Hello Guardians and welcome to the survival guide for the meaningless 4 weeks prior to Warlords! I may sound like I’m joking, but only partially. This won’t be a full “Warlords Guide” because Warlords isn’t done yet. The best I can do at this point is tell you what has changed thus-far, and maybe make some educated guesses as to what might happen once you hit level 100. If you’ve been paying attention to my twitter feed you probably know a lot of this already. Additionally if you have any experience on the PTR or Beta, you will already know all of this information. That means there’s no reason for you to read further.
For everyone else though, read on!
The first and largest change to tanking in this patch (and next expansion), is the elimination of Vengeance. It has been replaced with a new ability called “Resolve” which functionally does the job – at least defensively – that Vengeance used to do. The difference is that it provides a multiplier on all self healing and absorption affects. Providing a technical description of how it works is going to be meaningless to most (but if you want one check out these three posts). All you really need to know is:
- Just like Vengeance, you gain more Resolve the more damage you take in a 10s window.
- Resolve no longer has diminishing returns in AoE situations, but it does diminish at higher and higher levels of damage.
- Resolve does not affect percentage based abilities such as Ysera’s Gift.
- Resolve is much more responsive to changes in damage intake than previously.
As with any other expansion patch, there are a number of changes to both primary and secondary stats that you will probably want to be aware of. Before we get into that though you should be aware that all of the numbers you’re going to see in patch 6.0 will be a lot smaller than what you’ve been used to these past few expansions. It otherwise doesn’t mean much, but the “stat squish” may take a little getting used to for some people.
- Agility now only grants 1 Attack Power per point, no longer grants increased Melee Critical Strike, and grants 80% of the Dodge Chance that it did in Mists.
- Stamina now grants 60 health per point. “Base Health” has been removed, there is now only base Stamina.
- Dodge, Parry, Hit, and Expertise ratings have all been removed. As a result of this change bosses will no longer Parry or Dodge attacks from the front.
- Multistrike rating has been added. Multistrike is a chance to trigger an additional hit for 30% damage.
- Versatility rating has been added. It provides a small boost to damage and healing, while providing an even smaller amount of damage reduction.
- Bonus Armor has been re-added. It now also additionally provides one Attack Power per point.
- Mastery now grants additional Attack Power.
- Weapon DPS now increases at a rate of 1 for every 3.5AP.
There are some additional Guardian specific stat changes that I will cover a little bit later on.
One of the largest changes to tanks in this patch and the next expansion comes not to tanks themselves, but rather the things that will be hitting them. Throughout the past several expansions tanks have only really been threatened by “bursts”, or when a combination of melee hits and special abilities dealt a lot of damage to tanks in a short period of time. Common examples include a melee/impale combo from Heroic Beasts (ToC), and a Horridon “wombo-combo” of Melee+Triple Puncture+Dire Call. Blizzard has decided that they don’t enjoy the arms race of trying to kill tanks as quickly as possible, and then having to give tanks ways to prevent that from happening. Since Guardians lived through an entire patch cycle – really 1.5 patches since these problems existed in T14 too – I’m not too broken up about this. Further Guardians have always been one of the best tanks at reducing total DTPS, so this change can only be a good thing for us.
A quick note on one of the under-represented changes in the next patch – movement speed. Previously in WoW all movement speed increases were multiplicative with each other (except those which were exclusive). In Mists a lot of speed boosts were made exclusive to each other to prevent people from reaching light speed. It made sense – sort of – but was really complicated and a lot of people didn’t understand what was exclusive with what.
In Warlords, movement speed has been streamlined (much like the rest of the game). All movement speed increases are now additive. This means that a boot enchant plus Feline Swiftness will give you a total of 18% increased movement speed (above whatever form you are in). Any further modifiers like Stampeding Roar are just added on top of that.
One of the biggest wholesale changes to this expansion is the number of abilities that have either been completely cut, or in some cases restricted to only certain specializations. I’ve included a quick list below of what has changed. It’s not in any particular order but I’ve separated them into New, Removed, and Changed. I’ve also left out abilities that have extremely niche use – such as Moonfire – which you may or may not end up binding.
- Critical Strikes (Passive) – Adds 10% Critical Strike chance. This is to at least partially make up for the loss of Critical Strike chance from Agility.
- Mana Attunement (Passive) – Doubles mana regeneration. Added to make up for the mana regeneration loss from Leader of the Pack‘s removal.
- Shred – Added because Mangle was made Bear-only.
- Bladed Armor – Every point of Bonus Armor also grants 1 Attack Power. Added to give Bonus Armor an offensive function, and to keep it firmly as the #1 stat.
- Survival of the Fittest (Passive) – Gain 5% more Mastery Rating from all sources. This is our “attunement” – meant to indicate what our primary stat should be, and it’s correct.
- Ursa Major (Passive) – Auto Attack, Mangle, and Lacerate tick Multistrikes grant 2% temporary HP for 25 seconds. Recalculated every time a new event triggers (like Resolve).
- Rake – Made Cat-only.
- Bear Hug – Some will likely be sad about this – looking at you Lyfa, Ahanss, and Buraan – but the reality is it was too niche of an ability to be used all that often.
- Rip – Restricted to Feral only.
- Swipe – Combined into Thrash.
- Track Humanoids – I *think* this was made baseline with Cat Form, but don’t quote me on that.
- Hurricane – Restricted to Balance only.
- Leader of the Pack – Restricted to Feral only.
- Nature’s Grasp.
- Might of Ursoc – We were handily winning the “tank cooldown competition”, so something had to be removed.
- Tranquility – Restricted to Restoration only.
- Enrage – Never really did much, so removing it makes sense.
- Maim – Restricted to Feral only.
- Symbiosis – I’ve already commented that this is a good thing, but yay!
- Rejuvenation – Now heals for 228% of spell power. Only pertinent to questing or Heart of the Wild usage.
- Bear Form – No longer increases Haste and Crit rating from items. Armor bonus reduced to 250%. Stamina bonus reduced to 20%. Haste now reduces the GCD and the cooldowns of Mangle and Maul.
- Mangle – Now generates 10 Rage when used. Hits for 300% Weapon Damage. Cooldown reduced by Haste.
- Maul – Now hits for 120% Weapon Damage. Cooldown reduced by Haste.
- Savage Defense – Now has a 12s recharge. 2 charges.
- Thick Hide – Now reduces magic damage by 10%. Reduces the chance to be parried by 3%.
- Revive – Mana cost reduced to 4% of base mana.
- Travel Form – Flight, Aquatic, and Travel forms have been combined into a single ability that automatically switches depending on what you are doing (jumping, swimming, etc.).
- Thrash – Now deals 117% AP on hit, and 40% AP per tick. Generates 1 Rage every time it deals damage. No cooldown.
- Faerie Fire – Now deals 32.5% AP.
- Primal Fury (Passive) – Melee Critical Strikes now only generate 8 Rage.
- Tooth and Claw (Passive) – You can now store up to 2 charges. Reduces the damage of the next auto attack by 240% AP.
- Lacerate – Now deals 115% AP on hit, and 29.22% AP per tick per stack. Generates 2 Rage on impact. No cooldown.
- Infected Wounds (Passive) – Now only triggers from Mangle.
- Survival Instincts – Now lasts for 6 seconds. 2 Charges. 2 minute cooldown.
- Mark of the Wild – Now also grants 3% Versatility.
- Frenzied Regeneration – Now heals for 600% AP at 60 Rage.
- Mastery: Primal Tenacity (Passive) – Our Mastery now generates a shield whenever we take physical damage equal to 1.5*Mastery percent. Some sources of damage (bleed, sonic) will not generate a shield. The value of this shield is not reduced by other absorption affects. If a shield is already active, receiving physical damage will not generate a new shield unless the current shield size is <= 20% of the size of the shield that would have been generated. Also increases Attack Power by 1*Mastery percent.
Talents and Glyphs
Very little has changed in the area of Talents and/or Glyphs. Other than the obvious – removing Glyphs for which abilities no longer exist – so this section will probably be a lot shorter than the others.
- Ysera’s Gift – Now heals for 2% HP every 5 seconds.
- Renewal – Now heals for 22% HP when used.
- Cenarion Ward – Now heals for 879.9% of spellpower over 6 seconds.
- Typhoon – Range reduced to 15 yards.
- Soul of the Forest – Mangle now generates 5 additional Rage.
- Nature’s Vigil – Now heals a nearby friendly target for 40% of the damage done. Excludes Thrash, and obeys the new smart healing rules. That means there’s no guarantee it will heal you if you’re the most injured person.
Your obvious question is going to be “What talents should I take?” Well not much has really changed. What you’ve been taking for the past year (or more) is still decent. I’ll still make my recommendations though, which are in the short list below:
- Level 15: Whatever you want. No changes to this tier, so continue to use whatever talent you prefer.
- Level 30: Cenarion Ward has the highest throughput on this tier, but comes with the 30 second cooldown and the fact that it’s a HoT which means it might get sniped by your actual healers. Renewal is still pretty bad so you can safely ignore it unless you need an instant heal off the GCD.
- Level 45: Nothing changes here. You basically just lock in Typhoon, even after the range nerf.
- Level 60: Soul of the Forest. Force of Nature‘s previous “issues” still remain, which makes it an incredibly difficult talent to use. Incarnation is still a good burst talent, but for throughput over time it is very much inferior to Soul of the Forest as you’re no longer replacing 0-Rage GCDs with Mangles.
- Level 75: Nothing changes here. You pick the same talent that you would have picked before.
- Level 90: A sort-of minor change here. Nature’s Vigil is now horrible, and since Heart of the Wild has a very narrow niche (Do you need DPS/Healing when you’re not tanking?) your default talent here is now Dream of Cenarius. There is currently a bug where it is not scaling with Attack Power, but it still beats the pants off of Nature’s Vigil.
None of our glyphs have actually changed. However they have swapped around a little bit in terms of which glyphs you will want to have, and which ones have become niche. Since everyone should have the Glyph of Grace anyway, I’ve only listed the possible major glyph options below:
- Survival Instincts – Now a niche glyph. A 3 second duration isn’t long enough to buy your healer any time to recover, but it is still most definitely enough time to handle many boss mechanics. Consider this an optional glyph.
- Stampeding Roar – Mandatory. There’s no reason not to have this glyph. Not only is there nothing worth replacing it for, but the increased range is pretty mandatory in a raid scenario.
- Maul – Might as well pick this up when you’re going to be hitting more than one target. Again, nothing better to have in this slot.
- Fae Silence – This is the most interesting one. Now that Faerie Fire is out of our rotation – thanks to the removal of the cooldown on Lacerate – this glyph becomes very appetizing. Not only does it function as another interrupt, but gives you a way to move casters without having to rely on others to interrupt.
Rotation and Rage Generation
As you’ve probably noticed from the Ability Changes section, a lot of our Rage generation has shifted to being active – i.e. you have to press buttons – rather than the form it existed in Mists. I like this change as it gives you a greater degree of control over how you generate Rage and when. The best part is the actual rotation hasn’t changed at all. It’s still exactly the same as it was in Mists:
- Keep Mangle on cooldown.
- Keep Thrash up.
- Fill with Lacerate.
Easy as that. Of course the L30 and L90 talents can add some additional spice (Cenarion Ward and Dream of Cenarius respectively), but the real complexity doesn’t start until level 100 and you get access to Pulverize. For now though, you’ll just have to live with those three abilities. With the removal of Lacerate‘s cooldown Faerie Fire no longer has a place in the single-target rotation. It’s used for pulling (or possibly interrupting) only.
For AoE, just spam Thrash and keep Mangle on cooldown. Now what do you do once you’ve generated Rage? Well, the priority of your Active Mitigation abilities has changed a tiny bit.
- For encounters with primarily avoidable damage – which is most of them – use Savage Defense as often as possible.
- For encounters which feature auto-attack damage – again, most of them – use Tooth and Claw whenever you will not need to refresh Savage Defense shortly.
- If you’re going to Rage cap and can heal, or are about to die, use Frenzied Regeneration.
- It is no longer important to dump as much Rage as you can into DPS. Make sure you’re pooling Rage prior to executing a tank swap.
- Use cooldowns as appropriate for the encounter. Using Barkskin on the pull is encouraged, as it gives you a bit of a buffer before you can generate enough Rage to start using AM abilities.
- Berserk (and Incarnation I guess) should no longer be saved as DPS cooldowns. Use them as survival cooldowns instead.
- Since Resolve only affects heals you do to yourself, try and avoid using Cenarion Ward or Healing Touch on others. Exceptions can obviously be made.
In other words you should be spending time attempting to train your brain to not be a damage bot anymore, but rather acting like an actual tank. Use your abilities to improve your own survival as much as possible. DPS is something that will be done purely as a by-product of being a good tank.
Stats and Gear
My general response to questions about gearing for a pre-expansion patch is “It’s only 4 weeks who gives a shit anyway.” That being said if you are the type of person that likes to min-max for meaningless content there’s a few things you will probably want to be aware of.
Remember that a full Warlords guide will be coming at launch. Hope this helps for now!