Guardian Druid Rotation Guide - Shadowlands 9.0.5
Executing your rotation properly in World of Warcraft can mean the difference between a kill or a wipe. In this guide, we will explain all Guardian Druid abilities and how they should be used optimally to maximize your performance, providing in-depth Guardian Druid rotations and priority lists.
We will teach you all the synergies and special interactions between your class abilities, so you can have peak performance in for your Guardian Druid in raids and dungeons. Besides the basics, we explain more nuances and advanced concepts in your Guardian Druid rotation, such as highlighting the best moments to use notable cooldowns.
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Guardian Druid Core Mechanics
Guardian’s primary resource is Rage.
are your baseline Rage generators;
are how you spend Rage. You also gain Rage from melee attacking as well as when you take damage from melee attacks (you can only gain rage from being meleed once every second). Rage does not decay in combat, but after a few seconds of being out of combat, it will quickly decay back to 0. Shifting into
will set your Rage to 25, meaning no matter how much Rage you had when you last left Bear Form, you will always begin Bear Form with 25 Rage. If you’re not in combat when you shift into Bear Form, you will be given a grace period before your Rage begins to decay. Unless you have more than 25 Rage already, you should always shift into Bear Form a couple seconds before you pull.
When you are taking physical damage, spend rage on
. Unless the enemy is doing entirely magic damage to you (including not melee attacking), it is always worth it to use Ironfur to reduce your damage taken. In general, try to keep at least 1 stack of Ironfur up while tanking enemies, but it’s always better to have more than one stack if you can. Ironfur is not on the global cooldown.
if you are brought to low health, if you think you will be brought to low health in the next 3 seconds, or if you need to be topped off quickly for a mechanic.
If you are not taking physical damage (eg. your co-tank has just taunted off you), spend rage on
to output a bit of extra damage. It is generally a good idea to pool enough rage to be able to use
the moment you taunt back.
have a chance to activate
, which resets the cooldown on Mangle and causes it to generate additional Rage on the next cast. It’s important to spend Gore procs quickly so as to not overwrite them and waste the extra Rage.
Additionally, if you’re talented into
, most damage sources (except for
reflects) will proc the free Moonfire.
Using Defensive Cooldowns
Your defensive cooldown usage will depend heavily on the encounter. Effective tanking has a lot to do with the proper planning of cooldowns and coordination with healers for external cooldowns.
As a rule of thumb, don't stack defensive cooldowns unless you will die otherwise. More often than not, stacking defensives is overkill and inefficient, and may cost you later on when you don’t have the CD available.
Many boss encounters have a stacking debuff mechanic that ramps up damage until you are forced to swap active tanks. In these scenarios, you will want to plan your cooldown rotation ahead of time to ensure that they will be available when you need them.
An example of this is Mythic
, a large physical damage attack that applies a stacking debuff which makes the next Scythe do an increased amount of damage. A common strategy is for tanks to take up to 4 stacks of the Scythe debuff, requiring ever stronger cooldowns in order to survive. For Guardian, a cooldown rotation may look something like this (assume you have
up at all times):
Scythe 1 -
(to generate Rage for extra
stacks for Scythes 2 and 3)
Scythe 2 -
Scythe 3 -
(or an external defensive cooldown)
Scythe 4 -
Where encounters don’t need a strict cooldown rotation, be liberal with your minor defensives like
. Even one charge of
can smooth out your damage intake, reducing your overall damage taken and making your healers' lives easier.
Guardian Druid Main Rotation
There are very difference on heavy AoE now that there is a target cap on
, AoE has more emphasis on
on more spread encounters.
Rotation Selection Tool Instructions:
This area allows you to manually select choices to filter the priority to one appropriate
to you. Anything that directly alters the priority list will be listed below, and when you check
an option (using the
markers next to an ability), the list below will repopulate based on
Any choice not present in the list has no observable changes to gameplay.
) Venthyr (
) Necrolord (
) Night Fae (
ticking at all times for extra damage
Fill empty GCDs with
If you are talented into
, while it’s active, you will primarily be hitting
as it is your strongest single target ability and during Incarnation it has no cooldown. Make sure not to cap out on Rage and use
as a Rage dump if you need to. Maintain your two DoT effects:
. Ideally, you should refresh both immediately before entering Incarnation, and then again right before they are about to expire during Incarnation.
should only need to be refreshed once, but
will need at least two refreshes during Incarnation.
An exception to this is if you are talented into
. Always cast Thrash before large physical hits for the extra 30% damage reduction.
Main Tanking vs Offtanking
Your rotation does not change significantly when you have threat on a boss (main tanking) versus when you do not (off-tanking), unless you are catweaving. You may choose to spend Rage differently, by casting
for damage mitigation or
for extra damage.
Guardian Druid Abilities
In addition to our basic rotation, Guardian has many abilities than benefit our tanking capabilities.
- While not technically a damaging ability on its own, it's required to use almost all of our damaging abilities.
- Our hard hitting single target rage generating ability.
- One of our DoT effects and highest damaging ability, assuming it lasts the full duration on the target.
- Both an offensive and defensive cooldown, reducing the cooldown of
by 50% (75% at rank 2 gained at level 54) while active.
- Our hardest hitting instant single target ability at the cost of rage.
- One of two AoE abilities available to us. Now has a target cap of 5.
- Our best AoE ability. No target cap and leaves a strong bleed afterwards, stacking up to 3 times.
- Your minor defensive cooldown. Use it on moderate spike damage or to cover periods of prolonged magic damage. It has a long duration and a short cooldown, so high usage is key. Often a good idea to use on the pull when you are tanking the boss first as you will have little to no rage. This smooths out initial damage taken and allows you to build rage more comfortably.
- Your major defensive cooldown. Use on large, lethal “tankbuster” mechanics or where you would otherwise not survive. Has two charges.
- The bread and butter of our self-sustain. Cycling through these 2 charges efficiently is integral to good survivability.
- A basic cleanse for all Curse and Poison effects, can be used on others, great for removing harmful negative effects.
- Our baseline heal, does quite a good job of topping our health pool off outside of combat.
- Grants party/raid members within 15 yds a 60% speed boost for 8 sec. Very powerful in raids. Use when a large group of people needs to move (typically these will be pre-planned timings). You can also use this as personal mobility if you need to stay in
while moving, like if you’re tanking the boss.
- AoE disorient that interrupts spell casts on nearby mobs that are vulnerable to disorientation. Use this as an AoE silence, but keep in mind that not all mobs can be disoriented.
- Combat resurrection. Costs 30 rage.
- Taunt ability, forces the target to attack you for 3 seconds.
- Increases your movement speed by 30%, at the expense of
stamina and armor bonuses. Use this as a mobility option if you don’t expect to take damage while moving.
- Puts you into
and increases your personal movement speed by 70% for 15 seconds. Use this as your personal mobility if normal
- Your interrupt. This has a long range on it and will charge you into melee range if you use it at a distance (the kick happens instantly, not when you reach the target). You can use this as a charge in a pinch if you need to get knocked back or need to get into melee range quickly.
- Long duration CC that roots a target in place. Cannot be cast in
. Rooting a target far away will not put you in combat, making this a good tool for skipping certain mobs in dungeons.
- Another long duration CC that works on Beasts and Dragonkin. Cannot be cast in
. This serves mainly the same purpose as
, except for a few niche uses in PvP. Unlike Entangling Roots, damage will instantly break
. Enemies affected by Hibernate will still put you in combat if you enter its aggro radius.
- Dispels enrage effects on enemies; particularly useful in several dungeons.
- Passive that causes our main abilities to refresh the cooldown on
and generate an extra 4 rage.
- 50% slow attached to
. Excellent for kiting.
- Passively turns all the critical strike we get on gear into dodg. This only works on critical strike from gear, so things like trinket procs will not be counted.
- Our mastery, increases our maximum health and healing increased. Also increases attack power.
- A flat 6% reduced damage taken just for being a nice big bear.
- Allows us to cast all those good utility spells in Bear.
Guardian Druid Covenant Abilities
Covenant choice is a big deal in Shadowlands for everyone and thus we have covered them extensively on the respective Covenant pages, including how soulbinds and conduits modify these abilities further:
Kyrian Covenant InformationVenthyr Covenant InformationNecrolord Covenant InformationNight Fae Covenant Information
Kyrian provides one of the more complicated and flexible covenant abilities .
Form a bond with an ally. Every 1 minute, you may empower the bond for 10 seconds, granting you an effect based on your partner's role, and granting them an effect based on your role.
For Guardian bonding with a Healer or DPS grants them a 40% damage reduction buff for 10 seconds and the damage is redirected to you.
When we bond with a Tank we redirect 40% of damage we take to them.
When we bond with a DPS we also gain 20% of the damage they do as damage/healing/absorption.
When we bond with a healer we also receive 30% of all their healing replicated onto us for the 10 seconds.
Bonding with a tank will be very powerful defensively from a raiding perspective. Having another large short cooldown shield wall in our toolkit will be extremely valuable on most raid encounters.
Bonding with a healer or DPS will be very strong in Mythic+ and even in a raiding environment as that can lead to an enormous amount of healing and absorption, largely filling gaps in the downtime between
- Summons a nice owl friend that gives us a
with 3 charges. The Phial heals you for 20% of your maximum hp and removes all diseases, poisons, curses and bleeds affecting you, making it extremely powerful. It also has a shorter cooldown than a typical health potion (3 minutes vs. 5 minutes) and is on a different cooldown timer.
feels really good in our rotation, and buffs both of our main damage spells,
by 20% which makes it very powerful.
Adaptive Swarm can also be cast on ourselves to buff the healing of
by 20% while the heal is on us, leading to a significant defensive bonus. For optimal up-time, refresh
right before it is about to expire at 2 stacks.
is quite a decent absorb; however, cast prior to combat as you cannot dodge while channeling. Interrupting the channel also blows the cooldown with no benefit.
doesn't change our rotation very much. Just cast and enjoy every 2 minutes the random 16 spell flurry. Ideally, cast after both
are active on a target to increase the chance of superior casts.
Each time you cast convoke you have a rare chance to cast a single extra powerful spell during your convoke, each form has it's own superior cast:
Moonkin Form -
Bear Form -
Cat Form -
Caster Form -
The usefulness of this ability is quite decent, extra mobility is always a huge plus and if you really want to minimize the amount of GCD's this uses you can use a /cancelaura Soulshape macro to immediately shift you back to bear saving the GCD.
provides us with another cooldown, for 20 seconds, Druid spells you cast increase your damage, healing by 2% and haste by 1%, stacking. If you spend 2 seconds idle, the Frenzy overcomes you, consuming 1% of your health per stack, stunning you for 1 second, and ending.
This speeds up our rotation slightly due to the increased haste and allows us to get more valuable GCDs in more often.
- is a valuable mobility tool and can be used as a utility spell similar to a
, with a small channel time.
Mastering Guardian Druid
Catweaving refers to talenting into
spells to deal extra damage while not tanking. When done correctly, catweaving can be a significant DPS increase on single-target for relatively little risk. Some fights are more risky to catweave on than others, and on many fights, it is not possible to catweave at all. As a general rule: if you take damage while not tanking (from a tank debuff, a cleave, or otherwise), you shouldn’t catweave that encounter.
Catweaving is an advanced tactic and is not recommended for players who are new to the spec or when learning new encounters. If you are ever unsure about your ability to survive while catweaving, better to play it safe and not catweave.
The basic idea of catweaving is that shifting into
to apply the
deals more damage than filling globals with
. Additionally, if you are talented into
, you get additional chances to proc
s while Rip and Rake are ticking.
Obviously, being in Cat Form is a significant loss in survivability compared to
— leaving Bear Form will cancel any stacks of
you have, as well as
if it is up.
will not fall off when shifting into Cat Form, however, and you can use this to your advantage in order to get an extra cat cycle in while tanking (provided that you won’t need those cooldowns to stay alive later).
Catweaving revolves around “cat cycles” where you shift into
, spend energy until you’re out, then shift back into
while waiting for your energy to refill. In a cat cycle, your goal is to build 5 combo points using your two builders
, and then spend them on one of two finisher spells:
. To minimize the number of globals spent shifting in and out of form (and therefore not casting damaging spells), dump all of your energy in each cat cycle. At typical levels of Haste, this will be 3 casts per cycle, which divides cleanly into two cycles per Rip refresh (5 builders and one spender). At higher haste levels and during
you will be able to fit in 4 casts per cycle, but this does not significantly improve DPS so it’s not worth worrying about.
Choosing what to cast in your cat cycles is very simple. Keep your bleeds ticking first and foremost and fill other globals with the non-bleed alternatives.
If you are at 5 combo points:
is not ticking, in pandemic, or will it fall off before your next chance to refresh it:
is not ticking, in pandemic, or will it fall off before your next chance to refresh it:
Choosing when to enter a cat cycle is similarly straightforward. Whenever your only choice is to
, (as in:
are all unavailable) you should begin a cat cycle. Most importantly, you want Thrash and Mangle to be on cooldown when you begin a cycle so as to not waste too much off-cooldown time.
As a note, if you are Night Fae then you will want to cast
in Cat Form right after your first
in the rotation as it will build your combo points back up to 4-5 while also regenerating energy.
Here’s an example of what a catweaving rotation might look like, starting from Bear Form (this would be considered two cat cycles):
When catweaving, you should start the fight in
, stealthed. Have your co-tank pull the boss, and immediately begin a cat cycle on pull. Your first spell should be
to benefit from the 100% damage bonus when applying Rake from stealth. If possible, try not to overwrite this Rake until it has fallen off, to avoid overwriting the remaining empowered ticks with normal ticks.
Owlweaving is a bit simpler than the catweaving rotation, only requiring taking the
talents and shifting into
on a stacked group of targets, generally 5+.
will be quite a significant DPS increase on even larger amounts of mobs.
As a note, if you are Night Fae you will want to cast
in Moonkin Form right after you apply
and cast your first
Our Guardian Druid guides are always updated with the latest information from in-game experience, simulations, and logs; make sure to check our changelog to this page, by clicking on
at the top of the page. If you are interested in more in-depth Guardian Druid guides for , make sure to browse the
below, and our list of
just beneath the
Table of Contents
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I have a question, though. Is Maul removed in the latest patch? I haven't been able to play yet, and from what this guide tells me, the ability has not been removed, but is not used in combat.
What's going on here?
...I have to admit, there were many things I was expecting out of Legion, but laserbear wasn't among them.
Why not use Thrash first? If one used Mangle second it would do 20% more damage right off the bat.
is actually quite useful as AoE interrupt in Mythic+ dungeons, such as the Blazing Imps in Court of Stars. Costs nothing, short cooldown, can prevent tons of magic damage; worth keeping in mind.
Thanks for this nice post! How much dmg % would you say catweaving gives you? I don't seem to see it often but it sounds really fun to me.
Should i refresh thrash BEFORE the DOT expire? or i should wait for the DOT to expire then reapply it?
You write that: "
The usefulness of this ability is quite average, still requiring us to shift back into bear form afterwards.".
This is technically not true, as your form is retained. You just need to have a macro to cancel Soulshape and you will be back in Bearform without any extra GCD lost (apart from the actual blink). This also works for all other forms.
Example: Be in Bear form, use Soul Shape, use Macro "/cancelaura Soulshape", You are now in Bearform again :).
Cheers, and thanks for the write-up!
Hibernate can be cast inside Bear Form! Also there is some Antorus references that is weird, maybe putting some Castle Nathria uses?
I'm confused. What's the best use of Heart of the Wild talent? Any macro recommendations for it?
I was reading recently on Guardian and came across a terrific spreadsheet of best places/times to convoke/weave in mythic+. I for the life of me cannot find it now. Does anyone know what im speaking of and can you direct me towards it? Of note, I believe it was put together by a female player.
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