-heal, and an attack + absorb shield. Rage is generated primarily through melee strikes and Mangles. Those attacks also generate substantially more rage if they crit. If you are not hard capped on Expertise, then you will have melee attacks and Mangles get parried, and you get no Rage at all from parries. That's why you want Expertise. If they are not critting as often, then you can't spend your Rage as freely as you might like, which can mean the difference between life and death in a matter of moments when running heroic modes like Paragon. That's why you want Critical Strike.


Mastery is a flat buff to your armor, which is then multiplied again by the Bear Form buff to armor. In terms of aiding survival against big physical attacks, gemming for Mastery is better than any other stat, but it is completely ineffective against magic damage. Put it this way - if I had to fight an on-level version of Patchwerk, I would probably be stacking Stamina and Mastery. In the content that is relevant now, it's not necessary.

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The above two posts are great from a guardian raiding perspective.


So if you say his tanking is good enough for the job at hand, thats fine, it will do. If you have more challenging fights I would strongly recommend he follows what has been set out above.


Now I can not say for sure but I suspect he is using feral stat priority and tanking with it. Which is sub par but depending on the content you are running, may work perfectly well.


The reason for this is so he can use the same kit for dps and tanking ... I kind of do the same, but still balance more strongly towards Crit as it is awesome for rage generation and I mainly use my druid for tanking while dpsing only for solo content.


If it works, and you aren't a "hardcore" raiding group, there should be no problem. If you are considering heroic modes ... tell him to get his gear in check!

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I often do the opposite - I run as a cat in my bear gear. It works decently, because critical strikes synergize with the Feral's passives by giving an extra combo point and making the rotation easier, but Ferals really do work better if you put a higher value on Agility; if you're compromising by putting in yellow Mastery gems, you're using a suboptimal solution for both specs and you won't see good performance.


Also, Ferals should use 7.5% Expertise and Guardians really need 15%, so one way or another, you're losing DPS.

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