SWTOR 3.1 Darkness Assassin Tanking Guide by Aelanis

SWTOR 3.1 Darkness Assassin Tanking Guide written by Aelanis of The Shadowlands.

Intro to Darkness Assassin

Darkness is one of the 3 unique tanking specializations in SWTOR. It has, under optimal play, the lowest Damage Taken Per Second (DTPS) of any of the three tanks before counting Defensive Cooldowns (DCDs), and brings some nice utility and one of the cheesiest DCDs in the game to the table. To achieve this, though, requires a slightly higher level of awareness and precision than with the other two tanks, as well as having somewhat staccato mobility. Assassin tanks love Absorb, and to a smaller extent Shield, due to the Dark Ward ability boosting their shield chance to unreal levels. It has middle of the road DPS compared to the other two but has excellent snap threat, even when your highest threat moves are on cooldown.

Utility Choices

Utilities as an Assassin tank, while a little less spectacular than as a DPS, can still offer some reasonably strong options. There are a few I take regardless of the fight, and a few that have very specialized uses. We’ll go over the universally useful ones first.

  • Celerity/Avoidance: Reduced cooldown on our stun breaker, reduced cooldown on our interrupt, and a huge (25%) cooldown reduction on Force Speed make this utility a no-brainer. Being able to quickly move the boss to where it needs to be, or move back to it when knocked away, is hugely important. (Skillful)
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation:Much for the same reason that the above utility is useful, this utility is a very strong choice for tanks. Movement speed is love, movement speed is life. (Skillful)
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction: This utility takes one of the cheesiest abilities in the game (Resilience/Shroud) and makes it last even longer. For bonus points, it even lets you travel further with Force Speed. This utility is extremely useful as a tank. (Masterful)
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter: 3% increased healing received is very nice as a tank. An additional 5% healing done by any healer standing in your circle is an even nicer boon to your raid group. It helps you out directly with your survivability, and thus should be selected for every fight, even if you can’t lay down the circle due to frequent and deadly ground targeted AoE mechanics (GTAoE). (Heroic)

The following utilities have varied uses, and can make certain fights or phases of fights much easier.

  • Shadowy Veil/Insulation: Useful for if you know at least one person in the raid is going to take continuous, somewhat frequent damage. Example: final burn phase in Revan fight and the adds during The Underlurker. (Skillful)
  • Mental Defense/Shapeless Spirit: Useful for the few occasions where you get stunned and beaten to near death, such as when tanking Pearl. 30% reduced damage is huge, and should not be underestimated if you’re going to take damage while stunned. (Skillful)
  • Lambaste: Lots of adds? Sick of trash pulls taking forever? This ability will help you significantly contribute to your group’s AoE damage, and will make holding threat much easier (the damage boost is multiplied in threat by your stance!) (Skillful)
  • Egress/Emersion:This is a utility used to make DPS Assassins jealous for a reason. It’s invaluable on fights where there are persistent slows, back to back roots, or enemies leaping to you. This utility makes The Underlurker Hard Mode a little more bearable.(Masterful)
  • Fade: As odd a choice as this might seem, it can actually be quite useful for a tank. In fights where you take a lot of damage (as the tank, this should be all fights), and where you can spend time not actively tanking a boss, Assassins have the neat trick of being able to reset their once-per-fight medpack by using Force Cloak. Taking Fade allows you to synchronize the cooldowns of both Force Cloak and your medpack, allowing for the maximum amount of usage of that medpack. (Masterful)
  • Containment/Haunted Dreams: Very situational. In fights with non-CC immune enemies (read: Revanite Commanders), it can be very useful to point at an enemy and insta-mez them for 8 seconds. (Heroic)

With so many situationally useful choices, the utilities I pick for each fight can vary greatly, and rarely do I have the exact same set of utilities for multiple fights. With that in mind, for each boss, I take:

Ravagers:

Sparky:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Mental Defense/Shapeless Spirit
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Lambaste
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter
  • Sturdiness/Dark Stability

Bulo:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Shadowy Veil/Insulation
  • Lambaste
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Fade
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter

Torque:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Lambaste
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Fade
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter
  • Cloak of Resilience/Shroud of Madness

Master/Blaster:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Shadowy Veil/Insulation
  • Mind over Matter/Disjunction
  • Force Harmonics/Audacity
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter
  • Literally any other utility

Coratanni & Pearl/Ruugar:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Mental Defense/Shapeless Spirit
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Force Harmonics/Audacity
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter
  • Sturdiness/Dark Stability

Temple of Sacrifice:

Malaphar:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Lambaste
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Fade
  • Force Harmonics/Audacity
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter

Sword Squadron:

  • As Master/Blaster.

Underlurker:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Lambaste
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Egress/Emersion
  • Fade
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter

Revanite Commanders:

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Lambaste
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Egress/Emersion
  • Containment/Haunted Dreams
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter

Revan: (for those masochistic enough to take a non-bounty-hunter into this fight)

  • Celerity/Avoidance
  • Misdirection/Obfuscation
  • Shadowy Veil/Insulation
  • Mind Over Matter/Disjunction
  • Fade
  • Shadow’s/Assassin’s Shelter
  • Cloak of Resilience/Shroud of Madness

Unfortunately, since so many of the utilities we have are only situationally useful in PvE, we see a few fights where there are only 5 truly good utilities to take, and so you have some room for personal preference, though it won’t really make a difference. I like Force Harmonics/Audacity for the little extra threat bump it provides, as well as helping me be less of a slouch in my DPS.

Gearing and Stats Priority

If you wish to gear like Zorz and some other progression tanks do, you’ll want to skip a little bit lower, and be aware that I am no expert in gearing that way, and so what I’ll suggest is a mix of their methodology and Mean Mitigation theory. I have always preferred the mean mitigation method of tank gearing for Assassins up until 3.0. For the mean mitigation theory you’ll want to view this post by KeyboardNinja, an excellent theorycrafter with an excellent program written to calculate gear for the best possible mean mitigation at discrete gear levels. He recently updated this for the Hard Mode versions of the 3.0 Operations, with the help of a few people, so this is a big shout out to him!

For specific gear levels, using all gear at that level, your stat budget will look like:

Resurrected:Defense: 497, Shield: 1526, Absorb: 1716 (Total: 3739)
Those who use the interpolation sheet (below) to check these numbers will notice that they’re not quite perfect. This is simply due to discretization of defensive stats, and not being able to trade stats in single point increments. These values, however, are (about) as close as you can get to the ideal numbers. This is achievable with 7 Absorb Mods, 7 Absorb Enhancements, 6 Absorb Augments, 1 of each Implant, an Absorb Earpiece, 2 Defense Mods, any two relics, an Advanced Anodyne Fortitude Stim, and 8 Shield Augments.

Revanite:Defense: 527, Shield: 1668, Absorb: 1808 (Total: 4003)
Again, this is close to the ideal values, but itemized for available gear. 2 Defense Implants, 9 Shield Augments, 5 Absorb Augments, and everything else Absorb. Again: Defense is not so good in this tier of operations.
Here is a link to a Google Spreadsheet I made to help you out with your gearing. If you enter your total stat budget, with your stim active, into the appropriate cell, it will spit back out at you your ideal mean mitigation budget, based on KBN’s most updated values. Feel free to copy the formulas into your own spreadsheet to keep for yourself, or you can just continue to use this one. Please be considerate of others, though. If the calculations in the sheet can be edited because I messed up the protection settings, please let me know and I will fix that as quickly as I can.

Spike Mitigation

If you favor having some more hit points to take bigger spikes without sacrificing too much in the way of mitigation, you will want to trade away your token mods for the B lettered mods that drop in Operations and come from the Commendations vendors on fleet. Updating the previous values for B mods, you would get:

Resurrected/Massassi: Defense: 481, Shield: 1474, Absorb: 1640(Total: 3595)
This is achievable with 9 Absorb Mods, 5 Absorb Enhancements, 7 Absorb Augments, 2 Absorb Implants, an Absorb Earpiece, 2 Defense Enhancements, any two relics, an Advanced Anodyne Fortitude Stim, and 7 Shield Augments.

Revanite/Deceiver: Defense: 518, Shield: 1564, Absorb: 1759 (Total: 3841)
Follow the exact same strategy as for the Resurrected/Massassi profile for how to achieve this profile. If you literally just upgrade every piece from that profile, you get this profile.

Beyond this, you may wish, at whatever level you are comfortable with, to trade some Defense and Absorb back into Shield in the only way you can, and then trade a little more Defense into Absorb. You want to do this because you’re trying to reduce spikiness in your damage profile. When you have high absorb, but lower shield, you absorb a lot when you shield, and take normal damage when you don’t, resulting in a large difference between shielding and not shielding a hit, and Defense is a bigger culprit, since you take no damage at all from a defended hit. However, if you trade Defense and Absorb for Shield, you will shield more attacks, even if you take more damage when you do, which helps to stabilize your profile, and will help you take the edge off of big hits. However, this causes you to take more damage overall, and will cause a little more stress on your healers since they have to heal you for that extra damage you’re taking.

A Visual Representation

The first graph represents how much of each stat you should have, by Mean Mitigation theory, at each gear level, and shows the interpolation between points in KBN’s data. The second shows how much of each stat you should have as a percent of your total gear value.

Shadow Tank Mean Mitigation

Shadow Tank Stat %s

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

Armorings: Force Wielder, you need the extra Endurance, which benefits from your 3% boost in your Discipline. Also, all of your set bonus armorings will be of this type anyway.

Mods: For Mean Mitigation Theory, you want unlettered mods. For a strategy that tries to survive spikes, grab those B mods. Either way, if you’re upgrading, and trading away less than 1 point of mitigation per point of Endurance you pick up, carefully consider the trade.

Enhancements: Immunity and Sturdiness enhancements are your bread and butter. Anything else trades away mitigation stats for Endurance at a poor rate. However, if you have the choice between a 186 rated Sturdiness vs. a 198 Bulwark, you should take the Bulwark. As you gear up, always ask yourself: “am I getting more than one point of Endurance for each point of mitigation stat that I trade away?” If you’re comfortable with the trade, then take it.

Implants/Ear pieceThe commendation pieces are actually decent, they trade Endurance at almost a 1:1 rate with Mitigation. Mean Mitigation theory still says to take the token versions, however. Beware, though: the MK-2 versions, which are usually slightly better than the MK-1, are a trap: you lose Endurance AND mitigation over the token versions!! Don’t fall for it!

Set Bonus

  • (2) Slow Time/Wither increases DR by 2% for three seconds. You can pick this up without sacrificing the old bonus, and it’s a really nice boost, and worth more than armorings a few stages up, if you get it on your belt and bracers (you should). Consider it a free 0.66 time averaged DR.
  • (4) Slow Time/Wither reduces the CD of taunts by two seconds. This is pretty underwhelming, but can be useful to achieve a 3 taunt rotation in your opener with an 18 second duration of taunt on the boss.Otherwise, not terribly useful in PvE.
  • (6) Kinetic/Dark Ward’s duration is increased by 3 seconds and charges are increased by 3. Compared to other tank 6 pieces, this seems slightly underwhelming, but greatly increases survivability on fights where you lose your stacks quickly. I’ll talk about this more in a bit.

Getting the new 6 piece is essential if you want to tank Hard Mode operations in this expansion. However, as you’re gearing up, make sure you keep your old 4 piece bonus, as it’s quite strong.

Bonus Topic: Old Set Bonus vs. New Set Bonus

You might be wondering why I’m advocating the new set bonus when the old set bonus is stronger in terms of overall mitigation. The 2% raw DR from the old 4 piece keeps your DR ahead, even using 4 old 180 armorings, until after the 210 Gear Rating level, and the Shield boost is just gravy on top of that, and you trade that away for a slightly higher time-averaged absorb value, what gives?

The problem with the old set bonus is that you rely so much on keeping Dark Ward up at all times. With the old set bonus, at the Resurrected gear level, if you lose all of your Dark Ward stacks, your effective damage reduction, including defense chance (which doesn’t play into the % extra damage you take), drops 4.9% static, meaning you’re taking a whopping 18.7% more damage from all attacks! Granted, that’s per second, but for the brief time that Dark Ward drops, you become far more likely to die, especially from Force and Tech damage attacks, which a lot of big hits are. Keeping those last few stacks is a big deal, and it just goes to show you how much we rely on Dark Ward.

Abilities and Rotations

Unlike the other two tanks, Assassin tanks have to pay close attention to their buffs and ability cooldowns in order to maintain their optimal mitigation, and their threat to less of a degree. They have to build and spend 3 stacks of Harnessed Darkness, manage their Dark Ward, and keep up their 2 tank debuffs on the target, which can be tough to get used to for new players. As a reminder, you should always open from stealth as a tank, due to the way the Conspirator’s Cloak talent works.

With the current PTS proposed changes to Assassin tanks, the rotation will largely remain the same, though Discharge will take a more prominent role.

Abilities in your main rotation:

  • Depredating Volts
  • Shock
  • Wither
  • Thrash
  • Maul
  • Discharge
  • Saber Strike

Situational abilities (out of range or AOE):

  • Lacerate
  • Force Pull

Maximum Threat Opener (no new 4 piece)

  1. Force Pull – this ability generates over a whopping 11k threat, and is your best immediate option, bar none. Proceed to Force Speed into range (bosses are physics immune, so pull won’t bring them to you)
  2. Shock
  3. Wither + Mind Control (taunt immediately after Wither)
  4. Discharge (with proc, swap with next GCD if no proc yet)
  5. Thrash
  6. Shock (if you triggered Energize, use Recklessness on this attack, for the big threat boost from the extra damage)
  7. Depredating Volts under Recklessness (use Recklessness here if you didn’t use it on the previous global). If you have all 4 raidwide buffs present, along with the sunder armor and extra Force damage debuffs on the target, you may see up to 4,500 damage ticks on Depredating Volts, which generates a ludicrous amount of threat. Immediately use Mass Mind Control afterwards.
  8. Thrash
  9. Shock
  10. Wither
  11. Taunt again when it comes off of cooldown to ensure you maintain threat.

This rotation has a brief (2 GCD window) where you can lose top threat on the boss to burst dps, but is the best you can do without the new 4 piece set bonus.

Maximum Threat Opener (with new 4 piece)

  1. Force Pull
  2. Shock + Mind Control
  3. Wither
  4. Discharge (with proc, swap with next GCD if no proc yet)
  5. Thrash
  6. Shock (Use Recklessness first if you have Energize) + Mass Mind Control
  7. Depredating Volts under Recklessness (use Recklessness here if you haven’t yet)
  8. Shock
  9. Wither + Mind Control

While you don’t have your threat from Depredating Volts under your second taunt (and multiplied again under your third) you have 18 straight seconds of taunt on the boss with no gaps, and without help from your second tank, who is free to then use their high threat rotation with their triple taunt rotation.

Advanced tip: If you’re feeling a little cheeky, you can actually pre-cast Crushing Darkness before you use your Force Pull, so long as you leave stealth as you begin the cast. You will run very low on Force in the first 2 Depredating Volts rotations, but it will produce higher threat.

Ability Priority:

  1. Depredating Volts with 3 stacks of Harnessed Darkness
  2. Wither (builds stacks of Harnessed Darkness, maintains Weakened debuff)
  3. Shock (builds stacks of Harnessed Darkness) (with or without Energize)
  4. Discharge (very high threat, to maintain the Unsteady debuff)
  5. Assassinate (execute phase only ability)
  6. Maul (with Conspirator’s Cloak Buff, also triggers Energize)
  7. Thrash (triggers Energize)
  8. Saber Strike (< 35 Force with Shock or Wither coming off of cooldown)

In 3.1, Discharge moved up to 4th in priority, due to the huge damage boost it received, making it a far more valuable move for threat generation.

AoE Rotation & ability priorities:

  • Depredating Volts (if Dark protection duration almost out)
  • Wither
  • Discharge
  • Shock (with Energize and at < 3 stacks Harnessed Darkness)
  • Lacerate
  • AoE taunt if you lose aggro on too many

Make sure to use Force Pull and Overload to group enemies up on AoE pulls/phases so that they can be more effectively killed.

Recklessness

Recklessness simultaneously gives you 2 stacks of the Recklessness buff and a 20 second long, 30% extra Absorb (that’s additive to your value). Unfortunately, you need the extra threat in your opening rotation, and so you’ll use it there, despite its value as a defensive ability. As for what to use it on, your first choice is Depredating Volts, since it does so much damage. For your second move, if you can, you want to use it on a boosted Discharge, due to the incredible threat it generates, especially in AoE situations, or an Energized Shock, for the 50% boost to Surge, which is also a nice boost to threat. However, don’t delay Shock for Energize, as you need to build your Harnessed Darkness stacks as quickly as you can.

Harnessed Darkness

Your mitigation method that shapes your rotation is based around building and spending stacks of the Harnessed Darkness buff, which does nothing on its own, but provides 4% additive DR against all types of attacks when you use the 3 on Depredating Volts to maintain the Dark protection buff at 4 stacks. A single tick of Depredating Volts is enough to refresh the duration on Dark Protection, but it only lasts 12 seconds. The key to maintaining the buff is to use Shock and Wither as soon as they come off cooldown, while prioritizing Shock, since it has a much shorter cooldown. You also want to try to keep from getting stunned or knocked back during your channel, to give you as much time as you can get to use Shock and Wither again.

Dark Ward

Dark Ward is, hands down, your best mitigation mechanic. You get pretty good shield and absorb boosts from the discipline, but this ability pushes your shield another 15% higher, so long as you maintain the buff and keep at least 1 stack of the initial 15. It also does not respect the GCD, so you can use it as you use other abilities (aside from Depredating Volts) However, due to the Dark Bulwark mechanic, you should only be refreshing Dark Ward as it is about to fall off. Depending on the fight, the difference in mitigation between using it on cooldown and only as necessary can be almost as large as letting Dark protection fall off. It’s one of the things that separate the excellent from the okay Assassin tanks. To make tracking this buff easier, you can sort your buffs on your buff bar (great 3.0 quality of life change!) by duration, and by your own buffs first, which makes finding the Ward buff much easier to find quickly, so you can get back to paying attention to the fight.

Sample Dummy Parse

swtor-3.0-darkness-assassin-parseAs you can see, Depredating Volts is a massive portion of your threat, even as delayed as it was on this parse. You rely a lot on enemies hitting you to recover your force, and thus on a dummy parse, you see far more Saber Strikes than you would on a real boss fight. Beyond Depredating Volts, Shock and Wither are going to be your next highest abilities. Wither has much higher threat, but you can’t use it as often, and the longer cooldown makes you delay it for Shock, in order to make sure you can keep your Dark protection buff. Maul is a smaller percentage of my threat than it should have been (again, poor regeneration while not getting attacked), but per use is much higher threat than Thrash. Assassinate, once you reach the execute phase, will take precedence over any move that doesn’t generate Harnessed Darkness stacks, because it just generates so much threat.Discharge should have been a higher percentage, but with poor Force Regeneration, I could only use it enough to maintain the Unsteady debuff.

Cooldown Usage

Defensive cooldowns are best used to mitigate large hits, or lots of small ones, and to buy the healers some time to get the situation back under control. As anAssassin, you also have an ability (Shroud) that lets you completely negate a large amount of nasty mechanics that other tanks have to deal with, but is mostly useful proactively, when you know the mechanic is coming.

  • Overcharge Saber: Grants you 25% additive damage reduction against all damage types for 15 seconds, on a 2 minute cooldown. It’s one of the shortest cooldowns and one of the strongest defensive abilities among any of the tanks, and works on all damage types. To top it off, it heals you for 15% of your total health (icing on the cake)
  • Deflection: Grants you 50% additive defense chance against melee and ranged attacks on a 2 minute cooldown. Not nearly so powerful as the previous ability, but still highly useful against packs of adds and against bosses who hit you very often with melee/ranged moves.
  • Shroud: 3 seconds (5 with the utility you should always have) seconds of immunity to Force and Tech damage, as well as purging you of all hostile, removable effects. Extremely useful in mitigating big hits from bosses, or ignoring mechanics entirely (such as eating all load lifters and Exonium carts on Bulo, or walking through the fires on Torque).
  • Recklessness: 30% Absorb boost for 20 seconds. Enough to make you feel invincible if you get a lucky shielding streak. Not so good against single, big attacks, but very useful against a large series of hits.
  • Exotech Absorb Adrenal – Increases armor rating by 1675 for 15 seconds. Very powerful with the 150% armor boost from our stance and in the Discipline, which makes it worth almost 10% extra DR from armor. This old, level 50 adrenal is so good that it soundly beats the new Anodyne Absorb Adrenal, even with all our Shield and Absorb boosts from our Discipline.
  • Prototype Anodyne Medpack – Heals you for 7192-7533 immediately, and an additional2750 health extra over 15 seconds. You can reset your single use per fight by using Force Cloak, just beware of the consequences of dropping out of combat.

A very important part of learning how to tank is learning how to best use your defensive abilities to survive boss mechanics and which abilities are best against what. Recklessness and Deflection are very good against a large series of attacks (Deflection only being useful against melee and ranged), whereas Shroud and Overcharge Saber are far better for dealing with single, big hits. Overcharge Saber is also incredibly good for lots of small hits, but is your only ability that works on all damage types, and so you should always consider that when deciding on whether to use it or not.

Tanking and You & How to Improve

Milas wrote a very good section in his Powertech/Vanguard guide, labeled the same as this section. I suggest that you read it if you are new to tanking, as it’s quite informative, and anything I write here would be parroting him. Vanguard Guide/Powertech Guide.

About the Author

Aelanis is an avid forum-goer on theAssassin/Shadow forums, hailing from The Shadowlands. Despite having only raided Nightmare content since 2.8 released, Aelanis has been playing Shadow tank since 2.0 released and mained a Shadow tank since 2.3.If you play on the Shadowlands, you can reach him on Theraton, in Exit Area on the Imperial side, or Ellendra, in Death Mark on the Republic side.

  • cosmicole

    Excellent guide thanks aelanis

    • Aelanis

      I’m glad you liked it, and hope you found it informative.

  • Brittney

    Great guide! I really love the gearing and stat priority section, you go above and beyond here. If only the PT guide did the same, le sigh…

    • Aelanis

      I mean, this isn’t even necessarily the “right” way to gear your tank, it’s just one theory for how to gear your tank so that you take less overall damage.

      • Brittney

        I know, I just appreciate that you explain both of the current common concepts and let people make up their minds. You also list the numbers the stat mitigation pool will hit at full 192/198, and a “road map” on how to achieve the right numbers.
        I really appreciate this because I am a healer that recently decided to try out tanking due to my guild leader/tank suggestion that I would really like it. I first made a sin, but realized I really loved the way PT’s play. I had no clue how to gear a tank so I had to do ALOT of research and spend so many credits pulling mods/enh/augs that it’s painful to think about. I decided to abandon my sin tank completely because I could not imagine going through that all again, however, the information you give on gearing is so straightforward that I might put a tank set together for any just in case situations.
        I may have been a bit harsh on the PT guide, it is full of really good information, but the way you present gearing is far superior imo. Thank you for putting it up, you can tell you worked hard on it!

  • Ellendra

    Before anyone goes nuts, the Spike Mitigation 192 rating gear levels should have the following values: 857 Defense, 1266 Shield, and 1472 Absorb. I missed it in my final round of edits before saying it was ready, oops.

    • Aelanis

      And fixed.

  • Infernus

    This is one of the better guides when it comes to breaking it all down and showing you exactly what you need, especially gear wise…too bad I don’t run an assassin tank.

    • Aelanis

      Yeah, and it’s too bad you missed your chance during 12x xp :/ You can always make a new character and grind it out, though 😀

  • Sarigar

    Thank you for creating and sharing this guide with us!

    • Aelanis

      It was my pleasure.

  • Delcran

    Nice guide , p.s. spinning strike should be assassinate i guess

    • Ellendra

      Sorry, missed it. Thought I got all the cross faction naming bits right.

  • Delphine

    I just made my first assassin with the idea to tank with it, but have leveled to 22 with a DPS spec, is it viable if I change to a tank spec to continue leveling?

    • Ellendra

      Absolutely. You don’t get your first tanking gear until the early level 30s anyway.

      • Delphine

        Thanks! I really appreciate all the strategic help I get on this website. You are all awesome!

        • j’oe

          start leveling as hatred/balance (shadow) until later on.. i recommend you to then start tanking close to the end of your story, and proceed while in makeb (yes), trying to queue for lv50 flashpoints (SM or HM) and 55 ones. shield and absorb stats will be your best friends

    • Eros

      Definitely. I personally prefer having the tank spec for leveling and using a dps companion. Most people use a dps spec and healing companion. I feel like you can breeze through leveling as a tank and it makes finding groups for FP’s that much easier.

      • J.r. DnaAngel Countach

        True. I usually only play healers in MMO’s and the one thing you never have to deal with as a Healer, is que times. The few DPS classes I’ve rolled, when que’ing for FP’s etc, I tend to have to wait, at times forever.

        • Som

          From my experience, my tank queues usually pop faster than healers. But I’ve had insta-pops with both. But when it comes to wait times, I might wait 1-3 minutes as my tank and 2-7 as a healer. DPS might as well go get some takeout and still wait 10 minutes after they get back.

          The one thing that is disappointing me in SWTOR is that it seems most guilds want to gear up DPS first for progression raiding. From what I experiences in WoW, it was Tanks and Healers who usually had priority. I rolled tank hoping that I would be getting geared quickly. Of course you give gear to the people who are reliable and need it most, but I am a bit sad that after about 3-4 weeks of HM progression I haven’t gotten a piece yet. 🙁 I will get it eventually though, if I’m correct NiM comes out around May so there is more than enough time still.

  • Levram

    The opening ability to a maximum threat Assassin tanking rotation in actually a pre-cast of Crushing Darkness. With 3.0, all Assassins can cast Crushing Darkness from 30 meters allowing them to easily have additional damage and threat ticking away while going through the rest of the opener as noted in the post.

    • Aelanis

      It also costs almost half your Force bar. It’s playing with fire, as you would bottom out on Force at the end of your Depradating Volts if you didn’t shield/defend an attack from the boss, but it has been added in there as a note, for if you’re feeling cheeky.

    • Aelanis

      Added the section, along with the warning about what that does to your resource management.

    • RushJohnson

      I never use Crushing darkness in the opening rotation (or ever) because Dark protection timer starts as soon as I slip out of stealth. You really don’t build that much threat and tax your ability to build harnessed darkness by adding a hard cast and another GCD.

      • Aelanis

        It’s entirely feasible to do it. It won’t make you lose your stacks due to Force issues, it will just make your next rotation be a conservative one, rather than a more aggressive one. You’re far more likely to lose aggro before your third taunt than you are after the third taunt.

  • j’oe

    everybody says that shadow/assassin are the non-easy tanks to play, yet i find them the smoothiests.. I’ve played enough darkness to say this is a very good guide..

    • Som

      It’s not that they are non-easy, it is that they aren’t extremely reliable due to high RNG and management. They can take very high burst when their cooldowns aren’t up, and since damage spikes are random it makes them less reliable for main tanking.

      • Aelanis

        They’re fine as “main tanks,” that’s a thought process left over from 2.4, when they could get globaled for not shielding a few hits in a row. It got much better in 2.5, and they became the best tanks in Nightmare DF, and very good for DP. Their mitigation, while not always incredibly reliable, does a great job of reducing the damage they take.

      • Gardimuer

        In these new ops the damage spikes are not “random.” For instance, in HM Bulo a ‘Sin tank can have a defensive cooldown up for every high damage period during the fight (Scatter Blaster and Exonium Carts). A ‘Sin tank using Force Shroud correctly will never take damage from the Exonium Carts, and can alternate using Deflection and Overcharge Saber during Scatter Blaster. Doing that, a ‘Sin tank will take much less “spike damage” than a Powertech who has measly cooldowns in comparison.

        So yes, ‘Sin tanks are “non-easy” in that you actually have to understand your defensive cooldowns and use them at the right time.

  • J.r. DnaAngel Countach

    I’ve been playing off and on since patch 1.7 and still can’t wrap my head around a Clothie tank….Good guide for sure though, I just never found anything in the Assassin class to be worthwhile over the faceroll Sorcerer.

    • IncuBB .

      If you actually trying to compare sorc and tank assassin… I don’t know what to say -_-

      • J.r. DnaAngel Countach

        Assassins are OK tanks, but not ideal is what I am getting at. This comes from extensive experience as a dedicated healer in FP’s and Op’s. Whenever we have a Sin Tank as main tank, it’s that much harder for me to keep them healed, as opposed to say a PT or Jugg tanking. That is also novice and experienced sin tanks.

        • Spoon (CoU) @ pot5

          if you look at dtps for a sin on most fights it should be just as low if not lower. What you’re probably referring to is their tendancy to take spike hits, which might cause an inexperienced healer to panic.

      • J.r. DnaAngel Countach

        Not sure what your angle is, but I wasn’t saying a Sorc tanks better then a Sin. A Sorc has no tank disc….I was saying that IF I was rolling a new Inquisitor, that I would roll a Sorc over a Sin due to the faceroll. If I wanted to tank I would roll a PT or a Jugg, so for me no point in playing a Sin, but this just my $0.02.

    • Aelanis

      Right now, Sorcerer is probably the most faceroll class in the game, so I guess you have a point. Too bad it can’t tank, though 😛

  • Eric Voreis

    Can someone explain the purpose of using Mind Control or Mass Mind Control as part of a normal threat rotation? I thought they just copy + increment the the threat of the highest person on the table–thus if you already have aggro, Mind Control doesn’t give you much additional threat. Shouldn’t you save them for emergencies?

    • Aelanis

      It does not give you a lot of threat that early, no, but it does ensure that you don’t lose aggro in those first few seconds. Both you and your co tank have taunts, and if a dps pulls from you, even if you’ve used all your taunts, your co tank will still have their taunts. Also, having top threat does not prevent you from gaining more threat when you taunt, it simply means you’re multiplying your own threat, rather than someone else’s.

      • Eric Voreis

        What is the multiplier?

        • Aelanis

          Well, thought I responded to this before, but it’s 1.1 times for melee range, and 1.3 times if you’re farther than 4 meters away from the boss. Taunts put you at high enough to to pull off of whoever has the highest threat, which is why it changes at greater than melee range.

        • XisscVekno

          The exact percentage of your taunts are 30% of the top number. Assuming I did the math correct. So if you have 10k threat your taunt adds 3k threat to what you already have. Also, range has nothing to do with it. you can taunt right after a force pull ( >than 4 m) or using a thrash (< 4m) it still 30%.

          • Aelanis

            No, it’s definitely 10% over top at melee range. I’ve tested it before 3.0, and just again today to make sure I didn’t miss it. It’s 10% in melee range and 30% beyond that.

            • XisscVekno

              I’ve tested it before I posted. It’s 30% period. Taunt is 30% of the current threat. Range and melee doesn’t change threat amount. The 1.3/1.1 has to do with the thresh hold of when aggro is changed. Melee need to be 110-115% over the tank and Ranged need to be 130% over the tank to rip aggro from them.

              I sat there and did the math. Converted the amount of threat taunt adds to the threat meter and found it’s always 30%.

              • XisscVekno

                Hmmm I just double checked. I did this yesterday for 1 hr and it was always coming out to 30% now it coming out to 10% in melee and 30% in ranged…. which doesn’t make sense since I also noticed that your damage abilities also follow that scale. Which means that ranged DPS build threat at 130% and melee at 110% yet those are the exact percentages of threat you would need for that respected role to rip aggro. This to me screams messed up. Since damaging abilities should be at 100% no matter the range. What should change is the thresh hold of when they should rip aggro.

                Also was playing around with stance and no stance and I found that taunt generates more aggro in melee range with out the tank stance than it does with.

              • Aelanis

                http://gyazo.com/2209a1ebc192caf644b7abf2cb237c78
                I can definitely confirm the taunts are 10% bonus at melee, and can do that again for range, but it shouldn’t be necessary. I haven’t tested out the threat as a dps, but I can do that eventually.

    • Gavin

      Isn’t it that taunts add threat equivalent to the group’s single highest threat plus an additional 10% (So if you as the tank have 90k threat built against the boss, and one of your DPS has 100k threat, taunting will put you at 110k threat to you [10% over the highest threat])? Or was that changed sometime during 3.0 and I’ve been being lied to this whole time.

      If it’s how I’m thinking though, you do it as part of your rotation later in the fight to make sure no one has even close to a chance of pulling off you (Though personally I don’t use it as part of my rotation once I’m a minute and a half into a fight)

  • Gavin

    Excellent guide Aelanis, enjoyed it very much, but I though I saw in the future patch notes that Depredating Volts will be taking a damage nerf, will that be lowering it’s threat enough to where it might go lower in the priority?

    • Som

      Depredating Volts will lose some threat, but due to its utility it won’t be much lower in priority. What we will see is Discharge become a higher priority for starting rotations to set up threat.

      • Gavin

        Thanks 🙂

    • Aelanis

      It will still be your best threat per second while in use, and will still be absolutely vital due to the buff it gives you, so no, but Discharge will become your second best threat per use on any ability.

  • Gavin

    Other question Aelanis, what hilt would you recommend? I know for example that Juggs run Might hilts instead of guardian in order to increase the threat they generate, which would you recommend?

    • Aelanis

      You’re going to want the extra hit points from the Force Wielder Hilt, just like with your armorings. Juggernauts also get extra mitigation from Strength, though not much.

    • Blackstar

      You get the same force/tech power and low-high end damage regardless of the type of hilt or barrel you use. Those stats are dependent on the item rating of the hilt or barrel. You’d only get a very marginal damage increase from the Resolve Hilt because it’s trading endurance for willpower. So it’s basically just like how armorings work.

      If you’re running SM, you can get away with more willpower and less endurance. But a lot of the HM content right now pummels you with abilities that do a lot of damage spread out over a quick succession of attacks.

  • Max de Sutter

    What is meant with mean migitation i heard about it but never what it is

    • Aelanis

      Mean Mitigation theory is something that gamers have developed in order to try to lower their overall damage taken per second (dtps) for a fight, by gearing in a way that prevents as much of the damage you take in a given fight as possible. It is a theory that increases survivability by reducing your overall damage taken, but does not account for spike damage.

  • Bcohowler

    Aelanis, thanks for taking the time to write this post up for all Sins.

    I didn’t see anything about which relics you prefer.
    Are there any diminishing returns with relic procs?

    • Aelanis

      Correct, I did miss doing the bit on relics. There are always diminishing returns on all the stats you get (except Power and Endurance), that’s why they’re called diminishing returns, you get less per point as you get more points.

      As for which relics I would pick, I’d go with the old standby of Reactive Warding and Focused Defense, though I’m not 100% sure on the latter, yet.

  • Name

    great guide but could you add a list of the attack (force,tech,range,mele) types and with their names?
    Of course just for ToS and Ravagers. Would be great if you could do so.

    • Aelanis

      That’s actually an extraordinarily time intensive process, but I might add it at some point. I feel, though, that it’s better for people to learn how to figure out how to find that information out for themselves, so I will say that Parsec breaks it down pretty nicely for you. It will tell you what secondary type of damage each attack is (K/E, I/E), and then you can figure out if it’s a Force or Tech attack based on your Defense chance against it (i.e. more than ~6% is probably M/R).

  • Calvin Everitt

    Is that rotation the highest threat? I’ve always used Pull>Wither>shock>?Taunt>Thrash>ProcShock>Reckless>Shock>Volt

    Also that seems a bit low for a rotation, even on a dummy who can’t hit back for bonus energy.
    This is what I’m getting on average about two weeks ago doing the above rotation http://imgur.com/cQpUTqe

    Remari -select few-

    • Aelanis

      Yes, it’s the highest threat rotation you’ll find that you will consistently get to work. You cannot guarantee having an Energize Shock where you do in your rotation, and if you get unlucky enough, your rotation would cause you to delay Depredating Volts until your buff is about to fall off, or until the 10th global in your opener. In addition, come 3.1, you’ll want to use Discharge in your opener, as it will have a higher threat than even an Energized Shock. In addition, your opener will have a gap in a 3 taunt rotation at the beginning of the fight, as opposed to the opener I suggested once you have the new 4 piece bonus.

      Yes, the damage is somewhat low on the parse I posted, but that’s because the parse was done in all 180/186 gear, with only new augments on the right side, which make up a significant portion of your damage, along with my out-of-date MH/OH I was using for that parse. I may post a new one once I get more relevant gear. I’ve been playing my Vanguard tank more these days.

  • Epidemic

    Using taunt or mass taunt immediately after opening i think its quite useless, and not so wise…. I taunt only if i have to, or after i complete my rotation, and there is a chance if i loose agro the boss could one shot a DPS……. but opening with Force Pull, Wither, Shock, Discharge, Thrash, Shock (when it procs), then recklessness and Depredating Volts, its quite stable rotation, and if u have good gear u wont loose agro that easy……

    something like that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJXnzQPwI6o

    • Aelanis

      I couldn’t find this comment on the actual article, so I’m responding like this.

      If you don’t use any taunts in your rotation, both burst and sustained specs can pull off of you. Given a good string of critical hits, an Advanced Prototype Powertech is capable of pulling 120,000 damage in the first 10 seconds of a fight. You would need to have a raw 8.2k threat per second to keep aggro off of them if you also guard them, and that’s just not possible on any tanking class without taunts. Deception can hit 21,000 damage in 3 seconds, and Marksmanship can hit an absurd 21k before the first global is fully over, if they critical on their Followthrough under double relic proc (~10% chance). Granted, there’s nothing you can do about the last one, but it’s very possible to pull off of a tank in this game, if you don’t hold back on your dps (which you never should).

      Against the best dps in the game, we still need to use a taunt rotation to ensure we hold aggro.

  • Spoon (CoU) @ pot5

    Of all the guides i’ve read, I like this one a lot. Great job covering all the bases, it just makes me sad that powertechs are so much more useful on several of the new fights, when this class seems so fun to play >.>

    • Aelanis

      Yeah, it’s frustrating that they dominate these fights, but I guess it’s payback for us dominating DF.

  • Freddie’Mercury

    I don’t run any defense above what comes with the 2 relics and my stim. All shield augments with old 4 set bonus. Comes out to ~19% defense, 68% shield (with dark ward, 48% without) and 53% absorb (61% with 8 stacks of dark bulwark). Very, very smooth incoming damage profile and mitigates pretty much all of sin spikiness.

    • Aelanis

      You might have a decent damage profile, but you’ll still spike just as hard, if less frequently. Also, in fights with very fast swing timers and lots of shieldable attacks, you’re going to burn through your 15 stacks and then drop back to 48%. You’re not preventing as many of those hits as you could from burning a stack of Dark Ward by defending them, and instead are relying entirely on a mechanism meant to burn out after too many hits.

      • Freddie’Mercury

        But I’m still sitting at 48% shield and 61% absorb from 8 stacks of dark bulwark (More than a PT Tank) and can maintain those stacks without having to freak out about losing dark ward due to such a high inherent shield chance.

        Who really cares about overall damage taken? Controlling spikes to buy healers time to keep you healed up is way more preferable.

        • Aelanis

          Once your Dark Ward stacks run out, you’re at significantly less shield than a PT, less time-averaged Absorb, less K/E DR, and only slightly better Defense. If you’re going to compare your Assassin to a Powertech, you have to remember that they have baseline ~9% additive more DR to K/E attacks than we do, which is a very significant amount. Also, if you want to get into “I’m at my maximum absorb amount,” then consider the fact that PTs can pretty easily push 70% absorb with Heat Blast going, and they can, on the same kind of fight that would run you out of Dark Ward stacks, keep the buff up with a greater than 50% up time. I’ll go back and even show you how much more damage you take once those stacks run out, once I have some time.

          You don’t want to be taking more damage than you have to for the simple fact that it’s a bad idea. When you’re clearing content that’s on farm, it’s not a big deal, but while progressing, the less time the healers have to spend pumping heals into you because you’re taking more damage, the more time they have to deal with people getting used to mechanics and the raid taking more damage than they need to be. Gone are the 2.X days where even average healers could just muscle through everything.

          • Gavin

            Thank you for pointing this out Aelanis. Most of the new content seems to be (at least to me) a massive healer check more than anything. Also considering that this isn’t like 2.X where the DPS could sit there and take hits and the healers can take care of them; now DPS that take damage die much faster, it’s even more important that the healers spend as little time healing the tank as possible, because the rest of the group is taking tons more damage (looking at you Underlurker).

            Unless of course the DPS could all have fabulous raid-awareness and not take so much damage from avoidable mechanics 😀

  • Masira

    Hi there!

    Great article! It’s helping a lot! I’m new to assassin tanking, and have already made it through the first 4 lvl 60 hard modes thanks to this!

    I have a question. I’m new to working with armor set bonuses. I just want to make sure: you are not advocating having both the 6-piece and old 4-piece bonus at the same time. I don’t see how that would be possible. Just as you are leveling up, continue to use the old 4-piece, and replace it with the new 6-piece, yes?

    Thanks so much again! Great article!

    • Aelanis

      Yes, continue using the old 4 piece until you have the full 6 piece, and then replace it. You can use the old 4 piece and new 2 piece simultaneously, which is a really nice thing to be able to do. Just grab the belt and bracers and you’ll be golden until you have the 6 piece.

  • Migali

    Just asking what you think of my stats :

    Gear : 198 armoring/hilt, 198 B-mods (ultimate commend), 198 optimized enhancement (token’s one), ultimate implants and ear, 198 revanite relic

    Stats : (with stim)
    Def : 866 (26.04%)
    Shield : 1616 (45,10%, 60.10% under dark ward)
    Abs : 1218 ( from 47.39% to 55.39% based on dark ward’s stacks)

    Based on what i read in this guide, my shield might be a little bit high and my abs a little bit low but i wonder if it’s okay since i’m quite comfortable with 60% shield.

    • Aelanis

      It looks fine to me. Honestly, as long as you aren’t doing something crazy like trading half your shield budget into defense, it’s not really a huge deal. For a Revan/Cora kill, you might want to shift things a teensy bit, since the outgoing damage is relevant enough to make dtps important, but aside from that you should mostly be fine.

  • Noroxus

    Amuses me to see other people using a similar stat build to mine…only took 2 expansions for people to catch up haha.

  • Pedantry

    There’s an error in cell B2 of the spreadsheet where it calculates the total budget, it double-counts cell B9 (Defense Rating) and misses call B10 (Shield Rating)

    • Aelanis

      Fixed it. Not sure how it went so long without being caught, but it’s correct now. Doesn’t help that I use the local version on my own computer instead of that one.

      • Pedantry

        Yeah, hard to know why nobody else noticed–As I started getting the ratios right all the target numbers were lower than I already had…

        It’s definitely a big help though, so thanks for that (and the guide in general). I would never have thought of using an Exotech adrenal in this era!

  • Vuittona

    Out of curiosity what do you think of people who are running high defence builds. I’ve heard because of how the new HM content is that defence plays a massive portion and that running 1400 defence and 800 absorb is a good way to go. I was curious on your thoughts on that. I run currently 848 defence 1327 shield and 1576 absorb which is pretty close to the numbers in the spreadsheet. But have been tempted try out the high defence build got a few defence enhancements and mods left over.

    • Aelanis

      People who gear out like that are going to get wrecked. So much of the damage in these operations simply can’t be defended, and that means they’re losing out on a lot of damage they could be shielding. Whoever told you that running defense was working has really good healers to carry them through that, or simply hasn’t gotten very far into the operations.

      • Vuittona

        Thanks for responding I thought it was idiotic myself but wanted check. My raid team has just started HM Ravagers and TOS only 1/5 in both so far trying second boss of ravagers tonight. We have been mainly gearing up in SM recently. I’m nearly fully 192 optimised now apart from one relic and one mod.

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  • TheSithOfTor

    Is it possible to use Deflection, Overchage Saber and Recklessness all at the same time when facing tight situations? Because, I know this might waste lots of DCD’s which can then leave you in a tight situation afterwards…

    • Aelanis

      Possible? Yes. It’s a very bad idea, though, since each one will become less effective with others active. It’s best to use them proactively and one at a time.

      • TheSithOfTor

        Ok, thank you. I’ve been doing that for quite some time… Thinking it helps…

  • Sinner

    With the reduction of the range of CD, do you still recommend that as an opening cast? Aren’t you going to aggro the boss at 10m?

    • Aelanis

      You won’t necessarily aggro the boss at 10 meters, but I do advise against using Crushing Darkness now. You cannot use both it and Force Pull simultaneously any more, and Force Pull is FAR more threat than any of your other moves. The suggestion for Crushing Darkness was removed late last week.

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  • Jim

    ok i see on the sorcerer they have a photo showing the abilities but not on the imp assassin, this helps out for those like me lol to see what to choose. is it possible to ask for a snapshot of the abilities like the sorcerer?

    • Aelanis

      They just didn’t make it in. Given a good chunk of time, I could put them in there, but I wouldn’t count on it happening soon.

      • Jim

        i hear ya sorry for long delay forgot my password lol

  • SinTank

    Spike mitigation: Revanite/deciever gear: 518+1564+1566= 3648, not 3841

    • Aelanis

      I copied and pasted the wrong last number, there, it should have been 1759 for Absorb, it’s fixed now.

  • Is defense rating that unimportant ?

    Shield system is made from 2 combined stats that reduces damage exponentially (the chance of activation and the actual % reduction) as opposed to defense rating that reduces damage linearly (is this correct ?)… so that would imply defense rt is better than shield rt.

    But the average distribution of Melee/Ranged vs Force/Tech (shieldable) damage is around 2:1 (lets say 70%//30% or 67/33), so of the damage that is able to be mitigated only 2 3rds of it can be dodged, while 100% of it can be shielded.

    By math, the efficiency of DR will be it’s number times ~0.67 (considering the M/R F/T dmg occurrance). So at a 50% DR in practice will hive you a defense efficiency against general damage of 33.5%.

    Now if you have a 60% SR and 50% AR, you’ll get an efficiency of 30%, which is pretty close.

    Now more things come in (and if anyone can clear them up it would be very nice):
    – other stats like utils/skill line
    – armor rating (how does it apply overall)
    – possibility of getting more DR or more AR+SR from a specific pack of items (lets say you have 5 items to work with: can you get more DR% or more AR/SR% from them ?)

    If anyone can clarify some of the above, please do.

    • Aelanis

      It’s because your distributions are wrong on the fights that really matter, in addition to exactly how each rating contributes to your mitigation chances.

      Defense Rating (note that this isn’t chance) reduces the damage you take from defensible attacks at a very harshly dropping rate. For one, it caps at a 30% boost to your Defense chance, versus 50% from each of shield and absorb, so it has less magnitude of boost at all points. In addition, the dividing factor in its coefficient (higher number means better initial returns but drops off quickly) is around twice as high as the other two, so it drops off much, much faster. So now that we’ve seen that it quickly drops in overall return as a stat, let’s look at why it, as a mechanic, isn’t so great. In addition to all this, Assassins get a massive shield boost and a decent absorb boost, which helps you push further with the stats you get.

      While on some bosses (Malaphar, Commanders, Underlurker), the M/R to F/T ratio leans heavily in favor of defense, they typically tend to be the easy fights to heal, as well as being fights where the DPS take a considerable amount of damage, whereas other fights have the tanks taking almost all the damage (Master/Blaster, Torque). Basically: the fights where defense is actually good aren’t all that hard to heal, and the attacks that bosses use that hit the hardest are typically F/T attacks that cannot be defended, which will cause major spikes if you’re running a lot of defense.

      • If the DR benefits decrease logarithmical-like that clarifies some things. I’ve noticed that in some boss fights tanks tend to get quite a lot of damage…a lot more than they suppose to. Since the overall gear seemed pretty fit for the specific level required for the fights, the difference in damage taken should logically come from the DR/ SR-AR distribution.

  • Sin Tank

    Everything wrong with this guide in one
    post:

    Utilities you should actually take on
    average fights: avoidance, obfuscation, insulation, disjunction,
    fade, assassins shelter, shroud of madness.

    Fights where these will change: Sparky,
    Coratanni and the Revanite commanders.

    Sparky: swap fade or insulation for
    shapeless spirit.

    Coratanni: swap avoidance for shapeless
    spirit.

    Revanite commanders: swap insulation
    for oppressing force.

    Gearing: assassin tanks get a 5%
    endurance bonus, so it is easier to spec into higher mitigation,
    which I recommend. Having an overall mitigation level of around 3900
    with an advanced anodyne fortitude stim is ideal ( a mitigation of
    3900 is full 198’s with mostly high mitigation
    mods/enhancements/ear/implants). Your endurance will be high with
    strong mitigation. A mitigation difference of ± 70 makes miniscule
    differences that are strictly numerical. With tank relics, an ideal
    mitigation spread would be, defense – 437 shield – 1824 absorb –
    1659. this is a total mitigation of 3920.

    Gearing for 192 gearing or less miti
    gearing refer to KBN model until you reach at/near 3900 mitigation.

    Relics: Tank relics are near 100%
    useless on most Rav/tos fights. Instead, use the dps relics
    serendipitous assault and focused retribution.

    “Did you just say don’t use tank
    relics on a tank?!?!” Yes. DPS is the single most important factor
    in swtor. Heals doing off dps and tanks doing as much dps as possible
    makes healers jobs and tanks jobs much easier. The faster bosses
    die/phases push, the better. The tank relics fortunate redoubt and
    reactive warding are highly ineffective. Fortunate redoubt increases
    your defense rating and in this tier of operations with so many
    force/tech attacks, it renders this relics effectiveness
    significantly. Reactive warding is quite straight forward and
    effective compared to fortunate redoubt as it does guarantee a level
    of damage negation, however, even a revanite relic mitigates a very
    small amount of damage and this relic has a 40 second cool down
    timer. 40 seconds! The ONLY fights I use tank relics on are sword
    squadron and underlurker.

    Set bonus: use the 2 old and 4 new.
    With the old 2 piece in 186 armoring you lose .32 base damage
    reduction, but you gain 5% shield chance. It is a clear winner over
    the 6 piece. The only fights in ravs/tos where my dark ward will fall
    due to multiple hits coming in is sword squadron and occasionally
    torque. The logic that 3 more charges to keep it up longer is
    ridiculous as only two fights, one not always, in these instances
    will cause dark ward to fall.

    “ With
    the old set bonus, at the Resurrected gear level, if you lose all of
    your Dark Ward stacks, your effective damage reduction, including
    defense chance (which doesn’t play into the % extra damage you
    take), drops 4.9% static, meaning you’re taking a whopping 18.7%
    more damage from all attacks! “

    There are many things incorrect with
    this assertion. If you loose all of your dark ward stacks, you
    strictly lose the 15% or 20% shield chance, variant upon set bonus.
    Loosing that shield chance, with a properly geared 198 sin tank,
    still has you at 47.25% shield chance about the same as a properly
    geared juggernaut tank. However, your dark bulwark will still be
    active increasing your absorption to roughly 60%. 60% absorb plus 40%
    DR, assuming no dark protection stacks are active for a worst case
    scenario, is 100% mitigation of energy/kinetic attacks. You DO NOT
    take 18.7% more damage, that number can not be effectively
    determined, you have a 15-20 percent lower CHANCE to not mitigate an
    attack. Reminder, dark ward
    falling with the old 2 and 4 new has only happened in two fights and
    they aren’t even the hard fights. Keeping those last charges is most
    certainly not a big deal with proper tanking. Defense is in no way
    shape or form affected by your dark ward.

    Cool
    down usage:

    Recklessness
    is not a defensive cool down. If geared as I stated earlier, in 198’s
    your base damage reduction will be 40.41, with dark protection this
    jumps to 44.41, and your absorption will be roughly 52.83.
    44.41+52.83= 97.24 which means that when an energy or kinetic attack
    is shielded, it mitigates 97.24% of it. If your dark bulwark adds so
    much as 2 stacks, meaning 2% higher absorption, you are now at 99.24%
    mitigation of a shielded E/K attack. By popping recklessness at even
    97.24% your absorption of E/K attacks increases to 127.24%. that’s
    27% over what is even possible to mitigate, effectively making this
    cool down a petty offensive at most.

    Guard:

    Your
    guard should be used as a means of increasing a raid members damage
    reduction by 5% and potentially 8% with insulation. You should never
    use a guard as a means of holding initial aggro, but if required then
    do so. After aggro has been established, use it to lower the damage
    taken to raid members, preferably light armor members.

    Raid
    frame:

    A
    crucial part of tanking is using cool downs properly. Depending on
    fights, cool downs are either used at pre-determined times or on as
    needed basis. If the fight is an as needed basis, then make sure raid
    health bars are large enough that you can see them clearly. If your
    health is at 100% but the raids are all at sub 50, then consider
    using something so that incoming damage is reduced, so the healers do
    not have to stop raid healing and panic heal you hence straining
    their resources. This is assuming you know attacks will be incoming
    to you.

    • Aelanis

      You know, I don’t remember why I put Dark Stability in for Sparky, but I now really want to see if it stops Brutalize.

      Anyway, a bunch of things wrong with your post.

      1) Your utilities selections are awful odd. Oppressing Force does very little on Commanders, considering you just get a 10 second cooldown reduction on Electrocute, considering nothing in there is standard or weak. Also, if your group relies that heavily on a tank stunning something, your group has some serious problems.

      2) Insulation is bad on the half of all current tier fights. Torque, M/B, Cora, Malaphar, and Sword Squadron see little to no benefit from a stacking DR boost on one ally.

      3) On any fight with numerous adds that you actually need to tank/kill, Lambaste is an incredible talent, and is a huge threat boost against those targets. You yourself later say how important a tank’s damage is, but never suggest the talent?

      4) Your suggestion for a gear spread is extremely close to what KBN would suggest at that gear level, and so I’m wrong? Enlighten me on how that makes sense, please, and show me the math behind how that’s a better stat distribution.

      5) I actually don’t even mention relics, but they’re largely unimportant. You don’t do enough damage as a tank to make the SA/FR relics worthwhile (unless you can get them on a Recklessness DV + Energized Shock combo/Recklessness Discharge + Wither combo), and the tank relics make such a little difference that it hardly even matters. Reactive Warding is still best in slot, and still what I would suggest for any tank, regardless of its relatively small effect, because it means you’re losing less defensive stats by taking it over a DPS relic, due to the passive Defense it carries.

      6) Have you actually done each fight in these operations? Your stacks can, and will, fall off in: Sparky (burn phase tanking adds), Bulo (if you run barrels or have to taunt adds for a while), Torque (if you’re doing your job), Malaphar (if you have to tank adds), Sword Squadron (if you don’t tank swap, which is a very common strategy), Underlurker (if you’re doing your job), and Commanders (again, if you’re doing your job). The 6 piece bonus is not fantastic, no, but it helps mitigate how long it is before your stacks fall off in those instances.

      7) Do you tank in this game? It seems unlikely, because you lack a basic understanding of how shield/absorb and DR work together. Damage comes through your shield first, followed by your DR. If you shield an attack, you prevent your Absorb percent of that damage, and then you prevent your DR percent of the remainder. They don’t add together, and so your bit about “oh but you completely absorb all damage that you do shield” is completely inaccurate. If you shield a 30k pre-mitigation hit at 60% absorb and 44% DR, that’s 6,720 damage that you take, not 0 damage.

      8) Do you know what an average is? If you look at your shield chance, which is an average, you can actually predict, over a large number of hits (or just on average), how many attacks will and will not be shielded. It’s actually really easy math. The numbers I gave were for attacks that got past your defense roll, and only during the time your Dark Ward was down, so that number should look pretty high. If you average it out over the time period, it would be quite smaller, but still a significant jump in damage.

      9) Recklessness absolutely is an amazing defensive cooldown. Again, you lack an understanding of how absorb and DR work, but once you figure that out, you can see just how incredible having almost 90% absorb is when your shield chance is 60%+. For attacks that can be shielded, you take, on average, next to no damage. Example: 200k pre-mitigation hit with 90% Absorb and 44% DR turns into 11,200 damage, which is actually survivable, rather than one-shotting you if you fail to shield it or wiping out most of your health if you shield it without Shroud of Darkness. IF DR and Absorb were additive, you’d be right. But they’re not.

      10) Guard should definitely be used on the person who generates the most threat EXCEPT in the case that a set of mechanics in a fight dictates it goes on another person. Have you seen what Underlurker does to a DPS who pulls off the tank? Have you seen what Soaring Smash does to a DPS who can’t mitigate the entirety of it? It’s bad. DPS having aggro is bad, and a guard reduces aggro much more than it reduces damage they take. Now yes, it’s great to guard the healer when they’ll be taking damage from adds that spawn, or a melee DPS in Underlurker, to help the healers out a little bit. But 8% less damage is nothing if another DPS pulls the boss and takes a 30-50k hit.

      11) I’m not even going to properly address what you said about raid frames, because if you can’t see everyone’s health on your frames, you’re doing something REALLY wrong.

  • dinodoc

    Does anyone know if a 4.0 guide is in the works?

    • Aelanis

      Maaaaaaaaaaybe. 😉

      Silliness aside, I’m working on taking dipstik’s tank stats (here: ) and work out lower gear levels using Bant’s (here: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=847112) approximations.

      • Barb Lee

        Please hurry 🙂 And can you include some actual stat numbers? I know you probably will but some of the guides don’t and they are so helpful when included now that we can see everything number-wise 🙂 Thanks!

        • Aelanis

          Soon. I’m putting together final visuals this next weekend (not this one) and then it should all be good to go. From there, it’s a matter of formatting it for the website.

  • UberSamoyed

    Did you ever determine if Dark Stability works on Sparky and/or Styrak?

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