SWTOR 4.0 Focus Guardian PvE Guide by Artorias

SWTOR 4.0 Focus Guardian PvE Guide by Artorias.

Introduction to Focus Guardian

Focus Guardian is your alternative DPS discipline versus Vigilance. The differences are in both the playstyle and damage out put. Unlike Vigilance, Focus doesn’t have DoT’s (except Exhaustion) and is more mobile, especially with the utility selections.

Focus is considered a burst spec but isn’t as bursty as once before and in comparison to say Infiltration or Combat but it has its strengths. Regardless, Focus gives the option of swapping between an AOE and single target rotation for situational DPS increases.

Utilities

Below are the utilities you’ll want to take. These utilities will increase DPS as well as some quality of life for your rotation and capability in a fight. You can realistically take what you like, but there are ones I consider mandatory, which I will outline below.

Skillful

image Trailblazer: Cyclone Slash deals 25% more damage.(Mandatory)
image Narrowed Focus: Taking non-periodic area of effect damage generates 1 Focus. This effect cannot occur more than once every second.
image Focused Freedom: Activating Combat Focus purges movement-impairing effects and increases your movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds.

Masterful

image Purifying Sweep: For the Defense Discipline, Force Sweep slows the targets it damages by 60% for 10 seconds. For the Vigilance and Focus disciplines, Force Sweep and Vigilant Thrust sunder the targets they damage for 45 seconds. Sundered targets have their armor rating decreased by 20%.
image Ardent Advocate: Force Leap enables your next Dispatch to be used against a target with any percentage of health. Lasts up to 15 seconds. (Mandatory)

Heroic

image Through Peace: Reduces the Cooldown of Focused Defense by 30 seconds.
image Daunting Presence: Force Leap finishes the cooldown on Disruption. In addition, Saber Reflect lasts 2 seconds longer, and while Soresu Form is active, generates a high amount of threat on all engaged enemies within 30 meters when activated.

Gearing and Stats Priority

With the large amount of changes to stats such as Mastery, Critical Rating and so on. Gearing is a bit more open than it used to be, how ever I will outline what I deem is a decent stat allocation. This will change with gear tiers and stat budget so I’ll try and make this universal.

  • Accuracy: 110% Melee (120% Force). 1% from Companion, 685 Accuracy Rating from Gear.
  • Crit: 1000 (Full Defiant) to 1200 (Full Exarch)
  • Alacrity: 300 (A rough 2 enhancements)
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
  • Set Bonus: 6 Piece Vindicator
  • Form: Shii-Cho
  • Augments: Crit, Accuracy or Alacrity to reach the above goals. Avoid Mastery augments.

What You need to Know

Focus revolves around buffing yourself passively in rotation to allow for a massive hit at the end of each ‘cycle’. These cycles remain the same until certain situations like execute or AOE where some abilities will be shifted or neglected.

Buffs/Passives

image Singularity: While Shii-Cho Form is Active, activating Combat Focus/damage dealt by Force Exhaustion grants Singularity, increasing the damage dealt by your next Focused Burst and Force Sweep by 15% and making your name Focused Burst or Force Sweep consume no Focus. Also lowers the CD of Combat Focus by 15 seconds and additonally Combat Focus generates 6 Focus over 6 seconds.
image Felling Blow: Force Leap and Zealous make your next Force Sweep or Focused Burst automatically Crit.
image Zephyrean Slash: While Shii-Cho Form is active, Strike, Sundering Strike, Slash, Cyclone Slash, Riposte, Blade Storm, Dispatch, and Concentrated Strike reduce the active cooldowns of Force Sweep, Focused Burst, and Zealous Leap by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2 seconds.
image Heightened Power: Increases all damage dealt by 5% for 6 seconds after dealing damage with Force Sweep or Focused Burst. Cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds.
image Focused Resonance: Increases the Critical strike damage of all abilities by 15%.
image Momentum: Reduces the Cooldown of Zealous Leap by 3 seconds. When Force Leap or Zealous Leap is used, your next Blade Storm deals 5% more damage and generates 1 Focus.
image Concentrated Power: Concentrated Slice enables Riposte and beats down the target for 45% causing them to take 5% more damage from melee attacks.
image Protective Focus: Focused Burst and Force Sweep increase damage reduction by 5% for 8 seconds.

Abilities

image Focused Burst: Deals a massive amount of single target Kinetic damage when buffed fully (this should always be the case.) Procs Heightened Power and consumes Singularity and Felling Blow.
image Force Sweep: Deals a massive amount of Kinetic damage when fully buffed, though less than Focused Burst, compensates for this by being AOE. Should never be used on Single Target.
image Concentrated Slice: Deals high amount of weapon damage and autocrits when utilizing the 6-piece Vindicator Set Bonus. It’s your hardest critting attack, also beats down the target, debuffing it for your entire group, making the target take more melee damage.
Costs: 5 Focus
image Blade Blitz: New to 4.0. Blitzes forward, dealing weapon damage to those in your path. Also increases resist chance to 100% for duration. Damage is lower than a Trailblazer buffed Cyclone Slash, compensates for this by having no target cap and the resist chance.
image Riposte: Deals decent weapon damage. Now on the GCD, only useable after Concentrated Sliceand both should be used as a couple, your rotation, if done perfectly will always be capable of doing this.
Costs: 2 Focus
image Blade Storm: Deals moderate Kinetic damage. Has a Range of 10m and now procs your 6-Piece Vindicator set bonus.
Generates: 1 Focus
image Zealous Leap: 10m gap closer and one of the most used abilities due to granting Felling Blow.
Costs: 2 Focus
image Saber Throw: Replaces Riposte in rotation at points to stop the rotation from burning itself out. Deals moderate damage but not more than Riposte, compensates for this by securing the rotation.
Generates: 3 Focus
image Blade Dance: Used in its own respective cycle. Used within Heightened Power windows, meaning it’s always 5% more powerful.
image Dispatch: Used within the execute on top of post Force Leap with the buff from Ardent Advocate. Deals massive crit damage, second to Concentrated Slice. Replaces and costs one more than Riposte, meaning its use condenses the use of Saber Throw more, but is very much worth it.
Costs: 3 Focus
image Slash: Never used. You should never find yourself having room in your rotation or CD imbalance requiring you to use it.
Costs: 3 Focus
image Strike: Never used as it does terrible damage and has zero benefit to you entirely.
Generates: 2 Focus
image Force Leap: Simple gap closer that allows you to transition to your target in opener or if you need to swap and get to your new target ASAP.
Generates: 3 Focus

Opener and Rotation

Opener

The opener for Focus is rather simple. You begin with a buffed Focused Burst from Combat Focus and your Force Leap. Combat Focus frontloads your Singularity and Force Leap grants Felling Blow, allowing the following Focused Burst to crit.

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-opener

Saber Throw will grant some additional Focus on top of a decent hit before you gap close with Force Leap. Combat Focus will build your buffs and more focus to begin your next cycle with while its buff to generate Focus over time will persist also. Dispatch will be used instead of Riposte due to Ardent Advocate, bringing some added damage into your rotation. Any time you Force Leap, always substitute Dispatch for the next Riposte. Ardent Advocate lasts 15 seconds, plenty of time to reach the next Riposte or the one after if you mess up.

Sundering Strike will also proc your 2-piece set bonus, Blade Storm, Concentrated Slice and so on will become slightly stonger on top of being inside a Heightened Power window. Blade Storm will also proc your 6-piece, meaning your auto crit will fall under a Heightened + Set bonus power window, meaning all abilities in this 8 second window are 7% stronger.

Cycles

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-cycle

As I mentioned before, Focus has cycles and each one moves into one another. They carry Focus or lack of Focus into one another. You need to Alternate between Dance Cycle and Combat Cycle or Combat Cycle 2 depending on how much Focus you have. As I mentioned, Saber Throw is needed to keep rotation Stability and Combat Cycle 2 is needed so you don’t need to resort to basic attack. Due to Saber Throw now being 0m on default, this rotation have now be used sans any set bonus.

Knowing when to use Combat Cycle 2 is rather easy. When your Dance Cycle ends, if the amount of Focus you have is two or lower, then you need to substitute in Saber Throw as an impending Zealous Leap will eventually fail, leaving you without any means of using it. This process can be delayed in fights due to Visionary and Narrowed Focus granting you Focus back for taking damage. But always keep this in mind as it may catch you off guard if you rely too heavily on damage intake for rotation stability.

Execute

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-execute

With the large amount of Focus from your Combat Cycle 2 bleeding into your next cycles, this opens up room to allow Dispatch. This means Saber Throw will be used more frequently for a potentially massive gain of damage, as such it balances out. The rotation simply replaces Riposte for Dispatch and every 2nd Combat cycle is Combat Cycle 2, meaning Saber Throw is used (practically on cooldown). This helps not burn you out for the increase in rotational cost.

Advanced Rotation

In 3.0, a few players voiced concern on the placement of Sundering Strike and the use of Force Exhaustion with Blade Dance. With the help of Rydarus (Author of Vengeance guide), we found a rotation that flips ability placement around to remove Sundering Strike from the Heightened Power Window. This rotation isn’t as easy on the eyes as the other and doesn’t flow as nicely but it still works and secures more damaging abilities inside the window.

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-advanced-opener

Here is the advanced opener. As you can see it’s a bit less clear in regards to a pattern of combination of abilities but follows the same rules.

Cycles

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-advanced-cycles

As you can see, Sundering Assault has been pushed to the end of the Ravage Cycle meaning its outside the Heightened Power window. On top of this, the placement of Blade Storm also procs the 6-piece Set Bonus, allowing your first Concentrated Slice to crit versus the second with the more simple rotation.

The Riposte Proc of the Dance Cycle will carry into the Combat Cycle to be used before Blade Dance. If used after Blade Dance, it’ll fall off before you can get a chance to use it. Hence it has to be used before Blade Dance so you can get it and the second Riposte off during your Combat cycle.

Lastly, in the Combat Cycle 2, you will ignore the first Riposite in favor of Saber Throw for the reasons outlined above to stop the rotation burning itself out.

Execute

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-advanced-execute

And finally, here is your execute.

Sample Parse

swtor-4.0-guardian-focus-sample-parse

Above is a sample parse damage distribution. Regardless of gear levels you should see this graph be roughly the same. This parse is about a 5.1k in 192’s with new augments (my focus has been on my tank set).

Firstly, you’ll notice Focused Burst is the highest contributor to your damage, dealing about a quarter of the total damage dealt. How ever in a fight, this number may be lower due to uses of Sweep or delays on the use of this ability.

Coming in second is Concentrated Slice. Due to the high base damage and even higher crit damage, it will pull a head over Blade Dance as it has less shut down possibility on top of being instant.

Blade Dance most of the time is a decent filler, as you can see, its damage gap between Concentrated Slice is much higher than Zealous Leap. Blade Dance can and will do high amounts of damage but it’s barely an ability that will push past Zealous Leap.

Zealous Leap, even though a minor gap closer does deal good damage, even when it crits. It deals higher base damage than Blade Storm but does cost Focus, though since the rotation is built to ensure it’s always usable, it’s used pretty much on cooldown.

Blade Storm is very suseptible to crits for its contribution. A great ability due to the fact it grants Focus but as a damage contributing ability, its contribution is sort of RNG plagued, arguably this case could be made for any ability but the contribution deviation on my parses of Blade Storms seems to be one of the highest.

Sundering Strike merely out contributes other abilities due to flat usage. The abilities that fall below it merely are not used enough to push past its total damage.

Dispatch, depending on scenarios in fights may be used a lot more than a parse due to Ardent Advocate. Right now it’s used once outside the execute and frequently within. Don’t expect it to be a big player in the end result of your parse.

What to Check For

  • What was the minimum hit of your Focused Burst/Force Sweep? You’ll see a rough deviation of 2000 max due to Relic and Adrenal windows. If you land a rough 10,500 Focused Burst, your minimum should be the low 8000’s. If you have hit far lower than this 2k deviation, you’ve messed up a Singularity window at some point or another.
  • The Number of Zealous Leaps+Force Leap activations = Number of Focused Bursts+Force Sweeps.
  • APM (Actions Per Minute) of at least 39.4 (sans any Alacrity).
  • Are you clipping Blade Dance effectively at the 0.3 second mark? Clipping Blade Dance with Concentrated Slice secures it inside the Heightened Power window.
  • Is your Focused Burst/Force Sweep average output higher than 10secs? If so, you’re delaying it or your rotation is too slow.
  • Did you basic attack? If so, where and why. If you did, you messed up Focus managment and need to work on it.
  • Confused

    How do you get 120% force accuracy? The base accuracy is 100% (101% whit comp bonus) so is it a typo?

  • Lithari

    Hmmm, why is trailblazer a requirement? the ability it buffs does rubbish damage even with the buff.

    • Фролов Денис

      Becouse sometimes you need all the AOE you can scramble. It’s not like there are some better choices anyway.

      • Lithari

        I am just saying the damage it does is terrible, i mean for the focus cost of the said ability, i believe the damage needs to be increased to atleast match that of Slash.

        That is just my opinion anyway.

  • Лев Сафаров

    Force Leap finishes the cooldown on Disruption. I thought it calls force kick, isn’t it?

    • Лев Сафаров

      Protective Focus: Focused Burst and Force Sweep increase damage reduction by 5% for 8 seconds. And here i believe 5% for 6 sec, but not closer then every 8 sec.

      • Лев Сафаров

        And riposte can be used not only after concentrated slice but after your attack miss target, at least description says that.

        • Лев Сафаров

          As you can see, Sundering Assault has been pushed to the end of the
          Ravage Cycle meaning its outside the Heightened Power window.
          Sundering strike and blade dance here must be i think.

        • Artorias

          Even if it procs off you dodging. You still use it in the same point, the base working of the ability is irrelevant as its overwritten by the proc

  • jediguy

    Good guide however pls let me point out the room for improvement 🙂
    1st altho dulfy hosts an excellent discipline calculator u could list force exhaustion among the rational abilities
    2nd u spoke about an aoe rotation in the beginning what I’m eager to see

    As always it’s meant as a productive criticism, and thanks for your effort

    • Secrus

      as for 2nd. you just swap riposte with cyclone slash and focused burst with force sweep

    • Artorias

      AOE isn’t rocket science. More targets = more use of Cyclone Slash and Force Sweep. Also I keep forgetting Force Exhaustion, ill get that fixed.

      • jediguy

        i thought its not rocket science 🙂
        I just never played this spec, but i like to know what to expect from them

  • AdjeYo

    I have a question about the advanced cycles. It seems you’re still using sundering strike inside the heightened power window, did you pherhaps mean to switch around blade storm and blade dance? That seems like it would make more sense to me.

    • Artorias

      It could work though i can see issues with bridging Concentrated Slice. I’ll look in to it.

      • AdjeYo

        Thing is, advanced rotation still uses sundering strike in the heightened power window, which would be the main concern with the regular rotation.

  • DuguQiubai

    Nice guide I just have a question or two.
    First is 1200 seems a bit low for being in 220 gear this including augments.
    2nd 300 alacrity seems way to low.
    It may just be me, I have not geared my guardian up yet but my sage is rocking 1355 crit and 713 alacrity in 220/224.
    I do have a concentration sent that has 1289 crit and almost 500 alacrity mix of 220 some 216

    • Artorias

      See above

  • 23velyn

    For full 220 gear the following stats can be achieved with augments:

    6160 Endurance | 5158 Mastery | 2779 Power
    1219 Critical (3xE, 9xA, 2xC) | 800 Alacrity (5xE) | 685 Accuracy (2xE, 5xA)

    So yeah, possibly a miscalculation or typo in the guide?

    • Artorias

      Likely. This guide was written before the optimal thread was published. I can get the optimal snippet put on the guide if people want.

  • Gladeye

    Will you make also a sentinel focus guide Artorias or is it much the same for sentinels?

    • Artorias

      Not doing it. Not sure how different but ts different enough.

    • Rancoth

      Rotation and circles are the same. You just need to replace Combat Focus with Zen and Riposte with Slash.

      • Gladeye

        No replacement for Sundering Strike?

        • SupRun

          Zealous Strike would replace Sundering Strike. It’s the Sent version of the ability.

          • Gladeye

            thanks!

  • SupRun

    How viable is Focus in raids compared to other melee disciplines? Not just vs Vigilance, but vs VGs/Sents/Shadows/Scoundrels?

    • Artorias

      SM: Viable
      HM: Viable if you know what you’re doing
      NiM: Not Viable.

  • dave

    in your opener you do focus burst before con slice why is that. i thought con slice increases the dmg that focus burst does. The rest of your rotation has con slice before FB.

    • Artorias

      That’s only for Sentinel.

      • dave

        aw okay

  • Trivium

    It should be 110% Force accuracy since only melee accuracy has been increased.

  • Epok

    I don’t know what it is, but I gave your advanced rotation a try and I simply cannot get it to be self-sustaining.

    I was forced to place sundering strike behind zealous leap in the opener because it would otherwise waste focus. Focus that I desperately needed at the end of the second cycle of the opener because it was just enough for the zealous leap. However, I run into the same problem after a few combat cycles, when the focus sundering strike provides is wasted before zealous leap. But, this time, I do not have the luxury of placing it after zealous leap because zealous leap is on cooldown.

    Input would be welcome. I’m puzzled as to how you got that rotation to work and am hoping it’s simply a user error.

    As a side note, I previously was using this as my opener in conjunction with your original rotation: Force Leap –> Sunder Strike –> Blade Storm –> Concentrated Slice –> Dispatch –> Combat Focus+Focused Burst –> Dance Cycle

    Thoughts?

    • Artorias

      I’ll give your message a proper look over when out of hospital. If you’re having trouble with the advanced rotation, go to the original one. They parse roughly the same.

      • Epok

        Oh, dang man. I hope you and yours are doing alright. =/ Take your time.

        • Artorias

          As for your rotation agreed. Sundering should come before zealous, looking over the execute image, I see it’s incorrect which is purely my fault, which I’ll address ASAP. It’ll always be Sundering -> Zealous due to Zealous’ CD being a bitch.

  • kilomo

    Well, in terms of single target DPS, which ultimately defines your raid performance, Guard/Jugg is simply fucked? I mean, couldn’t they at least give us one specc that would do good single target DPS without beig a tryhard?

    • Artorias

      Jugg can’t do a good amount of DPS, especially for NiM. They’re just incapable right now. It’s a far safer bet to pursue PT or Sniper.

      • HuNtOziO

        Juggs are fine, now since the nerf where the overperforming specs were nerfed veng is bang in the middle of the leadboards and has good survivability and utility, just use rage on the few specific fights where you need that extra burst, for 90% of the rest go vengenance.

  • KShrike

    The only thing worse than a scoundrel right now.
    Except at least this rotation provides sunder.

    • Artorias

      Pyro PT, nuff said. 😛

      • KShrike

        It’s a shame though, because I *really* love this spec 🙁

  • plywoody

    Could someone please give me an idea as to what type of damage can be expected for a focus vs. vig build, as well as clarify what amount of damage is expected for the different raid modes..

    sorry for the noob question. but I do appreciate the insite.
    thx

    • Secrus

      vigilance is like 300 DPS ahead vs focus. I personally play focus in PvP, cause of big focused burst hits (15-17k) and concentrated slice like 20k. For PvE Focus can be played in tactical FPs but as it comes to raiding, it is thrash DPS…

  • Evan Karl

    Maybe this is a stupid question… but why isn’t Shien Form preffered over Shii-Choo? I can’t see why it would be beneficial for a DPS to have the 3% defense.

    Leveling a new character, never played a DPS Guardian/Juggernaut, only a Tank before, so I’m totally nwe to this.

    • Corwin

      Shien form is exclusive to Vigilance discipline, you can’t use it with Focus.

      • Evan Karl

        Yes, sorry, I totally screwed up, I was looking at this guide and was so confused cuz I didn’t have any of these abilities, took me a while to realize I was Vigilence.

  • Matthew Jenkins

    Could you tell me what stats I’d need for PvP?

  • belechannas

    I just tried out Rage spec on my Juggernaut alt, and I have to say the intricate rotations without any obvious rhyme or reason left me completely baffled.

    I wrote a computer program to search exhaustively (i.e. it tries every legal combination of moves up to a specified length) for the highest damage repeatable sequence of abilities, taking into account all procs and effects (yes, it took me a couple days to write and debug…).

    So far, I have searched all sequences up to 36 GCDs in length (memory becomes an issue as the length of the sequences increases…). The shortest one the program finds is 26 GCDs long, and the highest dps variation has 4 segments that match what is suggested in this article fairly closely, but not exactly. This sequence starts with zero rage and no buffs. If you like, the “opener” is simply Force Charge + Vicious Throw/Dispatch, which gets you to the starting point (using those two abilities actually lowers the dps, so the “opener” should only be used if you can’t start in melee range).

    It appears, though, that what the program finds can be summarized in a priority list that for me is easier to learn and use:

    Enrage/Combat Focus (if < 6 rage)
    Obliterate/Zealous Leap
    Raging Burst/Focused Blast (only with both buffs)
    Force Scream/Blade Storm (only with +rage buff)
    Force Crush/Force Exhaustion
    Furious Strike/Concentrated Slice
    Sundering Assault/Sundering Strike (if < 6 rage)
    Ravage/Blade Dance
    Saber Throw
    Retaliation/Riposte

    If executed without error, this leads to the 26-GCD optimal repeatable sequence my program found. If mistakes are made, a priority list may be easier to recover than a complicated fixed rotation.
    .

    • Preston

      Can this program work with other ACs? I’m curious as there are several classes with convaluted rotations like this which may benefit from that, and I’m interested by it.

  • Valkhar

    Does the sunder effect of Sundering Strike and the one applied through purifying sweep stack? So that i apply a 40% armour debuff? Or does it merely refresh the effect? Thanks in advance.

  • Tykè

    I think im gonna try this spec. Can you make the jugg version and maybe the Sentinel/Marauder version?

  • Weltenfeind

    So, how come there’s no guides on here for the Marauder/Sentinel version of this? Is it enough to just switch out the sundering strike with Battering Assault/whatever the jedi version is called?

    • Corwin

      The reason there is no guide for marauder is that the spec is very unpopular in PvE due to it being pretty lackluster compared to other 2 specs. Carnage has better burst, Annihilation has better sustain. Finding people who play this spec is hard, so finding someone to write a whole guide would be even harder.

      As a tryhard marauder fan who plays all 3 specs and especially likes Fury I can answer your question: Yes, you can basically change sundering strike to battering assault and combat focus to Berserk. Oh, and instead of riposte you will be using vicious slash. The specs are nearly identical for mara and jugg with some minor passive differences. You can definitely use this rotation on marauder, just change the abilities that i mentioned. Oh, and always pre-stack 30 stacks of Fury before the fight, without it your opener will be messed up. (there is a utility called Brooding for that).

      P.S. Don’t be afraid to play Fury. Yes, it will always have lower numbers than Annihilation or Carnage. Even in aoe situations. But the numbers it provides are totally enough for SM ops, flashpoints and anything else. In Hm ops I also play this spec if I know that my group mates are pretty decent as well. Or when I know the op is not hard. Otherwise I would play Anni to get some additional damage in. E.g. yesterday on last boss in SnV HM I was hitting 5.2k dps as Annihilation and only 4.7k as Fury. It’s a big difference and in such hard fights as Styrak Fury won’t work. Unless other dpses have consistent 5k+. So be careful with playing it in HM ops. Don’t even try it in Nim. Outside of that, it is a totally fine and fun spec to play. Imo the more fun out of all 3, that’s why I try to squeeze it in in every fight I can.

      • Weltenfeind

        Cool, thanks for the answer! ::)

    • AdjeYo

      I’d say replace Sundering Strike with Vicious Slash and then replace the riposte at the end of the dance/ravage cycle with Battering Assault. This way you can use Vicious Slash both times during a Cascading Power window. (Juggs can’t do this because retaliation cooldown is too long, huehue).

  • Danijel Cesar

    Who ever wrote this, is a frikin genius! Thanks a lot.

  • Branden Weaver

    Any chance at a 5.0 update soon?

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