SWTOR Guardian Tanking Guide
Star Wars The Old Republic Guardian Tanking Guide by seraphimm
This is it!! The guide you’ve been looking for. Right here!
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JEDI GUARDIAN TANKS!!
This is my opinion (with the help and support of many who wish to be the best Guardian Tank possible). Any recommendations herein represent my thoughts and experiments while Beta testing. This information is valid as of the last build used during the last test, and I do not promise similar results in any future builds.
Q) But, Seraphimm, you ask, what makes you an expert in either the Jedi Guardian or in Tanking in General?
We’ll I’m glad you asked, ambiguous forum stranger. Let me give you some of my background. You may recognize a few tanks in the bunch. Shadow Knight in EQ, Guardian in EQ2, Ninja in FFXI, Jedi in SWG, Invulnerability tank in City of Heroes, Warrior in GW2 (briefly), Ice Tank in DCUO, Protection Pally and Feral Druid in WOW, Warrior in DAoC, Templar in Aion, Bear Shaman in Conan, AND I Fly Blaster Boats in Eve (though this might give me negative points)!! Oh and level 50 Jedi Guardian during Beta! Well there you are, decide for yourself.
Q2) Why on earth, Mr. Seraphimm, would I want to play a Jedi?
Well, aren’t we all questions today. As a Jedi, you get to carry a lightsaber (I mean how cool is that?), you get your own astro droid, AND you get a mouthy little vixen with a saucy eyes that follows you around and calls you master from time to time. Winning.
Q2a) But Mr. Seraphimm, I hate astro droids, and I get the other two things as Stih.
Yes, Mr. Negative questions, but as a Jedi you don’t have to worry about your higher-ups Force-Choking you because you missed a spot on that toilet you cleaned that morning…. ENOUGH with the questions.
Below are my views on the skills geared toward Tanking as a Jedi Guardian. I’m not worried about DPS except for the purposes of increasing hate. These are my views on the skills and traits with associated trees that are best for tanking. I will not tell you what you HAVE to take, I will tell you what I think of each ability and rank them from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) in both PvE and PvP environments. I will list every skill and ability so there are fewer questions.
I will also offer various combat ‘suggestions’ with the combat rotation I would use. Feel free to use whatever you think would work better, or just better for you. It won’t hurt my feelings. Ok, without any further disclaimers..
Disclaimer – These views were tested in a ‘beta test’ environment, so do not express capability concerning content not available during test, or changes to content/Advanced classes. My combat suggestions aren’t telling you how to play and do not represent the optimal tactics in every environment. I will not be responsible for your results even if you follow my suggestions to the letter. Nor will I be liable for any crappy healers you might be grouped/friends with. This post is void in AK or HI.
SKILLS: (rating PvE/PvP)
Soresu Form (5/2.5)
This is the form for tanking. It reduces the focus you get from your focus building strikes (Force Leap, Strike, Sundering Strike). It also, however, increases threat, and reduces damage taken. Also gives you focus as you take damage. Many have said Jedi Guardians don’t have any threat generating skills. This form makes everything you do a threat generating skill.
Challenging Call (5/3.5)
Challenging call is like any AOE taunt, but for the fact that it lasts for 6 seconds. This skill does not change threat- you will have to do that yourself. This skill will, however, force the mob to attack you for 6 seconds regardless of who has the most threat. It’s your job to make sure you have the most threat by the time it wears off. Use it often, as threat is currently very quickly gained and lost. It uses no focus so even using it on single targets (provided you are out of range of adds) isn’t a waste. This skill has a 15meter radius. This skill is given a PvP rating because, when used on other players, it severely reduces their DPS against anyone but you. Very useful, particularly if they can’t reach you!
Like Challenging Call but single target. Has longer range though at 30meters. Good single pull mechanic. Use it as you will but I generally rely on challenging call and save my taunts for unexpected threat spikes or mobs that randomly drop threat (several do it).
Sundering Strike (5/5)
This is your primary focus generator. It replaces the normal strike when you get it because not only does it generate focus, it also applies a sunder armor effect. Once you start using skill tree points, you can make it apply 2 effects of sundering armor and generate an extra point of focus. The downside is it has a 4.5 second cool down. So you’ll still have to strike occasionally.
Builds focus. If you need focus and just used sundering strike, then use it. Otherwise skip it.
Force Leap (5/5)
Builds Focus and gets you into melee range AND does damage and threat. This is your primary range closing ability. 15 second cool down and 30meter range.
Force Sweep (5/5)
Has several modifications in your skill tree that range from making it free to adding up to 45% extra damage (close to perma-crit damage levels). This is your primary AOE damage and threat generator and does very well as that. Use it often. Plus it’s fun as hell!!
A great ability that unlocks anytime you parry or deflect an attack. This ability does good damage and cannot be dodged, parried, or blocked. It also doesn’t pay attention to the global cool down. When skill tree abilities are picked, this ability also uses less focus and applies up to 6% bonus defense. I highly suggest you use this at every opportunity; use it as often as you possibly can.
Blade Storm (4/4)
Your first focus sink. It’s expensive but worth it. It does very good DPS (for you) and has several modifications that include making it cost less, causing a shield to surround you, and causing your foe to catch fire. Just a good all round ability, with a 12 second cool down.
Saber Throw (4/4)
Gets more points because it’s one of our very few ranged abilities, AND it builds focus. The only reason it’s not a 5/5 is because you don’t get it until 36. Once you get it, you’ll love it and even find yourself throwing it at opponents right there in your face. I just wished I had it 10 levels before.
Good Damage, but it’s expensive. Use it when you don’t have riposte available and plenty of focus. Generally gets replaced later by Overhead Slash/Guardian Slash, as those two skills are only 1 more focus.
Force Push (4/5)
Costs no focus, but has a 60 second cool down. Fun to use and lets you use force leap again in PvE (as well as help keep mobs where you want and interrupt them. Is amazing in PvP when used to push baddies off ledges, bridges, cliffs, into Acid, into Fire, etc.
Master Strike (3.5/3)
This is a very flashy and very good ability, in general. The only real problem is while it’s not channeled directly, the attack itself takes a few seconds to actually finish once started. This means it is easy to interrupt by both your opponent and even yourself if you’re not careful. I have gone up and down on this skill and it gets extra points because it costs no focus. The fact that it is so easy to interrupt and it takes so long puts it in the center for me even though it does very good damage for a free attack.
Pommel Strike (2.5/2.5)
High damage, No focus. Only useable against incapacitated enemies. Very good to use in the limited opportunities you have to use it.
Opportune Strike (2/2)
Same as Pommel Strike, but does less damage and is used for those that aren’t completely stunned but are slowed or rooted.
Cyclone Slash (1.5/1)
Sounds good doesn’t it? 5 targets 1 strike.. until you realize it’s 5 random targets (so if you have more than five it isn’t a good way to keep threat on all of them) and then there is the damage, which sucks. It does less than your slash distributed among all five enemies. So it’s like SUCK divided by 5.
Combat Focus (5/5)
Free focus….. Did I mention Free Focus?
Freezing Force (3/4)
Nice ability when you think you have a runner, or to keep groups moving slow while you’re hopping around. More useful in PvP, as a lot of mobs either stand still and shoot you or stand still and smack you. You won’t find a lot of use slowing them down without a specific reason.
Guardian Leap (5/5)
My favorite ability and I would have rated it as a 6/6 if we got it before friggen 50. We really need this ~42. Got a DPS who’s wrecking you in threat? This is your answer. I used it every time it was available just so I could then force leap back into the fight to build focus and get free blade storms. I looked like a rubber band bouncing from ally to enemy every 20 seconds, but I kept my healer’s and DPS’ threat down and they had a little extra protection. Plus with PROTECTOR you can apply that 20% damage reduction to yourself.
Nice, but only useable against enemies under 20% health. I would rate it higher but it uses so much focus and does less damage than slash. Useful if you’re far away from something that’s about to die and you want to help kill it.
Good against trash and some elites, but some elites and all bosses ignore it. Makes it fun but you already have so many other things to do
Force Kick (5/5)
A kick with some force this time. Your Interrupt and it’s cheap and refreshes quick.
Warding Call (5/5)
This is your OH Sh*t button. There are many like it, but this one is yours.
Saber Ward (5/5)
This would be an Oh Sh*t button, but it’s less effective against tech and force abilities.
SKILL TREE ABILITIES
These are rated in order of importance according to my experience. I will make a suggestion of REQUIRED or OPTIONAL. This is going to cause major Flames, because some of you will immediately notice I have more points in Vigilance than I do in Defense. It’s OK, don’t PANIC.
This game is new, and has some combat mechanics that aren’t in many other games. Forget the term tank and spank, there isn’t enough of that here to warrant the term. Every mob (not even boss) has a host of abilities that range from knocking you on your butt, to blinding you and then knocking you on your butt. They will move, deploy shields, vanish, call in help, taunt you and call you names, and try to trick you into quitting and going home. If you’re looking for “I auto-attack them while they auto-attack me,” you might as well move along.
I’m asking you not to get all tangled in a combat tree just because someone labeled it “Defense”. Keep an open mind. Or ignore this whole post and play the way you want. Won’t hurt my feelings.
FOCUS TREE – Move along. Nothing to see here. This is a DPS tree, tanks won’t find much interest in anything in this tree
Victory Rush *Defense Tree* -Required. Sundering Strike is your staple. This makes it build back the focus that was taken away by Soresu form.
Improved Sundering Strike *Vigilance Tree* -Required. Remember sundering strike? I hope so as it should be your most used button. This makes sundering strike apply a second sunder armor proc.
Dust Storm *Defense Tree* -Optional, but highly recommended. Force Sweep is also used every chance you get. This makes everything hit by your sweep have a flat 5% chance of missing you. As a tank taking damage reduces threat, making them miss is always a bonus
Swelling Winds *Vigilance Tree* -Optional but highly recommended. Again with force sweep, this makes a great skill awesome. +30% damage on your AOE ability (yes please).
Single Saber Mastery *Vigilance Tree* -Required for a PvP guardian, Avoided by PvE tanks. You won’t use either of those forms in PvE tanking. Shien however is a very, very good form for PvP.
Momentum *Defense Tree* -Optional, but you’ll be taking at least one point to get to tier 2. I like this perk because you’ll be using Force Leap a lot and maxing this perk makes it free after the leap.
Defiance *Vigilance Tree* -Required, required, required. Almost every droid and their mother has a skill that will cause this to give you focus. The following are just some of the things that will give you focus with this perk: Stock-strikes, trip, kick, grenades, bombs, missiles, rockets, punches, High Powered lasers, low powered lasers, heat seekers, Force Chokes, Arrows to the Knee…. Need I go on?
Lunge *Defense Tree* -Required. WE already discussed Riposte. This makes it affordable.
Guard Stance *Defense Tree* -Required. This is your first defensive perk. Just take it.
Perseverance *Vigilance Tree* -Required. We all know Strength is our primary stat. This gives you strength. Tah-dah!
Accuracy *Vigilance Tree* -Optional but highly suggested. I discussed all the special abilities the bad guys will use, some of those reduce your accuracy. In many other games, once you are hit capped life is all good. In this game your opponent can take that away from you. If you miss, you don’t make threat.
Solidified Force *Defense Tree* -Useful as a PvP Guardian, but you won’t use freezing force much once you become good at force sweep. PvE tanks need not apply for this.
Unremitting *Vigilance Tree* -Required. Read it carefully, because this is one of the best tanking tools of any tree. Most of the nasty effects used on you are used immediately upon leaping in. This not only reduces all damage by 20% after a leap but also lets you ignore those annoying abilities that are used immediately. It really becomes useful when you force push (or guardian leap away) then Force leap back on your opponent getting the 20% reduction again. Take it and say thanks to the tanking gods.
Blade Barricade *Defense Tree* -Required. Also self-explanatory.
Warding Call *Defense Tree* -Required. Again self-explanatory.
Shien Form *Vigilance Tree* -PvP guardians should take a serious look. PvE tanks won’t want this.
Profound Resolution *Defense Tree* -Optional. Marginally better for PvP guardains, but even then the 30 seconds extra on a 2 minute ability isn’t as useful as you might think. I skip it even in PvP as most stuns/holds are short, but this one is situational to play style.
Pacification *Defense Tree* -Optional. I skip this, but others flame me constantly on how useful it is. Take it if you insist on getting hilt strike. I also suggest against hilt strike. Otherwise you already increased Force Sweep by 30% and why spend the same points for half the bonus? Don’t forget that even fully modified, cyclone slash is crap.
Burning Blade *Vigilance Tree* -Optional. I like this, as I use blade storm after every force jump, but it’s situational and the damage isn’t all that.
Gather Strength *Vigilance Tree* -BAD. I think this was designed by someone new to the video game world. A 5% proc that only happens when your movement is impaired and only lasts 10 seconds. Problem is anytime you use focus you use it. The only way to max it out is to let it stack 5 times, meaning you have to find a situation that hampers your movement 5 separate times within 10 seconds of each other and not use ANY focus while doing it. Good Luck!
Command *Defense Tree* -Required. We already talked about Challenging call. This perk makes Challenging call a 30 second cool down. Meaning you only really have to worry about threat for 24 seconds. This also makes Force Push only 45 seconds.
Effluence *Vigilance Tree* -Optional, but highly recommended. Courage takes two points to give you a proc that gives you a chance to make force sweep free. Or for 1 point in Effluence Force Sweep becomes free. Take it, you’ll like it. This is the other reason you become a better tank using vigilance. Hate and damage for free.
Shield Spec *Defense Tree* -Optional, but at least partially recommended. I end up getting one point in this, but remember it only gives you a 2% chance to mitigate 20% (proc your shield) and you already got Unremitting… didn’t you?
Vigilance *Vigilance Tree* -Optional. I like this one too, but I prefer Overhead slash over guardian slash. This is what makes overhead slash superior to guardian slash which has no modifications.
Courage *Defense Tree* -Optional. Not as good as Effluence, not even close. But if you insist on only using the defense tree because it is called defense then you’ll have to take this one.
Narrowed Focus *Vigilance Tree* -Depends. I know I said I’d call it one way or the other, but this is useful if you’re a PvP guardian and you took Shien form, and you can’t have it if you didn’t.
You are probably running out of points by now if you’ve followed my advice. If you are using the Vigilance tree as suggested you perk of choice is Protector. If you insist on staying in the Defense Tree, you’ll want Blade Barrier. Blade Barrier has issues that may get cleared up at a later date and in my opinion isn’t working as intended. Plus the more damage your opponents do the higher benefit you get from Protector. Protector really comes into use when you start rubber-banding (using Force Leap/Guardian Leap in unison). But that isn’t until level 50 when you get Guardian Leap so feel free to hold on this decision.
Protector *Vigilance Tree* -Required if Vigilance. This gives you the 20% damage reduction that would normally be applied to your ally when you use Guardian Leap, plus a few extra Hit Points. If you have Unremitting and you have Protector it’ll work something like this: Force leap (Gain Unremitting) to opponent, in 18 seconds Guardian Leap (Gain Protector) to your healer/DPS, then immediately Force Leap Back to your opponent (Stacking Unremitting on the Protector for several seconds). Wait 18 seconds then repeat. Unremitting and Protector is as much as Warding Call even if for only a few seconds. Using the combo up to 3 times a minute gives you 4 seconds of 20% and 8 seconds at 40% damage reduction every minute, ON top of your Warding Call.
Blade Barrier *Defense Tree* -Required if Defense. This is your defense tree proc of choice. The problem with it, and the reason I ultimately went to the Vigilance tree is that lad Barrier is not working as I feel it was intended to. It currently as of the last couple test builds only stops between 300 and 500 damage. At level 50 that is less than one strike. This is not the ION Shield or the Kinetic Barrier that the other tanks get. This will collapse before anyone ever realizes it was actually on. Useful as you level but at top level end game the Protector/Unremitting bounce trick actually is slightly better, and continues to get better the harder you get hit.
Force Clap *Defense Tree* -Good in PvP. I’ve seen too many high end elites and bosses ignore it. Plus it’s so high in the tree unless you go full defense (and we talked about that right?) you can’t afford it.
Hilt Strike *Defense Tree* -Required if Defense, but has severe drawbacks. Everyone reads the tool tip that mentions high threat. No one reads the description that it has a 60 second cool down. Be aware that there are several boss fights that can take up to 10 minutes to finish, also be aware that very very few of them have you fighting one single target for more than 2 minutes. Meaning you’ll get to use this ONCE per fight….*maybe*. High threat or not, it’s not enough. If you’re using your force sweep, blade storm, and Challenging call as I suggest you won’t need the 1 strike a minute bonus.
Stasis Mastery *Defense Tree* -PVP optional. Not very tanky IMO. Channeled or not, can’t you find something better to do for 3 seconds?
Overhead Slash *Vigilance Tree* -Ooooh! This is the poor man’s Guardian Slash. This is what rewards you for going vigilance. Since it is tier 5 and not tier 7 it means you get all the requisite tanking skills in both trees and still have a massive strike. It does ‘almost’ as much damage as Guardian Slash but has a 9 second cool down (Vigilance perk) instead of 15 seconds. This means a NET INCREASE of DPS over Guardian Slash.
Burning Purpose *Vigilance Tree* -Optional. I suggest skipping it, Damage is low and at this point would take points from better tanky perks.
Force Rush *Vigilance Tree* -Optional. Again unless you are full vigilance (PVP) not enough points.
Commanding Awe *Vigilance Tree* -Optional. Another good Tanky skill not in the Defense tree. I label this as optional because it is usually too high in the vigilance tree to get it and all the better Defense tree perks. Plus Awe doesn’t work against elites or bosses. If you are all Vigilance then it’s a good one to have. Better than anything in the defense tree.
Zen Strike *Vigilance Tree* -Skip it. Math doesn’t work her. At max skill you have a 30% chance every 6 seconds for a 9 second strike to remove the cool down of a 30 second strike. If you used Overhead Slash every time is was available you’d get a max of 3 chances even though it had the ability to proc every 6 seconds (can’t swing overhead slash that fast). Also since Master Strike is so easily interrupted it gets really complicated.
Inner Peace *Defense Tree* -Skip It. Enure is so situational, has such a long cool down, and is generally more dangerous to use than not this perk is over-rated. A few extra seconds every couple of minutes is not worth 2 points of tier 6 points IMO.
Cyclonic Sweeps *Defense Tree* -Required if you go pure defense. The only tanky part of this perk is the part that only makes it work in Soresu Form. It does reduce Combat Focus, but this perk pales in comparison to the tank perks you can get in the Vigilance tree.
Guardian Slash *Defense Tree* -Optional. Not as good as Overhead Slash. It does slightly more damage per swing, but at 15 seconds per it loses in Net DPS to the quicker Overhead Slash. It does however Stack 3 additional Sunder Armors. HOWEVER, this ability stops adding any benefit once your opponent is at 5 stacks, and since you got improved sunder armor AND you use Sundering Strike as much as possible to build focus it’s not as hard as you’d think to keep 5 full stacks even without it. In fact If you used Force Leap, Sundering Strike and Reposte In Soresu form, you wouldn’t have enough Focus to use Guardian Slash (thus adding the 3 sunder’s to the 2 from sundering strike). This means you’d have to sunder strike again or more focus, meaning by the time you could apply your 3 sunder armors, the bad guy would already have 4. You’ll have no problems keeping all 5 Sunders on anything with just improved sundering strike as long as you’re keeping it on cool down.
Plasma Brand *Vigilance Tree* -Optional. This is a kinda nice proc. Not really one of the better tier 7 abilities in the game, but if you insist on going full vigilance it’ll be the one you get. I would say you’d do better if you wanted to DPS (It has no tank value) by reaching into the focus tree rather than getting this perk.
Did anyone else notice the ‘Defense Tree’ ran out of tank perks at Tier 5? Plus those two either stop so little damage (Blade Barrier), or have such long cool downs (Hilt Strike) that they get trumped by the superior (IMHO) Protector and Commanding Awe. This is why I think the Bottom of the Defense tree and the Center of the Vigilance tree makes for the ‘best’ (again IMHO) perks for a Guardian Tank.
Level 30: http://www.torhead.com/calculator/skill#500dMG0uZhMM.1
Level 40: http://www.torhead.com/calculator/sk…rMG0uMZhGr0M.1
Level 45: http://www.torhead.com/calculator/sk…0uMzZhGrMM0z.1
Level 50: http://www.torhead.com/calculator/sk…MzZhGrMMhzzM.1
PVP Option: http://www.torhead.com/calculator/sk…MzZIMroMuzzM.1
Now for suggested combat mechanics:
Fighting one single mob is self-explanatory, and I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence. So this fight will be what is generally thought to be the hardest for a Jedi Guardian.
You have 2 groups of mobs all 10meters apart or so. There is a ranged fighter in each group and several melee support. This is actually a common situation and considered by most best tanked by the trooper/bounty hunter type from range. This rotation will help you make the most of the Jedi Guardian in that situation.
BELOW level 50
1- Pick one of the ranged Fighters and Force leap to him, hit HIM with Blade storm.
2- Issue a challenging Call (15meter range).
3- Drag the melee you picked up over to the other group who are also focused on you (Challenging call either reaches them or they are outside agro range and they aren’t an issue anyway)
4- Once you have the melee over by the other ranged mob Drop your Force Sweep (You have now hit everyone before your challenging call wears off.)
5- Begin sundering strikes and ripostes as cool downs allow. You only have to hold threat for 24 seconds before your Challenging Call is available again.
6- Use Force Push to knock primary target away, use Challenging call and force leap to the mob you just knocked away.
After level 50
1- Pick one of the ranged fighters and force leap to him.
2- Issue a Challenging Call
3- Drag the melee over to the other ranged mob
4- Drop your Force sweep and macro target your healer/dps
5- Guardian Leap to said healer/dps then immediately Force Leap back to the group you created (You will now have protector and Unremitting on you for 3 seconds)
6- Begin your sundering strikes/ripostes as available
7- As soon as Challenging call is available, use it then Guardian Leap Back to Healer/dps then immediately Force Leap back to the Pack and drop Force Sweep.
**If you want some comfort while bouncing around feel free to use force freeze to keep the mobs where you left them.
1- Challenging call isn’t threat, but will work regardless of other threat for 6 seconds. You’ll need to start generating threat before the 6 seconds is up and they wander off for squishier targets
2- Remember that with my build suggestions force sweep costs no focus, use it every time it’s off cool down. Riposte only costs 1 focus and boosts your defense, use it every time it’s on cool down.
3- Sundering Strike builds 2 sundering armor stacks. Get to 5 ASAP and just maintain. You’ll be using Sundering Strikes for focus every time you can anyway so it won’t be a problem.
As you see from my list of skills there are a TON of skills to use. Challenging call, Force Push, Riposte, Force Leap, Guardian Leap, Sundering Strike numerous times, Saber Throw, Overhead Slash, Force Sweep, Blade Storm. I have a 12 button Razor mouse and I had 10 of those buttons mapped as well as another 9 keyboard binds. Moving with the mouse and using all the buttons often.
To maximize control I use a 32 second rotation, centralized around Challenging Call. Since Guardian Leap has a 20 second cool down, I use it to time my Force Leap/Guardian leap bounce right in the center of that 24 second period where the goons aren’t effected by my challenging call. This gives me 2 free force sweeps and 2 free blade storms. The rest of the time is riposte and sundering strike/overhead slash as time permits until I can issue another challenging call.
Use Freezing force to slow runners that drop threat (happens with some elites/bosses) and use taunt for single pick-ups between challenging calls.
That’s about it. I’m sure the flames will start soon, because I’m not maximizing the defense tree like a good little Guardian. Hopefully a few with open minds will see how effective this really is. It has been tested and will be perfected, starting Tuesday. I reserve to change all information herein if and when certain abilities get fixed/changed (Ahem -Blade Barrier).
May the force (and a good healer) be with you!