SWTOR Vigilance and Focus Guardian DPS Class Guide

A guide to SWTOR Guardian Vigilance and Focus DPS specs for PvE. Written and edited by Invinc and Vindrik of Harbinger. Updated for patch 2.7.

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Overview

The Guardian class shares some inherent skills with the Vanguard, such as wearing heavy armor and having access to a few basic tanking abilities, which make them the best dps off-tank class. The excellent defensive cooldowns work for different aspects of every fight, and Saber Reflect can be used to easily avoid some lethal hits. With Force Leap, single target and AoE taunts, an AoE incapacitate, decent dps and a simple rotation, Guardians are a great choice, however because their strength lies in their utility and versatility, their dps is generally overshadowed by their class counterpart, the Sentinel. Even with this inherent dps disadvantage, a Guardian in the hands of a skilled player is more than capable of excelling. Guardian dps have access to 2 viable raiding specs, depending on the type of fight you will be engaging:

  1. Vigilance is a combination of dot applications, automatic crits and procs, with useful utility talents for different situations. Although the single target damage output of Vigilance has the potential to be higher than Focus, it is a more difficult spec to play.
  2. Focus is currently capable of dealing decent single target dps, however generally speaking is not quite as high as Vigilance. However, it deals enormous sustained AoE damage, and tends to be used in fights where there are multiple targets in the same vicinity. The rotation is also simpler and far steadier 

Offensive Cooldowns:

  1. Combat Focus: Immediately generates 6 Focus.

Note: While in Focus spec, Combat Focus also has a reduced cooldown, generates an additional 6 Focus over 6 seconds, and grants 3 stacks of Singularity.

Defensive Cooldowns:

  1. Endure Pain: Increase your maximum HP by 30% for a short while. The extra HP is lost when the effect wears off
  2. Saber Ward: Increase user melee and ranged Defense chance by 50%, and reduce all Force and Tech damage taken by 25% for a short while
  3. Saber Reflect: Reflects any targeted ranged, Force or Tech abilities back at the attacker for a few seconds
  4. Focused Defense: Grants 10 charges which are consumed upon taking damage. Each charge heals you. Cannot be activated while above 70% HP

Tricks of the Trade:

  1. Single target and AoE taunts
  2. Guardian Leap: Leap directly to a friendly target, lowering their threat and reducing their damage taken by 20% for a few seconds
  3. Awe: 6 second AoE incapacitate
  4. Force Push: Pushes an enemy backwards a significant distance

Vigilance

Vigilance (4 / 36 / 6 ): http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#500MMZcGMRbosRrfczZf00z.3

swtor-vigilance-guardiant-dps-class-guide-build

Note: The 2 points in Unremitting can also be placed into Gather Strength or Defiance based on the mechanics of specific fights. You should put these points into whichever talent will give you the most benefit for different situations.

1.1 Rates (1-10):


  • Single Target Dps: 8.5
  • AoE Damage: 6.5
  • Group Utility: 7
  • Rotation Difficulty: 7
  • RNG Dependant: No
  • Burst: 7
  • Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes

1.2 Gearing & Stats Priority:


  • **Must Have** Accuracy: 110% Force – 100% melee (1% from companion + 3% from talent = 6% from Gear)
  • **Must Have** 0 Alacrity
  • 68-74% Surge
  • 0-180 Critical Rating
  • All other secondary stats in Power
  • **Must Have** Augments: Strength (Might)
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
  • Alternate relic: Boundless Ages
  • Set Bonus: 2 piece Vindicator’s & 2 piece Weaponmaster’s
  • Shien Form

1.3 Gearing Overview:


  • Reaching the Accuracy cap should be your highest priority
  • The dps bonus given by Alacrity rating is low enough that, even with the high amount of diminishing returns it will suffer, Surge rating will always be better. Also, considering that your resource pool does not regenerate over time, that aspect of Alacrity is wasted.
  • The difference in overall dps between 0 Critical rating and 180 Critical rating is minimal, and having a little bit won’t harm your overall dps, stacking it is never a good idea due to high diminishing returns
  • Choice of relics should be made on a fight-to-fight basis. Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution will give you a greater overall damage increase, while Boundless Ages will allow you to focus your burst into a short window for fights with tight burn phases
  • Getting your set bonus as quickly as possible is highly recommended. It will increase your dps substantially enough that having lower item level armorings with the set bonus is still a better option than higher item level armorings without it. Take note that you will require 2 Guardian set pieces and 2 Sentinel set pieces for your ideal set bonuses.

1.4 Ability Explanation:


  • Overhead Slash is an important ability and dot to maintain. It has the lowest CD of all your dots, with a low cost and high damage output. It also gives you a stack of Zen Strike towards refreshing your Master Strike, so using it on CD is a must. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Vigilance: Reduces the CD by 6 seconds
    2. Force Rush: Increases the Critical chance of your next Blade Storm by 50%, up to 2 stacks
    3. Burning Purpose: Deals additional damage over 6 seconds
    4. Zen Strike: Builds a stack of Zen Strike. At 2 stacks, the cooldown on your Master Strike is refreshed and you generate 3 Focus
    5. Keening: Dot damage is increased by 9% and has a 30% chance to finish the CD on Dispatch and make it usable on any target. Has an internal cooldown of 20 seconds
  • Plasma Brand is another important ability that you should be using regularly, but it has longer CD than Overhead Slash and costs more. Similar to Overhead Slash, Plasma Brand also builds a stack of Zen Strike. It is affected by several talents:
    1. Force Rush: Increases the Critical chance of your next Blade Storm by 50%, up to 2 stacks
    2. Zen Strike: Builds a stack of Zen Strike. At 2 stacks, the cooldown on your Master Strike is refreshed and you generate 3 Focus
    3. Keening: Dot damage is increased by 9% and has a 30% chance to finish the CD on Dispatch and make it usable on any target. Has an internal cooldown of 20 seconds
  • Blade Storm is another important ability that you should be using regularly, but it has longer CD than Overhead Slash and costs more. Similar to Overhead Slash, Plasma Brand also builds a stack of Zen Strike. It is affected by several talents:
    1. Burning Blade: Causes additional damage over 6 seconds
    2. Vigilance: Reduces the CD by 3 seconds
    3. Force Rush: Overhead Slash, Dispatch and Plasma Brand cause your next Blade Storm to have 50% increased Critical chance, stacking up to 2 times
    4. Keening: Dot damage is increased by 9% and has a 30% chance to finish the CD on Dispatch and make it usable on any target. Has an internal cooldown of 20 seconds
  • Master Strike is your hardest hitting ability and is basically the primary determining factor for your dps. Overhead Slash and Plasma Brand both grant a stack of Zen Strike, and at 2 stacks the CD on Master Strike is refreshed. This means that you will regularly be refreshing your Master Strike timer, and should be able to use Master Strike much more frequently. That being said, you should not necessarily use Master Strike as soon as you are able to. Due to the long cooldowns on Overhead Slash and Plasma Brand, you will always have plenty of time to use Master Strike after your high priority abilities, and before you build another 2 stacks of Zen Strike. Ensuring that you aren’t clipping your own Zen Strike stacks or delaying important CDs through poor Master Strike timing is important, and an essential part of maximising your dps. It is affected by several talents:
    1. Master Focus: Increases damage dealt by 10%
    2. Zen Strike: Plasma Brand and Overhead Slash build a stack of Zen Strike. At 2 stacks, the cooldown on your Master Strike is refreshed and you generate 3 Focus
    3. Keening: Has a 30% chance to finish the CD on Dispatch and make it usable on any target. Has an internal cooldown of 20 seconds
  • Dispatch is your sub 30% ability, however it is available in your regular rotation thanks to the Keening talent. This gives your dots and Master Strike a chance to proc a free Dispatch on any target, regardless of their HP. Due to the long buff timer and internal cooldown for Keening procs, holding off on using Dispatch is an important notion, as these factors give it quite a low priority. However, once your target is below 30% HP, it gains a higher priority and should be used often, with or without Keening procs to maximise on its damage output. Even under 30% HP, Plasma Brand and Overhead Slash have priority over Dispatch, so make sure you never spend too much Focus before they come off CD. You should always aim to have 6-8 Focus for each of these windows, however delaying Blade Storm by a GCD in exchange for a Dispatch, assuming you don’t leave yourself Focus starved, is a great combination. In addition, Keening procs for Dispatch actually refund you 1 Focus, so keep this in mind when planning your ability usage. Dispatch is affected by several talents:
    1. Swift Slash: Increases Critical chance by 7.5%
    2. Force Rush: Increases the Critical chance of your next Blade Storm by 50%, up to 2 stacks
    3. Keening: Your dot effects and Master Strike have a 30% chance to finish the CD on Dispatch and make it usable on any target. Has an internal cooldown of 20 seconds
  • Force Sweep in this spec is free and deals relatively high damage, however due to the large number of abilities you will be using, Force Sweep comes in at a low priority. Thanks to your talents and Shien Form, instead of costing Focus, Force Sweep actually generates 1 Focus for you upon use. As such, you should consider it as a filler that deals more damage than Slash or Strike, that also grants you an extra point of Focus. It is affected by two talents:
    1. Swelling Winds: Reduces the CD by 3 seconds and increases damage dealt by 20%
    2. Effluence: Removes the Focus cost
  • Force Push is basically just a free ability that does mediocre damage. I you happen to be in a situation where you have a free GCD but have 8 Focus, for example, and need to save those 8 Focus, you are better off using Force Push than either Strike or Slash. As such, it’s just a filler ability for a small boost in dps.
  • Saber Throw is a replacement for Strike in this spec. With your set bonus it no longer has a minimum range, in addition to generating 3 Focus, dealing higher damage than Strike and applying an armor reduction debuff. Prioritising Saber Throw over Strike will grant you a significant boost in dps while still maintaining your regular Focus generation, but keep in mind that if you are particularly low on Focus, Sundering Strike is still a better option for a substantial chunk of Focus. Saber Throw is only affected by one talent.
    1. Sundering Throw: Reduces the CD by 5 seconds, and causes it to apply an armor reduction debuff to your target
  • Sundering Strike is used as a quick way to generate a lot of rage. It is used as a filler and before heavy Focus phases to prepare, as well as providing an armor reduction debuff. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Improved Sundering Strike: Reduces the CD by 3 seconds
    2. Victory Rush: Generates 2 additional Focus
  • Slash is probably the worst filler in your rotation, as the only use it has is in extremely specific situations, when you need a quick hit or burst to kill something or push a phase. Besides that, unless you are at 8-12 Focus and have your Focus building CDs becoming available shortly thereafter, it is recommended the avoid this ability. This is primarily due to the fact that Vigilance is a Focus-hungry spec, and you often can’t afford to spend Focus on Slash when it’s needed for more powerful abilities. It is only affected by one talent:
    1. Swift Slash: Increases Critical chance by 7.5%
  • Strike is the least important ability in your rotation, thanks to your many talents and other Focus generating abilities. It should be avoided most of the time, however you will find that occasionally it is the most appropriate ability, such as when you can’t afford to use any of your Focus, but both Saber Throw and Sundering Strike are on CD.
  • Force Leap is your fastest way to close gaps, and generally is only used at the start of boss fights or to quickly maneuver around the room. It generates 3 rage, so depending on the fight it may even be feasible to run out and Force Leap back in to generate some extra Focus, as long as you don’t lose any ability time by doing so. Generally speaking, Force Leap is a better option than simply running or Interceding to a friendly target as a way of quickly moving around a room. It is only affected by one talent:
    1. Unremitting: Reduces damage taken by 20% and grants immunity to interrupts and controlling effects for 4 seconds

1.5 Ability Nomenclature and Rotation Priority:


  1. Overhead Slash: OS (Note, the priority between OS and PB is debatable, we used OS here as first but there are others that recommends PB as first)
  2. Plasma Brand: PB
  3. Blade Storm (2 stacks): BS
  4. Master Strike: MS
  5. Dispatch: DP
  6. Force Sweep: FS
  7. Force Push: FP
  8. Saber Throw: ST
  9. Sundering Strike: SS
  10. Slash: SL
  11. Strike
  12. Force Leap (gap closer): Leap

Offensive Cooldowns:

  1. Combat Focus: CF

1.6 Opening Rotation:


ST + Leap + SS + Relic / Adrenal / OS + MS + PB + BS + MS + OS + DP + FS + BS + CF / PB + SS + OS + MS + BS + ST + FP + PB + OS + FS + MS+ BS

swtor-vigilance-guardian-dps-class-guide-opening-rotation

Ability Cost: (most to least):

  1. Plasma Brand – 5 cost – 4 spent
  2. Overhead Slash – 4 cost – 3 spent
  3. Blade Storm – 4 cost – 3 spent
  4. Slash – 3 cost – 2 spent
  5. Dispatch – 3 cost – 2 spent
  6. Master Strike – 0 cost – 0 gained
  7. Force Push – 0 cost – 0 gained
  8. Force Sweep – 0 cost – 1 gained
  9. Dispatch (proc) – 0 cost – 1 gained
  10. Strike – 0 cost – 2 gained
  11. Saber Throw – 0 cost – 3 gained
  12. Sundering Strike – 0 cost – 7 gained

1.8 Rotation Strategy:


Vigilance is a spec which relies on a good combination of dots and direct damage, but doesn’t deal well with heavy movement fights. Master Strike is the highest damage dealing ability for Vigilance, but that doesn’t mean it should be your first priority. You have 3 abilities which deal the majority of your overall damage; Plasma Brand, Overhead Slash and Blade Storm. While Plasma Brand and Overhead Slash not only proc Zen Strike to reset the cooldown on your Master Strike, they also proc stacks of Force Rush to cause your Blade Storm to automatically crit. Whenever you have just triggered a Zen Strike proc, but have either Plasma Brand or Overhead Slash and Blade Storm coming off of their cooldowns, it’s usually a better idea to hold the Master Strike and prioritise the other two abilities,since Zen Strike’s 2-stack requirement will prevent it from proccing until your next Overhead Slash or Plasma Brand. .

Dispatch also has a long internal CD and a decent window of use, so it also isn’t necessary to use immediately following a proc. It’s usually best as a filler ability when your other heavy hitting abilities are on CD or when you need another stack of Force Rush before your next Blade Storm. Force Sweep is the best filler ability you have as a Vigilance Guardian, as it does decent damage and generates some Focus. Although it may be considered as a ‘use on cooldown’ ability, remember that it’s not your top priority. However, whenever everything else is on CD, Force Sweep should be your first choice. Force Push is another possible filler ability. When you have a decent amount of Focus, but don’t want to use Slash and not have enough Focus for an upcoming Plasma Brand or Overhead Slash, Force Push is a decent use of a GCD, as although it won’t generate any Focus, it also doesn’t cost any, and will deal more damage than using Strike. Saber Throw, with the 2 piece Vindicator’s set bonus, fits into your rotation as an improved Strike. Whenever it’s up and you need Focus, you should use it instead of Strike due to its increased damage and decent Focus generation. Slash is rarely used in this spec unless you need quick burst for any reason, or if you’ve got 12 Focus and no Overhead Slash or Plasma Brand to use it on, especially during an important burn phase, otherwise you should avoid using it.

Keep in mind that with recent changes, Zen Strike now works with 2 stacks, but is not a permanent buff. This means whenever you get 2 stacks, you gain 3 Focus and refresh your Master Strike CD, immediately losing the stacks. For this reason, if you happen to have 1 stack of Zen Strike with Plasma Brand and Overhead Slash coming off CD together, you are better off using them both and using Master Strike before your next Overhead Slash. This process will cause you to hit 2 stacks, will consume them, and then generate 1 stack again. The less time you delay Plasma Brand, Overhead Slash, and Blade Storm, the more dps you do.

15-20 second rotation (10-14 GCDs, no opener). Considering 3 possible cases:

Holding a Master Strike until a more opportune moment, Starting with 1 Zen Strike Stack.

PB + SS + OS + MS + BS + ST + FP or DP + PB + OS + FS + MS + BS

swtor-vigilance-guardian-dps-class-guide-rotation-1

Above 30% HP, full ability rotation, no Zen Strike stacks:

SS + OS + PB + BS + MS + DP (proc) + ST + OS + SS + PB + BS + MS

swtor-vigilance-guardian-dps-class-guide-rotation-2

Below 30% HP, full ability rotation, No Zen Strike stacks:

SS + OS + PB + BS + MS + DP (proc) + OS + ST + SS + PB + BS + FP + OS + MS + CF / DP + FS + BS + PB + OS + MS + SS

swtor-vigilance-guardian-dps-class-guide-rotation-3

Or

SS + OS + PB + BS + MS + DP (proc) + OS + ST + SS + PB + BS + FP + OS + MS + FS + SS + PB + BS + OS + DP + MS

swtor-vigilance-guardian-dps-class-guide-rotation-4

1.9 AoE Ability Priority:


  1. Force Sweep
  2. Cyclone Slash
  3. Single target rotation

1.10 Sample Parse Analysis:


swtor-vigilance-guardiant-dps-class-guide-sample-parse

  • The first section of your damage is due to your Master Strike ability. With the new changes, Master Strike deals far more consistent damage, and should have very little variation across parses, with the exception of its critical rate.
  • The second portion contains your Blade Storm, Overhead Slash and the dot from Plasma Brand. The damage dealt by these abilities should remain relatively stable over time, as they are all your highest priorities and are used regularly throughout the rotation. Blade Storm should have the least variation due to its guaranteed critical chance.
  • The third section is comprised of Dispatch and Plasma Brand’s direct damage. Both of these abilities are used regularly during your rotation, however due to Dispatch being dependant on RNG for procs, its damage will be more variable than your other abilities.
  • The final section contains all your weak fillers, and there are quite a few. Overhead Slash’s dot and Force Sweep usually have the top two spots in this section due to their relatively high damage. Sundering Strike and Saber Throw are simply there for Focus generation, so their damage is largely inconsequential, while Blade Storm’s dot is tied to the frequency with which you use Blade Storm, but will have a low damage output. Force Push, Slash and Force Leap are your other fillers, and due to not being used particularly frequently, should deal very little damage overall.

1.11 Tips and Tricks:


  • Jedi Knight resources work differently from all of the other classes, and it’s sometimes difficult to manage well and deal the best possible dps. The fact that you have extra Focus to spend when your important abilities are on CD doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be spending it all, or even any of it. If you have a total of 5 Focus and the next major section of your rotation requires 8, you are better off using a few GCDs immediately to generate the extra Focus that you need so that you can go directly into the next part of your rotation as soon as possible, rather than spending the Focus that you have and significantly delaying your higher priority abilities.
  • Both Guardians and Sentinels have the best overall defensive cooldowns in the game for any class, so make sure you are using them to their greatest extent to avoid damage, or when you are required to off-tank to mitigate as much damage as possible. This could give your ops the valuable time it needs to possibly rez a fallen group member and continue the fight as per usual.
  • Although Master Strike has a 3 second channel time, the damage that it deals does not actually require the full 3 seconds. One of the most important tricks for Knight dps is to take advantage of the fact that while the animation takes 3 seconds to complete, the final tick of damage (there are 3 hits total), happens around the 2.5-2.8 second mark. Once you see that third hit in the combat text, regardless of whether the animation is done or not, you should use your next ability. Doing this, and practicing exactly when to stop the channel based on your personal latency, is an excellent way to maximise your damage output.
  • Guardian Leap is a great ability to help during heavy incoming damage phases or to save a dps who has taken aggro. Whenever another ops member other than your tanks is about to take a significant hit, either from a mechanic or from taking aggro on the boss, it’s generally a good idea to spend that GCD using Guardian Leap to give them an extra 20% damage reduction, as this could easily be the difference in whether they survive or not.

Focus

Focus (0 / 10 / 36 ): http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#500ZcGMZfrMkbGkRffz.3

swtor-focus-guardiant-dps-class-guide-build

2.1 Rates (1-10):


  • Single Target Dps: 7
  • AoE Damage: 9
  • Group Utility: 6
  • Rotation Difficulty: 4
  • RNG Dependant: No
  • Burst: 8
  • Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes

2.2 Gearing & Stats priority:


  • **Must Have** Accuracy: 110% Force – 100% melee (1% from companion + 3% from talent = 6% from Gear)
  • **Must Have** 0 Alacrity
  • 68-74% Surge
  • 0-120 Critical Rating
  • All other secondary stats in Power
  • **Must Have** Augments: Strength (Might)
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
  • Alternate Relic: Boundless Ages
  • Set Bonus: 2 piece Vindicator’s & 2 piece Weaponmaster’s
  • Shii-Cho Form

2.3 Gearing Overview:


  • Reaching the Accuracy cap should be your highest priority
  • The dps bonus given by Alacrity rating is low enough that, even with the high amount of diminishing returns it will suffer, Surge rating will always be better. Also, considering that your resource pool does not regenerate over time, that aspect of Alacrity is wasted.
  • The difference in overall dps between 0 Critical rating and 120 Critical rating is minimal, however since your highest damaging ability is a guaranteed critical hit, any Critical rating you use will adversely affect your overall dps
  • Choice of relics should be made on a fight-to-fight basis. Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution will give you a greater overall damage increase, while Boundless Ages will allow you to focus your burst into a short window for fights with tight burn phases
  • Getting your set bonus as quickly as possible is highly recommended. It will increase your dps substantially enough that having lower item level armorings with the set bonus is still a better option than higher item level armorings without it

2.4 Ability Explanation:


  • Force Sweep is your hardest hitting ability in this spec, as it has significantly buffed damage as well as being a guaranteed crit. In addition, it gets a reduced CD from your ability use, is free, and your rotation cycles between reducing its CD and buffing it, so using as soon as it’s available and fully buffed is necessary for maximum dps. It is affected by several talents:
    1. Swelling Winds: Increases damage done by 20% and reduces the CD by 3 seconds
    2. Heightened Power: Increases all damage dealt by 9% for 6 seconds
    3. Zephyrean Slash: Strike, Sundering Strike, Slash, Dispatch and Blade Storm reduce the active CD by a second
  • Combat Focus is one of your Force Sweep buffing abilities, as well as your primary method of generating Focus. Thanks to some of your talents, its cooldown is also significantly reduced. As such, the rotation for buffing your Force Sweep alternates between Force Exhaustion and Combat Focus. Due to Combat Focus’s immense Focus gain, spamming abilities to remain under 12 Focus while reducing Force Sweep’s CD is generally a good idea, and keep in mind that Combat Focus doesn’t have to be used immediately before Force Sweep, as the buff it provides won’t expire before Force Sweep comes off CD. If, for whatever reason, Force Exhaustion and Combat Focus are both available in the same Force Sweep window, never use them together, as it’s a waste of your Singularity stacks and will lower your dps. Combat Focus is affected by two talents:
    1. Singularity: Reduces the CD by 15 seconds and generates an additional 6 Focus over 6 seconds. Also grants 3 stacks of Singularity, increasing the damage dealt by and reducing the cost of your next Force Sweep by 33.3%. Stacks up to 3 times
    2. Zephyrean Slash: Strike, Sundering Strike, Slash, Dispatch and Blade Storm reduce the active CD by 2 seconds
  • Force Exhaustion is your second Force Sweep buffing ability, but it also deals high damage itself, so using this ability during the Heightened Power window whenever possible is ideal. Its damage is spread over 3 seconds, so to properly capitalise on the Heightened Power buff, you have to use it immediately following Force Sweep. If you are unable to use it in that window, you should delay it until Heightened Power has expired, as an ability such as Blade Storm, Zealous Leap or Slash would gain significantly more benefit from this buff than a single tick of Force Exhaustion. It is affected by two talents:
    1. Singularity: Each instance of damage grants a stack of Singularity, increasing the damage dealt by and reducing the cost of your next Force Sweep by 33.3%. Stacks up to 3 times
    2. Gravity Defiance: Reduces cost by 1
  • Blade Storm is one of your filler abilities. As with several others, it reduces the active CDs of Combat Focus, Zealous Leap and Force Sweep, however Blade Storm additionally gains a buff from your Zealous Leap and Force Leap that makes it free. As such, using this as your primary damage filler is a must, and it’s also an ideal ability to use during your Heightened Power window. It is affected by two talents:
    1. Zephyrean Slash: Reduces the active CDs of Zealous Leap and Force Sweep by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2
    2. Momentum: Zealous Leap and Force Leap make your next Blade Storm free
  • Zealous Leap is a core part of your rotation due to the significant buff it gives Force Sweep, as well as dealing high damage and leaping towards the target. Keep in mind that this charge has the potential to get you killed in certain situations due to AoE or movement mechanics, so ensuring you use it at the right time is imperative. Just like Force Exhaustion and Combat Focus, using this ability correctly and in synergy should always result in an Zealous Leap between each Force Sweep. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Swelling Winds: Reduces the CD by 3 seconds
    2. Saber Strength: Increases damage dealt by 6%
    3. Felling Blow: Causes your next Force Sweep to be a Critical hit
    4. Gravity Defiance: Reduces cost by 1
    5. Momentum: Makes your next Blade Storm free
    6. Agility Training: Can be used while immobilized
    7. Zephyrean Slash: Strike, Sundering Strike, Slash, Dispatch and Blade Storm reduce the active CD by a second
  • Dispatch is your sub 30% ability, and whenever this ability is available it should replace Slash. When available, it should also be your first priority to use during Heightened Power. It is affected by several talents:
    1. Swift Slash: Increases Critical chance by 7.5%
    2. Zephyrean Slash: Reduces the active CDs of Zealous Leap and Force Sweep by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2
    3. Saber Strength: Increases damage dealt by 6%
  • Master Strike deals great damage, however it is of much less significance than for Vigilance. Using it during Heightened Power is a ideal, but you should use it as a general filler. Keep in mind that it won’t reduce the CD of your other abilities, but it generally fits well into your filler sections. Considering it is free of cost, the best uses for Master Strike are either during Heightened Power, or during the Force Exhaustion portion of your rotation, as you will have the least amount of Focus at this time, but during the Combat Focus portion will likely lead to you wasting a significant amount of Focus. If you happen to have Master Strike available during the Combat Focus window, it is recommended you delay it until your next Heightened Power, however this is not an absolutely necessary decision. Master Strike will gain the most benefit from Heightened Power out of all of your abilities.
  • Slash is the most important filler in this spec, as it reduces the CD of your most important abilities, as well as dealing improved damage. Spamming this ability as much as you can when everything else is on CD is necessary to reduce the time until your next Force Sweep, however it will always be low on your priority list, and partially replaced by Dispatch when it becomes available. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Swift Slash: Increases Critical chance by 7.5%
    2. Zephyrean Slash: Reduces the active CDs of Zealous Leap and Force Sweep by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2
    3. Saber Strength: Increases damage dealt by 6%
    4. Force Lash: Deals additional Force damage
  • Sundering Strike is your Focus-building filler. It generates a large amount of Focus and should only be used during the Force Exhaustion section to sustain you until you can use Combat Focus.
    1. Zephyrean Slash: Reduces the active CDs of Zealous Leap and Force Sweep by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2
    2. Improved Sundering Strike: Reduces the CD by 3 seconds
  • Force Leap is your gap closer, and should be used to initiate fights. It has the same effect as Zealous Leap, buffing your next Force Sweep and Blade Storm. Whenever your cooldowns are all refreshed due to a transition phase, consider it as a fresh start to the fight, opening with Force Leap if feasible and delaying Zealous Leap for the second Force Sweep window. It is affected by two talents:
    1. Felling Blow: Causes your next Force Sweep to be a Critical hit
    2. Momentum: Makes your next Blade Storm free
  • Saber Throw is a really optional ability, as it’s not required to perform your opener, but not having the extra Focus it generates can leave you slightly Focus starved during the first few rotations, forcing you to use either Strike or Sundering Strike during a Heightened Power window, which is less than ideal. Also consider that an empowered Force Sweep happens very quickly in your rotation, creating a lot of aggro very early on. Having that extra GCD at the beginning can give your tanks some extra room to hold threat as well as giving you a benefit in the long run, maximising on your dps.
  • Strike is your worst ability in this spec, and should never be used during your usual rotation, however there might be an unusual case where you need an attack to reduce that last second of your Combat Focus CD to get back to your rotation. Generally speaking, this only happens if your rotation has been interrupted or altered for some reason, but you should find that you almost never use Strike. It is affected by one talent:
    1. Zephyrean Slash: Reduces the active CDs of Zealous Leap and Force Sweep by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2

2.5 Ability Nomenclature and Rotation Priority:


  1. Force Sweep (with Singularity): FS
  2. Force Exhaustion: FE
  3. Blade Storm (proc): BS
  4. Zealous Leap: ZL
  5. Dispatch: DP
  6. Master Strike: MS
  7. Slash: SL
  8. Sundering Strike: SS
  9. Strike
  10. Force Leap (gap closer): Leap
  11. Saber Throw (while moving): ST

Offensive Cooldowns:

1. Combat Focus: CF

2.6 Heightened Power Ability Priority:


How Heightened Power functions: Heightened Power is a buff triggered by your Force Sweep, however the ability explanation can be a little confusing. The talent says that it lasts 6 seconds after using Force Sweep, which means it would last 4.5 seconds considering Force Sweep’s GCD, but this is false. It triggers when the Force Sweep actually deals damage at roughly the end of the GCD, giving you, in theory, up to 4 GCDs. Unfortunately, like Force Sweep, most of your abilities have delayed animations after you activate the ability before they actually deal their damage, so even if you use 4 abilities in the 4 GCD window, the last ability used will often hit a few milliseconds after you lose the Heightened Power buff. The only abilities that fit in this 4th GCD window are Blade Storm and Force Push, but all the others; assaults, Slash, Dispatch, the final tick of Master Strike, and Zealous Leap will be delayed too long to be affected by Heightened Power.

1. Master Strike – MS (only in the first 2 GCDs)

2. Force Exhaustion – FE (only in the first 2 GCDs)

3. Dispatch – DP (1st – 3rd GCDs)

4. Blade Storm – BS (best used at 4th GCD)

5. Zealous Leap – ZL (1st – 3rd GCD)

6. Slash – SL (1st – 3rd GCD)

7. Force Push – FP (only used in the 4th GCD)

Ideal Heightened Power Rotations (from best to worst):

Note: DP, SL, ZL and BS are all interchangeable between the 1st, 2nd or 3rd GCD, while FE, SL, ZL, DP and BS are interchangeable in the 1st or 2nd GCD.

1. FE + MS + BS

2. FE + MS

3. FE + DP + ZL + BS

4. FE + ZL + SL + BS

5. FE + ZL + BS + FP

6. ZL + DP + SL + BS

7. ZL + DP + BS + FP

8. ZL + SL + SL + BS

9. ZL + SL + BS + FP

10. ZL + DP + BS

11. ZL + SL + BS

2.7 Opening Rotation:


CF(Pre-cast) + Leap + Adrenal / Relic / FS + FE + MS + BS + ZL + SL + FS + SL + SL + SS + ZL + SL + CF/FS + FE + SL + SL + BS + ZL + FS

swtor-focus-guardian-dps-class-guide-opening-rotation

2.8 Rotation Strategy:


Focus spec’s priority is buffing your Force Sweep so that it will do maximum damage. It’s considered a great AoE spec, but also deals decent single target dps and is less dependant on RNG than Vigilance. Force Sweep should always be buffed with the procs from either Force Leap or Zealous Leap and 3 stacks of Singularity from Force Exhaustion and Combat Focus by the time it comes off cooldown. The cooldown timers on your Combat Focus, Force Sweep and Zealous Leap are also reduced by several of your regular abilities, so spamming Blade Storm, Slash, and eventually Dispatch is a must for the spec in order to hasten your rotation. It is highly recommended that you use Master Strike immediately after a Force Sweep to capitalise on the damage buff. If the rotation is handled well it should be divided in two major sections; the first with Zealous Leap, Force Exhaustion, Sundering Strike, Force Sweep and fillers, while the second should include Zealous Leap, Combat Focus, Force Sweep, and fillers. Getting a handle on the flow of your abilities will help to simplify your rotation and put out maximum dps.

15-20 second rotation (10-14 GCDs, no opener). Considering 2 possible cases:

Above 30% HP, full ability rotation:

FE + SS + FS + ZL + SL + CF / BS + SL + SL + FS + ZL + MS + FE + BS + SL + FS

swtor-focus-guardian-dps-class-guide-rotation-1

Below 30% HP, full ability rotation:

FE + SS + FS + ZL + DP + CF / BS + SL + SL + FS + ZL + MS + FE + BS + DP + FS

swtor-focus-guardian-dps-class-guide-rotation-2

2.9 AoE Rotation:


  1. Single target rotation
  2. Cyclone Slash

2.10 Sample Parse Analysis:


swtor-focus-guardian-dps-class-guide-sample-parse-analysis-

Translation:

  1. Balayage de Force: Force Sweep
  2. Fente: Slash
  3. Frappe experte: Master Strike
  4. Saut acharné: Zealous Leap
  5. Écrasement (Force): Force Exhaustion
  6. Tempête de lame: Blade Storm
  7. Élimination: Dispatch
  8. Frappe fatale: Sundering Strike
  9. Lancer de sabre: Saber Throw
  10. Flagellation de Force: Force Lash
  11. Poussée de Force: Force Push
  12. Saut de Force: Force Leap
  • Your highest damage ability should obviously be Force Sweep. Its damage should be consistent due to its regular placement in your rotation and guaranteed crit chance.
  • The second contains Slash, Master Strike and Zealous Leap. Since Slash is buffed by talents and spammed a lot in this spec, it usually deals more damage than your other abilities, followed by Master Strike and Zealous Leap. Since Master Strike and Zealous Leap are both used regularly, albeit on very different timers, their damage should be relatively consistent, with exceptions for Master Strike in specific fights that are not conducive to its use.
  • The third portion consists of Force Exhaustion, Blade Storm and Dispatch. Similar to your previous abilities, Force Exhaustion and Blade Storm are both used at regular intervals throughout your rotation, so their damage should remain consistent across parses. Dispatch, on the other hand, is dependant on how many mobs you have under 30% at different points throughout the fight, as well how often it crits, since it is used to a lesser extent than many of your other abilities, as to how powerful it will be.
  • The final section of your parse should contain all of your weaker fillers, such as Sundering Strike, Saber Throw, Force Lash from Slash and Force Leap, as well as any other extraneous fillers. The damage from these abilities is largely irrelevant, as they are only really used to maintain your Focus generation or as fillers when you have nothing else to use, with the exception of Force Lash, which essentially just adds to the total of Slash.

2.11 Tips and Tricks:


  • Jedi Knight resources work differently from all of the other classes, and it’s sometimes difficult to manage well and deal the best possible dps. The fact that you have extra Focus to spend when your important abilities are on CD doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be spending it all, or even any of it. If you have a total of 5 Focus and the next major section of your rotation requires 8, you are better off using a few GCDs immediately to generate the extra Focus that you need so that you can go directly into the next part of your rotation as soon as possible, rather than spending the Focus that you have and significantly delaying your higher priority abilities.
  • Both Guardians and Sentinels have the best overall defensive cooldowns in the game for any class, so make sure you are using them to their greatest extent to avoid damage, or when you are required to off-tank to mitigate as much damage as possible. This could give your ops the valuable time it needs to possibly rez a fallen group member and continue the fight as per usual.
  • Although Master Strike has a 3 second channel time, the damage that it deals does not actually require the full 3 seconds. One of the most important tricks for Knight dps is to take advantage of the fact that while the animation takes 3 seconds to complete, the final tick of damage (there are 3 hits total), happens around the 2.5-2.8 second mark. Once you see that third hit in the combat text, regardless of whether the animation is done or not, you should use your next ability. Doing this, and practicing exactly when to stop the channel based on your personal latency, is an excellent way to maximise your damage output.
  • Guardian Leap is a great ability to help during heavy incoming damage phases or to save a dps who has taken aggro. Whenever another ops member other than your tanks is about to take a significant hit, either from a mechanic or from taking aggro on the boss, it’s generally a good idea to spend that GCD using Guardian Leap to give them an extra 20% damage reduction, as this could easily be the difference in whether they survive or not.

How Taunts and Threat Drops Function:


It is unfortunately common for decent dps to not have a proper grasp of how taunts and threat drops work, which leads to mistimed use of abilities and a far more difficult job for the tanks. Although tanks should be capable of holding threat against any dps regardless of their skill, in some fights where taunts need to be strategically held for other mechanics, the dps understanding the mechanics behind threat helps a great deal. There are 3 types of threat drops in the game, and knowing which you have access to and when to use them is key to a successful raiding career.

  • AoE Threat Drop (E.g. Cloud Mind | Chaff Flare | Diversion): Unlike targeted threat drops, using these abilities will lower your threat on all enemies and not only your current target. Each use will lower your threat by a percentage of your total, but calculated individually based on each enemy’s threat meter.
  • “It Wasn’t Me” Threat Drop (Force Camouflage): Marauders | Sentinels don’t have access to a standard threat reduction ability. Instead, they have a more powerful threat drop that will essentially reset your threat, making it very difficult for you to steal aggro again. This mechanic, however, only works for enemies that have previously targeted you at some point of the fight. Because of this, using Force Camouflage as a conventional threat drop is not suggested, and it should instead be saved until you either pull aggro and require an immediate threat drop, or to utilise its damage reduction utility.
  • Removal From Combat (E.g. Force Cloak): This is the most powerful threat drop in the game, and is subsequently one of the reasons why classes with this kind of threat drop should never steal aggro, taking advantage of this ability’s strength as part of their opening rotation. Activating this type of ability will remove you from combat, resetting your current threat on all targets to 0.

All taunts function in the same way; any target affected by a taunt will cause the user’s threat level to become 10% higher than the target’s highest current threat, in addition to forcing them to attack the user for the next 6 seconds. It will always put the user of the taunt at the top of the threat meter, but gains significantly more power as threat levels improve due to the 10% extra threat generated. Although the target is forced to attack the taunter for the next 6 seconds, threat generation continues regularly, and should another person have the highest threat level when the debuff wears off, they will become the new target

Dps knowing when to drop threat is an important skill. Whenever a tank taunts, the taunt icon will appear as a debuff on the target (the icon is always the same, regardless of class), so you will always know when a taunt has been used. A well timed threat drop is not necessarily used immediately after your best CDs or at the end of your opening rotation. You should always wait to use your threat drop until after you see that the tank has taunted the boss, and not necessarily the first time that they do (remember that they often use 3 taunts in a row as part of their opening rotation), as this signifies that their threat gain has been maximised. If you use your aggro drop as soon as you pull aggro on the boss but before the tank can taunt, their taunt will therefore become less effective and you may put yourself, or another player, at risk of pulling aggro again immediately afterwards. Also keep in mind that the higher your own threat is when you use your threat drop, the more significant the amount of threat lost will be.

Combat removal abilities such as Force Cloak should of course be used according to their place in your opening rotation, and not when you pull aggro, for the same reason as above. For Marauders | Sentinels, while it is also not recommended that you use Force Camouflage once you steal aggro in your first rotation, you have a slightly different timing window. Your threat drop will only actually work if you are being targeted when you use it, so you should save it until such time as you are targeted a second time and the tank can no longer instantly taunt off of you. Doing so will still help to maximise the tank’s threat, and will also drop your threat significantly enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about pulling aggro for the remainder of the fight.

About the Authors


Invinc and Vindrik are both members of <Hatred> on Harbinger, an endgame progression guild with world 3rd clear of Nightmare S&V, World 2nd clear of Nightmare TFB, world 1st speed clear (under 2 hrs) of Nightmare S&V, and numerous server firsts at the 8m level.

Invinc is the guild leader of <Hatred> and mains an operative DPS but plays pretty much every and all classes for operations. He currently leads the parses on operative lethality DPS on multiple boss fights and dummy parses. Also known as Carlenux, Carlenix (sniper), Carlenx (Sorcerer), Pyrotec (Powertech)

Vindrik mains an operative healer and is the raid leader for group B in <Hatred> (World 5th speed clear of Nightmare S&V). He is the former raid leader of <Notorious Synergy> on Dalborra, one of the world top guilds pre-2.0 (World 4th).

While the information here are mostly written by these two players, numerous other Hatred raid members and guides were consulted. Questions, comments, concerns will be answered by Invinc, who goes by the name of Carlos Eduardo Mata in the comments section below.

  • bigvlada dark one

    Great guide, as usual. I’m eagerly waiting for the sentinel one. :) btw. The second pie is in French, it might confuse certain number of readers.

    • http://dulfy.net/ Dulfy

      Ya a translation is provided and sentinel guide is coming sometime this week, they trying out a hybrid spec and once they finished that it will be published.

      • Errtai

        A little bit of nitpicking from me too: At the Overview part, the ability’s name is Enure and not Endure Pain.

      • jozopucik

        Great!! I really cant wait for the Sentinel Guide, since we now were doing dps parses on the training dummy and mine (Sentinel Focus) sucked, so I need help :)

  • Magnus

    Can you tell me the difference between Overkill +Power Augments and +Strength Augments?

    • Eric

      Might = +Strength which is the main stat for your character responsible for more than just DPS numbers.
      Overkill = +Power which is a secondary stat for DPS numbers only

      Typically get more bang for the buck overall out of your Main Stat Augments.

      • Magnus

        I was hoping for a more statistical reply.

        • Quish’ian’adur

          I’m only in a break at Work, but I’ll try to explain it as good as possible.

          1 Point Power = 0.23 Bonus Damage
          1 Point Mainstat = 0.2 Bonus Damage

          But the Mainstat gives you also small boosts in most of your other stats.
          Also: You have a 5% Bonus on your Mainstat from the Consular Buff, plus an additional 6% or 9%, depending on the class, Bonus from your Skill Tree. So your Mainstat gets boostet by either 11 or 14 Percent. If you calculate that to your Augments, wich are limited to 14 Slots, youll see that your Mainstat gives you, with the class Buff and Skill Tree Buff Bonuses, almost as much Bonus Damage as Power, BUT its still boosting other Stats too.

          This is something people often have own oppinions to. I know DPS who swear on their Power Augs, in my opinion, Mainstat is always the way to go.

          Hope that clears it up a bit

    • Konoha the Wiper

      1 Power = 0.23 damage
      1 Strength = 0.20 damage + 0.007 crit
      + If your a knight you can get the 3% strength which will increase the total a little bit

  • Shallsnuffit

    Again a good guide with several interesting tips.
    What I’d like to see are more precise gearing hints. i.e. “what are the best ways to get your 110% acc / which slots should you use ist for”.
    The further you are in the content the less you need “slots” to fill with accuracy because the values are higher.
    But thats just a minor wish – all in all very good – thanks again :)
    greetings from germany

  • Konoha the Wiper

    With vigilance I would rotate
    Saber Throw -> Force Leap -> Master Strike -> Dispatch (proc, clip straight after third hit of MS, and you make 2 hits at the same time) -> Plasma Brand -> Overhead Slash -> Blade Storm (tis way all the CDs on PB, OS & BS all end roughly same time as well as their burns ending same time).
    after that if dispatch procs only use if MS CD hasnt finished, otherwise use MS and then dispatch (unless it didnt proc) then go back to sunder -> PB -> OS -> BS.
    Save combat focus for a time when all your main rotations are on CD, pop it and use Slash for single target or Sweep then Cyclone Slash.
    As I am mostly PvP I wear full PvP gear and use the 10% bonus after leap for MS and have a hybrid (PvP/PvE) Vigilance Build.
    I also never have to use strike with this rotation so I just removed it from my skillbar.
    Self Proclaimed Number 1 Vigilance User.

  • Ancaglon

    How will the Vigilance changes in 2.6 affect the rotation?

    • Konoha the Wiper

      just throw in masterstrike after every plasma brand, overhead slash, blade storm rotation

  • Jabo

    What does RNG mean?

    • rippled

      Random Number Generator

      Basically things have less than 100% chance to proc so it’s a bit of a lottery.

  • rippled

    Minor issue, the talent tree is out of date. The vigilance spec has had a debilitation added. Sure it’s the pvp MS immobilizes talent but still, looking at the tree and seeing a thing missing might put some people off/make them question everything else.

  • Soliu

    Hi I like this guide, thanks for your nice work!, Only have few questions. You are recommending to use 2 pieces of 2 different campaing sets for the bonus. Is the same idea with the Black Market sets (Pummeler and Foestopper)? Or should we use only a set? In both cases, the legs has alacrity.
    Thanks in advance.

    • http://dulfy.net/ Dulfy

      Black Market sets have no set bonus, do you mean Arkanian?

      • Soliu

        Black Market. My bad. Let me do the question in another way. It is good to get all the set of BM or is better a mix? Still both have alacrity in the legs armos. Thanks!

  • Shaun-Dur

    hey great guide just a quick question. ..do you have a recommendation when it comes to companion selection I have a lv55 vigilance Gaurdian and im currently using Doc as my main companion I like t the fact he heals but in some encounters I have the feeling that another companion would be better suited for my build.

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