Over the last week or so there’s been some discussion both here and on MMO-Champ about the current state of Guardians in PvE. Some of it is just baseless fear-mongering, but there are actually quite a few very good points to be made. The question I’m trying to figure out is if this is a result of our own inflexibility in how we think about gearing for an encounter (which I will assume a lot of the responsibility for), or an actual problem. My personal belief is that it is more of the former than the latter.

Even so the points made about raid utility are completely valid. Of course the recently announced changes to both Tranquility and Battle Healer were a long time coming, even though they are very welcome. Guardian still suffers from changes made because of Feral DPS over the past two expansions. Should they be reversed? I don’t know. I’ve certainly advocated for some of them to be reversed, and in the end they may very well be.

Only time will tell.

Toto! Can You Take the Hit?

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t initially thrilled at the idea of stacking Stamina again for heroic raiding. I managed to make it through 10/16 Heroic T14 just fine with a full RPS build and simply playing correctly. Out of the bosses we didn’t kill, only Empress and Sha would have made me think twice about my gear choices. This feeling continued on through all of T15 normals although – admittedly – I was probably overgeared for most of them. We killed everything pre-nerf and I never felt I was in significant danger as a result of my health pool.

However from observing people doing 10m heroic on streams – like Mowse and Danishpsycho – and talking to others – like Ahanss and Buraan – it’s become pretty clear that we need to re-orient how we think about gear. At least for heroic raiding. This also applies to 25m heroic raiding, since generally the only difference is that the melee hits from the boss are higher rather than the actual abilities used (except for things like Talon Rake). All of the other tank classes have ways to mitigate the special ability part a “tank combo” – a combination of abilities and/or melee hits which has the potential to instantly kill the tank – and sometimes the melee swing that follows. Since we do not have a way of doing that, we have to go back to the old “Wrath” method of handling such combos: Soak the hit. But what’s the best way of doing that?

  1. Make sure you have enough Effective Health to survive the full combo if it comes to that.
  2. Make sure you apply a Tooth and Claw to the boss just prior to the combo. If this means you have to hold a proc that occurs 10 or more seconds before the combo itself, do so.
  3. Have Savage Defense up for the combo to help prevent even more melee damage.
  4. Have enough Rage available to Frenzied Regeneration after the combo occurs when you’re at low health. 2t15 makes this even better.
  5. Use a cooldown – yours or an external – if necessary.

That may seem like a lot at first glance, but 2 -> 5 have pretty much been standard practice the entire expansion thus far. Only #1 is something that we haven’t been very concerned with since Wrath. Up until now the Stamina we get on our gear has mostly (except in a few extreme cases like Impale, at least early on) been sufficient, even for heroic raiding content. But we’re starting to see a shift back to needing more Stamina to survive these “tank combos”.

Toto! You Need more Effective Health!

So we’ve established that as more and more people get into heroic raiding in Throne of Thunder, many are going to run smack into a very different reality from what they have been used to. But what is “Effective Health” anyway? In the simplest terms it’s an expression of how much health you have against unmitigated attacks. EH is calculated using this simple equation:

EH = Health / Total Damage Reduction

The most immediate thing you will notice is that this number will change based on the kind of damage you are receiving. EH-Magic will be different from EH-Physical which will again be different from EH-ArmorPen. The second thing that will become immediately apparent is that Stamina is the only way to increase all 3 types of EH. That’s fine, but the combos from some bosses – specifically Horridon, Ji-Kun, and Durumu – are mitigated by Armor. So what is better? I’ll direct your attention to the graph below:

You can clearly see that for a Guardian in ~522 gear (this graph was generated using my stats) Stamina beats Mastery by nearly a 3:1 margin. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone, especially after Theck’s work with damage smoothness. Even though his information is only directly applicable to Paladins (Guardians’ “smoothness” mechanics are purely Rage driven), the numbers are a strong indicator of the results you see above. So what does that mean?

There is effectively no situation where Mastery is a better option than Stamina.

Or more simply:

Whatever gives you the most Stamina gives you the most EH.

But how do you know whether you have enough? I can help with that too. I’ve added a new page to my spreadsheet which allows you to calculate the amount of Stamina you need to add in order to meet your defined EH target. Of course, that means you need to know what your target actually is. However that’s easy enough to determine simply by looking at the Dungeon Journal and/or your Combat Log. Once you have that just follow these simple steps:

  1. Enter your stats as they appear on your self-buffed character sheet in-game.
  2. Select whether or not you want to use Heart of the Wild on the Options sheet.
  3. Enter your Effective Health target(s).
  4. The result will be how much additional Stamina you need to meet your defined target.


But Toto, Can You Help the Raid?

This is still a bit of a bone of contention between Guardians and Blizzard. While today’s buff to Tranquility is certainly a welcome change to 25m Guardians, there are still some other Guardian “utility” spells that are just screaming for changes. Most of these were originally nerfed in either Cataclysm or Wrath because of Feral DPS stacking, and simply never had their nerfs reverted for Guardians.

  • Innervate: I don’t even know why we still have this to be honest. We rarely have the opportunity to use it and when we do 6k mana is a complete joke. Either buff it or get rid of it.
  • Leader of the Pack: This just screams that it desperately needs to be changed. A perfect analogue to this would be Black Ox Statue from a Brewmaster. Just make it a smart heal for a comparable amount. No Guardian is going to miss something that boasts an overheal of > 50% or more.
  • Rebirth: Let Guardians cast this in-form. That’s just common sense.

I don’t know if we’ll get all – let alone any – of these changes. However I think they are perfectly reasonable requests. We must be patient. Blizzard doesn’t typically make wholesale changes when there isn’t a reason to do so, and from their perspective – remember they have more data than we do – perhaps the difference isn’t as large as we deem it to be. Remember the goal is to be equitable with everyone, not overpowered.


  • Mowse says:

    Nice post, Arielle. Although I didn’t know you’d been watching, now I just feel embarrassed! xD

  • Ahanss says:

    When did I end up in this? :D.
    I still have next to no mastery or stamina. Maybe it makes me need barkskin to live more often than I might like (pre-rampage Melee+Puncture+Dire Call can outright kill me, after all :P), but I haven’t felt the need for more EH yet in 10H.

    Mostly because I’m pretty much never tanking Horridon during rampage, admittedly, but the extra DPS has still proven more useful.

    (2/13, with tries on horridon/prim/iron qon)

  • Mandibleclaw says:

    This post is much welcome, thanks for it because I was suffering the same problem described here yesterday.
    Yesterday and the day before we were attempting Heroic Ji-Kun and man i did fail miserably sometimes at staying alive.. I have the DPS Legendary Meta, and following the encounter I just went back to wrathion and bought the Tanking meta gem.
    Talon Rake is one bitch of an ability. I had 605K HP out of bear form, which in full buffs translates to 682k HP, ilvl ~520 (519.87 on wowprogress). I can tell u unless u’re topped 100% health there’s no way u can survive the second talon rake if u take or 1-2 hits before without a major cooldown as it hits for a whooping 520K! I’m always using son of ursoc or survival instinct before the second talon rake, I even have survival instinct glyphed to make the cooldown available sooner, I don’t mind the 6 sec duration cz it’s only serving me for the talon rake hit, but it’s still a painful encounter for me as a guardian.

    A dead tank is useless, so I would trade all the damage I get from the DPS legendary meta, and I went yesterday and got myself the tanking meta, for added stamina and for the chance to survive much more. I will get back the DPS legendary meta when im more heroic geared.

    On the other side, Im hit capped, so in the blue gem slots Im using Stamina and crit green gems, and for the hands enchants, Im using the sha touched armor, and 750 stamina bracer enchant from LW. Those are a much needed boost for Stamina as guardian as I really found it useful in the heroic ToT content. On the more funny side, my co tank, a Blood DK, has 910K HP or more, my guild joked that I must reroll a DK because his godly HP is never getting him in trouble with the talon rakes.. :P and u know how much we suck at soaking magic as guardian..

    My 2 set bonus is doing awesome healing after each talon rake and Im finding myself using Tooth and Claw much more on Ji-Kun for reduced melee swings, and Im saving 2 savage defense charges and the monk symbiosis cooldown for virtually very small damage from quills. That’s what I can personally add to this very good blog from my personal experience. Keep up the good work :)

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      Why not just Barkskin the 2nd Talon Rake and save SI/MoU in case you need to take a 3rd?

  • Antema says:


    interesting information. I was concerned yesterday, if my gear is too bad. We tried Horridon 10HC and when he hitted me at the end I thought: “I am a mouse trying to stop a truck.” I felt pretty helpless. Was looking if my gear is just not good enough to tank HC, but I have 522 Itemlvl so this cannot be the reason.
    Today comes this post and I just see, that the thought “Stamina is enough on the gear” does not apply anymore.

    Arielle, I saw your spredsheet and the calculation suggest me to get around 5k more stamina. Should I regem for this purpose to full stamina, even if I lose 6,2% crit in bearform?


    • Arielle Arielle says:

      Flask and Trinkets first always. Gems only as a last resort.

    • Mowse says:

      When we killed Horridon, I believe I was around 515 ilvl, so you are more than geared enough. It’s just a really high damage fight.

  • Antema says:

    another thing to the spreadsheet, i think there is a mistake in a formula.

    You calculate 14(HP)*1,2(Bearform)*1,05? (*1,06 HotW)

    If the 1,05 are the stamina buff, remember that it is 10% increase or did I got it wrong?

  • thechannelingcastertank says:

    You still didn’t touch the subject that guardians do not have a raid cooldown unless they are not tanking a thing.

    Even then 8 minutes Tranquility compared to 3 min warrior/paladin/monk “raid utility” cds remains horrible.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      I actually raised that with Blizzard. Tranquility is *extremely* powerful, even more so when combined with Heart of the Wild. The amount of healing it does (which will now be proportionate for 25m) substantially exceeds what Devotion Aura will prevent or what Rallying Cry will allow them to survive.

      I think I’m okay with the 8min cooldown, given how powerful it is. I wish we were able to cast it in form, but we’d need to have heals dumped on us while doing so anyway. Effectively the situation would be the same since we wouldn’t be able to Dodge or react to incoming damage at all.

      I definitely think we should be able to use things that are 1 GCD (Innervate, Rebirth) in form though.

  • Mandibleclaw says:

    “Why not just Barkskin the 2nd Talon Rake and save SI/MoU in case you need to take a 3rd?”

    Main Reason actually is that I never had to take a 3rd 1. and in case there’s a 3rd one, which virtually have very small chance to happen, I have a 1 of the 2 big CDs ready along with barkskin, and some external cooldown typically sacrifice or cocoon to help me out but we’d know for sure Im gonna have to take a third and everyone would be ready for it. But we never let it happen, DK takes an extra 1 typically if needed.

    • Mowse says:

      I barkskin the first one, and survival the second. The only time I can’t do this is on my turn coming down from the 4th nest (probably the 6th nest?), in which case I use ironbark to get by. No point taking more damage than really necessary.

    • Mandibleclaw says:

      I get ur point but really the first one is fine without any CD use, it’s never a problem, I just prefer to save my barkskin for something like a 2nd talon rake or even a (but that rarely happen) third one coupled with an external CD, or some holy shit something went wrong now.. of course im talking abt ji-kun hc now.

  • Mowse says:

    You mentioned you were having some trouble surviving the talon rakes, and I just gave you a fool proof method to survive them every time. I also don’t have nearly as much health as you say you have. I save might of ursoc for flying to nests where my healer drags behind, or if I still have stacks of the infected talons on. Sure, you don’t need barkskin for the first one, but there’s no reason not to use it if you use glyphed SI for the second, with the exception of the one instance I mentioned, in which case you just use a healer cooldown. You could get away using barkskin for every second if you wanted to, but the one time the timers get messed up and you get a talon rake immediately after a quill, you’ll be glad you just used SI instead. You should never have to take a third, so there is literally no other point in the fight where you would have to save SI.

  • sgtdruid says:

    Im sorry, but I disagree. We do not need to stam stack… maybe a flask, but not anything else. I do not have a problem taking up to 4 stacks on HM Ji kun. with proper cds… The fact is… A bear that doesnt rotate his cds right needs more stam… one that uses his cds effectivley doesnt… Now this is for 10m. in 25 I dont know… but you have a lot more cds in 25 to help aswell… This post is just going to encourage bears to stam flask/gem/trink. Uggghh. When we are seen taking 3x the damage as ither tanks because if this method, and guilds sit us… this will not help our situation.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      I think you’re exaggerating both how much Stamina is required, and how much this affects our TDR (Hint: Not much). The point is to re-iterate to people that yes, Stamina is in fact a valid and in some cases the correct option to solving a problem.

    • Mandibleclaw says:

      I completely agree with Arielle, we’re going for too much rps/dps that our HP is sometimes too low for many high damaging unmigitable combos (except absorbs). Bears can heal the spikes that u can’t migitate, either special abilities or a magic spike but we can’t prevent them. I dunno why stamina is that much frowned upon as a bear in the mind of some players, but sometimes the added stamina is simply excellent for some situations, and it happened that we discussed the ji-kun hc fight. Don’t be afraid of changing somethings or experimenting.

  • SGTDruid says:

    Ok.. two examples you have given for Damage spikes… HM Horridon.. and HM Ji Kun.. BOTH easily managed with proper CDS… I personally take 4 stacks of talon rake on HM Ji Kun.. WITH ZERO problem… As for HM Horridon.. Yes that is a high damage fight.. USE CDS for DIRE CALL… lol I have seen Paladin tanks get gibbed by the same exact mechanics. When a 3rd stack of Talon Rake hits for 1.5 mill.. it doesnt matter how much stam u have unless you just STACK it all day.. USE ur cooldowns.. Be smart.. Watch timers.. If you cant watch timers and predict when spike damage is coming.. maybe HM bosses are not for u. :P

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      It’s important to point out that the damage from melee swings is much higher in 25m heroic than it is in 10m heroic.

    • Mowse says:

      Not only that, but I don’t understand why everyone keeps saying they need to take more than 2 talon strikes – ok that’s great if you can, but what is the point? Unless there is some different mechanic on 25 man that I am unaware of, on 10 man there is never a need to take more than 2. If you can, wonderful, but you’re only hurting your healers. Unless your dps is absolute ass and you need the vengeance to cover them, it just seems silly.

    • SGTDruid says:

      Different strats require more than two talon strikes… Its not a big deal if managed correctly. IE.. I actually take less damage on the 4th than the first or second…

    • Mowse says:

      It might not be a big deal but it’s completely pointless.

    • SGTDruid says:

      Not in our strat… Its not like we are “Trying” to take more stacks.. just works out that way..

  • SGTDruid says:

    In bear form unbuffed i have 595k health.. I take 4 Stacks of Talon Rake on HM Ji Kun.. 1st.. DO NOTHING.. Second.. Barkskin.. Third Survival.. 4th Barkskin/MOU/ Healer CD if i feel I need it.. Two viable healer cds that I have used is.. Pain supress or Monk bubble thing.. lol(I forget the name) Yes I know I dont need to take four stacks, but the way my raid team times out stuff I do. As for Dire call combo… For Every Dire call use barksin or another cd.. Remember, in 10m you have 3 healers with tank cds. USE THEM. In 25m you have 5-8 depending on how you roll on that fight. USE THEM. If I ever feel like I need a little extra stam I might Stam flask. I run RPS build with the only changes being the chest stam enchant and the stam meta(partly because I cant get secrets to drop for the life of me) I am not the most progressed bear in the world, but it is not because of tank deaths. Yes you can argue that other tanks are better equipped to handle some of these wonderful mechanics, however that doesnt mean as a bear we do not have the tools to manage them. We have a ton of abilities that we can use to our advantage. In 10m the extra DPS that your RPS build brings to the table matters.. and it makes a huge difference. THE only time stam stacking is effective is when your getting one shotted by an ability… That being said… If you can stack stam up to 1.5 mil health.. YOUR A BOSS!!! :P Otherwise use ur cds.. Play smart.. And dont make your healers hate bears..(IE: Making them go OOM on u)

    • Felics says:

      I agree completely with this the use of external cds should be focused on above stamina. Also everything most of the posters are arguing about is 25H V 10H it is a lot more viable and needed to stack stamina in 25H as all the best progressing tanks have showed us having close to 1 mil HP. 10H is all about contributing to dps and healing as well as little damage taken which rps build allows us to do. The only thing I would ask about raid cds is bring back the old firelands 4 set by giving us the option to enhance MoU with a glyph making it the same or similar to rallying cry. oh and enrage being off the GCD!!

    • Mowse says:

      We 2 heal basically every fight, so externals aren’t as free as you’d think. The only fight we have 3 healed so far has been Iron Qon, and that’s because we one tank it. We did H Horridon with only 2 decurses last night..that was fun ><

    • SGTDruid says:

      I dont see the point in 2 healing HM Ji Kun.. Your just making the fight harder on healers :P Unless your DPS is just Shit..

    • Mowse says:

      There really isn’t a point to three healing at all. The damage isn’t that bad, and there is no reason to take more than 2 stacks of talon rake. Why drag out a fight when you don’t have to?

  • SGTDruid says:

    [10:13:07.700] Sgtgrumblez afflicted by Talon Rake from Ji-Kun
    [10:13:07.700] Ji-Kun Talon Rake Sgtgrumblez 304348
    [10:13:29.430] Sgtgrumblez afflicted by Talon Rake (2) from Ji-Kun
    [10:13:29.430] Ji-Kun Talon Rake Sgtgrumblez 357293
    [10:14:21.333] Sgtgrumblez afflicted by Talon Rake (3) from Ji-Kun
    [10:14:21.333] Ji-Kun Talon Rake Sgtgrumblez 131535 (A: 209478)
    [10:14:50.306] Sgtgrumblez afflicted by Talon Rake (4) from Ji-Kun
    [10:14:50.306] Ji-Kun Talon Rake Sgtgrumblez 94973 (A: 470201)

    That is an example of Proper CD usage… HM Ji-Kun

  • SGTDruid says:

    Arielle says:
    April 24, 2013 at 9:37 am
    It’s important to point out that the damage from melee swings is much higher in 25m heroic than it is in 10m heroic.

    Thats why they have more External CDS in 25m…

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      That depends largely on your raid composition. Not only that but you can’t hog all of the externals for yourself.

      Plus there’s Tortos, where you *must* have a certain amount of health or you *will* die. Nowhere did I say that Stamina is *always* the correct solution. Rather, people shouldn’t be surprised if they do actually encounter a situation where they need more health for the first time in 2 years.

    • Mowse says:

      I think Arielle is being completely reasonable in what he is suggesting. He didn’t say go out and drop all your gems for stamina RIGHT NOW. He said be smart, gauge each fight, and gear according to how you can make it easier for your raid comp. A fight like Tortos, you’re going to want stamina. You’ll do enough dps with the vengeance you get from the bats to outweigh most other things. I dropped a lot of stats for stam and the fight was a breeze. If you dance around the 550k limit when you accidentally put on a shield, you’re just asking for trouble. No one is saying you should never be smart about your cooldowns and just rely on stamina. But some fights, cooldowns just aren’t enough. You are proud of being a bear, just as I am, and Arielle, and everyone else on this website is, but don’t blind yourself to the glaring flaws in our class, when we could have a discussion that could possibly correct them for the future.

      The most glaring issue being a raid cooldown. I like the comment about bringing our old 4 pc tier back, although I’ve never really liked health cooldowns anyway. I’d rather have a damage reduction cooldown, or Tranq be useable in bear form. Enrage and Incarnation off the global would also be nice. Also, maybe not spell reflect from symbiosis with warriors? Or did they change it? I haven’t had a warrior in the raid since the start of last tier.

  • SGTDruid says:

    I guess your misunderstanding my point here… When a post is made on some people take it to heart.. Especially bears that are new/not HM raiders. Most of us that raid HMs or need the “extra” stam are aware of that issue and we adjust accordingly. Im just afraid that saying… “Going back to Wrath” with just give people a reason to stack full stam. I dont believe that Arielle or anyone else that truely understands our class would say that. If they do.. well good luck.. LOL I feel that this website is tailored to be a guide to help all bears.. IE.. NEWBS/HM Raiders/Casuals/or whatever else your bear arse feels like doing. The problem is only 1-5% of actual bears raid HM content. That being said I feel coming out and saying “Back to Wrath” is bad juju. Im not discrediting the need for a lil extra stam on some fights, however I feel the population that this would effect should already know that.

    As for a raid cd… Yah we are gibbed in that department. I dont even have an idea for a possible solution. Maybe Bear WALL!! I dunno.. Not having a Bear Wall doesnt break our class. We are a very effective tank, and played properly we can outshine anyone.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      I expect people to have at least a basic ability to read and understand the written word. I have never, and will never, coddle people who can’t read.

    • SGTDruid says:

      LOL… again misunderstood.. I give up.. Blah….. GO GO STAM stackin bears! w00t!

    • Tars says:

      Surprisingly enough, this post may be most useful for bears like you, who just start heroic raiding. Before, they were told that ragegen is the way to go. Now they are alerted that this may not always be true. Sure they can come to that conclusion themselves, eventually, but Arielle saves them time and provides tools to make educated decisions.

      And don’t be so peremptory, when you post on
      If you enjoy playing your class, that’s great. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have problems. And right now some other tanking classes played properly can outshine played properly druids.

  • SGTDruid says:

    I wasnt being peremptory… Since this seems to be hard to understand what I was saying.. Let me break it down…

    I am not in favor of the saying “Going back to Wrath”

    Because we are not even close to that. Yes an educated decision can be made by raiders on what they prefer..IE Ragen/Stam. I am not arguing that other tank classes might have some advantages on certain HM fights. All I am saying here is basically.. The fights can be done with pure Ragen without gem/trink stam. Unless your entirely under geared for that fight, then yes stam has more significant value. That being said.. If your in HM content.. You most likely are not very under geared. If you are then YES you should probably tailor strategies to enable you to push a higher progression. One of those strategies is stacking stamina and relying on your healers to heal you through the extra damage you will take. As a Ragen bear I have had no issues with HM Horridon or HM Ji Kun(The two bear Killers). We start on HM tortos soon so I will let you know how that goes. If I feel that I might need some extra stam on HM tortos.. then yes I might try a trink or flask. The problem that I have with the post is simply saying.. “Going back to Wrath” When we all know.. Stam stacking was at its finest.. I am done arguing this.. LOL I see flaws in our class/ I see advantages in others/ I disagree that stam stacking a bear is the solution. That simple.

    • Growlgrrl says:

      Personally the way I read it is we’ve been able to completely ignore stam for the most part, and for the first time sinse wrath we have to ask ourselves “do I have enough stam?” and not “time to stack stam till you’re blue in the face”

  • whatmaildidyougetarielle says:

    I think since you are 2hc in a 10m guild you should calm down a bit sir :)

  • SGTDruid says:

    LOL ok Theck

  • Mowse says:

    This escalated quickly.

  • Fasc says:

    What a silly, silly, silly discussion.

    Nothing like someone finding something completely pointless to rant about, take things out of context to an extreme, and then storm off in a huff thinking he’s accomplished something here. Too many baseless assumptions being used… /sigh

    Anyway, good write-up Arielle. I actually have a surprise in store for some of you, been working pretty diligently on it and it will help to fuel these sorts of discussions in a meaningful way.

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