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01.28.2012 , 10:40 AM | #1
UPDATE (2012/06/27): the nerfs in 1.3 to Flame Shield (Static Shield) and Flame Surge (Static Surge) have unfortunately made "Iron Fist" no longer viable in PVP. Given the current mechanics, I recommend running Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) or Advanced Prototype (Tactics). If you are set on tanking, you can run a 31-pt spec but understand that your damage output is going to be limited.

Watch the video: on YouTube | on my blog


This video covers my “Iron Fist” 25/14/2 PVP tank spec.

I designed the spec after discerning the limitations of the Defense (avoidance) and Shield (block) mechanics for tanks in PVP. Mitigation is king in SWTOR PVP. The two 2% mitigation talents and 5% mitigation from the tanking stance stack additively to provide 9% mitigation against all damage types (i.e. Elemental, Energy, Internal, and Kinetic) - you can see this by mousing over Damage Reduction on your Character window.

The 4-pc Tech set bonus, Static Shield talent, and Static Surge talent synergize to generate a high frequency of high-damage Stockstrike crits.

Here is the spec used in the video:

The “Iron Fist” spec has been very effective for me in PVP, both group play and solo. It’s designed to support aggressive close-quarters combat gameplay: you can tank and burn down MDPS and pressure and shutdown casters and healers, while retaining Guard, charge, and debuff capability.

For more information about Vanguard PVP, please refer to my free in-depth Guide.

I queued solo for the Huttball match shown in the video.

Comments / Errata:
  1. I had an incorrect Relic bound on my Quickslot bar. The point made in the video still stands: the level 50 Crit buff stacks with a Relic

UPDATE (2012/04/17): no changes for Patch 1.2 to this spec, as none of its talents were impacted in a significant way. Unfortunately, the Carolina Parakeet spec is now history

UPDATE (2012/03/26): moved the point in Prototype Cylinders (Blaster Augs) back to Retractable Blade (Gut). The point in PC (BA) only seems to buff the direct-damage portion, not the DoT.

UPDATE (2012/03/12): moved the point in Retractable Blade (Gut) to Prototype Cylinders (Blaster Augs).

UPDATE (2012/02/29): people keep asking about leveling. You can level with any tree. If you want to do a tank build such as Iron Fist, put your first 21-25 pts in the tank tree, then fill out the other trees.

UPDATE (2012/02/17): with the nerf to Surge Rating in 1.1.3, burst damage is down significantly for all players and time-to-kill has increased. An implication is that “mana” management has become more important.

As such, I moved the point in Oil Slick (Smoke Grenade) over to the second point in Shield Vents (Shield Cycler). The idea here is to get your internal cooldown on the Heat vent (Ammo regen) proc from SV (SC) ticking as fast as possible.

UPDATE (2012/02/08): read NoGoal’s insightful comment on the mechanics limitations for Rebraced Armor.

UPDATE (2012/02/02): people have been asking about gear for this spec. Here’s what you want to get:
  • Supercommando Shield offhand: to leverage the free +15% Shield Chance buff you get from the tanking stance. While I don’t believe the Shield Chance stat is worth stacking for PVP, the +15% benefit is worth leveraging
  • Combat Tech 4-pc set: for the awesome +15% Crit Chance to Rocket Punch (Stockstrike). Alternatively, if you prefer the Supercommando set bonuses, you can go 4-pc Supercommando and swap out the mods for DPS ones
  • Go for DPS stats for the remaining slots: this means Eliminator, Combat Tech, and in some cases Combat Medic. The priority for the stats is what I documented in the Stats and Gear section of my Powertech / Vanguard Guide

UPDATE (2012/01/29): to clarify why mitigation matters and how it stacks, consider the following…

Talents such as Power Armor are not affected by diminishing returns, and mitigation becomes more valuable the more you have.

Without points in the two 2% mitigation talents, my mitigation against Energy and Kinetic attacks is 45.5% from Armor and the tanking stance, so I suffer 54.5 points of damage out of every 100.

With Iron Fist, the mitigation increases to 49.5%, so I suffer 50.5 points of damage out of every 100.

Which means that a non-IF tank spec is going to take 7.9% (4 / 50.5) more damage than an IF build. The difference is significant and very noticeable in PVP.

By the same token, the damage that a non-IF spec takes from Elemental and Internal damage compared to an IF spec is > 4%.

I.e. non-IF in tank stance has 5% mitigation against those damage types, and IF has 9%. So 95 damage taken vs 91 damage taken, or an increase of 4.4%.

When you factor in the +10% mitigation buff from Sorcs / Sages, the gap between non-IF and IF tank specs widens to 4.9% (4 / 81).

And the above percentages again increase when you factor in our 4% damage debuff.

UPDATE (2012/01/28): people asked about the pros and cons of Carolina Parakeet (21/2/18) and Iron Fist. Here’s my brief take…

Here is what you gain with Carolina Parakeet:
+ improved ranged capability
+ better burst mechanics when Prototype Particle Accelerator (Ionic Accelerator) procs multiple times in a short time window

Here is what you gain with Iron Fist:
+ better mitigation and CC capability
+ no wasted talent points or set bonuses

They are both excellent specs – which you choose depends on your preferred capabilities.
PVP Maven, Guide Writer, Host on GAMEBREAKER's The Republic show
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