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Darkness Tanking Compendium

theonepanda's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 08:19 AM | #1
Hi all. I'm making this thread in the spirit of Elitist Jerks. This is focused on Darkness tanking.

We do not have all the theorycrafting tools available to us right now. However, we can make informed judgements through play and the formulas available to us.

As is on EJ, this thread will focus more on endgame tanking and less on leveling. It will be maths intensive, and suggestions will not be accepted without evidence.

This guide is focused on PvE operation/flashpoint tanking.

That said, lets get started!

Warning: The first 3 pages of discussion are outdated, using a defense model that was proven incorrect. Please read at your discretion. The first post (this guide) has been updated and is correct as of last update.

Recent edits are in Green.


2/10/2012 - Slightly modified AoE rotation. It was incorrect before.
02/05/2012 - BiS totals removed, augment numbers removed. Please use the list as an advisement, and make your own decisions based on totals. Added disclaimer to Darkness/Madness. Added additional mitigation total breakdowns (up to 1200).
01/30/2012 - Modified specs slightly. Added disclaimer about specs.
01/24/2012 - Incorrect to open from stealth.
01/18/2012 - Modified BiS List. Should be more up to date, though the numbers will be different and incorrect for a bit.
01/12/2012 - Added tentative BiS List. Currently a WIP.
01/05/2012 - Added rotation for Pure Darkness.
01/03/2012 - Added disclaimer to Darkness/Madness. Beginning to update for Pure Darkness.


Your core build is 23/0/0.

The core consists of all your mitigation talents...anything more you pick up now will focus on utility and/or damage dealing (threat...which is a nonissue as of this post).

Maxing out the darkness tree (31/0/10) gains you
  • Self heal with Force Lightning ~every 15-20 seconds.
  • 5% Damage reduction from Wither
  • Less proc focused rotation

The upcoming patch is poised to make Darkness/Madness unviable in any circumstance. Spec at your own risk.
Splitting to madness (25/0/16) gains you
  • Higher single target dps with Crushing Darkness
  • Clunky, long range pull/AoE w/ Death Field
  • More mobile rotation, but more complex as well.

At this time (Patch 1.1), it is recommended that you go 31/0/10, as it is more suited for Operations, and gains far more survivability while losing very little dps.


Pure Darkness

Opening Rotation

Open by sprinting in and discharging. Dark Ward presprint. Bosses have stupidly huge (higher than normal sight aggro) stealth detection ranges.

1. Dark Ward (pre-pull)
2. Discharge
3. Wither
4. Thrash until Energize.
5. Shock (if Energize)
6. Continue with Single Target Priority until 3 Shocks.
7. Recklessness + Surge Adrenal (if you have one)
8. Lightning
9. Continue with single target priority

Single Target

This rotation prioritizes survival

1. Wither - not on CD. Use it right before it falls, typically 1 GCD before discharge is off CD.
2. Discharge
3. Force Lightning (3 Harnessed Darkness, Health < 85%)
4. Assassinate (<30% health, Exploitive Strikes up)
5. Shock (Energize up, Exploitive Strikes down)
6. Saber Strike (Force < 80)
7. Shock (Energize Up)
8. Thrash (Force > 50)
9. Saber Strike (Force < 50)


Opening Rotation

Open by sprinting in and death field. Dark Ward presprint. Bosses have stupidly huge (higher than normal sight aggro) stealth detection ranges.

1. Dark Ward (pre-pull)
2. Death Field
3. Discharge
4. Thrash until Energize or Raze.
5. Recklessness + Surge Adrenal (if you have one)
6. Crushing Darkness (if Raze)
7. Shock (if Energize)
8. Continue with Single Target Priority.

Single Target


1. Crushing Darkness (Raze)
2. Assassinate (<30% health, Exploitive Strikes up)
3. Shock (Energize up, Exploitive Strikes down)
4. Saber Strike (Force < 80)
5. Shock (Energize Up)
6. Thrash (Force > 50)
7. Saber Strike (Force < 50)

Maximizing Rotation

You will interrupt your rotation for Discharge 1 GCD (wither right before, if Pure Darkness) after it comes off CD. Dark Ward is off GCD, and low focus costing, so you will use it on CD if it is down. Otherwise, refresh it right before it falls off, or if you anticipate becoming CC'd in the future.

Assassinate does good damage compared to Thrash, approximately 50% more. However, it does nothing to keep up Exploitive Strikes, does not crit as hard as Thrash, and thus should only be in your rotation if Exploitive Strikes/Energize are up and not in danger of falling off soon.

To maximize your rotation, do not shock until Energize or Exploitive Strikes is about to expire, and use Death Field or pool force with Saber Strike (do not force cap however, Shock or Thrash if you are close to 90+ force).

The maximized rotation may be summarized by this:
  • IF Raze is UP, Crushing Darkness.
  • IF Exploitive Strikes is UP, assassinate (<30%).
  • IF Energize is NOT up, thrash constantly.
  • IF energize is UP, Exploitive Strikes is DOWN, Shock.
  • IF energize is UP, Exploitive Strikes is UP, Force is <70, Saber strike.
  • IF energize is UP, Exploitive Strikes is UP, Force is >70, Shock.

*Death Field, from my testing, may not have a place in a single target rotation. It suffers from
  • Inability to be used when on GCD. That means you spend time clicking and waiting, wasting dps.
  • Barely more (perhaps equal) DPS to Thrash, without any proc or crit bonuses.
  • Self heal is fairly useless and insignificant.

Multi Target

Let me preface this by saying that Assassin tanks really shine in single target tanking/dps. If at all possible, let another tank AoE tank.


1.Wither or Death Field
2. Shock (Energize Up, Exploitive Strikes Down)
3. Discharge
4. Lacerate

5. Crushing Darkness (Raze)

Your mitigation suffers horribly without Dark Ward, and it goes down quickly when there are more than 1 enemy on you. Note that Thrash does more damage at lower force than Lacerate at 3 or fewer targets. Do not AoE in that situation unless you desperately need to hold threat.



With Dark Ward up, Assassins have the following base mitigation with 0 rating.
  • 16% Defense
  • 35% Shield
  • 24% Absorb

Mitigation in SWToR uses a 2 roll system. First defense is rolled against. If the attack passes, it then rolls against Shield.

Because of this, it is impossible to become "unhittable" (Full Combat Table Coverage) as is the case in WoW.

At level 50, stats are broken down in the following ways
  • Defense - Gives total Avoidance. Capped at 30%. Takes 27.5 rating to increase 1%.*
  • Shield - Chance of "blocking" a hit. Capped at 50%. Takes 16 rating to increase 1%.*
  • Absorb - Increases amount blocked. Capped at 50%. Takes 9 rating to increase 1%.*

*Before diminishing returns.

Caps are rating caps, meaning they exist independently of skill buffs.

Because of the 2 roll system, any increase in defense LOWERS the effectiveness of your shield, and vice versa.

However, diminishing returns makes us consider a spread of stats to stay viable.

Total mitigation is approximately the amount less damage you will take. You want this as high as possible.

Chance to hit is the the chance you will be hit by a full attack. You want this as low as possible

Below are the breakdowns based on your approximate total rating, maximizing mitigation.
  • 300 Rating - 31.79% Mitigation. 200 Defense. 0 Shield. 100 Absorb. 50.34% Hit Chance.
  • 400 Rating - 34.18% Mitigation. 300 Defense. 0 Shield. 100 Absorb. 48.57% Hit Chance.
  • 500 Rating - 36.36% Mitigation. 350 Defense. 0 Shield. 150 Absorb. 47.77% Hit Chance.
  • 600 Rating - 38.33% Mitigation. 400 Defense. 0 Shield. 200 Absorb. 47.01% Hit Chance.
  • 700 Rating - 40.19% Mitigation. 400 Defense. 50 Shield. 250 Absorb. 44.80% Hit Chance.
  • 800 Rating - 42.06% Mitigation. 350 Defense. 150 Shield. 300 Absorb. 41.43% Hit Chance.
  • 900 Rating - 43.88% Mitigation. 350 Defense. 200 Shield. 350 Absorb. 39.57 Hit Chance.
  • 1000 Rating - 45.65% Mitigation. 400 Defense. 250 Shield. 350 Absorb. 37.22 Hit Chance.
  • 1100 Rating - 47.37% Mitigation. 400 Defense. 300 Shield. 400 Absorb. 35.61 Hit Chance.
  • 1200 Rating - 49.01% Mitigation. 400 Defense. 350 Shield. 450 Absorb. 34.09 Hit Chance.

Stack defense and absorb until ~700 rating. Then start moving defense to shield and absorb.


Crafted Epics

Below is a tentative list of the best gear combination you can get with crafted epics.

*Note: The Tionese Survivor's Shield Generator is the ONLY shield generator available (through daily HM Flashpoints) at this gear level. You can also opt for the Prototype shield generator avaiable through Corellia commendations.

The gear list assumes you are using Custom gear, including bracers and belt, and that all your gear is [Mastercraft] when possible. Please count your augment slots, and total your ratings, so that you can make the right decision as to what augment to purchase.

These are not finalized and are pending simulation and revision.
  • Earpiece - [Veracity Hyperaccelerated Resistance Module]
  • Implantx2 - [Veracity Nano-Optic Resistance Implant]
  • Shield - [Tionese Survivor's Shield Generator]
  • Armorings - Force Wielder or Resolve; These do not impact avoidance/mitigation.
  • Modsx8 - [Advanced Robust Mod 22]
  • Enhancementsx6 - Advanced Immunity Enhancement 22]
  • Augments - [Advanced Redoubt Augment 22]
  • Augments - [Advanced Shield Augment 22]
  • Augments - [Advanced Absorb Augment 22]

Fredbob's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 10:40 AM | #2
Nice post thank you, shall refer to it again when gearing

FoE_Noctis's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 01:11 PM | #3
So if I'm understanding this right, we should first aim for hitting 600 defense, then switch to 492 defense and absorb cap + shield points when we'd have a decent amount of shield points skill?
Also wouldn't the 2 points in tier 1 madness Sith Defiance be also considered core?

theonepanda's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 01:15 PM | #4
600 is the "total" rating of your def + shield + absorb.

At 500 is when it becomes better for pure mitigation to switch from def stacking to absorb stacking.

However, you will increase your chances of eating a full hit.

Its up to you, but at 600 you should drop ALL def rating, and cap out absorb and put the rest into shield.

From then on, stack shield rating while keeping absorb at 450.

FoE_Noctis's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 01:18 PM | #5
ahh, that makes sense

Kirnan's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 01:58 PM | #6
Wonderful post, thank you.

Battousaien's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 02:15 PM | #7
Good read. Thanks.

Kirnan's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 06:25 PM | #8
I wonder how fast Kinetic Ward/Dark Ward will get used up with a high shield chance and tanking a few mobs at the same time and how much would it effect overall mitigation.

You might end up wanting to balance the amount of Defence so that Ward is up 100%.

DarkenWulf's Avatar

12.24.2011 , 07:48 PM | #9
Good post will have to test it end game, personally I don't much value crushing darkness as an opener although I see the point. I just play with far too impatient peeps
Darkwulf - Assassin = Marauder - Wulfy
-Fade to Darkness - Legions of Lettow - Sponsored by Drunken Tusken Beer-

rzeznicc's Avatar

12.25.2011 , 02:24 AM | #10
bloody good post, will sink in "nerf this Im bad" forum sands

thank you, consider creating a blog for quality info