SWTOR Vanguard Shield Specialist 4.0 Tanking Guide by Yam’unun.
- 1 Intro to Shield Specialist Vanguard
- 1.1 Gearing and Stats
- 1.2 Utilities
- 2 Passives and Abilities
- 2.1 Overview
- 2.2 Passives
- 2.3 Abilities
- 3 Rotations and Priorities
- 4 Final Notes & Acknnowledgements
Intro to Shield Specialist Vanguard
“Storming to the front line with a powerful charge, the Shield Specialist Vanguard can withstand any incoming offensive. The Shield Specialist boldly takes the brunt of the attack while employing a wide range of tech-based attacks to gas, blast and jolt their enemies into oblivion..”
The Shield Specialist Discipline of the Vanguard AC is one of the 3 tank Disciplines in Swtor. While lacking the amount of cooldowns of a Juggernaut and the cheese of an Assassin, the VG makes up for it through powerful mitigation passives, mobility and the only tank to be able to sustain damage at a range when need be. This solid tank is more than capable of clearing any content at the highest level.
Gearing and Stats
I’m going to be upfront and tell you I am not a theorycrafter or number cruncher (Maths are hard XD). While there is some common ground on gearing (use tank gear not dps one) there is a bit of leeway on gearing and stats as I will outline below along with what has personally worked for me.
What You Need
- Set Bonus: 224 Supercommando Armorings
- Barrel: 224 Resistive Barrel
- Mods: Warding Mods (Defense)
- Enhancements: Either Shield or Absorb for your Stat Budget
- Earpiece and Implants: Same as Enhancements (Shield or Absorb)
- Stim: Fortitude Stim
- Stance: Ion Cell
Set Bonus: Supercommando (224)
- 2 Piece: 2% Damage Reduction when Energy blast is activated
- 4 Piece: Activating Shockstrike Reduces CD of Taunt and AoE taunt by 2 seconds
- 6 Piece:Increases Duration of Riot Gas by 3 Seconds and Reactive Shield by 4 Seconds
Stats and Gearing Methods
Now the above list was intentionally vague as due to the changes in 4.0 with how tanks gear there is argument over what is “best”. Now I will not say there is only one way and if you don’t follow it you will never clear anything as you might expect from a guide :P. As long as you gear have proper item level, no fight will really come down to how min maxed you did your tank. Unless you forgot to budget a stat entirely or forgot to put your gear on (Hey it happens :D)
That said here are some generally agreed upon ranges of stats people use
For VG Shield>Absorb>Defense
I leave out defense as the amount of defense from mods is far over the limit needed. Now comes for my favorite topic (Kappa).
Mitigation Build vs Higher HP Build
For those unaware but not to dig to deep, Pure Mitigation is just using all tank stuff from the token vendor unlettered. Higher HP build whereby mostly defense is traded for HP is gained through any combination of B Mods, Vendor or Mk-2 tank enhancements, vendor or mk-2 (non crafted) tank implants and earpieces and either Mk-26 tank relics or DPS relics because they have HP. I have read arguments on either side and in the end personally believe neither will make nor break a tank as both types have been used for clearing NiM in 4.0.
That said I personally lean towards more HP for my builds to counter spikes since it’s mostly trading defense for HP and many spike attacks aren’t countered by defense. Unfortunately BW has decided that 224 gear is only unlettered so you will have to go with 220 Mods and Enhancements for HP. So for those who want to see how I gear:
- Enhancements: Advanced Bastion 43 Enhancement x4, Advanced Bulwark 43 Enhancement x3 (220)
- Mods: Advanced Warding Mod 43B x9 (220)
- Earpiece: Exarch Bastion Mk-2 (220)
- Implants: Exarch Bulwark Mk-2 x2 (220)
- Relics: Ultimate Exarch Reactive Warding and Shield Amplification (224)
- Augments: Advanced Shield Augment 40 x 11, Advanced Absorb Augment 40 x 3
- Shield: 1691
- Absorb: 1019
- Defense: 2162
- HP: 81842
Outlined below are the utilities I find useful in a raid environment.
- Battlefield Training: Increases movement speed by 15% (Speed is always good)
- Reflective Armor: When Into the Fray is activated it deals x amount damage to enemies within 10m. (Free Damage, more damage equal boss dies faster :D)
- Iron Will: Decreases CD of Hold the Line by 10 seconds and Determination by 30 Seconds (CC Breaker).
- Muzzle Augs: Increases Ion Pulse by 2 meters and Explosive Surge radius by 1 meter.
- Sonic Rebounder: Allies within range of AoE taunt are granted one reflect of direct damage back to the enemy. (Ability to prevent damage and dish it out, yes please :D)
- Advance the Line: Increases Duration of Hold the Line by 4 Seconds.
- Electro Shield: Causes x amount of direct damage back to the enemy when Energy Shield is active.
- Guard Cannon: SC Missile Heals for 3% of Health per missile (Nerfed recently from 5% but still better than most of the other utilities save in specific circumstances)
- Charge the Line: Increases Speed of Hold the line by 45% (More Speed :D)
Passives and Abilities
Listed below are a general outline of a VG Tank’s abilities and passives.
The strengths of VG tanking lies in its passives abilities and heavy armor along with its ability to dish out damage from range. With this in mind VG tanking is all about keeping up your passives which luckily is quite easy to do if you use your abilities right.
With Ion Cell Stance your Armor, Shield, Absorb, Damage Reduction and Accuracy (you have full accuracy while in tank stance) are increased while your damage is decreased. When using it has a chance to deal extra energy damage when you use an attack.
The core element of VG tanking is maintaining its passive stacks of Power Screens and Shield Enhancers. When you reach 3 Stacks of Power Screens Energy Blast will become available to use, significantly increases your absorption by 25%. Building stacks of Power Screens which increase your Absorb revolve around shielding an attack and proc’ing your Ion Cell through attacks particularly High Impact Bolt and Shockstrike. These last two abilities are used to build your Shield Enhancers which increase your Shield.
|Ion Storm (IS): 10 meter conal attack and hardest hitting attack. 1.5 second channel with Ion Engine and causes targets to become Impaired reducing their F/T attack damage of enemy by 5%|
|High Impact Bolt (HIB): Ignores 60% of armor and with Ion Cell and can cause damage to multiple targets. Builds Energy Screens. Use on CD|
|Shoulder Cannon (SC): Loads 4 missiles to be used off GCD 1 every 1.5 seconds and goes on CD for 1.5 minutes. With heal utility can provide a now small heal but should not be delayed as very useful in building threat and doing damage.|
|Stockstrike (SS): Builds Energy Screens and hard hitting attack. Use on CD.|
|Energy Blast (EB): Uses Energy Screens to boast absorb by 25% for 6 seconds. Should be used on CD unless saving for a major hit.|
|Ion Pulse (IP): Main filler and causes Enemies affected to be Weakened and do 5% less M/R Damage as well as Trauma.|
|Hammer Shots (HS): Secondary filler as it costs no energy|
|Sticky Grenade (SG): AOE does moderate damage|
|Mortar Volley (MV): AOE does heavy damage|
|Explosive Surge (ES): Filler AOE and does moderate amount of damage|
|Harpoon: Pulls Enemy towards you if capable and/or generates a lot of threat.|
|Storm: Gap Closer and provides 2 free FP or FS.|
|Neural Surge: AoE Hard Stun|
|Cryo Grenade: Single target hard stun|
|Riot Gas: Covers surrounding area in gas and for 15 seconds (18 with 6 piece) enemies with riot gas are slowed 70% and M/R accuracy reduced by 30% and can act as a raid utility if you aren’t tanking or there is M/R Dmg going out to raid.|
|Battle Focus: Increases Crit Chance and more importantly gives you 35% defense chance for duration. With RG and built in defense this can give you a very powerful cooldown.|
|Reactive Shield: 15 seconds (19 with 6 piece) you take 25% less damage from incoming attacks.|
|Adrenaline Rush: When activated it goes on stand by for 1 minute. During that time when health dips below 40% it will heal you up to 35% and if above 40% heal for 2% of total health.|
|Hold the Line: Increases movement speed by 30% (45% with utility) and grants immunity to physics and movement impairment for 6 (10 with utility) seconds.|
|Recharge Cells: Recharges Cell by 50 Energy.|
|Reserve Cell: Makes next attack cost no Energy.|
Rotations and Priorities
A Standard “Opener” (Will Vary):
Preload SC–>Grapple–>Storm–>SS and SC Spam–>HiB–>IS or EB –>IP or IS–>SS or IP–> EB or IP–> Taunt and IP–>SS/HiB—>IS–> AOE Taunt->…… Priority
1) EB (Heat Blast)
2) SC (Shoulder Cannon) (off GCD)
3) SS (Shockstrike)
4)HiB (High Impact Bolt)
5) IS (Ion Storm) (with Ion Engine)
6) IP (Ion Pulse)
A few notes about VG tanking rotation. First Grapple had its threat greatly increased making it near equivalent to the Shadow force pull. 15k threat of the bat is pretty nice. With Storm you get the free 2 Ion Pulses. Right away you want to build your Power Screens and Energy Shields. Now depending in a real fight if you have gotten a third screen or not use Energy Blast. If not use Ion Storm to put the F/T debuff on the target and deal serious damage. During this time you want to use your shoulder cannon since it’s off the GCD and adds to your threat generation and skills.
If the boss does no or little M/R dmg during at least the first two minutes you can use Battle Foucs as an Offensive cooldown instead. Since raid buffs go out at the beginning you can grab a metric poop ton of threat. After first EB use your taunt then IP to get that M/R debuff up then just go from their. Procs are mostly dependent on shielding attacks so see it as priority not static. And here and there rapid shot for heat management as it can build fast even with Reserve Cell and Recharge Cell.
Advice on Tanking in General
Tanking is one of the three trinity types found in Swtor and when it comes to defining clear goals and what constitutes good or even great tanking is harder to quantify than DPS or Heals. That said there are some core keys to being a great tank in Swtor able to tank any boss. I’ll outline them below
1. Global Rule aka No one is perfect- You will make mistakes and you must own up to them. This is key for any role but particularly for tanks. No matter how good you are you will make mistakes because no one is perfect. The key is to learn from them and admit them while at the same time focus on how to do better rather than you made a mistake.
2. Generate all the threats– Keeping threat is highest priority and use both taunts. This is primary goal of tanking as the boss is hitting you instead of a DPS or Heals. Unless a boss has an aggro drop mechanic or you aren’t currently tanking boss use your taunts on CD. Saving them means you’re letting threat go to waste and with Set bonus your taunts will be back up in no time
3. Go Ham on the boss: Every extra dps counts on the boss; the more you do the less DPS have to burn. Particularly true in NiM, tank DPS can help shave off a good number. Tanks can push over 2k in most set piece fights. Whether it’s doing over 400k+ on the Revan Core, shaving a few % off of Brontes, or preventing a third surging chain on Dread Guards, tank DPS does help. Which leads me to last rule
4. Never waste a GCD: Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do: Whether throwing in taunts for extra threat, spamming rapid shots when far away, or carbonizing some adds, every GCD can be filled with something. Unless Styrak is giving you the ole Choke’aroo Kappa. :3
Final Notes & Acknnowledgements
I like to thank everyone over the time playing in helping me. Thank you to <Origin> for putting up with my tanking on Impside and all the dank times. Special mention to Create, Var, Mal for being dank guild leaders. Jericho and Styrker for being best tank buddies as well as the rest of the team: Loak, Pat, Narsh, and Adorable as well as Deatch. Thanks for hosting this guide and thanks to all readers. If you have any questions/rants/memes or just want to flame me can leave me a comment here, ingame or at my email: [email protected] and try to get back to you. In cases of doubt, just remember to translocate your healers on CD and say weird crap when your raid leader is streaming and always make Dank Memes. :3
About the Author
I am Yam from Jedi Covenant since my first Powertech is name Yam’unun after hitting the on the character creation screen. I have mained a Powertech tank since 3.0 and getting to know all the ins and outs raiding with several guilds on especially <Origin> which most recently I have raided with over a year clearing all 8m NiM content in 4.0 post Sniper/PT nerfs and 10/10 Rav/ToS HM. I also main the other 2 tank classes and have pub mirrors as well. I like this game, raiding and dank memes. You can watch me live at my Twitch YamSwtor and also can usually find me tanking on Roscoe2311 stream as well. ^^