Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Guard Dilemma

Introduction

As promised in my previous post, the next topic I will discuss will be about who to place your Guard on in SWTOR.  Unlike previous MMOs I played where I was melee DPS, I chose to go with the Guardian Tank as my first and only character (yes, I like to focus on one character) for the first two years of the game.  I did not participate in operations until late 2013 with my current guild, Pillars of Ashla.  First, I will talk about the mechanics behind Guard!  It is always important to understand the basics!

Yajard in Battlemaster PvP Armor

Yajard in Battlemaster PvP Armor

Guard Mechanics

The Guard ability is available to all Tanking Advanced Classes (AC) in SWTOR.  It requires the use of the AC’s Tank stance in order to be available as an ability.  A tank applies Guard to a player or companion by clicking on that character and toggling on Guard.  Here’s the tool tip for the Guard ability.

Guard Tool Tip

Guard Tool Tip

Important notes from the Guard Tool Tip:

  • Activation Range:  30 meters for activating;  not an issue if you place Guard before a fight.
  • Damage Reduction:  5% less damage for the guarded player.  Doesn’t matter how far away the player is from you!  Many beginner tanks feel that the damage reduction is tied to the 15 meter PvP range, but this is wrong.
  • Threat Reduction:  25% less threat for the guarded player.  Again, doesn’t matter how far away the player is from you.
  • PvP Range and Redirected Damage:  During PvP, if the guarded player is within a 15 meter range, 50% of the player’s incoming damage from enemy players will be transferred to the tank guarding them.  Note that in PvP, the 5% damage reduction also applies to the player being guarded, no matter the distance from the Tank.
  • Stance Requirement:  As previously mentioned, the tank must be in his tank stance. For Jedi Guardians, this is Soresu form.

A guarded player or companion in this case will have only one buff if guarded and within the 15 meter range for PvP redirected damage.

Guard Protection Info Buff

Guard Protection Info Buff

If the guarded player or companion is outside of the 15 meter range, two buffs will be shown instead.  One is the same shown above, but there’s also another seen below.

Out of Range for PvP Redirected Damage

Out of Range for PvP Redirected Damage

This “Out of range” buff is only applicable for PvP redirected damage.  Note that the Tank is indeed outside the 15 meter range, which is the limit as indicated on the Guard tool tip.  As far as I know, there doesn’t appear to be a PvE limit to the 5% damage reduction and 25% threat reduction buffs from Guard.  As long as the Tank and the guarded player are on the same instance of either a planet, Flashpoint, or Operation, the passive benefits of Guard will still apply no matter the range.

The Choice of Who to Guard

Now that the basics are out of the way, I will go into detail on how I choose who to guard.  There are obvious Guard mechanics that favor certain choices over others, but I also inject some subjectivity into my choice.  Since Guard acts differently between PvE and PvP, I will split the discussion into those two categories.

PvE Guarding

In PvE group content, Flashpoints and Operations, the Tank’s role is to maintain threat and take the majority of the damage.  While I won’t go into detail regarding threat mechanics, healers in general will generate less threat per damage healed than either the Tank or DPS.  Tanks get multiple threat modifiers from their stance, abilities with additional threat, and taunts.  DPS will generate threat mainly by their damage on a 1:1 basis (1 damage = 1 threat).  Since threat generation increases for those closer to a mob, if ranged and melee DPS are roughly equivalent, melee DPS will most likely have higher threat.  If I find a good consolidated guide regarding threat generation mechanics, I will include it here.  Please let me know if you know of one!

Guard will give a player both 5% damage reduction and 25% less threat generation.  The 25% threat reduction is extremely valuable in PvE content and should be the primary basis for choosing who to guard.  A proper tank should be able to maintain threat on a boss, but DPS in particular can sometimes steal aggro.  Guard will help with this!  Thus, always pick DPS over healers for Guard!  I admit that when I first started this game and was new to tanking, that I placed Guard on my healer in Flashpoints.  I quickly learned that is not the right choice!

So far, I’ve placed DPS as the only group members that should be guarded.  To further narrow down my choices, I take into consideration the class and armor type of each DPS character.  I prefer to guard melee over ranged due to threat mechanics.  In addition, I consider the armor class of each DPS character.  While armor class does not account for other forms of mitigation, it does give a sense of the survivability of DPS.  The 5% damage reduction on a guarded player is not much, but it is useful to have!  Here’s a priority Guard list that I use based on class.  If a player is stealing aggro on a consistent basis, I will adjust as needed.

PvE Guard list from higher to lower priority (Republic classes – All DPS spec):

  • Jedi Sentinels – Melee DPS, medium armor, and personal experience have Sentinels at the top.
  • Jedi Shadows – Melee DPS and light armor.
  • Scoundrels – Melee DPS and medium armor.  I just don’t see them a lot, so I put them lower on the list.
  • Guardians – Melee DPS and heavy armor.
  • Vanguards – Melee DPS and heavy armor.
  • Sages – Light armor but ranged so lower on the list.  In AoE situations, I may switch guard to a Sage.
  • Gunslingers – Ranged DPS and medium armor.
  • Commandos – Ranged DPS and heavy armor.

With my analytical approach having established key guidelines, the rest of the decision on who to guard becomes subjective.  There are a few personal parameters that I consider, totally subjective and sometimes silly!  I only employ these subjective guidelines when I’m looking at roughly equivalent DPS, such as 2 Sentinels.

Subjective Guidelines:

  • Respect – I value respect a lot, especially when it is found on the Internet where some feel that they can hide behind their anonymity.  Someone that doesn’t insult other group members will get a Guard.
  • Politeness – Related to respect, but I consider it its own guideline.  There have been situations, usually in PUGs, where I am demanded to give someone Guard.  If that person is stealing aggro, it would be a reasonable request.  If there is no basis to that person being guarded, they will be lower on my list than they were before!  Some have politely asked if they could receive a Guard, and I am receptive to these requests if it makes sense.
  • “Special” Qualities – There’s always someone in the group that makes their character look absolutely silly by either appearance or emotes.  I appreciate a little humor now and then.  Lightens the mood and emphasizes that we are playing a game for fun!  In the below operation picture, the Sentinel gets my bubble of Guard protection for using the “No Bones Dance” emote!

    Use funny emotes?  You may get a Guard!

    Use funny emotes? You may get a Guard! Didn’t catch him with No Bones Dance however 😦

PvP Guarding

Unlike PvE, threat is not applicable.  Tanks are meant to take damage from enemy players as much as possible.  This means placing Guard on whoever will be taking the most damage at any particular time within the 15 meter range.  In most situations, the default choice is the healer.  The healer will almost always be targeted first.  If a healer is not in the area or the opposing team has decided to focus on another teammate, switch Guard to another player!  In situations where the Tank is asked to guard a node, consider placing your Guard on a teammate before heading to that node.  While you won’t be able to redirect enemy damage, the 5% damage reduction from Guard does help.

Conclusion

That concludes my guidelines on how I choose who to guard in PvE and PvP!  The PvE choice is based primarily on mechanics and then has a few subjective guidelines applied.  For PvP, it is much more straightforward based on mechanics only.

My next article may be related to the Gree since the event is finally coming back!  The Gree vocabulary has always fascinated me.  See you again soon!

Testing 1, 2, 3…

Hi all, R2 here!  I am starting a new SWTOR blog that will capture some of my random thoughts on the game.  I will update when I can!  For now, I will describe my history with SWTOR.

I started playing SWTOR since closed beta in July 2011.  The hype for the game was tangible with the myriad of fan sites and podcasts already out back then!  Needless to say, getting into the closed beta was a wonderful opportunity for me.

End of Beta Party

End of Beta Party – Guess who the shirtless Chiss is!

At that time, I was a member of The Jedi Academy gaming community centered around Star Wars:  Jedi Outcast and Star Wars:  Jedi Academy video games.  The community is still around, but not as active anymore since the games are outdated.  As the name suggests, this community was a place conducive to teaching players how to play both games.  Members of the staff would hold classes teaching various lightsaber forms and game play modes.  The servers were filled with players waiting in line at the dueling mats!  I used to be an instructor for the dual sabers class and helped manage the community’s competitive Team Free For All (TFFA) team.

Jedi Academy Aurochs TFFA Team - I'm Lando!

Jedi Academy Aurochs TFFA Team – I’m Lando!

The Jedi Academy community was quite interested with SWTOR and expanding to it.  We set up two guilds, one for US and one for EU.  I was a co-lead for the US guild on Jedi Covenant (convenient server name!).  At launch in December 2011, a lot of community members started hopping into the game and playing through their class stories.  Everyone was playing at their own pace, but we all socialized while leveling.  Once most members hit the level cap on their first toon, they started to lose interest in the game or just didn’t have time for it.  Back then, the end game content was limited.  We organized Flashpoint runs and were able to field a team each week for them, but we never had enough activity for an op.  On the other hand, the EU guild was having better luck and a lot more participation.  I remember watching their live stream of Eternity Vault.  So proud of them!

As I foresaw and expected, the US guild was declining despite my efforts and the efforts of my officers.  I started having a lot of work trips mid way in 2012 and steadily lost interest in the game too.  After about a year of playing the game, I was disappointed with where the guild was and felt dragged down about what to do about it.  I decided to take a break from SWTOR and returned to playing various other games, such as Lord of the Rings Online (Rise of Rohan expansion) and various single player games gathering dust in my Steam library (who doesn’t have that problem?!).

I sporadically played SWTOR in 2013.  The US guild I was a member of was basically no more at that point.  When I heard about Galactic Starfighter and somehow got into the closed beta for that too, I returned to the game.  At that point, I decided to look for another guild to join.  In December 2013, I joined Pillars of Ashla on Jedi Covenant and am happily still there!  Pillars of Ashla does just about everything in the game but not in a hardcore manner which suits me rather well.  Unlike most guilds I’ve seen, Pillars has a well-structured charter outlining the rules and responsibilities for members and officers.  My first time raiding in SWTOR was with Pillars of Ashla!  The guild last year consistently made the Top 10 on the Guild Conquest Leaderboard.

Pillars of Ashla - 3rd place on the conquest board!

Pillars of Ashla – 3rd place on the conquest board!

I have not taken another large break from SWTOR after joining Pillars.  Unlike most people in the game, I used to focus on only one character, my Jedi Guardian, Yajard.  I’ve slowly been creating new characters to experience the other class stories.  I now have a Scoundrel, Sage, and Mercenary!  The momentum within SWTOR was picking up pace last year and hope it continues into this year.  More story content is something to look forward to, but I hope it doesn’t mean little to no updates for the rest of the game.  I’m very optimistic about SWTOR and intend to play the game for quite a while!

Now that my SWTOR life story is over…  a little more about this blog!  I will be writing anything that is in my thoughts regarding SWTOR.  I don’t intend to hit on all of the “hot topics” and summarize in-game updates.  I’ll pick a topic and just write about it.  I intend to keep future posts short and sweet, with a little humor mixed in.  I’m planning my second blog post to focus on the “dilemma” of who to guard in operations.  I’ll talk about the obvious game mechanics behind who you should choose and then my thought process on how I make it subjective too.

For now, signing off, with a picture of my Imperial Agent at the end of SWTOR beta.

See you soon!

See you soon!