3.0 Class Guides SWTOR Tanking

SWTOR 3.0 Defense Guardian Tanking Guide by Artorias

SWTOR 3.0 Defense Guardian Tanking Guide by Artorias of Ebon Hawk. Updated August 2, 2015 for patch 3.3[toc]

Introduction to Defense Tanking

Defense is one of the three tanking Disciplines to choose from. Similarly to the other two, it has its own play style and stat specialization. If you take a good look at the Discipline’s passives and the name of the Guardian spec; ‘Defense’, it gives you a fair idea where your priorities lie. The spec has a few rules to abide by both in single-target and AOE situations. We’ll touch on those as we go.


The outlines utilities make use of buffs to assist your job in assisting and protecting the group you are in. You can also choose to take the self cleanse on Focused Defense, how ever this job should be fulfilled by your healers to allow you to take a more worthy utility. Daunting Presence above all other utilities is necessary and should always be taken.


clip_image002[5] Trailblazer: Cyclone Slash deals 25% more damage.
clip_image002[1] Battlefield Command: Getting attacked reduces the active cooldown of Force Leap by 1 second. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 second.
clip_image002[3] Narrowed Focus: Taking non-periodic area of effect damage generates 1 Focus. This effect cannot occur more than once every second.


clip_image002[9] Guardianship: Challenging Call protects all allies within range, excluding yourself, granting Guardianship, which absorbs a moderate amount of damage. Lasts 10 seconds.
clip_image002[11] Inspiring Force: Freezing Force increases the movement speed of all allies within 8 meters, excluding yourself by 50% for 8 seconds.


jedigeneral Daunting Presence: Force Leap has a 100% chance to finish the cooldown on Force Kick. In addition, Saber Reflect lasts 2 seconds longer and generates a high amount of threat on all engaged enemies within 30 meters when activated.
coolheadthroughharmony Through Peace: Reduces the Cooldown of Focused Defense by 30 seconds.or

Through Harmony: Enure increases movement speed by 50% and grants immunity to movement impairing effects while active.

The following are varients of your utilities you can take to assist assist against boss mechanics.


  • Single Target Threat: 7
  • Single Target DPS: 4
  • AoE Target Threat: 6-10
  • AoE Target DPS: 6
  • Group Utility: 9
  • Rotation Difficulty: 5
  • Defensive Cooldowns: 10
  • Spikiness: 3
  • Mobility: 7

Gearing and Stats Priority

Accuracy: 10% given from Tank Stance + 1% Companion buff = 101% Melee Accuracy

Tank Mitigation: Defense is the main component of your gearing and shares a tertiary slot in your gear against Absorb, as such for mods, implants, earpiece and enhancements, you will need to decide between Defense and Absorb. Shield is separate and as such is passively stacked along with these stats.

Priority for statting: Defense > Shield > Absorb

A goal to start heading towards in 186’s from the Yavin Vendor:

  • Defense->1208
  • Shield->858
  • Absorb->933

This goal was taken from KeyboardNinja’s optimal tank distribution board and is someone I personally consolidate with for tanking matters and discussion.

Augments: Unlike the other roles (DPS, Healers), your augments are not predetermined and will change due to drastic gear changes you will go through while upgrading your gear. As such you will need to constantly look to your stat pool and see if you’re too low or high on certain stats and make adjustments accordingly.

Set Bonus: Set Bonus is of course the War Leader 6-piece set bonus, purchased from the Strength Vendors. Unlike prior updates, Alacrity and Accuracy are not present in these gear sets and as such these stats should not find themselves into your gear.

Armorings will be high endurance due to your set bonus but you should take Might Hilt and Armorings in your non set bonus pieces which contribute to things such as your Enraged Defense Heals and Sonic Barrier threshold (works off of Force Healing which increases with your strength level).

Mods: Should be unlettered mods. The name should read Resilient Mod 36, not Resilient Mod 36A. Unlettered mods are optimized and give the best stat gain of their field.

Enhancements: Immunity and Sturdiness enhancements have made a return. These enhancements were not available in the (162) Arkanian gear tier all the way to (186) Dread Master. These enhancements are high mitigation similar to the unlettered mods and again, give the best stat gain of their field both for absorb and defense.

Relics: Fortunate Redoubt (Defense Rating) and Reactive Warding (X amount of Absorb Shield).

Form: Soresu

What you need to know

The Defense Discipline has no stack maintaining unlike Shield Specialist and Kinetic Combat. It how ever has the maintaining of passive buffs that will replenish due to procs or rotation. The sooner these can be reapplied and maintained the better. Once these are constantly kept active, your resistance to incoming damage is increased as a whole via increasing your various mitigation ratings and granting flat Damage Reduction buffs and absorb shields similar to the Reactive Warding Relic.


  • Warding Strike: Increases Damage Reduction by 3% for 20 Seconds.
  • Blade Barricade: Riposte Grants Blade Barricade, increasing your defense chance by 5%. Lasts 10 seconds.
  • Expeditious Protector: Increases armor rating by 15%. Movement speed increased by 30% for 6 seconds when guarded player is attacked.
  • Blade Barrier: Blade Storm grants Blade Barrier, which absorbs a moderate amount of damage, lasts 10 seconds. (Absorb limit scales with Force Healing).
  • Courage: Parrying, deflecting, shieding or resisting an attack has a 50% chance to grant Courage, reducing Blade Storm and Dispatch cost by 1 per stack, stacks to 3 and lasts 12 seconds. Consumed on use.
  • Warding Power: Warding Strike increases absorption by 3%. Lasts 20 seconds.


  • Impaired: Targets damaged by Guardian Slash become Impaired, dealing 5% less Tech and Force damage to all enemies, lasts 45 seconds.
  • Unsteady: Targets damaged by Force Sweep or Cyclone Slash become Unsteady, reducing Melee and Ranged accuracy by 5%, lasts 45 seconds.
  • Trauma (PVP): Targets damaged by Cyclone Slash receive Trauma, reducing all healing received by 20%, lasts 6 seconds.


Guardian tanking is about maintaining your buffs and reapplying them as they come off cooldown. Unlike the other tanks you wont be dealing with stacks (besides Courage) to make your mitigation increase over time as you deal and receive damage.

The rotation isn’t too dynamic and has a rough outline you can continue to follow as abilities do not have a hard premature reset via a proc or ability use, giving you a rough priority system you can follow. The main ability that will grant your two most utilized buffs and buffs that will maintain a near 100% uptime is Warding Strike, which in turn will build your Focus. Blade Storm is also useful when granting Blade Barrier, allowing you to withstand a decent percentage of the next incoming attack. Riposte will grant your Blade Barricade, increasing your main mitigation pools percentage. Guardian Slash now applies Impaired to your enemy, reducing the effectiveness of their Force and Tech abilities. Force Sweep will reduce the active accuracy of your target, allowing the chance for them to miss + chance for you to dodge to increase on top of Blade Barrier.

Abilities highlighted in green are new for 3.0

wardingstrike Warding Strike: Grants 3% damage reduction and 3% Shield Absorption. Grants 7 Focus. Deals minimal damage and threat but grants two of your most important mitigation buffs, both lasting 20 seconds.
whirling_blow Blade Storm: Deals kinetic damage and is a high priority. Blade Barrier applied will fully absorb a partial amount of the incoming damage while it is active. Once the capacity of its barrier is reached, it will fade prematurely, lasting 10 seconds upon every use.
riposte Riposte is off of the global cooldown in Defense Spec. Riposte grants Blade Barricade, increasing defense chance by 5% for 10 seconds. With Riposte being a 5 seconds cooldown, there is no reason why a 100% uptime cannot be maintained while doing your rotation.
flourish Guardian Slash has been buffed significantly in damage output and is now your hardest hitting ability, more so than even the 3rd tick of Master Strike. It is the best damaging-threat generator you have and is also an AOE when Warding Strike buff is present on you.
cycloneattack Force Sweep: One of your two AOE abilities and strikes up to 8 enemies, applying the accuracy reduction to them which lasts 45 seconds. This ability is 360 centered on yourself.
spinningslash Cyclone Slash: Deals lower damage than Force Sweep, applies Accuracy reduction and trauma and has no cooldown. This ability is a 180 frontal cone
hiltstrike Hilt Strike does not apply any buffs but is routine for your threat generation. It generates the second highest threat of your damaging abilities and does not have a cost tied to it.
masterstrike Master Strike has had its damage output reduced and Cooldown shortened. As such it can be used a lot more often but generates a lot less threat than before.
carbonized Force Stasis deals slightly less damage than Strike but generates 1 more Focus. As the spec now functions to give you plenty of Focus, it’s a small filler/DoT and is not as fundamental now as it was before.
forcepush Force Push deals slightly more damage than Strike, but generates no Focus. It is a simple filler for you to use if you need to bridge a GCD but you do not require Focus.
saberthrow (1) Saber Throw is used for striking ranged targets and grants 3 Focus. Does decent damage but not decent threat, as such it has no place in the opener.
forcestrike Dispatch deals slightly less damage than the buffed Guardian Slash and costs 1 less Focus, best used on cooldown if it does not delay the reapplication of your buffs.
jediknight Slash is your best filler most of the time behind Dispatch. It does little threat and little damage as such as no place in the opener.
sweep Strike builds 2 Focus but does mediocre damage and threat. Due to how generous the spec is and due to Courage, this is next to never used..

Raid Buffs

  • Guardian Leap reduces damage taken on the target by 20% as well as vastly reducing their threat. Should not be used on your fellow tank and should be used on the DPS’ without guard to reduce their opening burst if it in turn does not hurt your threat generation or boss positioning.
  • Guardianship grants a similar barrier to your Blade Barrier on all allies within 15 meters. It has a massive player capacity as such can cover a 16 man operation.
  • Inspiring Force increases the speed of all allies within range of your Freezing Force by 50% for 8 seconds assisting in high momentum required situations.


Managing your cooldowns and using the correct cooldowns are what makes you a good tank. Mindlessly pressing a random blue button to mitigate an incoming attack or bounce back from a massive spike is not the mentality you want to go through. Each cooldown has its own damage type it specializes in defending against, if you can learn which cooldown to pair with which damage you’re taking, you can reduce your damage taken even further. It takes practise to understand what damage is being applied.

saberreflectjuggernaut Saber Reflect: Reflects all single target Ranged, Force and Tech damage back to the user. AOE’s and raw Melee damage are not fended against. Saber Reflect is possibly one of your best cooldowns as you literally take no damage for its duration if the damage you’re taken respects the damage types its built against. It can either mitigate a series of attacks and allow you to come out unharmed or it can be your trump card against an ability that can deal mortal damage to even you. Lasts 5 seconds, 1 minute cooldown.
redirect Saber Ward: Increases Ranged and Melee Defense and reduces all Force and Tech damage taken. Ward is used against Blasters and Sabers to put it simply. Damage that can be dodged is what Ward specializes in. Ward will allow you to take no damage when it kicks in, allowing the incoming Melee and Ranged damage to miss you entirely. Any Force or Tech abilities that fall into an enemies rotation that hit you will also be reduced in their effectiveness but Ward should not be used to mitigate these Force and Tech Abilities entirely. Lasts 12 seconds, 2:30 minute cooldown.
auraofinvincibility Warding Call: Is the other side of the spectrum in regards to Ward’s use. I mentioned above Ward should not be used to purely defend against the Force and Tech damage you’re taking so it works against things such as Force Lightning and Missiles and Explosions. This is where Warding Call plays in. Since Force and Tech attacks cannot be dodged, just reduced in effectiveness, Warding Call plays into a better role than Saber Ward. Saber Ward reduces their effective damage by 25% where as Warding Call reduces it by 40%. Thus if your enemy is hitting you purely with Force and Tech attacks, Ward will do a worse job than Warding Call. As such when dealing with pure Tech and Force users, Warding Calll falls into a higher priority. Lasts 10 seconds (12 with set bonus), 2:30 minute cooldown.
drainingpresence Enure: Is your loan shark Cooldown, giving you added comfort when bouncing back from a big spike. How ever this cooldown is only as effective as your healers ability to make up for the breathing room it has given you and more. Enure is a good cooldown to use in the higher percentages of your health rather than the lower. If used in the lower numbers, its dropping off could prove very destructive, leaving you with little health to work with. It is worth noting you should communicate with your healers on the duration left of Enure as well as the fact you use it, for example “Enure off in 5 secs, need heals.” is enough for them to get you some extra health back so you don’t dip too low. Lasts 20 seconds, 1 minute cooldown.
coolhead Focused Defense: A stacked buff that reduces in number as it replenishes your health. Focused Defense is on the same level as Enure as a ‘soft’ cooldown. Not doing a lot to fend against massive hits, but Focused Defense can top you up or at least balance out incoming hits if the heals are in the rough area of the next ten hits. Focused Defense has a short duration and as such should be planned with care, letting all 10 charges linger and fall is a waste. Lasts 10 seconds, 2 minute cooldown (1:30 with Utility).
lightsaberdeflection Blade Turning (Passive): A buff exclusive to Guardian. This passive increases all Ranged and Melee defense by 100% for 1-2 seconds depending on set bonus when Saber Ward is activated. This Buff allows you to take no damage at all from the right damage types. If you try and use Blade Turning purely to fend against a massive Force or Tech hit, it’ll only be reduced by the 25% protection that ward provides.
Adrenal: You should be using the Rakata or Exotech Absorb Adrenal. This Adrenal increases your armor rating and thus gives a flat damage reduction to all attacks that are not Internal or Elemental (both circumvent armor rating). The Nano-infused and Anodyne increase your Shield and Absorb chance, emphasis on chance as the potential buff of the adrenal will not be 100% active as opposed to the armor rating increase which will mitigate all the right damage types. The Adonyne and Nano-infused adrenals are worse than Rakata and Exotech, also keep in mind Rakata is reusable and is better for you in every way.


When opening a fight, it is fundamental to hold aggro on the target and ensure all the damage the enemy is throwing out is on you. As such threat is what you worry about and it’s why certain abilities are used (or even not used) to ensure you’re generating high enough numbers against the massive opening bursts your DPS are doing.

Ability Priority:

  1. Riposte (off GCD, can be paired with anything)
  2. Blade Storm
  3. Warding Strike (Vs Guardian Slashw/ 2 pc-set bonus)
  4. Guardian Slash
  5. Force Sweep
  6. Hilt Bash
  7. Master Strike
  8. Dispatch
  9. Slash
  10. Force Push
  11. Saber Throw
  12. Strike or Force Stasis


The opener above is used purely to make the most threat in the short amount of time you have before the DPS threat catches up and over takes you. Force Leap will close the gap to your target while Enrage grants extra Focus to spend, circumventing the use of Warding Strike in the early opening stage. Guardian Slash generates the highest threat of your abilities follow by Hilt Bash, the second highest. Force Sweep then applies your accuracy reduction and deals the third highest threat.

Saber Reflect is deterministic in its threat generation. The threat generation of Daunting Presence only occurs AFTER you take damage, as such if you take damage in an earlier stage of the opener, pop Reflect as soon as this happens. How ever if Reflect has use later on to mitigate a big attack or several attacks, its best to remove it from your opener but you lose a rough 10,000 Threat as a result. Blade Storm and Riposte do near exact same threat, Blade Storm has a more useful and applies a buff with a shorter uptime as such, it’s best to get that on the CD as soon as possible.

Riposte will apply your blade barricade, thus your two defense buffs (accuracy and barricade) are now in play. At this time, your big threat abilities are burned and you’re going to be in a down time threat wise, hence Taunt is used to boost Threat numbers and forcing the target to attack you for 6 straight seconds, allowing you to fit Master Strike and Warding Strike in, now all your buffs are flowing freely. It is time to reapply Blade Barrier and Blade Barricade and spike your threat with Guardian Slash and secure it with Challenging Call (AOE Taunt).

You may be asking; “Why don’t I use saber throw?” The answer is that Saber Throw generates barely any threat, only a bit more than Force Leap. In 3.0, the Focus generation of the spec is massive and you do not need any more Focus than what Leap and Combat Focus grants. You’re delaying the Threat generation of your rotation by 1.5 seconds, which is all the room a DPS needs to rip aggro from you. Saber Throw does a lot more harm than good. It does have its use.


When Opening from range and letting the boss gap close to you rather than you to them (rare cases where this occurs example; Dread Master Tyrans or The Dread Council). You substitute Saber Throw for Force Leap, you will build the exact same amount of Focus and do a small bit more threat in comparison. But there is only room for either your gap closer or a Saber Throw, not both.


The above rotation is roughly you’ll be following, not precisely in this order but due to how the opener is handled, you’ll notice abilities coming off cooldown in a certain order and if you are not Focus starved or dealing with a large down time, you’ll see a rotation form.

When engaging in AOE situations, the rotations will all depend on your current standing of Warding Strike. Warding Strike is what turns your Guardian Slash into an AOE rather than your target having Armor Reduction which is no longer applies by the Tanking Discipline.


With Warding Strike active going into an AOE situation, the AOE threat generation is vastly easier due to the fact Guardian Slash deals a massive amount of threat and the damage cap of 8 targets meaning you’ll be hitting all possible targets in your vicinity without problem. Following this is Force Sweep, your next biggest threat generator with the Accuracy debuff following Impaired as well as some Cyclone Slashes for fluff threat. Once you take damage from enough targets to satisfy you, Saber Reflect can be used to shoot up your threat as well as Taunt to secure their aggro for 6 seconds. Finally, the use of Warding Strike or Combat Focus to rebuild Focus.

Without Warding Strike, you may need to delay Warding Strike and Guardian Slash further down the line due to the terrible threat generation it provides. In response to this, it is ideal to use Force Sweep and some Cyclone Slash threat fluff before popping AOE Taunt to lock in mandatory aggro, followed by Saber Reflect to spike your threat. Warding Strike and Guardian Slash will fall inside this massive threat window as well as some Cyclone Slashes for added damage.

Your AOE threat will only work with the use of Guardian Slash or Reflect, the lack of both will leave a very weak threat generation and target loss, meaning you’ll not be the priority of your enemies, and DPS or healers will.

Things to know when tanking

Tanks are like any other role, you need to know how it works before you step foot into an instance. When you’re leveling you should get an idea of how your rotation works i.e. buffs, gaining stacks, what CD’s affect what abilities/damage and so on.

Becoming a tank is not impossible but difficult if you are not ready to learn the basic mechanics of combat. A tank first of all should sit down and look at the class they’re playing as many of the tanks diversify in play style, not by a lot but enough that each tank will feel unique, which is good. To get a better idea of how your tank operates, again look at your skill tree and buffs, even the tank specs tell you how you should be gearing also: Defense Guardian, Shield Specialist Vanguard and so on. But regardless let’s start from scratch.

Learn about threat. It is the mechanic which the entire premise of tanking is based upon. Your job as a tank is to control the boss and make it that the other roles can do their job without having to worry about survival or positioning. Threat is what determines if the boss is looking at you or them, make sure you and your co-tank are the top of the aggro table. Taunt and your rotation determine your aggro and the effectiveness of your rotation will determine how solid your threat is, hence why you see people discussing; AOE threat, high threat opener etc. It’s so they can ensure that upon engaging a target, that target will be fixated on them from beginning to end. And for the love of Lana Beniko’s butt use Target of Target! (Enable it in UI Editor)

Learn about basic mechanics of fights and how to work with them. Fights in this game are not too different from one another. You’ll need to swap, reposition, kite, aim frontal cones away from the raid and pick up adds. If you master these points then you can adapt to any fight.

Learn your rotation to ensure your DTPS (Damage Taken Per Second) is as low as possible. The buffs you gain as a tank are there to minimize incoming damage while not having to resort to your Cooldowns, this is your priority once threat is secure. Rolling these buffs and making sure your damage intake is as low as possible (I.e maintaining Dark Bulwark, Heat Screen or Sonic Barrier.)

Learn when to use your cooldowns. Popping Saber Ward then beginning the fight is the worst thing you can do. Cooldowns are not there to make you remain at 100% for the opening of a fight, they’re there mostly to bounce back from a huge spike or incoming spike. Popping them when damage intake is low so you can maintain a 85%> HP is not needed,

Learn to use Guard effectively and why it is used on certain targets. There is a reason for everything when tanking, DPS always get guarded with the exception of maybe 2 fights in End Game. DPS are guarded NOT for the Damage Reduction, it’s used for the 25% threat output reduction so you do not get pulled off of.

Know when to taunt and when not to taunt. If you’re the main tank, taunting to gain some added threat is fine, but taunting off your co-tank when they’re holding the boss if you are not asked or it is unjustified should never be done. You should also not neglect threat generation while not being the target of the boss, if you do a poor job, once the threat debuff fades, you’ll lose aggro.

Know how to gear. I touched on this above, your class gives HUGE hints of how to prioritise your gearing. If that wasn’t obvious enough read KeyboardNinja’s ideal tank stat distribution.

Lastly, don’t take advice with salt. Tanking takes work, you will make mistakes, a lot. But bounce back from them, accept them and better yourself. Don’t be deluded and think that a DPS pulling aggro is their fault or you not kiting a boss into a mechanic correctly was due to a bug. If you admit your mistakes, you will become a good tank, if you blame everyone but you, you’ll be nothing better than that of a Black Talon tank at the end of the day.

About the Author

My in game name is Artorias/Sinais, depending on which faction you’re on of course. You may have seen me on the forums or /r/SWTOR as Luckygunslinger. I raid with Aisthesis on the Ebon Hawk and have been playing Juggernaut since 1.3 and DPS spec since 1.5 all the way until 3.0. I’ve been tanking as well as DPS’ing on my Juggernaut and Guardian and have been for a long time, tanking from SM’s all the way to Nightmare content.

By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

132 replies on “SWTOR 3.0 Defense Guardian Tanking Guide by Artorias”

is the L50 4 piece set bonus worth keeping, if I can’t get the L55 or L60 set bonus pieces? (I don’t run ops so will never get the tokens for the L55 or L60 sets 🙁

Nope. I run the 2 piece 3.0 set bonus and the 2 piece 2.0. The sonic barrier increase is like 380 added damage cap. 2% DR for 4 seconds every 12 seconds would be better,

I wanted to ask you this question but you’ve begun to talk about it. I think that the 4 set pieces of L55 is better than the 4 or 6 set L60. So do you advice having a 4 piece L55 and 2 pieces 60 ? reducing the taunt by 2sec is not very useful. (4 pieces bonus 60). Up by 3 sec warding call could be useful but I think the 4 pieces 55 still is more useful. However, getting all 60 pieces give us an armor, endurance and strength. I’m listening about your recommendations on this subject, cause I’ll began hard mod soon.

Concerning caps %, what do suggest ? For the moment mine are 20.5% defense, 45% shield and 38% absorb. Any interest to up the defense rating ?

Hi. Just pointing out that in some places are still mentioned the Juggernaut abilities and buffs such as “Enraged Defense” and “Sonic Barrier” as in the armorings section. Nice job on the guide.


The guide does not even mention taunrotation in the tanks opening, which is mandatory for holding threat against 7k – 8k dps openings of good dps.

2%DR for 4 seconds every 12 seconds actually arent better. Because it 0.666% overall dmg reduction. Bosses in the new OP in Hm do about 2500 dps = 13dtps less with the 2p 3.0 setbonus while 2.0 4piece setbonus are about 400 dmg less all 12 sec. Translating into 33dtps less.

Guardian Slash has had its damage buffed as such, it deals about 12,000 threat upon use, soon followed by Hilt Bash which is a rough 6k. As well as this, Saber Reflect can float to the earlier stages of the opener to give you the 10,000 threat from Daunting Presence, You have a lot more opening threat now than before so So ‘taunrotation’ isn’t mandatory from holding against DPS.

I have a question pvp wise… Say I guarded a healer mid and then went grass to defend ( there was another tank mid too) will my guard previously put still prevent another tank from guarding that person ? I know that the 50 % damage shared is 15 meters only so I don’t get when one day someone said it was stupid not dropping the guard when I was like 50+ meters of the previously guarded target ? Unless he didn’t know what he was talking about or I was wrong because the lack of information about the guard I usually see my guard dropping by itself when too far but if he is right and I need to drop my guard each time I need to go far away for exemple then it suck.. Hoping for someone to clarify that for me Thanx !

I am a very active PvP Tank Guardian and I can confirm this, if someone guards the healer and then abandons them the guard is locked. But the healer should be able to release the guard buff by right clicking its icon. I always try to inform my healers about how the guard mechanics work, especially the evil blue buff icon which indicates they are out of range.

Thank you very much! I guess I won’t take chances next time will drop it off if I need to go far to let room for another tank to guard him

How do I get so much defense rating if the basic gear for lvl 60 doesnt have a lot of defense rating on its mods/enhancements?

To begin, all tank gear takes work. Buying/obtaining multiple pieces and swapping one mitigation type for another.The point of the goal was to give you something to head towards as well as show you your priority of How much Defense <- Shield <- Absorb to have per pool.

“A goal to start heading towards in 186’s from the Yavin Vendor:
At lv 60 I’m squeezed every Defense rating I could [1707] and in Soresu stance only sitting at 24.57% Defense Chance (defense rating16.57% + 5% base + 3% Skill buff). In Soresu Shield gets a massive boost.
As far as gear goes you don’t see a lot of Defense Rating stuff till you get to the 192 & 196 stuff which will only drop in the new Ops runs ; so what are we to do till then ? Only thing I see is when running 16 mans each Tank have it only personal healer while the other two healers takes care of the group.

Crafted Enhancements are a good start, I mention their names. Secondly, Stims also grant about 60 to 75 defense which is about 2 less defense augments you’d need to run. Following up on that point, augments are what will allow you to push higher numbers.

Starting rotation
Warding strike > Guardian strike > Riposte > Blade Storm > Hilt Bash > Sweep > Slash.

Warding Strike > Guardian Slash > Riposte > Blade Storm > Sweep > Slash (until Warding Strike is ready) and repeat.

I never loose agro and never run out of focus.

Btw. Is it me or is Defense Rating the God stat again? Absorb makes huge spikes, we always get enough Shield so we don’t have to worry about it anyway so everything into DR?

Defense got a *slight* buff, only by a little. As for your opener, in essence it’s somewhat similar but I would disagree with your threat priority. But if it doesn’t have your DPS pull then don’t change what isn’t broken I suppose. I don’t use Warding Strike on CD, better to dump Focus into Slash and do more DPS considering the Focus gen is bloated.

WS does considerably more threat than Slash. Also, you won’t be able to maintain your buffs and debuffs if you don’t use your WS afer two Slashes in the rotation.

I personaly realy don’t understand how can i get to those deffense stats… i have more than 1k shield chance and i don’t have any clue how to lower it since every enhancement is shield +… how you guys doin this?

Artorias here on my phone. Optimized mods, enhancements, implants and earpiece are a start. Augments is what makes or breaks your stat budget

ty for replay but i still don’t know hot to get that low… i have optimized 180/186 mods etc (dread forged/dread master) and have soo many shield deffense :-/

To begin, the guide says that Shield is going to be a set stat. It’s going to be in EVERY tank piece now (enhancements, implants and ear). Defense shares the same stat ‘slot’ as Absorb. If you don’t have enough absorb, you need to replace some defense mods, enhancements, implants or earpiece for absorb ones. So you need to think of it like this “I need more absorb, I have defense in this mod, so I can replace that with absorb.” Pretty much if you need defense or absorb, substitute one ‘slot’ for the other. One goes in, the other comes out. Hope this clears stuff up.

hey Artorias, thaks a lot for your reply. I understand mechanics how secondary stats working. Just wondering how can i get to that point, where i have 15xx deff and only 7xx shield (not mentioning absorb) now i have like almost the same numbers ond def and on shield and almost OK absorb but there is no way how can i get to that stat distribuion keyboard ninja mentioned… but nwm maby with new 192 optimised gear + new auguments i will be able to reach that goal. Anyways tywm for your answers and for this guide, i learned some new things from it.
Have a nice day and enjoy SWTOR 🙂

There’s no way to get that low on Shield in any of the new gear. Shield is going to be the highest stat you have whether you optimize or not because there’s always a fixed Shield ammount in every tank gear slot.

I wanted to ask you this question but you’ve begun to talk about it. I think that the 4 set pieces of L55 is better than the 4 or 6 set L60. So do you advice having a 4 piece L55 and 2 pieces 60 ? reducing the taunt by 2sec is not very useful. (4 pieces bonus 60). Up by 3 sec warding call could be useful but I think the 4 pieces 55 still is more useful. However, getting all 60 pieces give us an armor, endurance and strength. I’m listening about your recommendations on this subject, cause I’ll began hard mod soon.

Concerning caps %, what do suggest ? For the moment mine are 20.5% defense, 45% shield and 38% absorb. Any interest to up the defense rating ?

4 piece Level 60 Set Bonus is just terrible. I really think that was catering to PVP rather than PVE. Reduced CD on Taunt is useless when you know when Tank swaps fall into the current situation of boss fights. Now I thought the DR was better, personally but I will say that the Barrier is sort of, added comfort? Keep in mind Strength adds to your Blade Barrier but the gain by Force Healing increase is very minor which is sad. I think the best thing to do is just try it out. carry your old 4 piece, give it a run against HM Malaphar, try it again the next week with the 6 piece and see what damage intake was like, make sure you into into account deviation of your mitigation, if your shield chance was terrible, you’ll be taking a lot more damage. Secondly, looking at your percentages.

I’d up the defense a good bit. Absorb and Shield look like they’re in a good spot.

Ok I will try both when I have my 6 pieces. I think the 6 pieces usefull is not the set but the armor gain you have. If I had the 6 pieces I would pass the 11k armor index. Is there a % cap each 1k of index armor you pass ? I don’t know… The 6 3.0 set could give you about 26s of 40% reduced damage on a 5min fight, and the 4 2.0 gives you a reduction damage during all the fight if you keep it up. 21% defense is a good new up so ?

ive got 1620 defense 1020 shield and 637 absorb thinking i should shave very finely some defense and add absorb but not sure

I’d agree with that. Wind Defense down by about 100 and throw that 100 to absorb or about 70% to absorb and 30% to shield.

wow, great guide – really nicely written, with great advice, which is well thought out and perfectly clear – I have a lvl 49 Guardian (Juunii) and have tried to take on all the advice I can get, both ingame and from forums, bit this has been the clearest. Esp your description of the rotations, for the first time they clicked with me as to how to roll woth them, so thanks for all your time and hard work. hopf my game will be. even better now!

Glad I can help. There are a lot of tanks out there who are not doing the correct things but honestly have no idea where to look to places which outline the things not to do like use Saber Throw. I wanted to try and get a guide out there to stomp out the bad habit of pug tanks.

well, I always opened with saber throw – that has now been relegated to only the situations you described, (which I haven’t even done yet, so won’t use it much outside of solo-ing!) ta

Can you explain why you picked Inspiring Force for your Masterful utility? I feel like Purifying Sweep, Narrowed Focus or Pulse is better for tanking. Outside of PvP, I barely ever used Freezing Force anyway, pre-3.0. What’s changed to make it useful? Inspiring Force seems like it has incredibly limited uses compared to the others. Can you explain what the pros and cons of each ability are, in your point of view? A guide, to me, is a lot more helpful when it explains WHY something is better, not just saying it is.

Purifiying Sweep is a slow in Defense which does no good in operations and most Flashpoints. Boss Immunity/Steadfast plays a major role now in 3.0 even more so than before.

Narrowed Focus is useless since Focus Generation is so easy and generous in 3.0. You can go an entire fight without using Strike or Stasis once.

In a fight such as Underlurker or Bulo or even Blaster, a raid wide speed boost can help transition the raid from one area to another or allow you to disperse in an orderly fashion with the loss of 2 Focus which is nothing to your generation.

Can someone explain why Peaceful Focus isn’t recommended? Surely a tank who can self cleanse is appealing, right?

A self cleansing tank is fantastic. how ever, your cleanse will be every 2 minutes and requires you to be sub 70%. So firstly, you’re not reducing the cooldown of Focused Defense which is an amazing Cooldown, meaning you can use it less often. Secondly, a cleanse is something a Healer should be taking care of or even a DPS. Keep in mind Resilience, the cleanse for Shadow has an average of 47? seconds, nearly 3 times shorter than ours. So a cleanse that’s 2 minutes on CD and can’t be used on your control is no use to you. If a boss applies an auto wipe debuff every 30 seconds and you’re at 100%, you can’t use your cleanse for every single debuff plus you can’t even use it until you lose 30% of your health. It’s not a frequent or controlled cleanse, hence why it’s next to useless.

You mention that you prefer might hilts since the added strength improves self heals as well as obviously your threat and dps, which is more preferable to endurance. Do you then also take power crystals over endurance crystals in the lightsaber/offhand, or do you stick to endurance crystals there?

Alright thanks, will do. On another note though, why does power do nothing? I thought power and strength were generaly interchangeable?

Hate to break it to ya Art, but Power Crystals do increase the heals provided by focused defense and the durability of the blade barriers. Of course, I’d still go with endurance to survive the massive spikes on certain fights… but thats just me

Any fight specific recommendations for example underlurker SM. What is the best time to use the AoE taunt/damage reduction, shortly after the adds spawn? At the end of the cross cast? I try to do guardian leap to the melee dps with aggro on the adds when it is up as this is a lot of damage. I like to taunt the boss during the rage storm. Any other Guardian specific tips?

I’d personally say Adds, that’s just me. Taunting the boss during Rage Storm won’t really do anything. I actually never tanked Underlurker on my Jugg would you believe? I’m the 5th DPS and I typically fight him in Rage due to AOE and Burst on Adds. I use the AOE taunt shield on adds when I’m DPS’ing.

So, is it just assumed as a point of fact that everyone has a trained up Biochem skill on every character for the purpose of utilizing reusable adrenals?

I have, but you can buy stacks of the Exotech Adrenals, they do the same thing as the Rakata only better since they’re consumable.

Two questions:

1. On your basic ability priorities you have Blade Storm at the top–can you give a little more detail why it’s the highest priority ability?

2. With 3.1 when Riposte goes off the GCD, will that be top priority once more I assume?

1.) It provides Blade Barrier which absorbs damage, meaning it will flat out take some of the next incoming attack. More of that being up = less damage you’d be taking.

2.) Since it’s off the GCD it becomes a ghost priority since you can couple it with other abilities. I.e you could hit it and Bladestorm at the same time.

I don’t sadly, I go off of KBN’s numbers which are stat goals rather than stat budgets per gear distributions.

You should probably update that Blade Turning is not exclusive to Juggernauts anymore. You get it on Guardians well.

Also you don’t really mention why you took Reactive Warding over Shield Amplification or when the combinations of Reactive Warding and Shield Amp can be better over FD, SA or FD, RA combos for relics. These things make a huge difference in survivability.

In addition you don’t talk about adrenals at all, which also make a big difference depending upon the adrenal used or the scenario in which an adrenal is needed.

Overall a very basic guide from someone who probably doesn’t tank NiM content often.

First part is a typo, I’ll have dulfy update it.

Secondly, the Reactive Warding is a guaranteed piece of damage not taken which contributes directly to your DTPS. The Shield Amp does pose good uses in certain fights but in comparison to Vanguard and Shadow, our budget goes directly into defense so Fortunate Redoubt is better in that front.

Third, I do talk about adrenals, read the cooldown section.

Fourth. Basic in your opinion sure but I actually went 9/10 in the Dread Nightmares with the exception of Council due to being a sub for our kill team. Don’t like the guide? That’s fine, it’s helping people which is what matters. Now if you’d actually like to read the guide in full before commenting, that would be appreciated.

‘Basic’!! No way! I think this is great, and a real benefit to all guardian players. Thanks for all the hard work that went into writing it up for the benefit of others, life’s busy so to take a good few hours out to do a solid guide is a good thing. Just getting up to HM fp’s so should start maximizing my rotations, as I generally just run with what seems to keep others and me alive at the mo, prob not much of a help on enrage timers I’m guessing…

Honestly, i have no idea how to maintain those numbers. I have 186 basic comm gear + a few enchansess changed to defense rating instead shield and i have only 1k def rate, 1k shield and 400 absorb with no way to convert shield into defense

Augments is where a key part of your budget comes from. 52 points per slot, 14 slots = 728 mitigation as well as your Stim (Which is taken into account) in those budgets.

3.1 Patch notes are up

Jedi Knight

Fixed a dynamic tooltip bug that caused Soresu Form to appear like it reduced ability damage dealt by 20% instead of 10%.

Narrowed Focus is now a Skillful Utility.

Gather Strength is now a Masterful Utility.


Dust Storm now additionally increases Blade Storm damage by 40%.

Pacification now increases Force Sweep damage by 75% (up from 65%) and the critical strike chance of Cyclone Slash and Master Strike by 30% (up from 20% and 0%, respectively).

Warding Power now additionally increases Warding Strike damage by 15%.

Lunge has been redesigned: While Soresu Form is active, Riposte is off the global cooldown and costs 1 less focus.

Warding Call now has a subtle, persisting visual appearance while the effect is active on the Guardian.

Been a while but better to ask then not. For leveling, bounty hunts, and activities that doesn’t really need a tank (i.e. dailies) should I just stick with my tanking gear or switch some out for dps to bring damage up a bit? Or just don’t sweat it and stay full time tank and bring a healing or damage dealing companion..

i see you made changes to your 3.0 to 3.1 why now you consider to use riposte in the beginning of ur rotation instead at the middle end of the opener.. if I recall you had warding strike guardian slash hilt strike sweep saber relect storm and riposte

The requirement to gap close to targets in HM vastly outweighs the chance of getting stunned in the 30% of the fights that have them. In reply to your question, riposte is off the GCD, meaning you can fit it anywhere without altering your rotation. I never had Warding Strike prior to Guardian Slash. My rotation has always been the Guardian Slash -> Hilt Strike -> Sweep opener.

What do you think about the 180 4piece setbonus vs 192 4piece set prior to getting all 6 pieces? Currently my 4piece 180 4piece has 1 162 piece in order to get the set bonus and the 4piece 192 set bonus really isnt crap but the overall stats are better I feel it would be able to mitigate the damage better even if the setbonus is only for taunt.

Does this same guide work for PVP guardian Tanks also? Like should I go for High Defense stats for my PVP gear? Thanks

thx for that guide. i’m coming back from 2012 and playing my guardian again. your guide is just what i needed to be back in the game.
also i’m thinking about writing a french version. i’ll let you know when it’s done.

If you do make a french one, I’ll put it in the guide for people who may have it as their first language.

so now what is the stats distribution for 192-198 gear? I have 1564 defense rating is that to high?
Shield 1164 Absorb 946

I see the stats are these good for the new ops or does this still go off df/dp… I’ve done a little searching and seeing most the are defense so is stacking more around 27% unbuffed better for new ops… I was also able to replace a mod and enhancement to get in the Stat pool u sent me.

help me understand this, in all the rotations there is “combat focus” is this passive or? i cant find it anywhere.

Hi, I would like to know, what is the advantage of 192 set bonus gear versus the 198 ultimate commendation gear? Since the latest patch it is extremely easy to get Ulti Comms (especially if you got multiple characters, you can legacy set transfer gear), I could get full 198 ulti set in no time, pretty much. Is it worth it or I should just stick with optimized stat distribution and set bonuses of 192 war leader’s gear that i currently have?

All sets from comms vendors are too Endurance-overloaded. There is no unlettered mods and enchacments, even for tanks. You will perform much better in 192 set-bonus with optimized stats, that in 198 no set-bonus over-Enduranced gear.

As described in Guide, a good tank is that tank, that have mitigation, not 67k HP.In 198 comms-set you will not have mitigation on right positions.

I use 192 enhancements, set bonus armourings, hilt, earpiece, relics and implants.
I also use 198 com mods.

A great guide, ty 🙂 But I wanna coment something..Ppl mostly look in the guides to ajust their stats, if they lvling normaly without using any boosts they will learn all abilities, utilities and rotations. But if they use 2x, 12x Xp, etc. they will need all in the guide. And here is the thing that I wanted to say about the stats. It is impossible to match the stats with Yavin gear, and can’t ajust the optimal stats acording KBN with any Vendor gear no matter 186/192/198. This can be done only with bonus set gear from ops, cuz no matter dps,healer or tank this gear have less main stat and HP and almost double secondary stats(in this case defence, absorb) then vendor’s gear. And I think this is important to be in the guide about the stats just ppl to don’t try to match ideal stats with vendor gear or to swap their set bonus gear with 198 rate gear 😉

Augments add a decent chunk of budget as does the Anodyne stim. They are goals to head towards. My example was not to optimize with Yavin, it was a goal to put your stat balance on the right path.

as far as i know, BS now has an increased cool down. Is this just me, or should we alter the opening a bit to account for this?

Am I reading your opening wrong then? The way I see it, it is asking for you to use BS before it is off CD. That could just be me, though.

Hello, I need some advice for stat distribution. My stat budget is 3683, got 1517 DEF, 1110 SHIELD, 1056 ABSORB, but according to this KBN thread on forums the average stat distribution for people who dont want to carry 3 sets of gear in my case would be {3700,{defense->1189,shield->1236,absorb->1276}} . Which way is correct for HM ops? The DEF stacking or the one with more even distribution.

That depends of what boss you’re facing, by example, Bulo has tons of M/R attacks, so Defense is more optimal for the encouter, while on Revan you need more Shield/Absorb. But in my opnion following the chart helps more than just randomly decides what you need.

Switched around enhancements/augments for the suggested stats, pretty nice, seems less spiky and more steady, I like it.

Hello, anyone here happen to have a logitech g600 or a razer naga? I’m leveling a guardian tank and I would like some advice on how to keybind the abilities to the mouse buttons and the keyboard. TYVM

I have the razer naga and a logitech keyboard with the joystick (sorry I don’t remember the name ) and it’s superb for mmo! Just ask me anything I’ll answer as best as I can :).

Does terrible threat in the opener and delays threat generation iby a GCD, long enough for DPS to rip Aggro from you.

Just got back into the game and rolled a Guardian Tank, that’s for the guide, I’ll be giving it a shot.

i have a question about the utilities. Inspiring Force is listed as one of the recommended ones, but it only affects party members within 8 meters of you. how useful is that in boss fights that force party members to stay spread out all the time, which seem to be a lot of them?

Well, it’s more so a tool for assisting in people scattering from one another or Melee range. I.e Grav missile in HM Sword Squad.

Looking at the discipline calculator, and I wonder why you didn’t use Unremitting? Being immune to knockbacks and slow every time you force leap looks pretty dang good.

The issue that I’m having is that according to the number my shield rating is too high by 333, but I have no shield augments and I can’t figure out how to lower it. I’m still using mostly 186 and 192 comm gear, will this correct itself as I upgrade to 198 or set bonus gear?

Shield rating is it’s own thing and does not compete with any other stat. The only thing you can do to lower your shield is to take out enhancements (which you shouldn’t do). I would not worry about your shield because the reason you might have more than the suggested starting point that Artiorias pointed out is because you have some 192 gear. That starting point is ONLY 186 gear.

When it comes to absorb and defense, you have to choose which stat to have in a given mod/enhancement. So I would worry about balancing those numbers out first.

As far as getting your stats right, I would checkout KBN’s post here:

Look for the section titled AVERAGE, then click on the spoiler button under guardian. The way that you use this guide is you add up all of you stat ratings (shield, defense, absorb) with a fortitude stim on. Then find the number on the left what most closely matches the total that you have. So if you add up all your stats and have 2976, then look for 3000. This will tell you how you should be distributing your total stat budget. If you find you have more defense than what is there, then you are probably low on absorb and need to switch some defense gear for absorb gear.

As you gain more higher rating gear (192’s and 198’s) then you will see your total stat budget increase and then you move on up with that higher budget.

You mentioned that you have no shield augments, so you should be using absorb and defense augments to get to the right numbers. NEVER use endurance augments unless you are gearing for a very specific HM fight or in PVP. General rule of thumb is that you don’t ever want endurance augments for PVE tanking.

Hope this helps

Thanks for the reply, I was using KBN’s guide when looking at my numbers and thats where I figured out that I needed to drop about 300 shield rating. However, last night I switched around some augments and I only need about +52 Def and +150 Absorb. I still have a few slots that need augments so I think I’ll be able to take care of it with that. Also I have some Ziost 190 gear as well I’m not sure if that really matters.

Thanks for the amazing guide. I just started swtor recently and for my first time in my life I chose to be a tank. I never played any tank in any game before so this guide is really helping me to understand what my job is in a group.

Only using defense rating is a bad idea for PVP and PVE due to the amount of Force/Tech attacks. Force/Tech cannot be dodged so Defense doesn’t work on them, you should start working Absorb and Shield into your gear.

Tks man for all yours advice in your site. With yours advice I put my tank in a very hight new level. It’s became a freaking bad ass fortress, with more that 57000 hp, more that 11500 armor , 46% to shield, 50% for damage reduction and 20% of shield absobtion. My rating is half 192 and half 198 , and I so impatient to be full 198 rating. So tks to you man and tks to make me this strong. My Guardian Battlemaster is Hawx and I am with the Second Mass guild. Tks for all bro 😉

Can we find this guide anywhere else online? If so, could I get a link?
Thanks! Im a returning player who rolled a lvl 60 Guardian tank and I’m trying to learn the class before I queue up a FP.

Looking forward to seeing how things shake out in 4.0. I want to start making augments for my Guardian tank, but not sure what is the right way to go yet. Dropped gear in 4.0 seems to heavily prioritize defense, looks like most Shielding is going to have to come from augments, but informed input will certainly help!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.