Guardian Druid Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Dragonflight 10.2.7

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 11:20 by Pumps 36 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Guardian Druid, depending on the type of damage you will be tanking. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to maximize your survivability and DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Dragonflight 10.2.7.

If you were looking for WotLK Classic content, please refer to our WotLK Classic Feral Tank Druid rotation.

Welcome to our Rotation page for Guardian Druids. On this page, you will be able to find everything that you will need to know about playing the spec in Raiding and Mythic+ content.

While it is highly recommended to go over this entire page to understand better how the class plays, you can also quickly browse the Beginner guide below for a brief rundown of the important basic information.

This page will cover the Rotation in general content, but if you are looking for a more in-depth Mythic+-oriented guide, you may want to head over to our Mythic+ page linked below.

1.

Talent Choices

Guardian has very few talent choices that actually affect your Rotation. Of the few that do, Raze Icon Raze,Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian and Tooth and Claw Icon Tooth and Claw are the biggest ones. Raze Icon Raze gives you an AoE rage spender that you want to use anytime there is more than 1 target as your highest priority spell for damage. Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian gives you a chance to proc a buff that boosts the damage of your next Moonfire Icon Moonfire by 300% and causes it to generate an extra 8 rage. Tooth and Claw Icon Tooth and Claw gives you a chance to proc a buff that causes your next Maul Icon Maul or Raze Icon Raze to cost 0 rage and deal extra damage. These 2 procs are important to track with a Weakaura, ideally to ensure you won't miss any of these important procs.

1.1.

Pre-Combat Checklist for Maximum DPS

2.

Best DPS Rotations for Guardian Druid

Guardian Explained Single-Target Rotation AoE Rotation
3.

Single-Target Rotation Goals for Guardian Druid

  • Casting as many Maul Icon Maul's as possible. It is important to realize that you are a tank first and foremost, so you should cast as many Ironfur Icon Ironfur's as you think you need to survive, but in terms of dealing the highest damage possible, you want to spend as much of your available Rage on Maul Icon Maul as possible.
  • Managing your Rage — Never capping it but also ensuring you have enough Rage to cast either Maul Icon Maul or Ironfur Icon Ironfur if required.
  • Maintaining 5 stacks of Thrash Icon Thrash by using Thrash Icon Thrash frequently. For maximum damage, you do not always want to cast Thrash Icon Thrash off cooldown as you may be flooded with Tooth and Claw Icon Tooth and Claw procs that will keep your rage high and allow many Maul Icon Maul's to be cast in a row.
  • Maintain Moonfire Icon Moonfire on the target at all times. Usually, this is covered by Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian but sometimes you can get bad RNG and have to manually cast a few. Moonless Night Icon Moonless Night does enormous damage for us, so ensuring Moonfire Icon Moonfire is active at all times is essential.
  • Mangle Icon Mangle and Thrash Icon Thrash should be cast as much as possible to keep a steady flow of Rage incoming.
4.

AoE Rotation Goals for Guardian Druid

  • Similar goals to the single-target Rotation, except we replace Maul Icon Maul with Raze Icon Raze.
  • Raze Icon Raze is your highest-priority spell and should be used as much as possible on 2 or more targets. You should still try to maintain 1-3 Ironfur Icon Ironfur stacks depending on how much damage you are taking.
  • Moonfire Icon Moonfire is much less of a priority as we rarely take any of the Moonfire Icon Moonfire related talents in AoE build and should only really be used to pull and on single target encounters.

In the Single-Target and AoE sections, you will find a highly detailed priority list breakdown of the Rotation, as well as optimal openers.

5.

Single-Target Opener for Guardian Druid in Dragonflight

  1. Cast Growl Icon Growl
  2. Cast Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild
  3. Cast Moonfire Icon Moonfire
  4. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  5. Cast Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc
  6. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  7. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle
  8. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  9. Cast Rage of the Sleeper Icon Rage of the Sleeper
  10. Cast Maul Icon Maul x3
  11. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle
  12. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  13. Cast Maul Icon Maul x3
  14. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle
  15. Proceed with your normal Rotation according to the priority list below.
6.

Single-Target Rotation for Guardian Druid

This priority list describes the optimal offensive single-target Rotation for Guardian Druid.

  1. Maintain Moonfire Icon Moonfire
  2. Maintain 5 stacks of Thrash Icon Thrash
  3. Cast Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild off cooldown
  4. Cast Barkskin Icon Barkskin off cooldown
  5. Cast Maul Icon Maul when possible
  6. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle
  7. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  8. Cast Moonfire Icon Moonfire with Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian proc
  9. Cast Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc
  10. Cast Rage of the Sleeper Icon Rage of the Sleeper
  11. Cast Swipe Icon Swipe absolutely lowest priority if you have nothing else to press.
7.

AoE Opener for Guardian Druid

  1. Pull mobs from ranged together with Moonfire Icon Moonfire
  2. Cast Barkskin Icon Barkskin
  3. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  4. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle to generate rage
  5. Dump all rage into Raze Icon Raze while maintaining 1-3 stacks of Ironfur Icon Ironfur depending on damage taken.
  6. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  7. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle to generate rage
  8. Dump all rage into Raze Icon Raze while maintaining 1-3 stacks of Ironfur Icon Ironfur depending on damage taken.
  9. Proceed with your normal Rotation according to the priority list below.
8.

AoE Rotation for Guardian Druid

This priority list describes the optimal offensive AoE rotation for Guardian Druid.

  1. Maintain 5 stacks of Thrash Icon Thrash
  2. Cast Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild off cooldown
  3. Cast Barkskin Icon Barkskin off cooldown unless saving for something specifically dangerous.
  4. Cast Raze Icon Raze when possible
  5. Cast Thrash Icon Thrash
  6. Cast Mangle Icon Mangle
  7. Cast Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc
  8. Cast Rage of the Sleeper Icon Rage of the Sleeper
  9. Cast Moonfire Icon Moonfire
  10. Cast Swipe Icon Swipe absolutely lowest priority if you have nothing else to press.
9.

Tier Set Bonuses for Guardian Druid in Season 4 Dragonflight

  • Druid Guardian 10.1 Class Set 2pc Icon Druid Guardian 10.1 Class Set 2pc
  • Druid Guardian 10.1 Class Set 4pc Icon Druid Guardian 10.1 Class Set 4pc

Our season 4 tier set bonus has no effect on regular rotation, simply casting at least 1 Ironfur Icon Ironfur or Maul Icon Maul/Raze Icon Raze every 15 seconds will maintain maximum uptime on the set bonus which increases our health and damage.

10.

Active Mitigation for Guardian Druids

As a Guardian Druid, you have one ability that acts as active mitigation: Ironfur Icon Ironfur. In addition to this, you have a self-heal Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration. While Frenzied Regeneration is not strictly considered "active mitigation," it is nevertheless a core part of your rotational toolkit, and you will use it frequently.

10.1.

Ironfur

Ironfur Icon Ironfur increases your Armor by 100% of your Agility for 7 seconds. Multiple applications of Ironfur may overlap and stack their Armor increases, but their durations will not stack. For example, if you use Ironfur and then use it again 3 seconds later, you will have 2 applications of Ironfur for 4 seconds, granting you 200% of your Agility as Armor. After 4 seconds, the first application will have expired, leaving you with 100% of your Agility as Armor for 3 more seconds. Agility buffs and procs increase the amount of Armor you gain from Ironfur.

Armor is extremely effective at reducing Physical damage intake, so having at least 1 stack of Ironfur Icon Ironfur up as often as possible is recommended. Additionally, you will occasionally want to pool your Rage to put up multiple stacks of Ironfur for a short period to deal with a spike in damage. There is a hard limit to how much Armor can reduce your incoming damage by, at 85%. This is around 7-8 (3-4 with an Aug voker) stacks of Ironfur Icon Ironfur and can generally be achieved on 5-10 targets or inside of Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc.

Armor does not normally reduce Bleed damage (typically, this is presented in-game as a "Physical DoT") or Magic damage. However, there are exceptions to these rules, which appear on a case-by-case basis. When faced with Bleed or Magic damage, you will find Ironfur Icon Ironfur ineffective and should instead use your defensive cooldowns to reduce the damage or a well-timed Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration to heal yourself. Remember that if you are tanking a boss, you are almost always taking auto-attacks and other damage sources. Auto-attacks are Physical, so it is still worth maintaining Ironfur Icon Ironfur on most encounters.

Finally, consider your situation carefully before using Ironfur Icon Ironfur. Since it is proactive, no matter how low on health you have been brought, using it if there is no new incoming damage is pointless.

10.2.

Frenzied Regeneration

Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration heals you for 32% of your maximum health in the form of a 3-second HoT. It costs 10 Rage and has a maximum of 2 charges with a 36-second recharge time (reduced by Haste). Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration can be used both proactively and reactively, either to top yourself off in anticipation of incoming damage or in response to being brought to low health after a big hit.

A key element of using Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration effectively is ensuring that you do not inadvertently cause overhealing, both for you and your healers. To do this, you will need to anticipate how much damage you will likely take in the next 3 seconds and compare it to how much healing you will likely receive. Since self-healing is very limited, using each charge is critical.

Another consideration when using Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration is the recharge timer. It may be tempting to Frenzied Regeneration whenever you are brought moderately low, but doing this could leave you without charges for a scary moment later. Try and save at least one charge of Frenzied Regeneration for periods where you may not receive the assistance of your healers (if they are busy healing the rest of the raid, for example).

11.

Taunting

Growl Icon Growl is your taunting ability. Growl forces the target to attack you for 3 seconds. During those 3 seconds, you generate additional Threat against that target. Growl has an 8-second cooldown but can be reduced to 1.5 seconds during Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc.

Guardians have no additional taunting mechanisms.

12.

Cooldowns for Guardian Druids

As a Guardian Druid, you have two important defensive cooldowns.

  • Barkskin Icon Barkskin reduces all damage you take by 20% for 12 seconds on a 60-second cooldown. Barkskin is usable will stunned, incapacitated, or asleep. This will be your first line of defense against dangerous spike damage and your primary way of reducing magic damage or simply as risk mitigation to smooth your damage intake for your healers. It has a short cooldown, so use it liberally!
  • Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts reduces all damage you take by 50% for 6 seconds. Survival Instincts has 2 charges and a 3-minute recharge time. This is your major defensive reduction, to be used against lethal spike damage or "tankbuster" mechanics. Its short duration and long cooldown mean it should be used sparingly.

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.

13.

Optional Read: Mastering Your Guardian Druid

Tanking as a Guardian Druid is pretty straightforward; the information provided above is sufficient to perform reasonably proficiently. However, there are several more advanced topics that you should understand to master your character fully. Some of these are explained in our Spell Summary linked below.

13.1.

Rage Generation

Guardian Druid's primary resource is Rage.

The Rage bar has a maximum capacity of 100 and is empty by default. Rage decays quickly out of combat. In combat, Rage does not decay.

Rage is generated in the following ways:

  • Activating Bear Form Icon Bear Form grants you 25 Rage (leaving Bear Form empties the Rage bar).
  • Auto-attacks generate 4 Rage.
  • Being auto-attacked generates 3 Rage (can only occur once every second).
  • Mangle Icon Mangle generates 10 Rage (+4 with a Gore Icon Gore proc and +5 with Soul of the Forest Icon Soul of the Forest).
  • Thrash Icon Thrash generates 5 Rage.
  • Moonfire Icon Moonfire with a Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian proc generates 8 Rage.
  • Bristling Fur Icon Bristling Fur generates 1 Rage per % of max health taken in damage while active.
  • Blood Frenzy Icon Blood Frenzy generates 2 Rage every time a Thrash Icon Thrash bleed ticks on any target (Thrash ticks once every 3 seconds, reduced by Haste).
13.2.

Mastery: Nature's Guardian

Your Mastery is Mastery: Nature's Guardian Icon Mastery: Nature's Guardian. It increases your maximum health and healing received and your Attack Power. The exact increase amount depends on how much Mastery you have. For every 1% Mastery, you gain 1% increased health and healing, and 1.33% increased Attack Power. Guardians start with 4% Mastery baseline.

Notably, the increased healing component of Mastery: Nature's Guardian Icon Mastery: Nature's Guardian does not increase the healing from Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration or Restoration Affinity Icon Restoration Affinity, although it does affect the two spells in that both heal scale with maximum health, which is increased by Mastery.

13.3.

Gore Procs

Your Thrash Icon Thrash, Swipe Icon Swipe, Maul Icon Maul, and Moonfire Icon Moonfire have 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 ensuring they are not overwritten by new procs and the Rage is not wasted.

13.4.

Detailed Cooldown Usage for Guardian Druids

Guardian Druid is a primarily proactive tank. You must be prepared with active mitigation and defensive cooldowns before you take damage. This is in contrast to reactive tanks, which first take the damage and then react to it by healing themselves up.

As such, preparation plays a large part in tanking effectively. Wise use of cooldowns and coordination with your healers is critical and can be the difference between a boss kill and a wipe. The best way to prepare for an encounter is to look at the damage profile of the fight (either from a log or by reading the Dungeon Journal) and plan out what cooldowns you will use, when you will use them, and whether any gaps need to be covered by healer external defensives.

You have two baseline defensive cooldowns and a few more that you can talent into. Unless you are sure you will die otherwise, it is not advised to overlap your defensive cooldowns, as spending them that way is often overkill and wasteful.

13.4.1.

Barkskin

Barkskin Icon Barkskin is the go-to cooldown when the damage starts ramping up or when there is magic damage that you cannot otherwise mitigate, or just as a general damage reducer to take some of the burden off of your healers. A 20% damage reduction may sound small, but it lasts for quite a while and is on a fairly short cooldown, so be sure to use it frequently. Guardians have a lot of health and passive mitigation. The amount of damage you can prevent with the liberal use of Barkskin may surprise you. Remember that Barkskin can be used in most forms of crowd control and shapeshift forms in case you find yourself caught out of Bear Form Icon Bear Form or unable to move out of a mechanic.

13.4.2.

Survival Instincts

Survival Instincts Icon Survival Instincts is best used pre-emptively. You should use Survival Instincts before taking a large amount of damage (generally a boss mechanic). Additionally, you can use it to prolong your survival if your healers are dead or incapacitated. Unless your strategy requires you to use both charges at specific times, you can get away with making frequent use of at least 1 charge.

Except for emergencies, do not wait until you are already low on health to use Survival Instincts, as it is usually too late to save you.

13.5.

Catweaving

Catweaving is a playstyle where you shift back and forth between Cat Form Icon Cat Form and Bear Form Icon Bear Form while not actively tanking to squeeze extra damage out of the Feral abilities you gain when talenting into Rake Icon Rake and Rip Icon Rip. Catweaving is an advanced topic and significantly complicates the Rotation. It is not recommended for those who are just picking up Guardian Druid or when you are learning a new fight. That being said, when done correctly, it is a significant DPS increase over staying in Bear Form single-target, and, with caution, it can be done with a low-risk factor.

Catweaving does not work on every encounter. It requires frequent periods where you are not tanking or taking damage since you have far less health and damage mitigation in Cat Form Icon Cat Form. If you are unsure if catweaving is possible in a fight, it is always better to play it safe and stay in Bear Form Icon Bear Form. It should go without saying that catweaving is 100% focused on dealing damage and does not compromise survivability whatsoever. Catweaving is not always a DPS increase; as of Dragonflight Patch 10.2.6 it is currently a loss and can be ignored completely.

First, we must discuss resources in Cat Form Icon Cat Form, because they are significantly different from Rage in Bear Form Icon Bear Form. You have two resources in Cat Form — Energy and Combo Points. Energy is used to cast all of your abilities in Cat Form. You begin with 100 Energy (the maximum amount you can have). It regenerates at 10 Energy per second as you spend it, increased by Haste. Combo points are a secondary resource you build and spend through Rotation. You can generate up to 5 Combo Points using your generator spells Rake Icon Rake and Shred Icon Shred, and you can spend those Combo Points on finisher spells like Rip Icon Rip and Ferocious Bite Icon Ferocious Bite. Finishers will always consume all Combo Points, and the more they consume, the more damage they deal when cast. Energy regenerates while you are out of Cat Form, including while in Bear Form, which enables catweaving in the first place.

The primary goal of catweaving is to apply your powerful Feral bleeds Rake Icon Rake and Rip Icon Rip to the target. To do this, you will need to build Combo Points while in Cat Form Icon Cat Form using Shred Icon Shred and Rake until you have 5, and then spend them on either Rip, or Ferocious Bite Icon Ferocious Bite if Rip is already ticking. However, you are limited by how much Energy you can spend in Cat Form at any given time. Once you run out of Energy, you want to shift into Bear Form Icon Bear Form to continue using your powerful Guardian spells while waiting for your Energy to regenerate. Typically, you will be able to cast 3-5 spells before you are out of Energy. This process of shifting into Cat Form, spending your Energy, then shifting back into Bear Form is known as a "cat cycle."

Cat cycles will typically begin when you cannot cast anything but Swipe Icon Swipe in Bear Form Icon Bear Form. That is, your more powerful Guardian spells (Mangle Icon Mangle, Thrash Icon Thrash, Maul Icon Maul, and Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian-empowered Moonfire Icon Moonfire) are either on cooldown or unavailable. It is at this point that it is worth shifting into Cat Form Icon Cat Form to spend Energy. While in Cat Form, the priority is as follows:

  • Cast Heart of the Wild Icon Heart of the Wild.
  • Cast Rip Icon Rip if you are at 5 Combo Points and Rip is either not ticking, or will fall off before you have another chance to re-apply it.
  • Cast Ferocious Bite Icon Ferocious Bite if you are at 5 Combo Points.
  • Cast Rake Icon Rake if Rake is either not ticking or will fall off before you have another chance to re-apply it.
  • Cast Shred Icon Shred.

Make sure that you do not begin a cat cycle that you cannot finish before you have to resume tanking, as that time is usually better spent pooling Rage for Ironfur Icon Ironfur.

When you are catweaving, you want to start the fight in Cat Form Icon Cat Form, in Prowl Icon Prowl. Your co-tank will pull the boss, and you will immediately begin a cat cycle from stealth. Applying Rake Icon Rake from stealth empowers it, causing it to deal 100% more damage. If possible, let this Rake tick to completion, as you will lose any remaining empowered ticks if you overwrite it.

14.

Changelog

  • 07 May 2024: Reviewed for 10.2.7.
  • 23 Apr. 2024: Updated Tier set notes.
  • 22 Apr. 2024: Reviewed for Season 4.
  • 20 Mar. 2024: Reviewed for Patch 10.2.6.
  • 15 Jan. 2024: Reviewed for Patch 10.2.5.
  • 06 Nov. 2023: Removed Patch 10.1.7 items to update for Patch 10.2.
  • 04 Sep. 2023: Added rotation info block.
  • 25 Jul. 2023: Added additional Multi target notes.
  • 10 Jul. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.1.5.
  • 01 May 2023: Updated for Patch 10.1.
  • 20 Mar. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.7.
  • 24 Jan. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.0.5.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight Season 1.
  • 28 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight launch.
  • 25 Oct. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
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