Sunday, January 22, 2012


Due to unforseen real life circumstances, I am going to have to stop playing SWTOR (and writing this blog) for now. Hopefully I'll be able to come back to this game at some point. In any case, thanks to all you readers for supporting me and giving me a way to express my opinions and love of the game. I hope you guys enjoyed reading my rambling as much as I enjoyed writing it. Keep on tanking.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Huttball. Every game is Huttball. Sometimes faction imbalance really sucks. The thing about Huttball is that it is quite hard for me to win on my own, although it is (usually) fairly easy if I go in with a group. I PVP in the same spec I raid, 31/8/2. With that build I have decent survivability and average damage output. The reason it's hard for me to win on my own is that the role I am best suited for is guarding the ball carrier, not carrying it myself. 

When I carry, I get my defense, shielding, armor, and that's about it. Those stats are pretty unreliable when being focused by multiple people in PVP because so many abilities that players have bypass them (for example, everything that happens in ******* Operative openers). 

When I am protecting a carrier instead, that person gets a flat 5% damage reduction from Guard, 50% of the damage they take is transferred to me, everyone around them does 4% less damage thanks to Combust from Flame Sweep, and on top of that I can taunt enemies who are focusing him for 30% less damage. Oil Slick is also actually useful for guarding people in warzones since it debuffs enemies instead of buffing me. Plus in an emergency the carrier can lateral the ball to me and I can usually hold out with my tank cooldowns until help arrives.

The problem with this bodyguard style of play is that when I queue alone I am forced to rely on someone else to be competent and want to win, traits that are apparently quite rare in random PVPers. Usually the groups I end up in just ignore the ball and teamfight across the map from it, leaving me to try to carry or stop their carrier alone. WHY CAN'T YOU JUST TARGET THEIR CARRIER! RRRRRRGH! 

... *ahem* I think it's time for me to take a break.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jormungandr's Shieldtech Stat Spreadsheet

The question about our stat priorities got me thinking a lot about it. When we think about stat priorities, what most of us mean is "What stat do I want more of right now?" While I may not be able to write a cut and dry priority list for stats, I think I can do something to help with that question. I wrote a spreadsheet to determine what stats will do to incoming damage.

Go to the site and go to File > Make a copy... and it will create a duplicate spreadsheet for you to work with. It's pretty easy to use. Anything written in BLACK requires user input. Talent spec, Combust application, damage type, and attack type are drop down lists, while the ratings have to be entered by hand. The percent is there to check that you typed in all the ratings correctly. It should match the percentages in your character sheet if you enter ratings for gear you are actually wearing. Note that the percentage next to armor represents total DR, not just from armor. If something is off by 0.01% or so, it's most likely a rounding issue since I had to round a couple numbers when making this sheet.

Monster stats are entirely made up by me. Any kind of mitigation sim would have to include some kind of incoming damage for comparison. I simply decided to make the numbers adjustable by viewers for more realistic comparisons. I have no clue what kind of crit rates monsters have (I'm assuming they have base surge) so if anyone has any information about that I'd appreciate it.

The basic idea of this spreadsheet is that the only realistic approach to stat simming involves comparing actual pieces of gear you have access to. Gearing is all about tradeoffs. This sheet lets you equip a set of gear, note your ratings as Gearset 1, change a couple items, note those ratings as Gearset 2, and plainly see which set will give you more survivability. Of course, this spreadsheet only takes survivability into account and not threat (accuracy, aim) or the other benefits of shielding (Flame Shield, Shield Vents in ST).

Here's a basic explanation of boss attack and damage types. Thanks to Kitru on the official forums for clearing this up for me. There are four types of attack: Force, melee, ranged, and tech. Melee and ranged attacks can be defended and shielded. Force and tech attacks cannot. They are instead affected by resistance, which we have 0 of and have no way to gear for. When an attack hits, it does one of four types of damage: elemental, energy, internal, or kinetic. Elemental and internal damage bypass armor, while energy and kinetic do not. However, elemental and internal damage are reduced an extra 10% by the Sith Inquisitor's Mark of Power buff, which this spreadsheet assumes your raid has.

I have been known to make arithmetic errors in the past, so please let me know if you find anything that doesn't seem to be working right and I'll do my best to fix it. Thanks!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shieldtech Stat Priority

I was recently asked to write a post about tank stat priority for Powertechs. Unfortunately, it turns out to be pretty difficult to just make a list saying "this stat is twice as good as that stat". This was possible on WoW due to exhaustive simming and combat log analysis, neither of which we really have for SWTOR yet. Also, since absorption and shield chance depend on each other, it is clear that the relative value of these stats will shift as the amount of the others changes. Here are our main defensive stats as tanks:

Endurance: This determines health, giving about 10 hit points for each point. There isn't any real way to gear for endurance besides augment slots, which I do not advise. Stacking health is mostly only useful when you are being insta-gibbed.

Armor: Armor provides the bulk of your energy and kinetic damage reduction. Like endurance, you pretty much just get the amount that comes on your gear.With armor comes damage reduction in general. All of us get 5% from Ion Gas Cylinder. Optionally, there is also 2% from Ion Screen in ST, 2% from Power Armor in AP, and 4% from Combust in ST (never displayed on the character sheet since it is a debuff).

Defense: Determines chance to completely avoid an attack. 5% base, 2% from Infrared Sensors in the PT tree.

Shield: Determines chance to shield part of the damage of an attack. 5% base, 15% in Ion Gas Cylinder, 2% from Shield Vents in ST, 10% from Empowered Tech in ST.

Absorption: Determines amount of damage reduced by a successful shield. 20% base, 6% from Ablative Upgrades in ST.

SWTOR has a two roll system for attacks. First, the attacker (the boss) rolls to hit. We assume the boss has 100% accuracy. The boss is rolling against your defense chance here. If he successfully beats your avoidance and lands a hit, it goes on to a second roll. This determines whether the attack is a crit, a shield, or neither. If crit and shield chances add up to over 100%, crit starts reducing shield chance. This is not something we reasonably have to worry about.

Gearing for us will probably be a constant battle between defense, shield, and absorb, with the relative values of each shifting as we gain new gear and trade out mods. The stat we want the most constantly changes as we aquire more of the others. While defense may be the worst stat for you to gear for today, it may be your best tomorrow after a new chest or legs. The goal is always to find a balance between the three that gives you the greatest average damage mitigation.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Eternity Vault: A normal walkthrough

The Cannons: The first encounter in EV has two cannons, one on the left and one on the right. They deal A LOT of damage. Since tanks can't get into melee range this can be difficult for a lot of groups. What we do is have our Mercenary healer Concussion Missile the tower to our right, sleeping it for 60 seconds (but any other long CC would work just as well). Make sure you (the tank) run in first to get proximity aggro. A healer or DPS going in to CC can easily be killed in the run up. One tank then picks up the left tower while the second grabs the robots in the middle. DPS switch to adds when they parachute in but otherwise stay on the kill target tower. After the left tower dies, switch and do the same to the right one.

Blue are tanks, red are DPS, green are healers. While tanking the cannons, you're in range to do everything except Rocket Punch (damn you BioWare!). Don't be afraid to blow taunts, since pretty much the only way you will wipe on this fight is cannons targeting non-tanks. Mine are used almost on CD because of the rough aggro gen here. It should be noted that melee DPS with jumps can jump to the cannon and stand on top of it as long as it is not facing them. If the cannon turns towards them they get knocked back down.

Annihilation Droid XRR-3: Once the cannons are vanquished this bruiser will fly down and land in front of you. Jet Charge over to him and start laying on the hurt. Tank him facing the door with the raid behind him.

Overwhelming Swipe - When XRR-3 does this, you will be knocked far back. This is the reason you stand in front of him alone. The other tank should taunt and move to where you were standing when this occurs, giving you time to run back without the raid wiping.

Targeted Missile - Yeah, no clue what this ability is actually called. If you see a target on your character, move away from other raid members because the missile will do pretty strong AoE when it hits you.

Storm Protocol - Don't stand in fire. Red targeting circles appear on the ground. Step about a meter to the left or right and you'll be fine.

Missile Barrage - XRR-3 will crouch down and start channeling. Everyone in the raid should LoS him behind the defeated cannon towers to avoid massive damage. Make sure one healer goes to each tower so everyone can get healed up during this. When it ends the robot will stand back up, signalling you to go back in. When XRR-3 reaches 10% health, he will cast this continually until his demise. Zerg him down. Make sure everyone has their cooldowns up for this phase.

Trash: The big floaty sensor droids are easy. Just pick them up and single target or AoE them down. The black ones do have a knockback so watch your positioning. It is very easy to be knocked to your death and it is a long run back. The sensors and flesh punchers (THWACKTHWACKTHWACK) are ancestral enemies, so if you see a mixed group just wait 10 seconds or so and the sensors should kill the flesh punchers for you. In the fire area, the humongo akk dogs are similarly not a threat. Pick them up and single target or AoE them down. Use Flame Sweep liberally on all these trash pulls. I tank with an Assassin so he is usually the one with most of the mobs on him (damn his AoE aggro!) leaving me little to do.

Gharj: Uggggggg. I feel like this fight is extremely glitchy. Anyway, here is how it SHOULD go. When the fight starts, have the raid run towards where the boss is standing. Meanwhile, you shoot the boss and drag him near the rocks you came in on. This saves A LOT of hassle with trying to position the boss with his back towards the raid. Gharj has a strong cleaving attack so make sure everyone except the tank is behind him.

Leap - AoE damage. Heal through it.

Pulverizing Slam - High damage to the tank.

Frenzy - Gharj will hop up and down like a bunny on crack, dealing massive AoE damage. Everyone in melee besides Gharj's tank should run and stack on the healers until this ends. 

Howl of the Akk Dogs - Well, this may not exactly be a casted ability, but Gharj will occasionally summon a pack of low health adds. Have the tank not on Gharj pick them up and just AoE them down.

Knockback - Gharj will sometimes knock your raid back into lava. Just run back to the platform and heal up. The lava doesn't hurt too badly.

Smashing Leap - Gharj will hop up and down, covering the island with lava. Meanwhile, a stepping stone path to another island will emerge from the lava. Hop over there and have the tank stand on the far side of the island from the path. When Gharj jumps to the new island, the tank should pick him up exactly as in the initial pull.

Trash: Leaping manka cats, Batman! Group them up and AoE them down. 

Pylons: Split the raid into two groups, with one tank, one healer, and two DPS each. One group goes to the north pylon and the other to the south pylon. The goal here is to use the left and right consoles to turn the wheel, making the middle symbol match the ones on the side. Once both north and south have the correct symbol on the bottom level, the next level is unlocked. When all symbols on both towers are correct the chest in the middle opens and you can proceed.

During this, adds will spawn. Three Rakata spawn at a time around each pylon. These are high damage normal mobs. They have extremely low healths and should be killed quickly. The last mob to spawn should be a proto acklay. These HURT. Pop cooldowns if you are getting hammered by one and feel like your life is threatened. If the tank dies, this can easily wipe the rest of the group. Burn it down as quick as you can.

Infernal Council: The 1v1 room. Have each person in the raid go and stand next to a council member. Tanks should take Juggernauts, healers should take Assassins, and DPS should take Marauders. When the console is activated, the council members will be freed and will drop to the ground. Engage your target in a duel of fate. Note that these are all one on one fights. If you try to heal anyone in the raid, or attack a target that is dueling someone else, you will receive a debuff reducing all healing and damage done by you by 100%. Just beat down your target and wait for everyone else to do the same, then loot the chest.

Soa: The big bad of Eternity Vault. Run out and engage him, turning him away from the raid. For the first few seconds Soa is invulnerable, so simply Jet Charge over to him and save your attacks until the shield goes off.

Weird Blue-Green Puddle - The fire in this phase is bluish and liquid. Don't stand in it.

That's literally the only mechanic in phase one. When Soa's health drops low enough (~75%) he will put up a blue immunity shield. This is your queue to run to the outer ring. In a few seconds the middle two sections of the room will drop out from under you. Go quickly. You want to have everyone meet up where the yellow X is, by the room's entrance. As Soa's tank I prefer to run straight to the outer ring and then walk around to the X as opposed to running straight to the X (I had the floor drop out from under me on my way there before).

Now you are all grouped up in the outer ring. Find the highest up platform and hop down to it. You will see a traffic cone (Ancient Power Source). Break it and then hop to the next lowest platform. Continue all the way down like this, stopping to AoE heal when necessary. Be careful never to dally too long or the platform you are on will drop.

For the tank, phase two is pretty much the same as phase one. There are three mechanics in this phase.

Mind Trap - Soa will summon a mind trap that will suck a raid member into it. That raid member will have to kill an extremely easy normal version of Soa and then wait to be rescued. DPS not in the mind trap should prioritize killing mind traps over hitting Soa.

Ball Lightning - A glowing lightning ball will sometimes appear and randomly aggro onto a raid member. That person should kite the ball away from others. Always avoid being near lightning balls no matter if they aggro on you or not. They do hefty damage when they explode.

Force Cyclone - Soa will sometimes grab a random raid member and fling him around the room. That raid member can take no actions until the cyclone ends and is effectively just CC'd. There isn't a way to free someone trapped in this besides waiting for the effect to end on its own.

Once again, when Soa is damaged enough (~30%) he will put up a blue immunity shield and prepare to drop the floor again. Group your raid on the outer ring and proceed down as before, killing traffic cones and healing on your way. When you hit the ground again, the last phase starts. 

In this phase, Soa will keep his immunity shield up and continue using all mechanics from phase two. The tank should grab Soa and just drag him around the room with him. DPS should ignore Soa when his shield is up and instead focus entirely on mind traps. The tank should be keeping an eye on the air above the raid. Periodically, Soa will levitate massive orange-glowing pillars above the floor. The tank's job is to drag Soa under the pillar so that when it hits the ground, it hits only Soa. It WILL hurt if it hits you so do your best to position yourself away from it. When a pillar hits Soa, his immunity shield drops and all the DPS should switch off mind traps and onto him instead. When he recovers and raises his shield again, DPS should get back to mind traps and the tank should resume his search for levitating pillars. Just keep doing these mechanics until you down Soa.

Congratulations! You conquered the Eternity Vault!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Datacrons and Matrix Shards

So by now you may be finishing your datacron collection and wondering "How else can I prepare for raiding?" Well, you aren't quite done yet. First off, there is a secret datacron on the Imperial Fleet that you can get at level 50. You'll need three friends with you to get this one. It gives +10 to all stats so it is definitely worth the effort.

You can also make your matrix cube, a relic crafted out of matrix shards.

We need three Yellow Matrix Shards to craft our tanking relic. Take them to the Ancient Assembly Chamber on Dromund Kaas, near the Dark Temple.

Place a Yellow Matrix Shard in each Shard Input Panel, hit the Matrix Cube Assembler, and BAM! There's your shiny new tanking relic.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tanking hybrid mania

I've noticed on the forums lately that there is a lot of discussion (read: argument) about hybrid specs for tanking. Right now there seem to be three main specs being thrown around. I would NOT say that any one of these specs is inherently "better" than the others in every situation. They just take tanking in slightly different directions. While your personal spec is probably a couple points off, it should fit into one of these general categories:

The tanking spec we all know and love. This is the baseline spec that others are measured against.  The main idea of this build is to be as easy to heal as possible while generating sufficient threat to hold aggro off any DPS. Main points:
- Heat Blast, an ability which costs 24 less heat than most of your abilities and does about half the damage of a normal Rocket Punch
- 10% increased shield chance

This build is for those who feel that the top two tiers of the Shield Tech tree are lackluster and not worth the investment. Instead, those points can be applied in the AP tree to get extra threat. Supercharged Ion Gas is not taken here because it is not a significant threat increase and because Retractable Blade's DoT already ensures that Rail Shot will always be usable. Main points:
- Retractable Blade, an ability which costs 16 heat, has an internal damage DoT component, and overall does about the same damage as Rail Shot
- Heat control from Flame Barrage, giving Flame Burst a chance to make Rocket Punch free

This spec gives up a little more survivability than the ST/AP spec in exchange for even more threat. Rail Shot is the key to this build. Everything revolves around making it as strong as possible. Incendiary Missile's DoT should always be up so Rail Shot can be used every time it comes up. Main points:
- Incendiary Missile, a 25 heat ability with a large elemental DoT that does about the same damage as Rail Shot
- Flame Burst and Rocket Punch have a chance to reset the cooldown of Rail Shot and make it free
- Rail Shot returns 8 heat if it hits a burning target (Incendiary Missile's DoT, mainly)

Each of these specs is completely viable at this time. What you choose should depend on personal preference and your raid's performance. I am running 31/8/2 because I have had no threat problems yet and my personal feeling is that I would rather go overboard on survivability than on threat. Also, my main healer is a guildmate who hasn't healed before and gets stressed easily. If your healers are having no problems keeping you up and you find yourself slipping on aggro sometimes, consider trying out one of these hybrid builds. Remember, this is just the start of a new MMO. Don't allow yourself to get stuck in cookie-cutter mentalities just yet. Move points around, experiment, and find the build that works for you.