Guide to WAR Swordmaster Class Mechanics, Part 3

This is Part 3 of the guide. Part 2 of the guide covered the DoT Tactic Mechanics, Bubble and Healing Mechanics, and CC Mechanics

Please post comments / feedback / tips, contributors will be credited as the guide is updated (e.g. contributed by Gumby).

7. Avoidance and Mitigation Mechanics

For the purposes of this guide, these terms are defined as followed:

  • avoidance: preventing an attack from “landing”. This can be blocking an attack, parrying a melee attack, disrupting a spell, or evading (dodging) a ranged attack
  • mitigation: reduced the amount of damage suffered from an attack that “landed”. Mitigation is provided by Toughness, and either armor or the appropriate resistance

Attacks are checked against avoidance first (to see if they landed), then against bubbles / mitigation.

As discussed in Section 5, damage can also be absorbed by bubbles. Mitigation is factored in before damage is absorbed by a bubble. Therefore, stacking Toughness will prolong the “life” of a bubble, except for morale bubbles. You can see this from the combat log, when an attack is wholly absorbed and mitigated, and the bubble is still up. Each point of Toughness basically offsets each point of an attacker’s damage stat (Str / Int / Ballistic Skill).

A tank can equip a shield, and shields are very powerful as they can block any kind of attack, as long as the opponent is in the 180 degree arc in front of the tank. Parry only works against melee attacks in the 180 degree arc in front of the tank. From what I’ve seen, there is no positional requirement to disrupt spells or evade ranged attacks. Please note that some “ranged” attacks count as melee, e.g. the Chosen’s ranged knockdown Quake. Because of the positional requirements for block and parry, it’s important to keep opponents in front of you whenever possible.

It’s important to note that if you avoid an attack that has a debuff or CC (e.g. stun, snares, etc) effect or a buff effect on your attacker, that effect will not be applied.

Rok provided a great writeup on tank’s avoidance mechanics here:

From Mace to Face: How damage gets from your attack to their health bar

SMs favor different approaches towards avoidance and mitigation, e.g.:

  • high migitation (e.g. 2h tanks)
  • high avoidance (e.g. 1h  tanks with H/K build, 2h parry tanks, any tank in PVE)
  • high avoidance and mitigation (e.g. 1h bubble tanks)

If you go with high avoidance, you’ll see periods of taking no damage and then spike damage. If you go with high mitigation, damage taken in general is much lower. If you go for both, well, you’re a turtle tank :)

At Rank 40, SMs get the excellent 2h avoidance ability Wall of Darting Steel (WoDS), which boosts the parry, disrupt, and evade for the SM only by 50%. WoDS is arguably the best on-demand 2h avoidance ability in the game. All tanks with a shield can use Hold the Line (HtL), which boosts the tank’s disrupt and dodge by 45% and allies behind them by 15% (stacks 3 times). HtL does not boost block, probably because that would be over-powered.

The bubble tactic Vaul’s Buffer synergizes when an SM is using a shield and / or any of the following tactics or abilities: Perfect Defenses (parry / block buffs), Impeccable Reactions (guaranteed parry after a parry, once every 5 seconds), Great Weapon Mastery (5% parry), Aethyric Armor (disrupt buff), and Crushing Advance (block buff). Also, an SM can raise the probability of a VB proc by using of HtL or WoDS.

8. PVP Tanking Mechanics

WAR did an impressive job of making tanks relevant in RVR, regardless of spec.

If you want to help protect an ally who is being attacked, you can:

  • put Guard on the ally, if you are in the same party
  • use Challenge to debuff the damage of attackers
  • AOE punt melee attackers off the ally with Gusting Wind
  • AOE root melee attackers with Aethyric Grasp
  • use Hold the Line to boost the ally’s disrupt and evade by 15% (stacks 3 times)
  • snare attackers with Quick Incision (and hope your ally runs)
  • knockdown an attacker with the mastery ability Crashing Wave
  • silence a caster with the mastery ability Whispering Wind

Guard redirects half of the damage taken by the guarded ally onto the tank, but the damage can be blocked or parried by the tank. It’s important to note that putting multiple Guards on an ally won’t help the ally: the ally still takes half damage, and half damage is also redirected to each tank.

Taunt in WAR is very useful in PVP, as it acts as an interrupt and a damage buff. In most games *cough cough WoW cough cough* Taunting is just a waste of the global cooldown in PVP.

HtL is a great utility ability when leading a charge, covering a retreat, or protecting stationary allies (e.g. RDPS) from RDPS.

9. PVE Tanking Mechanics

There is no “required” spec for PVE main tanking. PVE bosses in WAR hit for thousands of damage, therefore: avoidance > mitigation.


  • The tactics Menace (doubles threat generated) and Isha’s Will (boosts incoming heals by 20%) are excellent choices for PVE
  • Use Eagle’s Flight for the parry buff
  • On boss fights, use Dragon’s Talon for the damage debuff
  • The R2 morale ability Shield Wall is awesome in PVE and provides 100% block for 10 seconds
  • Have a healthy-size HP pool, at least 9k buffed
  • Have enough crit reduction (via -crit gear and Initiative) so that the probability of getting crit is low
  • For multi-mob pulls, if you have Protection of Hoeth, before combat, get into Improved Balance, then attack the mobs with Wrath of Hoeth and Gusting Wind. This establishes AOE threat on the mobs and buys time for healers while the mobs are knocked down
  • The Vaul mastery tactic Perfect Defenses rocks, but if you don’t have it, you can slot Impeccable Reactions

That concludes Part 3 of the guide.

Please post feedback / comments / questions.

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Posted in Guide, PVP, Warhammer Online
5 comments on “Guide to WAR Swordmaster Class Mechanics, Part 3
  1. Asherony says:

    Awesome and comprehensive guide so far, I rolled a lot of tank classes and I must say that SM is one of the most powerful and versatile careers (aside from the still-OP IB and press-the-aura-button-each-3-seconds Chosen). Shame there is no Tor Anroc in T4, it was my favourite scen for obvious reason :(
    One thing I’d like to see clarified (and can’t test myself because of deleting my SM) – does Taunt affect pets? With the SH and especially WL buffs, it’s become pretty relevant^~
    Anyways, keep up the good work, and moar pvp vids would be nice too^^ (you have a sexy voice lol)

    • taugrim says:

      IIRC, taunting a pet won’t force it to attack you. You do get the damage buff though.

      I’ll test on Live and get back to you.

      I should have another (short) video up by tomorrow.

  2. […] I discussed in Part 3 of the Swordmaster Class Mechanics Guide, a tank can stack avoidance, or mitigation, or […]

  3. jeffbo says:

    Thanks! I will recommend this to all my friends.

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