The Assassin Tank

This is a guest post from Xterminatz over at Xterminatz Gaming. Enjoy!

Ever since SWTOR has been released I’ve been playing multiple roles and characters at the high end-game level. My primary role is Ranged DPS on my Sith Sorceror however I do play other roles such as Assassin Tank and Bounty Hunter Healer during the alt/casual runs to give other non-hardcore players opportunity to see end-game.

Midian was in the race for Warlord Kephess Oceanic First kill several weeks ago however we choked horribly to say the least and there was some major changes that needed to happen if the guild was going to stay together especially with Diablo 3 coming soon.

Prior to last week we had a good few weeks of wiping on Warlord Kephess and being the GM sitting in a leadership role you can’t help but feel that It’s your fault the guild is not progressing as well as the amount of responsibility that’s on your shoulders as a leader.

You ask yourself how do I fix this?

We killed Colonel Vorgath before the 01/05 reset and had at least a few attempts on Kephess, but the problem didn’t start happening until 03/05 and from there it was just constant wipes. The raid would progress and manage to get to the transition phase at 58% majority of the time but once below that all hell broke loose.

Once you pass the transition phase sucessfully and you reach below 58% It’s no longer the “main” responsibility of the DPS or Healers for what happens next. Watching other videos and guilds killing on live stream the tanks play the vital role in the end it all comes down to positioning, timing and kiting Kephess correctly with the final mechanics of the fight and this is what we struggled with.

After watching our tanks a few times it was clear that they didn’t have a real understanding of how these mechanics worked or what exactly they had to do for the final phase, we had them watch multiple videos and we discussed endlessly the different ways to approach it but none of them worked.

What to do now?

So after 6 raiding nights of wiping as the GM and the leader I made the decision to stop 16HM raiding on Sunday 13/05 as players started to burn out and people just didn’t want to turn up for progression anymore. From a DPS/Healer point of view you can point the finger endlessly at the tank but until you’re actually playing a tank you don’t understand what’s happening in the raid.

The following night Monday 14/05 I decided we would do 8HM instead and bring our best players from the team, I also switched to play my assassin tank so I could feel and see what our tanks were doing, it allowed me to have a 1-to-1 perspective to see if it was the tanks having the problem or maybe just the strat we where using.

First problem; Positioning – After the transition phase we found that the positioning used for Kephess was slightly incorrect and we saw within a few attempts DPS/Heals would get gimped because Kephess or the raid was in the wrong spot and he would cleave (arcing slash) players.

When you enter Kephess room you’ll notice 3 doors/gates one to the left, one to the right facing Kephess and obviously the third is the one you entered the room via. We positioned Kephess at the right door/gate and had the raid DPS/Heals stack at the entry gate to maximize the distance for any possible issues we would encounter, we also had a specific tank on Kephess for the transition phase.

The offtank (myself) who was not tanking in the transition phase positioned himself at the boxes to the left entry door so that when Kephess finished the transition he would immediately taunt, then get knocked back to start dropping purple circles and the original tank would pickup again and continue tanking as normal.

We did this a few times and it worked great!

Second problem; Timing and Kiting – We found our first problem and fixed it relatively quickly however the second problem now boiled down to timing of the tanks taunting at the correct times for BoTM (Breathe of The Masters) and being able to kite Kephess without getting hit by him, or getting knocked into a purple circle which would result into the tank getting one shot.

The key to this problem was communicaion between the tanks which we previously never saw in any of our 16HM attempts and I think this is one of the major key points that turned it around for us. After deciding we would kite Kephess clockwise starting from the boxes it all boiled down to the tanks communicating with each other and letting one another know when to taunt (as a verbal warning) for BoTM.

I’ll admit that when I was kiting Kephess I made a few bad decisions with the kite path and got myself knocked into the purple circles, tanks for this phase will always need to be on the ball.

The end result – make or break?

With all phases now sorted out it came down to the entire raid perfecting the execution of the strat and this is pretty much where exceptional gamers are either made, or broken and I can happily say that with the amount of time and effort we’ve put into Warlord Kephess we killed him 8HM re-assuring our players for 16HM.

Here’s the live stream unedited 8HM kill:

Following the reset our 16HM raid visited Warlord Kephess on Wednesday 16/05. We used the exact same strat as our 8HM kill and with much suprised we managed to kill Kephess & clear Explosive Conflict within one raiding night. Unfortunately I don’t have video/fraps recorded from my POV however I plan to have a 1080p HD video up soon from my tanking perspective to help with other guilds.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article It’s not easy being a top raiding guild but I thought I would share my experience as this was the birth of The Assassin Tank for me.


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!