Lock In Talents: Swipe (core rotational ability), Ironfur (the main form of physical mitigation), Improved Barkskin (4s duration increase on Barkskin), Killer Instinct, Nurturing Instinct, Lycara’s Teachings, Thick Hide.
Nice-to-Haves (talents you would be happy to have in most/all situations but may not be able to get due to pathing/point constraints): Astral Influence (5yd range increase on all abilities), Well-Honed Instincts (Free frenzied regen at low hp), Verdant Heart (healing increase during barkskin and frenzied regen, note this doesn’t increase your own healing just external healing), Improved Stampeding Roar (1 min CD Stampeding Roar)
Situational Talents: Skull Bash (only when interrupts or an additional gap closer are needed), Remove Corruption (only when dispel is required), Wild Charge (useful against knockbacks or as a gap closer that keeps you in bear form), Tiger Dash (useful mobility tool for when you don’t need to be in bear form such as Painsmith/Jailer), Typhoon (if a knockback is required), Hibernate (if a Dragonkin/Beast CC is required), Cyclone (if a damage immune CC is needed)
Talents to Avoid: Improved Rejuvenation (resto talent), Ursine Vigor (poorly designed for Guardian Druid), Protector of the Pack (no longer interacts with Dream of Cenarius in the Guardian tree, though this may be a bug), Tireless Pursuit (extra mobility can be excellent but this talent is hard to get value out of due to needing to be out of bear form to gain the benefit), Maim, Rip, and Rake (catweaving is currently a significant DPS loss), Forestwalk (very minor buff that requires you to spec into Dream of Cenarius in the Guardian tree, but even then would have a very low uptime)
Move down the tree, get the Swipe and Ironfur abilities in your path, and pick up Lock-In talents Improved Barkskin and Killer Instinct.
You still need 3 points to unlock the next row, so if you need access to a dispel, you can go down the resto line (rejuv + swiftmend + Remove Corruption), if you want to catweave you can start down the feral line (rake + rip), otherwise go down the balance line (Starfire + Sunfire + Moonkin Form).
In the second section, grab Thick Hide, Soothe (you don’t always want this, but you are forced to take it for pathing), and Stampeding Roar.
You need to fill out 8 more points to unlock capstones; pathing here will depend on what line you went down in the first tier (grabbing your dispel, grabbing Astral Influence, etc.) and what capstones you want to reach, which are dependent on the content you are running.
- Incap Roar, Typhoon and Gale Winds/Incessant Tempest are strong in M+
- Mass Entangle/Ursol’s Vortex are both niche in M+ and raiding
- Renewal, Improved Stampeding Roar, Heart of the Wild, Well-Honed Instincts, and Nature’s Vigil are strong in all forms of content
- Innervate is niche in raids.
I’ve included the different Standard Raid/M+ options in the builds below.
This is the standard arcane based setup for raids, which has surpassed the Thorns of Iron build in terms of damage output, while also providing solid self-sustain and defensive CD benefits. You’ll likely use this build for most boss fights.
General tree - choice nodes of wild charge/tiger dash, Incap Roar/Mighty Bash and mass entangle/ursols vortex; you can pick whatever is better on a specific fight. If you need a kick, typhoon, cyclone, or Hibernate you can drop one of Verdant Heart, Well-Honed Instincts, Improved Sunfire (for typhoon only) or Improved Stampeding Roar (if you don’t need 1min roar).
Spec tree - Moving down the first tier of the spec tree, you need to grab Gory Fur and your major CD Berserk: Ravage for pathing. With your last point you have the option of putting this into Innate Resolve for an additional charge of Frenzied Regen and increased self-healing, Ursoc’s Endurance for a duration increase on ironfur and barkskin, or Improved Survival Instincts for a 2nd charge of your 50% DR.
In tier 2, you want to get down to the middle and the right side for the capstone talents, all while ensuring you path through both Tooth and Claw for big damage mauls that cost no rage and apply a DR to the target, and After the Wildfire to pump out high self and group healing through spending rage. You’ll also want to pick up all 4 points at the bottom of this row, including Fury of Nature for a massive 20% arcane damage boost in bear form, as well as 2 buffs to berserk with Unchecked Aggression for a haste and maul rage reduction, and Persistance for Frenzied Regen CDR and Ironfur rage reduction. After doing this, you have a couple of extra points so you can pick up extra mangle damage and rage gen from Soul of the Forest, as well as a mangle and maul damage increase from Vicious Cycle.
Then you have the capstone talents, where you want to fill out all the points that buff moonfire except Moonless Night, as well as grab the additional defensive/offensive CD in Rage of the Sleeper. Also, since you have 3 berserk nodes already, grab Incarnation to double its duration, which provides a significant damage and durability boost. With your last point I recommend putting it into Blood Frenzy for the rage generation increase, which is especially good in multi target scenarios. Ursoc’s guidance is also available to reduce Incarnations CD, but note that it’s only worthwhile if it lines up with incarnation up with a certain mechanic you need it for, or if it causes you to gain extra uses over the course of an encounter. If this is not the case, you can move this point to Moonless Night, Thorns of Iron, or Pulverize. If going for pulverize, you can also choose to drop the rage generation from Blood Frenzy in order to pick up the absorb shields from Ursoc’s Fury.
A more defensive setup that includes Earthwarden. This is useful for boss fights where melee damage is a large portion of your damage intake and you feel that Tooth and Claw and Ironfur uptime isn’t enough to mitigate it smoothly.
General tree - same as previous section
Spec tree - Similar pathing as the standard section; however, in tier 2, with your extra points, you grab Reinvigoration and Earthwarden instead of Soul of the Forest, Vicious Cycle, and either Berserk: Unchecked Aggression or Blood Frenzy. This build is a decent damage loss over the standard build, so only do this if Earthwarden is 100% necessary. Similar to the standard section, if you don’t need Ursoc’s guidance, you can drop it for more damage from Vicious Cycle or Unchecked Aggression, or other defensive options in Blood Frenzy or Pulverize.
Raid (Thorns of Iron)
The Thorns of Iron build, despite being very strong in season 1, is looking like it’s falling out of favour moving into 10.1, losing out to the arcane build in damage, which was previously the largest benefit of this build. It’s unlikely you’ll be using this build unless it receives buffs or other changes.
General tree - same as previous section.
Spec tree - For pathing, you opt to grab anything that buffs your Ironfur, as well as Bristling Fur for some additional rage generation. That means picking up both Layered Mane and Reinforced Fur in the 2nd tier of talents, dropping both Survival of the Fittest and After the Wildfire. In the capstone talent area this is very similar to the standard build, however in ST you drop Twin Moonfire for Thorns of Iron, and in 2T cleave or higher target count situations you would instead drop Elune’s Favored.
Mythic+ (Arcane + Incarnation)
This build plays very similarly to the default build in 10.0, making use of the DR and self-healing provided by the high arcane damage output, particularly in ST, as well as a fully spec’d into Incarnation cooldown for more dangerous pulls. This will likely be your go-to talent setup for most competitive M+ content.
General tree - Your choice nodes of mass entangle / ursols vortex and Gale Winds / Incessant Tempest are flexible depending on what you need for a specific dungeon, if you want to grab Remove Corruption you can drop 3 of mass entangle / ursols vortex, Gale Winds / Incessant Tempest, Typhoon, Verdant Heart, Well-Honed Instincts or Wild Charge in order to pick it up.
Spec tree - Similar pathing as the standard raid build, if you’re looking for additional AoE damage you can opt to spec out of Elune’s Favored and into Raze, though note that this will decrease your self-sustain and ST damage since you lose both 10% arcane damage and Maul. You can also opt to put this point into Thorns of Iron for some additional passive damage. For some additional durability and synergy when running Thorns of Iron you can also opt to drop Vicious Cycle and take both Innate Resolve and Ursoc’s Endurance instead of just one, though this will result in you losing some damage.
Mythic+ (Physical + Incarnation)
This build makes use of the new AoE rage spender Raze, along with the synergies it has with many of the talents on the left side of the talent tree, to pump out high damage in multi target scenarios. It trades the ST damage, rage generation and high self-healing of the arcane build for some more upfront mitigation in Earthwarden and Ursoc’s Fury, while still maintaining access to your big Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc CD.
General Tree - same as previous section.
Spec Tree - Starts the same as the standard raid build, but once you get into the 2nd tier of talents you drop points out of Fury of Nature since you aren’t going to be taking any Moonfire related capstone talents, and instead pickup Reinvigoration and Earthwarden.
For the capstone area, you want to grab Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc and Ursoc’s Guidance for the CDR, as well as Blood Frenzy for the massive rage generation in AoE. Then pick up Raze as your AoE spender, which synergizes well with both Tooth and Claw as well as another capstone talent, Ursoc’s Fury, which you’ll grab for some big personal absorbs from Thrash and Raze. To get to it you’ll need to put 2 points in Flashing Claws, which also has some synergy with both Ursoc’s Fury and Blood Frenzy, leaving you with 2 points left.
You have the option of Rend and Tear or Untamed Savagery, both are solid and fairly interchangeable, one giving more AoE damage and absorbs through Ursoc’s Fury, and the other helping in ST and giving a flat DR. With your last point you can put this either into Pulverize for an extra defensive CD, or in Vicious Cycle which synergizes nicely with Raze as well for some extra damage.
Mythic+ (Physical + Arcane)
This build drops Incarnation: Guardian of Ursoc and as many related points as possible, causing you to lose your major CD but gain the ST and rage generation benefits of the arcane build, alongside the AoE power and upfront mitigation of the physical build.
General tree - same as previous section.
Spec tree - In this build you’ll be pathing around all of the berserk nodes earlier on in the tree as you won’t be speccing into Incarnation later on. In this first tier you’ll need to grab Innate Resolve for pathing, then instead of Berserk: Ravage you can also take Ursoc’s Endurance.
In the middle of the tree you’ll be doing a hybrid of the 2 previous M+ specs, going down to Earthwarden, Fury of Nature, and Berserk: Persistence, while skipping out on Vicious Cycle, Berserk: Unchecked Aggression, and Soul of the Forest. Unfortunately due to pathing constraints you do have to invest a dead point into Persistence to get to some of the more important Moonfire related talents below.
In the capstone area you can go down to Raze, as well as Ursoc’s Fury for their powerful synergy. On the Moonfire side you can also grab Scintillating Moonlight for a 10% DR, Twin Moonfire to help boost your arcane damage and spread your moonfires in packs, as well as Galactic Guardian, again to help spread Moonfire and give you a nice damage and rage generation boost. With your last point here, you have the option to go either into the Rend and Tear / Untamed Savagery choice node for consistent throughput, or if you want another CD you can also opt to grab Rage of the Sleeper.