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SWTOR Vanguard Shield Specialist 4.0 Tanking Guide by Yam’unun

SWTOR Vanguard Shield Specialist 4.0 Tanking Guide by Yam’unun.


Intro to Shield Specialist Vanguard

“Storming to the front line with a powerful charge, the Shield Specialist Vanguard can withstand any incoming offensive. The Shield Specialist boldly takes the brunt of the attack while employing a wide range of tech-based attacks to gas, blast and jolt their enemies into oblivion..”

The Shield Specialist Discipline of the Vanguard AC is one of the 3 tank Disciplines in Swtor. While lacking the amount of cooldowns of a Juggernaut and the cheese of an Assassin, the VG makes up for it through powerful mitigation passives, mobility and the only tank to be able to sustain damage at a range when need be. This solid tank is more than capable of clearing any content at the highest level.

Gearing and Stats

I’m going to be upfront and tell you I am not a theorycrafter or number cruncher (Maths are hard XD). While there is some common ground on gearing (use tank gear not dps one) there is a bit of leeway on gearing and stats as I will outline below along with what has personally worked for me.

What You Need

  • Set Bonus: 224 Supercommando Armorings
  • Barrel: 224 Resistive Barrel
  • Mods: Warding Mods (Defense)
  • Enhancements: Either Shield or Absorb for your Stat Budget
  • Earpiece and Implants: Same as Enhancements (Shield or Absorb)
  • Stim: Fortitude Stim
  • Stance: Ion Cell

Set Bonus

Set Bonus: Supercommando (224)

  • 2 Piece: 2% Damage Reduction when Energy blast is activated
  • 4 Piece: Activating Shockstrike Reduces CD of Taunt and AoE taunt by 2 seconds
  • 6 Piece:Increases Duration of Riot Gas by 3 Seconds and Reactive Shield by 4 Seconds

Stats and Gearing Methods

Now the above list was intentionally vague as due to the changes in 4.0 with how tanks gear there is argument over what is “best”. Now I will not say there is only one way and if you don’t follow it you will never clear anything as you might expect from a guide :P. As long as you gear have proper item level, no fight will really come down to how min maxed you did your tank. Unless you forgot to budget a stat entirely or forgot to put your gear on (Hey it happens :D)

That said here are some generally agreed upon ranges of stats people use

Shield: 1500-1800

Absorb: 900-1200

For VG Shield>Absorb>Defense

I leave out defense as the amount of defense from mods is far over the limit needed. Now comes for my favorite topic (Kappa).

Mitigation Build vs Higher HP Build

For those unaware but not to dig to deep, Pure Mitigation is just using all tank stuff from the token vendor unlettered. Higher HP build whereby mostly defense is traded for HP is gained through any combination of B Mods, Vendor or Mk-2 tank enhancements, vendor or mk-2 (non crafted) tank implants and earpieces and either Mk-26 tank relics or DPS relics because they have HP. I have read arguments on either side and in the end personally believe neither will make nor break a tank as both types have been used for clearing NiM in 4.0.

That said I personally lean towards more HP for my builds to counter spikes since it’s mostly trading defense for HP and many spike attacks aren’t countered by defense. Unfortunately BW has decided that 224 gear is only unlettered so you will have to go with 220 Mods and Enhancements for HP. So for those who want to see how I gear:

  • Enhancements: Advanced Bastion 43 Enhancement x4, Advanced Bulwark 43 Enhancement x3 (220)
  • Mods: Advanced Warding Mod 43B x9 (220)
  • Earpiece: Exarch Bastion Mk-2 (220)
  • Implants: Exarch Bulwark Mk-2 x2 (220)
  • Relics: Ultimate Exarch Reactive Warding and Shield Amplification (224)
  • Augments: Advanced Shield Augment 40 x 11, Advanced Absorb Augment 40 x 3
  • Shield: 1691
  • Absorb: 1019
  • Defense: 2162
  • HP: 81842


Outlined below are the utilities I find useful in a raid environment.


  • Battlefield Training: Increases movement speed by 15% (Speed is always good)
  • Reflective Armor: When Into the Fray is activated it deals x amount damage to enemies within 10m. (Free Damage, more damage equal boss dies faster :D)
  • Iron Will: Decreases CD of Hold the Line by 10 seconds and Determination by 30 Seconds (CC Breaker).
  • Muzzle Augs: Increases Ion Pulse by 2 meters and Explosive Surge radius by 1 meter.


  • Sonic Rebounder: Allies within range of AoE taunt are granted one reflect of direct damage back to the enemy. (Ability to prevent damage and dish it out, yes please :D)
  • Advance the Line: Increases Duration of Hold the Line by 4 Seconds.
  • Electro Shield: Causes x amount of direct damage back to the enemy when Energy Shield is active.


  • Guard Cannon: SC Missile Heals for 3% of Health per missile (Nerfed recently from 5% but still better than most of the other utilities save in specific circumstances)
  • Charge the Line: Increases Speed of Hold the line by 45% (More Speed :D)

Passives and Abilities

Listed below are a general outline of a VG Tank’s abilities and passives.


The strengths of VG tanking lies in its passives abilities and heavy armor along with its ability to dish out damage from range. With this in mind VG tanking is all about keeping up your passives which luckily is quite easy to do if you use your abilities right.


With Ion Cell Stance your Armor, Shield, Absorb, Damage Reduction and Accuracy (you have full accuracy while in tank stance) are increased while your damage is decreased. When using it has a chance to deal extra energy damage when you use an attack.

The core element of VG tanking is maintaining its passive stacks of Power Screens and Shield Enhancers. When you reach 3 Stacks of Power Screens Energy Blast will become available to use, significantly increases your absorption by 25%. Building stacks of Power Screens which increase your Absorb revolve around shielding an attack and proc’ing your Ion Cell through attacks particularly High Impact Bolt and Shockstrike. These last two abilities are used to build your Shield Enhancers which increase your Shield.


Offensive Abilities

1538075128_769752380 Ion Storm (IS): 10 meter conal attack and hardest hitting attack. 1.5 second channel with Ion Engine and causes targets to become Impaired reducing their F/T attack damage of enemy by 5%
2253224874_3899389913 High Impact Bolt (HIB): Ignores 60% of armor and with Ion Cell and can cause damage to multiple targets. Builds Energy Screens. Use on CD
3136911752_1251401797 (1) Shoulder Cannon (SC): Loads 4 missiles to be used off GCD 1 every 1.5 seconds and goes on CD for 1.5 minutes. With heal utility can provide a now small heal but should not be delayed as very useful in building threat and doing damage.
3969025564_2435096103 Stockstrike (SS): Builds Energy Screens and hard hitting attack. Use on CD.
4088239768_2981833621 Energy Blast (EB): Uses Energy Screens to boast absorb by 25% for 6 seconds. Should be used on CD unless saving for a major hit.
453218427_4064545516 Ion Pulse (IP): Main filler and causes Enemies affected to be Weakened and do 5% less M/R Damage as well as Trauma.
525114656_2087478861 Hammer Shots (HS): Secondary filler as it costs no energy
1193767723_4068623192 Sticky Grenade (SG): AOE does moderate damage
3926193510_1107380221 Mortar Volley (MV): AOE does heavy damage
4074200296_2718514029 Explosive Surge (ES): Filler AOE and does moderate amount of damage
204486677_1590465050 Harpoon: Pulls Enemy towards you if capable and/or generates a lot of threat.
543062217_3838188846 Storm: Gap Closer and provides 2 free FP or FS.
4094111264_1236287357 Neural Surge: AoE Hard Stun
1225938572_3231622571 Cryo Grenade: Single target hard stun


3253093786_3029878373 Riot Gas: Covers surrounding area in gas and for 15 seconds (18 with 6 piece) enemies with riot gas are slowed 70% and M/R accuracy reduced by 30% and can act as a raid utility if you aren’t tanking or there is M/R Dmg going out to raid.
47894451_1650779364 Battle Focus: Increases Crit Chance and more importantly gives you 35% defense chance for duration. With RG and built in defense this can give you a very powerful cooldown.
759154527_2026381818 Reactive Shield: 15 seconds (19 with 6 piece) you take 25% less damage from incoming attacks.
2333995566_3818494408 Adrenaline Rush: When activated it goes on stand by for 1 minute. During that time when health dips below 40% it will heal you up to 35% and if above 40% heal for 2% of total health.
3099160832_1788285497 Hold the Line: Increases movement speed by 30% (45% with utility) and grants immunity to physics and movement impairment for 6 (10 with utility) seconds.
1587348728_1642337654 Recharge Cells: Recharges Cell by 50 Energy.
2054509766_3821218460 Reserve Cell: Makes next attack cost no Energy.

Rotations and Priorities

A Standard “Opener” (Will Vary):

Preload SC–>Grapple–>Storm–>SS and SC Spam–>HiB–>IS or EB –>IP or IS–>SS or IP–> EB or IP–> Taunt and IP–>SS/HiB—>IS–> AOE Taunt->…… Priority


1) EB (Heat Blast)

2) SC (Shoulder Cannon) (off GCD)

3) SS (Shockstrike)

4)HiB (High Impact Bolt)

5) IS (Ion Storm) (with Ion Engine)

6) IP (Ion Pulse)

A few notes about VG tanking rotation. First Grapple  had its threat greatly increased making it near equivalent to the Shadow force pull. 15k threat of the bat is pretty nice. With Storm you get the free 2 Ion Pulses. Right away you want to build your Power Screens and Energy Shields. Now depending in a real fight if you have gotten a third screen or not use Energy Blast. If not use Ion Storm to put the F/T debuff on the target and deal serious damage. During this time you want to use your shoulder cannon since it’s off the GCD and adds to your threat generation and skills.

If the boss does no or little M/R dmg during at least the first two minutes you can use Battle Foucs as an Offensive cooldown instead. Since raid buffs go out at the beginning you can grab a metric poop ton of threat. After first EB use your taunt then IP to get that M/R debuff up then just go from their. Procs are mostly dependent on shielding attacks so see it as priority not static. And here and there rapid shot for heat management as it can build fast even with Reserve Cell and Recharge Cell.

Advice on Tanking in General

Tanking is one of the three trinity types found in Swtor and when it comes to defining clear goals and what constitutes good or even great tanking is harder to quantify than DPS or Heals. That said there are some core keys to being a great tank in Swtor able to tank any boss. I’ll outline them below

1. Global Rule aka No one is perfect- You will make mistakes and you must own up to them. This is key for any role but particularly for tanks. No matter how good you are you will make mistakes because no one is perfect. The key is to learn from them and admit them while at the same time focus on how to do better rather than you made a mistake.

2. Generate all the threats– Keeping threat is highest priority and use both taunts. This is primary goal of tanking as the boss is hitting you instead of a DPS or Heals. Unless a boss has an aggro drop mechanic or you aren’t currently tanking boss use your taunts on CD. Saving them means you’re letting threat go to waste and with Set bonus your taunts will be back up in no time

3. Go Ham on the boss: Every extra dps counts on the boss; the more you do the less DPS have to burn. Particularly true in NiM, tank DPS can help shave off a good number. Tanks can push over 2k in most set piece fights. Whether it’s doing over 400k+ on the Revan Core, shaving a few % off of Brontes, or preventing a third surging chain on Dread Guards, tank DPS does help. Which leads me to last rule

4. Never waste a GCD: Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do: Whether throwing in taunts for extra threat, spamming rapid shots when far away, or carbonizing some adds, every GCD can be filled with something. Unless Styrak is giving you the ole Choke’aroo Kappa. :3

Final Notes & Acknnowledgements

I like to thank everyone over the time playing in helping me. Thank you to <Origin> for putting up with my tanking on Impside and all the dank times. Special mention to Create, Var, Mal for being dank guild leaders. Jericho and Styrker for being best tank buddies as well as the rest of the team: Loak, Pat, Narsh, and Adorable as well as Deatch. Thanks for hosting this guide and thanks to all readers. If you have any questions/rants/memes or just want to flame me can leave me a comment here, ingame or at my email: and try to get back to you. In cases of doubt, just remember to translocate your healers on CD and say weird crap when your raid leader is streaming and always make Dank Memes. :3

About the Author

I am Yam from Jedi Covenant since my first Powertech is name Yam’unun after hitting the on the character creation screen. I have mained a Powertech tank since 3.0 and getting to know all the ins and outs raiding with several guilds on especially <Origin> which most recently I have raided with over a year clearing all 8m NiM content in 4.0 post Sniper/PT nerfs and 10/10 Rav/ToS HM. I also main the other 2 tank classes and have pub mirrors as well. I like this game, raiding and dank memes. You can watch me live at my Twitch YamSwtor and also can usually find me tanking on Roscoe2311 stream as well. ^^

31 replies on “SWTOR Vanguard Shield Specialist 4.0 Tanking Guide by Yam’unun”

Ohh my beloved Vanguard tank how will you suffer with the upcoming of 5.0 after I read the class changes at jedipaedia

When it’s changed almost imminently, then yes.
No point wasting their time and the time of everyone reading it, who will get info that will change very soon.

Hello … just to clarify this, I never meant to discourage anyone from playing a vanguard or PT tank – I myself had never more fun as with my beloved vanguard. But unfortunately I read the class changes for 5.0 on jedipeadia and have a bad feeling of foreboding of the coming changes.

Looking back to 2012 when I created my first class (vanguard, of course) how it felt to play, the fun I had with it, and how my fun was nerved with every nerv of the class. Removal of auto-fire, reduced weapon ranges … wtf this guy is wearing a range weapon and is .. in fact … a RANGE tank, something quite unique. And this has been taken away step by step.

And therefore I fear the worst … beside the bug feast like in 4.0 , 3.0, 2.0, etc.

What did you do for the community?
Other than complaining…

Changes may come in November or December. Or even later, you never know.

For people learning the class NOW it’s still helpful.

Only waste of time reading are your postings. people can decide on their own if tehy want to read this guide or not.

Don’t make assumptions about others.
And they said end of Autumn iirc.
Regardless, my point is for a new Vanguard player, getting into the habit of this rotation will come back to haunt them at level 70.

Unless they are removing Shockstrike and HiB and EB from VG which is doubtful the rotation will remain the same.

Depends if they class it as a ranged or melee class. All melee abilities are being removed from ranged classes.

It’s a Meele class with vestigial ranged abilities which have been removed over time. AFAIK with exception of maybe auto attack, it’s abilities are now 10m but in lieu everything is instant. That won’t effect your core rotation of building Screens via Shockstrike and HiB and converting with EB. Even if they were removed learning a rotation (this case a priority system) for any class is relatively easy and pretty simple for a tank. But again unless stated otherwhise I doubt VG will change much as it’s pretty much been the same since 2.0 and earlier.

This is just my PT guide translated into VG terms (which ironically started as a VG guide). This was all done back in July however it is being published now as all parties involved also have RL :3

As for 5.0 even with the changes I doubt VG tanking will change much. In any case I’ve already set aside time to write potential fundamental changes if necessary but again most changes seem to be trivial now.

I’ve read the potential class changes and besides a big nerf to Riot Gas and a Small one to AR, the only other changes I see are range reduction to ten which frankly isn’t that too bad as a tank but in lieu that Buff to Firestorm and Flame Engine are nice. Other than that I doubt they will mess with the core mechanics of VG tanking or any other tank tbh so most of the information presented here will be relevant still.

I’ve read the potential class changes and besides a big nerf to Riot Gas and a Small one to AR, the only other changes I see are range reduction to ten which frankly isn’t that too bad as a tank but in lieu that Buff to Firestorm and Flame Engine are nice. Other than that I doubt they will mess with the core mechanics of VG tanking or any other tank tbh so most of the information presented here will be relevant still. But then again this is all these changes are subject to change.

I have one question now that we are in the topic, can I use the same dps set for both dps spec or there is a stats difference between them?

Set bonus applies to both. The tertiary stat difference between the two is so minute and trivial that no change there is required. So yes you can use both

Hey there, nice guide on overall PT/VG tanking.
Not sure if just overlooked or not mentioned, but *Explosive Surge* (with +25% damage boost utility) is actually a better dps than Ion Pulse, even on single target because of the +10% crit chance it benefits in the tank discipline.
Now of course you don’t want to use it all the time (thinking about Dread Guards where you dont wanna buff the other bosses or Operator where you don’t want to hit that wandering probe), but still I thought it was worth mentioning for those of you who are after that little bit of dps that will help beating the tight enrages (I know, few of them are left :/)

Thanks, I knew this was the case in 3.0 but haven’t tested it since then if it’s changed or not. My only hesistation in 3.0 was my preference of sacrificing Passive Speed or Reduced Hydros but for others needing the DPS boost in 4.0 on bosses it may be worth it. I’ll do some testing when I get the chance.


It is indeed still the case (see my dummy parse for it). I hardly ever use the reduction on Hydraulics/HoldTheLine , and if sacrifice need be, you can most of the time sacrifice the damage on IntoTheFray/CloseAndPersonal utility since it has a very situational use. So there is always room for that little bit of dps on my end 🙂
happy testing!

If anything I’d take it over the Reduce CD on Hydros or Passive Speed. Boss Cleaves and and fights with lots of AOE on top make it well worth it and add the fact it’s free damage if we are going for max DPS. As an aside for those thinking about the difference it will make, on the fights in the game with major DPS checks I.e. Terror and Brontes as a tank you aren’t really getting much uptime for a tank to make much difference as those fights the tank is usually unavailable for the actual target but I digress there.

If you can link the parse here or if you did I cannot see it.

You can’t pull with grapple as a vanguard like you would with force pull as a shadow, i don’t recall the exact numbers but it generates around 3 times less threat. It isnt worth a gcd on pull and you will easily lose aggro once your taunt wears off.

They buffed it in 4.0. It does about ~14-15k threat now. I always open with Harpoon and never have lost aggro. So I disagree it’s totes worth the GCD. I have pulled off a Shadow pull on Revan before with it and ended up in the pit cause of that XD

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