SWTOR 3.1 Kinetic Combat Shadow Tanking Guide by Aelanis

SWTOR 3.1 Kinetic Combat Shadow Tanking guide by Aelanis of The Shadowlands.

Intro to Kinetic Combat

Kinetic Combat 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. Shadow tanks love Absorb, and to a smaller extent Shield, due to the Kinetic 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 a Shadow 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 Shadows 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, Shadows 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, Shadow 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 Shadows, manage their Kinetic 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 Shadow Wrap talent works.

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

Abilities in your main rotation:

  • Cascading Debris
  • Project
  • Slow Time
  • Double Strike
  • Shadow Strike
  • Force Breach
  • Saber Strike

Situational abilities (out of range or AOE):

  • Whirling Blow
  • 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. Project
  3. Slow Time + Mind Control (taunt immediately after Slow time)
  4. Force Breach (with proc, swap with next GCD if no proc yet)
  5. Double Strike
  6. Project (if you triggered Particle Acceleration, use Potency on this attack, for the big threat boost from the extra damage)
  7. Cascading Debris under Potency (use Potency 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 Cascading Debris, which generates a ludicrous amount of threat. Immediately use Mass Mind Control afterwards.
  8. Double Strike
  9. Project
  10. Slow Time
  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. Project + Mind Control
  3. Slow Time
  4. Force Breach (with proc, swap with next GCD if no proc yet)
  5. Double Strike
  6. Project (Use Potency first if you have Particle Acceleration) + Mass Mind Control
  7. Cascading Debris under Potency (use Potency here if you haven’t yet)
  8. Project
  9. Slow Time + Mind Control

While you don’t have your threat from Cascading Debris 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.

Ability Priority:

  1. Cascading Debris with 3 stacks of Harnessed Darkness
  2. Slow Time (builds stacks of Harnessed Darkness, maintains Weakened debuff)
  3. Project (builds stacks of Harnessed Darkness) (with or without Particle Acceleration)
  4. Force Breach (very high threat, to maintain the Unsteady debuff)
  5. Spinning Strike (execute phase only ability)
  6. Shadow Strike (with Shadow Wrap Buff, also triggers Particle Acceleration)
  7. Double Strike (triggers Particle Acceleration)
  8. Saber Strike (< 35 Force with Project or Slow Time coming off of cooldown)

In 3.1, Force Breach 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:

  • Cascading Debris (if Shadow’s Protection duration almost out)
  • Slow Time
  • Force Breach
  • Project (with Particle Acceleration and at < 3 stacks Harnessed Shadows)
  • Whirling Blow
  • AoE taunt if you lose aggro on too many

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

Force Potency

Force Potency simultaneously gives you 2 stacks of the Potency 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 Cascading Debris, since it does so much damage. For your second move, if you can, you want to use it on a boosted Force Breach, due to the incredible threat it generates, especially in AoE situations, or a Particle Accelerated Project, for the 50% boost to Surge, which is also a nice boost to threat. However, don’t delay Project for Particle Acceleration, as you need to build your Harnessed Shadows stacks as quickly as you can.

Harnessed Shadows

Your mitigation method that shapes your rotation is based around building and spending stacks of the Harnessed Shadows buff, which does nothing on its own, but provides 4% additive DR against all types of attacks when you use the 3 on Cascading Debris to maintain the Shadow’s Protection buff at 4 stacks. A single tick of Cascading Debris is enough to refresh the duration on Shadow’s Protection, but it only lasts 12 seconds. The key to maintaining the buff is to use Project and Slow Time as soon as they come off 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 Project and Slow Time again.

Kinetic Ward

Kinetic 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 Cascading Debris) However, due to the Kinetic Bulwark mechanic, you should only be refreshing Kinetic 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 Shadow Protection fall off. It’s one of the things that separate the excellent from the okay Shadow 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-kinetic-combat-shadow-parse

As you can see, Cascading Debris 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 Cascading Debris, Project and Slow Time are going to be your next highest abilities. Slow time has much higher threat, but you can’t use it as often, and the longer cooldown makes you delay it for Project, in order to make sure you can keep your Shadow Protection buff. Shadow Strike 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 Double Strike. Spinning Strike, once you reach the execute phase, will take precedence over any move that doesn’t generate Harnessed Shadows stacks, because it just generates so much threat. Force Breach 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 a Shadow, you also have an ability (Resilience) 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.

  • Battle Readiness: 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.
  • Resilience: 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).
  • Force Potency: 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 additional 2750 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. Potency and Deflection are very good against a large series of attacks (Deflection only being useful against melee and ranged), whereas Resilience and Battle Readiness are far better for dealing with single, big hits. Battle Readiness 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.

  • Corwin

    Good guide! Love shadow tanking, my favorite spec to play along with Vigilance Guardian.

    • Vendrimair

      Whoa… We’re just alike 😀

    • Aelanis

      Glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I’ll have to disagree about Vigilance Guardian because Shadow DPS is the best 😛

  • Hippodamia

    Hi. Nice work on the guide Aelanis. I have a tank of each class and always found it annoying with my shadow to keep track of the buffs and debuffs especially on operations where you have tons of those flying around because the icons keep changing place in the buff bar when a new one is applied or one falls off. The changes in 3.0 regarding abilities highlighting and buffs sort order alleviate this issue but once in a while I still struggle to find that kinetic ward icon and take a second too long to refresh it.

    I personally find that sorting the effects by apply time and separating personal effects are the most helpful. Perhaps you could add your recommendations regarding this on the guide because as you said it can be hard for new players to keep track of all the effects.

    Cheers

    • Aelanis

      A very good tip. I already did it, but I was also already used to finding Kinetic Ward quickly and just always knowing when I dropped below 5 stacks. I’ve added it in.

  • Prog

    Lol, this guy is writing guides..omg..if you translate Milas’ vanguard guide to shadow terms it will be better than this guide, really. Such absoption stacker.

    • TheHarbingersKwerty

      Hey, while I would have preferred KBN, I don’t think he responds to forum PMs (making it very hard to get in contact with him about making a guide – He never responded to Dulfy’s request of his Ruffian guide making it to this website for example) and Aelanis is a close second. Plus, Shadows ARE absorption stackers. They have massive shield chance boosts in the tree which makes absorption significantly better as a stat.

      Vanguards have ~50% shield chance mid fight normally and their absorb goes up to ~75%. And thats with Shield Chance stacking combined with all their passives.

      Shadows typically have 15% more shield chance, and would end up with only ~58% absorb in the event of gearing the exact same way – so 65% shield, 58% absorb. Only its more efficient to get the 2 closer together by stacking more absorb and less shield.

      Its also why Guardians typically have more defense than the other 2 and less shield/absorb. Its because they have less shield/absorb to begin with, so the multiplicative effect they have on each other is lower, making the stats not worth as much.

      On topic: Good work on the guide Aelanis! The only issue I have is you didn’t bother Parroting Milas in the “Tanking and You & How to Improve” section but thats just nitpicking 😛

      • Aelanis

        Can’t make ’em all happy 😛

    • Aelanis

      Kwerty already told you about it, but I’m going to parrot him, because he likes it when I parrot people, I guess. *shrug*

      Absorb and Shield build off of each other. If you have a ton of Absorb, shield gets really useful and vice-versa. Vanguards get a truly absurd amount of Absorb (25% extra that can stack with another 3% from their stacking buff and another 4% passive boost for a total possible 32% boost), versus their very tame Shield boost (2% passive, 3% stacking buff). Therefore, shield is already far more useful to them than it is to a Shadow. In addition, they can trigger their huge 25% absorb boost faster by shielding more attacks, which makes the influence of shield on their absorb even greater than the stats alone would tell. As icing on the cake, shielding gets them better uptime on their new 2 piece set bonus, for even better mitigation due to shield. Milas was right: shield is love, shield is life… for Vanguards.

      Shadows, on the other hand, have a pretty ridiculous boost to Shield chance in Kinetic Ward. It used to be 20% pre-3.0, but it’s still a raw 15% boost. In comparison, they get a 4% passive and an anywhere between 2-6% time averaged boost to Absorb. Therefore, Absorb is more valuable to them than Shield is just from the stats. The really tricky part is that, eventually, Shield rating becomes toxic to a Shadow’s survivability. If you start stacking too much Shield rating, you start burning through all of your stacks of Kinetic Ward, and your survivability suddenly plummets. This is why, instead of all Shield/Absorb, you take some Defense: to mitigate some damage without having to eat a stack of your Kinetic Ward. This prolongs the effective duration of your Kinetic Ward, and therefore your Kinetic Bulwark, which delays the loss of survivability due to Kinetic Ward dropping.

      So no. Don’t stack all Shield as a Shadow tank. Doing so shows you don’t really understand how either a) the game mechanics work or b) Shadows mitigate damage.

      • HadesClutch

        Just a minor point to add to the Absorption on Vanguards is that they also have heavy armor. So it’s not near as a big deal for Vanguards as Shadows, especially without our 150% armor increase (Combat Tech.) we had at launch that leveled the playing field for armor rating.

    • Aelanis

      Besides that, I think you missed this entire paragraph: “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.”

    • Prog

      Some reason:
      If your healers cannot heal you without high absorption and defense, you should replace your healers by more competent healers. If your healers cannot heal you with high absorption and defense, you might hear from your healers (if they are competent) something like: “I cant heal through oneshot!”. So if you go for mean mitigation which you all seem to like, you pretend that healers in your team are competent (even if they are indeed competent, can’t be sure) and wipe sometimes because tank is too spiky. After reading this guide I checked some youtube shadow tank PoV kills on DF/DP NiM. It’s been very fun to see insane spikes.

      ’bout set bonus. You must be retarded to go for new set bonus. You loose roughly 1% of EK DR (loose 2% from old and get 1% from new armor rating), 2% of IE DR and 5% of shield chance. You also gain nothing.

      Kinetic Ward is a cooldown. It is not constant buff or it wouldn’t have stacks. Like on vanguard you never do energy blast when you start kiting rapid fire on sword squadron, you do it after to get some benefit from it. On shadow you never use Kinetic Ward if you take very minor damage right now, you save it to survive bursts of many attacks per second. You say you loose 15 stacks quickly, to what do you loose it? To base attacks each hits 200? Not benefitial. Save it for Bulo’s Scatter Blast that does 7k each tick and shield because your shield chance is incredibly high.

      • Aelanis

        Or you know, have it for when you get a barrel on Bulo, because human reaction time isn’t fast enough to react to that. Or maybe for if you need to taunt the adds on that fight. Or maybe if you’re taking a lot of sustained damage because burst damage isn’t the only thing that exists. Kinetic Ward is active mitigation, and it’s designed to be used at all times, not just for burst damage. I don’t know if you noticed, but Bulo’s basic attacks hit for quite a bit more than 200 damage. A PT tank in my guild has lost 70% of his health because he didn’t shield either the auto-attack or knockback on Blaster, and you suggest that auto-attacks don’t do enough damage to be worth using Kinetic Ward? That’s absurd.

        You also don’t understand what the new 6 piece set bonus does. It increases your average Absorb over the course of a fight and helps prevent you from losing all stacks of Kinetic Ward and squishing. Granted, the increase is small, but it’s there. Is it as nice as our old set bonus? No, not if you’re not going to run out of stacks of Kinetic Ward. But the survivability drop without Kinetic Ward is significant, and so keeping it up is important, and that’s what this set bonus does.

        • Prog

          All I can do about bulo grenade is to take damage alone, not making someone else take it with me. It is one hit, shield is too rng here. Scatter blast is 5 ticks if I am correct, would be cool to shield all 5.
          Not all autoattacks ofc, I know that in new operations majority of bosses have over 2k autoattacks. Just don’t want to put Kinetic Ward on cooldown if according to timers boss will do his Scatter blast in 10 seconds. I’d rather pass boss to second tank who has his 15 stacks and cooldown on ward is soon to expire (using 2 shadow tanks).

          Increase is small, you said it yourself. And well, our understanding of kinetic ward is too different. I say it is a cooldown, you say it is static buff that has to be maintained always. I wouldn’t mind having it static right now, but bw have to remove stacks and make it 15 seconds buff or let only 1 stack go per GCD. Until one of us agrees on this point, we also won’t agree on set bonus.

          • Prog

            Actually, bulo barrel cannot be shielded. Elemental damage. Dunno why I didnt mention it in the first place.

      • warlock

        Are you really at 8/10 on HM progression with shadow tank?
        “if your healers cannot heal you without high absorption and defense, you should replace your healers by more competent healers” they can say same about you.
        Judging by your comments you would need 1 healer just for you to constantly heal you, and not to mention that that would put a lot of pressure to healer resources. My main character is healer and I would rather go on raid with Aelanis than with you.
        And my 2nd character is shadow tank, so I know what I am talking about.

    • Prog

      Also, I’d like to read guides from people who kill some operation bosses actually. So mind posting also in guide what bosses you killed so I can estimate if I need to read this guide or not.

      I am 8/10 HM.

      • Aelanis

        If you’ve already killed 8/10 HM, then why are you looking for advice on how to tank? Guides aren’t written for experts, they’re written for beginners. The experts talk to each other about what has worked and what hasn’t, and about any models they’ve developed, or data they’ve gathered, to back up their statements. As far as I’m aware, there is only 1, maybe 2, Shadow or Assassin tanks in the game to have cleared 8/10, and none of them had put together a guide by a month and a half after release, so I wrote it to help out those people looking for help.

        So please, take your poor attitude elsewhere so I can provide advice to the people who really need a guide to get better.

        • Prog

          I want to learn anywhere it is possible, thats why I check for guides. I hate when guides say that things I use long time don’t actually work, so it may result in my poor attitude as you noticed. Don’t rush on writing guides if you didn’t prove that stuff you use works, you simply fool people. Are you fine with such responsibility? Fine, I won’t bother you more.

          Also, I think guides should be written by experts.

  • HadesClutch

    Pretty good guide. Haven’t gotten around to doing the new ops, kind of lost interest in TOR these past couple of months. That being said, still an excellent read – I like seeing how other people play my favorite role (Will Tank) for reference in how to play myself better and/or comparatively. Well done, keep up the good work.

    • Aelanis

      Thanks for the kind words, they make it a little easier to come back and keep up with the comments.

  • Ludie

    Nice job on the guide. I do understand that theres more than 1 way to do things and i think you are very accurate for the most part. About rotation i like to do slow time right after force pull just because i think its more important to get the debuff on the boss asap and the procs on project feel a bit more synched that way (my perfect procced rotation is something like this FP-ST-FB-P-taunt-DS-SS-P-CD and aoe taunt) anyway something to put out there. Again good job

    • Aelanis

      The thing about that is that you won’t be able to hold a no-gap 3 taunt rotation like that. The 4 piece, should you choose to run it (you should if you want to maximize Kinetic Ward up time in these HMs), will reduce the cooldown of Mind Control every time you use Slow Time. This means, if you taunt right before your first Slow Time, that you’ll get an effective 11 second cooldown: short enough that there won’t be gaps between your taunts. It’s actually something I took a while to notice since 3.0 dropped.

      • Ludie

        True that, but usually this rotation takes me to the safe zone on the threat table,
        since burning all the high threat abilities before the 1st taunt boosts the effect of taunt. Haven’t took a close look at 3.0 numbers but at 2.0 i was at 5k tps on the opener before the 2nd taunt, i guess it’s time to hit the dummy again

        • Aelanis

          If you have a Vanguard in the group playing Tactics, though, you really need that 18 second taunt block to hold aggro, though. The burst is so high if they get just a little lucky that you can’t numerically hold threat against them, you just have to taunt off of their threat and hope the final taunt puts you at high enough threat to last out the rest of their burst. By not taunting during the second GCD, you also run the risk of an Infiltration Shadow pulling off of you, or a Sharpshooter Gunslinger, who have very high damage in the opening 2 globals.

          Basically, unless they were to tone back burst further, it’s very possible that a burst spec could pull off of you if you don’t taunt early.

          • Ludie

            Lol, this is what waiting for the grophet in rishi does (doing that atm) anyway, on topic, i dont have a vanguard dps on my group but there’s an infiltration shadow and he hits like a truck, but then again he always gets my guard 😛 so i havent had issues with threat. But i’ll give your rotation a go

            Now, about relics i’ve been running shield amplification and reactive warding, but i think i read somewhere that reactive warding is bugged atm, can you confirm/deny this?

            And again thanks for taking the time to write the guide, in my opinion tanking is a learning process and i always like to bounce opinions with other tanks

            • Aelanis

              Yeah, that’s why I haven’t done it yet on my Assassin. I let my guild mate do it for me on the republic side, though 😛

              Anyway, I can’t say for sure if it’s bugged unless you let me know what part you think is bugged. I’ve noticed nothing out of the ordinary, though I will be hopping on my Vanguard tank tonight, so I’ll have a bunch of fights to look through to see.

              You shouldn’t use Shield Amplification, though, go with Fortunate Redoubt. Even with less of the damage being defensible in this tier of operations, you’ll get more use out of the Defense boost due to both not having to multiply through by shielding and by having less Defense to start with. Shield Amplification relics would have to have larger values than the Redoubt relics have defense to make them worth it.

              • Antho Lagoon

                so what did you recommend as combo relics ?
                shield Amp and ? what ? fortunate redoubt ? reactive ward ? or shrouded crusader ?

              • Aelanis

                So, quite some time after the previous response I had here, dipstik did some math to figure out what relics were best for each fight. I’ll sum that up here.

                Reactive Warding is best in slot. Period. End of story. Use it. Your second relic depends on two things: the mods you’re using (how much mitigation you’ve traded for hp at an acceptable rate) and how good you are at actively managing relics. If you use B mods, then Shield Amplification is the best second relic, considering the hard to heal fights are low M/R. If you use unlettered mods (high mitigation) and are good at actively managing relics, then go with the Shrouded Crusader relic, for the extra shield/absorb boost. If you use unlettered mods and are bad at remembering to activate relics, then it’s a toss up, depending on how much M/R damage the fight has vs how much F/T K/E damage.

  • Hollow

    Aelanis,

    I like the guide a lot. Your spreadsheet that pulls values is very nice. Any interest in merging it into my tank stat calculator spreadsheet?

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IfYv1wzGEsd0ElFw3a3ePpMxpHJOMNTjIqU4m6hLjao/edit?usp=sharing

    • Aelanis

      Go ahead and add it. All I did was add interpolation between data points.

  • MRK

    Just one question – which relics do you use and why? I don’t think I saw that covered here.

    • Aelanis

      I didn’t, partly because I’m not 100% sure. I don’t have the damage profiles on all the fights, but with as little defensible damage as is in this tier, you may be best off going with Shield Amplification and Reactive Warding. Again, though, I haven’t done enough math yet to decide on if that’s what’s best or not.

  • integrabyte

    As someone who barely has any time to raid nowadays, due to work, this guide was informative. It was a good synthesis as to where the class is given DF / DP NiM profiling. I have good progress in the new instances given that I raid twice a week . I killed 5/10 bosses with my OLD bonus set and BIS DP /DF NIM (under buff) itemization, whereas the other 3 have been killed with the new gear.
    Absorb is extremely easy to get nowadays so gearing has become less tedious. If it were not for the KW issues, I would not even bother with the new 6 bonus set.

    • Aelanis

      Bulo, Sword Squadron, and Torque are the ones that really make melee hate their lives (sometimes including tanks), but the others aren’t so bad. They’ve just made it such that Troopers have a huge advantage in being able to ignore the physics based aspects of the fights (of which there are a lot). A bunch of people made some comments in the PTS feedback thread about making Shadow tanks slightly more mobile, but we’ll see what happens.

  • somenoob

    I’m mainly a pvper and was looking to min/max my shadow tank. I was wondering if there was any diminishing returns or caps on shield/absorption rating. Defense rating is pretty useless in pvp so I can’t make up my mind between choosing fortitude or shield/absorption augments.
    TL;DR is there a diminishing return on shield/absorption percentages? If so, what’s the cap?

    • Aelanis

      The way you talk about it, I don’t think you understand what Diminishing Returns really are. When one of your stats has Diminishing Returns (everything except Power and the Mainstat contribution to bonus damage/healing), that simply means that each point you gain in the stat is less valuable than the previous point was. With that said, the questions you asked make no sense, and are not the questions you should be asking.

      What you should be asking, and what I’ll answer, is that you should scrap most, if not all, of your Defense gear, grab the high endurance versions of everything, and then augment for Endurance. In PvP, you don’t always have a healer, and burst damage is high enough (and enough of it ignores mitigation) that Time To Kill (TTK) is, at the moment, the best way we have of analyzing tanks in PvP. The best way to improve your TTK (literally how long it takes to kill you from full health with no external healing) is to improve your health pool. You don’t do this in PvE, because you always (or should always) have a healer to fill your health bar back up, and so you take mitigation to reduce the amount they need to heal you after every hit, so long as you can survive the immediate spikes. In PvP, since you can’t always count on a healer (stuns/mezzes or simply not having one) you need to be as self-sustaining as possible, and big hit point pools are how you do that.

      • pvpguy

        There’s little point in tanking in PVP without a healer.

        • Aelanis

          I don’t think you really got the meaning behind what I was saying. Your healer can, and will, get stunned/mezzed/killed, and you will find yourself without a healer for extended periods of time. Those are when it’s hardest to survive, and so that’s what you gear for in PvP as a tank.

          • Self-righteous

            I have been having better luck surviving ranked matches where my healer gets CCd with half defense and half absorb augs than full endurance. Have you tested the viability of those stats with a dedicated healer?

  • Menardi

    Hello and thanks for the guide. But if you excuse me, I have one question, seeing the numbers of defense, shield and absorption ratings, how much are those in %? specially the defense rating… 857 or 867 how much it would be? cause I guess I don’t know how to see this inside game… I have less than 400 I guess (the way I think it’s the way I should look for it) and it goes for 21%.. thank you for your answer 🙂

    • Aelanis

      Those numbers equate to roughly 25.96% and 26.05% respectively. You can see what your total defense rating is by hovering over your defense chance on your character sheet.

  • nice guide! I love shadow tanking and really needed the insight about defense vs absorb. thank you 🙂

    • Aelanis

      Glad you found it useful. I wouldn’t call it the gospel, but you’ll always want to run more Absorb than Defense on a Shadow due to Kinetic Ward. I hope to have an update to the guide for the ToS/Ravagers damage profiles before too long, so the numbers I used might change a little bit. I’m just too lazy to do it myself and am waiting on KBN to do his usual excellent work. If you have other questions, feel free to ask.

  • espiegle

    “Exotech Absorb Adrenal” Anyone know where this schem can be purchased?

    • Aelanis

      I can’t say for sure, but it might still be available off of the old Classic Commendation vendors in Section X. If not, you’ll have to find someone on your server who can craft them. Which I can, if you play on The Shadowlands 🙂

      • espiegle

        thank you, I will try there.

    • Lazer

      black hole vendor

  • SV

    It seems something is broken in the latest patch, force regen is not what it used to be and it has become a lot easier to run out of force. Some people have reported shielding an attack is only granting 2 force instead of the 4 it is supposed to (I don’t think assassins have the same issue but not sure)

    • Aelanis

      I couldn’t say on Assassins either, but it does seem to be there for Shadows. I would go ahead and start submitting a bug report every time you get into a fight with your Shadow tank.

  • Quay-Gon

    Hello Aelanis,
    Recently I have heard that it is good to stack 50/50 defense/absorption.What do you think of that approach?

  • Verudež Puležanović

    Hi all and Aelanis, you done great job here, nice explained. But i have question: Ussuali i take my jedi shadow as a tank (ops-es and FP-s)., but sometimes also as DPS. what armor to use for DPS? (i mean: strengh, endurance, aim….? ) thank you for answer!

    • TheHarbingersKwerty

      You’ll find that in Aelanis’s Serenity guide, or Artorias’s Infiltration guide.

      Basically, willpower gear, stalkers set bonus, but those guides go more in-depth

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  • Isaac

    You mentioned non lettered mods, but what are the names of those?

    • Aelanis

      Reinforced and Robust mods. Same name as the lettered mods, but without the letter.

      …that seems a little condescending. Sorry.

  • heyguy1

    relics?

    • Aelanis

      Honestly? It makes very little difference.

      Longer answer: Always use Reactive Warding, it’s the best tank relic in the game. Use Shrouded Crusader for Revan, Cora/Ruugar, Master/Blaster, and Sword Squadron, and use Fortunate Redoubt for all the other fights. Previous content doesn’t really matter any more, but in 4.0, maybe I’ll go back and update this.

  • Dylan Bull

    For relic should you use shied amp since you have a greater chance of shielding an attack than you do of getting the 30 chance on fortunate redobt actually procing.

    • Aelanis

      That’s not quite how it works. For one, any kind of damage will trigger Fortunate Redoubt, which means Internal/Elemental can, which won’t trigger Shield Amp. In addition, the relics you want are based on the damage profile for each fight, and while it doesn’t make a huge difference, there is a difference in the damage taken using the different relics. Malaphar has no damage that can be shielded but not defended. All the damage is M/R K/E or F/T I/E, which means that the Fortunate Redoubt relic is better. Now, Malaphar is super easy and so it doesn’t really matter, but for Revan, you’d actually want the Shrouded Crusader, since it also boosts your Shield chance, in addition to the absorb boost.

  • SupRun

    So I am running about 23% defense, 53% absorb, and putting the rest of my augments into shield (currently around 39 or so, not fully augmented yet). I work a lot better with the actual percentages than the numbers. I’m not yet really comfortable with the Shadow tank, but I figure I will have a lot better time and I’ll learn more if I’m alive rather than dead.

  • TheINternetTroll

    Bro, sounds like your mom’s a fucking prostitute. You might want to sit down and have a talk with that bitch.

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