The Furry Life

Oh, how I await the Google SEO results on that particular headline…

Fading of the Light

The Paladin has gone on the back burner. I’ve now switched to a tank that will be much sturdier for all content, but more one that is much better suited to Mythic+ in particular: Guardian Druid.

Protection Paladin. You’d think with it being a plate class, that the Paladin tank spec with its heavy armour and high(ish) self healing would be one of the sturdier tanks in the game, regardless of content.

However truth be told, while it’s a good tank for low to medium content, for the harder hitting content, such as late stage Mythic raiding as well as higher m+ keys (over 20’s mainly) it lacks the mitigation needed to avoid being absolutely crumpled.

Shield of the Righteous, fine mitigation at the lower end of the PvE game, becomes increasingly meaningless the higher up you go and the harder hitting the content becomes. Mainly due to it being a static armour increase that doesn’t stack, only increasing in duration.

In m+ specifically, the Pally is one of the least tanky tanks, and with the current meta being that of a kiting one, its lack of mobility means that it will have to spend more time taking hits rather than kiting out of range, so one weakness compounds yet another.

The Bear however has several advantages. Firstly, it has superior mobility. Cat form, two seperate speed boosts and a soulshape blink make it a spec much better suited to kiting when needed.

However the irony is that it doesn’t need to kite quite as much as Prot because Guardian is a much sturdier spec. A combination of a higher health pool as well as armour mitigation that stacks (Ironfur) giving increasingly higher physical damage mitigation, as well as short term defensive CDs that are far superior to the Paladin.

Cooldown Comparison

Compare the cooldowns of Guardian of Ancient Kings (GoAK) vs Survival Instincts (SI): The former a 5 minute CD that gives 50% damage reduction for 8 seconds, against SI which is a 50% damage reduction for 8 seconds on a base 3 minute recharge, with 2 charges, which can be reduced to 2 minutes with the Survival of the Fittest talent chosen, effectively giving a 1 min CD on an 8 second 50% damage reduction. 5 times more frequent usage available for effectively the same defensive CD.

Throw in Barkskin, which while using the Tough as Bark conduit in conjunction with the above mentioned Survival of the Fittest talent, is a 20% DR on a 34 sec CD (using the iLevel 213 conduit), which lasts for 12 seconds.

Compare that to Ardent Defender, again a 20% DR, but on a 2 minute CD which only lasts for 8 seconds. The one big benefit of Ardent Defender is its built in cheat death mechanic, but one which needs to proc in that 8 second window, else it’s moot.

Additionally, with the Natural Order’s Will legendary, Barkskin’s damage reduction can be increased to 30%, with a free Ironfur stack and Frenzied Regen cast when Barkskin is both activated and expires! Throw in the pretty mandatory conduit that automatically casts a free Frenzied Regen if you hit under 40% health!

Paladin, for a tank, oddly has no legendary choices which increase defense. They are all offense-based legendaries. Which re-inforces Prot’s DPS tank niche, but does nothing to make it actually tankier.

Bad Bear

There are a couple of things that Guardian lacks that Prot Paladin has. One being an immunity. Paladin has two: Divine Shield and Blessing of Protection. Both of which came in handy during the final stage of Mythic Sludgefist. However with multiple stacks of Ironfur and Barkskin up with the Natural Order’s Will legendary in use gives enough damage reduction to effectively give an immunity, especially if used with a charge of Survival Instincts. The damage in question would have to be a definitive over the top one-shot mechanic in order to kill a bear with all those up.

The one thing about Divine Shield is that it will get rid of bleeds and other debuffs, which none of the Bear defensives will give as an option.

But the main thing will be damage output, leading to some issues with Threat.

Guardian is the second highest damage output tank behind Paladin, however the Bear player must utilise cat or owl weaving in order to crank the damage, which is obviously something that can’t be done while actively tanking the boss. Without switching form to Cat or Owl in order to better utilise abilities like Convoke the Spirits, Guardian damage is lacklustre.

Good Bear

But what I will enjoy is the fact that in mythic+ I’ll be able to use the following:

  • Incarnation
  • Ursoc’s Fury Remembered
  • Barkskin
  • Ironfur
  • Frenzied Regen

When using all of the above, Guardian is virtually unkillable in large mob packs (even in Necrotic weeks), which is something that Paladin can’t really do. Well, Final Stand aside, where using Divine Shield will taunt all enemies within 15 yards for 8 seconds. But then you can’t do that again for another 5 minutes, and using that talent precludes you from using the essentially baseline Righteous Protector, which reduces the CDs of both Guardian of Ancient Kings and Avenging Wrath by 1 second per Holy Power spent.

Additionally, but unrelated to tanking directly, Guardian is also the only tank spec in the game with inbuilt stealth, and thanks to being a Night Elf, a threat drop mechanic in Shadowmeld. One meaning I can avoid pesky mobs when doing World Quests etc, the other giving me a reduction in repair bills when a wipe is called in raids.

I also get access to two different DPS specs, as well as my favourite healing spec in the game.

Versatility is a Druid’s greatest strength, and I’ve always been a fan of versatile classes in WoW.

And weapons! I only need 1 weapon for Guardian, whereas I struggled for ages waiting to get a shield upgrade, which only came via the Great Vault. Never did see a single shield drop (off hand token rather) in any raid difficulty.

Fur the Alliance!

I’m looking forward to the new raid. I’m also looking forward to trying to maximise my damage output, which will have a greater skill ceiling than Prot IMO.

Bear is a deceptive spec. It’s certainly an easy spec to pick up and play, but if you want to min-max your mitigation and damage output, there’s a pretty decent skill ceiling on the spec, involving weaving in and out of cat/moonkin forms when off-tanking, thus meaning good Guardians essentially need to be good with at least two specs, one tank & one DPS, in order to be good with just one.

So far, since beginning to get to grips with weaving, I’ve not been doing too bad. Parsing around the same as I do on my Paladin (over 90% average in parses), so it’ll be fun to take on a new challenge, and certainly keep things fresh!

The new raid opens today, and it’s looking like a fun tier with some unique fights, so here’s to diving headlong into the new PvE endgame for the next 6-8 months!