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9:17 pm, February 22, 2014
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Guardian Tank: From Beginner to Master

0
Intro



This guide is meant to explain how to play a Guardian tank, with the main emphasis being on operation boss fights. While the information here will likely benefit you for leveling, doing flashpoints, and PvP, I dont participate in those activities anymore. Thus, I cant guarantee this will improve your performance in those areas.



The guide is split up into many different sections, each of which focuses on a different aspect of playing a Guardian tank. These are Spec, Gear, Single Target Opener, Single Target Rotation/Priority System, AoE (Area of Effect) Opener and Rotation, Defensive Cooldowns, and Utility. Furthermore, each of those sections is subdivided into three sub-sections depending on your level of experience/skill. This makes it easier for you to go to the appropriate area to focus on what you want to learn.



Start with the Beginner sub-sections if you are new to playing a Guardian tank (or tanking in general), go to the Advanced ones if an experienced player who is just looking for more knowledge and ways to improve, and eventually finish with the Master category if you want to play optimally or close to it. In general, everything is written on a need-to-know basis so Beginner sub-sections especially will omit a lot of explanations as you dont want to get overwhelmed with unnecessary information. The Advanced and Master ones are there to give you a deeper understanding.



It should be noted that while this guide can do a great deal to improve your understanding of Guardian tanking, the most important part is understanding the flow of the fights. What determines your success in operations is your knowledge of the fights, your understanding of your role/class, the skill/experience of your teammates, the skill/experience you have on your character, and lastly, your gear.



To be clear, you do need an appropriate set of gear for the operation you are trying to complete, especially if you are playing with a PUG (pick-up group). In a team with people you know and trust to play well, you can be well below the necessary gear requirements to succeed. Tanking is mostly about understanding what needs to be done and doing it, not about executing the best possible rotation or having the optimal gear setup.



As long as you can hold aggro within the first 30 seconds of the fight, use defensive cooldowns somewhat correctly even part of the time, and do the mechanics needed to beat the boss, you have done everything you *need* to do to win. Of course, there is a great deal more to playing a tank if you want to become good at it, but those are the necessities.



Spec



Your spec is how you distribute the talent points you get while leveling into the three skill trees of your class. There is little variation in the Guardian tanking spec as it ends up being 36/8/2, however, there are 2 points in the Defense tree and 2 in Vigilance can be moved around as desired.



Beginner



Spoiler

http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#10...rorzGzZcRMZb.3



This is the simplest option and when starting out, putting your 2 available points in the Defense tree into Battlefield Command is best to help with movement and will be the most forgiving for incorrect positioning.





Advanced



Spoiler



http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#10...rRrzGzZcRMZb.3



In this spec, you trade the 2 points in Battlefield Command for 2 into Jedi Warden to help with your rotation by decreasing the amount of filler. This also allows for more Force Pushes, which improves your DPS/threat and more opportunities to reset your Force Leap.







Master



Spoiler



http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#10...rorzGzZcRMZb.3



Once the priority system is understood very well, you can maximize the damage/threat out of Riposte with Guard and Thrust. This talent allows you to use Riposte every 1.5 seconds instead of 4.5, which adds a great deal of DPS/threat if used at the right time.



Depending on your preferences and the boss fight, you can adjust the spec to fit your needs/desires. The 2 points in Defense can be moved to Battlefield Command (for convenience or more interrupts), Expeditious Protector (assuming you have an ally that is being damaged regularly), or Jedi Warden.



The only other variation that is good is moving the 2 points from Perseverance to Accuracy. This gives you 94% Accuracy (along with the 1 from companion) that the other two tanks normally receive and is the best choice for fights where you want to minimize missing skills as much as possible (like Styrak NiM). Some players prefer 3 points in Accuracy over 1 and having 2 in Perseverance, however, I would recommend taking the latter. Perseverance is a guaranteed increase in mitigation (as higher Strength equals a stronger Blade Barrier) and DPS/threat while the boost in Accuracy is up to chance and isnt strong enough to make up for its lack of a consistency.





Gear



This is probably the most overrated aspect of playing a character in general, even more so for tanking. When it comes to being ready for operations, dont use more than say 10% of your total effort you put into your Guardian to figure out the best possible gear with what you have.



Beginner



Spoiler



All you need to know is that you want Defense, Shield, Absorb, Endurance, and/or Strength in every piece of gear you get. Nothing else matters significantly to you so remove any pieces that give you Accuracy, Alacrity, or so on unless you have nothing else to fill those slots. The only exception is Power and Force Power, which automatically come with your augments, off-hand armoring, and main-hand hilt. The augment you should go for is Redoubt and you can afford to buy the blue ones (Redoubt Augment 28) initially as they are very cheap and only slightly less effective than the best ones (Advanced Redoubt Augment 28).



Use your elite and ultimate comms to buy most of your tank gear (Bulwark) from the vendors (Oriconian and Verpine) and try to buy both Veracity Implants and a Veracity Earpiece from the Galactic Trade Network to give yourself a good base of mitigation (Defense, Shield, and Absorb) and Endurance. If you enjoy PvP or are willing to do a lot of matches to get gear, you can pick up Conqueror/Obroan relics as well (Fortunate Redoubt and Reactive Warding). Once you are able to, get and keep the armorings that give you your set bonus. Unless the difference in gear levels is drastic, always maintain your set bonus as it will significantly increase your survivability.





Advanced



Spoiler



Once you start gaining more gear from doing operations, you want to start optimizing towards the better mods/enhancements, implants, earpiece, and relics. For mods, you want to use the following:



Resilient (Absorb)

Elusive (Defense)



Of these, the unlettered mods (does not have the "B" at the end like 34B) are slightly better as they provide more Absorb or Defense rather than Endurance, but it makes such an incredibly small difference that either one is fine. When it comes to enhancements, go for ones below:



Advanced Bulwark (Absorb)

Advanced Bastion (Defense)



These are the only good enhancements for current gear as they provide the best benefits for mitigation. The high endurance ones (Steadfast and Vigilant) are both inferior and what you get from the comm vendors, but if that's all you get, just take it until you can replace it. As you do DF/DP, you'll get random tank gear drops that have good mods and possibly the best enhancement (Bulwark or Bastion).



You can choose to push your gear more towards Defense or Absorb based on what you want as they compete against each other in gear. Shield only competes with other stats you dont want like Alacrity and Accuracy so you dont have to worry about gearing for it specifically. The main benefit in higher Defense is better mitigation, more Revenge stacks and more Retaliations, which improves resource management and DPS/threat. Higher Absorb makes the damage you take come in more smoothly, but you end taking slightly higher damage overall. Not counting augments (which are all Redoubt for Defense), I run an almost completely even split between Defense and Absorb pieces in my gear.



At this point, you should be able to upgrade your augments to the purple ones (Advanced Redoubt Augment 28), upgrade your earpiece and implants to Dread Forged ones, and do the same for your relics. The two consistently good relics are the Dread Forged Relic of Fortunate Redoubt and Dread Forged Relic of Reactive Warding. If you get the Arkanian Relic of Reactive Warding (from doing the DF/DP quests), you can use that instead of the Dread Forged equivalent as the former is currently bugged to work every 20 seconds, which makes it slightly better. However, it may be fixed at any point so upgrade to Dread Forged when you have the opportunity to do so.





Master



Spoiler



The main places you can improve your gear is to get all non-B mods and to modify your gear (mainly relics) based on the boss. You want all unlettered mods as a Guardian tank because Blade Barrier/Guardianship gets stronger with higher Strength. The alternative is to have B mods, which increases your health slightly, but at this point you should know you know how to use your defensive cooldowns well enough that to avoid spikes. The other benefit for bonus health is to improve Focused Defenses 3% self-heal, but the boost is marginal and you wont be using it enough to justify it.



What it comes down to is that non-B mods will benefit you in every single fight as you have higher mitigation and DPS/threat while B mods will benefit you only in the case you happened to be low enough that the extra health would actually save you, which is rare. You have Enure for such times as well. The better your mitigation as well, the less chance you have to be put into this kind of situation so it generally works out best use all non-B mods.



In the end, you must make the right choice for your team. The difference between B mods and using unlettered mods is small and as I stated before, gear is not going to be the big factor in beating bosses. This is a relatively minor matter to be concerned about so focus mostly on the other aspects of your Guardian in this guide.



As for relics, if you happen to have more than 2 Dread Forged Relics, you can invest in a clicky relic (Imperiling Serenity or Shrouded Crusader) for boss fights where you are off-tanking. Clicky relics are better than passive ones in these types of fights as they have more uptime than normal (their massive amount of downtime is why they arent normally used). In fights like these (i.e. Tyrans in DP), you can replace your Fortunate Redoubt relic with one of those depending on how you built. For example, use Imperiling Serenity if you put more or your mitigation towards Absorb or Shrouded Crusader if you focused on Defense. This also helps balance out your mitigation so you arent relying too much on defending or just shielding.



The last area to change out your gear involves the armoring in your bracer, belt, and one other one (head, chest, gloves, legs, or boots) depending on which one doesnt need the set bonus. If you want higher Strength over Endurance, you can switch out the Guardian Armorings you have there to Might ones for slightly better mitigation. This also applies to your main-hand hilt and crystals. It really doesnt matter much either way right now, but I mention this as a possibility if you are so inclined.



While these last changes can slightly boost your mitigation, I dont recommend it and I dont do this for my own character. This is because you do need a certain level of Endurance to survive heavy boss attacks and to give your healers time to react. You can get away with as low Endurance for all current content, but when it comes to Nightmare DF/DP, this will likely not be the case.





Single Target Opener



How you start a fight is very important as a tank. In fact, your highest priority is to keep control of your opponents. This is because nothing else you do matters if they are constantly attacking the rest of your team. Your survivability (your second highest priority) only really matters if you are the focus of the boss. If you are uncomfortable starting off with the boss, have the other tank take it and practice the opening rotations listed in each section. If you are off-tanking (the tank not holding the boss), remember not to use Taunt or Challenging Call unless directed to do so by the other tank as they will guarantee that the boss will attack you for 6 seconds (with some exceptions).



The way players control who the enemy is targeting is through aggro. Aggro is based on the threat a player has built by doing damage or by using certain skills on the boss to cause it to attack a target. Normally, damage increases your threat by a 1:1 ratio so 1000 damage = 1000 threat. For tanks, your threat is doubled by being in Soresu form so doing 1000 damage = 2000 threat. Certain attacks state they have high threat, which means instead of your threat from the skill being doubled, the multiplier is even higher. For example, Hilt Strike increases your threat from the skill by 3 times instead of 2 and Guardian Slash increases it by 2.6 times.



Anyways, you hold aggro on an enemy by having the highest threat. If another player surpasses your threat by a significant amount, the boss will change to that target. All you need to know is that your goal is hold threat if you are tanking the boss at the time. If you lose aggro, use Taunt or Challenging Call to regain control of the boss. This will put you at the top of the threat list, forcing the boss to attack you for 6 seconds. If you continue to have the top threat after that, you will keep control of the enemy.



You can use the skill Guard on any DPS that you notice is generating too much threat (i.e. they are much more experienced/geared on their character) if you see they are grabbing aggro off of you. You will notice when aggro is taken from you as the enemy will face someone else. A better way to tell if you lose aggro is to have Target of Target turned on the interface. You can do this by going into your Interface Editor from Options, clicking on Target of Target (it will be a red bar if its off), and clicking the Enabled check. From there, just hit the Save button to keep this on (it will turn into a blue bar).



Also, you want to position the enemy so that it is facing you and its back is to the rest of your team as most bosses have cleaves that will strike the rest of your team along with you if they are in the path of its attack.



Beginner



Spoiler



Saber Throw

Force Leap + Saber Reflect

Force Sweep

Guardian Slash + Riposte

----------

Taunt

----------

Sundering Strike

Master Strike

Hilt Strike

Blade Storm



From here, you can go into the beginner single target rotation listed in the next section. Use the skill Challenging Call or Taunt to regain control of the boss if he starts attacking anyone other than you (unless its the other tanks turn to hold the boss).





Advanced



Spoiler



Saber Throw (or Force Leap) with Combat Focus

Force Sweep

Guardian Slash + Riposte

----------

Taunt

----------

Sundering Strike

Master Strike

Hilt Strike

----------

Challenging Call (AoE taunt)

----------

Blade Storm

Force Stasis

Force Sweep

Guardian Slash + Riposte



As noted, you want to start with either Saber Throw or Force Leap with Force Leap being better as it puts you into position to use the rest of your skills. Use Saber Throw if the boss is going to jump to you instead. Saber Reflect can be used to boost your opener as it adds 8592 threat, but then it cant be used defensively for one minute. You have plenty of other defensive cooldowns, though, so use your best judgement. It wont make a large difference in your survivability if you do use it so dont worry too much.



When it comes to using taunts, you use them in your rotation in the beginning because they boost your threat massively. What a taunt does is force the target to attack you (with some exceptions) for 6 seconds. There is another part that is mentioned about damage reduction, but that only applies to PvP and only with regard to enemy players, not NPCs.



Beyond the guaranteed aggro, it increases your personal threat to the highest on the threat list (the individual threat of everyone in the fight) and then increases that by 10% (right next to the enemy) or 30% (if you are at 4 meters or more away from the middle of the boss). Thus, the rotation is set up so that you reach your target, hit your heavy threat skills and apply buffs/debuffs, and then taunt to boost it. 6 seconds later after you use Hilt Strike and your taunt is about to wear off, Challenging Call is used to further build off your threat to try to keep you above anyone else. Try to move to the maximum of almost 4 meters (melee-range) when using Guardian Slash and Hilt Strike (right before your taunts) to gain the 30% boost to your threat.





Master



Spoiler



The optimal opener I go for is as follows (use Riposte on cooldown as it is available):



Pre-cast Combat Focus about 5 seconds before you start

Force Leap (or Saber Throw)

Force Sweep

Guardian Slash + Riposte

----------

Taunt

----------

Master Strike

Blade Storm

Hilt Strike

----------

AoE taunt

----------

Force Stasis (can be interchanged with Force Push if desired)

Force Push

Slash (or Force Sweep if you really want to be careful about holding aggro)

Sundering Strike

----------

Taunt (one more time as soon as this becomes available)



The main key in the opener is to delay Sundering Strike as much as possible since it does little damage/threat. Saber Reflect can be used near the beginning of the rotation if desired for extra aggro, but I only recommend this if you are using it on a boss that has nothing for you to Reflect in the next minute (like Nefra or Tyrans) since you are essentially wasting a defensive cooldown to do so.



This opener is engineered to help your single target rotation as Guardian Slash comes off cooldown, Force Sweep is already delayed for more Courage stacks, Combat Focus comes off a bit faster than normal since you pre-cast it, and you have enough Focus to continue using your skills. You will likely still need to maximize the threat from your skills to set up for one more taunt 15 seconds later just to be completely safe. From that point on, threat becomes irrelevant and you can focus on your priority system to maintain your survivability and do as much as DPS as possible.



To explain a bit more about the taunt placements, each taunt is also placed in such a way to hold the boss during the burst most teams DPS have and use their damage to build your own threat. As mentioned before, taunts give you the same threat as the top player in the threat list and then boost off that. If your team DPS is very high or more importantly, they have high initial burst (like Combat Sentinels) and have relics/adrenals going, they will have the top threat and you wont have Guard available for every one of them to reduce their threat (especially true if you are tanking in 16 man). By making use of their massive burst, you can safely keep aggro. Depending on your teams DPS composition and the playstyle of your team, you may need to modify the placement of the taunts to compensate.





Single Target Rotation/Priority System



Your rotation is just the order in which you use your attack skills with your main ones being Force Sweep, Guardian Slash, Riposte, Sundering Strike, and Blade Storm. Around 30 seconds after you start a fight, threat stops mattering since you or other tank should have used your taunts at least a few times to boost threat to the point where no one else can catch up. This is when your rotation focuses on just survivability and damage.



With more experience, you can put a larger percentage of your time into increasing the damage you do, but your main priorities at almost all times are to hold aggro and survive. The more damage you and your team do, the faster the fight ends, which means you and your team take less damage and theres less of a chance that a disconnect or other random event doesnt come up.



Guardian tank rotations can seem intimidating at first as you have a great deal of skills to utilize. If you come from another tank class, it will be a lot more than you are used to, but in time, youll adapt. Eventually, you will end up using around 15 skills, which means you have 10 other skills that arent main ones. As you progress, you can start adding each one to your rotation until it becomes a priority system. This means your skills arent used in a set order each time, but instead rely on a number of factors like your total Focus, number of enemies, applying buffs/debuffs, and so on. Resource management is critical to playing a Guardian tank as they must generate Focus to fuel most of their skills.



Beginner



Spoiler



Initially, your rotation is very simple as you simply use Force Sweep, Guardian Slash, Riposte, and Blade Storm on cooldown. Riposte will be available after every Guardian Slash and if you defend an attack, but the other 4 are on 12 second cooldowns. While waiting for your main skills come up, simply use Strike (to generate Focus), Master Strike, Hilt Strike and Force Stasis on cooldown. The last two skills may seem odd as they are stuns, but Guardian tanks are unique in that these skills do respectable damage and should generally be used to help boost damage/threat.



If you end up low on Focus and need to increase it quickly to use your main skills, use Enrage to give yourself 6 free Focus.





Advanced



Spoiler



At this point, youll have noticed that you have a lot of time waiting for your main skills. Youll likely have gone over your cap for Focus (12) many times as you had nothing to really use that extra Focus on, but this will change now. If you know you will have enough Focus to keep your main 5 skills, dump all your extra Focus in Slash and Dispatch (sub-30% of enemy) as they are used to fill in the gaps in your rotation. The reason you have extra Focus is due to three different factors.



The first has to do with your Courage stacks. You may not have realized it, but as you defend (i.e. parry or deflect), shield, and sometimes resist attacks, you gain a buff called Courage. Each stack of this buff reduces the Focus cost of Force Sweep or Blade Storm, depending on which one is used first. This can stack up to 3 times, which makes them free to use, but most of the time, you will end up with around 1-2 stacks. If you use Force Sweep and Blade Storm on cooldown every time, there wont be much of a gap between them, which means you can get 3 Courage stacks for one skill and 0 for the other one. Since you cant go over 3 stacks, your goal is delay Force Sweep until it is 6 seconds apart from Blade Storms cooldown. This will evenly divide your Courage stacks between them, giving you more Focus overall to use on stronger filler skills than Strike.



The next way you gain extra Focus is due to a passive called Visionary. This gives you 1 Focus every time you get attacked once every 3 seconds. The third one has to do with Sundering Strike. This gives you 6 Focus every time it used and with the knowledge of how your Visionary works now, youll want to delay Sundering Strike in your rotation. Wait until you have 5 Focus or below in case Visionary procs so that you dont lose out on potential Rage.



Another way to improve DPS is to delay Guardian Slash if you have Riposte already procced, but are unable to use it due to its 4.5 second internal cooldown. Riposte will do the most DPS of all your skills in any single target fight as it does good damage, is off the GCD, has 15% more crit chance, and does not miss (especially great since tanks don't itemize for Accuracy). You can afford to delay Guardian Slash about 1-2 GCDs if needed to get more Ripostes.



Lastly, you should start using Force Push as one of your filler skills for more damage and use Combat Focus pretty much on cooldown for bonus Focus to add in more Slashes and Dispatch.





Master



Spoiler



A common myth about Guardian tank DPS is that it is very low compared to the other tanks, but this is not true. People have low tank DPS as a Guardian because they dont understand how to maximize their skills so you end up with players hitting several hundred DPS lower than their counterparts due to a lack of experience/skill. The difference between a great Guardian tanks DPS and a normal one is massive and once well understood and practiced, you will be able to do the same DPS as them. Youll just need to put a lot more time and effort into getting there as you have many more skills to utilize and your priority system is more dynamic.



Now for the priority system itself, I should mention first that tank DPS is really very similar to DPSing on another character. Your main rotation/priority system revolves around using your most important skills ASAP, filling in the gaps with your strongest fillers, and then using your weakest fillers (typically rage builders or resource neutral skills). Of course, the weakest fillers can be needed a bit earlier to make sure your most important skills have the necessary resources available when they come up. I'll list these for our class in order of priority for these 3 tiers of skills for a single target.



In the case of Guardian tanks, our most important skills (top tier) in our non-opening priority system are as follows:



Riposte (highest DPS and off the GCD)

Blade Storm (for least possible damage taken)

Guardian Slash (keep up buffs, high damage, and more Ripostes)

Force Sweep (keep up debuffs or when 2-3 stacks of Courage are accumulated)

Cyclone Slash (in case Force Sweep is resisted to keep up the Accuracy debuff)



Then we have our good filler skills (middle tier) to use whenever the above are not available or the time is not appropriate like these:

Dispatch

Force Stasis

Master Strike

Sundering Strike (5 Focus or below)

Hilt Strike

Force Push

Saber Throw (if possible)

Slash



Lastly, we have our weakest fillers (low tier) that are used as follows:



Force Leap

Strike



Lets go over each of these skills now.



Riposte will be the highest DPS skill so use this skill on cooldown virtually every time. You will also want to plan your other skills around its 4.5 second internal cooldown.



Blade Storm is incredibly important and should be used on cooldown (regardless of Courage stacks) as it contributes significantly to your mitigation. You will also need to plan your other skills around this one so make sure you have enough Focus.



Guardian Slash offers good damage even in single target situations, gives you another Riposte, and keeps up your armor boost. As stated in the Advanced section, you can afford to delay this skill if you have a Riposte already procced, but are unable to use it due to that skills 4.5 second internal cooldown.



When it comes to Force Sweep, delay it until you have 3 stacks or the Accuracy debuff has almost worn off (it lasts 20 seconds) to maximize your Courage. This depends heavily on the boss as the more attacks you defend/shield/resist, the more stacks you can accrue so bosses with faster attack speeds help a great deal. Ideally, this would be 3 stacks for both Force Sweep and Blade Storm, but often, you can only get around 2. You dont just rely on activating Force Sweep 6 seconds before or after Blade Storm anymore as your Courage stacks can fluctuate greatly based on RNG. There is only a 50% chance that a Courage stack can even occur when you parry/deflect, shield, or resist, but it should be noted that boss attacks are generally split up into many smaller attacks, which increases the chance of one of these occurring.



As noted above, Cyclone Slash is useful even in a single target situation as it applies the Accuracy debuff so use it if your Force Sweep gets resisted. It does barely more damage than your weakest attack, Strike, but keeping up your survivability is more important.



Dispatch does great damage, but costs 3 Focus. Once your target gets below 30%, youll want to use this in place of Slash as it does almost double the damage of it. Try to save Combat Focus when you start getting close to 30% and get your Focus up beforehand as Dispatch has a very short cooldown of 6 seconds and maximizing this skill improves your DPS a lot.



To explain one skill that may be surprising, Force Stasis is amazingly good. It actually does more damage than any other skill except for Master Strike or Dispatch, is free, and generates 3 Rage so use this skill on cooldown unless you are already capped.



Master Strike does great burst damage, but requires a 3 second channel and its placement in your priority system must be thought out. This is because you dont want use it if Riposte hasnt procced recently and it doesnt interfere with any of your higher priority skills. You can also clip the end of the channel as the last tick of damage hits around 2.7 seconds. Since Master Strike has a 30 second cooldown and you need to clip perfectly 5 times to even get one extra attack overall, the benefits to doing this are very small. I dont really recommend this in general, but its mentioned here for the sake of completeness and its useful in burst situations to fit in an extra skill.



Sundering Strike does low damage, but generates 6 Focus and as such, should only be used when at 5 Focus or below and at a lower priority than all of the above skills. This skill can be delayed quite a bit as a result.



Hilt Strike and Force Push both do decent damage and are free and should be used mostly for extra damage. They both have extra components that can be beneficial at times as they are both crowd control skills and Force Push resets your Force Leap.



Saber Throw is mentioned here as the damage again is decent, but requires your character to be over 10 meters away from your target. This skill can be used (especially when off-tanking) in conjunction with Force Leap for a total of 6 Focus, which is equivalent to using Combat Focus. The way you do this is to utilize the 1.5 internal cooldown of most attack skills to activate skills and move at the same time until you are able to Saber Throw. An example of this is to use any non-Master Strike attack skill to start moving away from your opponent, use a mid-range skill like Blade Storm to keep moving, then go into the Saber Throw --> Force Leap combo. If done correctly, you have no downtime between using your skills and gain a great deal of Focus for some extra legwork.



Slash is an underrated skill in general and good use of this ability ends up adding a significant amount of DPS. It just requires good resource management to use more than once in a while and should replace your weakest attack, Strike. It does about 700 more damage in almost full 78 gear so its definitely noticeable.



Force Leap can be used as explained in the Saber Throw explanation and does not require any knowledge to maximize. Just remember that when you jump, your enemy may have already moved some distance away so get ready to use a mid-range skill like Blade Storm if needed to strike until you are in melee range.



Strike is your worst skill overall as it is the basic auto-attack for Guardians. It has no cooldown, requires no resources, does very little damage, and only generates a paltry 1 Focus for getting used. Your goal is to use this skill as little as possible, but do so if you need the Focus for any of your more important skills.





AoE Opener and Rotation



Controlling multiple enemies at the same time has always been unnecessarily difficult for a Guardian tank. If you are playing a Guardian after coming from another tank class, you will likely notice your lack of ranged AoE options, but despite this, its not too bad. You just need to be in melee range to be effective as a Guardian tank and must be aware that your AoE attacks have a smaller range of effect as well. A Guardian who understands the limitations of the class and keeps his/her AoE cooldowns available for the right time will be about as good as any other kind of tank for this purpose.



Force Sweep and Guardian Slash will make up the core of your AoE damage/threat and both of these skills have the benefit of doing good damage, have bonus threat multipliers (as they are high-threat attacks), and provide important buffs/debuffs to aid in your survivability. Your goal is to jump or move to your opponents, keep them off your team, and do your best to stay alive at the same time.



One point Id like to reiterate is that while your survivability is very important as a tank, it does not matter if you dont hold aggro. As a tank, its critical to keep control of all enemies so when you have to prioritize your skills, do so with the intent of grabbing aggro first, then surviving second. If you are in a flashpoint, your main focus is holding aggro on the strongest enemies while the DPS clean up the weak ones first. This prevents the weak enemies from eventually going onto the healer as they will if no one else attacks them.[/spoiler]



Beginner



Spoiler



In operations, adds (i.e. the extra enemies that spawn) typically come out every 45 seconds or so with some being more frequent. You have 2 other skills that can help greatly with controlling the monsters; these are Saber Reflect and Challenging Call (your AoE taunt). If you are using the talent points into the recommended spec, Saber Reflect gives you a massive amount of threat on all available enemies. Challenging Call grabs aggro on any enemies within 15 meters of you for 6 seconds.



You can alternate between using this and your AoE taunt to give yourself all the threat you need to hold the monsters long enough for your team to **** them. You generally only need Saber Reflect or Challenging Call to hold aggro before going into your normal rotation so save the other one for the next pull or set of adds.



For example, lets say you are in a flashpoint and you are about to pull a large number of enemies. What you want to do is Force Leap into the strongest target (if you dont know yet, just pick the one with the highest health) and use Saber Reflect. When you are the one who starts the fight, you will automatically have aggro on every target and with Saber Reflects boost, they will stay on you for some time. Once youve leapt in and used Saber Reflect, try to move your target close to the other enemies, hit them with your other skills like Sundering Strike (important to keep up your Focus), and if they are close enough, immediately use Force Sweep followed by Guardian Slash. If you see that you are starting to lose control of the enemies and they wont be dead very soon, you can use Challenging Call to grab the rest of them. Thus, your rotation will look like this:



Force Leap --> Saber Reflect --> Sundering Strike --> Force Sweep --> Guardian Slash + Riposte --> Blade Storm



It takes some getting used to the range on Force Sweep and Guardian Slash as they are very small, but with practice, you will intuitively know their limits.





Advanced



Spoiler



As you gain experience and/or the enemies dont die quickly enough for above rotation to keep aggro, you should start using Cyclone Slash. This attack costs 2 Focus and does not need a target to be used (like Force Sweep). Using Force Sweep causes your Guardian to strike all melee-range enemies in a roughly 180 degree cone in the direction your character is facing (this is better explained in the Master sub-section).



Due to this, the position of your Guardian and the enemies is important as you need them to be in front of your character. Also, you will likely be using Cyclone Slash multiple times and 2 Focus for each one quickly adds up, especially when combined with the 3 Focus for Force Sweep and 3 Focus for Guardian Slash (and 1 for each Riposte). When fitting this skill into your rotation, you need to keep your Focus, which means using Combat Focus (+6 Focus every 45 seconds) and Sundering Strike (+6 Focus every 12 seconds) pretty much on cooldown. When you know adds are coming out soon, you should be prepared with as much Focus as possible (12 is your maximum, but you only need 9 if you are going to Force Leap in) while having Force Sweep + Guardian Slash available to be used as soon you can jump in or move to the enemies. Your rotation will look something like this with 9 Focus:



Force Leap --> Force Sweep --> Guardian Slash + Riposte --> Blade Storm --> Cyclone Slash --> Sundering Strike --> Cyclone Slash --> Cyclone Slash --> Combat Focus + Cyclone Slash --> Force Sweep --> Guardian Slash + Riposte



You can still use Saber Reflect to help with aggro on adds especially if you were not prepared, but focus mostly on using your AoE taunt and use it after you see yourself losing aggro. As explained in the Advanced section of the Single Target Opener, taunts give you the threat of the top person on the threat list plus a percentage bonus of that as well. Thus, they work best the later they are used as they will generate more threat.





Master



Spoiler



Your rotation doesnt really change at this point, but you should be able to keep Saber Reflect solely as a defensive cooldown now. There are some extra tips to help out, too. One example is for your AoE taunt as its very possible to grab aggro on enemies you dont want when its your co-tanks job to hold them instead.



For example, lets say you are doing Grobthok in the Dread Fortress. If its your duty to grab the adds and not the boss, you must watch out when using your AoE taunt so you dont accidentally grab the boss as well. Any larger-than-normal boss has a giant hitbox (collision area where the boss is affected by skills, typically bigger than the characters model), which means even if they dont look close to you, they may still be close enough. If your co-tank is not prepared with another taunt to grab aggro, this can cause a wipe. When facing large bosses, be wary and only use your AoE taunt only when far away from the boss. This knowledge only comes with experience and lots of practice so just be aware of your position.



Another tip involves reaching the adds you want to control. Normally, you can just Force Leap to get in range, but this often is not the best idea. In the previous example with Grobthok, if you jump to the adds, you will hit one, but by the time your character actually reaches that point, the other 2 adds will have moved out of range of you to Force Sweep. This is fine if you have your AoE taunt up and you are out of range of grabbing the boss himself, but if not, there are better methods.



What you will want to do is use Guardian Leap (gap closer + threat drop) to jump to your healers and hit Force Sweep + Guardian Slash when the melee adds inevitably go to them. They will do so after the first few waves because healers build threat on all enemies when they heal. The exact equation doesnt matter, but essentially, on a fight where adds continually spawn, they will typically focus on the healers first. Thus, it is important that you get to them before they attack your healer. If the adds are ranged attackers, you should definitely Force Leap to them instead.



The last interesting trick has to do with Cyclone Slash. I stated before that it is a melee range attack (4 meters or below) and that it hits a 180 degree cone in front of you. This is somewhat inaccurate and you can use this information to your benefit. In fact, Cyclone Slash hits 5 meters in front of you and can actually hit slightly behind your character (about 45 degrees to the left and right of your back and 1 meter behind you). You can test this out on the operations dummy on your ship if you have one or on the fleet.

References



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