SWTOR 4.0 Defense Guardian PvE Guide by Artorias

SWTOR 4.0 Defense Guardian PvE Guide by Artorias.

Intro to Defense Guardian

Defense Guardian is the defacto cooldown tank. With more cooldowns to offer than Shadow or Vanguard, Guardian combines in your face playstyle with damage control like no other. With the changes in 4.0, no situation is without a reprisal by the Defense Guardian.

Each challenge has recourses from your armory of defensives, so let’s get learning how to use them effectively, shall we?

Utilities

The Defense Guardian’s utilities are both assisting and instrumental to how you tank. Some of these utilities can make or break aspects of your control of a fight both in terms of your influence on a boss and mechanics or control of your own damage intake. Wrong utilities can become problematic.

Skillful

image002 Battlefield Command: Getting attacked reduces the active cooldown of Force Leap by 1 second. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 second.
image004 Narrowed Focus: Taking non-periodic area of effect damage generates 1 Focus. This effect cannot occur more than once every second.
image006 Focused Freedom: When activated, Combat Focus removes movement-impairing effects and increases the Guardian’s movement speed by 50% for the next 6 seconds.
image008 Trailblazer: Cyclone Slash deals 25% more damage. (AOE fights only, sacrifice Narrowed Focus.)

Masterful

image010 Guardianship: Challenging Call protects all allies within range, excluding yourself, granting Guardianship, which absorbs a moderate amount of damage. Lasts 10 seconds.

Select one of the following

image012 Ardent Advocate: Force Leap enables your next Dispatch to be used on a target with any health level for 15 seconds after activation.
image014 Inspiring Force: Freezing Force increases the movement speed of all allies within 8 meters, excluding yourself by 50% for 8 seconds.
image016 Pulse: Reduces the cooldown of Force Stasis by 15 seconds.

Heroic

image018 Daunting Presence: Force Leap finishes the cooldown on Force Kick. In addition, Saber Reflect lasts 2 seconds longer and generates a high amount of threat on all engaged enemies within 30 meters when activated.
image020 Through Peace: Reduces the Cooldown of Focused Defense by 30 seconds.

Gearing and Stats Priority

With the change to a few stats, some big, some small, there are differences than back in 3.0 and before. Things are a bit crazy, especially with Tank stats.

As before defense is still the back bone of Defense, as one of your cooldowns benefits greatly and in tree buffs gain from this stat as well as other aspects of the class as well. Priority is as it was before

Defense > Shield > Absorb

With 4.0, defense is now present in all mods, meaning every mod in your gear now hold defense in the new tiers of gear in 4.0, meaning our best and more sought for stat is plentiful. What has now changed is Shield and Absorb, now both share the same stat slot in implants, ear and enhancements while Defense now sits in its own slot, constantly being stacked. TL;DR: All tank gear is very defense heavy now.

Goal to head towards in SM Deceived (216) gear: 2639 (0xAug) Defense | 1569 (9xAug) Shield | 973 (5xAug) Absorb

  • Form: Soresu
  • Augments: Unlike Healer or DPS, you won’t be using Mastery, Alacrity etc. for your augments. You’ll primarily be using Shield and Absorb due to how plentiful Defense is in the gear. You’ll need to adjust these two values as you upgrade your gear.
  • Set Bonus: War Leader – 6 Piece (KOTFE Tier).
  • Armorings: With Endurance now giving a large point-to-point gain, Guardian armorings are more viable in their gain than Mastery’s contribution to force healing which was not the case before.
  • Mods: Warding Mods. These are the ones with defense in them.
  • Enhancements: Immunity or Sturdiness enhancements (Absorb or Shield). You will be swapping these around along with augments due to upgrades or gear changes.
  • Relics: Fortunate Redoubt (Defense Rating) and Reactive Warding (X amount of Absorb Shield).

What You need to Know

Defense Guardian hasn’t got the best passive mitigation of the tanks but to compensate for this, it has an array of soft and hard cooldowns to select from to reduce incoming damage in all situations as well as a new ability that assists in damage control. Unlike Shadow and Vanguard, there is no passive stack management you need to worry about, all buffs are used and expired in rotation, but it’s how often you can keep these buffs rolling without hitch that you can minimize damage intake without having to relly too strongly on your cooldowns.

Through rotation you will gain various buffs which will increase base stats such as Absorb and Defense as well as pure damage reduction. Again, how and when you use these abilities is up to you but the better your priority and usage, better control of damage you’ll have.

Buffs

The following buffs are what will appear on your UI in rotation or situationally. Their presence (or lack there of) will show you how much control you have your damage intake.

image023 Defensive Swings: Each tick of Blade Dance grants Defensive Swings, increasing your Defense by 2% per stack, final tick grants your third stack, giving a total of 6% for 6 seconds. (Buff duration is refreshed per tick for a total uptime of 8.7 secs.)
image025 Warding Strike: Warding Strike grants Warding Strike, increasing damage reduction by 3% for 20 seconds.
image027 Expeditious Protector: When your Guarded target takes damage, your movement speed is increased by 30% for 6 seconds.
image029 Blade Barrier: Blade Storm grants Blade Barrier, which absorbs a moderate amount of damage, lasts 10 seconds.
image031 Blade Barricade: Riposte grants Blade Barricade, increasing your Defense rating by 5%. Lasts 12 seconds.
image033 Courage: Parrying, deflecting, shieding or resisting an attack has a 50% chance to grant Courage, reducing Blade Storm and Disaptch cost by 1 per stack, stacks to 3 and lasts 12 seconds. Consumed on use.
image035 Warding Power: Warding Strike grants Warding Power, increasing Absorb rating by 3%. Lasts 20 seconds.
image037 Blade Blitz: Defense increased by 100%. Lasts duration of Blade Blitz.

Debuffs

The following debuffs are applied by you in rotation which will reduce your enemies effectiveness against you and other members of your group.

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

Unsteady and Impaired should have a 100% uptime on your targets. Both are applied by AOE abilities, as such you can have them hit multiple adds in a situation to reduce their collective stopping power. Trauma will not be used in End Game besides maybe one fight.

Impaired will reduce the enemies effective abilities that you are unable to dodge while Unsteady will reduce the chance of the ones you can dodge from landing on you, cutting down their over all capability of harming you regardless of damage type.

Abilities

image037 Blade Blitz: Effectively a combination of Twin Saber Throw and Hightail It. Causing damage between you and the 20m mark from the point you are facing, how ever the damage is on par with an unbuffed Cyclone Slash. Blade Blitz if timed correctly will cause all damage on you to be resisted or dodged, meaning a large attack or series of them can be stopped if timed correctly. How ever keep in mind when using Blade Blitz as it’ll relocate you 20m forward.
image025 Warding Strike: Replaces Sundering Strike and generates 7 Focus. Deals minimal damage and threat but grants two important buffs, 3% damage reduction and 3% Absorption rating.
image039 Blade Storm: A very important ability due to the buff it applies, Blade Barrier. Deals moderate damage and can be used at range. When the damage threshold of Blade Barrier is met, it fades.
image041 Riposte: An equally important ability. Riposte has a low cost, is off the GCD and applies Blade Barricade. Due to the nature of Riposte, it can be used constantly to maintain a near 100% uptime on Blade Barricade.
image043 Guardian Slash: Your strongest and highest threat generating ability. Also with it’s AOE capability (360° centered on your target) while Warding Strike is present on you, Guardian Slash is unmatched in the benefits it provides in damaging your target and securing their attention on you. Each use of Guardian Slash triggers your Riposte to be usable, regardless of the situation, as such they should be used in pair.
image045 Force Sweep: A decent damaging 360° AOE centered on yourself. Has a near non-existent cost and is one of your highest for threat generating abilities, second to Guardian Slash in an AOE situation.
image047 Blade Dance: A series of lightsaber strikes which grant 2% Defense per stack. Due to this new trait, Blade Dance should now be planned to be used before or after a Boss’ rotation may interrupt the ability. Make sure when you use it, you can pull off all three ticks to maximize Defensive Swings.
image049 Hilt Bash: Dealing high amounts of threat and decent damage. Though it doesn’t apply buffs, it is free and worth the activation every time.
image051 Cyclone Slash: A 180° frontal cone. A simple AOE ability to use on multiple targets. Though on single target, even with Trail Blazer, still deals less damage than Slash.
image053 Dispatch: Now with Ardent Advocate, Dispatch can be used in rotation and the opener for added damage/threat though its cost still remains (But is reduced by Courage). Not necessary but helpful, this ability can be a decent filler.
image055 Saber Throw: Now usable at melee range, Saber Throw provides a decent filler alternative to basic attack, dealing more damage and granting more Focus. Though it should remain outside most openers.
image016 Force Stasis: A DoT which grants Focus per tick. An average filler but worth while, Stasis doesn’t generate a large amount of threat but is decent damage for an activation to coincide with your rotation.
image057 Force Push: A filler, nothing more, nothing less. Doesn’t grant Focus and is weaker than Saber Throw, ideally you should never need to use this ability for single target rotation on a Boss.
image059 Slash: Due to how generous the rotation is with Focus, especially now with Saber Throw, you will need to dump Focus. Slash is your best filler behind Dispatch due to having no cooldown, but lacks decent threat for opening situations.
image061 Strike: Your basic attack. The rotation on top of changes allow you to generate more Focus than you can so easily dispense. This ability should never be needed, also generates the lowest threat of your abilities.

Raid Utility

image063 Guardian Leap: Leaps you to a friendly target, reducing their damage taken by 20% for 6 seconds and vastly reducing their threat. A good tool to assist your co-tank in their opener by dumping the threat of a DPS, to assist raid damage control or relocate you when needed. Should never be used on your co-tank unless in extremely precise circumstances.
image010 Guardianship (utility): All allies within 15m of you will gain a buff similar to your Blade Storm buff, absorbing some damage. Good for raid damage control during small AOE spikes though it isn’t enough, alone to mitigate large hits on team members.
image014 Inspiring Force (utility): When Freezing Force is used, allies within 8 meters of you will have their movement speed increased by 50% for 8 seconds. How ever this buff will not apply to you. Keep in mind you will fall behind in high movement required situations if you do not use an ability such as Guardian Leap or Focused Freedom to keep up.

Cooldowns

The most important part of this guide behind your opener. Cooldowns are the identity of the Guardian and their proper use is what will show if you know what you’re doing. The usage of these abilities will require your knowledge of fights and judgement to decide which will be needed when. Pressing a random blue button for impending damage though effective is not as effective as pressing the right cooldown for the situation.

image037 Blade Blitz: With its 100% defense increase. Blade Blitz will allow you to take no damage for the duration of its animation. If timed correctly, you can take a devastating hit from an enemy and come out of it in the same state as you entered your Blitz in. Risky with tight timing but worth it, Blade Blitz will allow you to have a second trump card along with Saber Reflect for stopping potentially mortal damage to even you.
Lasts: Duration of animation. 45 second cooldown.
image065 Saber Reflect: While active, Saber Reflect will redirect all single target ranged, force and tech abilities back at the user for the potential damage it would have inflicted on you (but is capped to stop overkill). Saber Reflect can stop a series of attacks which may add up to a harsh amount or one large hit which could be the end of you. Nearly every fight has an application for Saber Reflect, and if it doesn’t then it’s a near unmatched threat tool. With Daunting Presence, it’s a fantastic threat tool, but if you need Reflect as a cooldown in the early stages of a fight, it’s best not used for opening threat.
Lasts: 3 seconds (4 w/mandatory utility). 1 minute cooldown.
image067 Saber Ward: Increases your Defense rating by 50% and reduces all damage taken by Force and Tech attacks by 25%. Ward increases your chance to dodge an attack, meaning you will take no damage if Ward triggers successfully. Any abilities that cannot be dodged such as Force Lightning or Missile Blast, will have their effective damage reduced by 25%. Ward is best used for the former mentioned damage types as if it is used on the right damage types, it’ll cause you to take no damage.
Lasts: 12 seconds. 2:30 cooldown.
image069 Warding Call: Reduces all damage taken by 40%. While not increasing any stat pools, Warding Call ensures all damage taken regardless of type will be reduced in their severity. How ever, as I mentioned above that Ward should be used with Melee and Range, Warding Call should be used with Force and Tech attacks since it’ll reduce their damage by 40% versus Ward’s 25%. What this means simply is, against Force and Tech attacks, Warding Call surpasses Saber Ward.
Lasts: 10 seconds (15 w/ Set Bonus). 2:30 cooldown.
image071 Enure: Your loan shark heal. This ability temporarily increases your total HP % and heals you to assist for the difference. This ability allows you to bounce back from prior damage. How ever, Enure is only as effective as your ability to time it properly and to communicate to your healers. If your HP% falls too low, the removal of Enure will bring you to 1HP (or somewhere dangerously low.) Informing to your healer that “Fake health falling off” should be enough for them to heal you out of any danger.
Lasts: 20 seconds. 1 minute cooldown.
image020 Focused Defense: When you fall below 70%, this ability becomes available. Granting 12 charges which heal when each one expires upon damage taken. Similar to Trauma Probe, this ability persists on your buff bar and will be spent depending on how frequent you take damage during the duration. Focused Defense is optimal for a series of attacks or as an anti-DoT tool. If the enemy uses one big hit, Focused Defense will only spend one charge and will not counter act the damage. Focused Defense serves its purpose well if its heals can equal or exceed the damage you’ve taken during the buff’s duration.
Lasts: 10 seconds. 2 minute cooldown (1:30 with Utility).
image073 Blade Turning (Passive): Activating Saber Ward grants Blade Turning. This buff increases your Melee/Ranged defense by 100%, allowing you to dodge all melee and ranged attacks for the duration. If you try and use Blade Turning purely to fend against a massive Force or Tech hit, it’ll only be reduced by the 25% protection that Ward provides.
Lasts: 2 seconds (5 w/ set bonus).
image075 Adrenal: The new shield Adrenal absorbs 30% of incoming damage until its cap. This will passively reduce damage taken by all damage types until the adrenal burns itself out.
Lasts: 15 seconds. 3 minute cooldown

Rotations

When opening a fight, your priority, above everything else is to ensure the boss focuses on you. What this means is to make sure you’re the target of the boss from the moment the fight starts to the moment it ends or you need to swap with your co-tank. How ever, when threat is secure, this priority shifts to a defensive one, certain abilities will change in priority from level of threat to contribution to lowering DTPS while dealing damage and building resource.

Opener

swtor-4.0-defense-guardian-opener

Above is the ideal opener for threat. Each ability from Guardian Slash until the first taunt is rated highest to lowest in threat. You can get away with using Warding Strike under a taunt window since it won’t cause you to lose aggro while your target is under the effects of your buff.
As for Dispatch if you feel secure enough not to need it in your opener for threat, you can scribble it off and skip over it, it’s nice added damage but it’s not entirely necessary, it does require you to take Ardent Advocate, so keep that in mind. I’ve also added the relevant buffs to their abilities above i.e. Blade Barrier (Snc) indicated by the blue buff above Blade Storm, the ability that grants it. This is just to get you familiar with what ability grants what buff.

When using Saber Reflect, it is deterministic when you use it, Daunting Presence does not grant the threat prior to taking damage from your engaged target. You must wait until you’ve taken damage to activate Saber Reflect for threat, or else it’ll generate zero. Saber Reflect grants an insane amount of threat and is off the GCD. How ever, like I mentioned above, you should save Reflect for required cooldown situations if it is required within the first minute or so. You can squeeze taunts together to be more cautious if this is the case. If you are going to taunt fluff (use taunts constantly to keep building threat and forcing the boss to attack you) be aware of any impending swaps or mechanics, last thing you want is to be unable to swap due to both taunts being on CD.

Guardian Slash grants the highest threat and also impaires your target, reducing their tech/force damage (dmg). This also enables Riposte for use, meaning you can pair it with your second highest threat generating ability, Hilt Bash. Riposte grants your Blade Barricade, increasing your Defense (Def). Following this is your third highest threat ability, Blade Storm, granting Blade Barrier (Bld). Dispatch is then used depending on your utility selection. Force Sweep is finally activated with Taunt, the former applying your Accuracy (Acc) debuff to the target. From there you use Warding Strike to gain your last two buffs, Warding Strike (dr) and Warding Power (Abs) and finally, Blade Dance is used, granting Defensive Swings (Def) meaning all your buffs are now in play and your threat is secure you are fortified.

You may be asking; “Why don’t I use saber throw?” The answer is that Saber Throw generates barely any threat, only a bit more than Force Leap. In 4.0, the Focus generation of the spec is massive and you do not need any more Focus than what Leap and Combat Focus grants. You’re delaying the Threat generation of your rotation by 1.5 seconds, which is all the room a DPS needs to rip aggro from you. Saber Throw does a lot more harm than good. It does have its use.

swtor-4.0-defense-guardian-opener-2

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

Mid-fight Rotation

When in the middle of a fight, you’ll be constantly using the below abilities. Pretty much on cooldown as they branch eachother out in the opener. You may be strained here and there for Focus which is when you’ll need to use Saber Throw or Stasis to gain extra resource when Warding Strike is on CD and you need to save Combat Focus for mechanics. The list below is your priority list for abilities if they are all off CD and you have resource to burn to use them all. The premise is to maintain your buffs, how ever if you have buffs active (such as Warding Strike) you can shift priority of it to below Guardian Slash since you have that buff. The duration (or lack) of the buff/debuff determines where in the rotation abilities like Warding Strike or Force Sweep lie.

1. Riposte (off the GCD, pair it with any of the following).

2. Blade Storm

3. Warding Strike

4. Blade Dance (Vs. Guardian Strike w/ 2-piece)

5. Guardian Strike

6. Force Sweep

7. Hilt Bash

8. Dispatch

9. Saber Throw

10. Slash

11. Force Stasis (If you need some resource for impending costs)

12. Force Push

13. Strike

The highlighted abilites above all contribute to DTPS. Whether it be weakening your target or strengthening you, they’re all important to ensuring your damage taken is as low as possible. For things like Guardian Slash with your set bonus, it is optimal to delay Blade Dance by a GCD to get the Set Bonus buff vs. delaying Guardian Slash by 2.7 seconds.

AoE

swtor-4.0-defense-guardian-aoe

Your AOE priority depends on if Warding Strike is active, the reason for this is because Guardian Slash, your strongest and highest threat generating ability is only an AOE when Warding Strike is present. If Warding Strike is not present on you and you find yourself in an AOE situation where you need to gain threat quickly (so quickly that you can’t spare the GCD for Warding Strike), you need to use Force Sweep instead.

If you have an impending AOE situation arising, it’s ideal to shift Warding Strike to the top of your priority to gain the buff for the AOE requirement as such you’ll do more damage and have more snap threat on the targets.

Lastly, Blade Blitz is AOE, how ever due to the benefit of it as a defensive cooldown and the damage output, it’s best saved as a defensive tool versus offensive. Keep in mind it’s a directional AOE rather than centered around you or a target, as such you may not even hit all targets with it and the threat output will be even lower than Cyclone Slash.

Things to Know When Tanking

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

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

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

image083

(It’s a tiny portrait of who ever the boss is looking at. If it’s not looking at you when it should be, something is wrong.)

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

Try and get a feel of when to use your cooldowns. Using Saber Ward then beginning the fight is the worst thing you can do. Cooldowns are not there to make you remain at 100% for the opening of a fight, they’re there mostly to bounce back from a huge spike or incoming spike. Popping them when damage intake is low so you can maintain a 85%> HP is not needed. I follow a typical priority. Soft cooldowns at sub 70% (Adrenal, Enure, Focused Defense etc.) and hard cooldowns (Ward, Warding Call) at sub 50% or there abouts if damage is continuous on me.

image085

Learn to use Guard effectively and why it is used on certain targets. There is a reason for everything when tanking, DPS always get guarded. DPS are guarded NOT for the Damage Reduction, it’s used for the 25% threat output reduction so you do not lose aggro.

Know when to taunt and when not to taunt. If you’re the main tank, taunting to gain some added threat is fine, but taunting off your co-tank when they’re holding the boss if you are not asked or it is unjustified should never be done.

Lastly, don’t take advice with salt. Tanking takes work, you will make mistakes, a lot. But bounce back from them, accept them and better yourself. Don’t be deluded and think that a DPS pulling aggro is their fault or you not kiting a boss into a mechanic correctly was due to a bug. If you admit your mistakes, you will become a good tank, if you blame everyone but you, then you’ll get no where. Don’t try to make it like your way is the right way. Tanking can diverse in how it is played, you can change your priorities to fit how you want to play. Play what works for you, so long as bosses die and you don’t get your raid killed, job done.

  • Garic

    Awesome guide as always. I especially agree with your last paragraph. Too many tanks seem to get this chip on their shoulder when you try to correct them. Always heed advice and adapt. On the flipside of the coin the group should also be tolerant and let the tank learn. I’ve seen some really awesome tanks that started out as really horrible and would have given up had they not had good teachers and patient groups. Today’s new tank is tomorrow’s awesome tank.

    • ceeznut

      98% of the tanks have no clue wtf they doing. Guardian are one of the most well rounded tanks and has always been imo hardest out of the 3 to master. Everything is situation in regards to saber throw leap or leap then rotation. Also saber reflect eventho it’s a high threat ability in a opener it has to be used on the right bosses as some it doesn’t work.

      We all hear to listen to feedback from other players and what they offer don’t pretend to be better.

      BTW thanks for the guide ur efforts are greatly appreciated. But what was the reason for a updated post?

      • ceeznutz

        I’m sorry Garic I didn’t mean to reply to ur post

  • iceberg265

    Seems like a decent guide, is English your second language?

    • Artorias

      Technically yes behind Irish 😀

  • Лев Сафаров

    Blade Barricade 10 sec, no? Correct me please.

    • AdjeYo

      It is indeed.

  • John Kosto

    One correction, the set bonus since 4.0 is not Deceived, but it is Defiant (216) and Exarch (220)

    • Artorias

      I will get that fixed ASAP

  • mace windy

    Firstly thx for the guide. 🙂

    Learn to use Guard effectively and why it is used on certain targets. There is a reason for everything when tanking, DPS always get guarded. DPS are guarded NOT for the Damage Reduction, it’s used for the 25% threat output reduction so you do not lose aggro.

    Sad to see the above made it in the guide.

    Why haven’t you written the following about guard?
    You always should use a guard based on what the group and the fights requires most. Its a very bad idea to guard anyone without knowledge of their skills or without disregarding bossmechanics.

    Your statement is not wrong perse and its the best one when using a static rule of guarding but there are much better options available for guarding.
    Best example I can give is Nefra. You got 2 tanks on 1 target which means you have 2x 18s of time where the boss can be under a taunt. This means a guard on dps is wasted when you use it due to threat reduction.
    In this case the only reason for a guard is the damage reduction. Best thing to do is to guard the lowest geared tank in this case.

    Other example is Brontes NiM where you might want to guard the healers to help out with threat issues on the hands in the burnphase.

    Lastly. If a dps is not ripping aggro of me I will not guard him. If I don’t need to guard anyone because I need the threatreduction I will guard someone for the damage reduction as its the next best available.

    • Shepard

      I will agree with your ideas, however, the problem I thin Artorias was addressing (in this GENERAL tanking guide) is that some tanks either don’t guard anyone at all, or guard healers on fights where it is pointless to. Yes there are occasions where you can guard someone other than the highest TPS dps. But in general for most fights, you guard a dps. And someone who is learning from this guide probably isn’t pulling NiM Brontes anytime soon.

    • Artorias

      My assumption was that tanks take the extra 5 seconds to inspect their roster. I always do it. I take a quick glance at gear and spec, all of which contribute to threat. If you’re in a non-static group then this is very very important.

      Secondly you can use Guard on a tank in Nefra, people did it for Prog and continue to do it. I Intercede to my co-tank but again, this is something a lot of new tanks are scared to do, I didn’t to endorse any very finicky tactics that may fall a part in a new tanks hands. Imagine a tank Interceding to another tank over and over and then says “Artorias told me to do it!” Learn when to use these tools yourself because I have learned when I should do it. Tanking is also about learning how/when to use your tools when it suits you and your group. Everyone is different, you need to find these things for yourself.

      Brontes NiM Is a huge step out of the realm of what people who are reading this guide should be looking at. By the time people are running NiM Brontes, they shouldn’t be reading my guide. Thanks for the support.

      • mace windy

        Np mate.
        Regarding the interceding on cooldown… you made me laugh. It would indeed be 1 big mess 🙂

      • SupRun

        I have absolutely no problem with threat (not on guardian tank, but still…) is it still necessary to guard a DPS?

        • AdjeYo

          It helps if you have some very skilled and properly geared burst dps, especially if you do a countdown so they get the opportunity to freecast.

          • SupRun

            I give them a countdown, still no pulls. Almost all burst classes too, TK sages, Tactics VGs pre-nerf, SS/Sabo Slingers pre-nerf. My raid team doesn’t stick me on tank just for kicks. 🙂

          • SupRun

            And yes, geared in full 220s at least if not full 224 except left side. And sometimes even that.

  • Przemysław Narbutt

    This rotation is total bs. I do this, saber throw – force jump – sundering strike – guardian strike (with saber reflect) – riposte – hilt bash – blade storm – force sweep – (probably riposte again) – force stasis – blade dance – slash, slash and then rotation that is just measured by all cds available. Guide rotation and opener are total bs. You dont even buff guardian strike with sundering strike….

    • John Kosto

      Sundering Strike has been replaced since months ago, good luck with this rotation of yours…

      • Лев Сафаров

        When it was not replaced i noticed at least in soresu form that sundering strike doesn’t work anyway so its useless. But that was in my beginning of learning this game for me. There was “share cooldown with” so i thought i can use them in different situations. So that was confusing and “replace” i think is good move. And for example i didn’t know (but guessed) that grav round replace charged bolts and etc.

    • Thanil

      False. Your rotation doesn’t utilize your highest threat gen ability for three GCD’s. A good DPS would have pulled off you at this point. GG

    • mace windy

      Arturias specifically said that blade blitz isnt good for tps. He only lists its in the aoe rotation because its a decent aoe tool. He also says that its better to save it for mitigating damage.

      Regarding your opener I miss a few things. Do you countdown in a way that dps will start at when you leap or at sabertrow?
      If the latter than you are at a serious disadvantage. Dont forget dps will most of the time openen up with a 12-15k hit in the 1st or 2nd gcd. This not even counting precasts.
      Second point I miss is when you taunt. Without a taunt you will lose aggro against anything else than joe fleetpug.
      Thirdly. And I assume you meant warding strike instead of sunder, you just used 3 gcd for very low hitting attacks. There is a reason why arturias advocate using guardian slash without warding strike. His opener us meant to be max tps on single targets. In that case guardian slash is fine to use unbuffed.

    • Shepard

      Lol and my commando has ripped threat off you in 2 gcd’s. Did you learn to tank in tactical fp’s? Atorias’ opening rotation is the way it is bc it maximizes THREAT which you NEED to do if you are even a somewhat competent tank.

      Also, sundering strike has been replaced by warding strike.

      Also, warding strike (and sundering strike in case you are wondering) doesn’t buff guardian strike; it only makes it aoe (and the majority of fights start with 1 target so……).

      Also Artorias says “Blade Blitz is AOE, how ever due to the benefit of it as a defensive cooldown and the damage output, it’s best saved as a defensive tool versus offensive.” So clearly reading comprehension isn’t a strong suit for you.

      Before some noob starts calling a guide writer’s rotation “bs” you better be sure you know what you are doing. Which it is clear you do not. Your arrogance is unfounded. Go back to tacticals.

      • Przemysław Narbutt

        You wanna see whats what? Using Guardian slash without buffing it with sundering strike does not give you any threat. I have tanked with seriously good dps, not some moron that is saying that mando will break aggro after 2 gcds. 🙂 happy new year niebie.

        • Thanil

          seemings how when you respec to tank, sundering strike is totally replaced by warding strike, it is impossible to buff guardian slash with it.

          plus, like he said, it makes it an AOE. so there is literally no point to using it in the beginning.

          warding strike doesnt buff the single target damage/threat on a boss whatsoever.

          so here is whats what. by delaying you single most threat gen ability, while 5 minute buffs are out, adrenals are active, you are going to lose threat. no big deal right? you havent taunted yet, and so early in the fight, the boss isnt doing to much dmg, so someone ripping of you for at the most a gcd of time, you can taunt. well what does this cause? your long term threat gen starts out pretty low and will stay that way. meaning, a dps will rip off you again.

          and again

          and again.

          all you will be doing is losing threat, and taunting on CD.

          either that, or your co tank will keep ripping off you and pissing them off.

          so GG.

          you may want to boot up star parse and realize your rotation will end up at lower threat then Atorias’ rotation.

          while yours may work for HM FP’s and SM’s it will not work at the HM/NiM level against DPS pulling 6kDPS and above.

        • Rancoth

          You are opening with Saber Throw-Force Jump and Sundering/Warding Strike.That means you are generating close to 0 threat through first 3 GCDs/4.5 seconds. Almost every bursty dmg spec will steal your aggro on their 1st or 2nd skill. Arsenal Merc for example will use Tracer Missile and Heatseeker Missiles and he will probably hit over 20k with those 2 skills. There is no way he won’t pull boss from you.

          • Artorias

            Deception Assassin will open with a rough 16k hit in good gear versus the… 4k Saber Throw will do. Always the comparison I make. If your second GCD doesn’t rip threat back from an Assassin, you’re wasting that second GCD.

        • Corwin

          You are an idiot if you think that “Using Guardian slash without buffing it with sundering strike does not give you any threat.”
          The ONLY thing it does is makes it an AOE attack. THAT’S IT.
          Also, any experienced tank knows that Saber throw is the most garbage abilty for threat, using it in the opener is uber stupid. Tanking adds, may be, especially if they are spread. But on a boss? Please… The ONLY reason you would use it if you have no way to use anything else (meaning, you are too far, and saber throw is your only ranged ability).
          And as people said, there is no sundering strike in tank rotation. The fact, that you don’t even know the name of the TANK replacement ability only shows that your tanking experience is really, really low.
          Happy New Year, Newbie, and I am not going to say “go back to tacticals” because even there you won’t hold threat.

          • Nikolas Real

            #Rekt

        • Artorias

          Shepard here has cleared Revan Hardmode in 3.0 as have I. He has proved his capability as a DPS and I can say he has proven himself a very good commando but I am interested in your progression since you seem to be insulting people about their skill level, I think we’d all like to see where your capabilities have gotten you.

          All abilities generate threat, even Freezing Force. There is no threat lockout that stops an ability generating threat. The buff from Warding Strike merely turns Guardian Slash into an AOE. If you mean that using it unbuffed won’t cause threat on your non-target due to it not being an AOE to cause fallout damage, you’d be correct! But once more, you must use Warding Strike, not Sundering Strike!

          • Marc Fischer

            things have evolved since 3.0 most people who used to do nim at that time can hardly do hm in 5.0 anymore so it’s not really relevant to base yourself on accomplishments from back then

      • Artorias

        Miss you Shep. <3

    • Artorias

      Guys, please keep this thread civil, this is a learning experience and people come here for help, not toxicity. As I mentioned above there are many many ways of tanking, some right and some wrong but if it works for your group and you, it’s fine.

      First off, let me address some things on your part Mr Narbutt. My rotation is in your opinion, bullshit, but it has worked for me for many years and got me through content. It has put me on many kills and has continued to hold threat against top tier DPS and ensured stability in pulls as a result. So if you find my rotation to be too complex for you, I can understand you wanting to do your own thing.

      Let me address your rotation as to the reasons as to why I won’t use it. First off Saber Throw is not needed at all, not a touch. It adds a GCD to you that doesn’t benefit threat wise and grants Focus which isn’t needed too much, as such it can be skipped. This is preference, people have made it work but to me, it’s an extra GCD delaying buffs for no reasons.

      2) Your use of Sundering Assault. It doesn’t do anything anymore, warding strike is better Threat, Damage, Buffs etc.

      3) Stasis is a useless ability, you can use Combat Focus and do Blade Dance earlier for your Defensive swings buff.

      4) Slash is a nice attack but there are better alternatives my friend.

      Blade Blitz is a nice AOE ability but deals lower damage and threat than Cyclone slash, you can avoid it for damage output. I even avoided using it as a DPS because it doesn’t add much. Like I said, if my way of tanking is too complex, feel free to stick with your own. I’ve proven my methods are capable, it’s just a matter of people trusting that I know what I’m doing and it hasn’t let me down. If you need anymore help, feel free to PM me.

    • Paulo Gomes

      LoooL… Just came across this thread, had some doubts about my Guardian tank…

      Listen mate, you’ve been knock around enough, but you are some serious bullshiter! I’m in no way a good tank, I consider meself a pretty good dps or healer, but my tanking… Well, for lack of a better word, sucks! lol…

      But… Even I can see through the flaws of your rotation. Listen, my grandma with her walking cane can get better aggro than you! Where did you tank with “serious good dps”??? In Flashpoints???

      Look I can tell you this: if you are tanking with my Deception Assassin in an Ops group, you WILL BE EATING MY DUST FROM FIGHT ONE with this rotation!!! Nevermind the rest of the dps guys who will be swearing at you for being such a disgrace…

      Serves you right to be put in your place by people who I have no doubt are way better players than you…

      And please, if you’d be so kind as to mention the name of your toon, if you happen to read this comment… So that I know NEVER to go on an Ops group with you… Much appreciated… Now get back to tanking your comp, you must be really good at that… LOOOOOOOOL…

      • Przemysław Narbutt

        Dude, i was able to hold aggro from vicious shadows :> I bet you dont. Tanked hms and nims, i belive that you were facing bosses on fp only 😉

        • Paulo Gomes

          Man, I don’t care what you think I’m worth. I don’t care what you “belive”… I’m not claiming to have a better rotation than Artorias, you are.

          And your rotation is bullshit, and if you tanked NiM Ops with this “rotation”… Man, I’m sure you did… Then the alarm clock went on and you had to get out of bed, right?

          Oh and next time you troll AT LEAST get the name of the abilities right, mr NiM Ops tanker… Seriously, get in touch with Dulfy to write a Guide of your own, I’m sure everybody could use some comic relief here…

  • mace windy

    Whats your idea regarding the whole end vs mitigation debate arturias?

    I see you are suggesting a full token gearset when it comes to enhancements and mods.
    Wouldnt raptus nim be an issue if geared like that? A full 220 token geared tank will have around 73k hp if im correct. Cant check that now so please correct me if im wrong.
    Anyways. Raptus on hm will hit you for about 62k which means you need to be topped off consistently. Do you think this can be countered with enure and/or other cooldowns?

    Regarding mastery vs endurance for the forcehealing bonus. Has this been theorycrafted or is it more a personal preference?

    Personally I am currently leaning towards a max mitigation build for my guardian

    • AdjeYo

      If you decide to go max mitigation I do advise to keep some high endurance mods handy, just in case you need them. For me max mitigation seems to work pretty well, and with 224 bmods currently unavailable, the endurance difference between 224 unlettered and 220 bmods is not that large.

    • Artorias

      Eh…. I think people honestly over hype Raptus for what he is. I ran high end for Revan just cuz but a full mitigation set would likely not have painted a big difference.. In the end I feel your best bet is get a full set of Exarch and hop to High End Mods there. Especially with Ultimate Exarch being a guaranteed piece now (in HM), you can even work on a full NiM Set.

      • SupRun

        NiM mods and enh have less end than 220 non-set mods and enh. Tbh I haven’t even bothered upgrading my tank set to full 220/224 because unlike DPS/Heals the mods/enh aren’t the greatest.

        A far cry from the good old days of 3.0 with decent pieces of tank gear from ops.

  • SupRun

    For my VG/Shadow tanks I used almost full B mods (high end) but since Guardian benefits so much more from defense would it be better to use the optimized mods/enh for the added defense?

    • Лев Сафаров

      Maybe if you stack to many of this stat it will start growing slow, this would be waste of any other stat you may need.

      • SupRun

        Can you clarify?

        • Лев Сафаров

          I can try. For example when you stack from 0 to 1000 stat it will add more then if you already have 1000 and add more. Rising become slow. Here image, sorry its not good but something like that.

          • SupRun

            You’re talking about diminishing returns, I think. I’m not really talking about stacking defense, I’m talking about the endurance vs defense for guardians since guardians benefit a lot from the defense stat unlike Shadows and Vanguards.

            • AdjeYo

              The thing you have to keep in mind is, defense will do nothing against force and tech attacks, endurance is there to make sure that you can live through a big burst of these attacks or a big burst of other unmitigated damage. Where exactly you want to draw the line between endurance and defense is mostly a personal preference though and a thing to discuss with your healers. Less defense will mean they have to heal you more overall, but it might make bigger bursts easier to deal with.

              • SupRun

                Or it just means I use my geared Shadow or Vanguard tank on fights Guardian doesn’t excel.

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              I have scored 77k dollars previous year working online and I am a full time student. I am attached with an online business entity that I heard about and I have earned such great cash. It is really user friendly and I feel myself lucky to have that option. Why not try this.

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  • Koadran Valdor – Red Eclipse

    Great guide and thanks for the udpate from 3.0. You have helped me from my first FP through solo events and now 50% through the SM Ops, really enjoying the class and with guides like these open on second monitor, I have no excuse to not perform!

  • Kondratiev Dima

    “Set Bonus: War Leader – 6 Piece” Is it set from PVP commendation vendors? And if YES, why Vindicators 208 PVP armoring better then 216 armorings whithout Expertise and with better Mastering/Endurance?

    • Kondratiev Dima

      Please give me answer)

    • Artorias

      PVE and PVP vendors. Same Set bonus, they stack. Vindicator 208 armorings are not better for tanks, avoid them.

  • James in Brookyln

    Does Fortunate Redoubt still give more mitigation given that defence is so heavy now? A bunch of the forum posts I’ve seen (and I think bant’s numbers, but not toally sure) I believe say use reactive warding and shield amplification instead. Thoughts?

    • Artorias

      Not really sure but that being said, relics are always a messy thing, not only because of boss damage profiles but mitigation as well. Personally I still rock Fortunate but shield amp is viable.

  • Nikolas Real

    For both my pve and pvp gear i use only advanced fortitude augments 40 (Endurance). Was this not a wise choice? Should i use absorb or shield rating augments instead? I really like the highest HP possible.

    • Artorias

      High HP makes you a paper tank. You can take big hits bit you’re susceptible to taking a lot of them and spike damage. Massive HP builds are viable but only to a point where your healers can keep you topped up. You’ll take more DTPS than a mitigation tank by far.

      • Lee Zhuo Chao

        What if you balance the augments out by 50-50? One the armour sets for endurance and the relics, implants, earpiece, saber and shield with defence?

    • Сергей Черкасов

      For some hm/nim ops you can use B-mods to survive spike damage. But the best way is to have shadow off-tank, which will taunt and eat force/tech spikes with Resiliance.

  • Tykè

    So what would be the “rotation” like you don’t have to give a big response just maybe a parsely link of you fighting a operations dummy

    • Vessix

      the thing about tank parses is that tanks (besides vanguards) get focus/force back from being hit.so the rotation on a tank dummy would be different than on a boss

  • TankAviator

    I have a question about defense rating. I have 216 gear with a few 220 pieces. I’m only seeing 1765 for my defense chance, a long cry from the ~ 2600 you posted as a target range. I do have 42/43B mods in, will upgrading to non lettered mods really increase my defense by 1000? I can see ~200, but 1000 really seems out of reach. How did you get that value? The difference between your numbers and mine are HUGE, and I can’t figure out where I went wrong.

    • TankAviator

      Sorry, I meant defense rating, not chance.

    • Anthony J Drake

      I haveout 50/50 between 216&220 gear and my (Def) just under apuntry 1900 Only thing I can think of there talking about token gear from Ops rewards. (hard to get)

    • Сергей Черкасов

      Y, ops gear is best for max mitigation build. Its easy to get full 216 ops set (2600+ defense). Sm ops are like tactical flashpoints now.

  • TankAviator

    Honestly I think I can only see 3 situations where you should ever use warding strike

    – You are below about 4 or 5 focus and combat focus is on cooldown
    – You are in AOE and the warding buff has expired and guardian slash has 1 GCD before its available (2 if you want to dance)
    – You are digging in the bottom of the abilities barrel
    – This naturally does better than strike, push, stasis, slash, and saber throw

    I work on a priority system and these situations will change the priority of where warding strike falls. Without the need for focus and the AOE buff its just a mid-tier threat generator, plenty of better ones if available. With the need for aoe it depends on if you need it (warding expired, guardian slash almost available, high priority) or if you don’t (warding active, warding expired bug guardian slash has more than 1 gcd before available).

    Remember warding lasts longer than warding strike’s cd so it doesn’t need to be used on cooldown. It also doesn’t do much if guardian strike isn’t active so it can be saved until after better abilities are used.

    * This isn’t to say Artorias didn’t take that into account. But this page is all about learning, so I thought I would share this about warding strike. Overall this is a great guide, but I always find myself getting lost in a rotation and needing to fall back on info like this to get back to where I can pick it back up again.

    • Artorias

      My priority system is more in the ways of you have no tank buffs but infinite Focus, which abilities in what order do I do? When using abilities constantly, yes of course you won’t use it on CD, especially with high amounts of Focus.

  • Samurai

    Hey Artorias, what are your thoughts on better surviving spike damage?
    With the native Defense Rating amongst the MK-1 gear being so high, it
    does mean that the damage profile of a Guardian can be quite spiky at
    times, what with dodging melee and ranged hits ~28% of the time.
    I’ve been reading a few of the other tank class guides, and there seems to be a slight recommendation towards allowing Defense Rating to drop in favour of Endurance by switching to Enhancements such as Bastion.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts.
    Many thanks

    • Сергей Черкасов

      Shadows can drop defense to get additional shield and absorb. Really dmg profile is spiky, but dtps is lower in max mitigation build.
      You can rely to this thread: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=847112

    • Vessix

      endurance. Gearing in 4.0 for tanks is mostly irrelevant tbh. Use high endurance shit so that you’re a sponge. Healers are very good now, so lowering dtps isn’t the best option. You want to gear to survive spikes

  • Max

    Are these optimized stats up to date? I was checking with everyone else and they suggest otherwise.

  • Mikester 207

    I have a couple questions. Firstly, in the opener there is not enough focus for the dispatch or the second blade storm. Or am I missing something? Oh and I don’t really get the mid fight rotation. What do I do after the challenging call? It it back to Guardian slash, then riposte, and then what? Thanks in advance.

  • Mikester 207

    Also, why do we use Combat Focus after force leap instead of warding strike? You know, since warding strike grants that apsorbtion and damage reduction as well as enables Guardian Slash for AOE.

    • Vessix

      Warding strike takes a GCD to use, and in the opener threat is more important than putting all your buffs up. Healers are fresh and can heal heal you through a bit more dtps in the opener, but if you lose aggro and a dps gets smashed, it makes the healers job harder.

  • simurgh559

    When is the guide for 5.0 coming out?

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