7.4 Defense / Immortal SWTOR Guides

The Defense Guardian, as the name suggest, focuses on using the Defense and Damage Reduction stat lines to mitigate damage.  This tank spec will have a much less "spiky" feel to it compared to shadow, per se.  Its increased DR from abilities lessen the hits that failing to shield an attack would cause "Spiker damage" to the other tank classes.  It has very strong Defensives, but they come with longer cool downs compared to other tank classes.  Listed below are several mini rotations I have broken up to make some sense of all that button mashing.  Also included here is a breakdown of the many abilities we use and the benefit they supply the Guardian, as well as suggestions on gearing and skill point picks

Gearing up for Defense

Below are the gear selections, legendary implants, tactical and skill point choices I recommend for this class.

For more on gearing, visit the pages under gearing your character in the basic training tab.  Gearing to 340.

Getting Ready for a Fight

We have to be ready before we pull a boss, there are several steps to follow that will develop a good tanking regimen

Using guard effectively will help keep the boss's threat on you and your teammates alive.  In Flash points, we typically guard the healer to keep them safe from mobs.  In operations, we give it to the top DPS player.  You should get a sense of who is the strongest dps player of your group and guard them.  They take reduced damage and will build less threat regardless of how close they are to you.  You can help the healers as well.  Consider swapping your guard to a player that is taking damage/low on health.

Initiate a READY CHECK - This can be done simply by typing " /rc " into the chat box.  Always make sure your group is ready before you pull.

Once you have confirmed the Check is Green

3 - 2 - 1 - GO!

Always provide a Consistent and reliable Countdown to the pull.  Your DPS and Healer classes may have prefight abilities they are channeling or building stacks for.  They will rely on you to help them provide the best openers they can.  Snipers for instance like to precast orbital strikes.  Sages enjoy precasting their abilities and so forth.  You will earn the respect of your team quickly by consistently providing a countdown they can time out.  Make it the same every time and build repetition.

Guardian Ability Patterns

The following are sequences I follow in response to what I need from tanking at that moment.  For example, early into fights I make use of the Threat Generation Sequences, but as I secure threat, I stick to my main sequence and focus more on dps output to help push a boss down.  Tanking is very much a game of being proactive to what will happen next.

Opening Sequence

Always start with this sequence where possible (99% of the time).  Saber throw at distance and then leap in.  Saber throw generates high threat, and leaping in after it will start you off with enough focus to execute your next sequence.

Main Sequence

This pattern should be repeated as often as Warding Strike comes off of Cool Down.  Note that Threatening Focus and Riposte are off of the Global Cool down.  In this sequence, using threatening focus after a taunt does bonus damage (threat) and builds our Focus even further.  Force sweep is a great pair with riposte, to apply the "unsteady" debuff (reduces target's Melee/Ranged accuracy by 5%) early for extra defense, if the boss misses you take less damage.  Force sweep will not likely be up for each riposte in this pattern.  Be sure to pair riposte with another ability to take full advantage of the fact that it is off the Global Cool down (you can use other abilities and activate it too!)


Taunting before Warding Strike and Guardian Slash can have extra benefits based on skill tree choices.  As such, taunting can be used as an offensive ability as well as a threat multiplier.  Be sure that you can use taunt in this fashion and that it will not be needed for a threat drop mechanic, or a boss swap/add phase.

Defensive Sequence

If we anticipate high damage or a spike hit during the opening sequences, use the Defensive sequence as a higher priority, otherwise use the threat building sequence first.  There are fights where I use this before the main sequence if I know that the boss is going to open with high damaging attacks.

Threat Generation Sequence

All of these abilities build very high Threat.  (Note that saber reflect must be chosen in the tree) Saber Reflect may also need to be saved to be used as a defensive, but if you do not anticipate needing it in the first 60 seconds of a fight, use it as you Pull for Massive (AoE) threat generation.  These abilities can be used in any order.  (Saber Reflect is off the GCD) These abilities do not need to be used in any particular sequencing.  If you want to build amazing levels of threat quickly, use these 4 back-to-back.  They can be inserted in between abilities in other patterns as well.


Retaliator Sequence

With the retaliator package (legendary implant) in some fights you can use Riposte in 80% of all GCDs, it can be used with other abilities, so just keep spamming the button as it lights up.  Sometimes it gets a bit tricky to keep hitting this ability and activating your other sequences, work to keep it somewhere your fingers can reach easy for a huge DPS/Threat increase.  It gets notable mention as its own sequence, as some fights (or phases) it will be available to spam and others it will not.  When Riposte lights up and if you enter a period where you can spam it as the Retaliator Sequence, have fun!  (Notable fight is tanking Tuchuk in Scum and Villainy), I have used riposte over 200 times in some pulls.


There will be times when all of your other abilities are on cool down.  During this period, resort to these to bridge the gap until warding strike comes back up.

Only useable sub 30% or if proc'd with the skill point to use it after a force leap.  If it lights up, use it at a higher priority vs the other junk fillers.  I tend to stay focused on my other abilities that give me bonus defensive stats over using this ability.  As such, if you do not get to use it in its proc'd window, no big deal.

When you have enough force and can spam this to fill the gap to do so, it deals the highest damage/threat next to dispatch, which can only be used if it has proc'd, or you are sub 30% boss HP.

Yes, our basic attack, I hate it, but sometimes we will run out of energy and just need to smash it a few times to get caught back up.  Do Slash again as soon as you have enough force to.

If this is up, and you need to focus, use this over a strike.

The Guardian's Defensive Arsenal

The guardian has an impressive number of abilities that provide an increase to its defenses.  Guardians rely heavily upon defense chance and damage reduction to mitigate incoming damage, rather than lean on shielding (vanguard) or the dodge chance of the shadow.  As such, we should strive to increase our DR as high as we can get it and push it higher artificially through our main defensive abilities for HIGH spike damage hits.

Main Defensives

Last for 12", this ability gives us a 50% increased chance to dodge Melee/Ranged damage and a 25% Damage reduction to Force/Tech attacks.  It is on a 2:30 minute cooldown.  With the Grit Teeth Tactical, saber ward will refresh much faster than the base cool down.  Use it frequently, it is a very strong defensive that will level out the damage you are taking against very strong boss attacks.

Warding Call is a unique defensive we gain as the defense spec.  It does not modify our stats, rather it just reduces damage taken by 40% for 10 seconds.  I do not find that this one protects me as well as saber ward, so I tend to use it to smooth out moderate damage phases and never rely on it to save my life.  It has a long cool down (2:30) meaning in most fights, you will have this to use only once, maybe twice in a fight.

With the Critical Defense Passive at level 43 this focus gaining ability becomes a 10% Damage Reduction for 10".  Handy for fights that need a little bit extra DR.  This also purges movement impairing effects.

As far as defensives go, this one does nothing for you.  It can, however, be used to help save a teammate.  NEVER use this on an active tank, as it will reduce the threat of the target of your leap.  Making the tank loose threat can wipe your team.  I have found this ability uniquely helpful in Izax (induction cascade).  I can quickly leap to the player getting pounded by induction, then run out before I take any damage or spread it (hard mode).  There are a ton of other uses, but you must weigh in using a GCD to help the healers or continue DPS to push the fight along.  25% DR to the target.

Where we usually guard the player with top threat, it's not always the best option for a guardian.  Every time our guarded player is attacked, our movement speed is increased by 30% for 6".  I usually try to guard whoever is taking the most damage.


Enure is a temporary self-heal.  The Self-heal is commonly referred to as "fake health".  You get an increase of 30% HP for 20".  Meaning, if you are already at 100% you can in fact push your health to 130%.  This can come in handy for a fight that does percentage-based HP damage (tyth rage overload).

With the passive at level 64, second wind, your CC breaker can be used as a self-heal, giving you 10% of your max health back as well as lowering the CD of your CC Breaker.  Not useful for too many fights, as you need to be able to be stunned or have your movement impaired to use it, but it has its place.  

This one can make us seemingly immortal.  First off, it has 0 defensive utility, it will NOT reduce the damage you take.  This ability grants you 12 charges (and you must be below 70% HP to use it).  You have 15", during which time if/when you take damage a charge is consumed, and you are healed for about 25k HP per charge.  This means that if you are taking a low amount of damage, you can effectively heal up for ~ 300k HP in 15 seconds, a true lifesaver.  But if you are standing in something that is dealing damage to you at a rate of 50k/second, you are going to DIE!  You do not become invincible when using this.  I have heard so many guardians say "I was using focused defenses, how did it kill me through that".  Read your tool tips people ;)

The Choice is yours

We are made to pick one of the three defensives below for our level 68 choice.  They all have their merits

Short Cooldown (1 minute), for 5 seconds you reflect all single target ranged, force and tech attacks back to the attacker.  (Note NOT melee).  This means you take 0 damage (unless it's melee or AoE), and you reflect boss or add damage back to them.  Can be VERY powerful, and what the game considers single target can be a bit off from what one might think.  The spires on EC tanks for example are Single Target.  When I am new to a fight, I typically just step in whatever stupid I can find to see if reflect works.  This is typically my default choice.

This movement ability dashes you forward 20 meters, damaging enemies in your path.  It can be used as a defensive cool down for its 100% defense chance while blitzing forward.  Blade blitz can help you ignore some very high damaging attacks like DOOM in dread guards, or the titan 6 launch blast wave.  There's a ton of uses.  Like with saber reflect, I tend to try it out against different attacks to see where it can be used best.  Mastering the forward role takes some practice, especially if cliffs are close by.  35" cool down.  If saber reflect does nothing for me in a fight, this is my second choice.

We first think of Awe for its AOE Stun ability against weak targets.  Against boss's though, it's just as powerful as it debuffs the boss with a 15% reduction to its melee and ranged attacks for 10".  Also, on a short cool down (1 minute) it can effectively give your entire team a 15% defense chance.  Helpful for phases of team wide damage and can be useful against add heavy fights where the adds can be stunned and reducing their damage will help (corruptor zero).  It's a great ability, but Blade Blitz and Saber Reflect often trump it.  As such, I only take it in fights where I cannot reflect and have no need to use blade blitz for movement.

Your Abilities and the Defenses they bring

Many of the guardian's base abilities now provide a defensive boost as you use them.  As such, some can be saved for burst windows, while others need to be maintained in a rotation to keep their defensive's up.

The dust storm passive at level 23 gives this ability the added benefit of reducing our targets' accuracy by 5% for 45".  As such, we should always have this "unsteady" debuff applied to our targets.

Also, with the level 51 passive riposte now gives us a Blade Barricade increasing our Defense chance by 5% for 10".  Riposte should be used whenever it is proc'd as it's off the GCD as it is.  Some fights, it is spammable with the Retaliator Package.

The passive we gain at level 78 gives usage of blade barrage a 6% Defense chance.  (Blade barrage hits 3 times in one activation).  Last for 6"

Base, this ability gives you 3% increase to your damage reduction and shield absorb.  Picking Defensive assault at 23 increases the DR by another 2% Note the ability has a 12" CD and the DR last for 20".  It should always be up.

Our Passive @ 51 gives this ability the added defensive to give us an absorb shield for 10 seconds (Blade Barrier).  Last for 10" or until we've taken enough damage to collapse it.  Blade storm has a 12" CD, so this defensive should be used pretty much on Cool Down.

This one can become a defensive of sorts with the further 10% Damage Reduction to us.

The Admiral's Rule on Taunting

Your Taunt should be used when you need to multiply your threat ahead of the DPS.  It's situational and can happen at different times depending on DPS composition/Experience Level.  As a Novice Tank, Taunt early into a fight.  As you get a better feel for the role, try delaying your Taunt after Several ability activations/channels to max your threat multiplication.

Taunting on CD will help you build threat, but is not necessary to hold threat on your target, unless your gear/skill level is low and the dps's gear/skill level is high.  Again, the "Goal" is to hold the threat.  Taunts will help, but using a taunt as a crutch can often leave your taunt on CD when it is needed.

I call this an AoE taunt as it works same as "taunt" but effects all targets w/n 15 m of you.  A common Strategy for single target fights is to "taunt" use a few abilities "challenging call" use a few abilities and then "taunt" Again as a "Triple Taunt".  Sure Fire way to be the top threat

The best and most effective way of taunting is to get a feel for each group you play with in trash mob pulls, moving up to bosses.  If you notice that you are losing threat to your target after only a few GCDs, Taunt sooner.  If you go 4+ GCDs and dps has not pulled your target off of you, you know you can give it a few more GCDs and Taunt to multiply.  On Bosses, this will give you an idea of how aggressively you need to taunt.  Being able to save taunts helps you to control the fight (changes in phase, adds spawning ect.)  Remember, ALWAYS have your Mass Mind Control (AoE Taunt) up when you know adds are about to spawn.  If you are new to the fight, adapt from mistakes.  Try to dps fights first to get a sense of the flow before taking on the role as a tank.  The tank leads the flow of the battle.  If you are going in blind, be ready to react by having taunts available as much as possible.

Implants and Tactical Discussion

When choosing tacticals and implants, there are a few good choices, a few questionable ones and just some downright bad options.  I've listed some below, if they are not here, steer clear of them all together.  There are some new Tank Legendary's with 7.2, learn more about them in my exclusive content vault.

If you are going "Pure" tank build for stats, these are your only two options.  Force Resistance is inline with the other two tank specs and helpful for fights with heavy Internal and elemental damage, and synergizes nicely with Guardian's preference for increasing Damage Reduction.  The retaliator package is just dumb.  It has no use in mitigating or helping us tank anything, and just adds an ability for us to spam riposte (quite ridiculously in some fights) without end.  Retaliator is quite useless in fights like EC tanks, where riposte isn't Proc'ing, making it only selectively useful but not overly useful.

In ALL story mode content, and the easier Hard mode ops, you do not need the tank stats from the above unlegendary implants.  I use the same ones I do for DPS guardians.  Might as well at least do more damage = more threat.  We can mix and match these with the above tank implants as well.  I personally find that using the Fearless Victor + Retaliator Package to be a huge DPS increase for the Defense Guardian and useful in fights that require higher DPS checks or in situations where we are taking less damage where we can lean more heavily into a hybrid DPS role.  The defense tank is capable of putting out 14-15k worth of DPS running these implants and around 2,000 points into the critical stat line from armor options.  (This of course assumes you have augmented your gear with purple or better for a full pool of tertiary stats.

Grit Teeth is hands down the best tactical for Defense Guardians, even after the 7.0 change.  Saber ward is a HUGE defensive for us and having it up 2–3 times in a fight is lifesaving.  Obtaining this tactical can be a little challenging if you lack credits, as it is only obtained through crafting and as such on the GTN or obtain the receipt and craft it yourself.  Worth it either way you get it.  It's kinda a must-have.

The only other tactical that has any utility.  This makes it to where every enemy hit by Guardian Slash gives you a 2.5% increase to your damage reduction.  In add heavy fights, or Trash Mobs, this tactical will be superior to grit teeth.  Even in dual boss engagements where the bosses are close (Jarg and sarno) this tactical will be more beneficial.  IF grit teeth is out of your budget, this one can prove its worth in a fair number of ops bosses.  It really shines in fights like Writhing Horror, Duxn boss 2/3 gods hull cutters ect.

This one had some use in 6.0, in 7 I think they just forgot about it.  In 6.0 there was no way to increase the DR from warding strike (passive: defensive assault at lvl 23).  So taking a 3% DR and Turing it into a 5% DR was noteworthy.  Now you are just taking a 5% DR and making it a 5% DR.  IF you are thinking oh wait riposte has no cool down, and I can spam it, so this might be useful, consider that warding strike has to be up for riposte to consume it.  Warding Strike is on a 12" CD and it's buff last 20".  This tactical is POINTLESS if using the defensive assault passive.  -  UPDATE - 7.3.1 - Devs give this one some love!  The damage reduction increase has been pushed up to 7%, giving us full uptime on a 7% DR vs. a base 3%.  Could be useful now, but I rather suspect Grit Teeth will continue to be our go to.

This one has some function.  It takes Warding Call our long cool down defensive that gives us a 40% increase to damage reduction and extends it by 5".  Can be useful, but keep in mind in most fights you are only getting to use this ability once per battle.  I tend to shy away from relying on one-offs, unless there is a specific one-time boss mechanic that matches its use and somehow 5" longer of its use would save me.  Still, Grit teeth is superior.  In the end, Saberward > Warding Strike.

Life Warden is one I rarely use, but it is worth noting.  When none of the other tacticals look to serve a purpose, slip this one on and you have a HUGE emergency self-heal.  It has a long cool down though, if you are wiping a lot in a prog, swap it out for a next pull if it's not going to be up.

Skill Point Discussion

By default, I take Saber Reflect.  It's my go-to in easily 90% of operations bosses.  There are few times when Blade Blitz would be my pick (NiM Dread Guards to cheese Doom for example).  The other options have merit, and there is a lot of matching utilities to boss fights on a guardian.  If you find yourself struggling, check your skills and match them to the fight.

Pure Defensive build
No benefit to taunt before Warding Strike

More Offensive build
Taunt before Warding Strike