This is a preliminary guide that provides details on abilities and skill changes and initial recommendations for skill tree choices and an overview on the changes to the rotation. I suggest reading this guide in combination with the 6.0 class guide to understand the previous rotation to then adapt to 7.0 as discussed briefly herein. More detailed guides will be forthcoming after preliminary guides are posted for all disciplines.
Combat Style Abilities & Passive Skills
Discipline Passive Skills
(Not on ability tree) Increases the critical chance of Force Sweep and Guardian Slash by 20%. Additionally, Warding Strike deals an additional 30% damage and increases shield absorption by 3%.
(Not on ability tree) Force Sweep deals 75% more damage and consumes 2 less focus. Additionally, the critical chance of Cyclone Slash and Blade Barrage is increased by 30%.
Utilize a defensive lightsaber form, increasing armor rating by 61.5%, damage reduction by 6%, shield chance by 15%, threat generation by 150%, and accuracy by 10%. While utilizing Soresu form, all damage dealt is reduced by 10% and all Strike abilities generate 1 less focus.
Targets damaged by your Force Sweep and Cyclone Slash become unsteady. Unsteady targets have their melee and ranged accuracy decreased by 5% for 45 seconds. In addition, damage dealt by Blade Storm is increased by 40%.
Riposte consumes 1 less focus and no longer causes a global cooldown. In addition, melee and ranged defense is increased by 3%.
Increases armor rating by 15%, and when your guarded target is attacked, your movement speed is increased by 30% for 6 seconds.
Activating Blade Storm grants Blade Barrier, which absorbs damage. Lasts up to 10 seconds. Riposte raises a Blade Barricade, increasing your defense chance by 5% for 10 seconds.
Increases shield chance by 4% and reduces the cooldown of Saber Ward by 30 seconds.
Parrying, deflecting, shielding or resisting an attack has a 50% chance to grant Courage, reducing the focus consumed by your next Blade Storm or Dispatch by 1. Lasts up to 12 seconds and stacks up to 3 times.
Increases the duration of Enure by 10 seconds. Increases elemental and internal damage reduction by 5%.
Dealing damage with Blade Barrage increases your defense chance by 2%. Stacks up to 3 times and lasts for 6 seconds.
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.
45s cooldown. Taunts all enemies within 15 meters, forcing them to attack you for 6 seconds. Player targets deal 30% less damage for 6 seconds when attacking anyone other than you.
10m range, 60s cooldown. Subdues the target, stunning it for 4 seconds and generating moderate threat. Deals kinetic damage and builds 3 focus over the duration.
60s cooldown. Temporarily increases your maximum health by 30% for 10 seconds and removes all cleansable effects. When the effect ends, the health is lost.
30m range, 60s cooldown. Leaps to a friendly target, reducing their threat by a moderate amount and reducing damage taken by 20% for 6 seconds.
Discipline Skill Tree
Defensive Assault should be the default choice for more base mitigation until comfortable that damage taken will not be a problem.
Marked Assault is great for damage when you can safely taunt and AoE taunt the boss on cooldown and synergizes well with Crushing Mark. Antagonizing Assault is a back-up for fights where you cannot taunt freely or are the off-tank on single boss encounters.
Cyclone Slash should usually be taken for extra damage and threat generation on multi-target fights.
Guardian Focus gives 10% DR to nearby players so is ideal for any fights with meaningful AoE damage or for buffing the main tank while in an off tank role.
Crushing Mark is great for adding damage when you can safely taunt on cooldown and is the default choice for this tier as the others are situational for multi-target and heavy group damage encounters.
War Machine will give more uses of Threatening Rage for damage/threat/more taunts and makes the ability a small DCD.
All are situational but Battlefield Command is most likely to be useful for movement purposes.
Stalwart Defense is a great choice for the stun DR. War Master and Second Wind are situationally useful for more damage and where stun breaks are important for mechanics.
Saber Reflect or Blade Blitz depending on which is more useful in a fight.
Saber Reflect or Blade Blitz depending on which is more useful in a fight.
Through Peace will be the best choice most of the time for the better uptime on your powerful self heal cooldown.
Level 15 - Gain 2 Abilities
4m range, 12s cooldown. Increases damage reduction and shield absorption by 3% for 20 seconds, generates 6 focus, and deals weapon damage to the target with a series of quick melee attacks. Replaces Sundering Strike.
45s cooldown. Instantly generates 6 focus, reduces the cooldown of Taunt and Challenging Call by 5 seconds and damages all taunted targets around you.
Level 23 - Pick 1 Upgrade for Warding Strike
Marked Assault (passive)
Warding Strike deals 50% more damage to taunted targets.
Antagonizing Assault (passive)
Increases the damage, critical hit chance, and threat of Warding Strike by 20%.
Defensive Assault (passive)
Warding Strike increases your damage reduction by an additional 2% when it deals damage.
Level 27 - Pick 1 Ability or Passive Skill
Debilitating Slashes (passive)
Blade Barrage immobilizes the target for 3 seconds and generates 1 focus.
Cyclone Slash (ability)
5m range, costs 2 Focus. Slashes up to 8 enemies within 5 meters in front of you for weapon damage and inflicts the targets with Trauma, which reduces the healing received from all sources by 20% for 5 seconds.
Blade Burst (passive)
Blade Storm does damage to additional enemies in a cone in front and slows them by 50% for 6 seconds.
Level 35 - Gain Ability
4m range, 12s cooldown, costs 4 Focus. Slashes the target with a powerful stroke, dealing weapon damage, enabling Riposte, and impairing the target for 45 seconds. Impaired targets deal 5% less damage with Force and tech attacks. If you are protected by your Warding Strike, Guardian Slash damages up to 7 additional nearby enemies for the same amount. Does not damage sleeping, lifted, or incapacitated enemies. This attack knocks down all affected standard and weak enemies. Generates a high amount of threat.
Level 39 - Pick 1 Upgrade for Guardian Slash
Crushing Mark (passive)
Guardian Slash deals 50% more damage to taunted targets.
Guardian Focus (passive)
Dealing damage with Guardian Slash while Warding Strike is active grants a barrier of protection to all allies within 10 meters for 6 seconds.
Critical Slash (passive)
Guardian Slash critical chance and threat generated is increased by 20% and its cooldown is reduced by one second each time it critically hits.
Level 43 - Pick 1 Passive Skill
Dealing direct damage to taunted targets generates 1 focus and heals you for 1% of your maximum health. This effect can occur once per second.
Guardian Leap grants Thwart, increasing the damage dealt by your next melee ability by 20%. This effect lasts for 10 seconds. Additionally, reduces the cooldown of Guardian Leap by 5 seconds and reduces the threat and damage taken by an additional 10% each for the friendly target of Guardian Leap.
Critically hitting with a direct attack reduces the cooldown of your Threatening Focus by 1 second. Threatening Focus purges movement impairing effects and increases your melee and ranged defense chance by 10% for 10 seconds.
Level 47 - Gain Ability
4m range, 60s cooldown. Smacks the target for kinetic damage, stunning it for 4 seconds. This ability generates a high amount of threat.
Level 51 - Pick 1 Passive Skill
Increase the range of Blade Storm to 30 meters, but Blade Storm deals reduced damage beyond 30 meters. Additionally, Force Push deals 20% more damage and grants Unyielding Justice, allowing your next Blade Storm to deal full damage regardless of the distance from the target.
You generate 4 Focus when stunned, immobilized, put to sleep, or knocked around.
Getting attacked reduces the active cooldown of Force Leap by 1 second. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.
Level 60 - Gain Ability
Reduces all damage taken by 40% for 10 seconds.
Level 64 - Pick 1 Passive Skill
All damage is reduced by 30% while stunned.
Force Leap grants Unremitting, granting immunity to movement-impairing effects and effects that push or pull you around for 4 seconds. In addition, Force Leap enables your next Dispatch or Whirling Blade to be used against a target with any percentage of health. Lasts up to 4 seconds.
Lowers the cooldown of Resolute by 30 seconds. Resolute also has a chance to heal you for 10% of your maximum health.
Level 68 - Pick 1 Ability
60s cooldown. Confounds up to 8 nearby enemies, preventing all action for up to 6 seconds. Damage ends the effect prematurely. In addition, targets affected by Awe deal 15% less melee and ranged damage for 10 seconds after the confounding effect ends. Targets immune to the confounding effect will immediately suffer from this damage reducing effect.
60s cooldown. Reflects all single target ranged, Force and tech attacks back to the attacker for 5 seconds. The damage done by each reflect is capped, and the cap rises with each new rank of the ability. In addition, Saber Reflect generates a high amount of threat on all engaged enemies within 30 meters when activated.
35s cooldown. Quickly rush forward 20 meters, dealing weapon damage to enemies in your path and increasing your defense chance by 100% while blitzing. Can be used while immobilized and purges movement-impairing effects when activated.
Level 73 - Pick 1 Passive Skill
For the Defense discipline, Force Sweep slows the targets it damages by 60% for 10 seconds. For the Vigilance and Focus disciplines, Force Sweep and Vigilant Thrust sunder the targets they damage for 45 seconds.
Whenever your movement is impaired, you gain a 10% damage bonus to your next ability that consumes focus. This effect can stack up to 5 times and lasts 15 seconds.
Reduces the cooldown of Focused Defense by 30 seconds.
Gearing in 7.0
Please see my initial 7.0 Gearing Guide for more information on gearing.
Preliminary gearing targets for Defense Guardian should be as follows:
Legendary: Force Resistance and Retaliator for mitigation, can swap Fearless Victor for Force Resistance if using offensive gearing builds
Tactical: Grit Teeth for most encounters, Leviathan's Hide for multi-target encounters
Relics: Avoidance and Shield Matrix for additional mitigation tertiary stats
Stim: Fortitude stim
Adrenal: Absorb adrenal
Tertiary stats and augments should be allocated between a mix of Shield Rating and Absorb Rating. I would recommend having at least 60% of your tertiary stats devoted to Shield Rating with the remainder to Absorb Rating.
Players should be cautious with offensive gearing in any Veteran or Master Mode operations until comfortable with the new gearing system and how to balance the use of fewer defensive cooldowns to mitigate damage. If gearing offensively, the priority should generally be to swap one Legendary per above and use offensive stims and adrenals. Some gear pieces can also be swapped to add in additional Critical Rating for some Shield Rating and Absorb Rating.
Force Resistance Package
Elemental, Internal, Kinetic and Energy damage reduction is increased by 3%. Package contains Absorption Rating.
Comments: Damage reduction is great for tanks so this is a solid option. DPS should not take Force Resistance as it does not increase damage.
Riposte has no cooldown. Package contains Shield Rating.
Comments: Riposte is not a key ability in either damage discipline but is meaningful to tanks where it deals extra damage and is available more frequently. Retaliator is a good option for tanks with a small mitigation buff and a more significant offensive benefit.
Fearless Victor Package
Whenever you use a focus spending damage ability, your melee damage is increased by 10% for 10 seconds. Package contains Critical Rating.
Comments: Fearless Victor is a simpler and better version of the 6.0 Descent of the Fearless 10% damage buff. This bonus is really good and should have very high uptime so is a must take for damage disciplines and tank builds prioritizing damage.
Crafted by Biochem.
The cooldown of Saber Ward is reduced by 2 seconds when you are attacked. This effect cannot occur more than once per second.
Comments: Grit Teeth was redesigned in 7.0 to affect Saber Ward. This balances the tactical to be less powerful in PVP while still valuable in PVE. Grit Teeth will only be viable for tanks but will be a great option and a go to for most encounters due to Saber Ward being a really powerful and flexible defensive cooldown.
Guardian Slash generates stacks of Crushing Defenses for every enemy it hits, granting 2.5% increased damage reduction per stack for 10 seconds. Stacks up to 8 times.
Comments: Leviathan’s Hide is great for multi-target encounters and decent for single target as well. Grit Teeth will generally be better by providing extra uses of Saber Ward in a fight.
Hord’s Makashi Strike
Riposte consumes Warding Strike’s damage reduction and grants Retaliating Defense, increasing damage reduction by 5% for 20 seconds.
Comments: Makashi Strike is a decent alternative to Grit Teeth and Leviathan's Hide. I think it is less useful in 7.0 since it does not synergize well with the Retaliator Package. Using Riposte as often as possible via the Retaliator Package is desired for damage but will not let you coordinate stacking the Makashi Strike DR buff with the base buffs applied by Warding Strike, particularly if taking the Defensive Assault skill.
Defense Guardian does not see many changes to its rotation, which is largely unchanged from 6.0. The priority continues to be using key abilities on cooldown for damage/threat and uptime of defensive buffs.
Defense Guardian sees two key changes to its rotation:
Marked Assault / Crushing Mark - These passive buffs to Warding Strike and Guardian Slash give large damage buffs if the abilities are used while a target is taunted. I initially recommend these passives for any fights where you can safely focus on damage instead of mitigation. The taunt cooldown does not line up cleanly but with practice you can usually get 3 of every 4 uses of both abilities inside a taunt window. That adds a lot of damage.
Threatening Focus - Defense Guardian's version of Combat Focus now does damage and reduces the cooldown of your single and AoE taunt by 5 seconds, in addition to generating Focus. It is now more important to use Threatening Focus on cooldown if possible for more damage/threat and more frequent taunts, particularly if taking Marked Assault and/or Crushing Mark per #1. The ability now operates as a small DCD if taking Critical Defense.