Heavy Damage: Trooper Vanguard overview

This weeks it’s all about the Trooper Vanguard using the Shield Specialist tree. The Vanguard is a “ranged” tank according to Bioware, but in practice, it becomes very clear it’s a close range, almost melee tank. Now I’m not saying that the Vanguard isn’t capable of doing great damage or even pulling from range, only that once the conflict has begun you’re moving in close.

The Vanguard uses “Ammo” as its pacing mechanic. As with all classes you have abilities that cost, give, or are free of using your Ammo. From my experience with the Vanguard Tank, Ammo isn’t a hard resource to manage, easier than the Jedi Knight’s “Focus.” Also from my experience with the three Republic tanks, the Vanguard is VERY survivable, and one of the best tank classes I’ve played.

The Vanguard’s first companion is a DD or Damage Dealer. He’s also a Trooper, but specced as a Commando and he does excellent damage if equipped with some good gear. As with all Troopers, both the Vanguard and Commando use heavy armour, making Armormech a great crafting choice. Biochem is another great choice because you can craft reusable stims and Medpacks. Keeping your gear updated to your level is probably the most important thing you can do as a Vanguard, or any tank for that matter. Orange gear or “Artifact” gear is great for this, as you can just keep updating the armoring, mods, and enhancements, which you can do for nearly nothing if you save your commendations from each planet and use those to purchase your item mods – the same goes for weapons.

Now it’s time for some builds and some tactics – this is my build  as the 30/11. Using my build you’ll lose out on your top tier ability in the Shield Specialist tree, but gain “Gut”, a Kinetic/Bleed damaging close range ability. A Shield Vanguards Primer is a great guide to tanking with a Vanguard created by SWTOR forum member Anoiktos. Anoiktos lays out terms and rotations for both the 30/11 build and the 31/whatever builds. Here’s Anoiktos’s advice on tanking single and multiple targets:

Single Target:
Open with Storm.
Stock Strike > High Impact Bolt > Energy Blast. (Assuming 31 shield. If you’re 30 shield/11 Tactics, ignore the energy blast.) If you have excess energy, Ion Pulse is your best bet.

In addition to this, there’s a debuff priority list:
Static Field (Ion Pulse) > Gut DoT (Assuming 30/11. If not, ignore)

Multiple Target:
Open with Mortar Strike (if available), or Storm -> Explosive Surge (if not).

If any enemies are outside of easy AoE range, harpoon them now and on CD, prioritizing elites > strongs > weaks.

Now back up, and use Pulse Cannon (if up.) Otherwise mix Explosive Surge with stock strike and energy blast (if available) on CD, using hammer shot as filler and your taunt (Neural Jolt) to grab stray enemies. If you still have excess energy, try tab-gutting everything (if you have that skill) or adding more Explosive Surge to the mix.

Sticky Grenade can also be useful here, though I like to reserve it for its short hold on weak enemies that heal, and use it sparingly in AoE situations because its knockback makes subsequent AOE more difficult to pull off.

The debuff priority list is thus simple: Use Explosive Surge whenever the Static Field debuff is expiring.

Here’s a few builds that are worth a closer look:

Survival Tank – Submitted by Blackferne

Raid Tank – Submitted by darthuser3488

Here’s a couple variations of the 30/11 build set I spoke about above:

30/11 – Submitted by TyHalcyon

30/11 – Created by Yours Truly

Over to you: any tips you have on tanking as a Vanguard?