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Guardian Druid Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated on Aug 13, 2018 at 00:42 by Faide 7 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent choices for Guardian Druids in World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth 8.0.1. We detail what each of the talents do and in which situations they should be taken.

The other pages of our Guardian Druid guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Faide, a Guardian Druid theorycrafter, moderator for the Dreamgrove Druid discord, and owner of Dreamgrove.gg, a Druid community website. He raids in Synergy on Bleeding Hollow US. You can follow him on Twitter.

1. Talent Choices for Guardian Druid

Level Choices
15 Brambles ? Brambles Blood Frenzy ? Blood Frenzy Bristling Fur Bristling Fur
30 Tiger Dash ? Tiger Dash Intimidating Roar Intimidating Roar Wild Charge Wild Charge
45 Balance Affinity Balance Affinity Feral Affinity ? Feral Affinity Restoration Affinity ? Restoration Affinity
60 Mighty Bash ? Mighty Bash Mass Entanglement ? Mass Entanglement Typhoon ? Typhoon
75 Soul of the Forest Soul of the Forest Galactic Guardian Galactic Guardian Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc ? Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc
90 Earthwarden ? Earthwarden Survival of the Fittest ? Survival of the Fittest Guardian of Elune Guardian of Elune
100 Rend and Tear Rend and Tear Lunar Beam Lunar Beam Pulverize 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 Icon Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind Icon 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 ? Brambles Blood Frenzy ? Blood Frenzy Bristling Fur Bristling Fur
  • Brambles Icon 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 Icon Barkskin is active, you pulse a small amount of Nature damage to all nearby enemies every second.
  • Blood Frenzy Icon Blood Frenzy causes Thrash Icon Thrash to generate 2 Rage each time it ticks. Notably, the direct damage portion of Thrash does not generate Rage.
  • Bristling Fur Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon 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 Ironfur Icon Ironfurs while Bristling Fur is active to deal with big Physical damage spikes.

Blood Frenzy Icon 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 Icon Thrash's low tick frequency. Additionally it lacks the element of control that its alternative, Bristling Fur Icon Bristling Fur, gives. Blood Frenzy's value increases with Haste, as Haste increases the speed at which the Thrash bleed ticks.

Brambles Icon 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 ? Tiger Dash Intimidating Roar Intimidating Roar Wild Charge Wild Charge
  • Tiger Dash Icon Tiger Dash replaces Dash Icon Dash with a 45-second cooldown, 200% movement speed sprint that decays over 5 seconds when activated.
  • Intimidating Roar Icon Intimidating Roar replaces Incapacitating Roar Icon Incapacitating Roar with an AoE roar that causes targets to cower for 3 seconds. The damage threshold for breaking the cower is much higher than it is for Incapacitating Roar.
  • Wild Charge Icon Wild Charge is a mobility spell that changes behavior based on which Form you use the spell in. In Bear Form Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon 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 Intimidating Roar Icon Intimidating Roar, it has near zero value in a raid setting. In dungeon settings, it is potentially useful, however it is hindered by the fact that it replaces Incapacitating Roar Icon Incapacitating Roar. There are more enemy types that are immune to fears than are immune to disorients, and as such Incapacitating Roar can often interrupt more than Intimidating Roar. Since that is the primary use for Incapacitating Roar, Intimidating Roar is not recommended for most ordinary scenarios.

4. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents for Guardian Druids

Balance Affinity Balance Affinity Feral Affinity ? Feral Affinity Restoration Affinity ? Restoration Affinity

For most situations, Balance Affinity Icon Balance Affinity is the go-to talent. It is excellent for Mythic+ for the extra range on AoE abilities like Thrash Icon Thrash and Swipe Icon Swipe, but it works for all abilities including auto-attack, Mangle Icon Mangle, and Skull Bash Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Cat Form and deal additional damage through the Feral abilities, commonly referred to as "catweaving".

The heal of Restoration Affinity Icon 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 ? Mighty Bash Mass Entanglement ? Mass Entanglement Typhoon ? Typhoon
  • Mighty Bash Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Mass Entanglement is a better version of Entangling Roots Icon Entangling Roots, as you can cast it while in Bear Form Icon 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 Icon 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 Soul of the Forest Galactic Guardian Galactic Guardian Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc ? Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc
  • Soul of the Forest Icon Soul of the Forest improves Mangle Icon Mangle's Rage generation and damage.
  • Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian gives your damaging abilities (including damage from trinkets, but excluding damage from Moonfire Icon Moonfire and Brambles Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Mangle, Thrash Icon Thrash, and Growl Icon Growl is reduced to the global cooldown, and causes Mangle Icon Mangle to hit up to 3 targets.

Against a single target, Soul of the Forest Icon Soul of the Forest is the strongest talent in terms of Rage generation and damage output.

Galactic Guardian Icon Galactic Guardian is generally the stronger sustained cleave/AoE talent, both in terms of Rage generation and damage output.

Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc Icon 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 ? Earthwarden Survival of the Fittest ? Survival of the Fittest Guardian of Elune Guardian of Elune
  • Earthwarden Icon Earthwarden causes Thrash Icon 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 Icon Guardian of Elune causes Mangle Icon Mangle to increase the duration of your next Ironfur Icon Ironfur by 2 seconds, or the healing of your next Frenzied Regeneration Icon Frenzied Regeneration by 20%.
  • Survival of the Fittest Icon Survival of the Fittest reduces the cooldown of Barkskin Icon Barkskin and Survival Instincts Icon 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 Icon Guardian of Elune should be the default choice. The extension on Ironfur Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Earthwarden is a strong option whenever you are able to hit more targets with Thrash Icon 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 Icon Survival of the Fittest is another strong option whenever you need additional uses of Barkskin Icon Barkskin or Survival Instincts Icon 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 Icon Ironfur quickly enough, or is Magic damage and therefore isn't mitigated by Ironfur Icon Ironfur or Earthwarden Icon Earthwarden.

8. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents for Guardian Druids

Rend and Tear Rend and Tear Lunar Beam Lunar Beam Pulverize Pulverize
  • Rend and Tear Icon Rend and Tear increases the damage you deal to targets affected by Thrash Icon Thrash, and reduces the damage you take from those targets, by 2% per stack of Thrash.
  • Lunar Beam Icon 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 Icon Pulverize is an active ability that consumes 2 stacks of Thrash Icon 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 Icon Pulverize is by far the strongest option. Not only is it a larger damage reduction than Rend and Tear Icon Rend and Tear, but it also works against all damage sources, not just the ones affected by Thrash Icon 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 Icon Rend and Tear is a decent passive alternative. While it is a smaller damage reduction than Pulverize Icon 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 Icon 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

  1. Relentless Icon Relentless is also a passive ability but it does not automatically remove crowd control abilities but instead reduces the duration.
  2. Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is an on-use ability that removes all movement impairing effects and all loss of control effects.
  3. Adaptation Icon 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

  1. Sharpened Claws Icon Sharpened Claws causes Maul Icon Maul to grant a buff that increases Thrash Icon Thrash and Swipe Icon Swipe damage for 6 seconds. This is a strong DPS increase and is definitely recommended.
  2. Malorne's Swiftness Icon Malorne's Swiftness increases your Travel Form Icon 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.
  3. Alpha Challenge Icon Alpha Challenge replaces Growl Icon 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.
  4. Raging Frenzy Icon Raging Frenzy causes your Frenzied Regeneration Icon 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 Icon Ironfur.
  5. Master Shapeshifter Icon Master Shapeshifter empowers your chosen Affinity talent. This is particularly strong when paired with Feral Affinity Icon Feral Affinity as it can significantly improve the damage you deal.

Of the remaining PvP talents, Demoralizing Roar Icon Demoralizing Roar, Entangling Claws Icon Entangling Claws, Overrun Icon Overrun, and Roaring Speed Icon 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. ChangeLog

  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
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