Tanking Fundamentals

"Protect and Serve"
If that's not in your wheel house, probably best not to tank ~ Admiral Nick

Great tanks will take feedback from the group, even if its groaning from a player.  Intentionally holding a boss outside of an AoE because a player complained serves no one.

📔 Chapter 1 - What's in a Tank?

Tanks are designed to be able to survive hits, that would otherwise kill or massively reduce HP of a DPS or Heal class.  Our job is simple, yet very complex in execution.

Tanks in SWTOR have 3 main functions in my mind:

📘 Chapter 2 - Choose your tank Class

We have three options for tanking in SWTOR.  I would recommend Guardian for new players.  If you are already playing a class that can become a tank, I recommend trying out your favorite class's tank spec first.  If you are already playing shadow DPS, for example.  Try out Shadow.  I find folks generally connect with and perform better on tank classes they have already had some experience DPSing on their alternate builds.

The Tanks in SWTOR are:

Defense Guardian | Immortal Juggernaut - When I think Guardian Tank I think "I can do this all day", this is the class that takes a punch to the face and shrugs it off.  The spec focuses on mitigating damage by increasing the damage reduction (DR) stat line.  It has several strong defensives and self heals.  Most of its active abilities also generate some form of defensive increase as well.

Kinetic Combat Shadow | Darkness Assassin - When I think Shadow tank, I think cunning, strategy, precision and deliberate.  Shadows are dodge champions.  Most of their reduced damage comes from being able to dodge attacks better than the other two specs.  The shadow will feel "squisher" when it does take a hit.  Shadow has a complex "rotation" system that builds its defenses up.

Shield Specialist Vanguard | Shield Tech Power Tech - Vanguard tanks can run rings around bosses and other players, we are the front line.  This class will feel much more like a run and gun style of play.  It can tank at a greater range than its counter parts.  Often being able to move out to 10 meters and still fire most of its core abilities.  It will gain more uptime with its base attack (range of 30 meters).  During phases that would push the tank away, the vanguard can still "pew pew".

All three are unique and fun to play.  If you are going to be a tank main, mastering all three to some degree is something I would highly recommend.

Guardian Tanks can definitely put out much higher DPS parses vs Vanguard and Shadow, with shadow being well below the other 2 specs.  Each have their own advantages that make them an ideal choice for a fight.

Guardian - Saber Reflect can not be overstated.  On a fight like Firebrand/Stormcaller.  I deal more DPS over the fight than half the DPS, just from saber reflect.

Shadow - Helpful when cleanses are an issue (friend of the force tactical), large damage mechanics are causing problems and resilience will fix it, or you can cloak out to break a boss's channel and ignore the mechanic all together.  (Master's Ion cutting beam, for example.)

📕 Chapter 3 - Gearing up as a Tank

We will be getting defense gear as a tank class.  Our gear drops will have the defense stat instead of power that DPS and healers use.  Power is still important to us, as the power stat line increases the damage of attacks.  We will not find any power from our base gear, though.  This will make our hits much weaker and can cause us to have a hard time holding threat.  Augments are critical to a tank.  100% of our Power stat line comes from augments.  If you are not using them, your attacks will have a much harder time generating threat.  Alternatively, we can use DPS/Healer gear instead of Tank gear.  I routinely use a DPS set of Belt and Bracers for additional power.  The loss to defense is not that critical for lower difficulty content.

Check out the how-to for augmenting here, and recommended gearing for getting your character geared up and ready for tanking.  If you are coming from playing a DPS or Heal class, you can farm for tank gear by setting your loot drops to your tank spec.  Clearing content on that character with this set will cause all gear that drops as rewards for it will be tank gear.  If you are new into the game and choosing tank as your first class, gearing will be a similar chore.  I highly recommend swapping to a DPS spec and farming for tank gear as mentioned above.  A tank in suboptimal gear is not very effective in most content.  At least a DPS in entry level gear can still put out damage.  Keep in mind that upgrading augmented gear will destroy the augment and augment kit.  Be sure to remove the augment before upgrading.  There is, however, nothing you can do to reclaim the augment kit.  I recommend getting your gear leveled up as far as you can, then augmenting it.

📗 Chapter 4 - Setting up your UI

This part is covered under basic training.  If you skipped basic and headed straight here.  This is not a section to skip.  The game does not come with a tank friendly UI.  Turn these on in the above guide.

📘 Chapter 4 - Training Day

At this point we have our Tank set up, somewhat geared up and a path on what we need to keep that process going.  Now it's time to start gaining experience as a tank.  Having 3 friends to take into flash points is great.  If that doesn't pan out, try to fill a group in fleet chat.  All else fails, queue in and see what pops.  Flash Points are an exceptional training ground for tanking.  Master Modes are a must, veteran modes have no need of a tank and will not give you a feel for tanking.  Things die too fast.  (not that master mode is much better if you are in max gear.)  As long as the rest of your group is geared well for Master Modes, you being under-geared should not be an issue.  If you are missing implants, or are using some DPS gear items, it will be "good enough" to get started below.

Here are the flash points I would recommend running and what "skill" they will test.

Hammer Station

Boss 1 - The boss will not move.  You will need to dodge AoE blast as they come out from the adds and deal with periods of high damage from the boss's laser beam channel.
Ways to enhance the experience:

Encourage your team to do the bonus boss.  The bonus boss is an excellent example of a "pushy" boss.  Find a wall to put your back to, or be thrown around the room like a puppet.  It is otherwise a pretty boring fight, but is good experience in "hold your ground" style bosses.

Boss 2 - A multi-boss fight.  As a solo tank it will be a tough channel to hold threat on all three.  One of the bosses channels an attack that can be interrupted as well.  Good experience in keeping threat on multiple targets and coordinating a team.

Final boss - another static boss fight, but brings in several other mechanics.  Waves of adds spawn, the boss does knock backs, forcing you to watch your positioning.  Damage circles pepper the battlefield too, adding many layers of "awareness checks" to the fight.


Boss 1 - Add heavy fight with evasion of damage circles.

Boss 2 - We deal with waves of adds and getting stunned by the main boss.

Bonus boss - knocks you around, back to a wall

Final boss - Boss disengages and reappears.  Not much of a tank challenge.


The final boss is great for "moving a boss", awareness and mechanics checks.

Mandalorian Raiders

Boss 1 - Can be very challenging for new groups.  Boss will threat drop, his minions will swap targets.  It's a great fun for tanking "chaos".

Boss 2 - A four boss fight, can be fun to try to hold all 4's threat.

Battle of Ilum

Boss "1" (the two before the big ice cave) - These two are a tough fight.  High damage output, knock backs and tough threat control.

Final Boss - Multiboss with channels to interrupt or party members die.  Damage Circles to avoid.

These are just a few good examples to get you started.  Each flash point you do will have new challenges and mechanics to work out.

📙 Chapter 5 - Keep working on the basics:

📚 Chapter 6 - Final Thoughts

Once you are comfortable in your role as a tank, keep expanding your knowledge of the game.  Learning all the other classes will help you better understand how you can support them.  Learning how to heal, in particular, can help you understand how to better communicate with your healers when you tank.  Knowing different DPS specs can help you spot when they are using abilities that you may need to wait an extra moment before moving the boss for.  Tanking is about tying the raid team together into a cohesive fighting unit.  When the tank is on their game, fights area much easier for the team to clear.

Superior tanking comes from experience.  If you have never seen a fight before, watch videos, check uploaded parses to parsley.io and find and use what guides you can in advance.  Most of the time consumed in progression raiding, is on tanks learning the fights.  It can be very difficult to glean from a video when, if, and why a tank is using defensive abilities, this is something that you will have to fill the fight out for and know when which defensive ability is needed where.  The more challenging the content, the more proper defensive usage will play into progression.

I'll be working on some general tanking videos off of the above content.  Support of the project is appreciated and keeps this kind of content coming!