Reasons to Level as a Guardian Druid!
As the launch of Legion is still a long time off, and massive changes to the beloved bear-spec druid are not yet on the horizon, I decided to write a bit about why you should totally consider leveling your druid as a bear. This druid is, and always will be, a versatile class. Druids are capable of fulfilling all roles, and are the only class currently in game that can do so. They’re also the only class with four separate, distinct specializations. So why should you choose Guardian over Feral, Balance or Resto?
Survivability. A Guardian druid has hands down the best survivability of any druid spec. If you enjoy the idea of pulling large numbers of mobs and shredding them to bloody pieces while suffering negligible damage to yourself, then the bear druid has your name written all over it. Bears have an exceptional arsenal of abilities that let you mitigate or avoid damage. Survival Instincts, Pulverize. and Barkskin will decrease the amount of damage you take, while Savage Defense will both reduce incoming damage and increase your change to dodge, thus avoiding damage outright. Add that to a large health pool and the inherent bonuses to survivability in Bear Form and you have a hell of a chance of surviving even the biggest oopsies.
Self Healing. Your ability to heal yourself while in bear form is actually pretty decent. Your level 30 tier of talents offers three options for self healing. I favor Renewal for a burst of healing, which comes in especially handy when I’ve done something dumb like stood in the fire and taken a chunk of damage all at once. For smaller amounts of damage over time, your level 90 tier talent Nature’s Vigil is a must. When activated it turns 40% of the damage you deal into healing. If you’re solo, all that healing goes to you. Pair Nature’s Vigil with the level 60 tier talent Incarnation and you can out-heal almost anything.
Solo Ability. Your ability to solo as a bear druid is top notch. Whether it’s a quest, a rare spawn, or elite mobs and bosses in old raids or dungeons, you’ll find you can outlast and out-gun almost anything. If you enjoy soloing old content for mounts, pets, or transmog, consider giving it a shot as a Guardian druid. Run through, aggro everything in sight, gather it up, Thrash, loot, and repeat. It’s that simple. You don’t have to wait until max level to tear through old raids and dungeons for goodies and gold. While you’re leveling up, the bear’s exceptional survivability and self healing mentioned above means you can rip rare spawns and “group” quests apart all on your own, no assistance required. Rare elites? Nothing a Nature’s Vigil/Incarnation combo can’t handle. I have downed every elite and rare elite in Warlords as a bear druid without issue. When I tried it on other classes, or even as a druid in another spec, I found it more difficult. Restoration and Balance druids will have trouble interrupting, for example, and Feral druids lack the damage mitigation cooldowns.
PvP Capability. While I prefer to heal when I PvP, there is a lot to be said about bears in battlegrounds. I don’t arena and probably never will, so I can’t comment about the viability of Guardian druids in 2v2 and so on. But a well-played bear in a random battleground in an awesome force of nature. Bears can charge, stun, interrupt (both with Faerie Fire and with Skull Bash), knock back (with Typhoon), incapacitate (with Incapacitating Roar), slow (with Faerie Swarm)…the list goes on and on, depending on which talents you select. While these talents are available to all druid specs, combining them with the sheer unstoppable survivability of a bear makes them double trouble to the opposing faction. There really isnt anything more badass than charging into an enemy’s bunker and shredding them to little sticky pieces with your bear (haha!) paws. Bears are hard to kill which makes them perfect for tasks such as carrying a flag or defending a base. If you enjoy PvP while you level, give the Guardian druid a shot.
PvE Flexibility. The Guardian druid is the perfect choice if you want to quest and queue for dungeons while leveling. Doing so as a Guardian means no collecting or maintaining another set of gear, no switching specs when the queue pops, and best of all, no queue time. I have leveled as both bear and tree druids, and while healing queues can sometimes vary, the tanking queue is almost never longer than 10 seconds.
Strong Tanking. A low level druid may not have access to all the goodies of a max level tank, but don’t dismiss the bear druid as a viable tank for leveling dungeons. Bears get Thrash at level 14, which makes it available for use when you can start running dungeons at level 15. Thrash is an AoE that hits fairly hard, has no cooldown or rage cost, and has no limit to the number of mobs it can hit. It is an essential tool for low level bear tanks in your typical “gogogo” LFG run as it helps them hold threat on a large number of mobs simultaneously. Savage Defense is learned as soon as you choose Guardian spec at level 10, giving you immediate access to damage mitigation. Your job as a low level tank is mostly just to hold threat and survive, so between Thrash and SD you’re covered. Of course, all the survivability reasons listed above are also a factor in bear tanking, as well as the general druid utility (resurrecting, buffing, pinch healing, etc) that you bring to a group.
The biggest advantage of leveling as a bear druid is simply your ability to outlast anything that comes your way. The bear’s ability to mitigate damage while dealing a respectable amount of its own, as well as tank, PvP, quest and solo all in the same spec makes the bear druid a seriously fun spec to play . If you enjoy being an unstoppable mass of fur and fury, then the Guardian druid sounds right for you.