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Shadow / Vanguard

radl's Avatar


radl
10.18.2012 , 05:17 AM | #1
I have finally finished levelling my tank characters (one of which, will end up being my main)

I have researched both of the classes in question and have thoroughly enjoyed the levelling experience on both, which is why i am now struggling to decide on which class to play.

So I was hoping that somebody could share their personal experiences in tanking on these classes in regard to operations etc. to sway me into making a final decision.

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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LVL 55 Sorcerer (Corruption)
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
10.18.2012 , 09:50 AM | #2
Let's see if I can give a quick summary…

Vanguards are very, very steady tanks. They have BY FAR the best passive mitigation in the game, between their armor and their shield. Defense is a very small component of their mitigation, so their statistical survivability profile is heavily front-loaded (with very low probability of "bad cases"). They are also the easiest tanks to play, since the only challenging mechanic is really just keeping your ammo high while your 4 absorb stacks up. Threat is generally pretty straightforward, since the DPS done is reasonably high and fairly reliable. Vanguards also have the best *reputation* of all three tanks, so it'll probably be easier to get PuGs, at least on most servers.

Shadows are, in many ways, the opposite. Their mitigation is heavily weighted toward active components. Kinetic Ward, two forms of self-healing (three if you include a cooldown), and target debuffs all weigh into the equation. Altogether, shadow survivability is actually slightly better (by about 3%) than vanguard survivability on current content, but it's very difficult to play a shadow at that level. They have the most complex rotation of the three tanks, with a primary priority queue of 8 core abilities, 12 situationals and 3 cooldowns. Unlike other tanks where messing up your rotation results in loss of threat, messing up a shadow's rotation results in DEATH (since your survivability is tied to your ability usage). That's not to say that these abilities don't also do damage! Shadow DPS and TPS (threat per second) are the highest in the game among the three tanks. Shadow tanking abilities are so strong that they can even put up reasonable numbers as a DPS when wearing the appropriate gear (my shadow does about 1200 in DPS gear). All of this active mitigation and low armor rating also makes their survivability profile extremely spiky. The average is excellent, and the common cases are outstanding (28% chance of nearly-100% survivability on any given hit), but some of the probabilities are downright scary (24% chance of only 33% survivability). As a result, shadows not only require more skill from the tank, but also from the healer assigned to that tank.

If you want a really interesting class to play that has a lot to it and a VERY high skill ceiling, go with the shadow. If you play it well, you will be rewarded with the most survivable tank paired with the best threat generation in the game (by a fairly wide margin post-1.4). If you would rather go with easy-mode 4-button tanking that's pretty much impossible to screw up, grab your vanguard. The results are good, no question there, and it does free up a lot of brain power to deal with fight mechanics and raid coordination, but you're never going to achieve the results that a perfectly-played shadow can reach.
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Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

Kitru's Avatar


Kitru
10.18.2012 , 11:35 AM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
They have the most complex rotation of the three tanks, with a primary priority queue of 8 core abilities, 12 situationals and 3 cooldowns.
I agree with pretty much everything you've said here except for this. Guardians have a much more convoluted attack rotation/priority for tanking than Shadows do because they've got their resource management and more CDs on their attacks to worry about. It's one of the reasons why you see so few good Guardian tanks around.
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
10.18.2012 , 12:51 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Kitru View Post
I agree with pretty much everything you've said here except for this. Guardians have a much more convoluted attack rotation/priority for tanking than Shadows do because they've got their resource management and more CDs on their attacks to worry about. It's one of the reasons why you see so few good Guardian tanks around.
I need to learn more about guardian tanks. I ran with a guardian co-tank for about 8 months, and he was pretty good. When we talked about conditional events in our priority queues though, I had a lot more things I was looking for. Use of Double Strike is a pretty good example of this, and may be the difference in the complexity you and I perceive in the shadow rotation. (iirc, you essentially cut out Double Strike entirely except when above 79 force?)

As I said though, I need to learn more about guardians. They do certainly have far more cooldowns to juggle, though they're on much longer timers than a shadow, meaning that they aren't part of the core priority queue.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Streaming Dilettante on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

Kitru's Avatar


Kitru
10.18.2012 , 01:13 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
I need to learn more about guardian tanks. I ran with a guardian co-tank for about 8 months, and he was pretty good. When we talked about conditional events in our priority queues though, I had a lot more things I was looking for. Use of Double Strike is a pretty good example of this, and may be the difference in the complexity you and I perceive in the shadow rotation. (iirc, you essentially cut out Double Strike entirely except when above 79 force?)
I use Double Strike more than I intend to a lot, but my general use case is "only when above 70% force or so" (which happens a crapton more than it used to thanks to new Elusiveness; /loveit).

I've got an played all 3 of the tank ACs in Group and Ops content (I haven't used my Guardian or VG in TfB and haven't used my Guardian in EC), so I feel pretty qualified to describe the relevant differences between how they play and operate. Guardians have a much higher skill requirement to play at a functional level than Shadows do. For Shadows, it honestly boils down to spamming Project and Slow Time, keeping Force Breach's debuff up (which pretty much means using on CD), using TkT when you have 3 stacks of HS, keeping KW up at all times, and using DS/Spinning Strike/Saber Strike when you have none of the above to do, and, while there is less ability to play around with survivability CDs (thanks to the longer CDs), you have to play around with your resource and threat generation CDs (Hilt Strike, Force Stasis, Combat Focus, Saber Throw). It's a different kind of convolution than Shadows have.

For Guardians, it's convolution in the ability to play *functionally*. For Shadows, it's convolution in the ability to play *optimally*.
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JediMasterSarynn's Avatar


JediMasterSarynn
10.18.2012 , 01:15 PM | #6
I have one of each tank class. I will say that I've played the Guardian and Shadow the most, as my Vanguard is a recent 50 (however he is all BH geared at this point). I feel that the Shadow is the best tank to play overall, but definitely the most complex. I've run with several Shadows before who didn't know what they were doing and that's just not possible with that class. You can get away with it as a Vanguard, even a Guardian to an extent, but not a Shadow.

The whole situation makes me fairly sad because I loved my Guardian. I played one in beta and the first 5 months since launch. However, I just find that the Shadow is simply more fun to play. I never have issues with aggro management, even in AoE situations, I can CC mobs during raids out of combat, if things go wrong I can stealth and get away, then quickly revive the group so we don't have to waste time running back, I can pull mobs toward me which helps immensely with positioning, and I have Force Run to quickly close the gap when needed.

To top it all off, I can keep my tanking spec and get PvP DPS gear and be a huge difference maker in warzones. So I don't have to pay for respecs. Huge plus.
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Sarynn, Guardian | Darael, Shadow | Zadiel, Vanguard | Skyra, Scoundrel | Myrisa, Sentinel

grallmate's Avatar


grallmate
10.18.2012 , 03:24 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Kitru View Post
I use Double Strike more than I intend to a lot, but my general use case is "only when above 70% force or so" (which happens a crapton more than it used to thanks to new Elusiveness; /loveit).

I've got an played all 3 of the tank ACs in Group and Ops content (I haven't used my Guardian or VG in TfB and haven't used my Guardian in EC), so I feel pretty qualified to describe the relevant differences between how they play and operate. Guardians have a much higher skill requirement to play at a functional level than Shadows do. For Shadows, it honestly boils down to spamming Project and Slow Time, keeping Force Breach's debuff up (which pretty much means using on CD), using TkT when you have 3 stacks of HS, keeping KW up at all times, and using DS/Spinning Strike/Saber Strike when you have none of the above to do, and, while there is less ability to play around with survivability CDs (thanks to the longer CDs), you have to play around with your resource and threat generation CDs (Hilt Strike, Force Stasis, Combat Focus, Saber Throw). It's a different kind of convolution than Shadows have.

For Guardians, it's convolution in the ability to play *functionally*. For Shadows, it's convolution in the ability to play *optimally*.
I've got a Guardian and an Assassin running endgame content (levelling a PT too, but still a little way off) and I pretty much agree with the above.

Shadow/Assassin skill is about staying alive. If you suck, you die.
Guardian/Jugg skill is largely about holding threat (especially AoE threat). If you suck, the party dies.

Further, a good healer can cover the weakness of a Shadow/Assassin tank in PUG/non-progression groups. Good DPS make the Guardian's job harder.

I also find my Guardian's "rotation" to be much more involved (8 'core' attacks used on priority [and ideally, CD], 4 CDs used under different conditions, 8 more situationally useful attacks and a handful of [in combat] situationally useful abilities). My Assassin rarely uses Thrash but since I unlocked Wither I find the Assassin rotation to be rather dull... 6 attacks used on priority + Dark Ward. Assassin CDs are godly if you know when to use them and next to useless if you don't. Guardian ones are more universal but do have more optimal use cases.

TalonVII's Avatar


TalonVII
10.18.2012 , 03:38 PM | #8
I've gotten up to a level 43 vanguard and i've done some pvp. It's all about being near a healer who is half awake.

Cause i can just take a beating from lvl 50s when i was a level 37. I have ion cell on then adrenline rush and the 12 second shield buff, and i can just take an absurd amount of damage and survive.

Plus i can dish it out if i switch to plasma after somebody has shot their wad and i just spam hammer shot till they get into melee range, then it's gutshot, shockstrike, ionpulse, pulse shot then sticky grenade and i can do some impressive damage.

And that's not even level 50 yet.
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radl's Avatar


radl
10.18.2012 , 05:05 PM | #9
First of all, thankyou very much for all your replies guys...

I've decided on maining the shadow, i understand the boss mechanics, thanks to previous 50 characters that have run operations and tonight i've run sm ev as main tank (was already bm/tionese, i also grabbed myself a blackhole piece and the two rakata pieces via crafting and augmented them) and ran a couple of hm flashpoints without a wipe or a complaint...... now i'm practically full columi thanks to the drops tonight.

I'd like to thankyou all for your swift responses, especially keyboardninja and kitru, who's posts on tanking, i have followed diligently.

Once again thanks for the responses.

X'ian
Aing-Tii Legacy
LVL 55 Sorcerer (Corruption)
LVL 55 Sage (Seer)
TOFN