Player Spotlight: Lipkiss

Hello everyone! Welcome to the fifteenth RaiderIO Player Spotlight. My name is Samantha aka Vitaminpee and with this series, I am aiming to highlight the amazing players of World of Warcraft regardless of their chosen class, spec, language, and/or region. I hope to bring you valuable information and help you learn more about your favorite top players or discover new ones that you may not know.

Back in March when the top Mythic+ players were just breaking 3k score on, there was one orange name among a huge sea of Protection Warriors in the ranks for top tanks in the world. Despite taking a break from pushing competitive Mythic+ keys, Lipkiss of Korea has still remained the world #1 ranked Guardian Druid since that time and his name has stuck in our minds. Today, we finally talked with Lipkiss about Guardian Druid in Mythic+ and how the class is looking with the upcoming 8.2 changes.

As always with articles that require translation, I just want to extend a HUGE thanks to Somang for helping me communicate back and forth with Lipkiss. It’s not an easy task, so thank you for all your generous hard work! If anyone knows of anybody who is interested in translating this article back into Korean, please contact me on Discord at Vitaminpee#0802. We would all be really grateful (especially Lipkiss)!

한국어 번역은 여기를 클릭하십시오. (Translated by 흐앗타핫)

“Shortening defensive cooldowns is especially important for Guardian Druids because we’re constantly fighting to survive in Mythic+. There’s never any downtime.”

VitaminP: Hi Lipkiss! Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?

Lipkiss: Hello! My name is Lipkiss. I live in Incheon, South Korea. I have been playing World of Warcraft since its open beta around 2004. I do not have any alt characters—I only play my Druid. The first time I did competitive dungeon content was at the beginning of Legion when I was farming Artifact Power. I took about a year off of WoW and came back as BFA launched. I have really enjoyed doing high keys this expansion, but unfortunately, I can only play a little bit lately due to a personal issue, so I haven’t been pushing high keys for a while. However, it is likely that I will be back to pushing keys in season 3.

VitaminP: Throughout this expansion, Guardian Druid has had a reputation for being one of the worst specs for tanking high Mythic+ keys, so very few people play it. Therefore, many people have wondered how you’ve accomplished such high keys as a Guardian Druid. What are the strengths of Guardian right now in Mythic+? What misconceptions might people have about your class and why have you continued to play it despite the Protection Warrior meta?

Lipkiss: Guardian Druids do have some really useful utility. We have stealth in cat form with Prowl, a battle res, and we can use Ursol’s Vortex for specific affixes to help group up mobs or kite. We have Typhoon which is especially helpful against Sanguine, and we have Soothe which is especially useful for Raging. These are some really useful tools that other tanking classes don’t have. However, that is about it. Most of negative perceptions regarding Guardian Druids that are discussed among the community are true. I cannot deny them, as I think alike. Rather than following the current meta and swapping to Protection Warrior, I come from a long background of playing tons of Feral and Restoration Druid, so I play Guardian because I just like the Druid class itself. Not to mention, I am a bit lazy playing other alts :^)

VitaminP: Are there any really important classes that you like to bring to a Mythic+ group? For example, do you always like to play with a Restoration Druid? What DPS classes do you prefer bringing to complement your Guardian toolkit?

Lipkiss: Maybe it’s the same way in other regions, but the comp options in Korea are very limited. The only healing class available to me has been Restoration Druid for high keys. I can’t even compare Resto Druid to other healing specs, since I have rarely played with any others. My DPS comp is pretty wide-open, but I like to bring one class with a strong slow such as Frost Mage, Assassination Rogue, or Beast Mastery Hunter for kiting purposes.

VitaminP: Ever since the removal of Mark of Ursol last expansion, Guardian Druids have struggled with heavy magical damage intake in comparison to other tanks. How do you compensate for this?

Lipkiss: This is why I always stick with one of the talents called Survival of the Fittest. Shortening defensive cooldowns is especially important for Guardian Druids because we’re constantly fighting to survive in Mythic+. There’s never any downtime. By using this talent, I can handle physical and magical damage very well. For casting mobs, because they are ranged, I have to use the map really well (line-of-sight points) in order to both survive and group up mobs. In dungeons such as Shrine of the Storm and Kings’ Rest where there are so many casters, there is a point where Guardian Druid just can’t sustain as much. Therefore, it is important that a Guardian Druid outranges mobs or hides behind walls so that we don’t take any damage and gather mobs well for AoE.

VitaminP: Are there any specific dungeons where you feel that Guardian Druid is particularly strong compared to other tanking classes? Which dungeons would you say Guardian Druids are weakest in?

Lipkiss: I think that Guardian Druid has some of the best utility for Kings’ Rest where Soothe is especially useful. There aren’t any dungeons where Guardian Druid shines the most, since it isn’t the tank meta. The most challenging dungeons for Guardian are Motherlode and Waycrest Manor. In the Motherlode, mobs do a lot of unavoidable magic damage with very few LOS points to manage the danger. Waycrest Manor is hard for us due to how much physical damage intake we face throughout the dungeon while also having to simultaneously mitigate threatening chunks of magic damage.

VitaminP: Comparing sims of the world's top Protection Warriors and Guardian Druids reveals that Guardian is actually the closest tanking class in simulation DPS to Protection Warrior right now. Tanking sims can be misleading since they don't account for survival ability usage or for Prot Warrior’s Spell Reflection damage, but do you think that Guardian will come any closer to competing with Prot Warrior in 8.2 with the damage nerfs that Warriors are receiving?

Lipkiss: With the current information on Guardian Druid in the upcoming patch notes for 8.2, their strength compared to the other tanking classes will definitely go up at least in raids. I am sure Guardians will improve a little in Mythic+ as well, but sadly I still do not think we will be able to compete as a top tier tank class in competitive high keys. While things could change up until the patch, it doesn’t look like we’re receiving any amazing new benefits from the upcoming changes. Currently, there is no utility in the game that could allow any other tanking class to compete with the damage and survivability brought by Protection Warriors. Although Prot Warriors’ damage is soon to be a little nerfed through the reduction of Thunderclap damage during Avatar from 50% to 30%, they still have incredibly strong defensive abilities that will keep them as the strongest tanking class in 8.2. Even considering the new Beguiling Affix, Prot Warrior will still likely remain the best Mythic+ tanking class throughout the rest of the expansion.

VitaminP: What is your go-to talent build and what are your choices of Azerite traits for high Mythic+? What variations might you make to your talents or traits depending on certain dungeons or affix combinations?

Lipkiss: For every dungeon, I use one talent build. There are no other options for Guardian Druid in high Mythic+:

The most important Azerite trait to stack is 3x Twisted Claws, followed by 1-2x Wild Fleshrending for stronger threat generation. Depending on the affixes, I swap between Burst of Savagery, Waking Dream, and Layered Mane. I use Layered Mane for Fortified dungeons and Burst of Savagery for Tyrannical weeks. I always take Waking Dream against Tyrannical and/or Grievous. For the third and fourth Azerite ring, I use self-healing talents such as Resounding Protection, Vampiric Speed, and Elemental Whirl.

“Right now, Guardian Druid’s problem is that we are lacking both survivability and overall tank damage. On Fortified weeks especially, we’re barely able to go into a pack and survive even using a charge of Survival Instincts.”

VitaminP: If you could ask Blizzard for a few reasonable changes to the Guardian Druid class, what would they be? Are you happy with any of the changes coming in 8.2?

Lipkiss: Right now, Guardian Druid’s problem is that we are lacking both survivability and overall tank damage. On Fortified weeks especially, we’re barely able to go into a pack and survive even using a charge of Survival Instincts. In reality, Guardian Druids have to use our biggest cooldown not as an actual emergency survival button, but as regular mitigation to simply not die. For the upcoming 8.2 patch, it feels more like Guardian Druid is getting a “roll-back” to how it was in Legion rather than it getting buffed. There are certainly some good “roll-backs” such that Ironfur is going to be able to stack up to a maximum of 8 stacks in patch 8.2 rather than the current cap at 6. I didn’t even know that we could stack up Ironfur to 6 on live servers, since, in reality, I’ve never even been able to maintain more than 3 stacks in a high key at any given time. The main reason why this has been a problem is due to issues with Guardian Druid rage generation. Right now, we lose all of our rage when we switch into Travel Form, which is really disappointing. However, the new changes involve a reduced rage cost of Ironfur and an increased amount of starting rage from Bear Form, which is at least a step in the right direction towards improving both survivability and damage.

I think the best ways to improve the Guardian Druid class would be to regain the Artifact traits we had in Legion that increased the damage of our Thrash and also applied a slow. I miss the Rage of Sleeper Artifact ability which gave us the ability to pump DPS and increase our survivability all in one cooldown. I also think that we shouldn’t lose all of our rage when we go from Bear Form into any other Druid form. I think we should at least maintain 50 rage from our Bear Form rather than lose it all and get a set amount of rage when we return to Bear Form so that we could go into packs with one stack of Ironfur. If not, then I think Guardian Druid at least needs a basic armor talent to make us more tanky so that we don’t have to struggle so much every minute of a dungeon.

By being able to stack up Ironfur up to 8 in patch 8.2, Guardian Druid may have the potential to either be really good if a person can play it 100% perfectly or really bad if not. Ideally, we want to have the class designed to where we can perform well even if we’re only able to play at 40-70% of what we’re capable of rather than how unforgiving the class is now. I think that Blizzard should decrease the maximum stacks that Ironfur can go up to and just further decrease its rage cost in order to compensate for how much rage we lose when we change Druid forms.

In summary, Guardian Druid has a rage problem. Maybe the 8 stack of Ironfur might work in raid, but it’s impossible in high Mythic+ from what I have experienced so far. Additionally, the entire level 30 talent row is really unhelpful and inefficient, but that’s a more minor detail. Guardian Druid is facing many difficulties right now, but these are all the things that I think need the most immediate attention. The change of Essences now giving Guardian Druids Incarnation and the new 33% increase of Frenzied Regeneration healing in the patch notes will help, but we still won’t be the tank meta for Mythic+ going into the next season.

VitaminP: This isn’t a question, but I found this clip of you getting snapped to the third boss in Underrot over and over again due to a bug and had to share. I have actually had this happen to me so many times when tanking Sporecaller Zancha, but I found it extra hilarious watching it happen to a Bear tank.

Lipkiss: Hahaha. It was the first time I experienced this bug and I remember being really embarrassed.

VitaminP: What advice do you have for aspiring Guardian Druids in Mythic+? Are there any addons and/or macros that you can’t live without?

Lipkiss: Guardian Druid is a very cool spec. If you love Druid like I do, just keep playing it and, eventually, Guardians will come back into the meta someday. I don’t have any helpful recommendations for addons, since I don’t use many.


About the Author

Vitaminpee mains a Brewmaster and loves to do competitive Mythic+. She is the Social Media Manager for Big Dumb Gaming and is attending Graduate School to pursue her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer who plays all tanks at max level and loves pushing keys with her teammates Synecdoche, Oddy, Sham, Hodonn, and Comfykins.