Lock In Talents
These are talents that are powerful and useful in almost all cases, making them nodes you always want to path through.
- Swipe - core rotational ability
- Ironfur - Your main form of physical damage mitigation
- Improved Barkskin - Duration increase on Barkskin, your most commonly used defensive CD
- Killer Instinct - Passive physical damage and armor increase
- Nurturing Instinct - Passive magic damage and healing increase
- Thick Hide - Passive damage reduction
- Rising Light, Falling Night - passive damage and healing OR versatility increase
- Stampeding Roar - A group movespeed cooldown
- Lycara’s Teachings - Passive versatility increase in bear form
- Renewal - 30% health self-heal that is off the global cooldown
Talents you would be happy to have in most/all situations but have bonuses you’d be willing to give up due to pathing or point constraints.
- Verdant Heart - external healing increase during Barkskin and Frenzied Regeneration, note this doesn’t increase your own healing
- Feline Swiftness - Passive movespeed increase
- Wild Charge - Movement ability that varies depending on your form (Charge when in bear form)
- Astral Influence - 5yd range increase on all abilities
- Matted Fur - Small absorb shield when using Barkskin or Survival Instincts
- Well-Honed Instincts - Frenzied regen proc at low hp
- Improved Stampeding Roar - Reduced cooldown on stampeding roar
- Heart of the Wild - A personal cooldown that will buff your moonfire and auto attack damage
- Nature’s Vigil - A group healing cooldown based on your single target damage done
Talents that are very good in niche situations but otherwise have minimal value.
- Remove Corruption - When a curse/poison dispel is required and not brought by someone else or for the Afflicted M+ affix
- Hibernate - If a Dragonkin/Beast CC is required or for the Incorporeal M+ affix
- Tiger Dash - Useful mobility tool for when you aren’t actively tanking
- Cyclone - If a damage immune CC is needed when you aren’t actively tanking
- Skull Bash - When interrupts or an additional gap closer are needed
- Tireless Pursuit - Extra mobility but it requires you to be able to shift in and out of cat or travel form in order to get value
- Soothe - Great if a boss or dungeon has any dangerous enrage effects to remove or for the Raging M+ affix
- Typhoon - Good if a knockback is required on a fight, to create space to kite or as an AoE stop in dungeons, or for the Sanguine M+ affix
- Incapacitating Roar - Great in dungeons and some boss fights as an AoE stop on a short CD
- Mighty Bash - OK if a single target stop is needed, however it competes with Incapacitating Roar which is generally better in M+
- Ursol’s Vortex - Good at keeping CCable enemies locked down in a certain area, when combined with Typhoon it can act like a Mass Grip
- Mass Entanglement - Good at keeping enemies you don’t want to fight or kill CC’d away from your group
- Innervate - A short buff you can give to your healer to make their spells cost no mana
Talents to Avoid
These talents provide little to no value and should only be taken if they’re required to path through to progress down the tree.
- Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, Wild Growth and Improved Rejuvenation - Restoration spells that you will likely never cast outside of extremely niche situations, where even then they provide minimal value
- Starfire, Sunfire, Starsurge and Improved Sunfire - Balance spells that you will likely never cast due to form swapping being a DPS decrease
- Rake, Rip, Maim and Primal Fury - Feral spells that you will likely never cast due to form swapping being a DPS decrease
- Natural Recovery - Small healing done and taken increase, however this only increases the value of Restoration spells, meaning it doesn’t affect the vast majority of Guardian’s self-healing
- Gale Winds and Incessant Tempest - Very small boosts to a situational talent that you likely won’t notice if you talent into them
- Ursine Vigor - Very short duration defensive boost that requires you to shift out of and back into bear form to gain value
- Protector of the Pack and Forestwalk - Minor boosts when casting regrowth, which Guardian only does infrequently through the Dream of Cenarius spec talent, making these very low value nodes
Move down the tree, get the Swipe and Ironfur abilities in your path, and pick up Lock-In talents Improved Barkskin and Killer Instinct. Then go down the balance line and grab Starfire, Sunfire, and Moonkin form to unlock the second talent area and open up pathing to some other Lock-In talents.
In this second area you’ll want to take Thick Hide, Soothe and Stampeding Roar to be able to path down the centre of the capstone area, as well as Matted Fur to be able to path down the left side. On the right side you’ll want to pick up both Astral Influence and Rising Light, Falling Night, as well as Nurturing Instinct from the first talent area.
You need to fill out 2 more points to unlock the capstones, where what you take depends on the specific content you’re doing. For M+ both Skull Bash and Typhoon are strong options, if you need mobility Wild Charge and Tiger Dash are also available, and finally if you don’t need any of those options you can always grab Verdant Heart for a little more external healing.
I’ve included my different recommendations for Raid and M+ in the builds below.
This is the standard talent setup in raids, giving a solid mix of damage and survivability. You’ll likely use this build or a variation of it for the majority of boss fights.
General tree - You can pick either option of the choice nodes for Wild Charge / Tiger Dash, Incap Roar / Mighty Bash and Mass Entangle / Ursols Vortex depending on your preference or the situation. If you need a kick or one of your CCs in Typhoon, Cyclone, or Hibernate you can drop either Verdant Heart, Wild Charge, Improved Stampeding Roar or Nature’s Vigil based on the fight.
Spec tree - Moving down the first tier you want to grab Berserk: Ravage and open up the ability to path along the right side of the tree, requiring you to take Gory Fur as well. Innate Resolve is also quite powerful so you’ll likely want to pick it up in all variations of this build. To get there you can opt to path through Brambles for some extra damage, or Dream of Cenarius for some extra healing, though note that procs of this ability in raid encounters can be inconsistent as they require you to be actively taking non-periodic damage.
In the second tier you’ll want to pick up all the Maul and Mangle talents, as well as both Berserk nodes. To get to Berserk: Persistence you need to path down the right side of the tree, picking up Survival of the Fittest and After the Wildfire on the way. With your last 2 points in this area max out Fury of Nature.
In the capstone area you end up taking a decent mix of physical and arcane talents for ST, leaning towards physical as you increase target count. In all builds you’ll take Rend and Tear, Circle of Life and Death, Flashing Claws, Incarnation, Ursoc’s Guidance, and Rage of the Sleeper. With your 3 remaining points I recommend picking up Elune’s Favored, Galactic Guardian, and Moonless Night, powering up your Moonfire and giving you a boost to your rage generation and self-healing.
For encounters where you are consistently fighting multiple targets, Blood Frenzy becomes an extremely powerful rage generation option. Raze can also be good if you care about damage output or threat generation on all the targets, but if add damage isn’t relevant you can skip out on it.
If you’re looking for a bit more durability for an encounter you can choose to drop 1 point in Flashing Claws for Ursoc’s Fury to have your Thrashes, Mauls, and Razes (if talented) apply a nice absorb shield.
If you’re looking for the max damage build, you would swap out Innate Resolve for Ursoc’s Endurance, After the Wildfire with Guardian of Elune, and Berserk: Persistence with Thorns of Iron.
This is the standard talent setup in M+ dungeons, swapping out some of the more single target focused talents in the raid build for AoE ones. Note that this loadout is generalized and doesn’t include some of the niche utility options such as dispel or hibernate which can be extremely useful to handle specific weekly affixes.
General tree - Similar to the raid build, but instead you’ll want to make sure you take Skull Bash and Typhoon in all situations, dropping points in Nature’s Vigil and Heart of the Wild to do so. The point in Innervate is quite flexible here, allowing you to pick up Hibernate on Incorporeal weeks, Incessant Tempest on Sanguine weeks, or Remove Corruption on Afflicted weeks, though for this you also need to drop 2 other talents which would likely be Verdant Heart and/or Nurturing Instinct. You could also opt to drop these and grab Feline Swiftness for a nice movement speed boost or a second point in Well-Honed Instincts.
Spec tree - Like the General tree, the first 2 tiers are similar to the raid build, except you do have some potential utility options which you can take at the expense of some damage, dropping the 2 points in Fury of Nature to pick up Dream of Cenarius then being able to flex that 2nd point into either Ursoc’s Endurance of Thorns of Iron.
In the capstone tier there’s still a heavy focus on the physical talents, adding Ursoc’s Fury, Blood Frenzy, and Raze over some of the moonfire talents used in the raid build, however we do opt to drop the 2 points in Flashing Claws for Galactic Guardian and Twin Moonfire thanks to a recently readded interaction between the 2 talents allowing for a nice boost to both rage generation and damage without needing to actually use GCDs on moonfire itself.
If you’re looking to add a bit more personal durability and don’t mind losing some damage and off-healing, you can opt to drop Berserk: Ravage, Fury of Nature, Soul of the Forest, and After the Wildfire in order to pick-up Ursoc’s Endurance, Layered Mane, Reinforced Fur and Thorns of Iron. This gives you a decent boost to your personal mitigation, great on Fortified weeks in dungeons that lack a lot of party damage which would result in your After the Wildfire over-healing a lot anyways.