This article describes the Defense and Shield mechanics for SWTOR and their implications for tanks in PVP.
Defense is the Avoidance mechanic and Shield is one of the Mitigation mechanics. In this article I use the terms “defense” and “avoidance” interchangeably.
Avoidance and Mitigation in SWTOR
To quickly define terms:
- Avoidance: not being hit
- Mitigation: reducing damage taken when hit
There are 3 categories of Avoidance as captured in the Defence Chance tooltip:
- Melee Dodge: base of 5%, boosted by Defense Rating, talents, and buffs
- Ranged Dodge: base of 5%, boosted by Defense Rating, talents, and buffs
- Resistance: base of 0%, boosted by talents and buffs. This is against “spells” (Force and Tech attacks)
Mitigation comes from multiple sources:
- Expertise: stat that provides mitigation against all damage types
- Armor: mitigation against 2 of the 4 damage types: Energy and Kinetic. Keep in mind that for attacks that deal “weapon damage”, to understand whether Armor factors in, you have to check the damage type of the weapon itself. E.g. blasters and rifles deal Energy damage
- Talents that provide flat damage reduction
- Shield Chance / Shield Absorption: provided when you have a Shield offhand equipped and successfully Shield an attack that hit. The amount of damage mitigated (absorbed) is based on the offhand (e.g. 20%), your Absorption Rating, and talents in the tanking tree. SWTOR’s Shield functions similarly to WoW’s Block mechanic. The main difference is that in SWTOR you don’t have to keep oppponents in your frontal facing to Shield
- “Bubbles”: mitigation against all damage types
The 2-Roll System
SWTOR leverages a 2-roll system for determining the outcome of an opponent’s attack as explained by BioWare’s Georg Zoeller (references: 1 2), bold emphasis mine:
First is a hit roll, accuracy versus defense, and if the attacker misses then no damage occurs. If the attacker rolled poorly enough to miss even discounting the target’s defense then a “Miss” result occurs. If he misses because of the defense then the result varies based on the attack type, the cover state of the target, and the target’s equipped weapons. All the possible results – Dodge, Parry, Deflect, Resist, Cover – are mathematically the same, but they can trigger different effects and are visualized in different ways.
If the attacker hits, then a second roll is made with the crit chance of the attacker versus the shield chance of the target. If a Crit or a Shield occurs then the damage is adjusted up or down (based on Surge/Absorb), and then it goes through to the armor and damage resistance. A critical can never be shielded, and an attacker with a high enough crit chance can push the target’s shield chance off the table. It shouldn’t be possible to get your passive crit chance high enough to start pushing off the target’s shield chance, but there are short-duration buffs that push these chances high enough to come into conflict.
Which Attack Types are Defensible and Shieldable
There are 4 attack types: Force, Melee, Ranged, and Tech.
The attack types should not be confused with the 4 damage types: Elemental, Energy, Internal, and Kinetic.
Melee and Ranged attacks are Defensible and Shieldable, whereas Force and Tech attacks are not. This is consistent with other games such as WoW and RIFT, where “spell” attacks are not dodgeable / parryable and not blockable.
Based on what Georg wrote , here is my guess on what the roll table for Crit-vs-Shield looks like for Melee and Ranged attacks that were not Defended.
- Attacker’s Crit Chance: 30%
- Defender’s Shield Chance: 30%
- So remaining 40% is normal hit (not Crit, not Shielded)
- Attacker’s Crit Chance: 60%
- Defender’s Shield Chance: 30%
- So remaining 10% is normal hit (not Crit, not Shielded)
Scenario 3: Shield Chance reduced
- Attacker’s Crit Chance: 80%
- Defender’s Shield Chance: 30%, but for the roll calculation it’s treated as 20% because the Crit Chance pushed 10% off the table
Scenario 4: Shield Chance negated
- Attacker’s Crit Chance: 100% (e.g. due to a proc buff that makes the attack Crit)
- Defender’s Shield Chance: 30%, but for the roll calculation it’s treated as 0%
- Therefore, the attack is a guaranteed non-Shielded Crit
Implications for Tanks in PVP
A critical consideration for SWTOR is that all classes have either Force or Tech attacks. You can see the attack type by looking at the Abilities tab for a given character and looking at the right-hand column. Therefore, an implication is that you may not get as much mileage out of your Defense and Shield-related talents as you might expect. E.g.
- Stun-based abilities across all Advanced Classes are classified as either Force or Tech attacks, so the target’s defensive capability doesn’t come into play
- I play Bounty Hunter and Trooper and most of my key abilities are classified as Tech
Keep in mind per Georg’s post that the attacker’s Crit Chance can push Shield Chance off the table. There are a lot of buffs (e.g. talent-based, from Relic, etc) that boost Crit Chance, and the implication is that when you most need to Shield heavy incoming damage, your Shield Chance may be reduced significantly or completely. Given that, and the fact that Shield Chance is calculated after the hit roll, Shield Chance is not a strong mechanic in PVP.
Another implication is that the talents for boosting mitigation may be stronger than we might have expected. In particular, this explains why in my experience Guardians and Juggernauts tanks take the longest time-to-kill: they have multiple bubble mechanics in their tank tree, including Invincible (Warding Call) and Sonic Barrier (Blade Barrier), and these excellent abilities provide mitigation against all damage types.
I shared some of the thoughts in this article on a thread for my Guide to Powertech Mechanics and PVP a week ago, and some 50 Powertechs including chainsawsamurai tested and confirmed that the Avoidance and Shield-related talents do not work against Force and Tech attacks.
When I run as a tank-spec’d Vanguard, I will likely use a DPS PVP set based on the game mechanics and avoid (no pun intended) the talents related to Melee Defense, Ranged Defense, and Shield Chance, unless they provide some additional benefit (e.g. the Ammo-regen effect from Shield Cycler).
This is not to say that you shouldn’t take the talents and tank PVP gear. If you want to max out your survivability, invest in them. It’s just important to understand what benefit you get out of them and the mechanics.
Huge thanks to Kjollborn, who helped me to realize that the attack type not the damage type is what is factored into Melee Defense, Ranged Defense, and Shield Chance.
Thanks to Lightweight, a 50 Combat Medic Commando in my guild, for helping me with testing.
UPDATE (2012/01/24): a copy of this article has been stickied on the SWTOR official Tanking forum.
So a high enough crit chance can really screw up your targets avoidance, really interesting. Thanks Taugrim!
Remember that Crit is factored in after the Accuracy-vs-Defense roll.
But a high Crit can screw up your target’s Shield Chance.
“crit chance of the attacker versus the shield chance of the target”
does this mean that shield chance reduces incoming crit chance? If so, this may make shield chance better than once thought.
Absolutely on the mark! Couple of weeks ago, I realized that the “shield” type events on my SI Assassin were almost never “activating” during pvp compared to when I was questing. It would “pop” consistently on mobs. In Pvp? Twas like… “Where is my shielding?” I specced out of a tank spec for survivability/mobility and switched over to more damage based spells (ie, force/tech). This is an example of where we need dual specs on our characters… Pvp vs PVE vs Raid. Though that is a subject for another time. Why do I love your stuff? You present your information that the theory crafters/number crunchers present understandable for everyone. Thank you! — Merrylucious [AP – Marliska (JC Shadow-10) Stonecrow (SI Assassin-25)]
For PVE tanking, you definitely want to stack the Defense and Shield Chance / Shield Absorption talents and gear.
PVP? You have to understand the tradeoff. That is, relative to PVE, you get less benefit in PVP for spec’ing Defense and Shield Chance / Shield Absorption.
As I mentioned before, we’re not going to recruit / take applications until our guild site is ready, but we’ve been saving a spot for you in , so please contact me in-game for a ginvite.
Since the funeral not sleeping much, so I created her last night. Starting planets don’t seem to let you /who off the home planet. Personally, I believe the /who function needs lot of work… Right now, she’s sitting at the Fleet base. Will check for y’all later! Thanks for the patience. Really appreciate this.
I hope you and your family are doing OK.
Interesting. The limitation on starting planets was probably put in place to prevent gold spammers (or trolls) from creating accounts to spam people.
But I agree the /who system needs to be fixed.
I really enjoy reading accurate information, rather than a lot of the confusion that I have seen on the forums. Not to mention that I find it harder and harder to try and sift through all of the garbage people post on the forums. I guess that will always be present with mmo forums though, which is sad. Well constructed post Taugrim.
I have seen countless specs posted on the forums and in my stream’s Chat Room showing players spec’ing into tank talents that really aren’t going to make a meaningful difference in PVP.
I take *everything* I read on the forums with a grain of salt. There is a very bad tendency on the forums for people to intentionally or unintentionally spread misinformation.
A great example is the Ilum stuff yesterday when 1.1 went live. People were claiming you can farm turrets for Valor. You can’t.
Yesterday morning before I was aware of any uproar, I was in a raid on my server, we went to the Empire base looking for Imperials to kill and destroyed a turret. Nothing happened. It took long enough to kill the turret that we retreated from the base, and I died on the way out.
We ended having some great extended fighting in front of the Empire base, and we had sufficient numbers to hold them off.
Of course, you can spawn-camp opposing players for several hundred Valor per minute. Check out this screenshot where the player got 500 Valor in 1 minute:
As I mentioned yesterday on Twitter, the bases and rez points need NPC Guards to allow people to actually rez and board travel points.
Call me a little crazy, but I liked the way Warhammer did the RVR zones minus the bugged guards that were there for a while. However it was at least balanced a little better than the current state of Ilum in my opinion.
If only Warhammer had been balanced better, and the ideas a little more fleshed out…
If you spec as a tank you are automatically sacrificing dps for survivability and protection. Is what you’re saying essentially that it’s an uneven trade at this point (for certain tanks, anyway)?
We have to look at this on a class-by-class basis.
There are very good reasons to spec in the tank tree for Juggernaut / Guardian, including:
1. you get multiple CCs and your channeled stun becomes instant
2. you get two mitigation bubbles against any damage type
For Powertech / Vanguard, a lot of people invest 21 points to get the Charge ability.
For Assassin / Shadow, a lot of people invest 21 points to get the pull ability.
For all 3 AC mirrors, you have to be in the tank stance to use the Guard ability, and the tank trees buff the tank stance.
So there are good reasons to spec into the tank tree, but for the PT / VG and AS / SH Advanced Classes, it’s generally not IMO for survivability reasons – you spec into tank tree for the utility.
I’d say yes and no. For myself as a Jugg, it’s impossible to avoid all of the def/shield based talents as I make there out to be 14 points worth in the tree. The utility with a spamable slow, extra stuns, reduced cd on your AoE taunt,cc break and force push combined with the (frankly awesome) ‘bubble’ based mitigation do still make the spec competitive however.
The main question remaining though is on the trade off in gear. PvP tank gear has extra HP, but also a lot of def/shield/absorb which is of questionable benefit. Whether it is worth the loss of dps stats remains to be seen and may even depend on the composition you are running with.
If you are paired with an Operative or Merc pocket healer which don’t always have a whole lot of spare resources to help with the odd bit of dps, it may be worth going for the dps set.
Ah, beaten to it by Taugrim.
Not at all.
I appreciate your sharing your thoughts as a player of the Juggernaut / Guardian AC.
The tank tree for Juggernaut / Guardian rocks.
If I were playing that AC mirror, I’d probably spec tank tree but use the DPS PVP gear for group play. You have the best bubble mechanics of any of the tanks, and that provides a lot of survivability right out of the box.
In addition, the additional beefiness from being a tank is only relevant to the extent that you are getting targeted. In a lot of cases, it makes more sense to focus-fire a healer or cast-time DPS than a beefy Jug or Guardian tank.
[…] section is a sub-set of the information that I provided in a separate article, so check that article out for more detail than what is provided […]
I am a Vanguard currently specced 27/12/2 (identical to the survivability spec you present other than I went the 2% dmg reduction in place of the Harpoon reduction.)
I have had a lot of success choosing the eliminator (DPS) gear as opposed to the supercommando (tank) gear. I am often top DPS in my WZ with the ability to guard my healer. I am getting the 7% dmg reduction and armor bonus from Ion cell.
I think getting the DPS gear is the way to go. I stock strike crit on average for 2.5k, HIB bolt crit for 2K+. and on average ion pulse crit for 1.5k. There is a lot of burst damage with this spec.
The Eliminator gear’s 4-set bonus, +15% Crit Chance to Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt), is excellent for any spec with 18+ points in Pyrotech (Assault Specialist).
I picked up the Combat Tech set for Champion but will likely go Eliminator for Battlemaster.
Another great article Taugrim. Thanks!
Apologies for a double post – can you delete my other post #17 sent to the wrong person?
Thanks for posting this it reinforces what I have seen… I always thought it was because I was sub 50 being ripped to shreds… Now it makes a lot more sense. My build was always a “Spiderman” style jumping and pulling etc. If you have the time I was wondering if you could see any improvement to this: http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#301GRGMzRboMZrsMroZb.1
I chose to go 24/15/2 using the Ion Gas to keep Guard. I know you might yell at me for using Flame Sweep, but I tend to be in close quarters with groups of enemies most of the time. I was wavering in thinking if the 2 points in PT was even worthwhile OR if Hot Iron would be better than the 4 seconds of 30% speed from Jet Speed…
My playstyle is mainly for objective based PVP ie. running or defending the huttball, annoying or preventing people from door capping/turret capping. Retractable Blade is probably one of the most attractive attacks to DoT players preventing them from capping points especially with a good 15 seconds of bleeding.
Again awesome and informative post! Thanks for the help!
The tank tree has talents that buff the effectiveness of the PBAoE Flame Sweep (Explosive Surge), so using it with your spec makes sense from a mechanics standpoint.
taugrim, I didnt know where to leave this comment so i’m leaving it here, but i played a jedi guardian, and i spent about 3/4 of my pvp time hitting buttons, and watching absolutely nothing happen. you say that this is the most skill based mmorpg to come out on the market as it pertains to pvp, but i disagree, there is absolutely nothing skill based about closing on a a opponent, applying sundering strike (which, if they move out of 4 meters during the animation for it, they can and almost always do because the animation for the move lasts a second and a half and only applies at the very end of the animation) they recieve absolutely no damage or armor debuff for the attack.
i reference the post http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=159300&highlight=ability+delay
this game is bias, I have played as a level 14 vanguard and arrived at the top of the lists for damage, guard, killing blows, everything, and i have played a guardian and never seen myself arrive at the top of the lists for anything,
why are you selling a game that obviously doesnt have much balance at all. I actually started playing a guardian pvp because you said that you were considering it to show everyone what it can do.
well here is the challenge, if you can play one, and come back here, with decent stats, good footage of the animation not crippling your gameplay, and a decent explination of how to play a class that spends 3/4 of its time fiddling with its “lightsabre” and 1/4 doing something, I will follow your lead!
You are one of many people to feel that the animations / skill firing has issues.
I’m sure you have topped out damage as a Guardian in at least one of your matches. Certainly for Protection.
It also depends on your spec and gear. I’ve seen DPS Guardian put up good damage numbers.
Keep in mind Vanguard is a more offensively-oriented tank. But a Vanguard can’t touch the mitigation mechanics that a Guardian has, nor the CC capabilities. The difference tank classes work differently.
I’m not selling anything. I’m trying to provide helpful information for the game I’m currently playing.
I’ve rolled a Sentinel, and players of that class express frustration over the same things you’ve mentioned around skills not firing / delays.
So I’ll let you know how it goes.
I agree with you that there are some frustrations in relation to the Guardian/Juggernaut playstyle, however it can still be incredibly effective. The stats themselves don’t always show the difference you are making, especially as a ball carrier, however in any case, here’s 2 of my own from particularly fun premade vs premade matches. Tank specced for both:
One thought on gear – most of the defense/shield stats for the set bonus pieces of armor comes from the mod and enhancement slots. Switching the dps mods into the tank set would reduce defense/shield stats, increase offensive stats, and allow you to keep the tanking set bonuses, if you prefer them.
That is a brilliant suggestion :)
So if the first roll is a “hit roll” why doesn’t georgey boy say that this does not apply to force and tech attacks?
You say force and tech attacks are not defensible/avoidable.
Taugrim, i wanted to give pve a try. Will probably be doing most of my stuff solo. I dont want to pay to change my spec to a tankier spec for solo play.
Would it be feasible to buy a set of tank specced gear to pve with, to give me more survivability even though id be running dps spec? Or would it be a waste to get the tank gear specifically for solo pve?
The tank gear synergizes if you are running the tank stance with a Shield offhand. If you are running the tank stance but have talents invested in the other stances, you’ll be wasting talent points IMO.
[…] In this video, I also discuss the mechanics for Defense and Shield, as it helps in making intelligent choices when spec’ing into the tanking tree. For more details, read the article on Understanding the Defense and Shield Mechanics for Tanks in PVP. […]
I posted the link to my guild – someone said it was wrong, and held the example that force scream can be shielded. Is there some kind of confirmation on this?
I haven’t tested Force Scream specifically, as I’m playing on Republic.
Should be easy to test for anyone playing Empire with a Sith Warrior.
great work taugrim, thank you for the vidoes!
my question,just to be clear, is that ur offhand is gonna be a dps piece and not a shield piece? since ur showing how lacking shielding is in pvp, im assuming as a VG/PT its best to grab a dps offhand piece then?
what about other classes like juggernant/guardians and shadow/assassins? u think they should use a dps offhand as well if there are running tank spec in pvp?
keep up the good work
If you are running the tanking stance and took talents related to Shield Chance and/or Shield Absorption, you need a Shield offhand in order to extract value from those talents.
Very nice piece Taugrim, as usual.
One major question though related to Crit vs Shield chance on the second roll. The way I understood it in your explanation was that Crit and Shield cancelled each other in a way.
Does that mean that if someone attacking you has a 50% chance to crit and you have a 45% chance to shield an attack:
– he will only crit you 5% of the time and you will never shield anything even regular hits?
– you will never shield anything and yet he will still crit you 50% of the time?
I REALLY hope it’s the first, making shield chance great against crit based classes (most DPS?).
If you can answer that, great :)
Re-read what Georg said.
Basically a high Crit Chance can push Shield off the table, not the other way around.
The table might look something like this:
– some % to Crit
– some % to Shield
– remaining % is normal hit (no Crit, no Shield)
So if you have a high enough Crit, it will probably push % to Shield and % for normal hit off the table
His comment wasn’t really clear since he talks about “crit chance of the attacker versus the shield chance of the target” then goes on saying that “critical can never be shielded, and an attacker with a high enough crit chance can push the target’s shield chance off the table”.
It can’t be a “versus” roll if one can push the other off the table, hence confusion.
In any case that’s nuts if it’s as you understood it. Looking at how easy it is to raise crit chance (some talents giving 15%, 25%, even auto crit!) compared to shielding, it makes shielding pretty much a waste of item stats for PvP while you’d have thought that, on the contrary, tanks, fully tank geared, would be the ones able to resist critical hits the best.
Time to get rid of that shield generator and all the shield/absorb augments then and find some offensive one I guess.
Nm, got it on some other discussion. Shielding is only pushed if crit is overlapping over it on the table.
– So 30% shield, 30% crit chance means that over 100 hits, 30 wil be shielded, 30 will be crits and 40 will be normal hits.
– 50% shield, 50% crit chance means 50 hits will be shielded and 50 will be crits.
– 50% shield and 75% crit chance means 25 hits will be shielded and 75 will be crits.
Yea that is how I would assume that the Crit-vs-Shield table looks.
[…] designed the spec after discerning the limitations of the Defense (avoidance) and Shield (block) mechanics for tanks in PVP. Mitigation is king in SWTOR, and therefore the spec provides a significant amount of flat […]
Could you please supply a link to where this information came from?
I would love to see some kind of list explaining what tech and force attacks are. I find on my various toons there is nothing pointing this out. ie is everything that a sentinel does (besides obvious things like force push) non force/tech. Is high impact bolt/rail shot a tech attack ? So far I have really struggled to work this out.
Look on your Abilities tab, you can see the right-hand column for the type of attack.
I kind of found an answer to my question, but I’m dont have a list (or enough of the right type of leveled charactersto do it myself) Iread somewhere that Yellow = force/tech and White = *standard attack*. It might be worth noting to some people disregarding the shielding and defensive stats completely to consider that as far as I can tell gunslingers and sentinels seem to actually do quite a lot of white damage. If anyone out there has actually compiled a list I would love to see it (or maybe you could include one in your guide).
This is what I took from my research how to gear my JG for PvP (I’m PvE 18/23 specced).
Summary – I will avoid def/shield, take 2+2 Vindicators/War Leaders sets (for set bonuses).
Now if there was a way to change that stupid look head and chest items have…
Basically usefulness of defence/shield depends on how much of each damage there is currently in PvP.
Could anyone comment on their impressions ?
I found this bit of opinion:
PvP tanking in SWTOR is nothing like PvP tanking in WAR, despite having the exact same mechanics. All your defensive stats mean jack shit in PVP. Defense, Shield Chance, and Absorbtion don’t work with the majority of the attacks levelled at you in a PvP environment. Armor and Expertise are the mitigation kings! A tank in defensive gear is almost as squishy as a DPS, and is no less squishy than a tank in offensive gear.
February 06, 2012 http://www.swtorstrategies.com/2012/02/guardian-angel.html
PvE vs. PvP:
[..] Secondly, defensive stats in PvP are almost entirely ineffective. This is because abilities that are considered “special attacks” have 100% base accuracy, meaning any accuracy bonus goes into lowering your defensive bonuses, and because abilities that are considered “tech” or “force” attacks ignore your defenses entirely. Unfortunately, force, tech, and special attacks will make up 90% of the damage you’ll see in PvP. This makes stats like shield, absorb, and defense more or less worthless. [..]
First, regarding accuracy lowering the defence – most melee DPS Centurion gear sets have Accuracy in mods, so we can safely assume most players will have it.
Second, statement about 90% damage in PvP is not verifiable, but seems to agree with general “feeling”. It would require combat log and parses of usual activity.
List could be assembled by listing actively used abilities and evaluating a) frequency and b) amount of damage they do (subjective, but better than nothing).
Initially I was thinking about dropping accuracy, but rechecking my abilities decided against. I see my role as That Annoying Damage Sponge, so actually hitting is preferred over pure damage increase (melee abilities are Strike, Sundering Strike, Dispatch, Force Leap, Riposte, Slash, Overhead Slash, Saber Throw).
I don’t care if your puns or intended or not.
[…] Source: https://taugrim.com/2012/01/19/understanding-swtors-avoidance-and-mitigation-mechanics-for-tanks-in-p… […]
[…] they can't be dodged/parried/deflected either, so defence rating is equally useless against them (this article has more details about the mechanics involved). As far as comparing shield/absorption rating to […]
[…] don't work against a vast majority of abilities. There is a really good blog post about it here: Understanding SWTOR A lot of tanks (not so much Guardians because Defense Guardians do such awful damage), who […]
Taugrim, I would love for this spec to be re-evaluated with the patches since it wasnt viable any longer