Guardian Druid Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Guardian Druid in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. We also have default talent lists for various types of content, such as raiding or Mythic+. If you play with Warmode on, we have your PvP talents covered as well.
1. Talent Choices for Guardian Druid
|15||? Brambles||? Blood Frenzy||✓ Bristling Fur|
|30||? Tiger Dash||? Ursol's Vortex||✓ Wild Charge|
|45||✓ Balance Affinity||? Feral Affinity||? Restoration Affinity|
|60||? Mighty Bash||? Mass Entanglement||? Typhoon|
|75||✓ Soul of the Forest||✓ Galactic Guardian||? Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc|
|90||? Earthwarden||? Survival of the Fittest||✓ Guardian of Elune|
|100||✓ Rend and Tear||✗ Lunar Beam||✓ Pulverize|
Talents can be freely changed when out of combat and in a rested XP area (such as an inn or a capital city). Moreover, Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.
2. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Guardian Druids
|? Brambles||? Blood Frenzy||✔ Bristling Fur|
- Brambles is a passive effect that causes all attacks made against you to have an amount of their damage absorbed and reflected back to the attacker. Moreover, if you choose Brambles, while Barkskin is active, you pulse a small amount of Nature damage to all nearby enemies every second.
- Blood Frenzy causes Thrash to generate 2 Rage each time it ticks. Notably, the direct damage portion of Thrash does not generate Rage.
- Bristling Fur allows you to generate Rage from damage you take. While it is active: for every 1% of your maximum health that you take in damage, you gain 1 rage.
For Rage generation, Bristling Fur is easily the strongest option, and should be the default choice for most encounters. It gives you a third defensive cooldown to complement the toolkit, and in some cases can be stronger than Barkskin given the right circumstances. The on-demand Rage generation gives you Rage when you need it most, and lets you effectively "pool" your Rage beyond the limited size of your Rage bar, and then rapidly stack up Ironfurs while Bristling Fur is active to deal with big Physical damage spikes.
Blood Frenzy is a decent passive alternative, and works well on sustained cleave/AoE fights. This talent relies on long fight durations for most of its value, due to Thrash's low tick frequency. Additionally it lacks the element of control that its alternative, Bristling Fur, gives. Blood Frenzy's value increases with Haste, as Haste increases the speed at which the Thrash bleed ticks.
Brambles cannot really be considered a defensive option, as the absorb portion of the talent is very small compared to the Rage generation of the alternatives on this row. It is, however, the strongest talent in terms of damage output, and so is a viable option if survivability is not a concern.
3. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents for Guardian Druids
|? Tiger Dash||? Ursol's Vortex||✔ Wild Charge|
- Tiger Dash replaces Dash with a 45-second cooldown, 200% movement speed sprint that decays over 5 seconds when activated.
- Ursol's Vortex conjures a ground zone for 10 seconds that will slow all enemies affected by 50%. It will also pull them to the center after the first time they attempt to leave the circle.
- Wild Charge is a mobility spell that changes behavior based on which Form you use the spell in. In Bear Form, it charges you toward an enemy and roots them in place for 4 seconds.
You have two mobility options and a crowd-control option on this row.
In general, Wild Charge provides the most flexibility as a movement option, and should be your default choice. It adds a mobility spell into your toolkit without replacing an existing one, unlike Tiger Dash. However, Tiger Dash provides the most burst movement potential of the row, allowing you to cover a large distance in a very short amount of time, and with a reasonably low cooldown. This will boil down to what fits the needs of the encounter more.
As for Ursol's Vortex, in a raid setting its value is very dependent on the encounter. In fights where there are no crowd-controllable enemies, this talent has near zero value, however in fights with crowd-controllable enemies it is incredibly useful. In dungeons, Ursol's Vortex should be the default choice as it is one of the few tools available to Guardians for controlling dungeon packs.
4. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents for Guardian Druids
|✔ Balance Affinity||? Feral Affinity||? Restoration Affinity|
- Balance Affinity grants you the Astral Influence passive ability, which increases the range of all your abilities by 3 yards. Additionally, you gain access to the Balance-spec abilities Moonkin Form, Starsurge, Lunar Strike, Solar Wrath, and Sunfire.
- Feral Affinity grants you the Feline Swiftness passive ability, which increases your movement speed by 15%. Additionally, you gain access to the Feral-spec abilities Rake, Rip, Ferocious Bite, and your energy regeneration is increased by 35%.
- Restoration Affinity grants you the Ysera's Gift passive ability, which heals you (or a nearby ally, if you are at full health yourself) for 3% of your maximum health every 5 seconds. Additionally, you gain access to the Restoration-spec abilities Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and Swiftmend. Note that the while the tooltip may say 1.5% of maximum health for Guardians, it actually heals for 3% of maximum health in game.
For most situations, Balance Affinity is the go-to talent. It is excellent for Mythic+ for the extra range on AoE abilities like Thrash and Swipe, but it works for all abilities including auto-attack, Mangle, and Skull Bash. This talent makes it easy to keep doing your rotation while running around and picking up enemies, as well as repositioning bosses.
Feral Affinity is an obvious choice if you ever find yourself wanting a little bit more movement speed against a certain encounter. It also enables the ability to shift into Cat Form and deal additional damage through the Feral abilities, commonly referred to as "catweaving".
The heal of Restoration Affinity is, realistically, pretty weak and too slow to have much of a meaningful impact, even if it does add up in total over a longer fight; it could see use in places where there is little to no incoming healing on you. While it is most effective when the heal goes on other players, as the percentage-based healing is based off of your maximum health and Guardian Druids have a lot of health, it would require you to be at full health right before the heal would come in, which is too unreliable to count on (although it can sometimes happen).
5. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents for Guardian Druids
|? Mighty Bash||? Mass Entanglement||? Typhoon|
- Mighty Bash is an active ability with a 50-second cooldown, which stuns the target for 5 seconds. It is usable in all shapeshift forms.
- Mass Entanglement is an active ability with a 30-second cooldown, which roots the target and all enemies within 15 yards of them in place for 30 seconds. Damage done to rooted targets may break the effect. Mass Entanglement is usable in all shapeshift forms.
- Typhoon is an active ability with a 30-second cooldown. It knocks back all targets within 15-yards in a cone in front of you, dazing them for 6 seconds. It is usable in all shapeshift forms.
The choice between these talents is very situational, as they are all different forms of crowd control.
In most situations, you will get the most use out of Typhoon, since it has a lot of use in Mythic+, where it can be used as a repositioning tool or as an emergency interrupt.
Mass Entanglement is a better version of Entangling Roots, as you can cast it while in Bear Form and it can snare several enemies. It breaks very easily on damage, but can be used to keep certain mobs from reaching you and is occasionally useful in niche situations.
Finally, Mighty Bash can be used to lock down a single target for a short duration, or as an emergency interrupt.
6. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents for Guardian Druids
|✔ Soul of the Forest||✔ Galactic Guardian||? Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc|
- Soul of the Forest improves Mangle's Rage generation and damage.
- Galactic Guardian gives your damaging abilities (including damage from trinkets, but excluding damage from Moonfire and Brambles reflect) a 5% chance to automatically cast a free Moonfire on the target. When this happens, the next Moonfire you cast (within 15 seconds) generates 8 Rage and deals 300% increased damage.
- Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc is an active ability with a 3-minute cooldown. While it is active, your Armor is increased by 15%, the cooldown of Mangle, Thrash, and Growl is reduced to the global cooldown, and causes Mangle to hit up to 3 targets.
Against a single target, Soul of the Forest is the strongest talent in terms of Rage generation and damage output.
Galactic Guardian is generally the stronger sustained cleave/AoE talent, both in terms of Rage generation and damage output.
Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc is recommended for heavy burst AoE damage output. Defensively, the Armor increase can be used to cover gaps in your cooldown rotation, although this is generally not a reason to take Incarnation as the alternatives will produce more consistent and reliable Rage generation.
7. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents for Guardian Druids
|? Earthwarden||? Survival of the Fittest||✔ Guardian of Elune|
- Earthwarden causes Thrash to grant a stack of Earthwarden, which reduces the damage of the next melee attack by 30%. This can stack up to 3 times. Only the direct damage portion of Thrash can generate Earthwarden stacks, but stacks are generated for every target hit (if Thrash hits 3 targets, you gain 3 stacks of Earthwarden).
- Guardian of Elune causes Mangle to increase the duration of your next Ironfur by 2 seconds, or the healing of your next Frenzied Regeneration by 20%.
- Survival of the Fittest reduces the cooldown of Barkskin and Survival Instincts by 33%. This gives Barkskin a 60 second cooldown, and Survival Instincts a 2.7 minute (2 minutes 40 seconds) recharge time.
Guardian of Elune should be the default choice. The extension on Ironfur makes maintaining Ironfur much easier, and allows you to more easily pool Rage for more stacks when damage ramps up. Additionally, the increase in healing from Frenzied Regeneration is a significant boost to your self-sustain, and the flexibility to choose between empowering Ironfur or Frenzied Regeneration is what makes Guardian of Elune a strong talent. While it is generally a good idea to try and empower every use of Ironfur or Frenzied Regeneration, if you are in danger you should just use the unempowered versions of the spells instead of waiting for Mangle.
Earthwarden is a strong option whenever you are able to hit more targets with Thrash than you are actively tanking. Examples of this are a council-style fight when you are tanking one of several enemies, or an encounter with adds that chain cast abilities instead of attacking you directly. Note that Earthwarden only works on melee attacks and select boss abilities that are considered melee attacks. Earthwarden loses a lot of value when several enemies, especially non-threatening adds, are attacking you as it can consume your stacks very quickly on minor hits.
Survival of the Fittest is another strong option whenever you need additional uses of Barkskin or Survival Instincts throughout a fight, or when the damage profile of the encounter does not suit the other alternatives. This can be any time a boss has frequent spike damage that either doesn't allow you to stack Ironfur quickly enough, or is Magic damage and therefore isn't mitigated by Ironfur or Earthwarden.
8. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents for Guardian Druids
|✔ Rend and Tear||✘ Lunar Beam||✔ Pulverize|
- Rend and Tear increases the damage you deal to targets affected by Thrash, and reduces the damage you take from those targets, by 2% per stack of Thrash.
- Lunar Beam is an active ability with a 75-second cooldown which summons a beam of light at your location for 8 seconds. Any enemies in the beam take Arcane damage every second, and you are healed every second while in the beam. Note that the beam's location is fixed, and does not follow you as you move.
- Pulverize is an active ability that consumes 2 stacks of Thrash on the target, dealing Physical damage and granting you a 20 second buff that reduces all damage you take by 9%.
For defensive purposes, Pulverize is by far the strongest option. Not only is it a larger damage reduction than Rend and Tear, but it also works against all damage sources, not just the ones affected by Thrash. Most notably, environmental damage can be reduced by Pulverize and not by Rend and Tear. It is also the strongest talent in terms of damage on a single target when executed optimally, though not by much. The downside of Pulverize is that it significantly complicates the rotation and is quite challenging to play optimally.
Rend and Tear is a decent passive alternative. While it is a smaller damage reduction than Pulverize, it is entirely passive and doesn't require any additional buttons to play optimally. Rend and Tear is also the recommended talent for damage output on sustained multitarget cleave.
Lunar Beam has limited use. While the burst damage and healing potential is quite high, if enemies live longer than the duration of the spell you will have been better off with one of the alternatives both for damage and survivability.
9. PvP Talents (War Mode)
Battle for Azeroth introduces a new system called "War Mode". Opting into War Mode makes you eligible for open world PvP, but also grants you the following benefits:
- World Quests at maximum level have 10% increased rewards.
- You gain 10% increased experience while leveling.
- Allows you to earn Conquest Points towards weekly gear rewards.
- Grants you the use of PvP talents in the open world.
With the benefits of enabling War Mode for leveling and PvE content, it is recommended that you enable the feature to maximize your leveling and rewards at maximum level. However, you will make yourself eligible for open world PvP, and the possibility to be "ganked" while leveling or doing World Quests exists.
9.1. PvP Talents for Guardian Druids
Below, you will find the recommended PvP talents for leveling and doing PvE content. You will get a choice of 1 general PvP talent, and 3 spec specific talents.
9.1.1. General PvP Talents
- Relentless is also a passive ability but it does not automatically remove crowd control abilities but instead reduces the duration.
- Gladiator's Medallion is an on-use ability that removes all movement impairing effects and all loss of control effects.
- Adaptation is likely your most passive choice since it will automatically remove loss of control effects over 5 seconds. It is recommended while leveling to take this PvP talent.
9.1.2. Guardian Druid PvP Talents
- Sharpened Claws causes Maul to grant a buff that increases Thrash and Swipe damage for 6 seconds. This is a strong DPS increase and is definitely recommended.
- Malorne's Swiftness increases your Travel Form movement speed by 20% and prevents you from being slowed below 100% movement speed. This improves your mobility and will reduce travel time, which is important while leveling.
- Alpha Challenge replaces Growl, an ability that historically has no function in solo content. In exchange, you (and your allies) deal increased damage to the target you taunt.
- Raging Frenzy causes your Frenzied Regeneration to generate 60 Rage over its duration. This is occasionally useful for pulling large groups of enemies and putting up several stacks of Ironfur.
- Master Shapeshifter empowers your chosen Affinity talent. This is particularly strong when paired with Feral Affinity as it can significantly improve the damage you deal.
Of the remaining PvP talents, Demoralizing Roar, Entangling Claws, Overrun, and Roaring Speed may have limited or niche applications in leveling or open world PvE content, but they do not provide the overall benefit of the recommended list above. The rest of the PvP talents do not contribute meaningfully to leveling or open world PvE.
- 10 Dec. 2018: Updated for Patch 8.1.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- Wintergrasp 8.1.5 PTR Testing: February 19th
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- Patch 8.1 Hotfixes: February 14th
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- PvP Hotfixes: Feb 13th - Massive Mana Regen Nerf
- Crucible of Storms Raid Testing: Feb 21st-25th
- Patch 8.1.5 Build 29352: Highlights
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