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Heavy Damage: Tanking Mandalorian Raiders

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line.

Mandalorian Raiders is this week’s Flashpoint. It’s a level 25 Flashpoint for both the Republic and Empire. The Flashpoint takes place on the Allusis and it begins with you and your party breaching the ship’s hull in an attack pod. Once you are on the Allusis you’ll need to fight your way to the command deck.

There are several bosses and mini bosses located throughout this Flashpoint. I will go over each one and detailing what strategy you should be using as a Tank.

Braxx the Bloodhound

Braxx the Bloodhound is accompanied by two adds that are resistant to knock-back and crowd control abilities. Braxx will occasionally use an ability that is made visible by a large red reticule – if either of the hounds are inside this reticule their attack speed and damage are increased. It’s best to keep Braxx’s attention away from the party. When I ran this I tried to keep his back turned as the damage dealers burnt down the adds. The hounds have a random aggro, so they will bounce from player to player. It might be easier to just spread out as this will keep the hounds from getting his buff as often, and then just burn down Braxx then work on his hounds.

Boarding Party

The second boss fight consists of a Sith Warrior, a Sith Inquisitor, a Bounty Hunter, and an Imperial Agent. All four are immune to any form of crowd control. It’s best to take out the melee characters first then work your way to the  ranged. As each of the boarding party fall the other members will become stronger. One strategy I’ve seen used is to get all four members down to about 10% health then burn them all down in rapid succession. I would NOT recommend this strategy for a pick up group. Either way you tackle this encounter it will be one of the most difficult fights you’ve been in yet. As a Tank you’ll need to make sure you have your guard up on someone and just try to keep the melee focused on you.

Marvis Varad

Marvis Varad is the final boss – this encounter begins with you only having to deal with Marvis and as his health is depleted he will leap to turrets positioned around the room. Disengage Marvis and destroy the turrets each time this happens. Varad will also throw grenades at random party members – this is easily avoidable as it is indicated by a large reticule on the ground. The turrets are susceptible to crowd control abilities so keep that in mind.

There are also 100 Lightside or Darkside points available on this mission.

As always stay frosty and may the force be with you!



Heavy Damage: Tanking Changes in Update 1.2

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line.

The 1.2 patch is now on the test servers, so I will be taking a break from my Flashpoint tanking guides to discuss and theorise what these changes could and will do to Tanks in SWTOR.

Changes for the Jedi Knight


  • Awe no longer costs Focus to activate.
  • Dispatch can now be used on targets at or below 30% of maximum health (up from 20%).
  • Force Kick no longer costs Focus to activate.
  • Master Strike can no longer be interrupted.

Guardian Tree changes relating to Tanks


  • Blade Barrier is now located in Tier 4 of the skill tree.
  • Blade Storm no longer consumes stacks of Courage while the Momentum buff is active.
  • Command no longer reduces the cooldown of Challenging Call and is now located in Tier 5 of the skill tree.
  • Dust Storm is now a 3-point skill that provides the same overall effect.
  • Guardian Slash now generates 50% additional threat.
  • Momentum is now a 2-point skill that provides the same overall effect.
  • Pacification is now a 1-point skill with a slightly reduced overall effect.
  • Shield Specialization is now located in Tier 5 of the skill tree.
  • Stasis Mastery is now located in Tier 4 of the skill tree.


  • Commanding Awe is now located in Tier 5 of the skill tree. It increases the Guardian’s damage reduction while Focused Defense is active.
  • Single Saber Mastery is no longer restricted to certain stances.
  • Stagger is now located in Tier 1 of the Vigilance skill tree.
  • Sundering Throw is now located in Tier 6 of the Vigilance skill tree.
  • Zen Strike now generates 2 points of Focus when it is triggered.

If you’re a regular reader of Heavy Damage, you may remember this article where I talked about the build I use and builds I thought were worth taking a look at.  If you’re following my 18/23 build still (or any other Guardian build) this new patch has some changes that I hope will bring the Guardian back to par with the other two Tanks. Because let’s face it, they are somewhat lacking. Before the Guardians flame me for this observation I just want to say I play all three tanks, all three of my tanks are level 30-32 and it’s not that the Guardian can’t handle itself, it’s just a lot more work for the same outcome.

Now for the changes. Guardian Slash adding 50% more hate makes it a little more viable than the Overhead Slash trade off in the 18/23 build. I would say if you were following that build to take a step back and think of a respec. I will be republishing builds once the patch is in full effect and I have a chance to test all the changes. Blade Barricade is a skill I feel that the Guardian Tank cannot do without, so it being moved up a tier changes the 18/23 build even more to where I know I’ll have to respec.  Command no longer reducing the cooldown on Challenging Call seems like a nerf to a class that doesn’t need any of those, but we’ll see how things turn out.


Not a lot of changes here. A few tweaks and cosmetic things:

  • Mass Mind Control: Updated this tooltip to correctly state that the ability does not break Stealth. The ability’s functionality has not changed.
  • Kinetic Combat
    • Kinetic Ward’s appearance now refreshes properly when reapplied.
  • Balance (Shadow)
    • Force Synergy’s activation effects are now more visible.
    • The Force in Balance no longer heals the caster if no targets are hit.

General Trooper changes:

  • Full Auto’s attack animation now begins more quickly to improve reactiveness and faction balance.
  • Mortar Volley’s animation has been updated. In addition, it now has a 5-meter radius to bring its range in line with other Trooper Area of Effect abilities and it now begins its damage sooner after activation.
  • Vanguard
  • Due to changes to the Vanguard skill trees, all Vanguards have had their skill points refunded.
  • Fire Pulse’s visual effect more accurately represents its functionality.
  • Riot Strike no longer costs Energy Cells.
  • Animation timing issues with Energy Blast have been addressed.
  • The hit timing delay on Explosive Surge has been improved.
  • Shield Specialist
    • Ceramic Plating: the Absorb amount gained from this skill has been slightly reduced.
    • Counter Attack is now a 3-point skill.
    • Energy Blast is no longer limited by the global cooldown. Its damage has been reduced by approximately 15%.
    • Power Screen is a new 2-point skill that causes Ion Pulse and Energy Blast to build a stacking buff that increases shield absorption.
    • Smoke Grenade is no longer limited by the global cooldown.

The changes to Vanguards don’t seem to be a nerf, which I feared was coming. Vanguard is in my opinion the most well-rounded and effective tank. I am hoping that the other classes get buffed to its level, not the other way around with nerfs for a class that plays like it should.

The most interesting change to me is the Power Screen ability. Ion Pulse and Energy Blast are two skills I feel like I border on over-using (Explosive Surge too) just because of the damage debuff it places on enemies. Now it has a shield buff it’s maybe the only skills you need. As with the Guardian, I will be republishing builds once I’ve had time to test out the changes. The comsetic and timing changes to the abilities will be welcome sights –  I’m glad they fixed the delay issue with Mortar Volley.

As always stay frosty, and my the force be with you!


Heavy Damage: Tanking Athiss

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line.

Time for Part Three of my Flashpoint saga – this time covering The Athiss.

The Athiss is recommended for level 21 players and is open to both the Republic and Empire. The Flashpoint begins on the planet’s surface at a small shuttle. As you move you’ll encounter several droids and a console for a lift that will take you to the next stage of the map, but the console requires a Slicing skill of 80 to use. If the console cannot be accessed by your party, you will have to jump down the shaft (the party will suffer moderate damage). If a Scavenger is present in the party, you’ll be able to activate a droid to help with combat.

The first boss in this Flashpoint is Professor Ley’arsha, the second is The Beast of Vodal Kressh, and the final boss is The Prophet of Vodal. Along with those bosses, this Flashpoint contains several Temple Guardians and Temple Disciples, These are champion level mobs spread throughout the temple after the second boss on the way to the third. Alone, these mobs aren’t hard to handle, but if a stray or wandering one is aggroed (especially if it’s a combo of Disciple and Guardian) they turn into a different beast, and are quite hard to handle.


Professor Ley’arsha

The Professor is a pretty easy boss – she has three abilities she uses. A frontal cone attack, easily countered by facing her away from the group (this should be standard practice for every Tank when in action). Her second ability is an AoE, indicated by a large purple reticule easily avoidable by just moving out of the way. Her third ability is adds, which usually charge for the healer so let the DPS burn them down while you maintain aggro on the Professor.

The Beast of Vodal Kressh 

The Beast is a very traditional spank and tank. The Beast has two abilities. The first is a frontal knock back ability – this can be countered by standing close to the temple entrance against the wall. Have the DPS and Healer stand to the back and do their thing. The knockback is dangerous because it can knock you off the ledge on the left side of the boss and possibly out of healing range. The Beast’s second ability is adds that periodically spawn and should be burned down by the DPS. The Beast itself doesn’t do a lot of damage but has a ton of health and is more difficult than the Professor.

The Prophet of Vodal

The Prophet will be the most difficult boss you have fought yet. He has a large health pool( 60k) and he also has several abilities and fight mechanics that make him even more dangerous. Every time the party takes 20 percent of the Prophet’s health he will vanish and mark a random player with Soul Rend debuff. After the prophet has vanished  four flames will appear and attack whoever has the debuff. The flames cannot be killed but they will disappear after several seconds, so whoever has the debuff just kite the flames till they dissapear. They are VERY dangerous and even though they target a random player in the three or four times I’ve ran this I haven’t been targeted yet. Although I have no evidence for this theory I believe it has something to do with your Armor rating.

The Prophet’s second ability triggers every 15 seconds and is a DoT (Damage over Time) ability called Crushing Affliction that is cast on a random player in the party. Crushing affliction does severe damage every five seconds and when it ends it detonates for AoE damage. Crushing Affliction should be healed through if you don’t have someone who can dispel in your party – the easiest way to see who has the DoT is a green debuff icon on the party frames. The Prophet is such a hard boss because of all the non-Tankable damage. This fight requires a healer who can think on their feet and know what they are doing.

As always, stay frosty and may the Force be with you.

Heavy Damage: Tanking Hammer Station

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line.

This week I will tell you how to keep you and your team alive while on Hammer Station. My guides may be focused on tanks, but it doesn’t hurt for you healers and damage dealers to take a look at what your tank has to handle.

Hammer Station is suggested for Level 16 players. A full group is needed until about level 22 or so when two people can run it with companions. Hammer Station is available to both Empire and Republic players.


Expansion Excavation

The Flashpoint starts out in the Expansion Excavation area.  The boss for this area of the map is a very large droid named DN-314 Tunneler. In this area if you or one of your teammates have a high enough slicing skill, you can activate a drill about halfway through the area to bypass some trash mobs and head straight to the boss fight. The drill is located in a dead-end room about halfway through the Expansion Excavation area. After the boss battle with DN-314, the group will be given a Lightside/Darkside option, and the choice will determine how you proceed to the second area, the Security Wing.

Security Wing

After your Darkside/Lightside choice you will enter the Security Wing area. The boss in the Security Wing is Vorgan the Volcano, Vorgan is accompanied by two adds, Sawbone (Heals) and Torch (Damage).

After the boss battle you’ll come to a bridge – when you encounter this bridge remember that Blue is good and Red is bad. If you try to cross while the bridge is red you’ll fall to your death, so wait for the colour change – it doesn’t stay blue long so don’t linger.

Section Zero

In Section Zero you will encounter your final boss, Battlelord Kreshan who is accompanied by 3-4 enemies summoned throughout the fight.


DN-314 Tunneler

The best plan of attack on this boss is damage – kill the Tunneler as fast as possible. DN-314 will periodically spawn floating droids that explode when in proximity of a player. AoE attacks can cause them to explode out of their damage radius. If the group had a splicer and your group took the alternate route, your healer and ranged dps (if available) can stand on some crates to help avoid the adds damage. DN-314’s second ability is a laser beam that targets a random player in the party – make sure the healer is switching between the targeted players as the laser beam does quite a bit of damage. If using the second strategy, make sure you stay within range of heals while tanking DN-314.

Vorgan the Volcano

Set markers on the three enemies in front of you: Sawbones, Torch, and Vorgan. That order should be your kill order. If you can kill both the lieutenants simultaneously, then that’s also a great strategy – just make sure you don’t lose Vorgan’s Aggro.

Battlelord Kreshan

Kreshan is the final and most difficult boss, fielding four abilities.

Frontal Blaster Spray – A cone AoE attack that is actually easily avoided if while tanking you keep his back to your party.

Bomb – this is also avoidable as it’s marked by a large red reticule on the ground. Move out of it and suffer no damage.

Knockback –  Knockback is more dangerous to Tanks than anyone else. If you don’t watch where you are standing, it can knock you off the platform to your death. Keep Kreashan in the middle of the room facing away from your healer and you’ll be fine.

Adds – Kreshan also calls upon adds periodically,  the best plan of attack is to bunch up and AoE / burn down the adds.


This has been a guide to Hammer Station for tanks, by a Tank.( Healers and Damage Dealers are welcome to its wisdom too!)

As Always Stay Frosty and May the Force be with you!

Heavy Damage: Tanking The Esseles

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line.

The Esseles is the first flashpoint you encounter after leaving your starting planet. Upon entering The Esseles you’ll meet Ambassador Assara in disguise as a common ship passenger – an Explosion rocks the ship and you rush off to see what can be done. The explosion was caused by the Imperials, demanding that Ambassador Assara be turned over. You refuse and this is where the fun begins.

As you leave the command deck heading for the docking bay, you’ll run into some standard and gold mobs, with a group of four they should be no trouble. As you arrive at your destination you find a Mon Cal issuing orders to a squad of Republic troopers, when the blast door is blown open and the first Boss of The Esseles comes running in. Lieutenant Isric is a level 10 boss and he spawns trash mobs that tend to attack the healer so be ready to burn them down. Isric has a cone AoE blaster attack and a knock down ability so be ready for it.

After your defeat of Isric you head back to the Command deck that has been captured by Mandalorian mercenaries. Their leader is known as Iron Fist and will be your second boss encounter. Before you can fight Iron Fist you must first unlock the blast door. To unlock the doors you are faced with the option of sacrificing the crew or taking the long road and manually resetting the reactors.  This is your first Lightside or Darkside choice of the Flashpoint. Sacrificing the crew grants 150 Darkside points, and manually resetting the conduits, 150 Lightside points. Taking the Lightside option also grants you the chance to get a chest – it’s sitting behind the middle conduit.

After your decision with the engineering crew, you’re ready to fight Iron Fist. Like Isric, Iron Fist will spawn adds throughout the encounter. The best way to handle Iron Fist is to tank him, let your damage dealers burn the adds, and once the adds are down everyone gang up on Iron Fist. Iron Fist has three abilities that he’ll use during the fight: a Rocket Punch used as a gap closer, an AoE knock back, and Missile Salvo, which launches rockets onto a blue reticle (this can be avoided so try to keep an eye out for the reticle and move.)

The next boss is a large Guardian Battledroid named ISS-7. This fight is a very simple tank and spank although he will occasionally drop aggro and pick up a new target. Just watch for this and you’ll be fine. Immediately after your fight with ISS-7 you’ll have the opportunity to fight another boss if you hit the switches on either side of the room. The second boss in this area is much tougher, named ISS-994 Power Droid and he’s a force to be reckoned with. Starting out, he’s your standard Tank and Spank encounter, but he’ll use an ability that causes him to turn purple and crackle with lightning, so start kiting him. His damage is highly buffed during this phase, but his speed is lowered. He will do a lot of damage if he gets a hold of you, so watch what your doing when he has the damage buff up.

The final boss of The Esseles is a Sith named Vokk. Vokk is hard to tank because he’ll use Saber Throw and Force Choke on a random party member , both of which are unblockable. His third ability is Lightning Storm, and can be avoided by staying away from the purple reticle it leaves on the ground before activation. He also possesses an AoE knock back, so watch for that. Vokk is difficult because he has a lot of non-tankable damage, so this is a boss where you need a decent healer to pull off.

After Vokk’s defeat you’ll be faced with your second Lightside/Darkside choice – leaving Assara behind. If she’s left you’ll gain 100 Darkside points and if not 100 Lightside.

The Esseles is not a hard Flashpoint with a full group of level 10 players. I will be doing all the Flashpoints in order of level (at least the order I tanked them in),  so if you have any input or suggestions about the Flashpoints, leave a comment and I’ll look into it!

As always Stay Frosty and may the Force be with you!

Heavy Damage: Tricks of the PvP Trade Part 3

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line. Part 1 of this PvP roundup covering Huttball can be found here and Part 2 (Voidstar) is here 

This is the final installment of my “Tricks of the PvP Trade” series. It will be covering the offensive and defensive tactics I find useful in Alderaan Civil War (ACW) Warzone. The ACW Warzone is a three point capture and hold game. The three turrets constantly fire on the opposing team’s drop ship. The key to victory is to hold two points long enough to bring down the enemy’s drop ship and end the match. The turrets are usually referred to as left, right, middle; East, West, Centre;  or snowy side, grass side, and middle.

As usual I’ll break the strategies down to main points of intrest, explaining the tactics I use to help get my team the win. The main thing that sets ACW apart from the other Warzones is that your team will be playing offense and defense almost simultaneously the entire match.

Basic Strategies

Capture the Flanks! – Capping the flanks is the best plan of attack, but for some reason it is constantly over looked. Everyone wants that middle turret. I can’t figure why anyone would rush the middle turret over the flanks for the simple reason of an almost instant travel to the outside turrets through the speeders your team unlocks once the position is capped. This allows your team to react to which ever side is being hit the hardest by simply spawning and speeding straight to the turret itself. The middle turret takes the most amount of time to reach, which means you’re adding time to the gap of getting killed to reinforcements arriving.

Incoming! – Let your team know what is going on as often as you can. Calling out the incoming enemies seems common sense, but you would be surprised how often people think “It’s only one guy” then two or three stealthers pop and it’s over before they have a chance to react. Like with any team based game, communication is key – keep your team informed and on their toes.

Strong Side! – When my guild (Kan Kop) runs these together we send three people to the left side (Near side flank) and everyone else rushes the right side (Far side flank). This is a pretty decent strategy and works out more often than not. Usually we have a couple of strays (non-guildies or non-group members) who don’t listen and rush middle – even then they work out as a great distraction to the opposing faction. As a Tank and Guild leader I usually volunteer to guard the near side and kind of traffic control. Once near side is capped we keep two on and I start announcing to assault far side. Once both flanks are capped it’s usually a cake walk – just watch what side needs the help and reinforce once re-spawned.

Tank & Heals – A great strategy for a Tank to use is to find a Healer to stick with you on the original capped turret, because once you have your strong side in motion a good team will see it and could start rushing your capped turret. A Healer and a Tank can hold a few people off easily long enough to get some reinforcements.

As a Tank I try to use my pushes, pulls etc to keep opposing players off the turret caps. As with the other Warzones, use your debilitating skills as often as possible.

Troopers: when there is a group of enemies, keep your Explosive Surge debuff on enemies to help lower damage output.

Guardians: Force Sweep to lower accuracy.

Shadows: throw your Breach for its debuff and don’t forget your stuns. Keep your Guard on an ally for those defender points. Also try to throw your taunts as often as possible – as a PvP Tank your  job is to keep the enemy’s damage output on your teammates to a minimum.

As always stay frosty, and keep your team alive

May the force be with you!





Heavy Damage: Tricks of the PvP Trade Part 2

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line. Part 1 of this PvP roundup covering Huttball can be found here.

This week I will be going over some strategies for the Voidstar Warzone. Voidstar  involves two teams, offensive and defensive, fighting to plant or defend from the planting of bombs on blast doors. There are three sets of doors, along with two consoles that shut down ray shielding, allowing access to the second and third door. As there are two different strategies for offense and defense, I will break each Tank’s role into each category.

On the Offensive!

General Strategies 

Strong siding – a great strategy if you’re a Tank or not. Have your whole team attack one door for the first minute or so – putting a lot of pressure on one side will weaken the other side, sometimes so much that no-one is even guarding it.  Strong side is a great strategy if you have some Stealthers to attack the weak side when it’s vulnerable.

Draw them out – Leading the defense away from the doors into the middle is a great way to slip some players past to arm the bombs, this can be done pretty easily by using your pulls and ranged attacks to bring them in to the range you want.

Call it out – let your team know when you’re planting so they can swarm and defend your plant.

Advanced  Class Strategies

Vanguard – I use my Vanguard on the offensive like a walking damage reducer. Explosive Surge and Ion Pulse are used as often as I can to lower every enemy target’s damage output. When assaulting the doors I usually use my Guard ability on a Sentinel or Scoundrel, because they’re going to be putting out a lot of damage but are very squishy and go down fast. Keeping your damage dealers alive helps a lot on the offensive. Mortar Volley is key when getting those pesky bomb planters interrupted, it is also very useful when a fellow tank has several enemies grouped around him. Harpoon is also a great PvP utility skill, use it to pull attackers off of healers or damage dealers – it is also great when rooted to bring those Sorcerers close enough to Rifle Stock and Gut.

Shadow – I use my Shadow as a stealth planter. I have my team assault one  door then I sneak off and plant a bomb. Shadows are also, in my opinion, the best for defending a bomb planter. When your teammate is planting a bomb, watch his back and if anyone starts getting close use Force Wave to send them flying. If it’s a ranged class, hit them with one of your stuns. Force Wave is also very useful on the bridge before the second set of doors – if any defenders are foolish enough to venture that far out, use it to blast them off the bridge for a quick kill or two. Force Speed is very useful after the second doors have been breached – I use it to get to the farthest console and shut down those ray shields.

Guardian – The Guardian does well at defending the bomb planters with his own set of skills. Saber Throw is great to get a quick hit on someone that’s trying to defuse a planted bomb. Force Sweep (when properly specced in the talent tree) is great for lowering your opponent’s accuracy, effectively lowering their damage output.  Force Push is a great ability to keep people off the bomb planter, and pushing them off the bridge before the second set of doors.

Guard it with your life!

General Strategies

Spread evenly – never leave one side unguarded, always have at least two people guarding a door, even if the other team is strong siding hard. Keep a tank and a healer on the other door. A Tank and a damage dealer works well too, but having a healer insures you’ll stay on your feet long enough to get reinforcements.

Stick close – don’t let the attacking team control where the fight takes place, stick close to the doors and pull them in with Harpoon, Force Pull, etc.

Call it out – Just like on Defense, let your team know what’s going on. Communication is a key to victory.

Advanced Class Strategies

Vanguard – When playing defense I use a very similar strategy as I do when playing offense. Ion Pulse is still used to lower opponent damage. Explosive surge is great for interrupting the bomb planters – if you don’t have time to get close up, use your Mortar Volley. Usually when assaulting I guard a healer and ask him to stick close. Having a healer to keep you standing in Voidstar can help you rack up some serious medals and defend from bomb plants. Harpoon is great on the defensive to pull enemies off a door they are trying to plant the bomb on. Don’t forget to throw those Cryo Grenades on enemies who are attacking your Guard target.

Shadow – When defending with my Shadow I use my Force Breach and Force Wave to interrupt any would be bomb planters. As with the Vanguard I recommend placing Guard on a Healer and asking them to stick close. Force Pull is great for getting enemies off the doors. Again, when assaulting the second doors keep watch for the opportunity to Force Wave opponents off that bridge. Don’t forget all the utilities this class has like its stuns and slows, they’re invaluable in slowing the enemies assault.

Guardian – The Guardian plays its defensive game a lot like the Vanguard does – very close to the offensive game with a few slight change ups in strategy. Saber Throw is now used as an interrupt for bomb planters. Force Sweep is another great ability to break a bomb planter off the door. Force Push is great for setting up Force Leap, or getting planters off the door. As with the other two classes, I suggest guarding a Healer. Force Leap is a great skill in PvP or PvE and I find myself using it a lot to close distance and throw a Taunt on enemy players. Challenging Call is another great ability for lowering the enemy team’s damage output.


Remember if you’re really wanting to get far in PvP, group up or guild up. Also when in the Warzones your Taunts are extremely useful to your teammates to lower damage output, so don’t be afraid to toss them out as soon as they’re off cool down.

As always, keep your team alive and stay frosty.

May the Force be with you!

Heavy Damage: Tricks of the PvP Trade Part 1

Heavy Damage is our weekly Tanking column – if you have suggestions of what you’d like covered, drop our resident Tank, Alec Bailey a line

This week we are going to be looking into PvP specific skills and abilities – what you should be keeping up and using on enemies. I’ll start with Huttball, then in the following weeks I’ll talk about Voidstar, and Alderaan Civil War (ACW).

Huttball is a PvP game that involves taking a ball from the middle of the arena to the opposing team’s spawn point. The premise of the game sounds much easier in theory than it is in practice. Aside from players that are trying to bring you down, you must deal with a varity of traps, such as acid pits, fire hazards and air vents that push you into the sky. The key part of Huttball is team work – I’ve found there are two optimal ways to score in Huttball – passing and protecting. The first option is a bit harder in a PUG. Passing doesn’t only apply to tanks – this strategy can be used by any combination of players. The latter of the choices, protection, is where your Tank abilities come into play. My usual strategy is once the match has started and everyone is waiting for the shield doors to drop so they can rush the ball’s spawn, I ask who’s a healer and who wants to carry the ball. Once this is decided, throw your “Guard” or “Protect” shielding ability on the ball carrier. The Healer will spot heal you and keep the carrier alive –  it helps if the healer is a Sage or if you’re Tanking as a Shadow because their knock-back ability is amazing for keeping melee players off the carrier. Here’s some other advice based on class:

Shadow – Use your knock-back and slows as much as possible to keep enemies off the ball carrier. Also throw out mind crush on any stealthers you see to keep them visible. And don’t forget your stuns. Once your character is a high level you’ll get Force Pull which is great for pulling enemies into traps.

Vanguard – use your Ion Pulse and Explosive surge as often as you can without completely depleting your ammo. These two skills lower the damage output of enemies so they help you and the carrier stay alive. Harpoon is used as a pull to either get a player off of a Healer or carrier, or for pulling enemies into traps.

Guardian – Force Sweep is key when guarding a carrier, does decent damage and it’s AoE, so you can damage more people also lowering their accuracy by five percent for 18 seconds. Sundering Strike should also be used everytime it’s available as it weakens an enemy’s armour, allowing your team’s DPS to burn them down at a faster pace. Guardian also has a bit of an advantage to guarding in its ability to Force Leap to enemies that are attacking the carrier. This is very useful because your Guard ability only works within a 15 metre range, and since it’s a PvP match you WILL be getting stunned and slowed. It’s helpful to be able to take out a pursuer then leap back to guarding the carrier. At high levels you’ll also get Force Push, a very deadly combination if you’re pushing and leaping to the same target – or to push attackers off ledges or into traps. Saber Throw is also a great ability to keep the ranged players on their feet and focused on you.

Overall, as a Tank you also need to remember to use all the tools at your disposal, your self shielding abilities like Saber Ward and the like should be used anytime your health is dropping steadily. Also, Taunts are extremely helpful – taunt everyone you can. Every time it’s off cooldown, select someone attacking you, the carrier or your healer and put a taunt on them.

The best strategy in PvP is to be prepared if you’re wanting to be serious and grind out some PvP games. Search for a group on the fleet and lay out a plan of attack before you enter the Warzone, or find yourself a guild that does a lot of Warzone games.  Remember, Tanks, keep your team alive and stay frosty.

May the Force be with you!


Heavy Damage: What’s your poison?

Now that I have reviewed all three Tank specs, I’ll be pitting them against each other to decide what Tank is the “best” for certain situations. I have played all three tank classes to 25. From my experience I would have to say for any situation, the best all-round Tank is going to be the Vanguard.

The Vanguard has very good mitigation and is very versatile – I love its ability to go from ranged to melee in its Tanking. Even though most of its hard tanking mechanics are up close (about 4-10 metres) it still has a wide array of damage abilities that can be used from afar. One such ability is Mortar – it is devastating to trash mobs and is a great opener (before you get Storm as a distance closer) to generate some decent threat on a harder mob. I use Mortar for clearing the way of those trash mobs that like to block paths to quest objectives.

The Vanguard does have some pitfalls – I’m not a huge fan of the “Ammo” pacing mechanic. I find it’s much easier to run out of Ammo than it is to run out of Focus on my Guardian. The other thing that the Vanguard is missing is an early-level closing ability. By closing ability I’m referring to an ability that closes the distance between you and your target – it could also be called an opener.

Some people might think I’m contradicting myself because a bit higher in this article I spoke of how the Vanguard was great at range, well he is, but when your group is needing a Tank like a Wookiee needs a comb, the Vanguard has to be up close and personal.

The Shadow has my vote for second best tank on the grounds that it’s probably the most versatile tank I’ve ever got to play, not to mention it’s up there in the fun factor. Having stealth on a tank doesn’t seem like a big deal, other than when you don’t feel like fighting a bunch of trash mobs on your way to an objective. Stealth in PvP is an entirely different beast altogether.  On the Alderaan Warzone it’s very useful for stealthing and capping the turrets. On HuttBall your force sprint is great. In Voidstar it’s a decent ability to pop off when playing offense to plant the bomb, if your team can distract the opposing force on the other side.

The cons on the Shadow are few but pretty big from my point of view. Being another mitigation Tank, they have substantially lower armor than the Guardian and Vanguard. The Shadow doesn’t have a distance closer other than Force Speed which only gets you close – it adds no hate or damage. Project isn’t bad but it’s no Mortar or Force leap.

The Guardian is your standard melee tank. Good mitigation and threat on a single target, and has probably the best opener of the three: Force Leap. Once you obtain Force Push, the combo of the two is extremely effective in both PvE and PvP. Another great attribute of the Guardian is that they can go from Tank to DPS with the click of a button. Switching stances can take you from a tank to an off-Tank DPS . The Guardian is also the class I recommend for any beginner Tanks, for the simple fact that it’s your most traditional tank, doesn’t involve all the focus and involvement that a Shadow does, and its ability to be a damage dealer with relative ease compared to the Vanguard. Riposte is a really big part of Guardian tanking after you start in the Tank tree of the Guardian Advanced Class, as it gives you a defensive buff that helps a lot.

One big thing about Tanking in SWTOR that you’ll have to learn (or if you’ve played other MMO’s, forget) is that DPS players are responsible for the adds and trash mobs. Your focus is the big guys. Hold their hate and keep their focus. As long as your team knows that the DPS players should be picking up the adds and burning them down, you’ll stay alive and be able to keep your team alive. In PvP, make sure you have Guard on the Huttball runner, and Guard on any healer you can talk into healing you during the Warzone.



Heavy Damage: Jedi Shadow overview

This week we’ve got the Jedi Shadow, Kinetic Combat specced Tank. The Jedi Shadow uses the Force as its pacing mechanic, starting with a constant 100. I find that the Shadow pacing mechanic is easier to maintain than the Jedi Guardian or the Trooper Vanguard.

From a glance, the Jedi Shadow with its light armor and stealth looks like it should be a Avoidance tank, but it’s actually a third mitigation tank, although its armor rating isn’t as high as the Vanguard or Guardian. It has some tools that help even up the playing field. One thing that I feel helps make up for its lower armor class is the ability to mitigate more elemental and internal damage such as bleeds and fire. The ability to do this may not seem like a lot but for a Tank, damage that bypasses your armor can be extra deadly and the Shadow is more resilient to these type of abilities.

The Jedi Shadow has a lot of builds and rotations that can be used for everything from AoE add tanking (probably the Shadow’s true weak point) to single target raid tanking, and even PvP Tanking.

The two main builds for the Shadow tank are the 31/0/10 single target Tank and the 25/0/16 AoE Tank.

My Shadow follows the 31/0/10 build and does very well at tanking single mobs and even up to two or three mobs.

A good rotation for your single target 31/0/10 build is going to be:

1) Kinetic Ward with no current charges up – Kinetic Ward is off the GCD.

2) Force Breach if debuff is not applied or debuff time < 1.5 sec

3) Slow Time if debuff is not applied or debuff time < 1.5 sec

4) Telekinetic Throw with 3 stacks of Harnessed Shadows

5) Project if Particle Acceleration is up

6) Double Strike

7) Saber Strike if you are out of energy, or need energy to refresh an upcoming debuff

and then for AoE with the 31/0/10 build:

1) Kinetic Ward with no current charges up – Kinetic Ward is off the GCD.

2) Slow Time

3) Force Breach

4) Whirling Blow

5) Saber Strike if you are out of energy

Single Target for the 25/0/16: 

1)Kinetic Ward with no current charges up – Kinetic Ward is off the GCD

2) Force Breach if debuff is not applied or debuff time < 1.5 sec

3) Project if Particle Acceleration is up

4) Mind Crush if DoT is not applied

5) Double Strike

6) Saber Strike if you are out of energy, or need energy to refresh an upcoming debuff

AoE with the 25/0/16:

1)Kinetic Ward with no current charges up – Kinetic Ward is off the GCD

2) Force in Balance

3) Force Breach

4) Whirling Blow

5) Mind Crush if you are out of energy

6) Saber Strike if you are out of energy

The Jedi Shadow can be just as effective as any other tank as long as you keep your head in the game. This Tank is very involved in lots of re-applying buffs and watching debuffs applied, but it’s also very fun for the same reasons.

May the Force be with you.


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?


Heavy Damage: Jedi Guardian overview

It’s a week of column launches and the next cab off the rank is Heavy Damage, devoted to everything tanking. Our own Alec Bailey will bring you tips. guides and strategies for what’s arguably one of the hardest roles in any Operation. First up, and overview of the Jedi Guardian.

Hi folks, it’s your resident tank expert, Alec. And I don’t mean those big metal war machines with a howitzer and tracks, I mean a MMO tank. Tanks come in several varieties and flavors. Such as: melee tanks, ranged tanks, mitigation tanks, and avoidance tanks.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has three paths a tank can pick from. First there is Jedi Guardian, a traditional melee tank relying on mitigation from heavy armor and shield generators. Next we have the Trooper Vanguard which is a ranged mitigation tank wearing heavy armor and using shield generators. The third choice is the Jedi Shadow, a melee and semi-ranged, force-using tank that wears light armor and shield generators. Most people who know anything about tanking would look at the Shadow and think that it was a avoidance tank. It’s not. It’s also a mitigation tank using “Techniques” or “Stances” to raise its armor rating to be on par with the Trooper and Guardian.

Today I will be going into detail on the Jedi Knight’s tanking advanced class, the Guardian, talking about what to expect and even a little theory-crafting on some builds I’ve made, and some made by fellow tanks.

The Jedi Knight will start his journey on Tython as a damage dealer. All early characters( pre-advanced class) will be damage dealers. At level 10 or when you complete your starter world storyline, you will have the chance to go to the Republic Fleet. This is the place where you pick your advanced class. Now that you’re a Guardian you’re going to need to get some heavy armor and a shield generator. Heavy armor can be bought at vendors on the Republic Fleet or on the Galactic Market. Your first shield generator you’ll get for free when you pick the Guardian AC.

Tanking with a Guardian is fun and a bit challenging. They have a lot of abilities you will use, so get used to a full quickbar. After you have your advanced class, you’ll be able to put points into three trees, or paths that a Guardian can take. The three trees are Defense, Focus, and Vigilance. Now don’t let the names fool you – Defense is the tank tree, but Vigilance has a lot of great tanking abilities and bonuses.

Jedi Guardians use “Focus” to fuel or use their abilities. Some abilities use focus, some grant focus, and a few are free (meaning they use no focus). For example, Sundering Strike can be upgraded to have a 100% chance to build one focus as well as lowering the target’s armor five percent. It can be stacked up to five times making it a great ability to build focus and debuff an enemy. Sundering Strike can also be upgraded to apply the sunder debuff twice per activation, furthering it’s usefulness.

The build that I am currently leveling on my Guardian was created by SWTOR forum member Seraphimm. Seraphimm’s build is very close to what I had already planned on rolling but, with more talents in the Vigilance tree than I originally planned, so far it is working out great. Here’s a link to the build.

His build has more points in the Vigilance tree than the Defense tree. If you read the abilities and perks the Vigilance tree is excellent for a Guardian path. Here’s the rotation  Serphimm listed in case you’re using his build or a similar one.

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.”


Here’s a couple other builds I’ve found that are popular:

Guardian Defender submitted by Firean1

Ckren’s Accuracy Build submitted by ByroGyro

This is a great guide for anyone who wants to be a Jedi Guardian:

Seraphimm’s Guide to Guardian Tanking

 Over to you: are you levelling a Guardian, and if so, what’s working for you?