Update: 3/23/15 Update including suggestions posed by TankingFTW (use of Saber Reflect, alternate opening rotation, additional information concerning changes to Tool Tips following 3.0),
Having been playing an Immortal Juggernaut since 2.3 (Titans of Industry update), I thought that I would like to share the information that I have garnered with the rest of the community. This guide is aimed at the beginner Juggernaut and offers advice on gearing, keybinding, threat management, rotations, the use of guard, and the set-up of your user interface. This guide should not be looked at as a be-all and end-all guide to the Immortal Juggernaut because there are still parts of the class that I do not know. I have had very limited experience with raiding with the Juggernaut, and if you are looking for advice surrounding this part of the class, I would urge you to instead look at Artorias‘ guide for the Immortal Juggernaut. Artorias definitely knows the class and has had a lot of experience raiding on the Juggernaut (and the Republic mirror class, Guardians). I have, unfortunately, not had the pleasure of playing with Artorias though we are on the same server.
(I am in a mix of 172’s, 178’s, 186’s and a couple pieces of 192’s, so I am not quite geared enough to begin attempting the new Operations)
Gearing an Immortal Juggernaut is not all together that difficult. Your role as a melee tank is all about keeping the enemy mobs bashing on you rather than the rest of your (squishy) party. In order to ensure that you can live through the battle, there are several things that you need to remember. First and foremost, the sooner that you can gear yourself in orange-grade (moddable) gear, you should. Not only will this allow you to keep a set of armor that you like through end-game, it will also allow you to move your stats to other gear that you like the look of better. In my experience, I was able to complete the story of the Juggernaut in the same gear from Nar Shaddaa until the Forged Alliances story-arc. I have been using new pieces here and there as I find them, but the look of Zernebog hasn’t changed much otherwise.
Armoring: You will mostly use Guardian Armorings though most of your progression. Once you unlock the Sonic Barrier (passive ability that will generate a shield around your Juggernaut whenever using Force Scream) and Enraged Defense, you will want to begin to switch those Guardian Armorings with Might Armorings. The reason for this is that the heals granted from your 10 stacks of Enraged Defense and the damage mitigation granted through Sonic Barrier are tied to your Strength stat. By using Might Armorings instead of Guardian Armorings, you increase your Strength stat more than your Endurance. In lower levels the Endurance granted through Guardian Armorings will help you much more than the benefit you will gain from Might Armorings.
Mods: For me, this was one of the most difficult areas to figure out because by the mid-thirties Guardian Mods are no longer being offered. It is also important to note that Commendation Vendors do not really offer any Mods that are designed for Juggernaut Tanks. You will begin by buying Deft Mods which are optimized more for the DPS specs than for the Tank. Once you are able to begin getting Elusive Mods from quest rewards, you will want to begin taking them instead. Elusive Mods, however, are aptly named because they are just that-elusive.
Enhancements: This is where it gets a little bit more difficult for Juggernaut tanks. There are four different types of “tanking” enhancements. For those of you that have played Assassin (Shadow) tanks or Powertech (Vanguard) tanks, you are used to gearing for Shield Chance and Absorption Rating. While Juggernauts also use a shield generator and will benefit from Shield Chance and Absorption Rating, Defense is king for Juggernauts. When given the option between two enhancements, always choose the one that will grant a greater Defense rating. Normally this will either be called an Immunity Enhancement or a Bulwark Enhancement. Immunity Enhancements offer a better mitigation rating than Bulwark Enhancements because Bulwark Enhancements are optimized to grant additional Endurance by trading off mitigation stats.
Hilts: Through most of your leveling you will want to be taking Guardian Hilts. This will give you more Endurance over Strength which will help with your health pool. However, once you begin to get into many of the higher levels, you will want to take a Might Hilt instead because Enraged Defense and Sonic Barrier both use your Strength stat as its baseline for heals per stack of Enraged Defense and damage absorption from Sonic Barrier (granted through the use of Force Scream).
In all gearing choices always choose the piece that will grant Defense over any other stat.
I went into my own keybinds in my last post, “Juggernaut Keybinds” . The advice that I have most for new Juggernauts (especially those going for tank spec) is to get used to moving through the mouse. This has made my gameplay so much easier, especially including the ability to move backward being bound to the scroll wheel of my mouse (Mouse Button 3). In the “Juggernaut Keybinds” post I also touch on the various abilities and what the tooltips say about each (the descriptions are not taken directly from the in-game tooltips, but they do contain all the information that I would give to others). Keybinding is much easier than clicking on each ability to me because it allows you easily continue the fight.
Some basic information to remember when considering keybinds:
1. Group your Defensive Cooldowns together (Saber Ward, Saber Reflect, Invincibility, Enraged Defense, Endure Pain)
(Here you see my Defensive Cooldowns Quickbar)
From top left moving to the right: Saber Reflect, Unleash (CC Breaker), Invincibility, Saber Ward, Clickable Relic, Enrage (grants 6 rage immediately)
Bottom Row: Enraged Defense, Endure Pain, Chilling Scream (slows enemy mobs while granting a 50% movement increase to allies), Second Clickable Relic
2. Keep your taunts easily accessible. (I have mine bound to F5 and F6 because they are in the middle of the keyboard)
3. Keep Guard easily accessible in case you need to guard swap. (I have this set to F11 because it is near my class buff)
Your job as a tank is to establish threat (also called aggro) on all enemies. This is easier said than done. Juggernauts have a few ways of generating threat: damage output, threat modifiers (abilities that may deal little to no damage but generate a lot of threat), the tanking stance (Soresu Form), and the use of taunts. Please also check out the “Use of Guard” section for additional information on managing threat.
Damage Output: This is a little low with Juggernauts at this point in time, so when it comes to establishing initial threat, you would want to stick to your high-threat generating abilities over normal damage abilities. For instance, Ravage is the ability that does the most damage for Juggernauts, but the threat generated is fairly low (1:1 ratio of damage to threat so if Ravage is doing 300 damage per tick, it is only granting 300 threat per tick). Damage Output is great for keeping threat, but it is not something that you would want to rely upon to establish initial threat.
Threat Modifiers: This is where Juggernauts shine. We have several abilities that grant much higher threat than the damage that they put out. Examples include Saber Reflect (deals no damage due to the fact that it is a damage mitigation tool, but it does cause force and tech damage to be redirected back at the enemy. There are two ways in which to take advantage of the threat generated by Saber Reflect: either aggressively to generate threat at the beginning or defensively to maintain threat while mitigating additional incoming damage), Force Scream (which is also essential for damage mitigation from your Sonic Barrier), Backhand (which also stuns your enemy), Crushing Blow (generates pretty decent damage and high threat, and can be used as an AOE ability when paired with Aegis Assault), and Smash (one of the few AOE abilities granted to Juggernauts)
Thank-you TankingFTW for bringing my attention to the aggressive use of Saber Reflect and the AOE component of Crushing Blow when paired with Aegis Assault.
Tanking Stance: Your tanking stance for the Juggernaut is Soresu Form. This form increases your armor by 60% while doubling your threat generation. While DPS classes deal one threat for every one point of damage, while in Soresu Form Juggernauts deal two threat for every one point of damage. This really helps with our threat generation, but we are still behind Powertechs and Assassins (Vanguards and Guardians for you Republic players) in terms of DPS. It is imperative that you use your tanking stance if you want to tank because a Juggernaut in Shii-Cho Form cannot hold aggro. Your tanking stance also generates rage for each time you are attacked rather than having to rely upon your rage generating abilities.
Taunts: It is very important to know how taunts work in SWTOR. Not only will a taunt force enemies to attack you for six seconds, it also increases your overall threat generation by 10% over the ally with the highest threat. Some good advice for taunts, however, are not to use them during your opening rotation because your DPS allies will overtake your threat in almost no time. (I personally would rather wait to use my taunts until DPS has completed their burst, but other some Juggernauts disagree and use a taunt in their normal rotation.). Secondly, do not hold onto taunts like they are gold. Juggernauts have two taunts, a single target and an AOE. Try not to stack the taunts one atop the other because they both have cooldowns and will need to be used separately. Use your taunts, of course, but do not blow them both at once.
I will include my opening rotation as well as my personal ability priority, but for those that really want to understand the Juggernaut rotation in-depth I would urge you to check out Artorias’ guide on Dulfy.net (link is provided above).
Force Leap to target
Smash nearest group
Crushing Blow on original target
Aegis Assault on new target
Force Choke target
Ravage on target
Backhand to stun
Force Scream (applies Sonic Barrier)
Smash any enemies that are in a group
Spam Sweeping Slash to maintain threat
Alternate Opening Rotation (Provided by TankingFTW):
Precast Enrage (Immediately grants 6 rage)
Threatening Scream (AOE Taunt)
This rotation also works wonderfully against a single target such as a Flashpoint Boss, Class Mission Boss, Heroic Mission Boss, or Operations Boss because it makes use of much of your high-threat abilities.
After establishing threat the ability priority is to continually use your high-threat abilities while waiting for them to come off of cooldown.
Retaliation is a high priority ability that is off the Global Cool Down
Force Scream to keep your Sonic Barrier active
Smash to apply the 5% Accuracy Debuff
Aegis Assault to maintain your 5% Defense and 5% additional damage buffs, also allows Crushing Blow to affect 5-8 additional enemies (Thank-you, TankingFTW, for pointing out this change in the Tool Tips)
Crushing Blow is your highest hitting ability and generates a lot of threat
Here is the tool tip for guard as shown in-game. The biggest thing to remember here is “While active, the guarded player takes 5% less damage and generates 25% less threat.” The remaining description only applies to PvP (Player verses Player) rather than PvE. It is not the damage reduction or the damage transfer that indicates the use of Guard, but it is rather the 25% reduction in threat that you want to make sure you are applying to allies. You want to place your guard ability on the player that is most likely to steal aggro from you. There are many theories that surround the use of Guard, but my advice for using Guard is as follows:
In lower levels, you will want to guard your healer. This is mainly due to the fact that you will encounter many DPS players that would rather beat away at the highest-difficulty enemies rather than following the kill order (weakest first, strongest last). Due to the nature of healing, aggro is placed on all enemies at a rate of 1 threat for every 4 HP of heals. This applies to all enemies though, so if you are tanking one enemy and your DPS players are wailing away on two others of a group of six, the other three enemies will target the healer. Make sure you are always changing your targets to keep your healer protected.
In later levels you will want to guard the DPS that is most likely to generate more threat than you. In my experience, there are three classes that are most likely to take over threat from me. The first is the Marauder class, second is the Assassin, and third is the Sniper. It will always be easier for a melee DPS player to rip aggro away from the tank than it would a ranged DPS. I have found that I usually don’t have to worry much about Sorcerers, Operatives, or other Juggernauts, but almost any time that I am in a group with a Marauder, Assassin, or Sniper, I lose aggro if I do not have guard on that player. Pay attention to your Target of Target window to see if the enemy is switching its focus to someone else rather than you. If someone consistently rips aggro from you, swap your Guard to that player to reduce their threat by 25%.
Another blogger has a great blog post concerning the use of Guard here (Shout out to R2D2Arm and his blog post!). There are some additional posts in the comments section that you should read to see how other people feel about the guard dilemma.
Your User Interface is the way that your screen is set up. There are many parts of the Interface that do not always appear and must be manually enabled. To begin editing your User Interface, press the ESC key while in-game and choose “Interface Editor”.
Once the Editor opens, your screen will look similar to this:
(Thank-you, junkiesnation.com, for the blank UI Customization Screen)
The areas in Green and Blue are both already enabled, and those in Red will need to be manually enabled if you wish to use them. The most beneficial of these UI sections is seen as a small red rectangle in the lower right area of the User Interface pictured above and is called the Target-of-Target window. This window will show which player the enemy you have selected is focused on. As a tank, this should always, always, ALWAYS, be you (unless you are in a raid and are tank-swapping with your co-tank).
Here is my User Interface. The various parts have been labeled so that you can compare them to the blank UI screenshot provided above from junkiesnation. This works out great for me while tanking, and the Target-of-Target window is the absolute best piece that I have ever unlocked for my UI. I highly recommend you unlock it through your UI customization. Otherwise, I have my quickbars placed where I can easily see them so that I know which keybind to use for which ability. I have also scaled my personal debuffs to the highest allowable setting through the UI Editor. This really allows me to see how many stacks of what debuff I have on me and gives me ample room to hover so that I can read the effects on my tooltip.
The Focus Target is another User Interface window that can be enabled through the User Interface Editor. This tool allows you to select a particular target (usually the raid boss you are facing) to keep focused while doing other things within the fight. For example, if you are acting as the off-tank in an operation and adds spawn, you would leap to the group of adds and begin to tank them for the rest of your group while the main tank holds onto the raid boss. When the adds are finished, you want to get back on the raid boss, so if you have enabled the Focus Target window and set the raid boss as your focus target, you can just click on the window then leap right back to the boss instead of using your mouse to move the camera around and then click on the boss as it exists within the instance. By using Focus Target in this way, it saves valuable time from the raid and allows you, as the off tank, to assist in the DPS of the boss. This also works very well when needing to do a tank swap such as Firebrand and Storm Caller in the Explosive Conflict operation. These two tanks (bosses that are literally tanks) need to be swapped between player tanks in an effort to keep the Incinerate Armor debuff down.
I find tanking to be the most fun and interesting role in SWTOR (though many will disagree with me). One thing I will say, however, is that the group lives or dies because of the tank. You will be treated harshly if you are not to snuff and run a lot of PUG’s (Pick-Up Groups). Know your encounters and watch videos done by tanks. Learn to look out for stupid (reticles that appear on the ground, you will always want to move out of these, but do not face your target toward your group). Tanking is all about situational awareness and making sure that the enemies are always attacking you. You are the sponge to soak up the damage. Let the DPS worry about burning down the enemies, you just need to make sure they are focused on you. Communicate with your healer (I cannot stress this enough). A good tank with a good healer will be able to ensure that content is able to be conquered (most of the time-hardmode operations and some Level 60 hardmode flashpoints do tend to include DPS checks on bosses).
Please feel free to leave your comments below, and if I have forgotten anything or misrepresented a concept, please let me know. The only way to be a better tank and a better blogger is to have your mistakes pointed out to you.
May the force serve you well.
And happy tanking!