Shield Specialist | Shield Tech
The Shield Specialist is the Vanguard's Tank spec. As the name implies, this tank class focuses on shielding attacks by absorbing damage. It is a versatile tank class and perhaps the most straight forward of the three tank options. Shield Specialist have a huge array of defensive cool downs, with its natural rotation enhancing our shield absorb stat significantly. It is highly mobile, can gap close and can use its harpoon to pull targets.
Gearing up for Shield Specialist
Below are the gear selections, legendary implants, tactical and skill point choices I recommend for this class.
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.
As you are preparing to start the pull and before/as you initiate the ready check, begin preloading your shoulder cannon. Take extra care not to accidentally fire your shoulder cannon and start the fight. Always check your buff bar to be sure it needs to be loaded, and you have not already done it.
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 "wind up" abilities they are channeling or building stacks. They will rely on you to help them provide the best openers they can. Snipers for instance like to precast orbital strikes. Sages enjoy preprocing 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.
Shield Specialist Ability Patterns
The Vanguard is a sort of hybrid between the guardian and the shadow. Our goal as a shield specialist is to proc and fire our Energy/Heat Blast. We do this by building power/heat screens. Three screens are required to proc and fire Energy/Heat Blast. Unlike the shadow, our Power/Heat Screens will build themselves as we are attacked and have the "shocked" debuff on the boss. This leads us to be able to focus more on using abilities on cool down rather than playing the RNG game. I will first highlight how we build Energy/Heat Screens, then discuss putting everything into a full "rotational pattern".
Ideally, we want to pull from range, then gap close to our target. It can be very challenging to hold threat if we cannot use our Harpoon to start the fight. Harpoon generates extremely high threat and is a must for pulling. If you cannot use it, you will need to taunt early and triple taunt to ensure the boss stays on you.
Charging in will build two stacks of static surge. This buff procs Ion Pulse/Flame Burst and will make our next two uses of Ion Pulse/Flame Burst cost no energy cells.
Building Energy/Heat Screens
Our basic ranged attack has a Chance to proc Ion Cell (says 15% in tool tip, but I find it pretty consistent when spamming) It will also keep Ion cell refreshed as well as
Shockstrike will activate Ion Cell and Proc's Ion Storm and enables use of High Impact Bolt. Shockstrike should be used on cooldown.
Dealing damage with the above will trigger Ion Cell, putting the shock debuff on the target.
As long as the shocked debuff is on our target, we will build Power/Heat Screens. The Debuff when applied will tick for 6" and build 3 Screens.
This is not a clickable ability, rather a buff we gain as we use our abilities. We need 3 to Proc and fire Energy/Heat Blast. With the Thermal Screen Tactical, we can hold up to 6 stacks of Power/Heat Screen. With this tactical, we will never have an issue with having enough screens up to fire Energy/Heat Blast on Cool Down. Each power screen gives us 1% increase to shield absorb.
This ability has a base 14" CD, but building more power Screens, or refreshing them, reduces its CD by 1 second. While you can hold a Proc'd Energy Blast and wait until right before a spike to fire it, you build charges and can fire them fast enough, It's just as well to fire it on CD, unless you know something big is coming you need to time out. Best of all, the ability is off the GCD, so keep firing other abilities while hitting this one. Using this ability increases your Shield Absorb by 30%.
Screens up Sequence
Taking all the information above, we build our Main Sequence. Using the below with the Thermal Screens, Tactical will build 5 Stacks of Power/Heat Screen over the 3 GCD Window. This allows up to Fire Energy/Heat Blast very quickly. This should be repeated as often as Shockstrike comes off of its cool down.
Instantly fires an AoE blast at up to 10 m. Does damage, but no buffs/debuffs. This ability has a chance to proc Ion/Fire Storm, but it will not build power/heat screens. It's a great AoE filler, but it has little other utility.
Channeled, with a slight increase in utility against weak enemies (knocks them down). You can move while it channels. I don’t use this against ops bosses, unless adds come in that I can knock down. It also has a chance to proc Ion/Fire Storm, but it will not build power/heat Screens.
This is our spam filler, but take caution as this ability eats energy cells rapidly. If it has been proc'd by Static Surge (charging in) it's our top priority filler. Use it as often as possible, but watch your energy cells. If you go below 50% without having Recharge Cells/Vent Heat available, stop spamming, or you are going to have energy problems.
Explosive Surge works exactly like Ion Pulse and is buffed by Static Surge as well. It should be substituted in place of Ion Pulse in AoE situations. It suffers from the same energy consumption that Ion Pulse does, so watch the spam.
It's easy to run out of energy as a Vanguard/Power Tech Tank if you are spamming too many Ion Pulse/Flame Burst, for an example. If you catch yourself running low, or are just "emptying the mag" use the above to make your next ability recharge 50 cells and get back in the fight quickly. No one likes spamming hammer shot to recharge.
Putting together a full Rotation/Opener
Continue with a filler or 2 until Shockstrike/rocket punch comes back up. As shoulder cannon comes off of cool down, continue its use and spam fire of Shoulder Cannons. If you can find ways to Impact charge back in, do so. Routinely in fights with tank swaps, I will run out enough to charge in when it is my turn to take the boss. Anytime the boss has a phase where it freezes in place and will allow you to gain distance, to do so. Thrasher for example will stand still and roar as it punts players upstairs. I can use this time to run back and close in quickly. (Remember to hammer shot as you range the boss. Hammer shot should always be firing if nothing else can.)
A quick note on shields
Make sure your shield is a TECH power shield. Do not try to use a shield from a Force user. You will need to use a unique Tech shield for your Vanguard/PT
The Shield Specialist's Defensive Arsenal
The Vanguard's Tank class has an impressive array of defensive abilities to use, as well as gaining bonus defensive stats from many of its rotational abilities.
Flat increase to Damage Reduction of 25% for 15 seconds. This one I consider my main defensive for high damaging attacks. It levels out the damage we take impressively. Pairing it with a discharge of Energy/Heat blast will have us taking very little damage over its duration.
This is one of those great offensive and defensive cool downs. Battle focus becomes a very powerful defensive with the "Soldier's Grit" passive at lvl 68, this becomes a 35% increase to defense chance. I routinely pair this with a Shield Adrenal or Riot Gas. With Riot Gas, we essentially push the Defense chance to 50%.
Technically not a defensive, this is a self-heal. When you activate it above 35% health, it will heal you for 2% HP for 60". As soon as your HP dips below 35%, it heals you for 35% and ends. As such, I find its use best in the 50-70% HP range to take full benefit of its 60" of healing. I find this ability to be a much weaker version of the guardian's focused defensives and while it heals more than the shadow's battle readiness, it lacks the 25% defense chance that the shadow's self-heal version has. I see this as the weakest of the three tank's self-heal abilities. Do not rely on this to save your life.
Very straight forward, this ability Increase's shield absorption by 30% for 6 seconds. You should be using this on cool down unless you have a specific reason to hold it for incoming burst damage. This should be up about two thirds of the time when tanking.
This debuffs any foes inside its effects, reduces their accuracy by 15% (essentially +15% to Defense chance)
Immunity to push/pull/knock down and +75% move. Helpful for avoiding damage/cleaves/conals ect. Also, not technically a defensive cool down, but in my mind it is. Hold the line can save you from being pushed off platforms (revan push/pull) or let you get out of a blast circle that would cause damage. It will also prevent/break you from being slowed or rooted.
Protects allies in the area it detonates (around 7 m). It reflects the next single target attack they take. Note, this is also our AoE Taunt, so be sure not to use this if you are currently the off tank.
These two abilities are not what I would call traditional defensives, but they are used rotationally to build both shield and absorb stat. Each generate a power screen (1% absorb) and a stack of Shield Enhancers (1% shield)
This one does a lot. Our Legendary (supercommando Package) and our tactical both buff this ability. This ability increase your armor by 40% per stack, stacking up to 5 times (200% armor increase). That’s about an increase of 5% Damage reduction per stack or a 25% Damage reduction. This ability also applies a small heal to you. Furthermore, it resets the Cool Down of Energy Blast and immediately builds 6 Power Screens (6% shield absorb). To top it all off, this also applies an absorb shield to you that absorbs 1.62 million damage for 3" (not long, but can soak up massive damage hits). It's a staple of ability of the class and with only a 60" cool down, it should be used often.
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 "Sonic Missile" 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 Options
Our Main Choice and our top pick of tactical. If I were on a tech fragment budget, this is probably where I would start first. This enables us to quickly fire off an Energy Blast on demand with our very strong defensive, infused kolto packs. My caution here is to not clip the cool downs of buffs unless you are focused on DPS and not protection. If we have 3 screens built and fire Energy Burst, then hit Infused Kolto Packs which will proc energy blast again, we should wait at least 6" before firing Energy Blast again as we wait for the Buff from the first Energy Blast to expire. It will not stack and give us a 60% Shield Absorb. Also, if we are using the super commando package, firing energy blast while we have up its absorb shield waste 3" of shield absorb stat increase (as the absorb shield from infused kolto packs is soaking damage for us). Wait until that buff wears off before firing Energy Blast to get full use of its 6" shield absorb increase.
This tactical is pretty straight forward and requires a little timing and positioning to get maximum benefit from it. It is only useful in fights with reliable add waves that we can get the extra DR from. It is hard for me to make the choice to swap off of thermal screen, but there are instances where it will be of better use to us. Some examples could be: Malaphar - TOS, Revanite Commanders - TOS, Writing Terror - TfB, Sparky and Bulo - Ravangers and fights similar to those. In difficult trash mobs like in Gods from the Machine, this tactical may be a better choice during the trash mob clears. (7.3.1 saw this damage reduction increase from 2-3%)
This DPS focused Tactical is subjectively a good choice for Vanguard/PT tanks. It offers no additional defensive utility, but it will increase your DPS increasing threat generation. It is helpful to increase DPS in all fights in the game. More DPS, even an extra 1-2k from a tank can help to push phases that can lead to skipping mechanics, spending less time in high damaging phases.
Our tank implants are decent choices for all the more difficult content the game has to offer. In easier content, it is 100% doable to swap out your tank implants for DPS implants.
Skill Point Options
There are few times I will change and adjust my skill points as a Vanguard Tank. My standard pattern is shown below.