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Guardian Druid guide (7.1) - World of Warcraft: Legion

Our constantly updated guide to tanking as a Guardian Druid in WOW Legion.

The Guardian Druid was initially rather shunned as a tank back in Classic / Vanilla World of Warcraft. This had more to do with perception than anything, as Druids were excellent healers and in those early days it felt sub-optimal to use them as anything else. Soon enough though the Guardian Druid was recognised as one of the most resilient tanks in the game, and has held that distinction ever since. In this Guardian Druid guide, we’ll show you how to play this veteran tank specialisation.

Guardian Druids are pure damage sponges, relying on a mammoth health pool and large amounts of armour in order to survive most encounters. They complement these natural gifts of their Bear form with the widest breadth of active mitigation abilities in the game, and if even then they get into trouble, they can rely on some powerful defensive cooldowns. This variety of effective tools makes the Guardian Druid a great starting point for aspiring tanks, but - paradoxically - one of the hardest to master at high-level play.

We’ll start this guide recommending talents that will fit both the levelling progression and the dungeon-running / raiding endgame, but keep in mind that, if you choose to level up as a Guardian Druid, you should do so by running dungeons instead of questing. It’s not that a Guardian Druid is terribly slow at questing - it beats most other tanking classes in the damage-per-second department - but it is much more efficient to embrace your inner Moonkin, something you can learn about by perusing our Balance Druid guide.

We’ll also outline a rotation that maximizes Rage generation - your main resource - that will help fuel your all-important damage mitigation abilities whenever they're needed. Of course, we’ll tell you how those are best used as well, and do the same in regard to your defensive cooldowns.

In an upcoming revision, we’ll include a section detailing the best progression path for your Artifact Weapon, and another detailing how to best choose your gear based on the optimal effect of main and secondary stats.

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Guardian Druid talent build

Our focus with this talent choice lies in offering maximum survivability while maintaining ease-of-use. In practice, you should be able to tackle every kind of content going, except Mythic raiding and very high (+10 and above) Mythic+ dungeons.

Level Talent Option Reason for Choice
15 Bristling Fur - Bristle your fur, causing you to generate Rage based on damage taken for 8 sec. This is the best way to generate Rage when fighting a single-target enemy for prolonged periods, which is the case with most bosses. If the fight features multiple targets, consider switching to Blood Frenzy. Use it on cooldown if you are under 50% Rage.
30 Guttural Roars - Increases the radius of Stampeding Roar by 200%, the radius of Incapacitating Roar by 100%, and reduces the cooldown of Stampeding Roar by 50%. This is a quality-of-life boost to a couple of your utility spells.
45 Restoration Affinity - You gain Ysera's Gift which heals you for 3% of your maximum health every 5 sec. If you are at full health, a injured party or raid member will be healed instead. You also learn: Rejuvenation, Healing Touch, Swiftmend. You are very unlikely to get out of Bear form and use your newly-acquired healing spells, but the passive healing alone adds up to a huge benefit.
60 Typhoon - Strikes targets within 15 yards in front of you with a violent Typhoon, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 sec. Usable in all shapeshift forms. None of the talents in this tier are especially useful for tanking, but this one can help on Mythic+ runs, by allowing you to interrupt several casters at once when facing dangerous groups of trash mobs.
75 Galactic Guardian - Your damage has a 10% chance to trigger a free automatic Moonfire upon that target. When this occurs the next Moonfire you cast generates 10 Rage, and deals 300% increased direct damage. This is a good boost to Moonfire and yet another way to generate Rage.
90 Guardian of Elune - Mangle increases the duration of your next Ironfur or Mark of Ursol by 2 sec, or the healing of your next Frenzied Regeneration by 20%. An excellent boost to all of your active mitigation abilities, simply by using an ability that you would want to use often anyway.
100 Rend and Tear - While in Bear Form, Thrash also increases your damage dealt to the target, and reduces your damage taken from the target by 2% per application of Thrash. Yet another passive upgrade to your natural mitigation, one that simply depends, as above, on using an ability that is already a staple in your rotation.

Guardian Druid Rotations, Active Mitigation and Cooldowns

Our usual tanking disclaimer applies to Guardian Druids as well. Put simply, the best rotations and knowledge of when to deploy your cooldowns and defensive abilities pale in comparison to having a good level of knowledge about each fight’s mechanics, and how to best positio yourself in relation to the enemies and your own party or raid.

That said, having a good grasp of the function of your abilities, and the resources to use them, will enable you to make good on that tactical knowledge!

More WOW class guides:

Death KnightDemon HunterDruid
Blood Death Knight guideHavoc Demon Hunter guideBalance Druid guide
Frost Death Knight guideVengeance Demon Hunter guideFeral Druid guide
Unholy Death Knight guide-Guardian Druid guide
--Restoration Druid guide
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Marksmanship Hunter guideFire Mage guideMistweaver Monk guide
Survival Hunter guideFrost Mage guideWindwalker Monk guide
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Rotation - Single Target

This rotation is dedicated to generating Rage. The main point is to enable you to have enough Rage so that you can weave one of your active mitigation abilities into the rotation whenever you need, and then continue on from where you left off. The best mitigation ability for each situation is detailed on the next section.

Action Condition / Further Instructions
1 Moonfire If you have the Galactic Guardian buff up (gained randomly from attacks)
2 Mangle Use it immediately whenever available (several of your other abilities might reset its cooldown)
3 Trash
4 Moonfire
5 Swipe
6 Maul If you are at 90+ Rage or don’t see the need for damage mitigation.
7 Go back to Step 1.

Rotation - Multiple Targets

This rotation is very similar to the above, and should be used when fighting more than one target, but its express purpose is the same: generating maximum Rage to buy you mitigation on demand.

Action Condition / Further Instructions
1 Moonfire If you have the Galactic Guardian buff up (gained randomly from attacks)
2 Trash
3 Mangle Use it immediately whenever available (several of your other abilities might reset its cooldown)
4 Moonfire Don’t bother if there are 4 or more targets
5 Swipe
6 Maul If you are at 90+ Rage or don’t see the need for damage mitigation
7 Go back to Step 1

Active Mitigation and Defensive Cooldowns

Active Mitigation abilities are the ones you want to use frequently to avoid incoming damage or self-heal. You use the Rage generated by your rotation to pay for them, and weave them into the rotation whenever needed. If all else fails and you find yourself in a pinch, you can burn one of your defensive cooldowns to survive.

Ironfur This is a very costly ability that will nonetheless dramatically reduce incoming physical (white) damage and - if generating enough Rage - you can overlap several uses. However, keep in mind that some boss attacks bypass armour - check the dungeon journal! This will normally be your go-to mitigation ability.
Mark of Ursol A scaling reduction to Magic damage, this is your go-to when fighting enemies that are primarily casters, though most bosses have one or two abilities that you can mitigate with it. Again, combat knowledge is your best ally.
Frenzied Regeneration This is the ability that is easiest to use, although by far the least effective, as it is reactive instead of proactive, and is on a longer cooldown that the others. Due to its low Rage cost you can use it generously, but try to save it if you know there will be a heavy attack coming.
Survival Instincts One of the best damage-reduction cooldowns in the game, save this to use right before your opponent unleashes its most powerful attack. On most fights, you’ll be able to use it 3-4 times!
Barskin Essentially a less powerful version of the previous cooldown, you can however use it more often - and crucially, even when stunned. Activate it in preparation for medium-high damage bursts.
Rage of the Sleeper (Artifact Weapon ability) As a 25% damage reduction available every 90 seconds, this is something you can use freely and to great benefit - save it only if you fear your other cooldowns won’t be enough to deal with the tougher attacks.

That’s it for the first version of our Guardian Druid guide. An Artifact upgrade section is on our future plans, as well as a section detailing how your primary and secondary stats benefit your tanking, allowing you to make better gearing decisions.

Do you have some thoughts on this guide? Please share them via the comments section below!

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