Intergalactic Intel: Shadow/Assassin Tanking Guide

“So you’re a dps?” For someone who had no interest in playing Swtor, my friend had a ton of questions.
“No, a tank,” I replied.
“My friend looked at me. You’re a tank with invisibility?”
“Yeah… Druids do the same thing in WoW, and remember Rogue tanks in BC?”
“SWTOR is so weird…”

Welcome back to another Intergalactic Intel! This week we’re going technical. We’re gonna sit down and look at what my opinion of the best Jedi Shadow/Sith Assassin tanking spec, what stats you should be aiming for and how to tank properly. This guide is for patch 1.1. This guide is subject to change.

The spec:

Shadow

Kinetic Combat:

Tier 1:
Technique Mastery 3/3- This is THE BEST early talent for shadow/assassin tanking. It increases your internal and elemental resistance by 9% meaning you’ll be taking less damage from those specific abilities. We’re all about not taking damage!

Double balded Saber Defense 2/2- This talent helps increase our regular defense, but also gives us force power back when we deflect or parry attacks. This grants us more force to use for our abilities

Applied force 2/2- This increases the damage of our double strike ability, one of our key abilities for tanking.

Tier 2:
Mental Fortitude 3/3- Now this one is a very iffy one in a lot of tanking specs. I think it’s mandatory. When tanking you’re going to get hit. Increasing your health helps you survive the onslaught of attacks that will be coming your way. 3% is only a little bit of health, but every bit helps.

Elusiveness 2/2- Another mandatory talent. Probably the strongest in the 2nd tier. Reducing the cool down of Force Sprint is important. Tanks need mobility. Having a quick boost to run where ever your needed is a great tanking ability. Reducing the cool down of resilience is also a great part of this. Using this cool down can save you from tons of different attacks.

Rapid Recovery 2/2- This lets you use your combat technique proc all the time. The health isn’t too great but it’s better than nothing.

Tier 3:
Kinetic Ward 1/1- Try tanking without it. Exactly. You can’t. Pick it up.

Shadowsight 2/2- More defense. The stealth is just fluff.

Particle Acceleration 1/1- An awesome ability that helps us later on with other talents. It’s a ton of damage which equates to a ton of threat.

Mind over Matter 1/1- Increases the duration of your resilience. Remember how I mentioned mobility was key? Yeah this is a great ability.

Tier 4:
Impact Control 2/2- Increase your shield absorb. And also turns your combat readiness into an even more powerful tank cool down.

One with the force 3/3- Increase your force regeneration. This means more abilities, more attacks. Which means more threat, which means you’re doing your job.

Tier 5:
Force Pull 1/1- Another great tanking ability. Usually how you’ll open fights.

Stasis 1/1 – ARMOR! We love armor.

Bombardment 1/1 – More damage? More threat? Aww yeah.

Tier 6:
Harnessed Shadows 1/1- This is key to our tanking rotation. With this we are able to restore a small amount of HP, and gain a good amount of threat at the same time. It synergizes greatly with Particle Acceleration and Bombardment.

Force Break 3/3 – Increase the damage on our force breach and slow time abilities. Two key tanking abilities.

Tier 7:
Force slow 1/1- A powerful AoE damaging ability. Gives you a lot of threat and reduces damage to boot.

Balance Tree

Tier 1:
Jedi Resistance 2/2 – Reducing damage is reducing damage. No matter how little or how much it is.

Force Synergy 3/3 – This is the only useful talent left in this tree to get to the next tier. It also synergiezs very well with Particle Acceleration. More crit, means more damage. More damage means more threat.

Tier 2:
Psychokinesis 2/2- This is probably one of the most interesting talents in the tree. It reduces the force cost of double strike and project. Two abilities we use in our rotation. Reducing the cost means more force, more force means more abilities, which means more threat.

Upheaval ⅓- I love this talent and wish I had more points to put in it. It essentially gives you a second attack with project, which means more damage. Which means more threat. Woot threat.

You can defiantly go back and look at a lot of talents and pick up other ones, but I feel these are the key talents that will help you stay alive as a tank and have high threat generation.

Abilities:

These are the abilities you should have hot keyed and ready to go at any point and time to fight.

Force Pull- Very good starting ability, and a very good ability to get loose mobs that shouldn’t be loose. Generates high threat so we like that.

Force Breach- A rather mediocre ability. Low damage, average threat, but AoE. It also reduces the target’s accuracy by 5% which is rather weak, but still better than nothing.

Force Slow- A great AoE ability. Slows targets, reduces their damage by 5% and generates high threat.

Whirling blow- A filler Aoe ability. Only use this when AoE tanking, don’t use it on single target tanking. It takes a lot of force to use.

Project- Our bread and butter ability. Almost everything we do revolves around this nice instant nuke. When talented deals a lot of damage and a lot of threat.

Double strike- An average melee attack, but gives us procs of Particle acceleration.

Saber strike- When we need force, we got to this to keep the damage going, only use it when you are low on force power.

Telekinetic throw- We only use this ability when we have 3 stacks of harnessed shadow. It becomes un interpretable and heals us while dealing some good damage.

Kinetic Ward- Our tanking ability. Increases our Shield chance, try and keep it up at all times. Without it we’re very squishy and will fall over. This ability is not very good for AoE tanking since the charges get eaten rather quickly.

Resilience- This is probably one of our best, if not the best, tanking cool down. It prevents us from taking any damage from an tech or force abilities for a few seconds. With a short cool down it should be used as much as possible, but only for the most devastating abilities.

Deflection- Deflection is a weaker version of resilience, but for Ranged and Melee attacks. It’s incredibly useful against Aoe pulls, but can cause some funky animation glitches. Couple this with a decent amount of defense and it becomes another great tanking cool down.

Mind Control- Our taunt ability. Use it when you lose threat or need to tank swap.

Mass Mind Control- Same as Mind Control, just on an AoE level. Longer cool down.

Battle Readiness- An ability that is obviously a dps ability, but allows us to heal more with our combat technique and when talented gives us 10% of our health back. Think of it not as a tank cool down, but as things are STARTING to go bad ability.

Spinning Strike– Our “execute” ability. Only usable at 30%, it deals a ton of damage. Which means more threat. Also at this point it’s late int he fight and you want everyone to deal as much damage as possible to this guy, because chances are resources are running low.

Force Speed- Remember how I said moving is important? Yeah I’m gonna keep drilling this in your head. Use it when need be.

Force Wave- Rarely used, but can be used to knock bad guys off cliffs.

Force Potency- Used in the rotation, and can be used to generate a large amount of threat with force abilities. A very good offensive dps cool down.

Rotation:

Now when I say rotation, I should be saying priority list. When fighting you should have an opening, and then use these abilities. You should do your best to make sure that certain effects are on the target, before heading to the next one.

Opening: You’re opening should look something like this

Force Pull —-> Force Slow —–> Force Breach

You want to use these three abilities. Force Pull will rarely actually move a boss to you, but it generates a large amount of threat. Force Slow will reduce the boss’ damage which you will want immediately. Force breach will reduce the bosses accuracy slightly, which is better than nothing.

After you’ve opened up you want to keep an eye on those two debuffs you’ve placed on. Force Breach and Force Slow. You want to use Force Slow every time it’s off cool down. It’s a large amount of threat, for a mere 30 force. You only want to use force breach, when the debuff is about to fall off, other than that don’t bother with it. So what now? Simply ask yourself these questions as you go along. If you complete the step, then move to the next one.

  1. Do you have Kinetic Ward up? No? Cast it. Go back to the first step. Yes? Move to the next step.
  2. Is Force Slow’s debuff on the boss? No? Cast it. Go back to the first step. Yes? Move to the next step.
  3. Is Force Breach’s debuff on the boss? No? Cast it. Go back to the first step. Yes? Move to the next step
  4. Is the boss below 30% and is spinning strike off cool down? Yes? Cast it. Go back to the first step. No? Move to the next step.
  5. Do you have two stacks of Harnessed Shadows and a proc of Particle Acceleration? Yes? Cast Force Potency, then Project, finish with Telekinetic Throw. Go back to the first step. No? Move to the next step.
  6. Do you have 3 stacks of Harnessed shadows? Yes? Cast Project. Go back to the first step. No? Move to the next step.
  7. Is your proc of Harnessed Shadows about to fall off? Yes? Cast Project. Go back to the first step. No? Move to the next step.
  8. Do you have a proc of Particle Acceleration? yes? Cast Project. Go back to the first step. No? Move to the next step.
  9. Use double strike. Go back to the first step.

If at any time you don’t have the necessary force. Stop what you’re doing, Saber Strike, and start over. This seems like a lot but it eventually will become second nature to you. Take your time, it simply takes practice.

Step number 5 is something I discovered on my own. When Telekinetic Throw crits, it increases the amount of healing you receive. So it’s very useful trick to restore a lot of health.

Stats:

What stats do we as tanks want? Well let’s look at what stats are available for tanks.

Secondary Stats:
Shield- Shield increases the chance that our shield will proc. A very important stat for any tank…that’s not us. With Kinetic Ward an entry level 50 tank will have about a 40% chance with Kinetic ward up. So it will be procing all the time. This is not to mean that it’s not a good stat, it’s just not one we as tanks should prioritize. After obtaining about 45% shield rating with Kinetic Ward, shadows and assassins should start prioritizing other stats.

Absorb- Absorb increases the amount of damage the shield reduces. This is probably our strongest stat. Since we have such a high shield proc, this stat will be something that we use constantly.

Defense- Probably the second most important stat. This stat reduces the chance of being damaged. This increases your chance to simply negate all damage. So why isn’t this our key stat? Because the idea of never getting hit is a fantasy. With absorb and shield we’ll have a much greater chance of reducing damage.

Accuracy- This stat is something I’m not a 100% sure on. Accuracy is needed for us to hit bosses, and deal threat. But other secondary stats take more priority.

Primary stats:
Endurance- No matter how much defense, absorb, or shield we have we will always get hit. Endurance increases our health. The larger the health pool, the more of a buffer when things go wrong.

Willpower- Willpower will increase how much damage your attacks deal. It’s mandatory, but should be sacrificed for endurance and secondary stats.

Power- This increases how much damage we do with attacks. Pretty simple. The more we have, the more threat we generate.

Surge- Surge increases how much damage our critical strikes do. Since we crit a lot with project its an important stat, and helps us tanks. It is the least important stat since it grows exponentially stronger with the more willpower and power we have.

So how do we prioritize?

Endurance—->Absorb—->Defense—->Shield—->Accuracy—>Willpower—>Power—->Surge

Aim for those stats to make yourself a strong tank.

Consumables:
Biochemists are interesting. They provide consumables for the entire operation. Make friends with one. Biochemists can create Rakata consumables. Only they may use them. So they have a stronger level of consumables. Exotech consumables can be used by non biochems, but you may need Energized adrenals since Exotech only comes from operation encounters.

Medpac:
Medpacs are free heals. Use them to give your healers a break.

Adrenal:
There are two possible adrenals you can use as a tank. Absorb adrenals give you increased armor, which will give you reduced damage. I prefer Triage Adrenals. These adrenals decrease all incoming damage by 50%, meaning you can use them against not only physical attacks, but also tech and force techniques. It also gives you a slight power boost.

Stimulants:
There are two possible stimulants just like adrenals. Fortitude stims, increase our health and defense. Obviously this one is key for tanking. If you find yourself having trouble with threat, or simply don’t need the extra health and defense, grab a resolve stim to increase power and willpower.

Hopefully this guide has helped. All of these ideas and “rules” are subject to change, so check back to the article since I’ll be doing my best to keep it up to date. Until next time, may the force be with you.

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