This is a mirror of the post I made on the Alpha Class Development Forums. I’ve saved a record of it here in its entirety for posterity when the forums are closed. Feel free to follow along while the thread is open here.
Let’s talk about Guardian Druid. While I don’t think anyone would argue that Guardian wasn’t the king of Legion raid tanking, nobody would argue against it being the most dull either. And while I can respect Guardian’s role as the “beginner tank”, I do not think it’s healthy for the spec to push away high skill players who are looking to be challenged. Those players are the ones who experiment, innovate, and ultimately discover new ways to unlock the spec’s full potential, and they set the standard for everyone else.
Seeing as the current state of Guardian on alpha is largely unchanged in terms of core gameplay, I want to present what I think are the major issues that plagued Legion Guardian (and if it goes live as-is, BfA Guardian) and propose some changes to address these issues.
The rotation as-is is extremely stale. You essentially have four buttons in your “fill the GCDs” rotation - Mangle, Thrash, Moonfire, and Swipe. The only baseline interaction between these abilities that has any effect on the rotation is Gore, which is a nice passive, but requires next to no thought or precision to execute optimally since you’re just casting Mangle on cooldown anyway. Talenting into Galactic Guardian remedies this, but even then there’s very little potential for optimization here - use Moonfire when it procs, that’s it.
This extends into the trade-off between mitigation and DPS. While I take no issue with being given the choice to sacrifice one for the other, the implementation of that choice could not be more boring. Maul and Ironfur have no interaction and are purely offensive and defensive respectively. There are no situations where casting Ironfur would benefit you if you weren’t tanking, nor (aside from external influences like a co-tank’s threat) are there any situations where casting Maul would assist you in tanking a boss.
Finally, there’s an obvious hole in Guardian’s cooldown toolkit, which is that we lack any sort of baseline offensive throughput CD. Rage of the Sleeper filled this role terrifically in Legion (it was even perhaps a bit too strong in many cases), but now that it’s gone we have nothing to replace it. Talenting into Incarnation gives you an offensive cooldown, but unlike Berserk for Feral or CA for Balance we don’t have a weaker version as a baseline spell that the talent replaces.
Here is how I would address the issues presented above:
- Make Rend and Tear baseline, and replace it with a talent that mimics the effect of the legendary legs from Legion (the bleed can stack up to 5 times). As we’ve seen in Legion, the L100 talent row is basically non-competitive because R&T is so strong.
- Decouple the bleed effect from Thrash and put it onto Maul. Currently, having Thrash apply the bleed means that the bonus damage from Mangle (+20% against bleeding targets) may as well just be baked into the base damage, since you’ll always be casting Thrash long before the dot ever times out. Having Maul apply the bleed means that there’s incentive to manage your rage in a way that you can Maul at least every 15s to keep the bleed ticking, adding some nuance to the rotation. And because Rend and Tear is baseline, Maul has defensive value so it’s worth pressing while you’re tanking. (Blood Frenzy would also be changed to reflect the fact that you gain rage from the bleed, not from Thrash)
- Replace Lunar Beam with a new Talent: Thrash now applies the bleed effect. This serves as a “lazy mode” option for beginners or people who don’t want to micromanage Maul, as well as restores our AoE power that would be lost with the aforementioned change. It also replaces a problem talent that saw next to no use in Legion with one that, combined with the other new proposed talent, introduces some welcome variety and decision making to the row.
- Give Guardian a Berserk/CA-like cooldown that is replaced by Incarnation if talented. It can behave similarly to Incarn (Mangle and Thrash have no cooldown, and Mangle hits up to 3 targets) but only last 15 seconds, similar to Berserk and CA for Feral and Balance, respectively. This would give Guardian some sorely needed baseline burst potential, especially when competing for threat with heavy hitters like Paladin and Warrior.
- Finally I want to give an honorable mention to Catweaving. It would be fantastic if catweaving could be granted the legitimacy of a “real” rotation and as such not be marginalized or discouraged by changes to our GCD budget (Legion catweaving was killed by the increase in power of Maul and its placement onto the GCD). The current state of BfA looks promising for catweaving as a result of the nerf to Galactic Guardian potentially freeing up some GCDs, and I could not be more excited about this. I just want to make sure it stays that way so that players like myself that want to fully explore the trade-off between damage and survivability can do so (optionally, of course!).
I think these changes represent a good path forward for keeping Guardian fresh and entertaining for everyone. I welcome any additional thoughts or suggestions on how to improve the spec. Thanks for reading!