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The Guardian Tank

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The Guardian Tank

This is still a work in progress and I will update it when I have more info. Updated - 4/18/2013

Well played Tanks are essential for Operations Play. The Guardian Tank can be a very effective if played well. Using the built in mitigation and timely use of Defensive cooldowns can make an operation or HM FP go more smoothly.
In this post I will discuss the Guardian Tank build I use and how best to use it.
Important Changes.
1. We no longer have stack of our armor debuff it is just a debuff, much better.
2. Our buffs and debuffs from attacks now last longer on the whole and it is much harder to lose them during a fight.

The Spec Switched it to the Swelling Winds Spec.

This is a Full Defense tree build. The Hybrid has become less valuable in 2.0 with some changes and additions to the Defense tree as well as the Vigilance tree. There are now talents I consider essential for PvE tanking high up in the Defense tree.
How the points get spent Defense Tree, I will only touch on the points I put into the build not what I leave out.

Tier 1: Victory Rush, take both points more focus is good for us. Dust Storm, Still applies our Accuracy debuff take all 3 points, it lasts way longer than before give us more leeway in rotation. Master Focus, boost Master Strike Damage good for us take both points

Tier 2: Lunge, lowers focus cost of Riposte and increases its critical chance take both points. Guard Stance, increases armor rating by 15% for 1 point take it. Guard and Thrust, Lowers the cooldown of Riposte while Saber ward is up. Nice since riposte should be procing constantly while saber ward is active. I take both points but these 2 points are flexible if you really like something better. If you want to level in Defense I suggest 2 points in Battlefield Command over Guard and Thrust.

Tier 3: Warding Call, take it 40% DR always helps, essential defensive cooldown. Blade Barricade, makes Riposte grant us 5% defense for 20 seconds, great take both points, this buff should never be able to fall off. Purifying Sweep, this makes Force sweep also apply our armor debuff which is good for multiple mob tanking.

Tier 4: Blade Barrier, our own small force bubble, damage mitigation is always good, take both points. Courage; Grants up to 3 stacks each stack lowers the focus cost of Blade Storm or Force sweep by 1, essential to help with focus management doesn’t matter which ability uses the stacks so take both points. Stasis Mastery, still makes Force Stasis so you don’t have to channel it take the point.

Tier 5: Shield Specialization, increases shield by 4% much better now since shields apply to Force and Tech attacks in addition it lowers the cooldown of Saber Ward by 30, take both points. Hilt Strike, a no focus attack that generates a lot of threat with a stun take it. Guardianship, a new talent that makes it so when you AoE Taunt all allies within range(15m) get a small force shield. Awesome take both points. This can make your AoE more of a strategic tool during single boss pulls.

Tier 6: Inner peace, makes Enure longer and increases your Internal and Elemental DR very good take both points. Cyclonic Sweeps, Increases your Focus generation in combat and lowers the focus cost of Guardian Slash, Blade Storm and Cyclone Slash by 1. Great helps with focus management and aoe threat take the point.

Tier 7: Daunting Presence, makes Saber Reflect last longer and generate a high amount of threat also makes your interrupt reset after you force leap, take both points. Beacon of Might, lowers the cooldown of Warding Call by 30 seconds makes Hilt Strike and Guardian Slash do more damage and lowers the cooldown of Riposte more. Take all 3 points.

Tier 8: Guardian Slash. This attack is much improved it now does more damage. When the target is affected by your armor debuff it can hit up to 4 other enemies but not cc’d ones. It generates extra threat and automatically procs Riposte and gives you 3% DR for 20 seconds! Being on a 12 second cooldown this means you should always have it up, and the riposte buff as well even if you aren’t tanking since it lasts for 20 seconds as well.


You will want to try to always keep the buffs or debuffs from the following powers up. Blade Barrier from Blade Storm. Armor debuff from Sunder/Force Sweep. Blade Barricade from Riposte. Dust Storm from Force Sweep and your increase DR from Guardian Slash.
To start off an encounter:
Saber Throw->Force Leap->Blade Storm->Sunder->Guardian Slash->Riposte->Force Sweep->Force Stasis

After this you prioritize your powers
1. Blade Storm, one of your primary damage powers and gives a shield.
2. Riposte, NOT on the Global cooldown and costs only 1 focus give 5% Defense Buff also has highest crit chance of any of your attacks.
3. Guardian Slash, applies DR buff and procs Riposte.
3. Force Sweep, keeps Dust Storms 5% accuracy Debuff up and your Armor debuff.
4. Sundering Strike, primary focus generator should generate 7 focus when talented. Maintains our armor Debuff
5. Dispatch, Best damaging attack can only be used on enemies below 30% health. Don’t use if it would make you lose an essential buff or debuff.
6. Master Strike
7. Force Stasis, generates Focus and is talented so you don’t have to channel.
8. Strike if below 10 focus and everything is on CD.
9. Slash if you have 10 or more focus and everything is on CD.
10. Force Push, doesn’t cost focus so use it if a lot of powers are on CD.

It is a bit of a list and this is one of the crosses to bear being a Guardian Tank.

Defensive Cool Downs and other crucial info or Part 2.

PVE Set Bonus

You should always keep the 4 piece set bonus from end game gear of Columi and above.
2 pieces gets you an Additional Second of Blade Turning and adds 2 seconds to the duration of Warding Call.. Blade Turning is part of Saber Ward one of your defensive cooldowns normally it provides 2 seconds of 100% Defense when Saver Ward is activated, this makes it 3.
4 Pieces gets you an increase of 20% to how much your Blade Barrier, from Blade Storm, can absorb. I always think of Blade Barrier as Ablative Armor, or a Bubble kind of like the Sages, so it is great to get more it makes you have better survivability and helps the healers.

You are given 5 defensive cooldowns as a Guardian Tank, though only 4 are ever used. Plus 2 other abilities.

1. Focused Defense; This uses 4 Focus to lower threat and if you get hit after that it uses 1 focus to heal you a little and lower your threat some more. NEVER USE!!! For end game PVE this should be either taken off your Bar or moved to an auxiliary bar that you won’t accidentally click. You NEVER want to lower your threat as a Tank. This power is really for DPS Guardians and PvP.

2. Warding Call; You get this from the Defense Tree. It is a flat 40% DR against everything for 10 seconds which is great. On top of your already good DR from heavy armor plus Soresu Form this is one of the really good Cool Downs in the game. With the PvE Set Bonus this has a 12 second duration. 2m30s cooldown when talented.

3. Enure; This is a self heal/HP Buf. It gives you a 10% Buff to your HP for 10 seconds. It is a great power and the reason I always have the single biggest heal given and received when we parse Ops. (I think that drives Karyna a little crazy.) 1:30 cooldown.

4. Saber Ward; All Knights get this cool down and it is Great for Guardians. It last for 12 seconds and grants 50% increase to Melee and Ranged Defense as well as a 25% damage reduction increase against Force and Tech attacks, also,known as yellow damage. Normally the first 2 seconds you have 100% Melee and Ranged defense but with the PvE set bonus this is 3 seconds. Essentially for 3 seconds you are Invulnerable and for the other 9 you have a small chance of being hit while taking less damage from Tech and Force attacks. 2m30s cooldown when talented. Also if you took Guard and Thrust Riposte has a VERY short cooldown while Saber War is active so you can almost spam it.

5. Saber Reflect; When talented this ability should last for 5 seconds and generate a lot of threat on all enemies within 30 meters. I am not sure how much threat that is yet, need to test it. If it works like a seconds AoE taunt this is great and really nice for ranged trash mobs. 1 Minute cooldown. UPDATE. After running a few HM 55s this ability is Great for Trash Pulls. I use it every time it is off CD to start a fight with ranged mobs. Boss use is situational.

Other useful abilities

1. Resolute; frees you from all stuns etc. All classes have one, this is the Guardian one. 2 minute cooldown.

2. Guardian leap; In theory a great power. It has you leap to a friendly target within 30 meters it reduces their threat and grants them 20% damage reduction for 6 seconds with a cooldown of 20 seconds. Seems great but when tanking in End Game you often want to keep the boss turned away from the raid, many have frontal cone attack. Therefore using Guardian Leap would cause the boss to at the very least turn and maybe run through the raid. Can be a nice gap closer if you don’t have threat on the boss and Force leap is on cooldown.

Those are the Defensive cooldown. The Guardians have long timers but can really help in a fight. So here is some guidelines on use.

These are guidelines you will find in some end game fights cooldowns are required because of Boss/Fight Mechanics.

1. If at all possible you don’t want to wait to hit Defensive Cooldowns till you are really low on health they may not save you then.

In order of preference of use I go with Enure, Warding Call, Saber Ward. Enure has the quickest cooldown so it can be used most often. Warding Call is the most solid for reducing damage so should be used first when that is needed. Saber Ward is the closest to an OH S**T cooldown Guardians have since in theory you get 3 seconds of not being hit to start.

I use these powers on a situational basis. I do NOT use them on cooldown since they may be needed when things get dicey and or fall apart a bit.

Enure for regular use when I quickly drop below 50% health but have healers about to heal me but possibly busy with healing the rest of the raid. It provides extra survivability time with the quickest cooldown.
SITUATIONAL USE Example in HM TfB on the first boss when it is my turn at Tanking one of the healers may be out of range of me because of Fight Mechanics and the other may have to heal the raid . So I pop Enure since I know those mechanics don’t last long and I will soon be in range.

Warding Call for regular use when I drop a bit below 50% and the healers are stressed where I have already used Enure or know a big spike in damage from the Boss is Coming.
SITUATIONAL USE Example if one of the raid member dies unexpectedly and one of the healers has to Rez him/her and I am Tanking the boss use of this power will help mitigate damage. If some boss mechanic is making a healer(or your healer if in split groups) unavailable then I will use this to once again mitigate as much damage as possible so when they can heal again they don’t have an almost dead Tank.

Saber Ward for regular use when Both Enure and Warding call are on cool down and your health drops a bit below 50% and the healers are stressed. Basically the same as Warding Call when it is down.
SITUATIONAL USE Once again basically the same as Warding Call. The one other use is if you Know a High damaging attack is coming and you can time it cause of visual cues while you are low on health you can essentially negate the attack if timed right because of the 3 seconds of Blade Turning to start.

SITUATION USE for all of these is if you hit an Enrage time on a Boss, these used in succession or Combination in the case of Enure and one of the other 2 may be the difference in the raid succeeding in taking the Boss down.

Saber Reflect I would use this in ranged trash pulls early. For bosses any boss that you know does a regular ranged attack, such as Firebrand or Stormcaller, I would use it on cooldown for the extra damage. Or maybe on the trandoshans under the shields, that sounds even better. Just remember it only reflects melee force and tech damage. So it is very situational against bosses.

We haven't covered stats yet and it is time.

Choose pieces that have high Mitigation stats. You will still get plenty of END but I would take Mods and Enhancements that are higher mitigation stats over ones that are really high in Endurance.

There are 3 important Secondary Stats for Guardian Tanking plus your armor.

Defense which is the chance you will dodge or parry an attack and take NO damage.

Shield which increases the chance your shield generator will activate which brings us to

Absorb which is the % of damage your shield will absorb when it activates.

Accuracy can be good since we will hit more but it is in conflict with Shield so it probably won't be take.(4/10)

Alacrity DO NOT take, useless for us. They say it was taken off all new tank gear but I haven't checked yet.(4/10)

I am not sure how to split your stat budget yet, once I see some good theorycrafting I will update.

UPDATE (4/11)

In case you missed it Shields now work on all attacks that do Kinetic or Energy damage. Presviously they only worked on Melee and Ranged K/E attacks. They now also work on Force or Tech K/E attacks.

So KeyBoardNinja has done some theorycrafting in regards to Tank stat distribution.

I have found him to be very solid when it comes to this stuff. These numbers reflect the stats you should be shooting for After you hit 55. Pre 55 just keep doing what you were doing. The short of it is Stack mostly defense until way down the line. It will take a bit of optimization for that but remember Defense and Absorb are interchangeable on Mods and Enhancements.

ALL of your items should be augmented. Ask around if you need augment kits made plenty of people in the guild can make them same with the Augments.

There are I Believe 3 new types of Augment Kits, no clue why 3, MK7-9. Personally I am going to not add new slots except on New gear and only use the MK-9. There are new tiers of Augments to go with these I haven't seen them yet but I am sure people in the Guild will eventually be able to make them.(/End UPDATE)

I use 3 types of Augments. Currently I use these and will switch to the newer better ones over time as I get mats etc.


You have 14 pieces of Gear to Augment and I have mixed and matched them depending on what I needed at the time. The majority of them are Defense and Absorb. Use of the tanking spreadsheet can help you decide which to slot at a given time in your gearing up. This means you may end up with more than 14 augments because your needs may change at times.

Relics When you first hit 50 I suggest using UPDATED 5/10/2013
[http://www.torhead.com/item/bQBd2p2/matrix-cube-m7-y3#reward-from] made from the 3 yellow matrix shards. Then buying a Dread Guard Relic with Classic comms when you get enough.

Using basic comms you can get the Proc Defense Relic and for the other use either an EHW Static Defense Relic (this may only be available to you if youhad it prior to 2.0) or the On use Shield Relic as a mini cooldown for spike damage you know is coming. We don't also use the Shield proc relic because it shares a CD with the defense one.

I prefer using Relics that DO NOT need to be clicked on to activate. You already have a lot of powers to worry about and click adding Relics to that just get annoying.

BiS I am not sure, but will update as I see more. For now I would go with proc relics if at all possible less things to click. Shield and Absorb relics got a lot better so you should get one of those.

Please ask questions here or message me. Also if I have the time I will happily talk with anyone on vent about anything.
Posted Dec 27, 12 · OP · Last edited May 10, 13
Jolgalev wrote:

The Spec Thinking it might be better to take 2 points from Accuracy and put them in Swelling Winds for more threat generation.

That is what I had pre 2.0 when i ran with a full defense build, and would be doing in 2.0.

Accuracy would possibly be better in single target situations, but I prefer the utility of extra aoe dmg. As a side note, it feels like guardian tanks may be able to hold better aoe agro now that we aren't as rage starved as before.
Posted Apr 9, 13

Same here, full defense build did not change all that much.

The only issue with holding agro AOE was and still is, getting the mobs together. Even before 2.0 as long as a group of mobs were within range of force sweep and cyclone slash I had no problem holding them. It's always the ranged mob that stands away from the rest that was and still is the issue.
Posted Apr 10, 13

Ranged Mobs should be somewhat easier with the addition of Saber Reflect and Daunting Presence in the 7th Tier of the Defense tree, it basically give us a 2nd aoe taunt on a minute CD that can also cause damage. I am looking forward to trying it out on a ranged group in an OP.
Posted Apr 10, 13 · OP
it should be noted that some, not all, ranged mobs switch to melee if you engage them directly in melee range. Still a PITA to chase them down, especially when you have dps in PUGS that don't know target progression.
Posted Apr 10, 13
Guardian Tank tanks are punks, I know because when Jolgalev yells at Leyn'a to dump aggro, I know they are punks.

Joke: Mav explained to me that Burst DPS + Guardian Tank + Start of FIght = Trouble. One of the things I would like added to some of these class instructions is how DPS and Healers can make the different class/roles easier and vice versa. Next time I do a operation with Leyn'a i will be sure and aggro dump after my openning, even though I hate that with the crappy aggro dump shadows have since it is used in maintaining force too. Just my request or 2 cents...

all you tanks (or anyone else in any role) if any of my toons are doing something that makes your job more difficult, let me know. I promise if I knew I was doing that, I would not be doing it (unless it is something to annoy Lynk, Mav or Jolgalev). :p
Posted Apr 10, 13 · Last edited Apr 11, 13
Hey Mim, that may be a feasible idea. Though mostly it will be along the lines of Drop Aggro on CD PLEASE!. And for Sage healer to keep their HoT on the tank for the armor buff.
Posted Apr 10, 13 · OP
Updated the Stat portion of my post with a link to some theorycrafting for level 55 endgame.
Posted Apr 11, 13 · OP
KBN has redone his stats clacs with more info from HM S&V. They changed some, looks like Absorb increased in value some.

Posted Apr 29, 13 · OP
Also when tanking I have been running with a build that switches the 2 points in Guard and Thrust for the 2 points in battlefield Command. I have just found the faster Force leap more use so far while leveling and FPs.
Posted Apr 29, 13 · OP
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