SWTOR 4.0 Kinetic Combat Shadow PvP Guide by Krea

SWTOR 4.0 Kinetic Combat Shadow PvP Guide by Krea.

Intro to Kinetic Combat

Kinetic Combat Shadow is the Tanking Discipline for the Shadow advanced class. Out of the three Tanks available in PvP, Kinetic Combat has the highest single target burst as well as the most potential utility in a PvP environment. Your goal as Kinetic Combat will be to mitigate as much of your team’s incoming damage as possible and redirect it to yourself. Do you want to actively save your teammates while dealing out some pretty good damage as well? If so, Kinetic Combat is the Discipline for you.

Rating

  • Single Target DPS: 7
  • AoE Damage: 5
  • Group Utility: 8
  • Difficulty: 8
  • RNG Dependent: Yes
  • Burst: 7
  • Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes

Gearing and Stat Priority

  • Accuracy: 0
  • Alacrity: 0
  • Critical Rating: 903
  • Power: All Secondary stats should be put into Power (Lethal Mod 40B)
  • Defense: 366
  • Shield: 0
  • Absorb: 411
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Devastating Vengeance
  • Set Bonus: 6 Piece Survivor’s Set
  • Technique: Combat Technique
  • Augments: Fortitude Augments (Endurance)

Here is a picture of my stats while in my Tank gear

swtor-4.0-kinetic-combat-shadow-gear-stats

This is with an Advanced Anodyne Fortitude stim active. This gear is also a mixture of Exemplar and Cynosure gear, about half and half, so keep in mind that with full Exemplar gear your stats will be slightly higher.

Gearing Overview

I want to preface this section by saying, the gearing specifications are the ones that I personally use in Solo Ranked, Group Ranked and Regular Warzones. I have found that this gear gives the best balance between damage mitigation as well as offensive damage output. The gearing stats that I have provided are obtained by using 7 Advanced Discipline Enhancement 40X, 9 Advanced Lethal Mod 40B-X, and 14 Advanced Fortitude Augment 40. The earpiece I use is Exemplar Bulwark Device and the implants in use are Exemplar Bulwark Package. I have chosen to use these implants and earpiece because they give more Endurance than DPS Implants/Earpieces do and they also help bump up your Tank stats just slightly to help with what little damage can be mitigated. DPS Relics help with your damage output, but they are also the only relics that have endurance on them naturally, as the Tanking relics give Mastery instead of Endurance. You should be using a shield instead of a focus.

I do not put any points into Shield rating because this Discipline has a skill that increases your shield chance by 18% and it has 100% uptime. I would rather use those points to gain more damage. The armorings should all be from the Survivor’s set bonus. The hilt can be from either a Stalker’s main hand weapon or a Survivor’s main hand weapon. With 4.0, came an interesting change to Tank PvP sets. There are no longer “High Endurance” versions of the hilt or armoring, they are all Versatile Armorings or Versatile Hilts. This means that in order to gain the most endurance possible, it must be done completely through the use of Mods, Enhancements (Includes Implant/Ear), and augments.

Utilities

As with all Disciplines, there are many viable options for utilities. I am going to provide the utilities that I personally use in Unranked Warzones, Solo Ranked Warzones and Group Ranked Warzones. I have chosen utilities that will give me a good mixture of survivability, group utility, and offensive output.

Skillful

  • Celerity – Reduces the cool down of Mind Snap by 2 seconds, Force of Will by 30 seconds and Force Speed by 5 seconds.
  • Force Wake – Force Wave unbalances its targets, immobilizing them for 5 seconds. Direct damage dealt after 2 seconds ends this effect prematurely.
  • Mental Defense – Take 30% less damage while stunned.

Explanation: Force Wake is a great peeling tool for the Tanking Discipline. Mental Defense is a good utility to take to reduce damage taken while stunned, since you will be running high endurance DPS gear with very little mitigation. This will help you when you are being Tank tunneled.

Masterful

  • Egress – Force Speed grants Egress, removing all movement-impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration.
  • Force Harmonics – Reduces the cooldown of Force Wave by 2.5 seconds and Force Potency gives 1 extra charge.

Explanation: Egress is a must have, there is nothing that will be more valuable in this tier of utilities than this one. This will not only break any and all roots/slows but also prevent you from being rooted/slowed for the duration of Force Speed. I take Force Harmonics now because with the set of gear you will be running with, you will want all the DPS you can get as well as the cooldown reduction on your knockback, it will give you great peeling ability as well as a DPS upgrade.

Heroic

  • Containment – If your Force Lift breaks early from damage, the target is stunned for 2 seconds. In addition, Force Lift activates instantly.
  • One with the Shadows – Shadow Stride can now be used while immobilized and purges movement-impairing effects when used.

Explanation: The most beneficial utility in this tier is Containment. It allows you to set up a lot of great plays, especially when used in conjunction with Phase Walk, Shadow Stride and Force Pull. Having Force Lift as an instant cast is core to the utility of the Kinetic Combat Discipline and you are only gimping your utility as a Tank without it. One with the Shadows has replaced Cloak of Resilience for two reasons. The first reason is because the 4.0 Meta is that of a mobility arms race. With the addition to many gap opening abilities as well as rotational slows/snares, it is very useful to have an additional root break. The second reason is because as Kinetic Combat, your Resilience has a lower cooldown than the other two Shadow Disciplines due to a passive in your Discipline tree. Because of this, you are less reliant on having an additional Resilience attached to your Force Cloak.

Abilities

Key Abilities

combattechnique Combat Technique: This stance is required to use Guard, as a Tank you should not be in any other stance.
mindcontrol2 Mind Control/Mass Mind Control – Use these abilities always, they should never be available and should always be on cooldown. Taunting reduces the damage your enemies do to your allies by 30% for 6 seconds. Being a good Tank means always taunting the correct targets.
guard Guard – Guarded targets take 5% less damage. As long as you remain within 15 meters of the guarded target, 50% of all incoming damage from enemy players is transferred back to you. This literally halves the damage that your friendly target takes and is the most important ability in your arsenal as a Tank. You should not be only guarding one target. You should be swapping guard based on who is about to take a large amount of damage so that you mitigate as much damage as possible. You do not want to be swapping guard on a target that has already taken a large amount of damage.Your guard swaps should be determined by reading your enemy, recognizing when your enemies’ burst is available and paying constant attention to your enemy’s target. The best Tank in PvP is one who can swap guard before your enemy gets their burst on to their target, so that you can mitigate as much damage as possible. Good Tanks are proactive, not reactive. Do not be one of those Tanks that only guards a Healer and leaves it at that. That is not a good Tank; that is a lazy Tank.
forcepull Force Pull – A simple ability that pulls your target to you. This ability is key to pulling off a multitude of combos. Try not to waste this ability since it has a fairly long cooldown. Using Force Pull on an enemy that is affected by Force Lift will not break the Force Lift mezz.
forcelift3 Force Lift – This ability is an 8 second mezz. It also stuns for 2 seconds when the mezz is broken by damage when you have the heroic utility, Containment.
phasewalkjedi Phase Walk – This ability is mainly going to be used to get back into the fight, as opposed to the other Disciplines where you use it to escape a fight. Be aware of where your Phase Walk is. Using it improperly will teleport you away from your guarded target and open them up to potentially be heavily bursted down. Only use this ability when your team is safe, or when it will put you at an advantage, as will be described by the combo section of the guide.
shadowstride Shadow Stride – The main use of this ability will be to break roots and slows or to immediately get to a target that your team is planning on bursting down with a coordinated hard swap.

Offensive Abilities

project2 Project – Single target ability that deals medium to very high damage. This ability builds Harnessed Shadows stacks, which cause your Cascading Debris to do 25% more damage per stack, and make Cascading Debris uninterruptable. This ability is also affected by the passive, Particle Acceleration, which will reset its cooldown and cause it to become an automatic critical hit. In addition, Particle Accelerated Projects that consume a Force Potency charge will do 50% extra critical damage.
forcebreach Force Breach – While in Combat Technique, this ability has a 10 second cool down and functions as a low-medium damage AoE ability. This ability is affected by theDouble-bladed Saber Tactics passive, which increases the damage of your Force Breach by 75% whenever you shield, parry, or deflect an attack. This ability is also affected by your Psychokinesis passive, which makes enemies hit by your Force Breach to gain the ‘Unsteady’ debuff, reducing their ranged and melee accuracy by 5%.
slowtime Slow Time – AoE damaging ability that does moderate damage. All targets hit by this ability are slowed by 30% for 10 seconds. This ability will apply the ‘Weaken’ debuff to your enemy, decreasing all melee and ranged damage that the enemy does by 5% for 45 seconds. This ability also builds Harnessed Shadows stacks. This ability also activates your two piece set bonus, which increases your damage reduction by 2% for 3 seconds after using Slow Time.
shadowstrike Shadow Strike – Deals medium damage. This ability is affected by Shadow Wrap passive, which allows you to use Shadow Strike while face-to-face with an enemy as well as reducing the force cost of this ability by 50%. Only ever use Shadow Strike when it is buffed by Shadow Wrap.
doublestrike Double Strike – This is your filler ability. This ability has a 30% chance to proc your Particle Acceleration passive. This ability will proc your Shadow Wrap passive with a 10 second internal cooldown. This ability is also affected by your Bombardment passive, which causes targets hit by this ability to suffer from Trauma, reducing their healing from all sources by 20% for 6 seconds.
whirlingblow Whirling Blow – Use this as filler instead of Double Strike when you can hit at least 2 targets. This ability is affected by all the same passives as Double Strike. This ability does 15% more damage on targets debuffed by your Force Breach’s ‘Unsteady’ debuff.
spinningkick Spinning Kick – 2 second hard stun that deals medium damage. You are able to use this ability out of stealth as a Tank, use this ability to interrupt Healer casts or to briefly stun a DPS to relieve pressure from your team.
cascadingdebris Cascading Debris –3 second channeled ability that deals high damage and slows the enemy by 50% for the duration of the channel. This ability replaces Telekinetic Throw. This ability can be channeled while moving. Only ever use this ability with 3 stacks of Harnessed Shadows. The best use of this ability is to line it up with the burst of the DPS on your team, as it deals an extremely large amount of damage and cannot be interrupted or suffer from pushback with at least 1 stack of Harnessed Shadows active.

Defensive Abilities

deflection Deflection – As Kinetic Combat, you probably don’t have the Sturdiness talent. Without the talent, this is only of any use against a class that deals mainly Melee/Ranged (M/R) damage or a hybrid of M/R damage and Force/Tech (F/T) damage, such as Shadows or Sentinels. Pop this when you predict a large amount of white damage coming your way. For example, if you see a Gunslinger casting ambush but you can’t break LoS, or if you see the enemy Infiltration Shadow has no Force Breach stacks but has an Infiltration Tactics proc ready. Or if you are falling into the execute range and fear the impending Spinning Strike, Quick Draw, or Dispatch coming your way. This ability is affected by your 6 piece set bonus, which increases its duration by 3 seconds and reduces its cooldown by 10 seconds.
resilience Resilience – This ability is best used to either a) avoid large amounts of Force/Tech damage or b) avoid Force/Tech based stuns and crowd control. Because of its rather short cooldown, it will more than likely be used before any other DCD. If you can predict when an enemy will stun you, pop this milliseconds beforehand to counter it. The same goes for if you can predict a large Force/Tech based damaging ability coming your way, such as a Vanguard’s Cell Burst and/or Assault Plastique. This ability is affected by your Rapid Recovery passive, which reduces its cooldown by 1 second each time you shield, parry, or deflect an attack.
kineticward Kinetic Ward – This ability gives you 15 charges which increase your shield chance by 15% for 20 seconds. Each time you successfully shield an attack, you lose 1 Kinetic Ward charge. This ability is affected by your Kinetic Bastion passive, which reduces its cooldown by 5 seconds, increases the shield chance gained by 3%, totaling 18%, and shielding an attack while Kinetic Ward is active has a 20% chance to restore a charge and increase its active duration by 1 second. This ability is also affected by Kinetic Bulwark passive, which changes consumed Kinetic Ward charges into increased shield absorption at a rate of 1% per charge consumed. In PvP, it is less important to maintain maximum mitigation through proper maintenance of the Kinetic Bulwark passive but if you can, try to only refresh Kinetic Ward right before it’s about to fall off to maintain maximum Kinetic Bulwark charges.
battlereadiness Battle Readiness – This is a good heal that I use after popping my Warzone Adrenal. Note, the self-heal portion of this ability does NOT proc from Force damage. It only procs when your Combat Technique procs and Combat Technique will only proc off of melee damage. This ability is also affected by your Shadow sight passive, which increases your damage reduction by 25% for the duration of Battle Readiness.
forcepotency2 Force Potency – This ability is in the Defensive Cooldown section because it is affected by your Mental Fortitude passive as a Tank, which grants 30% shield absorption for 20 seconds after using Force Potency. I would personally use this ability mainly to coordinate burst on an enemy, but it can be used as a defensive cooldown.
forcecloak Force Cloak – Your bread and butter skill. This should be the last ability you use and is your ‘worst case scenario’ ability. Hold on to this for as long as possible. Only use this ability defensively to heal up if you first have taken guard off of your target, so you don’t get pulled back in to combat. With that being said, sometimes it’s better to just guard your teammates until you die instead of trying to cloak out to heal to full. Judge these things on a case by case scenario. If you are trying to break combat to heal to full, use Phase Walk FIRST followed by Force Cloak. This prevents you from being pulled back into combat from AoE taunts or abilities. Doing this will only be possible in circumstances where you are not using your Phase Walk offensively, which will be described in the combo section of the guide.

Rotation and Combo

Rotation

First and foremost, the most important aspect to successfully Tanking in PvP is to perfect your Guard Swaps and peeling. Keeping your team alive always comes first, doing damage is always secondary to that. Second, with majority of your GCDs being spent on peeling abilities or guard swaps, there is little room for an ‘actual’ structured rotation. With that being said, here is a generic Tank rotation to generate the most DPS and procs as possible in the shortest time frame:

Start from stealth to build 4 stacks of Shadow Protection.

Project>Slow Time>Force Breach>Double Strike/Whirling Blow>Shadow Strike>Force Potency + Project>Cascading Debris> Start back at Project.

This is a very basic rotation. In practice, your actual rotation will vary depending on what procs you get. For example, sometimes you will reset your Project by getting aParticle Acceleration proc after using Double Strike/Whirling Blow. In this case, you will want to use Project and then go straight into Cascading Debris, pushing your Shadow Strike back since it has a long internal cooldown before you can proc Shadow Wrap again (10 second internal cooldown). If you can, try to only use Force Breach when it is proc’d and does 75% more damage or if you need to reapply the ‘Unsteady’ debuff to an enemy, otherwise, always use Whirling Blow in its place, as it puts up a very valuable Trauma debuff on the enemy. Only ever use Shadow Strike when it is buffed with Shadow Wrap, as spamming it otherwise will starve you of Force. Kinetic Combat is a spec that really lacks a structured rotation and is all about procs. When you consider the fact that a large majority of your GCDs will be spent swapping guard or peeling, your rotation becomes even less important.

Guard Swapping: Guard swapping is the most important aspect of Tanking in a PvP environment. Use all of your tools available to you in order to swap guard efficiently and effectively.

Focus Target – Using this, you can set up a hot key to ‘Acquire Focus Target’s Target’ in order to immediately swap to whoever your Focus Target is and guard them immediately. To get the most out of this, you will want to put the enemy with the highest DPS potential on the enemy team as your Focus Target. In a Team Ranked scenario, more often than not, my Focus Target will be the Healer so that I can use Focus Target Modifier to interrupt the Healer’s heals without ever targeting them. Here is a quick video on Focus Target modifier

Acquire Target’s Target Keybind – This keybind is good to immediately pick up the target of whoever you have targeted. For example, I target an enemy Sentinel. I see his target switch from myself to my teammate. I press the hotkey to acquire his target and immediately swap guard. Now all of the burst that the enemy throws onto that target will be mitigated by 50%.

Acquire Focus Target’s Target – As explained above, this is used to pick up the target of your Focus target, allowing for easy guard swaps.

Focus target Modifier: This is used to use abilities on your focus target, without ever targeting that player. Here is a guide on how to set up and use Focus Target Modifier:

Combos

Kinetic Combat is known for its wide array of utility and potential combos that can be pulled off to secure a kill. Here are a few:

1) Drop Phase walk into the group > Force Speed away from the fight > Force Pull the enemy Tank>Force Lift the Tank> Phase Walk back to the fight.

  • This Isolates the enemy Tank and allows your team to burst any target of their choosing since they won’t have access to guard. This combo takes about 3-4 GCDs or 4.5-6 seconds to execute.

2) Force Stun your target > Drop phase walk and Shadow Stride to a group of enemies on one of your team mates > Throw a grenade > Phase Walk back to original target.

  • This keeps your original target CC’d on the spot while peeling for another teammate and incapacitating the enemy. This entire combo can be achieved in only 2 GCDs, or 3 seconds.

3) Run off the edge of tier 2 of a map (Makeb Arena Bridge, Orbital Catwalk) > Force Pull enemy Tank>Force Lift them > Either Phase Walk back to Tier 2 or Shadow Stride back to an enemy on tier 2.

  • This will once again isolate the Tank and depending on the type of Tank, prevent them from getting back to the fight to guard a target for an extended period of time.

4) Force Wave a Tank to root them > Force Pull an enemy DPS or Healer away from the Tank> Burst them down.

  • This keeps the Tank rooted for 5 seconds while pulling their guarded target outside of the 15m Guard range, allowing for maximum burst to be achieved on this target while the Tank is rooted and cannot get back into guard range.

These are just a few of the combos that can be pulled off as Kinetic Combat Tank. I will upload video demonstrations of how to do these combos later.

About the Author

Hey guys, I’m Kre’a! I’ve mained an Assassin/Shadow for about 3 years now. In season 4,I achieved 2931 ELO, placing me as Rank #2 overall across all advanced classes and Rank #1 for the Shadow/Assassin advanced class. In season 6 I was Rank #3 for the Shadow/Assassin advanced class. You can check me out at Twitch.tv/Kreea.

Special thanks – Special thanks to <Clickers> of the Bastion/Harbinger. Te’fia of Harbinger, Aelanis of Shadowlands and everyone on the Assassin/Shadow forum. Also, a special thanks to No’Touchy of Harbinger, check her out at Twitch.tv/NoTouchyTv.

kreatiger3 

  • Frosted Tides

    If u say shield – 0, how do u get absorb and def without getting some shield, since augments are all endurance, survivor set have the mods armors and enhance changed into those with power and critical. So how, cause it is the same with assassin tank.

    • Kre’a

      Tanking in PvP is different than in PvE, In PvP, Tank stats don’t mitigate damage nearly as well as raw endurance does. On top of that, critical hits cannot be shielded. With players running around with absurdly high critical chances now a days, its a moot point to gear for shield/absorb. Defense only works on white damage. The amount of times you’ll run into a match that is primarily white damage (Melee/Ranged) is extremely low. For this reason, you gear for primarily endurance and choose offensive stats while primarily relying on your passive mitigations through your Discipline tree.

      • VK

        Well, defence can work against yellow damage (not against crits of course). The chance to resist Force/Tech attacks is ridiculously low but it’s working. For example, guardian/jugg tank can pull it up to 11% in-combat by 2 abilities: 5% from Retaliation + 6% from Ravage. Not for long, yeah, but it’s helpful. Not sure about shadows (not playing much atm) but on my shadow tank i see 2% buff to Force/Tech resist outside-of-combat and maybe it can be up more in-combat.

        • Kre’a

          Defense as a stat from the vendor that you can put into your gear does NOT work against yellow damage (force/tech). Defense that you can get passively through your tree and abilities CAN resist yellow damage. They are two different stats.

          • VK

            Yeah, that’s what i’m talking about. I’m not clarified it in my previous message

  • VK

    Nice guide. It’s really pity to see that all tank stats completely fuc**d up in swtor mechanics after 4.0.

  • Lilian Halcombe

    Where do you get Advanced Discipline Enhancement 40X and Advanced Lethal Mod 40B-X from? They don’t exist in any of the gear on the vendors that I can see.

  • monkey in the middle

    whats your gear look like at full 208. Also do you recommend shadow tanks using dps gear like the guardians.

  • Fin

    You have any other videos of you pvp’ING this?

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