Sunday, 29 April 2012

PvP Tank Basics: Using Guard Effectively

PvP Tank Basics is a series of articles in which I'll examine the baseline PvP tank abilities and discuss strategies for maximizing their effectiveness. I will keep these articles up to date, so that they can be referenced at any time by new PvP tanks. Today, we're looking at Guard.

Guard is a frequently misunderstood ability. While keeping it on a healer is a prudent strategy, it doesn't do anything for someone who isn't taking damage in PvP. Guard will almost always be your main source of Protection on the scoreboard at the end of a warzone if you are a dedicated PvP tank. It also allows your healers more time to react to incoming focus fire. Used appropriately and with healer support, it can turn the tide.

This means that the most effective way to use guard is to make sure that it is always redirecting damage to you. The only way to ensure this is to swap it as different members of your team are selected as targets. Do not be afraid to switch your Guard to someone new. The only possible exception to this is if you are the ball carrier in Huttball and do not wish to risk taking more damage.

Any advanced class with access to a tanking skill tree will learn Guard at level 14. From Torhead:

 30 m

While active, the guarded player takes 5% less damage and generates 25% less threat. In addition, so long as you remain within 15 meters of the guarded player, 50% of all incoming damage from enemy players is transferred back to you. Requires Soresu Form.

Regardless of your advanced class, Guard always requires that you use the "Defensive Stance"  for your advanced class (Soresu Form for Juggernauts and Guardians) in order to be able to use it; if you switch stances it will immediately be removed. There was talk in Beta that Guard let your guarded target use your damage reduction. This has since been proven to be false, however they do still get the flat 5% damage reduction bonus while guarded.

The most important thing to remember about Guard is that you must be within 15 meters of your Guarded target in order to intercept 50% of their incoming damage. If you overextend, you may be responsible for the guarded player's demise, especially in a heavy-pressure situation.

Guard Priority

Guard does a good job of making healing easier to handle for your team's healers. But who should you be guarding at any given point in time? My priority is as follows:

1. If one of my healers is being attacked, I put my guard on them until they are no longer in danger. This aspect of using Guard is often a judgement call. Look around for Ranged DPS that may still be focusing on your healer before you leave them alone. If possible, ask your healer if they are okay (voice communication is helpful here).

2. With my healer no longer in danger, I look at the health of those around me as I move into the thick of the fight. If I see someone is being focus-fired, I use guard on them immediately and, if available, Intercede to them or Force Charge to an enemy nearby so that they will be getting the benefit of my Guard as soon as possible (other ACs can substitute their own gap closers here). Very often, the enemy's focus fire target is a melee DPS on your team who has made themselves a threat by antagonizing the enemy's healers. If possible, call the enemy's focus fire target to your healers (again, voice communication helps) in case they are not yet aware of it.

3. While guarding the focus fire target, I continue to monitor our healer's health as I help support the DPS. Setting your healer as your focus target helps make this a lot easier. You need to enable this in Preferences and the keystroke is Alt+F by default. Your healer should also communicate with you, if possible, in the event that they are being attacked. That way, you know to go back to help them.

The Psychology of Guard

A lot of the time, DPS will continue to attack a guarded healer, either not noticing or not caring that they are doing only 50% of their normal damage to the healer. As a tank, this is what you want them to do. Even if your healer is only able to keep you and themselves alive, they are likely occupying the time of 3+ enemies who are not attacking other people on your team, and you are able to utilize your taunts to further decrease the damage. In other words, you are buying time for the rest of your team to kill them.

However, smart DPS will usually do one of three things to counter this:

1. They will switch to you, attempting to burn you down while the healer recovers from recent pressure. Since they are attacking you, you're taking full damage from their attacks and your taunts are useless. The exact threat this poses to you depends on the type of classes attacking you, but it's not usually a good situation. Here's where you use your defensive cooldowns. If possible, throw out stuns on your attackers to let your healer respond to the target switch. Keep your guard on your healer for the moment, in case they choose to switch back.

2. They will switch to another member of your team. This scenario is actually more favourable for you than the first one. Intercede to that target, swap your Guard to them, and utilize taunts and/or stuns to make the enemy's team difficult. Keep your eye on your healer; they may switch back once they realize you're responding to their pressure. Use this opportunity to throw out snares on the enemy in case they decide to switch back to your healer.

3. They will attempt to separate you from your healer. Not much you can do here besides use your gap closer to get back as soon as possible. This is possibly the worst scenario for you, depending on your healer's status when you get separated and on how much damage is being thrown at your healer in your absence.

We stand on guard for thee

Having read these tips, get out there and start supporting your allies on the field with Guard! It is, without a doubt, the most powerful ability tanks have in PvP to protect their allies. Using it well is the first step on your PvP tank journey. As always, any feedback is appreciated.


  1. I usually remember guard exists about 2 seconds before somebody dies. =\

  2. They would have died in 1 if you hadn't put it on them! ;)