SWTOR - Tank Vanguard

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel


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and its Empire equivalent ...

Let me introduce myself, Solace, an avid reader of the site since beta. I found the courage to write a guide for the Tank soldier here! This guide was written with a PVE perspective. Also keep in mind that, without a real combat log, having an opinion based on hard facts is almost impossible. This guide is therefore heavily based on the one proposed by Mmo-Mechanics, my thanks go to the true author of this guide.


Class overview

The Vanguard and its Empire counterpart are versatile and adaptable tanks. We are the only class to have a load AND a grab. Our damage mitigation is the most important but we are fishing by low avoidance. Basically, we take damage more frequently than other tanks, but each hit will hurt us less. So we lose our life in a fluid and predictable way, which is a plus for the healers.

As a soldier, we can tank respectably "from a distance". However, it is not recommended to try because many of our techniques and proc require contact.



If you haven't been able to read all of the terms in the previous paragraph, then this little dictionary is for you!

DR: Damage Reduction. Fixed damage reduction done when taking a hit, our talents give us this.

Avoidance: probability of completely dodging damage (soldiers cannot parry). Avidance comes from our defense score, as well as debuffs placed on those that hit us.

Mitigation: The varying amount of damage reduced when taking a hit. It's a combination of the DR seen previously, plus buffs, armor, and blocking.

Cac: melee.

Debuff: penalty inflicted on a target.

Aggro: internal number that indicates who is attacked by a monster. The latter will always attack (except for internal bosses) the person with the highest aggro score. For information, a target "loses" aggro if it is exceeded by another person by 110% (if this person is in the cac) or 130% (if he is at a distance).

Threat: Each hit generates threat. The person with the most threat wins aggro. As a tank, our techniques are less powerful than others, but using our tank stance gives us double our threat damage. Which is enough to keep the aggro.

Main Tank (MT): the player responsible for keeping monster aggro on himself.

Offtank (OT): used if a boss requires a second tank. For the first raids (Chamber of Eternity, Kaggara) his role was put in the background in raid 8. From Denova, an offtank is necessary for all the bumps.


At present, the 31/8/2 spec is the most widespread: republic version / empire version. It is almost impossible to measure the impact of prototype / upgrade cylinders for blasters, but this talent point seems to be the one that most impacts our generation of threat. Likewise, moving intimidation points to line-up fire loading / brutal impact is possible, but unquantifiable.

There is also an alternative spec, less dependent on the butt stroke based on a 31/10/0 template available This template has its advantages (the butt kick was nerfed) but only a comparative study with its own stuff allows a decision.

On the tank tree side, the points are rather easy to explain. We take the talents that reduce the damage received and we ignore anything that increases our movement speed (Pvp). In the central branch, we take the talents that increase our generation of threat in order to reach the power armor (2% DR, yabon!). For the last tree, you notice that we do not take the 3% endurance. Indeed this talent requires too many points to be maximized (especially for such a low gain) while 8% additional damage on our main technique is a must have.

There is a 21/2/18 offspec which mainly serves as a “farmed operation offtank” spec. Basically survival and dps. Only this guide is only interested in pure, hard and tattooed tanking so I keep this specialization out.


Ammunition / heat

For the Empire or the Republic, even if the resource system looks different, it is not. Once a little mental gymnastics has been developed, we can switch from one Game Play to another without asking any questions.

The Empire uses a "heat" system. In the beginning at 0, each technique increases this value until the weapon overheats and becomes useless. For the Republic, the weapons have ammunition, 12 at the beginning and each technique decreases this reserve until no more ammunition (0). To reload / cool our weapons, we have two ways:

  • use natural regeneration. Periodically, our resources return to their initial state, the speed, it depends directly on the quantity of resource that we used (see following table).
  • use our resource regeneration techniques (Cell Recharge, Energy Blast / Heat Blast). In addition, for each attack blocked, we have a 50% chance to restore ourselves some resource (1 cell / 8 heat) thanks to the talent in the Cycler / Shield dispel tank branch.


It seems obvious that to maximize your gameplay, you must always stay in the upper part of these tables. We will see why this is not always possible or even recommended ... 



Now let's review the main techniques used by the tank spec. Even if a priority system seems complicated to understand, know that once your spell bar is set you will not have any problems. I can't say it enough, but resist the urge to simplify everything with a fixed rotation of spells. Especially if you are told to wedge a pestle shot between each of your techniques, flee! The goal is DO NOT to maintain 12 cells / 0 heat but to maximize its resource regeneration AND its threat. A fixed rotation will help you understand the gameplay by simplifying it, but will dramatically reduce your effectiveness.

When you have to tank, remember to activate your Ionic Cell / Ionic Gas Cylinder, our "posture" allows us to use our High Impact Shot / Line Shot thanks to a DoT and reduces the damage we suffer. Likewise, consider putting your Guard on your biggest DPS. It costs nothing.

Single target in order of damage

  • Lacrosse strike / Lightning fist: our main technique. She gains 8% damage, 30% crit and 30% increased critical damage thanks to our talents. When you block an attack your cd can be canceled.
  • High Impact Shot / Line Shot: Can only be used if the target has a DoT on its mouth. Our posture allows us to bypass this worry so that this technique can be used for each CD. This ability ignores 60% of the target's armor and can be increased by 6% if you decide to take the talent point from the tank branch.
  • Sticky Grenade / Explosive Dart: A technique primarily focused on AOE, but its initial damage makes it interesting on single targets as well.
  • Heat Breath / Energy Breath: our ultimate that requires a little understanding. This is our only technique that does not consume resources, but returns them to use. So this technique is to be used at all costs, with each CD, EXCEPT if you are already at 90% of your resources.
  • Ionic Impulse / Burst of flame: our “filler”. To be used when the previous four techniques are recharging and you have more than 8 cells / less 10 heat. Useful because applies a 4% DR debuff on the target.
  • Pillon fire / Rapid fire: to be used when you find yourself <8 cells ≥ 10 heat. Even though this technique does not consume resources, its damage is laughable. So the tank gameplay consists of optimizing yourself in order to use this technique the least possible.


Useful gadgets

  • Volley of mortars / Death from the sky: hurts very, very, very badly. However, its large CD and the fact that it has a minimum distance make this technique difficult to use in a tank. You can always use it on large or stationary targets for massive damage (think of a Soa p3 for example ...)
  • Auto Shot / Unload: Heavy damage, but channeling will be reduced if you take hits. You can also be stunned for the duration or worse, have to move.
  • Pulse Cannon / Flamethrower: High damage, even on a single target, but at prohibitive cost. The channel cannot be shortened by damage but can still be stopped by stun or move. Its long pipe makes it useful combined with the Cell Economy CD. So this powerful spell will cost you nothing and its long channel will recharge your resources.

Over time you will understand “when” using these techniques is helpful. A final concern with channeled techniques is that you may, while channeling, have your Lacrosse Strike / Searing Fist CD reset. You will therefore lose either the fact of not casting your technique on the spot, or the damage of your channeled technique if you stop it prematurely.


Sort of zones

  • Volley of mortar / Death from the sky: big, heavy.
  • Explosive Grenade / Explosive Dart: our best technique, due to its versatility. To be constantly recharged while being careful of stunned monsters.
  • Pulse Cannon / Flamethrower: Damages all targets in front of you. Extremely useful technique but requires good placement on your part. Feel free to use your group stun to better position yourself.
  • Static Surge / Flame Sweep: moderate damage for a heavy hit. However after a charge you have two free techniques, so you take the agro of a group of monsters while applying the 4% DR debuff to them. But good !


Survival CD

  • Energy Shield: 25% damage reduction for 12 seconds (15 with the 4 piece Rakata bonus) and two minutes of CD
  • Smoke Grenade / Oil Puddle: Reduces the accuracy of all nearby targets by 20% for 18 seconds (20 seconds with the 4 Rakata Coin bonus) and one minute of CD. Note that despite the Imperial animation, the monster overwhelms the rest even if you leave the oil puddle.
  • Adrenaline Rush / Kolto Overload: Heals you for 15% of your health over 10 seconds, two minutes of CD.

Once the experience of each encounter is achieved, you will know when to use your CDs wisely. Remember, your trinkets work like defensive CDs as well. For a lot of fights, using them one after the other as soon as they are available makes sense, so you'll reduce your damage on an encounter scale, but sometimes keeping them for intensive damage phases (like l 'Zorn's enrage) be wiser.


Offensive CD

  • Combat Focus / Explosive Fuel: 25% additional critical for 15s with 2 minutes cooldown. Very useful at the start of a fight and during the boss's vulnerability phase. Especially paired with another offensive CD or DPS Relic.
  • Cell Economy / Thermal Sensor Override: negates the resource cost of your next technique. 2 min recharge
  • Cell Recharge / Dispel: Recharges half of your resources in three seconds. 2 min recharge.

At first glance, the last two techniques may appear to you to be techniques to use if you have wasted resources. Think about it again. These are indeed techniques that increase your DPS, allowing you to use your biggest techniques in a row for 20 seconds of pure pyrotechnic glory, then cushy recover your resources as if nothing had happened.



  • Neural Shock / Neural Probe: Forces the target to attack you for 6 seconds, placing your threat at the same level as its previous target. Doesn't seem to generate a threat as such, but I can't prove it.
  • Sonic Burst / Sonic Missile: Works like the previous one, but on all targets close to the initial target. I insist on the "close to the initial target ”. Warning to Important CD.



  • Storm / Express Charge: This ability sends you to your target, in addition to interrupting their spells, slowing them down and inflicting damage on them. Extremely practical for changing targets or returning to the Cac following an ejection. Be careful, this technique does not work on “cover” targets such as smugglers.
  • Grapin / Harpoon: Brings the target to your feet, but also interrupts their spells and applies a "high amount of threat" (impossible to quantify of course).


Important features.

In order of importance :

Endurance: increases our amount of Life points, endurance can be found on all our pieces in a reasonable quantity, however useless to try to artificially add more to the detriment of our other statistics.

Aim: Our main stat regarding our threat. The damage of all our techniques depends on the aim.

Armor: Increases damage reduction from kinetic and energy attacks. Fortunately, bosses in PvE don't do Force damage.

Shield Index: Increases our chance to block an attack for an amount dependent on our absorption index. Additionally, blocking an attack has a chance to reload our resources and make our Searing Crusher / Fist Strike available with a talent.

Absorption Index: Increases the amount of damage absorbed when blocking.

Defense: increases our chances of dodging and therefore completely negating all our attacks. I remind you, we soldiers cannot DO NOT parry an attack and therefore lose some of the value of this characteristic.

Precision: our ability to pierce the defenses of our opponents. Our attacks are mainly “Tech” type attacks and therefore do not can't miss. This characteristic is therefore almost three quarters wasted.

Surge / Crit / Alacrity / Tip: dps stats, don't try to get a lot of them because your threat will end up being too low.


Summary: Increase your primary stats (Endu / Aim) by keeping your secondary stats (Absorb / Defense / Block) balanced as much as possible.


See stuffer

How do you balance these many characteristics? Unfortunately, there is no ready-made answer. I don't want to do a course on diminishing returns, but I'll try to keep it simple.

The game uses a two-roll system: first the game calculates our defense, then the blocking. So even though defense helps to completely avoid damage, it decreases the value of the block. If you dodge an attack, it cannot be parried and you also lose resource regeneration and a free Lacrosse Strike. But on the other hand, we have block scores that are so huge that increasing your defense is more profitable than accumulating more and more blocking… Yes, but the more blocking we have, the more our points invested in absorption are used. ….

Do you feel lost? It's normal….

The consensus is as follows. Always increase the three main defensive stats together. Defense, Shield Index, and Absorption Index. If you increase one too much at the expense of the other, then you shoot yourself in the foot. Good tanks are those who have managed to swing all three without losing the precious balance.

In order to help you in your first steps with your tank, I will give you the milestones to reach:

  • Absorption index: always to be kept at the same level as the shield index. From 300 in index, its value per point begins to drop. 425 is optimal and achievable for End Game.
  • Shield index: always to be kept at the same level as the absorption index. From 300 in index, its value per point begins to drop. 425 is optimal and achievable for End Game.
  • Defense index: do as you want, but from 350 index, its value per point begins to drop. No need to want to raise any higher though.

Beyond these scores, each point invested in these characteristics will be reduced to a derisory improvement. These are the diminishing returns, which can be explained by the phrase "the more you put, the less you have, so don't put everything in the same place ..."

Beyond these general rules, be aware that there is an excellent SpreadSheet for Tanks that allows you to help yourself, available here.



As a former Tank on Wow (hoist for the win!) I particularly liked this section on the initial guide. Here are some tips to help you adapt.

  • you can't be immune to crit. On the other hand, there is no such thing as a "crushing blow"
  • no need to face the boss. Yes, you can tank from the back if it's fun, it won't change your dodges / blocks. So you don't have to be afraid when traveling.
  • using a channeled technique does not reduce your chances of dodging / blocking. Yes I know it's stupid.
  • if you are knocked out or knocked away by a boss, you will lose the aggro. Tempête / Charge Expresse are there for that.
  • during trash, don't try to keep everyone on your poor little head. Only the champions are dangerous, the others… .Bah it makes work these lazy healers…



My thanks go first to the original author of this post on the MMO-Mechanics site. I also thank the creator of Swtor-Guide for giving us a place to chat (about nothing!).


Updates :

August 3, 2012: Correction of soft cap and addition of hard cap. Clarification of characteristics. Added details of the AOE cycle.


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