The Guard Dilemma


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.


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!

7 thoughts on “The Guard Dilemma

  1. Shintar

    Nice guide! I want to add though that guarding a healer in PvE is not necessarily “the wrong choice”. I agree that most of the time a melee dps is your best bet, but it really depends. It’s true that if we’re talking about an operations boss, tank and dps will generally generate more threat than a healer, but in any situation where there are adds, the healer will always have aggro first because they don’t actually need to hit them to generate threat. Especially in lowbie flashpoints where tanks have limited tools and dps may not necessarily have figured out things like “kill order” yet, it’s not unusual for the healer to do a considerable amount of “off-tanking”, and the least you can do then is give them a little bit of damage reduction. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ravanel Griffon

      Hehe, I guess sometimes they can’t really do much else (in PvP). They can’t survive on their own anyway, so they’ll just have to make leaps of faith and hope the healer / tank will back them up. Super annoying when they just run off on their own, though! ^^


  2. zernebog83

    I usually guard marauders (Imperial mirror of Sentinels) as well. Again, not due to armor but because the deal unholy damage and can rip aggro from my Juggie. My next priority is Assassins then Snipers. Those seem to be the only classes I have issues with. Anyone that plays a Juggernaut or Guardian please take a look at my upcoming guide and leave me some feedback. I would love to hear your opinions and insights about what has seemed to have become my favorite class.


  3. Pingback: Juggernaut Tanking Guide | Zerneblog

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