Vigilance | Vengeance
Vigilance is right now; I believe the most played spec in the game. Rightfully so, its damage potential is perhaps the highest parsing AoE DoT spec in the game in the current build. The Guardian has moderate survivability with its heavy armor, but relatively low raid utility and limited true Defensive abilities. This limitation is off set some by its relative ease of play with a very linear rotation and ability to move around the battlefield. If you are struggling to parse above 25k in fights, pick this class up. The utility may be low, but being able to bring the dps to a fight is a valuable trade-off.
This class has planned balance changes in 7.4. Our level 23 skill point that reduces plasma brand's CD by 2" is removing the 2" reduction. We are going to see some changes to this class's rotation.
Gearing up for Vigilance
Below are the gear selections, legendary implants, tactical and skill point choices I recommend for this class.
The opening sequence is pretty much our normal patterns, just with saber throw and force leap added in to start the fight and give us enough focus to start things out.
The standard Rotation can be broken down into 3 Blocks.
1 - DOT application Block
In this block, we apply our 3 DoTs. In the opener, we will have combat focus up. Combat Focus will be available to use in this block every 4th rotation of this block. When it is up, use it after blade storm outside the opener.
2 - DoT Spread and DoT Tick Block
In this block, we use Vigilant Thrust and then Blade Barrage. Vigilant thrust can be delayed if we know we have Adds spawning soon as it spreads our DoTs to targets it effects as long as it hits a target with our DoTs Burning. Blade Barrage cannot be delayed and must be used within 2 GCDs of Blade storm or our DoTs will fall off early. Blade Barrage "Ticks" and refreshes our DoTs on our target with the Hemophilic Slash Tactical.
We have 2 GCDs to wait until PLASMA BRAND comes off of cool down, and the rotation begins again. We need to fill in here with 2 fillers. I choose these two fillers based off of how much focus I have to use. This is the block that will make or break your rotation. I recommend using sundering strike if you have any fear at all that you will not have enough focus to restart your DOT block. As you get use to the focus generation, swap it out for more uses of slash, or Whirling Blade.
Filler combo #1 - Use this when you have at least 8 Focus. This will be what we use in our opener as using combat focus will have us generating quite a bit of focus, and we can afford to use our higher dps focus eating abilities.
Filler Combo #2 - This is what we use when Whirling Blade is on cool down, and we have plenty of focus to work with. IF riposte ever lights up (we have to take damage) you can use it in your filler blocks.
Filler Combo #3 - If whirling Blade and Saber throw are up, this pairing can be used to build a net of +4 focus, which can be enough to avoid sundering strike (low dps) and continue your rotation. Always check focus first.
Filler Combo #4 - when our focus is low, we need to use sundering strike as one of our fillers to rebuild for our next round. This will happen right before combat focus comes off of cool down, every 4th start to the rotation.
Below are reference cards you can use for quick reference when practicing your rotation.
Vigilance's Defensive Abilities
Last for 12", this ability gives us a 50% chance to dodge Melee/Ranged damage and a 25% Damage reduction to Force/Tech attacks. It is on a 3-minute cooldown. It's a strong defensive, but its long cooldown means you will most likely only get to use it once in a fight. I save it for emergencies, mostly.
More than likely our best Defensive ability, a 60% AoE DR for 15" on a relatively short cool down (45"). Note that Stalwart Defensives skill point must be chosen at level 64 for this ability to gain this utility. I consider it pretty much mandatory for Hard Mode + Ops.
So, this one can be tricky. 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 a tank, 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.
Enure is both a self-heal, a cleanse and a defensive. The Self-heal is commonly referred to as "fake health". You get an increase of 30% HP for 10". 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). As Vigilance, enure also provides us a 15% DR for 10". The DR is handy, but usually enure is reserved for a cleanse in many fights, making it hard to use as a defensive cool down.
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. The Difficulty with using Saber Reflect in a dps spec is that often the boss/damage is not targeting you. In any fights where you know you will take some form of saber reflectable damage, this is the pick.
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 typically my top choice as a DPS spec.
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.
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 ;)
Legendary Implants and Tactical Discussion
The Vigilance Guardian has two main choices for Tactical, Hemophilic Slash or Cut to Pieces. Hemophilic Slash is our go to for 85% of all boss encounters and is the preferred single target tactical. If the boss fight is mainly single target with occasional adds with low to moderate hp, stick with hemophilic. Cut to pieces only out paces hemophilic in add heavy fights, where the adds will survive long enough to take advantage of the "slam spam". The entire rotation above is built around hemophilic slash.
Our default or main tactical. You will want this one first unless you are playing story mode content and routinely face large groups with high HP such as in heroic areas. Not using this tactical will mess with our rotation, mainly our focus generation from our DoTs falling off earlier than "normal".
This is an option for some fights and can be great fun for trash. I usually only run this if I know for certainty that I am going to have a lot of uptime on multiple adds for extended durations of an ops boss. Sarg and Jorno (KP) for example a 2-boss fight, I would not use it. Where-as Bestia (DP) the entire first half and last quarter of the fight is extremely add heavy (worth it). Find places where you can slot this bad boy in and enjoy what we call slam spam. Your rotation pretty much becomes DOT - Slam - Dot - Slam - Dot - Slam - Slam - Slam - Slam repeat. It can be great fun and a HUGE increase to dps given there are enough adds to cover its use.
Our two tacticals here are again our only real option for dps guardians. Good news is that we can 100% use these tacticals for all 3 guardian specs quite effectively.
Skill Points Discussion
The Skill point choices selected here are very pivotal to executing the above rotation and having enough focus to do so. The top three selections in the Skill Tree are more fight specific and not dependent on the rotation. There are, I am certain, many ways to play the guardian and its rotation. The basis of the class is its 5 core abilities and 2 fillers as cool downs line up.