Guardian 6.1 Survival Guide

February 22, 2015

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Well, to be perfectly honest there hasn’t been much to talk about that required a blog post. That is to say, there were no announcements of changes or earth-shattering discoveries. Until the initial 6.1 patch notes were posted.

I suppose you could claim the great Thrash nerf was significant, but everyone knew it was coming. I’m extremely surprised it made out of beta tuned the way it was, especially for an ability that had no AoE cap. Anyways, that’s over and done with and now our AoE is actually somewhat sane.

But we’re really here to talk about…

Patch 6.1 Survival Guide

I’ll save the juiciest one for last. The rest are pretty pointless.

Bristling Fur (Guardian) now has a 30-second cooldown (down from 1 minute).

Sigh. This talent just isn’t going to work. Not only does it not affect your gameplay at all (whereas the other two do), but it performs a function that is better suited to (and is already provided by) a glyph. As long as Glyph of Survival Instincts exists, this talent will be 90% (or more – although arbitrary numbers are arbitrary) superfluous. It should really be replaced with a talent that changes Frenzied Regeneration in some manner.

To be fair, it’s entirely possible that new talents weren’t on the table for 6.1. In any case, this will continue to be an (almost) entirely dead talent for the foreseeable future.

Force of Nature’s Treants have been buffed with a 35% increase to their health and spellpower, and an 80% increase to their armor and attack power.

Normally I would completely pan any change to Force of Nature. However there’s an undocumented enhancement to the Guardian version that drastically improves its usability. Instead of taunting your target after losing aggro or its target dies, the tree will now either re-taunt its current target or find something else to attack. This is huge.

It also now taunts casters (so the caster mob will cast into the tree), and actually holds threat vs healers and DPS. It won’t hold off of you if you continue to attack into the same target, but that’s to be expected. It’s definitely now a fully viable talent in those situations where dangerous adds exist. Thogar maybe? Cinderwolves? Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds for sure, but it’ll be interesting to see where someone can otherwise find benefits.

Renewal now instantly heals for 30% of max health (up from 22%).

For Guardians this is an unbelievably meaningless buff. The core problem with this tier of talents is that Cenarion Ward is affected by Resolve. The other two talents aren’t. Until this is no longer the case everyone will just continue to use CW.

Guardian of Elune (Guardian) now also reduces the rage cost of Savage Defense by the Druid’s base dodge chance percentage.

This is the somewhat interesting one. As we talked about back in beta, the core problem with Guardian of Elune is the RPS cost increased as your gear improved, which made it impossible to use. Now that this is no longer the case, there is a definite choice between it and Pulverize. For a generic Mythic boss the TMI difference is in the area of 5%-7%, which is what was expected. It’s also a ~5% DPS increase over Pulverize, so it’s an example of trading defense for offense.

Unless the swing timer is between 2-3 seconds. There are a few of these in Foundry. Let’s take Kromog as an example. On Mythic he essentially melees for ~500k unmit (give or take) every 2 seconds on the active tank, which is avoidable. It’s split between two different abilities sure, but that’s still basically what happens. He also uses special abilities with cast times pretty often, which is free recharge time. So what exactly happens to the difference between regular Savage Defense and GoE once you reach that 2s timer? Well, this (approximately):


This is really the same as the original 1.5s graph. The only differences is that the gap between 1.5s and 2s is much larger, owing to the reduction of melee swings from 4 to 3 for Savage Defense. This reduces the number of average dodges from 1.8 to ~1.716. Not a huge difference when you first look at it. But it’s still a 5% increase to the number of dodges by GoE. This means GoE actually catches up to Pulverize in terms of TMI while providing a DPS increase.


Now lets look at what happens when you bump it up to a 2.5s swing timer. Something you find with Gruul for example.


GoE is actually surpassing Pulverize? What? Madness! It’s worth noting that these sims are both assuming that the only incoming damage is purely physical – and this is a technical limitation of the sim itself. There’s also the assumption that you are actually hitting GoE at points where you will actually dodge both of those melee swings. It’s very obvious that such an assumption requires a swing timer on the part of the player, but as long as you have one that works it’s perfectly valid.

It’s also worth noting that these sims were run using a Multistrike/Mastery build – which is quickly turning out to be the most effective stat cominbation for Mythic raiding. And a very plentiful one.

In any case, all I really wanted to show is that:

  • GoE is no longer “bad”.
  • If you’re raiding at the normal or heroic level, you can pick either GoE or Pulverize and be fine.
  • If you’re at the mythic level, there are ways you can abuse GoE to squeeze out extra DPS if you can manage swing timers properly, without adversely affecting survival. Even further there are some encounters where you can abuse the faster recharge as well.
  • GoE got a whole lot better for AoE – a general situation where using Pulverize is problematic to begin with (only really currently valid for CMs).

All rings, neck, cloak, and trinket items that can be acquired in Nagrand (A level 98+ zone) or later should now be better suited for the character’s loot specialization. This means tanks should no longer receive items with no bonus Armor and healers should no longer receive items with no Spirit from sources like item tokens, quests, or Personal loot mode in Dungeons and Raids for those item slots.

If I had a nickel…


Before I forget, one quick note about Tankcast. You can now find all of the episodes Here.. We aren’t on iTunes yet (waiting on a cover image), but soon maybe?


  • Antema says:

    Hi Arielle,

    thank you for your sumary, still got two questions:

    1. regarding Pulverize/GoE
    I understand why in mass mob situations GoE will be stronger, but when we have just one mob, when will it be better to pick Pulverize and when GoE? I know it depends on the Boss, but what are the criteria to use one over the other?

    2. Multistrike
    Just red it here and did not expect that. I avoided MS all the time and just wanted to ast why its so strong for mythic.

    Thanks for your time and keep up the good work!

  • Arielle Arielle says:

    Pulv vs GoE: The amount and kind of damage is going to primarily determine which one. Something like Darmac with lots of raid wide and/or unavoidable damage is good for Pulverize. Something with lots of avoidable damage like Gruul or Kromog is good for GoE – if you can pull it off.

    MS is by far the best secondary at keeping you alive through pure HP. Through Highmaul HP wasn’t really that big of a deal since it was just handling mechanics that largely determined if you won or lost. There is real danger of tank death in BRF, so make sure you have enough HP so you feel comfortable.

  • Chump says:

    I tried using Force of Nature on the Cinderwolves just last week and they were immune to the taunt from the Treants. It seems like that is intended, since Hunter pets also can’t taunt boss targets if my memory is correct.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      Right. I have no idea where (if anywhere) it will be good other than CMs and PGs. But it does its job now which is what matters.

  • myrcyr says:

    If you took GoE for non mythic raiding, how well would it parse out if you used it similar to normal savage defence and just keep it on cool down while actively tanking vs pulv? I imagine pulv works out to more overall mitigation, but by how much?

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      You *must* use GoE as advantageously as possible. If you just keep it on CD it’s going to be ~5-7% worse than Pulverize. But you do 5% more damage so /shrug

  • Shatterhorn says:

    Thanks Arielle. The survival guides are really helpful. A follow up on the multistrike question. We are 6/10 heroic and slowly progressing. I basically stack Mastery. I have Mastery enchants and gems and seek Mastery as number 1 secondary stat. Should I be looking at multistrike?? As far as HP until I feel comfortable…well I dont think I am ever comfortable right now until I like totally outgear the place :) So how would I look to figure that out…and maybe add some multi-strike??

    Total aside question, any plans on gold proving ground video…just for fun :)

  • Shatterhorn says:

    Arielle. You can disregard above question. I posted on the forums in a similar related question. Thanks

  • Drayen says:

    Guessing for GoE to be better than pulverize on Gruul with his 2.5 swing timer you really need to use it right before a swing to cover 2 hits?

    That said, it’s definitely not worth it since the inferno slice fire damage is really high on mythic

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      Yes, for either of the situations you need to use it generally right before the next swing happens to make sure it always covers 2 hits.

  • Krsnik-Fenris says:

    I am slightly confused about base dodge for GoE. Would it be more beneficial to be a night elf vs a worgen. since nightelves have a 2% dodge racial?

    • Krsnik-Fenris says:

      also i have seen alot of top dps bear tanks use HotW as starters, curious about your opinion about that

    • Krsnik-Fenris says:

      well i discovered that as a worgen the recharge time for goe savage defense is 10.1 sec while nelf is 9.95 same gear and all

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      The NE racial does count towards GoE recharge rate reduction.

      If you can make use of HotW it is the best DPS talent. But your raid will have to alter their strat to let you actually use it for most encounters.

  • Enel says:

    Where would one go to look up swing timers on a per boss basis?

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      Just check your combat log. Look at the events page for boss melee swings and subtract the one from another to get the interval.

  • Ahanss says:

    Well, this took me a while to notice, but there is no reason for the 2s swing timer and 2.5s swing timer results to be different. Why?

    at a 2s swing timer, normal SD can cover 3 hits, and GoE (with a 1s timing window) can cover 2.
    at a 2.5s swing timer, normal SD can cover (with a 1s timing window) 3 hits, and GoE (with a .5s timing window) can cover 2.

    So really, even at a 2.5s swing timer, they should be “equal”. However, with GoE being harder to execute in both cases for those “equal” results, it’s really not equal. This might be okay if the 1k DPS difference your sims show were actually real, but even if we lost a mangle for every pulverize (we don’t) it’s still pretty clear that’s an overestimate of the loss. Sims for me show it to be more along the lines of 250 DPS, or about 1%.

    So basically, GoE is a pain in the butt to use on bosses with irregular swing timers, but you can do it if you feel like it for a 1% DPS gain. That is, assuming the lost concentration from staring at your swing timer mod doesn’t cost you that 1% DPS.

    • Jey says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong but the 2.5 should be better if you get the timing down because assuming that you have a 10 second interval you should have:

      2.5 second attacks:
      5 attacks (assuming an attack at 0 and at 10 seconds
      Avoiding 2 attacks is a 40% reduction

      2 second attacks:
      6 attacks (assuming an attack at 0 and at 10 seconds
      avoiding 2 attacks is a 33.333% (repeating of course) reduction

      This makes it 17.5% better with a 2.5 second timer when compared to a 2 second timer.

      For your second question…no idea.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      You’re right, the end result of the 2s and 2.5s should be the same if you apply the same swing timer logic to both versions. That never actually crossed my mind at the time – although it obviously should have.

      As for the DPS difference, that obviously varies on a per encounter basis. The APL could probably optimized a little bit more to squeeze out DPS without costing survival much (if at all). But for an encounter like Kromog specifically, GoE is still far and away superior to Pulverize because of how you can abuse the recharge rate reduction.

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