SWTOR 5.0 Focus Guardian PvE Guide by Skyesora

SWTOR 5.0 Focus Guardian PvE Guide by Skyesora.

Intro to 5.0 Focus Guardian

Hey everyone! I’m Skyesora, and somehow I’ve found myself with the task of writing a class guide. If you’re here, I hope that means you’re interested in playing Focus Guardian and want to learn about the discipline. While I’m not the most accomplished or longest-tenured player, I have been practicing and studying Guardian DPS for a while and this guide represents my attempt to share my knowledge with people interested in learning. What follows is a compilation of everything I know about Focus Guardian. This guide is focused on end-game PvE content, but I will make a point of mentioning when the same information applies to both PvE and PvP.

There’s a lot to say, so let’s get into it. Be prepared for a long read!

Discipline Overview

“The ways of the Force can reveal themselves to a Jedi Knight through intense concentration and, more importantly, focus. The Focus Guardian uses debilitating bursts of lightsaber strikes and Force powers to exhaust their foes, crushing any hopes they had of mounting an effective offense.”

Focus is the burst discipline for Guardian DPS, meaning it is meant to deliver damage to a target in large, single-hit abilities (though there are two damage over time (DoT) abilities, one of them a full DoT and one of them a half DoT, used in the rotation). It has excellent mobility, smooth target swapping, and decent area of effect (AoE) damage per second (DPS),with the drawback of a short but complex rotation and mediocre single target DPS. Resource management can also become difficult if the rotation gets misaligned. As a Guardian, you have arguably the best set of defensive cooldowns (DCDs) in the game except for ranged-Guardian-with-self-heals-and-higher-DPSCommando/Mercenaries (someday, we’ll reclaim the survivability crown!), good raid utility, and one of the most dynamic abilities in the game, Saber Reflect. Additionally, you can now guard another player with no penalty to yourself (which, at the time of writing, can be abused in PvP). The DPS potential is not the highest, but is sufficientto be competitive in all content. A good Focus Guardian has a lot to offer any group.

Ratings relative to other classes based upon personal experience:

  • Single target DPS: 5/10 – Both Guardian DPS disciplines are about equal in terms of single target damage and end up fairly mediocre. Focus theoretically has a slightly lower DPS potential, but they’re very similar in my experience. This rating goes as high as 10/10 in fights when Saber Reflect can safely be used to contribute to your DPS, such as Thrasher or Kephess.
  • AoE DPS: 7/10 – There is some nice potential for area of effect damage with supercritting Force Sweep and Cyclone Slash paired with Force Lash, though it will fall behind many disciplines that can DoT spread (Vigilance) or have heavy damaging effects that can be applied to multiple targets (Combat).
  • Rotation difficulty: 7/10 – The Focus rotation isn’t particularly long but there are a lot of abilities, buffs, and effects to manage, and misplacing one ability will almost definitely cause the entire thing to fall apart. Perfect execution will require a good amount of practice.
  • Group Utility: 5/10 – Guardians certainly don’t have the most group utility of any class, but they can provide a group with many benefits. They can provide group damage reduction through the Guardianship utility and Guard and have a plethora of stuns and interrupts. With heavy armor and great defensive cooldowns, they can cover for a tank in case of emergency.Finally, Saber Reflectcan almost win some fights single-handedly. The class isn’t as versatile as others, but a Guardian in the right hands is an asset to any group.
  • RNG Dependency:3/10 – Nothing for the execution ofthe Focus rotation is dependent on RNG. Critical hits do significantly affect the damage output, however, and Focus has one of the widest variations in its DPS.
  • Burst Capability: 8/10 – Focus boasts great burst damage, with hard-hitting abilities combined with rotational buffs that increase damage done during certain windows and a huge bonus to critical hit damage. In both PvE and PvP, you can burst down targets with the best of them.
  • Execute Bonus: 4/10 – At sub-30% health, Focus gains access to Dispatch, which does more damage than most filler abilities. Proper usage will amount to a modest boost in DPS without sacrificing rotational integrity.

Changes in 5.0

Several things were changed about the Guardian class. Stances were removed and turned into a passive ability within the discipline tree. The damage of Blade Storm was nerfed slightly. The biggest change was the removal of the two global cooldown (GCD) channeled Blade Dance, it having been replaced by the instant Blade Barrage. Guardians now have no channeled or casted abilities and should be able to maintain full uptime on a moving target. This fact is a great quality of life improvement in both PvE and PvP, as Guardians are now incredibly mobile. Additionally, many old utilities have either been combined, removed, or changed, while some new ones were added. Notably, there is a new utility that is mandatory for maximum sustained DPS in legendary tier (Persistent Chill). There was only one change specific to the Focus discipline, as it got a nice new level 68 combat proficiency that is essential for resource management in the new rotation.

Optimal Stat Balance

Due to the RNG nature of obtaining gear through Galactic Command, it will be very difficult to attain any theoretically ideal balance of stats (though the changes in 5.1 will help mitigate this randomness). There is a big jump in stats between tiers of gear, but the amount by which the stats jump is inconsistent. Therefore, I will provide some guidelines to follow as you gear up so that you can stay close to the ideal balance. These should not be taken as hard rules save for accuracy.

With few exceptions, all tertiary stat should be put into accuracy, critical, and alacrity. Focus benefits more than most disciplines from critical because of its 15% increase in critical hit damage bonus and constant supercrits.In general, I find that if you are unsure, dump extra stats into critical if possible. The balance I currently use is 1.6-1.7:1 critical to alacrity with the mastery stim. At upper tiers, it is theoretically ideal for some stat to be put into mastery, but the difference in DPS is negligible.

To gear up, you’ll want some combination of the following (it’s a lot more complicated than in 4.0):

  • Armor set: Vindicator’s set bonus (it’s mislabeled as Weaponmaster in 5.0 gear, but if you mouseover it still says "Ultimate Exarch Vindicator’s")
  • Gear mods: Versatile hilt and armorings; unlettered lethal mods; and initiative, adept, and quick savant enhancements (keep the stat balance that comes in the set bonus gear and balance stats with earpieces, implants, crystals, and augments)
  • Earpiece and implants: Initiative, adept, or quick savant (depending on stat balance)
  • Relics: Focused Retribution and Serendipitous Assault (token grade, as in, with critical as a base stat included on the relic)
  • Augments: Critical and alacrity augments to balance stats as needed, with some accuracy augments to achieve 110% accuracy and some versatile augments for mastery when capped out on critical and alacrity
  • Crystals: Advanced Eviscerating crystals, possibly Advanced Hawkeye or Advanced War Hero’s crystals based upon stat balance

Using these gearing pieces, this is the stat balance I recommend (this stat balance is very different from what Bant recommends because he assumes the accuracy stim):

  • Accuracy: 110% and as little beyond that as possible. This translates to a stat value of 737. I do not recommend going below that because missing an interrupt or a stun or not getting a Heightened Power proc are worse than slightly lower theoretical DPS. Here are some methods for getting as close as possible (enhancements are equivalent to earpieces and implants for tertiary stats):
    • 230 gear:
      • 2x Enhancement + 4x augment = 746
      • 3x Enhancement + stim = 783 or 5x Augment + stim = 720
    • 234 gear (this tier is bad):
      • 4x Enhancement = 760
      • 3x Enhancement + stim = 810 or 5x Augment + stim = 720
    • 236 gear:
      • 8x Augment = 768
      • 2x Enhancement + 1x Augment + stim = 736
    • 240 gear:
      • 8x Augment = 768 or 3x Enhancement + 1x Augment = 711
      • 2x Enhancement + 1x Augment + stim = 746
    • 242 gear:
      • 3x Enhancement + 1x Augment = 741
      • 1x Enhancement + 3x Augment + stim = 743
  • Critical: This should be the first place you look to allocate stats once you have enough accuracy. Get as high of a critical chance and bonus damage as possible without sacrificing other stats. You’ll want to shoot for a critical stat of at least 1700. As a side note, remember that mastery increases your critical chance but not critical bonus damage.
  • Alacrity: After critical, alacrity takes next priority for stat allocation. The main benefit of alacrity for Focus is the duration of buffs relative to the GCD is increased – mainly, the heightened power window that occurs after each Focused Burst. Since there is no danger of effects running into each other with correct rotation execution, alacrity can be added without any problem. You’ll want to shoot for 1000-1200 alacrity stat or a bonus of 9% – 11%.
  • Other stats: Both power and mastery give flat increases to stats and have no diminishing returns, with every 5 points in mastery giving 1 additional bonus damage and a small critical chance increase and every 4.2 points in power giving 1 additional bonus damage. Since both critical and alacrity have diminishing returns, there is a point where it will be more beneficial to put excess stat into power or mastery. You might hit that point for PvE if you decide to stack a lot of critical or run the accuracy stim. It’s something to keep in mind for PvP as you’ll gain a lot of tertiary stat from the accuracy you swap out (if you decide to make a separate PvP set).
  • You’re a DPS, so defense, shield, and absorb should all be 0. Even with all the tertiary stat you have compared to before, there’s still no room for wasting stats. Any DPS you can put out on a target is valuable!

Abilities and Utilities

Here is a list of all active and passive abilities and class utilities for the Focus Guardian. I encourage you to become familiar with them so you are better equipped to make the right decision in the heat of battle.

Combat Proficiencies

The passives important to making the rotation work are bolded. The rest contribute in some way to increasing your damage output except for Protective Focus, which is a nice defensive buff.

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Swelling Winds

Granted level 12

Increases the damage dealt by Force Sweep by 40% and reduces the cooldowns of Force Sweep and Focused Burst by 3 seconds each.

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Shii-cho Mastery

Granted level 16

Increases armor penetration by 15% and Force attack damage by 3%

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Saber Strength

Granted level 20

Increases the damage you deal with saber attacks by 5%

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Focused Resonance

Granted level 24

Increases the critical strike damage of all attacks by 15%

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Momentum

Granted level 28

Reduces the cooldown of Zealous Leap by 3 seconds and causes Force Leap and Zealous leap to make your next Blade Storm deal 5% more damage and generate 1 focus, rather than consume focus.

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Zephyrean Slash

Granted level 32

Strike, Sundering Strike, Slash, Cyclone Slash, Riposte, Blade Storm, Dispatch, and Concentrated Slice reduce the active cooldowns of Force Sweep, Focused Burst, and Zealous Leap by 1 second and Combat Focus by 2 seconds.

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Felling Blow

Granted level 36

Force Leap and Zealous Leap make your next Force Sweep or Focused Burst used within 20 seconds an automatic critical hit.

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Heightened Power

Granted level 40

Increases all damage dealt by 5% for 6 seconds after dealing damage with Force Sweep or Focused Burst. This effect cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds.

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Singularity

Granted level 44

Combat Focus and Force Exhaustion grant Singularity, increasing the damage dealt by your next Force Sweep or Focused Burst by 15% and making your next Force Sweep or Focused Burst consume no focus. Additionally, the cooldown of Combat Focus is reduced by 15 seconds, and Combat Focus generates an additional 6 focus over 8 seconds when used.

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Gravity Defiance

Granted level 48

Zealous Leap and Force Exhaustion consume 1 less focus.

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Swift Slash

Granted level 52

Increases the critical strike chance of Dispatch and Concentrated Slice by 5%. Additionally, Guardian Leap now purges all movement-impairing effects.

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Force Lash

Granted level 56

Slash, Cyclone Slash, and Riposte deal additional Force energy damage.

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Concentrated Power

Granted level 60

Concentrated Slice enables Riposte and beats down its target for 45 seconds. Beat Down targets take 5% more damage from melee attacks.

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Protective Focus

Granted Level 64

Activating Focused Burst or Force Sweep increases your damage reduction by 5% for 6 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds.

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Focused Vision

Granted level 68

Force Exhaustion grants Focused Vision, making your next Zealous Leap or Concentrated Slice consume no focus.

Abilities

These are all the abilities, offensive and defensive, that you will be using.

Offensive:

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Blade Barrage

Cost: 0 focus

Cooldown: 18 seconds

Range: 4 meters

Deals decent weapon damage in a series of lightsaber strikes for no cost. Replaces Blade Dance from pre-5.0.

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Blade Storm

Cost: 4 focus

Cooldown: 12 seconds

Range: 10 meters

Hits the target with a wave of Force energy for kinetic damage and stuns standard or weak enemies for 4 seconds. Also grants Vindicator’s Critical Bonus with 6-piece set bonus once per minute. Filler ability.

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Concentrated Slice

Cost: 5 focus

Cooldown: 9 seconds

Range: 4 meters

Slices the target for high weapon damage. Enables Riposte with Concentrated Power, and beats down the target (5% more damage from melee attacks). Your hardest hitting ability.

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Cyclone Slash

Cost: 3 focus

Cooldown: 0 seconds

Range: 5 meters

Your frontal cleave, hits up to 8 enemies in front of you within 5 meters for decent weapon damage.

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Dispatch

Cost: 3 focus

Cooldown: 10 seconds

Range: 10 meters

Throws your saber at the target with less than 30% health for high weapon damage. Execute move.

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Focused Burst

Cost: 3 focus

Cooldown: 15 seconds

Range: 10 meters

Blasts the target with Force Energy for kinetic damage. Your second hardest hitting ability, grants Heightened Power when it DEALS DAMAGE, not upon activation.

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Force Exhaustion

Cost: 4 focus

Cooldown: 18 seconds

Range: 10 meters

Slows the target from 50% to 5% movement speed over 3 seconds, dealing a small amount of damage each second, and crushing them for moderate damage after 3 seconds. One of two DoT effects you apply.

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Force Leap

Generates: 3 focus

Cooldown: 15 seconds

Range: 30 meters

Leaps to a distant target, immobilizing them for 2 seconds and interrupting their current action. Generates 3 focus and cannot be used against targets in cover. Gap closer.

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Force Sweep

Cost: 3 focus

Cooldown: 15 seconds

Range: 5 meters

360-AoE centered upon your character that deals decent kinetic damage to up to 8 enemies within 5 meters and grants Heightened Power (again, when it deals damage).

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Freezing Force

Cost: 2 focus

Cooldown: 0 Seconds

Range: 8 meters

360-AoE centered upon your character that slows affected targets and hits for a tiny amount of elemental damage. Applies a hard-hitting DoT with Persistent Chill utility that should always be taken.

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Riposte

Cost: 2 focus

Cooldown: 6 seconds

Range: 4 meters

Deals moderate weapon damage and cannot be defended or miss in any way. Only usable after defending an attack or if one of your attacks misses. Enabled by Concentrated Slice with Concentrated Power. Filler ability.

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Saber Throw

Generates: 3 focus

Cooldown: 30 seconds

Range: 30 meters

Throws your saber for moderate weapon damage and generates 3 focus. Should only be used if you get ranged or are switching to a far target without Force Leap.

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Slash

Cost: 3 focus

Cooldown: 0 seconds

Range: 4 meter

Deals low weapon damage to the target. Should never be used in the standard rotation.

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Sundering Strike

Generates: 7 focus

Cooldown: 15 seconds

Range: 4 meters

Deals low weapon damage, sunders the target (20% armor reduction) and generates 7 focus. Your secondary Focus generator, also grants Vindicator’s Damage Bonus with 2-piece set bonus once every 30 seconds.

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Slash

Generates: 2 focus

Cooldown: 0 seconds

Range: 4 meters

Deals low weapon damage over a series of saber strikes and generates 2 focus. Should never be used in the standard rotation.

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Zealous Leap

Cost: 2 focus

Cooldown: 15 seconds

Range: 10 meters

Leaps to the target, dealing moderate weapon damage. CAN be used against targets in cover. Be careful when using this ability if there is AoE in melee range of the target, as you will leap into it.

Defensive:

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Blade Blitz

Moves you quickly 20 meters in the direction your character is facing and increases defense chance by 100% while blitzing (1 second). Useful for cheesing many mechanics or as a gap closer.

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Enure

Gives you a 10 second “loan” of 30% health. Useful if your healers need an extra few seconds to get to you or for surviving large damage spikes.

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Focused Defense

Grants 12 charges of Focused Defense, which are consumed and heal you upon damage taken. When taking constant damage, effectively acts as a second life.

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Saber Reflect

Redirects all direct single-targetranged, Force, and tech attacks back at the source for 3 seconds (5 with utility). The almighty reflect, its utility ranges from cheesing mechanics to being the largest damage contribution in some fights.

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Saber Ward

Increases melee and ranged defense by 50% and absorbs 25% of all Force and tech damage for 12 seconds. A very strong DCD that should be used when taking a lot of incoming damage, ideally preemptively.

Utility/Other:

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Awe

AoE soft stun that breaks on damage taken. Useful for crowd control and can interrupt non-boss immune adds.

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Challenging Call

Threat drop disguised as an AoE taunt and group-wide damage reduction with a utility that should always be taken.

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Combat Focus

Immediately generates 6 focus plus 6 more over 8 seconds. Integral to your rotation.

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Force Kick

Class hard interrupt. USE IT.

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Force Push

Knocks the target back 20 meters, stuns them for 2 seconds, and finishes the cooldown on Force Leap. Useful as an interrupt on non-physics immune adds or for a way to immediately jump to a different target.

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Force Stasis

Class hard stun.

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Guard

Reduces the affected ally’s damage taken by 5% and their threat generation by 25%. Also transfers 50% of incoming damage from players to you. Not used very often in PvE but has its moments, and can be abused in PvP.

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Guardian Leap

Leaps to a friendly target, dropping their threat and giving them a 20% damage reduction for 6 seconds. Purges all movement-impairing effects with Swift Slash. Useful on healers or DPS drawing too much attention from adds, and can be used as an escape if there is an ally in range.

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Resolute

Class stun break.

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Taunt

Forces a PvE target to attack you for 6 seconds and gives you top threat on the target. Will be overridden if another player taunts after you. In PvP, causes the target to deal 30% less damage to targets other than you for 6 seconds.

Utilities

There are four tiers of utilities, and you must have at least 2 ability points per tier invested to access the next tier. What that means is you need 2 points to access masterful, 4 to access heroic, and 6 to access legendary. It does not matter where these points are invested, you just need that many in total (so, for example, you could have 3 in skillful and 1 in masterful and heroic would then be unlocked). For each, I have denoted how useful they are and how often I find myself taking it from 0-5, where

0 = never taken in PvE

1 = might be useful on a handful of fights but should only be taken as a last resort

2 = situationally very helpful; often useless

3 = Always has a use but not always the strongest

4 = Very useful in most fights

5 = Mandatory; always taken

These ratings are based upon my playstyle and personal experience, so your mileage may vary.

Skillful:

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Second Wind

Reduces the cooldown of Resolute by 30 seconds and causes Resolute to heal you for 10% of your maximum health when used.

2: There are situations where having your CC break on a shorter cooldown is nice – Torque’s magnetic clamps come to mind – so there are undoubtedly some fights where this is helpful. There are usually better options.

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Battlefield Command

Getting attacked reduces the active cooldown of Force Leap by 1 second. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.

4: One of the greatest challenges for melee classes is staying in melee range. When you’re taking damage (which is constantly in most fights), this utility causes your primary gap closer to have a much shorter cooldown, helping to address one of the biggest weaknesses of melee.

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Debilitation

Blade Barrage immobilizes the target for 3 seconds.

0: In PvE, pretty much everything you fight will be immune to stuns and movement-impairing effects, rendering this utility useless. It goes without saying that you want this at all times in PvP.

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Trailblazer

Cyclone Slash deals 25% more damage.

4: One of the best utilities in the game for dealing with loads of adds. In practice, it isn’t usually a good idea to sell out for AoEfor the Focus Discipline. Even when you can’t,though, it can still be handy as there are adds in most boss fights.

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Narrowed Focus

Taking non-periodic area of effect damage generates 2 focus. This effect cannot occur more than once per second.

3: In fights where you’re breaking your rotation a lot, which can starve you of resource since Combat Focus has a long cooldown, the extra bit of focus from taking AoE damage can be a lifesaver. Don’t rely on damage intake to keep your rotation together, however.

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Defiance

You generate 4 focus when stunned, immobilized, put to sleep, or knocked around.

0: This could be useful for fights with a lot of stuns or knockbacks, such as Colossal Monolith, but your focus generation shouldn’t be a problem and there are far better ways to spend a utility point.

Masterful:

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Gather Strength

Whenever your movement is impaired, you gain a 10% damage bonus to your next ability that consumes focus. This effect can stack up to 5 times and lasts 15 seconds.

2: Most fights do not impair the movement of DPS players, but in those that do –Underlurker – this utility can contribute significantly to your damage output. In PvP, you will want this all the time.

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Purifying Sweep

For the Defense discipline, Force Sweep slows the targets it damages by 60% for 10 seconds. For the Vigilance and Focus disciplines, Force Sweep and Vigilant Thrust sunder the targets they damage for 45 seconds. Sundered targets have their armor rating decreased by 20%.

4: This is another utility that is very helpful for dealing with adds. It’s not quite as strong as Trailblazer, as the armor reduction won’t play out on adds that aren’t around for more than a few seconds (which is most of them), but it’s still quite powerful.

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Guardianship

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

5: The damage reduction Guardianship provides is easy to underestimate. Whether it be mitigating raidwide damage or taking a chunk off a big hit, this utility is vital in PvE. This utility gives all nearby allies a shield that absorbs about 4k damage, which may not sound like much, but across 7 group members, its effect size is roughly the same as a free supercrit Deliverance/Dark Infusion or Underworld Medicine/Kolto Injection.

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Pulse

Reduces the cooldown of Force Stasis by 15 seconds.

0: As mentioned before, pretty much everything in PvE is immune to stuns and movement-impairing effects. Stasis can be used on some adds, but the cooldown reduction is pretty much never necessary.

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Unremitting

Force Leap grants Unremitting, granting immunity to movement-impairing effects and effects that push or pull you around for 4 seconds.

4: You’d be surprised how many things will knock you back after you leap to them. This utility completely negates these effects with the bonus of allowing you to avoid stuns if you can time it correctly.

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Focused Freedom

Activating Combat Focus purges movement-impairing effects and increases your movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds.

4: I find myself taking this utility a lot. For Focus, this approximates Kinetic Acceleration for shadows and greatly improves your mobility and gap-closing ability.

Heroic:

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Ardent Advocate

Force Leap enables your next Dispatch or Whirling Blade to be used against a target with any percentage of health. Lasts up to 15 seconds.

5: A Dispatch usage from Force Leap is integral to the Focus opener, so this utility is mandatory.

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Through Peace

Reduces the cooldown of Focused Defense by 30 seconds.

3: Focused Defense is probably your most powerful defensive cooldown besides Saber Reflect and it can get you out of a lot of sticky situations. In fights with a lot of raidwide damage, the bit of extra healing will really help your healers.

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Preparation

When you exit combat, the active cooldowns of Force Leap, Combat Focus, and Saber Throw are reduced by 100%.

0: It’s very rare that you’ll actually exit combat during a boss fight, so this utility does nothing the vast majority of the time.

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Whiplash

Saber Throw immobilizes the target for 3 seconds.

0: Again, movement-impairing effects won’t affect most of what you’re fighting, but something you’ll want to take in PvP.

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True Harmony

Focused Defense increases your movement speed by 50% and grants immunity to movement-impairing effects while active.

1: The only fight I can think of where you’d get usage from this utility is Underlurker. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be using Focused Defense for movement reasons.

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Peaceful Focus

Enure removes all cleansable effects when activated.

2: There aren’t too many fights with cleanseabledebuffs, but when there are – such as Nefra and Dread Council – being able to cleanse yourself is vital.

Legendary:

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Cut Loose

Blade Blitz can be used while immobilized, purges movement-impairing effects when activated, and deals 50% more damage. Additionally, the cooldown of Blade Blitz is reduced by 10 seconds.

3: Like with Focused Freedom, being able to break roots/immobilizes can be very helpful, and the reduced cooldown means you can more often use Blade Blitz for mobility. For Fights where Saber Reflect isn’t useful, this is a good utility to take.

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Persistent Chill

Freezing Force pierces enemies with an aching chill, dealing elemental damage to all affected targets over 8 seconds. Additionally, Freezing Force grants Chilling Speed, increasing your movement speed by 35% for 8 seconds.

5: Because Blade Barrage takes up only one GCD, there is now an open spot in the rotation. Freezing Force with Persistent Chill is by far the highest damaging ability to fill that spot, and the movement speed boost is a nice bonus. To be honest, I dislike this utility because it reduces your flexibility, as your DPS won’t be very competitive without it.

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Jedi Warden

Reduces the cooldowns of Force Push and Awe by 15 seconds. Additionally, reduces the cooldown of Guardian Leap by 5 seconds and reduces the threat and damage taken by an additional 10% each for the friendly target of Guardian Leap.

1: Force Push and Awe aren’t used that often in PvE, and if they are, the reduced cooldown won’t be needed. The extra damage reduction from Guardian Leap can be nice, but overall this utility isn’t very useful in PvE.

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Unyielding Justice

Increases the range of Blade Storm to 30 meters, but Blade Storm deals reduced damage beyond 10 meters. Additionally, Force Push deals 20% more damage and grants Unyielding Justice, allowing your next Blade Storm to deal full damage regardless of the distance from the target.

1: If you find you’re having trouble gap closing, the additional range on Blade Storm could be helpful, but there are far better options.

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Daunting Presence

Force Leap finishes the cooldown on Force Kick. In addition, Saber Reflect lasts 2 seconds longer, and if Soresu Form is being utilized, generates a high amount of threat on all engaged enemies within 30 meters when activated.

4: An extra 2 seconds of Saber Reflect equates to a lot of extra damage dealt in applicable fights. Just be careful about watching the duration and let your healers know, as you’ll both take a bit of extra damage and draw a lot of threat.

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Thwart

Guardian Leap grants Thwart, increasing the damage dealt by your next melee ability by 20%. This effect lasts for 10 seconds.

2: In theory, this utility could be abused to give extra damage from Guardian Leap. In practice, you will almost always have better options.

For general purpose, my default set of utilities is:

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Left: General Purpose Utilities, Right: AoE DPS Utilities

  • Skillful:
    • Battlefield Command
    • Narrowed Focus
  • Masterful:
    • Guardianship
    • Unremitting
    • Focused Freedom
  • Heroic:
    • Ardent Advocate
  • Legendary:
    • Persistent Chill
    • Daunting Presence

The only utilities I consider strictly mandatory are Guardianship and Persistent Chill, with Ardent Advocate being strongly recommended. Narrowed Focus, Focused Freedom, and Unremitting are the first ones I will sacrifice for others. For fights with lots of AoE and dealing with adds or trash mobs, I will swap in Trailblazer and Purifying Sweep. In fights with cleanseabledebuffs, I will use Peaceful Focus. Other utilities I take depend on the fight, and any utility with a rating of 2 or higher is one that you should consider if the situation calls for it.

Rotation

Now that you’re here, I hope you’ve at least skimmed the preceding sections so that you’re armed with the knowledge you need to understand what follows. To truly master a discipline and realize its full potential in an actual fight, you must understand how the rotation works. Thus, if you haven’t, I encourage you to go back and read through the abilities and utilities. Without further ado, here’s the rotation and the theory behind it.

Single Target:

Focus is a definite rotation, with an optimal sequence of abilities. The key buffs and procs in the Focus discipline are centered around each use of Focused Burst. It should always be used under the effect of both Singularity and Felling Blow, giving it both 15% increased damage and a supercrit. Furthermore, each use gives you a 6 second window of 5% increased damage dealt with Heightened Power. Thus, the primary objective of the discipline is to gain the maximum buff on each Focused Burst and then deal as much damage during the following Heightened Power window as possible.

The rotation for Focus is fairly short and spans only 13 GCDs with 2 Heightened Power windows in each cycle. Ability usage in each window is dependent upon resource generation and cooldowns. Once execute is reached, Dispatch is used in place of Riposte, which requires a bit of a reordering of the rotation due to extra focus consumption.

To summarize the rotation, the core ideas are:

  • Buff every use of Focused Burst with both Felling Blow and Singularity
  • Do as much damage as possible within the Heightened Power window
  • Use Freezing Force, Riposte, Blade Storm, Sundering Strike, and Dispatch (in execute) as fillers
  • Manage the cooldowns of all your core abilities with correct sequencing.

The last point is critical for rotational stability, as incorrect sequencing will leave you either resource starved or without an ability off cooldown to use besides Slash and Strike (both of which should never be used).

First, the opener. Use this sequence when entering combat or engaging a new targetif you have enough downtime for all your primary abilities to come off cooldown. The amount of downtime necessary ends up being approximately 10 seconds.Although Focused Burst has a 15 second cooldown, its cooldown is reduced by several rotational abilities and in practice you will never be waiting 15 seconds between uses.

opener

Force Leap -> Combat Focus + Focused Burst -> Zealous Leap -> Force Exhaustion -> Concentrated Slice -> Dispatch -> Blade Barrage -> Freezing Force -> Focused Burst -> Zealous Leap -> Sundering Strike -> Concentrated Slice -> Blade Storm -> Freezing Force -> Combat Focus + Focused Burst -> rotation

Force Leap is used to generate focus and grants Felling Blow. Combat Focus generates the remainingfocus required for the first portion of the opener and grants Singularity. Ensure that you are using Combat Focus before Focused Burst. Force Exhaustion precedes Concentrated Slice because of Focused Vision. Zealous Leap and Dispatch are the hardest hitting abilities and are stacked into the Heightened Power window (which lasts for four GCDs). Freezing Force is timed such that the DoT ticks during the next Heightened Power. Note that the opener after Force Leap is identical to the execute phase rotation.

All four of the abilities following Focused Burst will occur within Heightened Power for the second window, so their order is chosen for rotational stability. Zealous leap must be used first for it to be off cooldown for the next use. Sundering Strike procs the two-piece set bonus and generates focus. Blade Storm does decent damage instantly, while the initial hit from Freezing Force is tiny. Again, remember to use Combat Focus before Focused Burst. At low alacrity, it may be useful to use the sequence

rotalt

Focused Burst -> Zealous Leap -> Blade Storm -> Concentrated Slice -> Sundering Strike ->etc

After the second Focused Burst, instead of the sequence above because it secures blade storm during Heightened Power, which does more damage than sundering strike. This is because Blade Storm has a noticeable travel time.

Now, the standard rotation. This sequence is cycled after the opener until execute phase is reached or you are forced into downtime. It follows the same principles as the opener did, using Riposte as a filler instead of Dispatch.

rotation

(Combat Focus + Focused Burst from opener/previous rotation) -> Zealous Leap -> Force Exhaustion -> Concentrated Slice ->Blade Barrage ->Riposte -> Freezing Force -> Focused Burst -> Zealous Leap -> Concentrated Slice -> Sundering Strike -> Blade Storm -> Freezing Force -> Combat Focus + Focused Burst -> (repeat)

As before, Combat Focus and Zealous Leap from the previous cycle give a fully buffed Focused Burst. The hardest hitting abilities are again stacked into the heightened power window, with freezing force timed such that it ticks for the entire window. Again, use your discretion for the second window based upon your alacrity.

Finally, the execute phase. Here, Riposte is dropped from the rotation in favor of Dispatch. With a slight reordering of the second Focused Burst window, Dispatch can be added while maintaining rotational integrity, leading to a modest increase in DPS.

unnamed

(Combat Focus + Focused Burst from opener/previous rotation) -> Zealous Leap -> Force Exhaustion -> Concentrated Slice -> Dispatch -> Blade Barrage -> Freezing Force -> Focused Burst -> Zealous Leap -> Sundering Strike -> Concentrated Slice -> Blade Storm -> Freezing Force -> Combat Focus + Focused Burst -> (repeat)

As stated earlier, this rotation and the opener are identical except for the lead-in. Here, dispatch unequivocally does more damage than Blade Barrage, so it gets priority in the heightened power window.

Multiple Targets:

The AoE rotation for Focus depends upon whether you’re against a boss + adds or just adds. Against a boss, it’s best to maintain a stable rotation, where’s against adds it’s best to sell out for AoE damage.

For fighting a boss plus some adds, simply replace each Focused Burst with Force Sweep and each Riposte with Cyclone Slash. Since Force Sweep also is buffed by Felling Blow and Singularity and provides a Heightened Power window, it can be seamlessly substituted for Focused Burst to sacrifice a bit of single target damage for AoE damage. Similarly, Cyclone Slash provides the same effects as riposte and costs the same amount of focus. Making these substitutions gives a good amount of AoE damage while still allowing you to maintain a stable single target rotation.

aoerot

Against just adds when no target will live long enough to justify a single target rotation, you should sell out for AoE damage, and do something like

aoe

(Saber Throw if Zealous Leaping) -> Force Leap/Zealous Leap -> Combat Focus + Force Sweep -> Freezing Force -> Cyclone Slash x3-4 -> Sundering Strike -> Zealous Leap -> Force Sweep -> Freezing Force -> Cyclone Slash x3-4 ->etc

Basically alternating between Combat Focus and Sundering Strike to generate Focus for each series of Cyclone Slashes. Optionally substitute Force Exhaustion for a Cyclone Slash after the second Force Sweep to grant Singularity. This rotation is not sustainable long term due to the focus usage of Cyclone Slash unless taking a steady stream of damage. To sustain long-term, use Saber Throw/Strike instead of 1-2 Cyclone Slashes in the cycle without Combat Focus.

Parse

Parsing should never be your end goal, but it is a useful tool for ensuring you are executing the rotation correctly. Here is an example parse that I submitted to Parsely: http://parsely.io/parser/view/234096/4

image

Focused Burst will be the largest portion of your damage done, as it supercrits and has a high base damage. Concentrated Slice has a high base damage and is thus another major contributor to your damage done. Next comes Freezing Force, which does more damage per activation than any ability besides Focused Burst and Concentrated Slice. Zealous leap does a decent amount of damage per activation. These four abilities are all used twice per rotation cycle, and will thus contribute the vast majority of your damage done. Dispatch contributes a noticeable share despite only being used a handful of times.

In analyzing a Parse, make sure to note the following things:

  • Number of Force Sweeps + Focused Bursts = Number of Zealous Leaps + Force Leaps = Number of Force Exhaustions + Number of Combat Focuses (in this Parse I ended in the middle of a cycle so 1 Focused Burst is missing)
  • Every Force Sweep and Focused Burst is a critical hit
  • Actions per minute (APM) of ~47 (slightly under is fine)
  • No uses of Slash or Strike

Playing Guardian in PvE

Guardian is rarely mentioned as a top class for any content, and is in fact sometimes seen as a cheese class due to Saber Reflect and the fact that you can in general get away without knowing a rotation and survive more punishment than most classes. This sells the class short. It’s true that there aren’t as many ways for you to help a group, as you have no raid buff, no heals, and no effects you can apply to multiple allies. Even Guard is not particularly useful in PvE content, since tanks will often be able to handle this role. However, I think that perception is more due to the lack of players who are truly versed in the class than lack of class utility.

As a melee class, you must always ensure that you are close enough to a target to do damage unless mechanics prevent it. Naturally, this means you must be able to DPS while moving. Rarely will you be able to simply stand next to a target and parse on it. A player adept at melee DPS will be able to maintain their rotation while constantly on the move – save for any casts/channels – and Guardians have none of them so there is no reason to ever need to stop moving. Ensuring your keybinds are such that you can use abilities while also hitting your movement keys is essential. I personally recommend picking up a gaming mouse and using its programmable keys and the keyboard for your abilities, as it allows you to have a large number of different inputs at your disposal. 

Being mobile leads to a more important point in that you want to be doing something during every GCD possible. Any time you spend not doing damage to a boss or executing a mechanic or (rarely) assisting a group member about to die by guarding them/Guardian leaping, you are as valuable as a monkey at the keyboard, as in, not valuable at all. Only when there is programmed downtime should you find yourself with nothing to do, and even then, there is almost always something you can do.

As one more point about being melee, I want to emphasize that you must be flexible in your positioning, movement, and most importantly what you are doing at each moment. Do not simply tunnel focus a boss and ignore everything going on around you to dish out damage. Remember, your DPS while executing mechanics may be low, but your DPS if you die or the group wipes due to you missing a mechanic is ZERO. Your role is to do as much damage as possible within the allotted time without sacrificing group health or execution of mechanics. You will naturally be taking more damage than ranged players in almost every fight. Any damage you can avoid is as good as damage healed (better even because it doesn’t cost your healers resources), so do so at any opportunity. Finally, pay attention, listen, and communicate with group members. You are a team, not competitors, and you should be working together to achieve whatever goals have been set out.

For Focus,mobility and positioning should never be a problem. Only 3 of your abilities are strictly melee, the rest of them having 10 meter range (or 8 meters for Freezing Force), so you have considerable leeway for your positioning. Built into your rotation are times when you can sit almost at range, a gap closer, and a personal 35% speed boost. As if that wasn’t enough, Zealous Leap breaks roots and the Freezing Force speed boost nullifies most slows. With practice, you can joust between melee and 10 meter range as your rotation allows and run circles around your target while still executing the rotation. PvP is great for training mobility since players move much more than bosses, and is a great way to increase your flexibility. Another good way would be to try parsing while constantly moving. Taking critical hits into account, your goal should be to keep your DPS within about 500 of your stationary parse.

On target swapping, being able to smoothly transition between targets while executing mechanics is a very important aspect of DPSing. Doing so smoothly takes a lot of practiceand constitutes much of the difficulty in PvE content (and a large portion of it in PvP). Remember to ensure that a target is completely dead before moving to the next one. As a Guardian, your primary means of target swapping will involve using a gap closer. Because the Focus rotation has so many moving parts, target swapping must be done carefully, as jumping to a new target at the wrong spot in the rotation will cause it to breakdown. There is very little room to allow cooldowns to realign or add extra fillers – if you break the rotation, you need to step out and start over.

Sometimes, you will be afforded enough time for your abilities to come off cooldown for the opener, in which case do that. Remember to go into the opener with at least 6 focus if you are unable to use Combat Focus, as you can Saber Throw to cap focus generation. If you can use Combat Focus, you will only need 3 focus. If the target swap is fast, ideally, you will either be able to Force Leap in place of Zealous Leap (or even Zealous Leap) or use a 10 meter range ability. Freezing Force is also a decent choice because of the speed boost it grants and its 8 meter range. In PvE, if the target is far away, insert a Force Leap and then carry on from where you left off, i.e.

unnamed (2)

->Blade Barrage ->Force Leap -> Riposte ->

Rather than using a ranged ability (besides Saber Throw) to cover the distance, as it will almost always result in rotational misalignment. If you are unable to do any of these things, Saber Throw to put in some damage. If that is on cooldown, it can even be better to just run to a new target and pick up the rotation, as 3 seconds of downtime is better than wrecking your rotation.

Finally, a few thoughts on Guardian group utility. The ways in which Guardians can help a group are better hidden than for most classes and require good situational awareness and class knowledge to pull off effectively. The first thing everyone thinks about with Guardians is Saber Reflect and, indeed, it is an immensely useful ability. You can ignore many mechanics, resist damage to let your healers get out in front of a damage curve, and boost your damage output far beyond what is normally possible. Outside of bosses, it can be used to make AI adds basically kill themselves and works great in PvP against all ranged classes (melee classes tend to have attacks that do weapon damage, but you can reflect most of the hardest hitting abilities from every class, so it’s still useful). See for a full index of where and when to use Saber Reflect in operations bosses.

Another major utility Guardians provide is in the form of Guardianship. Now wait, you say, isn’t that only useful for tanks? Why would I ever need to taunt? Well in DPS spec, your Challenging Call acts as a threat drop and should be used basically on cooldown to help your tanks maintain aggro. But with the Guardianship utility, you give the entire group a bit of shielding for a short time. In fights where there is a lot of raidwide damage, you can effectively do 100-200k heals by preventing damage to the group. For fights with damage spikes, a well-timed use of Guardianship can be the difference between a group member dying and surviving. The value of this utility in PvE cannot be overstated. There is an old bug that makes absorb shields overwrite each other that I have never run into but has been reported previously. If you are wary, you can always test it yourself in-game to see if Guardianship overwrites other absorb shield. On the note of taunts, yes, there are even times to use them in PvE. Obviously, you are a great candidate to take over for a dead tank with your DCDs and heavy armor. But Taunt is useful for rounding up adds or getting them off healers, and in certain fights it can be combined with reflect. (In PvP, you should be taunting on cooldown. Less damage done to your team is always better!)

Finally, Guardian Leap and Guard provide a damage reduction to the affected ally. If you see someone taking a lot of damage suddenly, Guardian Leap to them and then pop your Guard (if they aren’t already guarded). This will give the healers precious time to keep them alive. Just don’t do it to a tank because it reduces their threat, and they should be taking that damage anyway (though in PvP, Guardian Leaping to a tank has no downsides and should be done whenever the situation calls for it).

Conclusion

Focus Guardian is a fun discipline to play, and I hope I’ve given you the knowledge you need to realize it’s potential. If you’ve made it here, I hope you’ve learned something that will help you become a better player. If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them here or find me in game on The Shadowlands server. I will respond as promptly as I can.

About the Author

I’m Skyesora, or "Schwarz" to most of my friends. I started playing in February 2016 and didn’t start raiding until late July 2016, so I don’t have the long list of achievements that a lot of other guide writers have, but I had cleared all 8-man hard mode content pre-5.0 except for Revan, Master and Blaster, Coratanni, and Colossal Monolith, and had begun working on EC nightmare mode and Master and Blaster hard mode when 5.0 dropped. I play all content, but progression raiding is my bread and butter. I am the raid leader for the guild Council of Light on the Republic side of The Shadowlands server. I started on a sage healer (who is named Schwarzschilda, so that’s where my name comes from) but expanded to learn almost every spec in the game, and have mained Guardian DPS since I began raiding. As of the time of writing, I have achieved the highest Parse on Parsely for both Guardian DPS Disciplines post-5.0 (Vigilance: http://parsely.io/parser/view/234123/0, Focus: http://parsely.io/parser/view/234096/4) and I welcome all challengers.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all my guild mates, fellow raiders, and all the various people I’ve played with for putting up with me for the past year, and without whom I would not have cleared all the content I have.

In particular, thank you to:

  • Our main tank, Tsouyen, for keeping aggrooff me and in general being on the wrong end of a lot of punishment and teasing
  • Our ridiculously OP healer, DBlock, for healing me even when I purposely walk into AoE damage and keeping us alive through long odds in both PvE and PvP

And thank you all for reading and editing this guide:

  • Akitashii, the guy who’s always lurking in the Shadows
  • Hayete, the best pocket Combat Sentinel
  • Isaac Bell, the awesome and chill Gunslinger/Scoundrel/Sage
  • Salaci, the Super Salty Sage DPS
  • Tsouyen, yet again

Remember it’s always Tsou’s fault :).

The ability/utility icons are from Dulfy’s SWTOR Disciplines Calculator, and the descriptions are pulled from Jedipedia and Dulfy’s website.

Thank you to Dulfy for hosting this guide, and thank you for reading.

  • AdjeYo

    As far as I know, there’s currently still a bug in the game where absorb shields (like the ones granted with Guardianship) will override each other when applied. Meaning if your Sage healer bubbles up all (or a significant amount) of the players in your raid and you use Guardianship afterwards, you’ll override those Force Armors with you by comparison pathetic absorb shields. Until this is fixed I’d recommend staying away from Guardianship when you’re with a Sage healer.

    • Mostly

      It will also fuck up agent’s shield probe, jugg’s absorb from scream, and will have weird interaction with absorb adrenals and force speed’s absorb (haven’t tested what will happen exactly because cba and utility is aids without it anyway).
      In other words, guardianship isn’t a good utility choice. It’s not even a waste of utility point — it’s direct sabotage of your group.

    • Skyesora

      Me and my friends just tested this in game, and this overriding effect does not happen for us. We attempted with both a Sage healer using Force Armor and a Scoundrel healer using Defense Screen, and neither the buff nor the shielding was overridden.

      Even if the absorb screen is overridden, I do not think this makes Guardianship a poor utility choice. First of all, it is applied instantly to the entire group at no cost to either you or any group members. Second, is has a very different use from either Force Armor or Defense Screen. Whereas those are useful as a defensive cooldown for when you’re about to take a lot of incoming damage, Guardianship is mostly useful to prevent a bit of raidwide damage to the group. Finally, in these situations, there will be tens of thousands of incoming damage that will quickly exceed the capacity of any absorb shields. So long as the timing isn’t perfectly when these buffs are at maximum capacity, Guardianship will only add a bit of damage mitigation on top of this.

    • Leont Stepanov

      Have never happened to my guardian…

  • михаил рощин

    Thanks man!

    • Skyesora

      You’re most certainly welcome!

  • fake

    Guardians really need buffs.

    • Skyesora

      I don’t know, I’ve found Guardian to be fine in all content. I guess the DPS could be buffed slightly, and maybe we could use a new raid utility related to Guard or something. But I think they’re in a solid place right now.

  • Donald Frederick

    Did I miss something? This page is about the Focus spec, right … the DPS spec. What’s the point of a shield discussion here. Only other note is a thank you to this person and the others who have been providing these 5.0 guides, many do find them useful.

    • Roscoe

      The raid wide shield from threatening scream is one of the utilities that this class has to offer. Just because you’re a DPS for a group doesn’t mean that DPS is the only thing you should focus on. It’s a valid discussion because the utility was bugged since 4.0 (Not sure if it is fixed yet or not) and it’s useful for players to know about it.

      • Donald Frederick

        May I please direct you to the name of the guide which says PVE…. Last checked raids are PVP so again shields don’t apply. Also, Focus is not the Tank spec and only in the tank spec are shields and defense of any use.

        • Roscoe

          I can’t tell if you are trolling or not lol… if you aren’t, you need to do some research my boy!

          • Donald Frederick

            Not trolling. I do wonder if everyone else here is. I think we all clearly see the title of the post being about focus pve …. which is a dps spec, not a tank. Having played all the specs I do known Shield, absorb, and defense are 100% worthless to the dps specs. Next of course I’ll see someone disagree, which will tell me for certain they are a troll, and maybe that’s for the best.

            • Roscoe

              We are talking about a utility, it has nothing to do with stacking shield/defense. You need to read what the guardianship utility does. It gives everyone in your group within range a moderate shield after using your threat drop.

              In the words of Obi Wan, “You want to go home and rethink your life.”

            • Kojot

              This

            • Skyesora

              Yes, and I even state in the guide that defense, shield, and absorb should all be 0 for this discipline. But the shielding done by Challenging Call/Threatening Scream is independent of your stats. If you are still confused, you can test it for yourself in the game.

            • Leont Stepanov

              You need to learn to read. Nowhere in the guide it says that you need shield stats on a Focus guardian.

              One utility you have gives to all your allies an absorb shield that absorbs a moderate amount of damage they take. This utility is used as a DPS because DPS’s job is not JUST doing damage. You need to help your team in every way possible. the little absorb shield you apply every 45 second is a utility effect you have. Like sage DPS being able to apply the Force Armor and help with heals a bit if tank is dying. Or like a Ruffian scoundrel has a free medpac after a roll. And he can drop it on a teammate.

              This has nothing to do with being a tank.

        • wileydsp

          This comment…makes no sense.

        • Skyesora

          Raid = operation = PvE content.

          Also, shielding =/= shield/defense stat. The shielding from Challenging Call/Threatening Scream is just damage prevention granted to all group members in range – it has nothing to do with your stats.

        • Sabz

          Shielding doesnt apply in PVE? You seem confused

        • Donald Frederick

          No, Shielding doesn’t apply to PVE focus, which what this page is a guide of. This is not the guide for the Tank spec so it is you that are confused. Two .. operations, as in teaming with 8-16 ppl is literally pvp, not pve. And last, not trolling, and has done the research. I such you do the same before stating a Tank spec guide on a page that’s about one of the 2 dps specs.

          • Tsouyen

            I think you are very confused. PvP or Player vs Player is done in warzone (both ranked and unranked), Galatic Star Fighter (gsf) or in the world PvP instance. PvE or Player vs Environment is every other aspect of the game. Operations are done by a group of people vs a series of bosses. These bosses are NOT players, therefore they are considered as part of the Environment. Just because you are grouping with other players does not make it automatically PvP.

            The shielding that is being talked about here is a buff gained by an ability that all guardians and juggernauts can spec into with a utility. This ability protects all allies in range and stops them from taking some of the damage. The damage is not transferred but completely avoided. This is useful in some boss fights where AOE (area of effect) damage is unavoidable. This helps your healers stay ahead of the damage profile of the fight. This is important because it allow your healers to put some extra damage on the boss.

            People were discussing whether this utility is worth taking, do to bugs in the games programming.

          • Kojot

            What game are you playing

          • Skyesora

            Also not trolling, where did you do your research that said that operations were PvP?

          • wileydsp

            You are my favorite, and completely incorrect.

          • Donald Frederick

            To all who typed. I define anything that requires a team to be PVP. Sorry if you disagree, and I accept that.

            • Tsouyen

              For discussion on guides I would recommend that you stick to the generally accepted definitions of terms.

            • Skyesora

              Player versus player (PvP) means that you are playing against other players. In player versus environment (PvE), you are playing against the environment/AI opponents. Operations consist of players working together in a group to defeat environmental and AI opponents, in other words, PvE content.

            • Corwin

              PvP – Player versus Player. That’s it.
              So you say that in PvE there are no teams? Or Operation groups are not doing PvE?

              You are clearly a newbie in MMOs and need to learn the terms. Also, nobody cares how YOU call content. Player vs Player is PvP. ONLY fights between players are called PvP. Everything else is PvE.

        • Leont Stepanov

          “Last checked raids are PVP so again shields don’t apply.” This is the most absurd statement I have heard in my life.

  • Vinicius Freitas

    Hello, awesome guide! Although I’m being a tank, I am a former WoW Paladin Protection (tank), and I started playing as a Guardian because they seems to be a wannabe Paladin… But I didn’t find a guide like this to defense guardian… I’d like to know which class is the current best tank.. again, awesome guide and I hope someone like you do a guide for defense guardian 5.0 (5.1)

    • Skyesora

      Thank you! I do not play Guardian tank very much so I am not the right person to ask for a guide. As far as I know, Guardian tanks are a bit rare since 5.0 dropped because of the way the change from Blade Dance to Blade Barrage messed with their rotation. From what I’ve seen, Shadows are more popular for raid tanking, though Guardians are still probably the best in PvP.

  • Genbo the Shandian

    when do we get it???

  • Donald Frederick

    In the future I suggest people read at the title of the page before posting about a spec that isn’t what the page is about. This page is about DPS, not Tank … clear?

    • I got paid $104,000 in last twelve months by working from my house a­n­d I manage that by working part time f­­o­­r few hrs a day. I followed a money making model I found online and I am happy that i earned so much extra income. It’s really beginner-friendly and I am just so grateful that i discovered this. Here is what i did… http://statictab.com/msxjhtx

  • Matthew

    Ok, I’ve been confused long enough. Might I inquire why you are using Zealous Leap right after Focused Burst?
    I know you say that Heightened Power starts when it deals damage, but I don’t think there would be noticeable travel time from melee range, especially since it has to be longer than the global cooldown

    • Skyesora

      It’s placed where it is for both rotational stability and maximizing damage, nothing to do with travel time. Zealous Leap is one of your higher damaging abilities per activation, behind Focused Burst, Concentrated Slice, and Persistent Chill (and Dispatch during execute), and thus it gets priority during the Heightened Power window. The way the cooldowns end up aligning, there are 3 possible spots for Zealous Leap in the rotation since its cooldown is reduced by Strike, Sundering Strike, Slash, Cyclone Slash, Riposte, Blade Storm, Dispatch, and Concentrated Slice (if you want more detail I can give it). Two of those spots are outside of the Heightened Power Window, and the other is right after Focused Burst.

      • Matthew

        Guess I’m just used to leaps not really doing appreciable damage, so I figured there was probably a better ability to go there.
        Come to think of it, I know why I asked now. Obliterate was right before Raging Burst in the 3.0 Rotation, and there was no 4.0 version so I kept with that one

        • Skyesora

          Yeah, the rotation I started from was the one given in the guide by Artorias for 4.0 Focus. I ended up moving the abilities around a lot to what I think maximizes the damage done during Heightened Power. It just so happens that Zealous Leap ends up right after Focused Burst because of the way cooldowns align. If I remember correctly, he placed Zealous Leap right before Focused Burst and he made his rotation before 4.0 (the guide cites a parse with 3.0 gear), so that’s probably what you’re remembering.

  • Corwin

    Thanks for the guide! I love Focus – it’s one of my most favourite disciplines. Really nice to see that it is finally decent, even if it changed mostly because of Freezing Force utility and not actual discipline adjustments.

    After seeing some theorycrafted numbers at start of 5.0 I immediately dusted off my guardian. It is slowly becoming my new main. Learned some new little things from your guide, thanks for that!

    Currently I have almost full 230 and a 240 hilt with 3 piece set bonus, scoring 7500dps+ on the dummy and stealing aggro from tanks in the opener if they thought that guardian doesn’t need a guard 😛

    Big crits are so fun!

    • Skyesora

      You’re welcome, glad to hear you found it helpful! Focus is really underrated for its burst potential. You wouldn’t expect a Guardian to hit particularly hard, but it’s pretty easy to get off a few abilities that hit in the neighborhood of 20k each. I wouldn’t say it’s as crazy as the Combat/Carnage burst, but it’s up there with the best of them for sure.

      Get that set bonus, not only because it’s a great boost to your DPS, but the token gear it comes in is far superior to anything else. With full 230 gear you should be able to push 8k DPS if you get a bit lucky with critical hits. When geared out it’s definitely viable for all content.

      • Corwin

        Well, not like I am not trying to get it. But in 10 last Ops I won one token. Can’t roll for over 60 even. And one time I rolled 88 yesterday, instantly got beaten by 92, 99 and 92.

        Seems like my best bet is just to get a belt and bracers for unassembled components. Even though it would be better to upgrade stuff with them.

        • Skyesora

          Yeah, therein lies the problem. Worse is that it’s possible to get unlucky and not even see that many token drops. I’d recommend waiting to upgrade with unassembled components or to fill out your set, since you never know what GC is going to drop (I’ve given up on it almost entirely, and am gonna rely on unassembled components and ops drops to get the 6 pieces I still need).

          • Corwin

            Yesterday opened 28 command crates, got 2 set pieces but the ones I already had. Now I am in tier 2 boxes already… So gonna buy them with components.

            • Skyesora

              Yeah, I’ve only gotten repeat gear since 5.1.1 dropped, and that’s in like 75 crates. I’m just gonna use unassembled components from now on.

              • Corwin

                Hmm, now that I am approaching 1700 crit and 1100 alacrity, I have a question: I checked Bant’s recommended stats and he goes way over 1100 alacrity on 236+ gear. Should I do that or better use some mastery augments? Rydarus in his Vig guide also doesn’t recommend more than 11% alacrity and I somehow trust people who actually play the spec more than theory.

              • Skyesora

                My first question is, which stim are you running? If the accuracy stim, mastery; if the mastery stim, alacrity.

                One thing I should note about crit/alacrity – the “point of diminishing returns” doesn’t refer to the point where adding stat gives you less benefit – there is *always* diminishing returns on these stats. A more accurate term would be the “point where crit/alacrity become less beneficial than mastery/power”. In my experience, this point is a fair bit lower than the commonly accepted 45% crit chance that is usually cited. I ended up with around 1800 crit and 1150 alacrity at 242 gear (finally done with the grind!). If I get some time I’ll mess around with stats and get back to you.

                Another thing about Bant’s numbers – he actually uses a very different rotation. I tested my rotation with his stats and his rotation with my stats and both of them gave me worse results, though I haven’t tried his rotation with his stats. I think it comes down to the fact that the more frequent Focused Burst (his rotation is only 12 GCDs and mine is 13) doesn’t make up for the difference in damage between Riposte and Freezing Force.

              • Corwin

                I am using an accuracy stim. With current mix of 234/236/240 gear I couldn’t get a good setup for accuracy with a regular stim, it’s always either too high or too low. Think for now I’ll put just one mastery augment, still in the process of gearing up and first 30 t3 boxes were trash. Only yesterday got my first 240 :/

                Posted my parse on Parsely, by the way (character name is Lethanel). Still have to get a bit more comfortable with it, made a few mistakes close to end. And probably using fillers incorrectly, need to use blade barrage and blade storm over riposte.

              • Skyesora

                At least for accuracy purposes, the accuracy stim is the way to go for 234-240 gear, and at 230/242 it’s a negligible difference. You’re losing some mastery and power due to the stim, though, so you’ll want to put some stat there to make up for that.

                Keep practicing. The first thing I noticed is that Blade Barrage and Freezing Force are both out of position. For Freezing Force in particular, you definitely do not want to use it during Heightened Power because its initial hit is tiny (~200 damage). Also, I see Zealous Leap moving around in the rotation – this is probably the biggest thing, because it will throw your entire rotation out of whack due to how many abilities affect its cooldown and how it buffs Focused Burst. Your APM is also a bit low, though not terribly so.

  • Rydarus

    Great guide. It’s nice to see someone else main the class for once 🙂

    To be honest, Juggs are in an adequate place for PvE right now. They aren’t that far behind marauders and a good one can still carry a group. More people just need to play them to increase the skill pool.

    • Skyesora

      Thanks Rydarus! I’ve tried every class except Vanguard/Powertech and Guardian/Juggernaut is hands down my favorite. Personally, I’m a subscriber to the idea that you can make any class work in any content if you know it well enough. About the only complaint I have right now is that other classes have copied our signature ability (why do mercs/sins/ops need a reflect?!?!).

      I totally agree – we need more people playing the class, and at that, more people who really invest time into learning it. I’ve definitely been able to fake my way through fights if I’m feeling lazy, but playing correctly takes a good amount of knowledge and experience.

    • Drax

      I too play guardians. Primarily as a tank in pve, in which I have mained guardian tanks for quite a while now. But with 5.0 (and since the role I used to fill second most often as a healer is well filled by others) I decided to try dps on my guardians as well. Like you have both said, I have found guardian dps to be perfectly viable despite having a bit of a bad reputation (that I don’t really understand).
      I will have to second the saber reflect bit lol. I mean mercs/mandos can almost tank now lol. They were super squishy back in 4.0 so I guess I see why they gave it to them. Still though being wrecked by mercs constantly in pvp gets old fast.
      I would agree: any class will work for whatever you want it to work in provided you learn it well enough.

    • InfuriousGames

      I main a Jugg, and I completely agree. I main a Tank but my main dps class is a Vengence Jugg, and I use your rotation Rydarus, and I can carry groups with it. It’s an overall good class to play!

  • Secrus

    Hey. Thanks for guide, you and Rydarus make great work around Guard/Jugg DPS. Myself I used to play Jugg and than switched it to tank to finally dump it in favour of Marauder. Now, I want it to be my alt and coming back to it. Now my question. Do you plan to send Dulfy Rage version as well, or do I need to live with Pub side? Also, is there chance of video rotation?

    • Skyesora

      I can certainly make a Rage version; it would just take me a few days to retrieve all the icons and make substitutions. I don’t plan on making a video rotation, though I could probably put together a short video guide to accompany if there was interest.

      • Secrus

        Imperial version would be great. Also, if you have possibility, video guides are always great addition to written ones. Hope to see this in (near) future. And remember: #reflectB##ch 😀

  • Mordrêd

    Thank you for this guide Sky, after reading and trying Focus its injected new life into my Guardian play. After playing Focus and Rage for the last week I’m really enjoying myself. Looking at Parsley focus is really in a good place, would you agree?

    • Skyesora

      Glad to hear it! From the looks of it, Focus (actually, both Guardian DPS) are going to be about average. Factoring in mobility, AoE potential, ease of target swapping, and Saber Reflect, I’d say that’s fair, and certainly good enough for any content.

  • ORWS

    Thanks for this guide, really detailed and comprehensive, going to try it out right away. Question though, is there an easy way to just convert this guide for Sith Jugg? I mean I could start doing the conversion of skill names manually but that would be very time consuming..

  • ORWS

    OK guys, I couldn’t wait so I did a manual translation of the Opener, the Standard Rotation, and the Execute. Hope I didn’t mess up.

    [Opener]
    Force Charge > Enrage + Raging Burst > Obliterate > Force Crush > Furious Strike > Vicious Throw > Ravage > Chilling Scream > Raging Burst > Obliterate > Sundering Strike > Furious Strike > Force Scream > Chilling Scream > Enrage + Raging Burst > (repeat)

    [Standard Rotation]
    Enrage + Raging Burst (from opener/standard rotation) > Obliterate > Force Crush > Furious Strike > Ravage > Riposte > Chilling Scream > Raging Burst > Obliterate > Furious Strike > Sundering Strike > Force Scream > Chilling Scream > Enrage + Raging Burst > (repeat)

    [Execute]
    Enrage + Raging Burst (from opener/standard rotation) > Obliterate > Force Crush > Furious Strike > Vicious throw > Ravage > Chilling Scream > Raging Burst > Obliterate > Sundering Strike > Furious Strike > Force Scream > Chilling Scream > Enrage + Raging Burst > (repeat)

    • Skyesora

      This looks correct. I haven’t had much time to work on it, but I’m currently creating a Rage translation that I hope to have finished by the end of the week. One of the challenges is that I’ve submitted some edits to Dulfy that I haven’t tracked on the source document so I have to make sure those are all incorporated, but it’s also quite a bit to replace and I have to make new images for the utilities and rotation.

      • ORWS

        Appreciate it! And appreciate the post publication feedback you’re providing as well!

    • Voltarian

      I put Sundering Assault before Raging Burst and Chilling Scream otherwise it falls in the Cascading Power Window. It has little effect on my rotation and works fine. So my rotation looks like this:

      Force Charge > Enrage + Raging Burst > Obliterate > Force Crush > Furious Strike > Vicious Throw > Ravage > Sundering Strike > Chilling Scream > Raging Burst > Obliterate > > Furious Strike > Riposte > Force Scream > Chilling Scream > Enrage + Raging Burst > Obliterate > Force Crush > Furious Strike > Ravage > Riposte > Sundering Assault > Chilling Scream > Raging Burst > Furious Strike > Riposte > Force Scream > Chilling Scream > Enrage + Raging Burst > (Repeat)

      During execution phase of a fight you replace Riposte with Vicious Throw.

      • Skyesora

        This rotation also works. I would like to note that Placing Sundering Strike/Sundering Assault in the second Heightened/Cascading Power window does not cause the rotation to fail unless you try to place it after Concentrated Slice/Furious Strike during execute phase (if it does, something else went wrong in the rotation).

  • Adote

    Looking at your parse, why do you use your first Adrenal during your second rotation instead of your opener that has the more powerful Dispatch?

    • Skyesora

      That’s actually a bit of a complicated question. For the sake of completeness I’ll give you my reasoning, but know that none of it is particularly relevant to an actual fight, since you’ll use adrenals based upon when required burst windows are, not rotational reasons.

      First off, I’ll say that in a 1.5M parse, competitive times will only have time for one adrenal, and that goes as an assumption.

      The goal is to maximize total DPS. Everything else aside, you want to use your adrenal at the maximum damage point in your rotation. Thus, you want all of your DoT effects active for as long as possible and to be using the highest damaging abilities. One other thing to consider is the two and six piece set bonuses; the former increases all damage done by 2% for 15 seconds, and the latter gives you a supercrit on your Concentrated Slice. Now ideally you use the adrenal when all these effects are active and you’re using a Dispatch instead of a Riposte, which will happen sometime during Execute phase (it doesn’t happen during the opener unless you lead with Sundering Strike and Blade Storm, and I do not recommend doing so). But another thing to consider is if you get to Execute phase earlier, it means one more Dispatch and one fewer Ripostes. So that would point to using your adrenal before Execute to get there sooner.

      All told, I use it when I do because:
      – It has the two and six piece set bonuses
      – Persistent Chill is ticking for as much of the Adrenal duration as possible
      – I can get to Execute one cycle earlier

      I’ve never done the number crunching but I’ve gotten the best results not using the adrenal right away. It’s a small difference in DPS but it does consistently better for parsing purposes.

  • LaGauffreDesBois

    Hi, I was wondering, what spec do you play on dread council Hardmode ? Because so far I’ve been told that you shouldn’t do any aoe damage on the burn phase at the end unless you want to kill your entire raid, which lead me to think that I can’t safely play vigilance on that fight, and so I played Focus.

    • Izisvi Aziria

      You absolutely can play Vigilance. The reasoning for controlled AOE during the burn phase is if Calphayus gets too low before the other dread masters die (32% ish iirc) he does a cast that instant wipes the raid. As long as you are aware of his location, you are free to continue your normal rotation.

      In fact, hitting multiple of the other Dread Masters with Vigilant Thrust and spreading dots to them is quite beneficial, as they have to die anyway and suffer no penalty for taking damage early. It may be difficult to avoid clipping Calph with Freezing Force, as it has quite a large radius, but honestly if Calphayus is low enough that your Freezing Force pushes him over, someone else was hitting him when they shouldn’t have.

      • LaGauffreDesBois

        Okay I wasn’t sure, because all my team mates whom started raiding pve hl way earlier than me told me this and I thought it would be pretty stupid to forbid a class to use an aoe skill which is rotationnal on a whole burn phase, making it impossible to play this spec on a boss

        • Tsouyen

          From what i have seen Calphayus does not cast Dark Empowerment in HM during the burn phase if he was above 30% going into the burn phase.

    • Skyesora

      This is a bit of a delayed response, but I play Vigilance on Dread Council Hardmode because of the higher sustained DPS and to do AoE damage in the Brontes/Styrak phase and burn phase. There aren’t really any burst windows in the fight so I lean towards higher DPS. As far as I know, Calphayus doesn’t cast Dark Empowerment in burn phase, so there’s no reason not to AoE. In fact, one of the biggest cheeses to Council is how many classes can reflect now, as reflecting will damage all Dread Masters still alive during burn phase. He does wipe the group if he is pushed past 30% before burn phase, but as long as the tanks are doing their job, you shouldn’t really have to worry about pushing him too far. One other thing to note is that there’s a lot of running around in Dread Council chasing Raptus, Tyrans, and Brontes, so you’ll be breaking your rotation a lot, so be sure you know how to pick your rotation up based on what’s on cooldown and how much focus you have if you decide to play Focus.

      • LaGauffreDesBois

        thanks for your accurate reply, it’s really helpfull ^^
        Also I was wondering what is actually the triple dot opener on vigilance, because I see a lot of people on top parse using it but don’t know how to actually use it on boss fight. And do you use the same stuff for focus and vigilance or your stat attribution differs now that 5.2 is out and 248 ilevel is available ?

        • Skyesora

          The triple DoT opener refers to putting all your DoTs up front. AKA, use (Combat Focus + Saber Throw) -> Force Leap -> Overhead Slash -> Plasma Brand -> Blade Storm at the start of the fight. If you understand the rotation for Vigilance, you should be able to smoothly flow into the rotation from there.

          Honestly I haven’t really bothered min-maxing my stats; I use the same gear for both because it’s too much of a hassle to change out gear when I switch for a negligible increase in DPS.

          • LaGauffreDesBois

            ok thanks ^^

  • Jack

    Is this outdated? Some of these skills don’t even exist am I missing something lol

  • Adote

    Do you have updated stat balance for 248s? I’m coming up with accuracy of 750 using 2 enhancements and 3 augments? Does that seem right? Or is there a way to get closer to the 737?

    • Skyesora

      That’s the current best you can do for accuracy. I haven’t really messed around with stats since 5.2 but I’ve found that putting a bit more into alacrity (closer to 1.5:1 crit:alacrity ratio) seems to work the best. When in doubt look at the updated numbers at http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=918622.

  • Xehanater

    Skyesora is the PVP rotation the same and what are the ideal talent choices for PVP anyone?

    • Skyesora

      There isn’t really such a thing as a rotation in PVP because the abilities you use are going to greatly depend on what you’re trying to do. But here’s what I’ll offer:

      These are the utilities I take:
      Skillful: Battlefield Command, Debilitation
      Masterful: Gather Strength, Unremitting, Focused Freedom
      Heroic: Whiplash
      Legendary: Cut Loose, Daunting Presence

      An argument could be made for Persistent Chill over Daunting Presence, but it’s be sacrificing some survivability, burst damage, and a faster interrupt for a bit of mobility and the Persistent Chill DoT. I personally prefer the ability to interrupt right after I leap (works great against healers and ranged classes) as well as the extra Saber Reflect, but it’d be an interesting play.

      Battlefield Command, Cut Loose, Debilitation, Focused Freedom, and Whiplash are great anti-kiting tools and give you some extra ways to break roots; use them to your advantage.

      Finally, Gather Strength is vital in PvP because of how much movement-impairment will be occurring.

      For maximum burst, open with:
      Combat Focus + Force Leap -> Force Exhaustion -> Focused Burst -> Concentrated Slice
      which should get any target down to about half health, unless they’re guarded or mitigate some of the damage.

      In general, use Concentrated Slice, Force Exhaustion, and Zealous Leap on cooldown and Focused Burst whenever it’s lit up (try to use it after either Force Exhaustion or Combat Focus for Singularity, but don’t worry about that too much). Blade Barrage and Riposte are mostly filler, and Blade Storm should be used whenever you need another ranged ability. Keep in mind Blade Storm gives you a supercrit Concentrated Slice, so use it if you’re trying to burst down a target.

      One thing to note is that Guardian/Juggernauts are seen as a bit of a punching bag in ranked PvP right now because they have no hard escapes like stealth out, phase walk, etc. Even so, it’s pretty easy to surprise people. Just don’t jump into a group on your own and expect to survive – they’ll probably be chasing you at first so let them isolate themselves. As long as you don’t get caught out stunned without a break you can kite and deal good burst damage, and if they’re tunneling you, it’s likely that your team can take advantage of that.

  • Alberto

    I wish that lucasjodokast guy wrote a focus guardian guide before he disappeared, I used to see him constantly training for years on the wz dummies between pops

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