SWTOR 5.0 Vigilance Guardian PvE Guide by Rydarus
SWTOR 5.0 Vigilance Guardian PvE Guide written by Rydarus
- 1 Intro to 5.0 Vigilance Guardian
- 2 Abilities
- 3 Rotation and Priority
- 4 About the Author
Intro to 5.0 Vigilance Guardian
Hello! Rydarus here. Once again, I will be writing the guide for the Vigilance Guardian for Knights of the Eternal Throne. This expansion brought several significant changes to the class as we know it, and as such many players will be almost completely relearning the spec. Throughout the guide, I would encourage the reader, whether they have played this spec before or not, to keep an open mind towards new ideas regarding the class.
I’ve designed this guide to adhere to a raid realistic rotation and outlook, as well as to be cognizant of potential future changes to the class. What this means is that the builds and rotations used within the guide may not be fully optimal for say, dummy parsing, but will be designed for maximizing raid realistic damage, as well as minimize pain on the part of the reader if they happen to nerf or buff certain areas of the spec. Without further ado, let’s begin
Overview of Vigilance Guardian
The Vigilance Guardian has changed a lot from it’s 4.0 incarnation. Rather than the melee turret class that was hamstrung by its melee channel but compensated for this limitation with monstrous AoE, the 5.0 vigilance guardian is significantly different. The KOTET Vigilance Guardian is armed with even MORE AoE potential, the flexibility of added mobility and range, and overall versatility. However, it is currently limited by mediocre single target DPS (though it gains about 500-1000 DPS OR MORE on actual bosses due to certain utilities). Regardless, it can be a serviceable, even competitive discipline in the correct hands. Overall, it’s a significantly improved discipline, and has the best playstyle the class has seen in years.
Ratings: Note that these ratings themselves are somewhat arbitrary. They’re more of a way to rank how important each element is to the class on a 1-10 scale, not a comparison to other disciplines in the game. The ratings are based purely on how the spec performs in fights, not against stationary targets.
- Single Target DPS: 6/10
- AoE Damage: 10/10
- Group Utility:3/10
- Rotation Complexity (ease of understanding): 4/10
- Rotation Difficulty (execution): 6.5/10
- RNG Dependency: 2/10
- Burst: 6/10
- Execute: 2/10
Gearing and Equipment
Gearing in Eternal Throne has been changed significantly with Galactic Command, so it is no longer realistic to assume players can meet specific mod and enhancement targets while gearing due to the disparity in gear ratings. As such, I will outline rough statistical guidelines. Aside from logistical aspects of gearing, I will now be recommending a gear setup that is markedly different from what is mathematically ideal (Bant’s guide). This is due to the reality that extremely high percentages of alacrity may not be completely optimal in actual boss fights with mechanics. As such, these targets are guidelines, not hard rules.
- Versatile or Proficient Stim
- Attack Adrenals
- Versatile Hilt
- Versatile Armorings with the Weaponmaster Set Bonus
- All Lethal Mods (unlettered) for power
- Reach accuracy cap with Initiative enhancements and accuracy augment 45s. Do not go under 110% accuracy (737 rating) as missing an interrupt in a fight is worse than doing a slightly less amount of dps.
- Gun for 9-11% alacrity percentage. You CAN go higher but do so at your own risk. Reach this with Quick Savant Enhancements and Alacrity Augments.
- Gun for ~1700 critical rating. Reach this with Adept Enhancements and Critical Augments.
- Fill the remaining augment budget with Mastery Augments. In conversations with Bant we reached the conclusion that after a certain point mastery is a superior substitute to alacrity versus crit due to diminishing returns. At 242s with 9% alacrity it’s roughly 3 mastery augments and the mastery stim.
This section will go over optimal utility selection. I will rate utilities using a 4-star system, with certain utilities changing their usefulness depending on the scenario. Parentheses indicate any situational changes in rating. All of the utilities listed are non PvP utilities, meaning a significant portion of them won’t even appear on the list. This is either because that utility is useless, or specific players might find them useful in situations others may not.
Allocate your utilities in either: 3/2/1/2, 3/3/0/2, 4/2/0/2, or 4/3/0/1
** Situationally useful on several fights
* Extremely Situational, not very useful / very useful on one or two fights
Skillful: Take 3-4
Masterful: Take 2-3
Masterful: Take 0-1
Legendary: Take 1-2
The Vigilance Guardian has a variety of Defensive Cooldowns that serve a multitude of disparate purposes. Each cooldown has uses in many different scenarios. It is the job of a good DPS player to minimize total DTPS to the maximum extent with movement and proper cooldown usage while maintaining as close of an approximation to ideal DPS as possible.
Procs and Passive Effects
Before you as the player can understand how to play the class, you must understand a few crucial elements of the class. For a full scope on why the class is played how it is, please examine the skill tree.
The Vigilance Guardian has many abilities that they must become familiar with before the actual rotation can be learned. The below abilities are NOT ordered by priority. All of these abilities are instant. I am assuming 0% alacrity for all cooldowns for the sake of readability, however actual cooldowns will be shorter due to alacrity.
Rotation and Priority
Vigilance is not a complex specialization to understand, instead it is about the basics, done well. No Vigilance player is ever going to claim this is the hardest specialization in the world, however playing the specialization effectively requires a good knowledge of the guiding principles of the class. Knowledge is power.
The Vigilance rotation centers around a single common static rotation with slots that allow for the drifting of certain abilities. My opener is specifically designed in order to facilitate an optimal rotation following it. No other opener is technically optimal unless it mimics the ability spacing, because the GCD spacing between the utilization of each ability is what allows the rotation to instantaneously flow, a crucial aspect towards learning the specialization.
Note that if you do not want to open with Saber Throw -> Force Leap, you can also utilize any focus generating ability set that leaves you with 6 focus before you begin the opener in earnest (ex: Sundering Strike -> Freezing Force -> Combat Focus = 6 net focus) However, the actual placement of every ability past Combat Focus is absolutely vital for correct execution of the rotation.
A note on triple dot openers: I am philosophically averse to them, and I do believe that a triple dot opener is not a significant difference, negative or otherwise.
After the opener, you then flow into the main rotation, which can be defined with multiple hard rules in a strict priority system. When done properly, the rotation should have a flow to it, it should feel natural, like art. When taken as a whole, the rotation fits together like the solution to a complex puzzle, a solution that suddenly explains that the puzzle is simple after all.
Single Target Priority
Single Target Rotation
In isolation, the priority system forces you into a rotation that looks like this. The first cycle begins after the initial focus build in the Opener that culminates in 12 focus.
Cycle 1: x2 Overhead Slash
Overhead Slash -> Empty -> Vigilant Thrust -> Empty ->
Blade Storm -> Empty -> Overhead Slash -> Plasma Brand ->
Cycle 2: x2 Vigilant Thrust
Vigilant Thrust -> Empty -> Blade Storm -> Empty ->
Overhead Slash -> Empty -> Vigilant Thrust -> Plasma Brand ->
Cycle 3: x2 Blade Storm
Blade Storm -> Empty -> Overhead Slash -> Empty ->
Vigilant Thrust -> Empty -> Blade Storm -> Plasma Brand ->
All the “Empty” slots can be filled by any of the abilities that are not in the 1st priority bracket.
One Blade Barrage has to be in every single cycle, leaving 2 spare GCDs in every cycle. These GCDs could be taken up by the non core abilities that are outlined in the priority, Whirling Blade when it procs, Freezing Force if you have enough resource, a Combat Focus + Freezing Force replacing a Sundering Strike, maybe even a Saber Throw. However each block has an identical amount of potential openings for drifting abilities, upon which is up to the user. If you follow the opener and priority to the letter, everything naturally falls together like this. You will always know what block you are in because the first ability after Plasma Brand will tell you which Cycle you are in. On a boss, downtime may make it so that you are not in any of these cycles, but having uptime will naturally realign the rotation so that you follow one of these three cycles. Study these cycles well, as a complete understanding of the mechanics of each cycle leads to a complete understanding of Vigilance.
A note on alternative rotations: Advanced players will be able to fool around with the priority of abilities in Empty. Some will use Freezing Force instead of Blade Barrage. As long as the spacing of the abilities outside of empty looks like this, one can technically modify all other priorities. This should only be done by advanced players however.
AoE DPS (3+)
AOE in Vigilance is fairly simplistic, and contrary to popular belief, is NOT based on a priority system, but a set rotation of sorts that endlessly repeats. This system is designed to swap all damage towards AOE. The principle behind this is to increase your Cyclone Slash damage using your Burning DoTs, and keeping at least one DoT on all encountered enemies at once.
As Plasma Brand is your longest DoT, you use Plasma Brand to maintain the Cyclone Slash / Sweeping Slash Damage Buff. Alternate with Plasma Brand with Overhead Slash to maintain the debuff for as long as possible, using Vigilant Thrust on cooldown, and Cyclone spam for days. It’s important NOT to delay Vigilant Thrust for Plasma Brand, as this lowers your aoe, this is why you cycle Overhead Slash in to cover the alternate DoT cycle, because Vigilant Thrust does not actually refresh DoTs, only spreads them if they are not already present on ancillary targets.
While doing this, you will then cycle in Freezing Force as the DoT duration lasts, especially in scenarios where your Cyclone cannot cleave everyone, as Freezing Force has a larger radius. My favorite place to use Freezing Force is when my resource hits the 2 mark, as it’s enough to use Freezing Force but not enough to use Cyclone Slash.
On 8 targets, doing a rotation like this will allow you to hit upwards of 40k AOE DPS.
Parsing and Analysis
Parsing is an important but highly overrated tool for determining DPS. Don’t use it as an epeen barometer. It means very little when it comes to DPS on bosses. What it DOES do is help develop a form of muscle memory. In order to fully master a rotation, you must first figure out every possible way to mess it up on the dummy.
This means you go through with every parse you have regardless of mistakes to learn your rotation inside out. Vigilance is an easy to learn but hard to master spec, and the rotation SEEMS easy to pick up and understand but a single mistake can alter the entire flow of the spec.
When looking at your parse, you should always notice a few things:
- How close are my top priority abilities, Overhead Slash, Plasma Brand, Blade Storm, and Vigilant Thrust, to their minimum cooldowns?
- When looking at the order of the abilities, are Overhead Slash, Blade Storm, and Vigilant Thrust always spaced the same distance apart? Did I ever delay any one of them and alter the timing? How did I fix it? How can I avoid it?
- How many times did I Whirling Blade and Freezing Force?
Here is a sample parse of mine, following the general precepts of this guide (the first few GCDs are different but from Overhead Slash on it follows the opener of the guide).
9074 DPS on 1.5M dummy, Vigilance Guardian (242 Mainhand, 230 armorings, 240 enhancements, 240 mods.)
8873 on 2.5M dummy, Vigilance Guardian (242 Mainhand, 230 armorings, 240 enhancements, 240 mods
Notice the utilization of each ability, and how none are delayed farther than they need to be.
Application to the Boss
“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
– Master Yoda
Now that you’ve filled your mind with the semantics of the rotation in an idealized version of the rotation, you cannot be bound to it. The goal of the rotation in this guide is not to tell you how to play the class, but how to learn the class. The greatest strength of a Vigilance Guardian is that there’s very little that forces us to actually adhere to a true rotation like an IO merc. Instead, the rotation can be resolved and adjusted on the fly in pretty much any scenario.
This does not mean you can spam Strike and be a complete idiot to do amazing numbers, but it does mean that you must become comfortable resuming the rotation from every possible contingency. You must maintain APM and uptime by CONSTANTLY PRESSING BUTTONS. If this means adapting the rotation to create a combination of 3 abilities that you can use from 10 meters in order to do a mechanic, do it. Do not become bound to the rotation, instead use it as a framework that can be deviated from. Be aware of which of the three cycles you have been placed in, or whether you are in one of the three cycles at all.
Your goal on bosses is to stick to the first point in the priority as often as possible, and take advantage of the increased resource generation to utilize your focus consuming fillers, Freezing Force, Whirling Blade, and Slash as much as you can without disrupting the rotation. However without practicing the basic rotation that limits the utilization of filler, you will be incapable of correct execution on the boss.
The REFLECTODEX™ (Saber Reflect Tips and Tricks). Credit to Torvai, Vaidinah, Gyrfalcon, and Daharel for discovering many of these I did not find myself.
- Annihilation Droid: Stun + Group Cleave
- Gharj: None
- Pylons: Ew
- Infernal Council: Ew
- Soa: Blue Circles @ Floor 1
- Bonethrasher: None
- J&S: Unload, direct attacks
- Foreman Crusher: Red Circles (don’t do it, accuracy debuff)
- Fire Droid thing: None
- Karraga: Asscleave Fire, Mouse Droids Exploding, Fire Puddles, BASICALLY ANYTHING FIRE.
- Zorn and Toth: All circles, including the red circle, and the following yellow circ le that turns purple. Fearful debuff also is reflectable, but be very careful when doing so.
- Firebrand and Stormcaller: Double Destruction, attacks from adds, Lightning Pylons
- Colonel Vorgath: Turrets
- Kephess: Damage dealt to Trenchcutters is redirected to you if they are under a warrior shield, if you pop saber reflect when the damage is redirected, the damage redirected to you is sent to the warrior himself. You can also damage the walker with Saber Reflect by standing under it WHILE IT IS “IMMUNE.”
Terror from Beyond:
- Writhing Horror: None
- The Dread Guard: Doom (try to Blade Blitz instead of reflecting, use reflect as a backup cheese), Heirad’s Force Lightning
- Operator 9: Nothing important, misc add single target attacks perhaps
- Kephess the Undying: The red laser, the persistent raidwide AoE in burn phase
- Terror from Beyond: The slam. Occurs roughly every 10 swipes, count very accurately
Scum and Villainy:
- Dash’roode: Nothing important
- Titan 6: Add damage, nothing important
- Thrasher: Firebug’s AoE mostly
- Operations Chief: Terminate (if your tank wants you to take it, be sure to pop a second cooldown after, threat can very much be an issue with reflecting Terminate)
- Olok: Whatever
- Cartel Warlords: If you get fixated on by Sunder, you can reflect it. You should never get hit by Vilus’ stabbing spree (but it is reflectable), because you have unremitting. Just leap at Vilus every time he moves to stab somebody, it’s a better cheese than Sniper entrench.
- Styrak: His adds channel a Lightning Attack that is reflectable. In SM (story) and HM (veteran) , reflect that attack. In NiM (master), that reflect is a waste of DPS because your other DPS probably don’t have reflect so it doesn’t actually “speed up” the phase. However, when Styrak’s corporeal form does his lightning AoE and gives everyone the orange debuff, you can reflect your own debuff onto the Styrak boss himself. This actually contributes DPS that speeds up the encounter and is worth doing.
- Sparky: Brutal Punch, Adds jump
- Bulo: Scatter Blast, Mass Barrage, Ore Carts, Pirates attacks
- Torque: Turrets, Fire Device, Shoots Lasers, Torque’s Knockback
- Master and Blaster: Rain of Pain
- Coratanni: Basically all of Cora and Ruugar’s attacks, Deck guns, Ruugar’s dots.
- Malaphar: Spear Throw(red circle)
- Walkers: None
- Lurker: None
- Commanders: Kurse’s Smash
- Revan: Heave, Saber Overcharge (cleave), HK’s Mines(only if they’re cleansed, ie red circles), Middle Droid’s Attack, Core’s AoE (Essence Shear I believe, doesn’t prevent stacks)
- Nefra: None
- Draxus: Subteroth Explosion, Draxus attacks excluding cleave, Guardian’s Thundering Blast, Force Lightning, Guardian’s Cleave
- Grob’thok: Raidwide Roar
- Corruptor Zero: Chest Laser, Missile Barrage, Ranged Adds attacks
- Brontes: Orbs
- Bestia: None
- Tyrans: Fire at the DOOR, NOT INFERNO
- Calphayus: None
- Raptus: Force Execution
- Council: Burn Phase AoE.
- Purple Circle, attacks from adds
- Slam (Watch for the breathing animation for when he’s about to slam, with the lightning in his armpits.)
- Initial tick of Curse (Generates MASSIVE THREAT)
About the Author
f you don’t know who I am, I’m Rydarus. I’ve written the Vigilance and Vengeance guide for Dulfy since mid 2.0. I’ve perfected and tinkered my approach to Vig/Veng under the principles of DoT uptime, and I hope to spread the Way of Uptime to other players.
This guide has and will always be written about how I play this spec. I try to be as close to ideal as I can be, but I will at some point inevitably have minor disagreements on how to play the spec, especially as to whether or not something is actually ideal on a boss and not just for a dummy.
I’m also slow to read the comments section, if you have concerns or want immediate feedback, please post here:http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=780216
Additionally, if you appreciate the guide, please click my referral link!
I’ve downed all the 8man content in the game pre 4.0, including 10/10 Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice on tier in 3.0.
In 4.0, I killed 5/5 HM ToS, 5/5 HM Ravagers, 4/5 Nightmare DF, 5/5 Nightmare DP, 5/5 Nightmare TFB, 4/4 NiM EC (Timed Run), and 7/7 NiM SnV, all in 4.0. You can find various kill videos on my Twitch, twitch.tv/rydarus.
In 5.0, I’ve been raiding casually, mostly queing PvP and grinding this stupidass Galactic Command System.
I’d like to thank many people for helping me write this guide, as well as helping me get where I am in progression today.
- She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, for carrying me (Those dank rescues in Core Phase, reminding me to respec utilities, you rock).
- Gyrfalcon, 3.0 Alacrity augs so gud
- Chess, for thinking I was actually good lmao.
- Nora, MATCHEY MATCHEY
- Justin/ColonelPumpy of <Zorz>, for showing me what an actual good player is like. Otherwise we might think the dead game dickwad posers were good! THE HORROR!
- Mattmonkey, for inspiring me to write a guide all those years ago.
- Bioware, for making a game dead enough that I still get to write a guide.
- PVP, for teaching me to be a better DPS
- Training Dummies, for fluffing mah epeenz kappa keepo