Guardian Bear Druid Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, priorities and tanking strategies

by on August 27, 2012


Raar! We don’t have to share a talent tree with cats any more! Yep, that’s not getting old any time soon. With Mists of Pandaria and WoW Patch 5.4, the proud, the few, the hairy have a spec all of our own – Guardian Druid, rather than Feral Tank. So, if you want to get a’ mauling and a’mangling through Garrosh’s hordes, here’s our quick guide to getting your bear set up in MoP with rotations, priorities, talents, glyphs, gems, reforging, stats, and all that good stuff.

Updated 17th September 2013 to WoW Patch 5.4

Guardian/Bear Tanking “Rotation” and Priorities

Our new MoP tanking priority system is pretty damn simple – but it’s complicated by the fact that we now have to work for our invulnerability! Yep – we’re no longer a Big Bag of Armour. Instead, we have to use abilities – Active Mitigation – to make ourselves tougher in order to survive all the tanky beatings we take.

Single-target Tanking

  • Top Priority: Use Mangle if it’s off cooldown.
  • Second Priority: Use Fairie Fire Feral if the debuff isn’t on the target. Use Thrash if the Thrash debuff has fallen off the target.
  • Third Priority: Use Lacerate if available. If you’re about to cap Rage, use Maul

AOE Tanking

  • Top Priority: Use Thrash if it’s off cooldown.
  • Second Priority: Use Mangle if it’s off cooldown.
  • Third Priority: Use Swipe.

Active Mitigation

The other side of your New Tanking is that you have three abilities which use Rage to defend you – all of which are off the Global Cooldown. Use them whenever you have the Rage available:

  • Use Frenzied Regeneration when you’re taking light damage. Note – this is a heal, so use it after you’ve taken damage.
  • Use Savage Defence when (or ideally just before) you’re taking heavy damage. It only works on melee damage, so use Frenzied Regeneration if you’re taking spell damage.

Cooldowns

  • Survival Instincts is your powerful defensive cooldown – use it when you know you’re about to take heavy damage.
  • Use Might of Ursoc to avoid dying when you’re looking like you’re about to!
  • Barkskin has a much shorter cooldown – use it to mitigate small damage spikes, or just on cooldown.
  • Berserk will allow you to generate a lot more Rage than normal, as well as doing considerable AOE DPS. Useful to get higher uptime on your Active Mitigation temporarily.
  • Rebirth is usable and instant in tank form if you have Nature’s Swiftness (Tier 2 talent). I’m sure I don’t have to explain how useful an instant combat rez will be…

Buffs

Remember to cast Mark Of The Wild if no-one else has a similar buff. Cast Symbiosis on your fellow tank.

And remember – don’t laugh – to be in bear form! Seriously, I’ve seen people forget.

Guardian Druid Talent Choices

There are no cookie-cutter talents any more, and in any case, the theory on talents is at an early stage right now. We encourage you to experiment with the Druid talents and figure out which work best for you.

Having said that, if you just want a quick, easy-to-use talent build to get started, we recommend:

  • Tier 1: Feline Swiftness
  • Tier 2: Cenarion Ward
  • Tier 3: Typhoon
  • Tier 4: Incarnation
  • Tier 5: Ursol’s Vortex
  • Tier 6: Dreams of Cenarius: offers instant-cast Healing Touches from time to time.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Guardian Druid

Reforging: Reforge to Hit and Expertise to the cap, then Crit, then Haste.
Gems: Use Smooth (crit) gems in Yellow slots, Jagged (Crit / Stamina) in blue slots, and Crafty (Expertise/Crit) gems in red slots.
Meta Gem: Austere Meta Gem.
Getting one- or two-shot?: You need more Stamina. Replace some blue slot gems with Solid (Stamina) gems, and see if that improves the situation.

Bear Druid Glyphs

Major: There are NO critical choices here. Glyph of Rebirth, Glyph of Fae Silence, Glyph of Survival Instincts, and Glyph of Might of Ursoc are all worth considering.
Minor: Your own choice, although Glyph of Grace is rather good.

Guardian Druid enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant,

  • Shoulders Greater Ox Horn Inscription
  • Back Enchant Cloak – Greater Protection
  • Chest Enchant Chest – Superior Stamina
  • Wrist Enchant Bracer – Greater Agility
  • Hands Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery
  • Belt Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs Ironscale Leg Armor
  • Feet Enchant Boots – Blurred Speed
  • Weapon Enchant Weapon – Dancing Steel.

Links

There are a few good resources out there for Guardian druids:

  • The Inconspicuous Bear has an excellent, pragmatic MoP Guardian guide
  • The ubiquitous Icy Veins have a good Guardian guide available.
  • Finally, as a WoW player, you should really check out the latest and greatest from the blogosphere on World of Warcraft, here at the Melting Pot.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Niko August 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm

great guide! :D

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Swiftkiss August 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Love these guides!

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Ash August 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Why the +agi ? I saw elsewhere that Agility no longer provides any dodge or armor.

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Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Where, on the enchants?

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Ash August 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Yes, the enchant list.

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Ash August 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Honestly at this point I’m kind of confused, it seems a lot of people are still recommending agility for bears, but all other tank classes it is considered to be worthless (even if looking for dodge). If someone can clear up what exactly agility does in post-5.0.4 (with certainty, not guessing/assuming) that would be awesome.

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Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Right, I’ve done a lot of looking into this, and I’m comfortable continuing to recommend Agi enchants if nothing else.

Agi causes, according to The Inconspicuous Bear (the best source I’ve found on this),

A small increase to Dodge.
A small increase to melee Critical Strike chance.
Base 2 attack power.

All of those things are valuable, albeit not supremely so. So you should be OK retaining Agi enchants. As for getting new ones – frankly, I wouldn’t bother unless you’re somehow doing very challenging content in the next month, but if you do, Agi enchants will be at least competitive.

I’ll continue to look for more solid theorycraft on this.

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Motto October 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Check out the Talent tree for what Agility does,
Its good for Damage.

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Gale October 31, 2013 at 1:24 am

Motto potato?

sam September 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm

yes agi still provides dodge but a marginal amount

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Delanni September 2, 2012 at 4:09 am

Umm, not sure how ya feel about it but I personally prefer Mass Entanglement vs. Typhoon. I find it easier to root them all in place then go in and pick them all up, that way none sneaks by and I miss one.

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Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Yeah, that’s a particularly personal choice. Use the one you like best.

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Shaiana September 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Just noticed glove reinforcements was changed to 24 stamina instead of 240 armor. Should change it to heavy savage armor kit for 44 stamina, or perhaps one of the other enchants is better now but havent confirmed that.

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namilea September 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I took typhoon, didn’t like it much, i found myself losing threat after using it. I think it may be bacause the r far away so it takes a sec to get them back into melee range, so the ranged/casters seem to be picking up the aggro fast after using typhoon. I found everytime I used it I was chasing all the mobs trying to round them back up.

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Werdandi October 10, 2012 at 6:04 am

Again, an excellent guide to get one started bear tanking!

However, as I’m looking into the tweaks now, I am second guessing “Soul of the Forest” for Incarnation. Incarnation is similar to Beserk, giving the tank 2 x 3min cd for no global CD on mangle, and also decreasing all melee abilities and Growl to 1.5 seconds. Any thoughts?

I also dropped typhoon because as a bear tank, I like my enemies close at all times. It actually irritates me when Boomchickens use it.

To answer Ash’s ?
“Why the +agi ? I saw elsewhere that Agility no longer provides any dodge or armor.”
Agility is still converted to Attack power when in bear form. More AP=More damage, More damage= more threat.

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Hugh Hancock October 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Thanks!

Incarnation vs Soul of the Forest is a very personal choice, IMO. Speaking for myself, I’d probably agree with you and take Incarnation – burst DPS > steady deeps.

The reason I recommend SoTF is simplicity – if you’re rushing to this guide to get started after your raid leader tells you “OK, we’re down a tank, go respec to Guardian! Go! Now!”, I tend to figure that abilities which require less maintanance are better! But once you’re comfortable with Guardian tanking, I’d definitely recommend experimenting with talent options rather than sticking with our tremendously staid and conservative choices!

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Janette October 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Austere or Effulgent Primal Diamond at 90 in raids, Heroics, LFR, and challenge modes? Without our passive damage reductions, it feels that both could be viable.

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Hugh Hancock October 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

Currently the theorycraft leans heavily toward Austere from what I’m reading. However, if you’re bouncing off a magic-heavy boss and you can afford it, it’d be worth swapping Effulgent in for that fight.

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Pack October 23, 2012 at 3:35 am

1000 agi = .81% dodge .84% crit for bears and 2120 AP. So… not sure if this is posted somewhere. Yes, although minimal Agi still trumps as we await the calculators lol.
Agi#1:
In highlight, Agi= more chances to mitigate dmg(dodge), generate rage(crit), and overall raid dps boost(AP). Hit(hard cap) and exp(soft cap) through reforging(7.5%) I have found to be a must. Hit target(s)->get rage-> keep savage defense up. This way you dodge more than half of your incoming attacks.
Agi>=Crit>Hit(7.5%)>Exp(7.5%)>=Mastery
Crit#2:
*Primal Furry passive. generate 15 extra rage with auto or mangle CRIT
*Leader of the Pack. melee CRITs heal you 4% every 6 seconds max

I prepaired another few notes, but I don’t want to force people into thinking they have to go one way in building a character. You can reforge, gem, and enchant whichever way you want. This is just a priority scheme I pulled after sifting through pages n pages of info and ingame research.
Hope this helps someone, keep up the good research!

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Hugh Hancock October 23, 2012 at 10:37 am

Fantastic! Thanks very much for that post – very useful and enlightening!

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Pack October 25, 2012 at 1:09 am

This is epic up until fail healers, or your SD recharge cannot keep up. So if you find yourself taking way to much dmg then move hit/exp further down the list for some mastery(armor) and consistent dodge.

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Ben November 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

This is driving me insane due to the fact I have reviewed over 50 sites/forums to find an answer and come up with nothing. Is there a mastery cap for Guardian tanks? I know there formerly was an armor cap for tanks but that was before mastery directly contributed to it for bears and giving them the same cap would result in a lost stat compared to the other tanks.
Some I have reviewed are suggesting a certain amount of haste due to the fact that stat contributes 50% more to bear tanks. I know guardians gain a ton of rage from auto attacks and haste increases their attack speed but I just can’t bring myself to reforge to haste for a tank. Your thoughts? Appreciate your time and posts, truly.

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Benjamin November 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

I have tried some different ways of reforging my guardian tank and found that reforging to the “trusty old” dodge and mastery is somewhat of a no go anymore. Whit that style I ended up with only a little bit more passive dmg reduction and extremely low dps. I found that prioritizing Crit>Hit(cap)>Exp(softcap)>dodge>mastery enables me to generate rage in a steady pace because of my crits, thus enabling me to keep up savage defense much more. I am doing lots of Heroics with the same healer and she confirms that it’s much easier to heal me now. Plus I do a lot more dps. I know thats not important for a tank but imo it makes the group as a whole work more effective: me taking lots less dmg through savage defense, easier to maintain aggro, healer having more time to heal blind dps-ers that stands in aoe.

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Hugh Hancock November 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

That’s interesting, and makes sense given the direction theorycraft for other tank classes is moving too. I’m going to revisit this article in a week or so when 5.1 hits, and I’d expect there’s a good chance we’ll be moving recommendations toward something similar to your reforging priorities.

Thanks for the comment!

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Sam December 6, 2012 at 7:28 am

Those stat priorities seem really iffy to me. There isn’t much math to go by, but I looked up the top 5 or 6 geared Guardian druids in the world and they all seemed to indulge variations of one theme: crit, and occasionally something else (stam or mastery).

Crit makes a huge amount of sense. You get 15 (15!) extra rage from white and mangle crits. That’s gigantic. At ~6RPS you can cap SD uptime, and with ~35% crit in bear form, you generate approximately 9-10RPS. Logically, that leaves 3RPS left over for self-heals and/or TnC mauls.

I generally don’t base my builds on what top players do, because I find that they are gearing themselves to be in completely different circumstances with regards to healing, damage, and utility. I’ve been trying out an Agi/Mastery build that I quite like.

I guess, all in all, I’m living in the opposite world with regards to your stat priorities. Dodge seems completely obsolete to me, even more so when you reforge or gem for it. Why? It gives you nothing but static dodge. Tanks using this strategy will be at 14-15% (before DR) dodge in 470-480 gear, if they sacrifice all reforging and gem opportunities to it. My guildy bear does this, and, while holding 5 ilvl’s over my head, I actually have more static dodge. Essentially, the picture looks like this:

guildy: stam>dodge>hit>exp>crit>etc..
me: hit>agi>mastery>exp>crit>etc..

And what this has yielded, stat-wise, is this:

guildy: 14.5% dodge, 19% crit (non-bear), 16% mastery
me: 16% dodge, 25% crit (non-bear), 18% mastery

So by spending my gear’s points and modding opportunities in the way I mentioned, I not only got more static dodge, I have more crit, mastery, and (probably) attack power via agility, off of which, I believe, FR actually scales.

Ultimately, there is still a lot of discussion (and hopefully math) to be done on the Guardian situation, but I truly truly believe that the stam>dodge>everything else method is significantly incorrect.

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Hugh Hancock December 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

Interesting comment – thanks!

I’m going to double-check my theorycrafting math – you may well have a point, and I’ll check.

It is worth noting that checking the gear of top players is often not a great guide – they have different priorities to us ordinary mortals due to both their skill and the content they’re attempting to beat (and their gear levels for that content). However, nonetheless, other tanks have mostly moved away from stacking Dodge – I’ll double-check that Guardians are indeed an exception to that rule.

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Sam December 7, 2012 at 5:25 am

I fully agree that top players aren’t the best models (I mention that in my original post), but they are a good analytical snapshot. They’re usually indulging some purified maximization of that particular tank class’s mechanics; in the bear’s case, rage generation for SD and FR.

I think there is a really basic reason for moving away from dodge right now that is tied to the fundamental design of the game; namely, TDR is no longer king (if it ever was). Static dodge only contributes to TDR, and minimally at that. We (every tank, hardcore and casual) need to be able to participate in active mitigation as much as possible.

Sort of sitting on the sidelines of this argument is stamina, which is difficult to quantify. It doesn’t contribute anything to TDR and it isn’t reactive, so at first, it seems hard to justify – but I’m slowly being convinced that there is a place for it in today’s game, even with the emphasis on an all-out offense being the best defense.

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Ben December 7, 2012 at 2:04 am

Thanks for the feed back guys, the bear tanking stat priority continues to be a mystery to me. So here is my most recently acquired 2 cents. I had Valor point’s to spend and ended up buying the stam trinket as opposed to the agility trinket from Shadopan for the simple fact that I viewed my stats with the agi and1,079 agility provided me less than one percent crit and a little over 2k attack power naturally. I have tanked on several classes since I have played this game and AP has never been necessary for anything other than holding threat.

So my simple conclusion was this, the stam trinket will always provide the buffer to prevent your healers from having a heart attack while the dismal amount of crit and fair amount of AP means almost nothing when it comes to keeping yourself alive aside from the possible increase to self healing mentioned earlier . The addition to dodge was miniscule as I’m sure Blizzard intends it to be with the massive amount of dodge we get from Savage Defense. Dodge is pointless now in my opinion, especially if diminishing returns applies with the amount supplied by SD. So unless threat is a major issue, I would go with stam or straight crit.

The stam trinket also activates for mastery for a decrease to physical damage taken while the agi trinket activates for haste which equals garbage for anything but a Brewmaster tank. Honestly, I think the amount of agility we get from the gear is more than enough but as Sam mentioned, there is still a lot of math to be done to be certain about any of this.

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Paul December 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Thanks for the excellent guide. Coming back after a break, I really needed help relearning post-MoP bear tanking. All the other guides are basically cookie cutters: they tell you to do this in that order, but none of them told me WHY. Your guide explained the whys and wherefores of all my abilities which was exactly what I needed. Great job and thanks again.

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eknath March 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

I’ve been tanking now since beginning of times as a druid and i still tend to go to the old fashion ways of tanking.

I’ve changed my stat prio a couple of times during this expansion but what seems to work at this moment in time for me is:

Agi > Hit (hardcap) = Exp (hardcap) > crit (till 78%) > Mastery (till armor cap) > haste > dodge

Currently i’m spoiled as i’m working at the moment on haste. got all the rest at there respective caps.

To any beginning tanking druid i would say, change your stat prio a bit from what i’m using atm and go softcap Exp and try to go armor cap and then crit.

Furthermore don’t be afraid of using DPS legendary cloack’s and meta gems (if your self healing and your healers can keep up with the added healing requirements.) This is highly situational but can be used on most fights where it’s needed to add some more DPS or rage generation.

Most of your rage will be going towards active mitigation and healing so be sure to get to get as much generation going as possible.

One final thought, I’m still using glyph of Maul for some extra off threat building on an offtarget. any thoughts? I know the damage reduction doesn’t go to the second target but it’s still nice. (don’t use this if your rage generation is low!!! as it eats away your rage like nothing)

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