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[Guardian] Mists of Pandaria 5.4



 

Contents

Introduction


Hello Guardians!

I present to you the Mists of Pandaria Guardian Guide!

It's important to remember that this guide isn't meant to teach you how to tank per se. It is meant to inform and empower you to be the best Guardian you can be. That being said there are some very important basic tanking skills that will directly affect your "mileage" as it were. Instead of rehashing all of that content here, I'll just provide links to the relevant sources.

Of course if you're already an experienced tank and are just looking for a consolidated source of information, then this guide is still for you.

As always the information in this guide is based on various sources, but mostly mine. Special thanks to Fasc, Tangedyn, and Hinalover for assisting with the base formulae back in 5.0. Extra thanks to Hamlet and Theck for helping with crazy stuff like approximating RPPM trinkets. Extra special thanks to Buraan for being what amounts to a guinea pig. Thanks also to the many forumites here at TiB for constantly providing questions and information about Guardians in any form of content.

I would like to give a special thanks to Reesi and Lissanna for the guidance they've given me over the past several years. I've learned a lot from them, and I hope I'll be able to use this knowledge to write a guide that people can use to improve their play.

Important Note:


This guide is essentially a copy&paste of the original guide from The Inconspicuous Bear. As such this iteration of the guide is not yet fully suited to an EJ audience, nor will it be immediately be updated with new information since TiB always comes first.

Game Mechanics


Guardian Specialization


Druids gain a 4th specialization with the launch of Mists of Pandaria. The new specialization Guardian will be the Druid's dedicated tanking specialization. This comes complete with Guardian-only abilities, tier sets, and a new Mastery. Please make sure you are using the correct specialization before you go and try to tank anything! ^.^

Vengeance


Vengeance is the attack power buff that is granted to tanks when they take damage in PvE content. Previously you would gain 10% of the melee damage taken as Attack Power up to a cap of (10% Base Health + Buffed Stamina). In Mists of Pandaria the way Vengeance is gained and lost has changed to scale with the content you are doing.

The new formula is as follows:

0.015 * UnmitigatedDamage + OldVengeance * OldVengeanceSecondsRemaining / 20

Whenever you take damage, you gain 1.5% of that unmitigated damage as Attack Power. This Attack Power then decays over time, losing 5% of its value every second as long as you are taking damage. If you dodge a melee attack you will still gain Vengeance as if it had actually hit you. Note that this does not apply to "special attacks" that can also be dodged (Garalon's cleave for example). Blizzard has stated that all sources of damage that are directed at the player now contribute to Vengeance instead of just melee attacks. So things like magical damage, bleeds, and special attacks will also now grant Vengeance. However this does not include environmental effects like fire on the ground. This means it is no longer advantageous to "stand in bad" during an encounter.

Vengeance caps at your maximum health, this has no actual affect on gameplay since if it gets that high in a normal situation you're going to be dead anyway. The decay rate will still even out relative to the incoming damage to give you a somewhat constant level of Vengeance. When something hits you the game will attempt to "bump" you up to what it thinks is 50% of the max based on the damage you just received. Special attacks not included in the "floor" calculation, meaning you can't take an extremely large hit from a special attack to spike your Vengeance super high.

When you taunt a target that is currently attacking another tank, you will be given half of that tank's Vengeance. Further, in order to prevent that tank from instantly pulling off of you again all taunts temporarily grant the tank a 200% bonus Vengeance modifier for 4 seconds. This is in addition to the passive +700% bonus that you receive for just being a tank. Together, this means you will generate a total of 1400% threat (7*2) when you taunt a target.

Lastly, Vengeance has diminishing returns when tanking multiple targets. The formula for this diminishing returns is as follows:

The Nth strongest (based on pre-mitigation average auto attack DPS) mob that has hit you in the last 5 seconds grants 1/Nth of full vengeance with their attacks. N is recalculated on every hit taken.

Note that the DR does not affect Challenge Mode dungeons.

Rage


Rage is no longer generated from taking damage. Instead Guardians now generate Rage from landing attacks on our enemies. You will gain Rage from performing one of the following actions (Direct Generation):
  • Mangle generates 5 Rage when used (or 6.5 if you have the talent Soul of the Forest). Mangle has a 6 second cooldown.
  • Auto-Attacks generate ~10.85 Rage per attack that deals damage. Your base auto-attack speed is 2.5 seconds.
  • Enrage generates 20 Rage when used, and an additional 10 Rage over the next 10 seconds. Enrage has a 60 second cooldown.
  • Critical Strikes of either Mangle or Auto-Attack will generate 15 Rage (Mangle Critical Strikes will generate 19.5 additional Rage if you have the talent Soul of the Forest).
  • Shifting into Bear Form will set your Rage to 10.

Before going any further you should already be able to tell that the overwhelming bulk of our Rage Generation comes from Critical Strikes. Therefore our goal should be trying to maximize the number of those we get. The easiest way to do this is to simply stack Critical Strike Rating. Not only is that an awesome stat by itself, but while in Bear form we get an extra 50% Critical Strike Rating. This makes Critical Strike the single best Rage Generation statistic to stack.

Using one of the following abilities will allow you to use something that generates Rage (Indirect Generation):
  • Incarnation sets cooldown on any offensive Bear ability to 1.5 seconds for 30 seconds. This includes Mangle, meaning you can press Mangle every global cooldown to generate the maximum amount of Rage. Incarnation has a 3 minute cooldown.
  • Berserk removes the cooldown on Mangle and causes it to strike up to 2 extra targets for 10 seconds. Berserk has a 3 minute cooldown. It should be noted that the extra targets struck are not causing any Rage to be generated on regular hits. However critical hits on the extra targets will generate 15 (or 19.5) Rage. Whether this is intended or not is unknown.
  • Landing a hit with Lacerate, Thrash, or FFF has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle.
  • Temporary buffs such as Heroism/Bloodlust or Trinket Procs can also indirectly increase Rage Generation by increasing Haste, Critical Strike, Agility, Hit, or Expertise. Although I don’t recall the last time I saw a temporary Hit or Expertise proc/buff.

You can probably tell that the most common of these either reset or completely remove the cooldown on Mangle. While this also increases our DPS, both Incarnation and Berserk should primarily be held in reserve as Rage cooldowns unless you know exactly when you need to have them available.

RPS Targets


Below you will find a link to a spreadsheet describing how much Rage you need to be able to generate to maintain 100% Savage Defense uptime for a given tank interval. These intervals range from 12-42 seconds. You seldom see a swap interval shorter than 7 seconds, which has the same RPS requirements as if it was 12. On the other end of the spectrum 42 seconds is the maximum amount of time you can keep Savage Defense up before you start to lose uptime to the recharge rate of 9 seconds. Anything higher than 42 seconds is simply 6.66666~ RPS (60 Rage / 9 Seconds).

The second column denotes the amount of Rage you could potentially bank in a given interval while not Tanking. Essentially the assumption is that you will bank at minimum 60 Rage, otherwise you're just doing it wrong.

The third column expresses how much RPS you need to be capable of generating to bank the desired amount of Rage within the time allotted. Since time spent "banking" actually starts right after you hit the last Savage Defense, the total time available is actually Interval + 6.

The fourth column describes how much RPS is needed to generate the Rage required to maintain 100% Savage Defense uptime for the duration of the tanking interval. First you determine the number of 6 second "sections" there are in a given interval and subtract 1 since any Rage generated during the last "section" is actually "banked". Then subtract the amount of Rage "banked" from the amount of Rage needed. Since the amount of Rage needed is a fixed number based on the length of the interval (60, 120, 180, etc.) this is pretty easy to find. Finally, divide the amount of Rage required by the amount of time you have to generate it and you end up with the RPS required to meet that goal.

The last column is simply the amount of time you need in order to "bank" the desired amount of Rage, based on the RPS required to maintain Savage Defense at 100% uptime (column 4). Again this is another interesting number to note, as you will see that the higher your RPS is, the lower the amount of time you need to spend "banking" it.

It should be noted that for the purposes of these calculations it is assumed you do not shift into Bear form at all - and thus do not trigger the extra 10 Rage from shifting. You almost never want to shift out of Bear form anyway unless absolutely required, in order to keep applying Tooth and Claw to reduce the damage taken by your co-tank.

In any case, if you wish to download the spreadsheet and play with it yourself, you can find it here.

Tooth and Claw


One thing to note is that the addition of Tooth and Claw the RPS target for any given interval is increased from anywhere betwee 3 and 5 RPS. This value depends on your haste since the proc rate is a flat 40%. With 0% haste you have a 87.04% chance (1 - (0.6^4)) every 10 seconds you are auto-attacking a mob (4 swings) assuming you are both Hit and Expertise capped. Since Maul costs 30 Rage that turns into an additional 3 RPS required. Once you get up to 20% haste this additional target goes up to 3.75 RPS, and so on.

Suppressions


Something that previously hasn't been very well understood by most players is the concept of suppressions. That is if you're attacking (or if something is attacking you) and there is a level difference the higher level character (or mob) has an advantage in combat. These are the stats that are affected by suppressions:
  • Miss: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will miss their target is reduced by 1.5%. Additionally the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will miss their target is increased by 1.5%. This effectively means that a boss mob will never "miss" you.
  • Dodge: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will be dodged is reduced by 1.5%. Similarly the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will be dodged is increased by 1.5%.
  • Parry: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will be parried is reduced by 1.5%. Similarly the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will be parried is increased by 1.5%.
  • Critical Strike: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will score a critical strike is increased by 1%. Similarly the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will score a critical strike is reduced by 1%. Tanks don't have to worry about being hit by critical strikes since all of them have a talent that reduces the chance of this happening to 0 against a boss level mob.
  • Armor: The physical damage reduction provided by the armor of the lower level combatant decreases as the level of the higher level combatant increases. To find out what kind of damage reduction you receive, use this simple formula: DamageReduction = TargetArmor / (TargetArmor + 4037.5*AttackerLevel – 317117.5).

Weapon Damage


Something that might seem relatively minor at first, but is actually pretty significant. All base weapon damage has been doubled. This has a cascading effect onto those abilities that scale from weapon damage such as [spell]33878[/spell]. As a result, you will see nerfs to these abilities. Just remember that while the actual percentage on the ability has gone down the actual damage dealt has gone up significantly.

Primary Stats


The only two primary stats of consequence are Agility and Stamina. You will never actively seek out Strength or Intellect gear. The only exception to this is an Intellect weapon for use with the new talent Heart of the Wild. However I'll cover that later.

Agility


Agility has historically been the character statistic that you seek out above all others for most of Cataclysm. However Agility will no longer significantly directly affect a mitigation ability like it did with the Cataclysm version of Savage Defense. While Frenzied Regeneration still scales off of Attack Power, it will not gain a substantial direct benefit from Agility. Agility has the following effects at level 90:
  • 951.158596 Agility = 1% Dodge before diminishing returns
  • 1259.51806640625 Agility = 1% Melee Critical Strike chance
  • 1 Agility = 2 Attack Power, 2.31 Buffed (2.4486 with Heart of the Wild)

Stamina


As previously mentioned your Vengeance cap will be directly influenced by your Stamina. However you will be dead if you reach that cap anyway, so it's not relevant to worry about. Stamina still continues to be the single best statistic to obtain for increasing your survival. Stamina does the following:
  • 1 Stamina = 14 HP, 19.404 Buffed in Bear Form (20.56824 with Heart of the Wild)
  • Increases the minimum amount Frenzied Regeneration will heal by 2.5 per point

Secondary Stats


The big change in Secondary Stats since Cataclysm is that Haste is no longer worth almost nothing. One of the biggest changes in Mists of Pandaria is that there will now be 50% more secondary stats on gems, but more on this later.

Dodge


Dodge's purpose as a secondary stat has remained completely unchanged. However the amount of Dodge gained per point of rating has decreased - otherwise we'd approach absolutely insane numbers (well, even more insane than we already get) when Savage Defense is up. It still technically reduces more damage on average than Mastery - but only if that damage is on the combat table. However since "handling" damage via our new active mitigation tools is far more efficient, you should not be actively seeking out Dodge as a secondary stat.
  • 885 Dodge Rating = 1% Dodge before diminishing returns

Mastery


Along with a new specialization Guardians are also receiving a brand new Mastery called Nature's Guardian. The new Mastery grants an additional 2% armor per point of Mastery, with a base of 16% (8 * 0.02). This bonus acts as a final multiplier on all armor your character has. This means it also affects Bonus Armor which is defined by additional armor in green text on a few items. The most obvious example of this is a [Kiril, Fury of Beasts] which will actually grant you a minimum of 869 bonus armor instead of the 790 that appears on the item. Mastery grants less overall TDR than Dodge for damage that is on the combat table, but it also has the advantage of increasing physical EH for damage that doesn't penetrate armor.
  • 600 Mastery Rating = 1 Mastery = 2% Armor increase

Critical Strike


Instead of directly contributing to mitigation or survival as it did in Cataclysm, Critical Strike instead allows you to make more choices. This is accomplished by drastically increasing Rage generation through Primal Fury. Critical Strike grants on average more Rage generation than Hit/Expertise, however it does so in a similar manner to how Dodge vs Mastery works at preventing damage. In other words it provides more average Rage generation at the expense of making it more "spikey". A secondary effect is that the critical strike chance of spells - like Healing Touch - is also increased. For Rage generation purposes, melee Critical Strike has a soft cap of 76% against bosses which shows as 79% on your character sheet.

Additionally Bear Form increases the Critical Strike rating from items (including Elixirs) by 50%.
  • 600 Critical Strike Rating = 1% Critical Strike (Melee/Ranged/Spell)

Expertise


Expertise has been significantly reworked. In Cataclysm Expertise reduced the chance your melee attacks would be Dodged or Parried at the same time, up to a certain point labeled the "softcap". This is no longer the case. Expertise now reduces Dodge, and then Parry. Additionally while reducing the chance an enemy will Dodge your melee attacks, Expertise will also reduce the chance a damaging spell cast will miss a target. For Guardians this will only really affect FFF. Since Tooth and Claw only occurs when your auto-attack hits a target (including Blocks and Glancing blows) Expertise increases the chance you will receive a T&C proc on a given melee swing. Think of it like a 2-roll system.
  • The first 3 + Max(0, (1.5 * (Target Level - Your Level))) percentage points will reduce the chance your attacks will be dodged. It will also reduce the chance your offensive spell casts will miss.
  • The next 3 + Max(0, (1.5 * (Target Level - Your Level))) percentage points will reduce the chance your attacks will be parried.
  • 340 Expertise Rating = 1% Expertise

For reference the new caps are:
  • vs Level 90: 6% = 2040 Expertise Rating
  • vs Level 91: 9% = 3060 Expertise Rating
  • vs Level 92: 12% = 4080 Expertise Rating
  • vs Level 93: 15% = 5100 Expertise Rating

Like Critical Strike, Expertise doesn't directly contribute to mitigation or survival. Instead it provides more Rage for you to do with what you please. As previously mentioned it won't provide as much average Rage generation as Critical Strike, but it will provide more consistent generation.

Hit


The only change to Hit is the cap reduction. When attacking a boss level mob the Hit cap is now 7.5%, down from 8%. Otherwise Hit has identical functionality to Expertise, including Rating -> Percentage. For reference the new caps are:
  • vs Level 90: 3% = 1020 Hit Rating
  • vs Level 91: 4.5% = 1530 Hit Rating
  • vs Level 92: 6% = 2040 Hit Rating
  • vs Level 93: 7.5% = 2550 Hit Rating

Haste


Haste has three effects. First it increases how fast your auto attacks occur - thus increasing Rage generation and frequency of Tooth & Claw procs. Second it lowers the GCD on "spells". For Guardians this mostly just refers to FFF. This second part turns out to be a bit of a pain in the ass, because all of our melee abitilies are on a fixed 1.5s GCD. This can cause downtime in the rotation of fractions of a second. Guardians also receive a bonus 50% Haste Rating from gear just for being in Bear Form. 425 Haste Rating = 1% Haste. The third and final effect is to increase the chance some RPPM - or "Real Procs Per Minute" - effects will occur. Note that Haste does not affect all such procs in this manner, only some of them.

Abilities


These abilities have all changed in some way or another. This list will only include abilities that have significant mechanic changes, as a lot of the changes are purely numbers tweaking. If any ability changes are not mentioned here, they are likely to abilities that Guardians do not actually care about. As a rule if a utility ability (such as Stampeding Roar) requires a specific form, you will automatically be shifted into that form upon use. This affects almost everything in the Druid toolkit.
  • Mangle now deals 280% weapon damage and costs no Rage, but more importantly it generates 5 Rage when it hits. Mangle has a 6 second cooldown, however Lacerate, Thrash, and Faerie Fire all have a 25% chance to reset it.
  • Maul now deals 110% weapon damage, however it still costs 30 Rage. Maul has a 3 second cooldown. In Cataclysm and eras of unlimited Rage it was typically advantageous to macro Maul into all of your buttons. No longer. The only time you should be using Maul is when you aren't actively tanking something, to apply a Tooth and Claw proc, or your total Rage generation exceeds what you need to fully sustain your own healing.
  • Swipe now deals 247 + 22.48% AP in damage, and 20% extra to bleeding targets for no Rage cost. Swipe has a 3 second cooldown. A nice synergy with Thrash has been added. Since its damage is lower than that of FFF and it doesn't have a chance to reset Mangle you should never use it on a single target. Swipe is now AoE only.
  • Rebirth now resurrects your target with 60% health baseline, instead of 20%. This means the [Glyph of Rebirth] is no longer mandatory.
  • The cooldown on Skull Bash has been changed to 15 seconds Baseline, and no longer costs Rage.
  • Faerie Fire now deals 10 + 30.2% AP in damage, and grants 3 stacks of the new armor debuff Sunder Armor baseline. FFF has a 6 second cooldown (15 seconds glyphed). Since the debuff only lasts 30 seconds most tanks will be charged with its upkeep on the target. Also has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle when used.
  • Savage Defense now costs 60 Rage and increases your chance to Dodge by 45% for 6 seconds. Has 3 charges that regenerate at a rate of 1 charge every 9 seconds. If you expend more than one charge within 6 seconds the durations are additive. This will be your primary "Active Mitigation" ability.
  • Thrash now deals 19.1% AP in damage on the initial hit, and 14.1% AP in damage every 2 seconds for 16 seconds. Thrash has a 6 second cooldown. Causes the Weakened Blows debuff which reduces physical damage dealt by 10%. This debuff lasts 30 seconds. Also has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle when it hits a target. This only happens once per use, not once per target hit.
  • Lacerate now deals 61.6% AP in damage, and an additional 5.12% AP in damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds. The DoT damage stacks up to 3 times. Lacerate has a 3 second cooldown. Lacerate has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle when it hits a target.
  • Bear Form now increases the Critical Strike Rating and Haste Rating gained from items by 50% in addition to previous effects. The Stamina modifier has also been changed to 40%.
  • Frenzied Regeneration now costs up to 60 Rage and heals you for max(2.2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5). If less than 60 Rage is consumed, you will be healed for an amount proportional to the maximum. This is the ability you use to handle damage that is not on the combat table (Magic, Bleeds, etc.). No longer increases your maximum health.
  • Bash is now a talent.
  • Feral Charge has been renamed Wild Charge and is now a talent.
  • Shapeshifting now also removes roots in addition to snares.
  • The critical strike reduction on Thick Hide now applies to all attacks. This is a PvP only change.
  • Barkskin now has a 30 second cooldown.

While not nearly as big as either of the two previous lists Guardians (and Druids in general) have gained a few new abilities in 5.0.4.
  • Might of Ursoc increases your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds. The extra health is lost when the effect ends, but your current health is not reduced.
  • Bear Hug stuns the target and deals 10% of the Druid's health in damage every second for 3 seconds. The Druid is immobilized for the duration. You can still dodge while using Bear Hug, but it still deals a lot less damage than anything else you could be pressing while tanking. Still great for soloing.
  • Symbiosis is the new spell Druids learn at level 87. More info on this below.
  • Tooth and Claw is a new ability granted to Guardians at level 32. Every melee auto-attack that hits a target has a 40% chance to grant this buff. It causes your next Maul to reduce the physical auto-attack damage dealt by the target. This only affects the primary target if you are using the [Glyph of Maul].

Symbiosis


Symbiosis is our new level 87 spell. For a 6 second cast, the Druid essentially "bonds" with their target, granting them a new ability and gaining one from their target. The ability the target gains is determined by what class and specialization they are, and similarly the spell the Druid gains is determined by their targets class and the specialization of the Druid.

Like with any Druid, you don't particularly care what your target gets if you have the opportunity to gain something particularly awesome. In that vein, I don't really care what I give my target. As a tank I'm mostly concerned about getting something that will help me stay alive, or handle additional targets in some manner. The abilities we gain are listed below by the class they come from:
  • Death Knight: Bone Shield. This is easily the best option in terms of a damage reduction cooldown for a specific ability. The only problem is that this version of Bone Shield lacks the ICD on draining charges that the Death Knight version comes with. So save it for something Impale-esque.
  • Hunter: Frost Trap. This is amazing for kiting - if any situations like that come up (think Maloriak).
  • Mage: Frost Armor. I'm sorry, but this is absolute shit. Frost Trap is better in every concievable manner. Not only that, but with Infected Wounds and Faerie Swarm which are both better (by a 20% snare margin), there's no reason to ever take this.
  • Monk: Elusive Brew. This is by far the best option for simple damage reduction from things on the combat table. Ideally you would be able to swap between a Monk and a Death Knight based on the fight.
  • Paladin: Consecration. This is the 2nd best possible DPS ability. It functions exactly like the Paladin version in that it's totally fire-and-forget. It doesn't do that much damage to a single target, but it would be useful to plant down to pick up adds that spawn at a predetermined location.
  • Priest: Fear Ward. No. Just. No.
  • Rogue: Feint. This would be useful to reduce damage when you aren't actually tanking something. However if you are tanking something you will almost always have enough Vengeance to make Frenzied Regeneration a better choice for spending Rage.
  • Shaman: Lightning Shield. Easily the biggest DPS increase. The only downside is that it has the same problem that Thorns used to. However it does so much more damage than Consecration. It lasts for 10 minutes and has unlimited charges.
  • Warlock: Lifetap. The only possible use I can think for this is for trying to bank Rage for a tank swap when you have nothing to autoattack. But even in that situation I'd almost just take Elusive Brew or Bone Shield instead and use a cooldown for the swap itself. Honestly I'm just not a huge fan of this, but I bet someone could find a use somewhere.
  • Warrior: Spell Reflect. I can see this possibly being useful for Challenge Mode dungeons. But nothing else. Ever.

Of the options listed above, casting on a Monk or a Death Knight is the clear winner in terms of survivability or TDR. Shaman wins for pure DPS, followed by Paladin. Hunter provides great kiting utility. The rest of them have variable levels of uselessness.

Everything else is mostly just shit.

Talents and Glyphs


The new talent trees are divided into 6 "tiers". Supposedly they are supposed to represent different types of Druid abilities, but we find it's just much easier to name them according to the level at which you get them. Each tier has 3 talents to choose from. The tiers of talents become available at levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90 respectively.

Level 15 - Movement

  • Feline Swiftness increases your movement speed by 15%. Stacks additively with other permanent movement speed increases, including boot enchants and Cat Form. Does not stack with temporary buffs like Dash or Stampeding Roar. Also no longer stacks with the movement speed bonus from the PvP set.
  • Displacer Beast teleports you forward 20 yards, activates Cat Form, and grants a 50% movement speed increase. 30 second cooldown.
  • Wild Charge has a different effect depending on what form you are in. Bear form charges you towards and enemy and roots them (current Bear charge), whereas in caster form you can leap to a nearby ally. 15 second cooldown.

The obvious loser here is Displacer Beast. Anything it does either Wild Charge or Feline Swiftness can do, and do better. The two remaining talents are chosen based on the encounter you're doing. I'd go with Feline Swiftness as the default, switching to Charge if you need it. Displacer Beast is exceptionally useful for instant burst movement, just remember that you lose all of your Vengeance when you use it.

Level 30 - Healing

  • Ysera's Gift Heals you for 5% of your max HP every 5 seconds. If you're already at full health, acts as a smart heal instead.
  • Renewal instantly heals you for 30% of your maximum health. 2 minute cooldown.
  • Cenarion Ward places a buff on your target that triggers a HoT effect every 2 seconds for 6 seconds the next time they take damage. 30 second cooldown.

Ysera's Gift offers incredible sustained throughput that can not only heal yourself, but injured members of your raid. Even though it lacks the direct control of Cenarion Ward, it's definitely a viable talent option. Cenarion Ward provides a hefty amount of throughput either on you or another raid member. However Renewal still synergizes very nicely with Might of Ursoc for an "OH SHIT" button, plus it's also off the GCD. All of these talents have their place, and it's up to you to decide what you want. Ysera's is by far the best talent for soloing, CW can be good in almost any content, and I'd definitely recommend Renewal for Challenge Modes or Proving Grounds.

Level 45 - Kiting

  • Faerie Swarm adds a 50% snare that lasts 15 seconds to FFF. Can affect multiple targets.
  • Mass Entanglement instantly root your target in place for 20 seconds. 30 second cooldown.
  • Typhoon knocks back targets up to 30 yards in front of the caster, dazing them for 6 seconds. 30 second cooldown. This now shares diminishing returns with other knockback effects in PvP.

Faerie Swarm allows you to permanently keep 2 targets slowed, making it incredibly useful for kiting. Typhoon is the talent that sees the most use in raid/dungeon content by a huge margin. Mass Entanglement has no target limit. It might be useful for Proving Grounds, but I'm not convinced.

Level 60 - Effectiveness

  • Soul of the Forest causes Mangle to generate an additional 30% Rage on hit. It also increases the damage by 15%.
  • Incarnation transforms you into an armored bear. While in this form all offensive abilities have their cooldowns reduced to 1.5 seconds for 30 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.
  • Force of Nature has 3 charges. Each charge summons a treant when expended. Each treant has 40% of your total health, 4x your armor, dynamically updates stats, and lasts for 15 seconds or until it perishes. The summoned treant cannot taunt boss level mobs. 20 second recharge.

Unfortunately since the minions summoned by Force of Nature can't actually taunt boss level mobs, that severely (and probably rightly so) limits their usefulness in a raid situation. Further they don't scale with weapon damage and will re-target if they lose aggro on their current target. Incarnation remains provides great burst Rage generation and DPS. On the other hand Soul of the Forest provides more consistent Rage generation over time, while giving you about the same amount of damage. Both talents are definitely viable options, and you can freely choose between them. I recommend SotF for new Guardians, and Incarnation for more advanced users or if there's a specific use for it. FoN is just mostly a waste of time.

Level 75 - Crowd Control

  • Disorienting Roar disorients all targets within 10 yards for 3 seconds. 30 second cooldown.
  • Ursol's Vortex creates a vortex that attempts to suck nearby enemies in. Enemies within 8 yards also have their movement speed reduced by 50%. Lasts 10 seconds. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Mighty Bash stuns a target for 5 seconds. 50 second cooldown.

Like T3 most of these talents have a negligible impact on most raid encounters. Vortex is great for Challenge Modes, and there are some encounters where having one of these talents can be beneficial.

Level 90 - Hybridity

  • Heart of the Wild grants you increased effectiveness when performing roles that you are not specialized for - for 45 seconds. Also grants you a permanent 6% Agility, Intellect, and Stamina. 6 minute cooldown.
  • Dream of Cenarius increases the critical chance of Mangle by 10%, and has a 40% chance to grant a 20 second buff whenever Mangle crits. This buff allows you to instantly cast Healing Touch or Rebirth while in Bear form. The Healing Touch will use AP/2 instead of SP, thus scaling with Vengeance.
  • Nature's Vigil causes your single target damage abilities to heal a nearby target for 25% of the damage done, and your single target healing abilities to damage a nearby target for 25% of the healing done. Also increases your healing and damage by 12%. 30 second duration, and 1.5 minute cooldown.

Dream of Cenarius easily provides the most constant healing of any of the talents, at the cost of a slight DPS (5-10%) loss because of the consumed GCDs. However since saving someone in your raid from certain death will almost always be more valuable than whatever DPS you lose, it's definitely worth it if you can manage the procs well. Remember to have a healing addon like Grid or Vuhdo set up if you want to maximize your effectiveness with this talent.

Nature's Vigil is definitely recommended as the "starter" talent of this tier. It provides pretty decent splash "smart" healing, and a small DPS increase. The biggest benefit is that it lines up nicely with both Berserk and Incarnation, allowing you to macro them together for maximum effectiveness.

Heart of the Wild is the top DPS and burst healing talent when you can make use of it, or if you need the extra Stamina (you won't for the most part). However you need to have a spellpower weapon to make the most out of using the healing and caster portions of the talent. Recommended for the most advanced users only.

Glyphs

Another pretty substantial change is in the Glyph system. Prime glyphs have been completely removed, leaving only major and minor glyphs. Even then these consist of mostly pretty wide open choices. Some of them you'll even find yourself switching on a fight-by-fight basis. I've listed all of the relevant Guardian glyphs below.

I'd consider glyphing [Glyph of Thorns] all of the time since it's a minor glyph that has the potential to be very beneficial on some encounters. [Glyph of Maul] is pretty useless so I'd avoid it unless you need the extra damage for some reason. [Glyph of Rebirth] is no longer mandatory but still a nice glyph to pick up. Honestly these are mostly an encounter-by-encounter decision. Some of these "new" glyphs will convert from existing ones, while others will have to be obtained brand-new from a scribe. For raid content you'll want to consider having [Glyph of Savage Roar] and [Glyph of Berserk] glyphed at almost all times. However you'll want to remember to shuffle glyphs in and out as you need them.

Pretend [Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration] doesn't exist. It's a trap glyph.

Gameplay


So now that we've covered all of the boring stuff we can get to the real question: What should you do when you actually go to play your Guardian in MoP?

Gear


There will be a separate thread for an actual pre-raid or T14 gear list going up sometime in the near future. However I can talk about the kinds of things you'll be looking for in your gear when levelling or running dungeons.
  • Item Level - Armor is by far the most powerful stat for Guardians in Mists of Pandaria. To the level of approxmiately twice whatever the next closest stat is. Since Armor is only influenced by item level, typically the highest level piece of gear that has armor will be your best choice. There are potential differences - say you're hit/exp capped and your higher level piece is hit/exp vs your crit/mastery piec - but those will be dealt with inside a gear list itself.
  • Rage Generation - Rage Generation stats are king regardless of the kind of content you're doing. Tanks value consistency above all else, and this definitely applies to Rage generation. While Crit and Haste will both provide more raw RPS, it won't be as consistent as if you cap both Hit and Expertise. For all Guardians I definitely recommend capping both Hit and Expertise and then devote extra points to Crit until you reach the softcap, then Haste.
  • Sockets - Gear with sockets wins over anything at an equal item level, as long as it doesn't have Mastery. There's been a change to gems that means secondary stat gems are worth 100% more than primary stats (50% more than Stamina). This means that gemming any secondary stat is going to be superior to gemming Agility. Gemming Stamina for EH is considered a last resort.

The best way to reforge is for consistent RPS:

Max DPS/Consistent RPS: Hit=Exp (to caps) > Crit (to softcap) > Haste > Mastery > Dodge

This setup will work well for any type of content. If you want suggestions for a specific encounter, check out TiB's Raiding and Dungeons forum.

Gems


As previously mentioned there's been a pretty significant shift in terms of how gems operate in Mists of Pandaria. Instead of primary and secondary stats both providing the same amount, secondary stats now provide an additional 100% value over primary stats (50% over Stamina) on gems. This means that a gem like Dodge, Mastery, or Crit is suddenly worth more than any kind of Agility gem. That's all well and good, but what does it really mean in terms of what you do?

The first thing to remember is that gems are far more costly and time consuming to replace than simple reforges. So you want to pick something that will last you for the long haul as opposed to an individual fight. That is unless you can afford to switch every encounter somehow.

Here are some general guidelines to follow in terms of gemming:
  • As with reforging, gem for consistent RPS.
  • If you find you need extra Stamina (pertinent only to Heroic level raiding), consider gemming for Stamina as an absolute last resort.

That being said, here's a quick and dirty list of what you should put in each colour socket:

For your Meta gem there are two options. If you're doing any kind of Heroic progression raiding I definitely recommend going with [Indomitable Primal Diamond]. At almost a 50% uptime, this gem is incredible for tanks. However you will definitely want to have a second helm with [Capacitive Primal Diamond] for when it's time for funsies, or you need an extra DPS boost.

Enchants


Enchanting follows pretty much the same philosophy as gemming with one exception. Always, always, always, always, always get a movement speed boot enchant. Always. There is no excuse for this. In any case, here's your list:

Legendary Cloaks


I thought I'd make a note about this here. There are two cloak options [Qian-Le, Courage of Niuzao] and [Fen-Yu, Fury of Xuen]. I generally recommend going for the "tanking" cloak primarily, because making up that missing 1000 Expertise is a huge pain in the ass. However feel free to pick up the DPS cloak as well. Use the same sort of logic as you would for the Meta gems. Use the tanking cloak for progession, and the DPS cloak for funsies or you need the extra DPS.

Professions


I wrote a blogpost about this previously. So instead of rehashing the entire thing I will introduce you to the wonders of copy&paste.
  • Blacksmithing: 2 extra gem sockets. This totals to 640 secondary stats (Crit, Dodge, etc.), 320 Agility, or 480 Stamina. Value increases with epic gems.
  • Herbalism: Lifeblood gives 2880 Haste Rating for 20 seconds. Lifeblood has a 2 minute cooldown. This averages around 480 Haste Rating - give or take depending on encounter length.
  • Skinning: Master of Anatomy grants 480 Critical Strike Rating.
  • Leatherworking: The Leatherworking only bracer enhancements grant an additional 330 Agility or 750 Stamina over the existing options.
  • Jewelcrafting: The special Jewelcrafter gems grant 320 Primary or Secondary Stats, or 480 Stamina.
  • Inscription: The Scriptionist (I made a word!) only shoulder enchant grants 320 Agility or 480 Stamina.
  • Enchanting: Ring enchants grant 320 Agility or 480 Stamina.
  • Alchemy: Since you will be using Armor + Crit or Mastery Elixirs, you will gain 480 Bonus Armor and 240 Mastery or Crit.
  • Engineering: Synapse Springs grant 2940 of your highest primary stat (Agility/Str/Int) for 10 seconds. This averages to 490 - give or take depending on the encounter. Phase Fingers currently grant 20520 Dodge Rating, but this appears to be a typo.
  • Mining: Toughness grants 480 Stamina.

Just from looking at the above, you can immediately see that Blacksmithing is by far the biggest contributor at 640 stats, adding even more when epic gems come out. After that Skinning, Engineering, and Alchemy all look to be so close that there's no real disadvantage to taking one over the other. The rest of the professions kind of lag behind.

So if you're a total min-maxing kind of a player, you will want Blacksmithing. After that you can pick whatever suits your needs the best. For the rest of the Guardians out there, it won't really matter what professions you pick, but I'd stay away from Herbalism.

Rotation / Ability Usage


I've written about this before, but I feel now is a good time for a quick recap. So what is the new ability "rotation"?
  • Single Target: Mangle > Lacerate > Thrash Maintenance > Faerie fire. The idea here is that you always press Mangle whenever it is available. The rest of your rotation is devoted to generating as many Mangles as possible, while maintaining your two debuffs - Weakened Blows and Sunder Armor. Since FFF does more damage than a simple impact hit of Thrash, you should use FFF whenever Thrash still has at least 6 seconds left and neither Mangle or Lacerate are available.
  • AoE: Mangle > Thrash > Swipe. Pretty simple. The big difference here is that you always press Thrash whenever it is up and Mangle isn't. It actually does more damage with its initial hit than Swipe does, even on a bleeding target. Use Swipe to fill in the gaps.

As for how you spend your Rage once you generated it....
  • Savage Defense increases your chance to Dodge by 45% for 6 seconds, costs 60 Rage. Savage Defense has 3 charges, and regenerates them at a rate of 1 charge per 9 seconds. This is your primary source of “Active Mitigation” against bosses.
  • Frenzied Regeneration heals you for up to max(2.2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5) for a cost of 60 Rage. If you do not have 60 rage all available Rage will be consumed and you will be healed for a relative percentage of the maximum amount. Frenzied Regeneration will be your way of handling damage that cannot be Dodged (Magic, Bleeds, etc.).
  • Maul deals 110% weapon damage and applies Tooth and Claw to your primary target when it is up. Costs 30 Rage. Despite the fact that there is now a mitigation component, it is still worse than both of your other mitigation oriented options. Use Maul when you are close to or at 100 Rage, Frenzied Regeneration would cause at least 50% overheal, and Savage Defense is not up. For new players I'd recommend ignoring this completely until you are comfortable with Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration.
  • Tooth and Claw has a 40% chance to proc from an auto-attack that hits a target. When applied the target will be debuffed and will deal max(0.88*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5). This amount stacks with multiple applications, and only expires when an auto-attack by the target hits you. So it works very well with Savage Defense. Applied to the target by using Maul.

Consumables


Nowadays consumables only really come in three (3) varieties: Food, Elixirs/Flasks, and Potions. In Cataclysm it was pretty simple. GET ALL THE AGILITY - which made it very cheap for progression. Nowadays if you want to get the most out of your Guardian you will need ot invest a sizable amount more $$$.

Bearcatting


One of the more obvious casualties Guardians will notice is that our DPS in Cat form has dropped substantially. During bosses with prolonged tank swaps, feel free to dump excess Rage into Maul when you aren't tanking something. Just make sure you keep yourself alive with Frenzied Regeneration, and you bank 100 Rage when it's your turn to tank.

Addons


As some of you may or may not be aware, I recently took some time to redo my UI. I don't really recommend doing this in the middle of a progression raid tier, and it's definitely easiest during an expansion change. There are several different areas that as a Guardian you should focus on. I'll try to cover them individually and let you know what I've chosen for each particular need. Remember that as with any UI mod, the goal is to keep you focused on the action, instead of staring at the periphery of your screen to gather information.
  • Boss Timers: This one is kinda self explanitory - and probably everyone knows what it means by now. The point here is to provide information in a better way than what the game does (and Blizzard actually assumes you have one of these by the way). There are different varieties - I think the most common ones are Bigwigs and DBM - and it doesn't really matter which one you pick to be honest. Just pick one.
  • Unit Frames: Blizzard took a step in the right direction by allowing you to finally be able to move your character portraits in the default UI. However having a mod to give you that level of control (and so much more) is just better. I personally use Xperl because that's what I've had since ..... Vanilla? But there are tons of different ones. This isn't "required" per se, but will help you a lot.
  • Action Bar: Lets be honest, the default Blizzard action bar is shit. You can't move it, it takes up too much room, and they're in random places on the screen. Action Bar mods allow you to fix all of that. I use Bartender, but again there are different ones available.
  • Threat Mod: Blizzard doesn't actually have anything that allows you to track numerical threat values on a target. Get something that does that. Trust me. You'll want/need it for tank swaps in MoP. I use Omen, not sure what else there is.
  • Nameplate Mod: Again - what seems to be a common theme here - the Blizzard nameplates are shit. I only recently installed Tidyplates, and oh-my-god-it's-the-most-amazing-thing-ever. I'm not even kidding. Get it, or another nameplate mod with similar functionality. You won't regret it.
  • Cooldown Tracker / Auras: Again, the whole point is to keep your eyes on what you are doing, not staring at your action bars to figure out when you can use your abilities. The point of Auras or Cooldown Timers is to make that information readily available to you - so you don't have to go searching for it. Personally I use a combination of Droodfocus (essentially a collection of Auras tailored to Guardians and Ferals), and Forte Xorcist (I like their cooldown bar). However it's important to remember that the functionality of these bundled addons can be replicated in something like WeakAuras, which I know is also very popular. Regardless of what solution you go with, you should definitely have one.
  • Random Stuff: There are other little things I have to make other parts of the game easier to manage. I have a bag mod (Bagnon), a chat mod (Prat), a reforge calculator (ReforgeLite), and maps (Atlas). Obviously this section is pretty much pick and choose what you think would be cool.

For reference there is an existing thread where other users from the forums have been posting their WeakAuras scripts. If you have some to share, or are looking for one to solve your problem(s) go check out this thread - The Inconspicuous Bear Forums • View topic - [5.1] WeakAuras for Guardian.


4 Comments

At what ilvl should I start going for straight Crit or mastery gems and stop using gems with stam on them?

Never gem Mastery unless you're sharing the gear with Feral.  Only gem Stamina as a last resort after Trinket(s)/Flask/HotW swapping (so you should never really need to do it) or you really like socket bonuses.

I am helping out as an OT on some (10m and flex) fights, and I suspect my bear is easier to heal thank the alternative DK or Monk because it's using my cat gear in most slots (wasted months collecting balance rather than guardian gear, c'est la vie), thus abundance of mastery inflating my armour.

In terms of reliable vs spiky damage reduction - armour/mastery vs crit/dodge - is stacking mastery rather than crit a terrible choice?  I am struggling (without using lower ilvl items) to have more mastery than crit (in bear form), to be able to use RoO (as funny as 110% crit chance on procs are)

For anything outside of heroic raiding it doesn't matter.  Effective usage of SD, T&C, and FR will get you much farther than your particular gear/gem choices will.  There's nothing in normal mode that is even a credible threat to your survivability outside of doing silly things like solo-soaking Blood Rage or 1-tanking Thok.

 

We have so many tools to prevent / smooth damage spikes this tier that they become less and less of a problem the more gear you get:

  1. Massive EH
  2. 30 second CD Barkskin
  3. Tank Meta
  4. Tank Cloak

It's not that Mastery is "bad" per se, it's just not as versatile as RPS stats and provides 0 DPS.