How To Improve As Guardian Druid — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will find out how you can improve at playing Guardian Druid in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1. We list the common mistakes that you should try to avoid and the small details that can greatly improve your performance.
Not Casting Too Many Swipes
There is a lot to focus on while tanking a boss. It is very easy to fall into the trap of neglecting your rotation in favor of watching boss timers and managing your defensive cooldowns. Most commonly, this takes the form of spam casting Swipe instead of using your more powerful Rage generating abilities Mangle and Thrash.
This is the most common cause of losing threat on an enemy to a co-tank. Using these abilities as often as possible not only improves your damage output and helps you to keep threat, but it also significantly increases your survivability by giving you the Rage to use Ironfur more often.
Your goal should be to always keep Mangle and Thrash on cooldown by casting them as soon as they are available. Rarely, if ever, should you have the opportunity to cast more than 2 Swipes in a row, unless you are in an AoE situation, and even then the most you can ever cast before Thrash is available again is 3.
Another mistake that can arise from being too focused on boss timers and defensive cooldowns is delaying casts. Guardian is a "global cooldown-locked" tank, meaning that you should always either be casting something, or waiting for the global cooldown to recharge. This is very important, as small delays between spells can add up over the course of a fight and can cause you to lose a large number of additional casts, and therefore damage and Rage generation.
You should be proactive and aggressive in your casts. The game allows for a small window right before the global cooldown has finished recharging for you to "queue" your next spell to be cast with no delay as soon as it is possible to do so.
Often when tanking a boss or a pack of enemies in a dungeon, you will need to reposition yourself or your attackers to deal with some mechanic, give your DPS a better position from which to attack, or to avoid pulling additional packs.
If you need to run directly away from your attackers, you should never turn around and run straight forward. You are unable to dodge attacks from behind, increasing your damage intake and your risk of death.
Instead, you should turn 90 degrees and strafe away from your enemies. This allows you to move in the same direction as you would have if you had turned all the way around, while not exposing your back to attacks. As long as the enemy attacks come from "in front" of you (defined as an arc of 180 degrees centered at the direction your character is facing), they are dodgeable.
Not Using Defensive Cooldowns Reactively
Using defensive cooldowns effectively means planning ahead, before you take a big hit. Being proactive with your cooldowns means the most dangerous part of the spike is being reduced, thereby giving yourself and your healers plenty of time to react to the damage in a controlled manner. If you are just reacting to damage as it comes in, not only are you taking the full force of the original hit (and probably being brought very low in health), but once your defensive cooldown is running, often it is only reducing the smaller, non-threatening damage and you are getting far less value out of it.
Using Cooldowns Enough
Occasionally there are periods in encounters where there are no obvious points at which to use your defensive cooldowns. In these cases, you should be using your cooldowns liberally to reduce your overall damage taken and save precious healer mana. As long as your cooldowns are available for when you truly need them, you should be trying to fit in as many casts into a fight as possible.
Using Frenzied Regeneration Efficiently
Guardian Druids have quite limited self-healing capacity, so it is important to make the most of the one spell we do have, Frenzied Regeneration. The most common mistake when using Frenzied Regeneration is to use it when you are already at or being healed to full health by healers. Any healing you receive when already at full health is called "overhealing", and is considered wasteful. In order to use Frenzied Regeneration efficiently, you should try and cast it when you know your healers are otherwise preoccupied with healing themselves or the raid, or out of range, or at other coordinated times.
Additionally, you should try not to "double-tap" Frenzied Regeneration. That is, you should not cast two Frenzied Regenerations back to back, as you will overwrite the first heal with the second and lose a tick or two of healing. If you absolutely need to spend both charges in order to live, make sure the first heal has completed before you cast it again.
Maximizing Damage Output
A mentality that is very common among all tanks (not just Guardians) is that your damage output is irrelevant, and that only your tankiness is important. You will likely find yourself starting a new encounter in mostly a defensive focused gearset and then work your way up to doing more damage as your comfort level increases over time the more you do the content. While it is true that survivability is your number one priority, the idea that "tank damage does not matter" is a misconception for a few reasons.
The first and most relevant reason is that damage is threat. You generate threat by dealing damage, and the more damage you deal, the more threat you generate. If your co-tank is pulling off of you, it is because they are dealing more damage than you are. If you are ignoring your damage output to the point where your co-tank is pulling threat from you, you are also hindering their play by forcing them to lower their damage.
The second reason is that damage is damage. Whether it comes from the tank, a DPS, or a healer, all damage contributes equally towards killing the boss. If you are neglecting your damage, you are hindering your raid's chances at a kill by lowering the overall damage output. Often by prioritising offensive stats and a damage-oriented rotation, the amount of survivability you sacrifice pales in comparison to the amount of damage you gain.
- 28 Jun. 2021: Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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