Enduring Shadow, the PvP Tank Guide

[Editor’s note: I’d like to welcome another new writer, Jacob Hausman, to the OotiniCast team. We hope you find his guide useful! -Teo]

Introduction

This guide’s purpose is to describe the perfect hybrid Player vs. Player (PvP) Shadow (Republic) or Assassin (Imperial) tank. Shadows are one of the best classes in Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) because they can dish-out stuns, provide sustainable damage, and rely on quick movement throughout the battlefield.

shadow tank

This guide is:

  • One that assumes you know general SWTOR knowledge, terminology, and PvP
  • Are viewing this from a PvP perspective

This guide isn’t:

  • The end all-be-all guide on how to play a Shadow/Assassin
  • Something that will tell you the only way to play a Shadow/Assassin

What you’ll learn:

  • Skill trees
  • Specs
  • Stat priority

Terminology

  • Area of Effect (AoE) – Area damage/healing ability, not single target.
  • Crowd Control (CC) – Something that hinders your movements or stuns you.
  • Damage Per Second (DPS) Advanced Class – An Advanced Class focused on damage.
  • Diminishing Returns (DR) – The point beyond which the stat takes more and more to get the same result; in other words, the more points you put into a stat, the fewer bonuses you get per point.
  • Damage over Time (DoT) – An ability that isn’t burst, just takes time to generate damage.
  • Full Spec’d – 31 points or more into one specific talent tree.
  • Hybrid – Class that can do damage and/or heal.
  • Min/max – Finding every possible way to extract the exact stats one wants.
  • NPC (Non-Player Character) – Typically a vendor or a computer generated character.
  • Proc – A “procedure”, an event that is triggered under particular circumstances.
  • Taunt – A Tank’s primary damage reduction ability, it reduces the damage done by enemy players to your team (except damage done to you).
  • Stack – Put as many points as possible into one stat.
  • Tank – An Advanced Class with a stance that allows the guard ability to be used.

Roles and Responsibilities

“If the tanks succeed, then victory follows.” (Heinz Guderian)

PvP is a dynamic game-play type that allows for many different successful builds.  However, most times, it comes down to the same well-established composition for a team to be successful.

  • Healer – Someone who keeps friendly targets alive with healing.
  • Tank – Protects top priority targets while maintaining sustained damage.
  • Damage Per Second (DPS) – Focuses damage on the current highest-priority enemy target.
  • Hybrid – Not only damage or healer, but a utility type play-style focusing on support.

PvP Tanking in Depth

As a shadow tank, your job is more often than not a complex one. Many of SWTOR’s maps revolve around capturing nodes to obtain objective points. This is where the Shadow shines. Moreover, as a front line battlefield tank, your primary role is to keep the healer protected with Guard and taunts. These both lower the damage that the healer takes, thus allowing them to heal the rest of the team rather than focusing on keeping themselves alive. But it extends beyond that. While guarding is simple, the best kinds of tanks manage targets’ Resolve and make effective use of their own stuns to keep top DPS classes at bay. Here are some highlights on what a shadow tank should be doing in a warzone (ranked or unranked):

  • Protecting nodes
  • Calling for help
  • Guarding healers
  • Punting (Force Push) targets off the healers
  • Using damage mitigation on enemy DPS to reduce their damage output

The build I’ve selected for this type of shadow is Enduring Shadow. It’s designed for maximum control, survivability, and speed.

Abilities

Name Level Purpose
Battle Readiness (Overcharge Saber) 50 Used in conjunction with Force Potency for maximum DPS burst.  Combined with higher crit chance, Force in Balance (FIB) sometimes generates 12k DPS!
Spinning Kick (Spike) 42 Basic stun that should be used whenever it’s off cooldown (except if full resolve).
Resilience (Force Shroud) 36 Use this right before and incoming Smash or in combination with Force Cloak for an escape.
Spinning Strike (Assassinate) 32 Always use if target is below 30% health.
Mass Mind Control 30 Your AoE taunt. Should be used when around two or more DPS targets.
Whirling Blow (Lacerate) 26 An AoE damage ability. Rarely used, only needed when more than one player is attempting to capture a door/node.
Deflection 24 Usually used while protecting a node against multiple targets or taking major damage from protecting healers.
Blackout 22 Use right before capping a node for increase stealth.
Force Cloak 22 Used to escape, but also can be used to not be targeted.
Mind Maze (Mind Trap) 20 In-stealth out of combat CC. I use this to hold enemy players off a node to give time for my team to arrive. Note that it takes a lot of Force and adds a lot of Resolve, so learn when to break it and when not to use it.
Mind Control 16 Basic single-target taunt, should use this when off cooldown on enemy DPS.
Combat Technique (Dark Charge) 14 Our basic stance, which should always be on one’s buff bar.
Guard 14 Our protection ability that should always be used (even when guarding a node). Note that you can guard NPCs to receive extra damage; more on that later.
Force Breach (Discharge) 12 Excellent ability when used in conjunction with Mass Mind Control, reducing attackers’ accuracy. It should be used on groups of two or more DPS.
Armor Proficiency: Shield Generator 10 Use Shield offhand for survivability, or a Focus offhand to increase DPS.
Shadow Strike (Maul) 10 Use on the back of target only when Infiltration Tactics proc is active (i.e., showing on your buff bar).
Telekinetic Throw (Force Lightning) Your main channeled ability, use to slow an enemy down, and combine with Force Potency/Recklessness extend its range to 30m.
Force in Balance (Death Field) 1 Major AoE DPS ability with a self-heal that should be used whenever it’s off cooldown.
Force Pull 1 Used to pull attackers away from healers, pulling target to you so you can land a killing blow, etc.
Force Potency (Recklessness) 1 A cooldown that increases critical strike chance by 60%.
Project (Shock) 1 Main attack which should be used in conjunction with Particle Acceleration or Energize procs.
Force Slow 22 Slows enemy player.
Force Speed 16 Your speed machine and also CC breaker.
Force Stun (Electrocute) 6 Basic four second stun. Use with caution, as it builds a large amount of Resolve.
Force Wave (Overload) Your “punt” or knockback ability.
Force Lift (Whirlwind) 4 Two second cast to stun an enemy player for 8 seconds, which is broken on damage. Use this in a 1v1 one scenario and call for help.
Force of Will (Unbreakable Will) 9 Your CC breaker. Use with full Resolve for nearly 10 seconds of un-CC-able power!
Mind Crush (Crushing Darkness) 14 Your primary DoT ability. Use sparingly with this spec as it takes two seconds to cast.
Double Strike (Thrash) 1 Basic attack that procs auto-critical Project.
Saber Strike Auto-attack, use when out of Force.
Mind Snap (Jolt) 18 Interrupts target’s action; use this on healers or a long cast.

Procs

Name Level Purpose
Particle Acceleration (Energize) Spec Automatic critical hit on Project, should always use if appears on buff bar.
Infiltration Tactics (Duplicity) Spec Increased damage and less Force cost on Shadow Strike, go for a backstab when this is up.

Combos

Bursty Bursty

Abilities: Battle Readiness (Overcharge Sabe), Force Potency (Wrelessness), FiB (Death Field), and Force Breech (Lighting Charge)
Usage: When three or more targets are grouped together, use this combination for nearly guaranteed critical hit and increased damage. I can sometimes do 20k in a few seconds (as a tank)!

Rip and Grip

Abilities: Force Pull, Spinning Kick (Spike), and Force Stasis (Whirlwind)
Usage: If I see an unstoppable DPS character I will run nearly 30 meters away from my healer and pull, stun, and lock down the target. Usually I only do this if the player has used their CC breaker, that way I know they’ll be sitting suspended in the air for 8 seconds. Yeah, you’re that guy!

Later Player

Abilities: Resilience (Force Shroud) and Force Cloak
Usage: Use this when you have zero DoTs on your character for a quick escape. Force Cloak alone isn’t very useful because it can be broken, but combined with Resilience it’s a near-perfect exit plan.

No Deeps 4 U (ND4U)

Abilities: Mind control, Force Breech (Lighting Charge), and Force Slow
Usage: My primary damage reduction rotation on a single target; it’s simple, slow, and lowers damage and accuracy.

Stun and Gun

Abilities: Spinning Kick (Spike), Force Stun (Jolt), Shadow Strike (Maul) (if proc up), Project (Shock), Double Strike (Thrash), Force Slow
Usage: This is a bit hard to pull off, but you can melt a single target. Try to manage your proc and wait for both stuns to be up; once they are, execute this rotation for mega single target damage. If they get away, wave at them and use FiB for the kill! You are for sure that guy.

Punt and Dump

Abilities: Force Wave (Overload), Force Potency (Recklessness), Telekinetic Throw (Lighiting Strik) (until range is closed), Spinning Kick (Spike) and Force Lift (Whirlwind)
Usage: This is a long one but it’s designed to keep a melee target at bay. If they close range immediately punt them back, pop Force Potency to get a near auto critical and start throwing pebbles at them with Telekinetic Throw; this will slow down their approach. Once they are in range, knock them down, and depending on their Resolve, Force Lift them for eight seconds to call reinforcements or grab a health pack.

DoT to Death

Abilities: Spinning Kick (Spike), Force Slow, Force Stun (Jolt), Mind Crush (Crushing Darkness)
Usage: Assuming the target has zero resolve, use this combo to put a lot of DoTs on a target. Then go into the normal rotation for more damage when they come out of the stun.

Rotations

I’m not big on “rotations”, or a set way of attacking an opponent. If you look above, the Combos section is full of useful ways to attack in a variety of settings. With that said, a basic understanding of when and why to attack is necessary for this guide.

Single Target

When fighting a single opponent, the idea is to do damage without taking any. Sound simple? If attacking a melee target, use long range abilities; if ranged, pull closer to do damage. The following assumes that you are attacking a medium-ranged target and does not include CCs, as they are situation-dependent.

  • Force in Balance (Death Field) – Great ranged ability that I use to start a fight and close the distance.
  • Project (Shock) – The biggest attack we have without a proc.
  • Double Strike (Thrash) (waiting for Project proc or Shadow Strike proc) – Use for decent sustained damage, to regenerate some Force, and wait for one of two procs.
  • Either Project (Shock) or Shadow Strike (Maul) based on proc – Big hit time, either an auto-crit Project or a Shadow Strike in the back. You’ll most likely have enemy running away at this time.
  • Force Slow – This ability slows their escape and allows me the speed required to catch them for a finishing blow or more damage.
  • Force Potency (Recklessness) – This generates higher crit and most importantly increases the range of your throw to 30 meters.
  • Telekinetic Throw (Lighting Strike) – The finisher. Even if they are trying to get away, you have 30 meters to damage them, and if they get too far, just Force Pull and kill.

AoE

  • Force Potency (Recklessness) and Battle Readiness ((Overcharge Saber) – Will generate a near auto-crit and two big AoE burst damage.
    • If you’re in a group you should always be using Taunts/AoE Taunt because they’re off the global cooldown, meaning you can use them in conjunction with another ability.
  • FiB (Death Field) – Mega damage, but make sure you place it near three targets for maximum effectiveness.
  • Force Breach (Lighting Charge) – If it crits on five targets, this ability can do nearly 6K damage and lowers accuracy on five targets!
  • Force Wave (Overload) – Usually this does decent damage and people are usually casting abilities, so why not interrupt them?
  • Back to single target. At this point I can usually pick up their healer or go rescue mine. The important part is that you’re rotating between targets, using FiB (Death Field) and Force Breach (Lighting Charge) whenever possible along with constantly using taunts to reduce damage.

Stat Priority

Expertise > Endurance > Willpower > Critical Chance 25% (buffed) > Surge (75%) > Accuracy (200 points) > Power

First thing that stands out is that Expertise and Endurance are the cornerstones of this build. Expertise does not have diminishing returns for damage reduction (or they’re very small), though it does for damage output.  Moreover, your nemesis will be smash-happy Juggernauts that can still do 5K critical hits. So maximizing damage reduction and Endurance is key.

Another thing that stands out is why I haven’t put defense or shield stats in my build. These stats are for the most part broken in PvP. I’ve seen builds with heavy defense and shield get melted down because they couldn’t kill anything. PvP is about balance, and doing damage along with taking it is a major part. This build is about survivability while still putting out damage.

Next thing one may notice is a low critical rating. This build is designed for some guaranteed critical hits (Particle Acceleration), increased critical hits (Force Synergy), and nearly guaranteed critical hits (Force Potency). Keeping it low and managing abilities allows for more Power and thus bigger hits.

Lastly is the misunderstood concept of Accuracy.  This is a very important stat because everyone has a base defense of 5%. Most DPS classes use 150 points of accuracy just to reach this baseline number. Anything higher than this has a chance at penetrating armor, thus giving bigger hits. Given that it’s very easy to get to 75% Surge, with any more than that wasted, getting 50 points in Accuracy instead is a wise choice.

Item Modification

Below is a sample itemized list of items you will need to maximize the build. Assuming you have collected all the Datacrons, are using an Exotech Fortitude Stim, and have all the buffs, this will put you at 24,000 hit points, 1390 Expertise, and 500 melee bonus damage. This blended stat distribution will have a near-perfect balance of survivability and damage.

For those of you familiar with Ask Mr Robot, here is a sample build with my suggested spec and gear: Deltia ranked tank.

Also of note, I use the item set bonuses from the tanking pieces, giving you added incentive to guard a target because it grants a 5% bonus to your damage. Did you know you can guard an NPC at the start of the match for this bonus? Try it the next time you play Civil War if you’re going to guard a node.

Main-hand– (61) War Hero (WH) Stalker’s Saberstaff

  • Expertise Crystal
  • Shroud hilt
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Initiative enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Off-hand – (61) WH Survivor’s Shield Gen

  • Expertise Crystal
  • Shrouded 27 armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Acute enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Head – (61) War Hero Survivor’s Headgear

  • Survivor armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Efficient enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Chest – (61) War Hero Stalker’s Robe

  • Shrouded 27 armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Efficient enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Glove – (61) War Hero Stalker’s Handwraps

  • Survivor armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Efficient enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Belt – (63) EWH Force-Mystic’s Sash

  • Shrouded 27 armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Fortitude augment

Wrist – (63) Elite War Hero Stalker’s Bracers

  • Shrouded 27 armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Fortitude augment

Leg – (61)War Hero Survivor’s Legwraps

  • Survivor armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Efficient enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Feet – (61) War Hero Survivor’s Boots

  • Survivor armoring
  • Mettle 26A mod
  • Efficient enhancement
  • Fortitude augment

Ear – (61) Force Lords

  • Fortitude augment

Implants – (61) War Hero Striker’s MK-1 Motivator x2

  • Fortitude augment

Relics – (61) War Hero Relic of Boundless Ages x2

  • Fortitude augment

Summary

Armorings needed:

  • Survivor armor bonus x4
  • Shrouded 27 armoring x4

Mods needed:

  • Mettle 26A x9

Enhancements needed:

  • Initiative x1
  • Efficient x5
  • Acute x1

Color Crystals needed:

  • Expertise x2

Augments needed

  • Fortitude x14

Tips and Tricks

  • Use Taunts/AoE Taunt whenever they’re off cooldown (assuming you’re not alone).
  • Always interrupt healers casting long heals. If your interrupt is on cooldown, use a punt, a stun, use something to stop them; yes, be that guy!
  • Use stims, warzone medpacs, warzone adrenals, v-1 seismic grenades, anything that can help the battle!
  • Play every class in the game. It takes a lot of time, but makes you such a well-rounded player when you know why someone is doing what they’re doing.
  • Gear means nothing without skill; gear is meant to augment your skill, not dominate it. If you’re not doing well, watch some videos on YouTube or contact me. The gear gap has significantly closed in SWTOR.
  • Learn from the best. In one match I faced an Assassin who utterly destroyed me. He controlled me, did tons of damage, and out-dueled me, no problem. I didn’t cry about it; instead, I immediately logged over to my Sith character and asked him how he did it.  Most great players aren’t afraid to share their secrets. Having all the stats/gear/knowledge means nothing if you can’t execute.
  • Understand your stuns and manage Resolve. Don’t use your Force Stun off the bat, it generates too much resolve.
  • Enable your Resolve bar on your User Interface setting.

Resources

  1. http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=494097
  2. http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=588963
  3. http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=427933
  4. http://www.noxxic.com/swtor/pvp/jedi-consular/jedi-shadow/kinetic-combat
Share

Comments

Enduring Shadow, the PvP Tank Guide — 9 Comments

  1. Well written guide. Rolling a Shadow next because of it. One of the most intuitive well explained guides I’ve come across. Can you write more of these?

  2. Thanks mate this is a really good guide, after reading this with my Shadow tank Swordmaiden at lvl 16 I won Novare Coast, topping the leaderboard with most kills and most protection, and captured 2 of the nodes, so cheers

  3. I have History background and thoughtit might be fun to leave a few quotes from ancient generals which i think have some relevence in shadow pvp play, they are a bit cryptic as they are translations from Chinese/Japanese
    fast as the wind, silent as a forest, ferocious as fire and immovable as a
    mountain.Takeda Shingen
    these others are from the 36 Strategems by the Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu
    All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
    Besiege Wèi to rescue Zhào, Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west,
    If all else fails, retreat and regroup

  4. Can you put up a new link for the build. I only see the bottom rows on each side of the tree. Wondering if its because of 2.0. Anyway would appreciate an update build if so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>