Last Updated: 5/29/21
Table of Contents
About the Class
Vigilance is a great DoT spec. It has a straightforward rotation that consists of using four core abilities on cooldown, amazing AOE capability through rotational use of an AOE ability to spread DOTs, easy energy management, and solid defensive abilities when needed to off-tank. The key to success is managing your opener, focus and rotation so that four key abilities are utilized on cool down. Top players will push their energy usage to increase filler damage.
Role in Operations
Vigilance players are ideal for sustained damage and lose dps when rapidly target swapping due to lost DoT damage and downtime reapplying DoTs. However, in situations where DoT spread is possible they are exceptional at killing adds. If possible to tank adds on top of the boss, Vigilance players can rapidly kill adds through rotational AOE and DoT spreading without loss of DPS on boss. Vigilance can also provide a serviceable off-tank for a few GCDs if a tank dies unexpectedly and can be used to avoid certain mechanics via a taunt (e.g., Incinerate debuff in Firebrand/Stormcaller encounter in Explosive Conflict Veteran Mode.)
Utility and Mobility
Vigilance players enjoy instant cast on all abilities so their rotation is 100% mobile. As a Jedi Knight specialization, players also have a leap attacking ability (with reduced cool down and a second leap available via utilities), a guardian leap to a friendly player (which provides a damage reduction and threat reduction effect as well), a blade dash gap closer that can also be used to cheese mechanics, a cleanse (via utility), limited but situationally powerful self heal capability when below 70% health, and a single target taunt. Vigilance applies an armor debuff but do not otherwise buff other players. Vigilance does not have a CC or raid buff.
6.0 Impact on Discipline
The 6.0 expansion gave Vigilance some really nice buffs. The BIS set bonus, Descent of the Fearless, is shared across all Guardian DPS and Sentinel disciplines. It provides a 10% damage buff on all abilities that should have very high uptime as well as proccing additional stacks of Force Clarity to provide periodic one-ability 25% damage buffs.
If that weren’t strong enough, the discipline has two really strong tacticals. Hemophilic Slash will be BIS for most single target situations by providing the ability to refresh several DoTs that would otherwise not have full uptime. For those running FPs or in AoE situations, Cut to Pieces can let you spam Vigilant Thrust to your heart’s content.
Vigilance gains benefits to direct and AoE damage reduction through skills and Utilities, wear heavy armor, and have several strong defensive cool-downs as a result of their off-tank nature. They can also potentially cheese mechanics with Blade Blitz. As such, they have strong survivability and will tend to be in the middle of the pack amongst tanks except in cases where their defensive abilities are particularly powerful.
You must take 3 to advanced to Masterful.
Taking non-periodic area of effect damage generates 2 Focus. This effect cannot occur more than once every second.
This is the only mandatory utility in the Skillful tree, with the second choice being situational amongst Defiance, Battlefield Command, or Trailblazer. Every operations encounter in SWTOR has some AoE damage component, so this utility offers basically free Focus and should always be taken.
You generate 4 Focus when stunned, immobilized, put to sleep, or knocked around.
This utility is situational for fights with lots of physics effects. On a fight like Underlurker, this utility generates effectively unlimited Focus which is a strict DPS boost by enabling more use of fillers. Know which fights benefit this utility and only take in those situations, as otherwise either Battlefield Command (mobility) or Trailblazer (AoE DPS) will typically be better choices.
Getting attacked reduces the active cooldown of Force Leap by 1 second. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.
I find this utility very useful on any fights with adds where I am likely to hold aggro periodically and where movement is required (e.g., Draxus, Hive Queen, Bestia, etc.). Better mobility = more uptime on targets = more DPS.
Cyclone Slash deals 25% more damage.
I will sometimes take this utility if neither Defiance or Battlefield Command provide any benefit. That said, all three Guardian disciplines have comparatively strong AoE DPS so I feel that this is frequently not needed outside a few very specific fights (e.g., Hive Queen Veteran Mode).
Challenging Call protects all other allies within range, excluding yourself, granting Guardianship, which absorbs a moderate amount of damage. Lasts 10 seconds.
This utility makes the Guardian tank’s AoE taunt or DPS’ threat drop an AoE mitigation buff. It should only be taken on fights with predictable AoE damage where the majority of the team can be closer together (e.g., burn phase in Dread Council).
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.
I find this utility useful on similar fights to Defiance, such as Underlurker in Veteran Mode, where it provides a strict DPS increase. It should always be taken in such situations, though overall it is situational due to that status effect being uncommon.
You must take 6 between Heroic and Masterful.
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. Sundered targets have their armor rating decreased by 20%.
A mandatory utility for DPS Guardian disciplines due to the armor debuff but should never be taken outside of PVP for Guardian tanks.
Force Leap grants Unremitting, granting immunity to movement impairing effects and effects that push or pull you around for 4 seconds.
A highly situational utility that is more useful in PVP, there are a very few select circumstances where it is useful in PVE. The most notable example is Master & Blaster Veteran Mode in the Ravagers operation, where taking Unremitting and Battlefield Command can enable solo tanking Blaster and ignoring its knockback attack via this utility.
For Vigilance and Focus, all area effect damage is reduced by 60% for 15 seconds after Challenging Call is activated. For Defense, all damage is reduced by 30% when stunned.
This utility is mandatory for Vigilance or Focus players as it makes your threat drop an incredibly powerful AoE defensive cooldown. For Defense tanks, it is highly situational for only fights with significant stun potential (e.g., Pirate Captains in Ravagers operation).
Enure removes all cleansable effects when activated.
A situational but frequently useful utility, take whenever having a self-cleanse is a key mechanic. Note that this is usually only the case with very hard hitting DoTs or status effects, or one-shot mechanics (e.g., Death Mark in Veteran Mode Dread Council). Otherwise, I would usually not take this utility in lieu of Through Peace (Focused Defense can be used to heal to full via a DoT).
A maximum of 3 utilities
Reduces the cooldown of Focused Defense by 30 seconds.
Focused Defense is a very powerful self heal and having a 25% shorter cooldown will frequently mean you can get 3 uses per fight instead of 2. I nearly always take this utility.
Force Leap enables your next Dispatch or Whirling Blade to be used against a target with any percentage of health. Lasts up to 15 seconds.
I find this utility helpful to add more DPS via more frequent use of your execute ability. That said, it only really adds significant value in fights where you will be able to periodically leap from boss to adds, where there are multiple bosses, or where bosses have transition or movement phases. This encompasses the majority of fights and so I find it useful. In fights where there is essentially no movement and no use of Force Leap outside of the initial pull, I may not take this utility and take Unyielding Justice in Legendary to get a periodic use of Force Push as a more powerful filler.
Force Leap finishes the cooldown on Force Kick. Also, Saber Reflect lasts 2 seconds longer and for tanks generates high AoE threat.
I nearly always take to improve the utility of Saber Reflect. The cooldown reset on interrupt is also highly useful for a few specific fights like Izax. On Izax Phase 3 (interrupt phase), two Guardians alone can essentially handle all the interrupts due to being to take 3 straight interrupts (Force Kick interrupt -> (dance out of melee range) -> Force Leap interrupt -> Force Kick interrupt).
Increases the range of Blade Storm to 30 meters, but Blade Storm deals reduced damage beyond 10 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.
This utility’s boost to Force Push makes it a higher priority filler and can increase overall DPS slightly. That said, I usually do not take this utility on any fight where I can use Saber Reflect to boost my DPS and/or mitigate sizable damage.
Example Utility Build
Here is what I run for most encounters, though I frequently take other situational utilities for specific fights.
Utilize an offensive lightsaber form, increasing all damage dealt by 6% and movement speed by 15%. All attacks that consume focus will refund 1 focus when used.
This passive is important primarily for the second part. This produces a unique disconnect for Vigilance where the focus required to activate the ability is 1 more than the focus consumed by the ability.
Force Sweep and Vigilant Thrust spread your burning effects to all targets they damage, if at least one of the targets is already affected by your burns. Also, Cyclone Slashh deals 25% more damage.
This passive provides for your DoT spread via Vigilant Thrust (which replaces Force Sweep at level 58). Vigilant Thrust is very powerful and is used in the single target rotation, which makes Vigilance uncommon in that it offers exceptional AoE capability while performing its optimal single target rotation.
Plasma Brand finishes the cooldown on Blade Barrage and generates 3 Focus.
This passive is less key than it was in previous game versions (1.0 - 4.0) but is still important as it ensures you get to use Blade Barrage, a free and powerful filler ability, in between each use of Plasma Brand. Skilled players should ensure they fit Blade Barrage into each rotation cycle. This passive is also why Plasma Brand is “weird” in that it requires 5 Focus to activate but only consumes 1 Focus (refunds 1 Focus per Shien Form passive and another 3 Focus per Zen Strike).
Blade Storm causes the target to burn for elemental damage over 6 seconds.
This passive isn’t hugely important to why the rotation works as it does, but is important to note because it transforms Blade Storm from instant damage to instant damage + DOT. Thus, Blade Storm joins Plasma Brand and Overhead Slash as DOT abilities for Vigilance.
Reduces the cooldown of Force Sweep and Vigilant Thrust by 6 seconds each, and both abilities no longer consume focus.
This passive is worthwhile to note that it makes Vigilant Thrust free, but due to Shien Form passive above it actually still refunds Focus. As such, in your rotation Vigilant Thrust will generate a net +1 Focus.
Overhead Slash sets the target ablaze for elemental damage over 6 seconds and beats the target down for 45 seconds (takes 5% more damage from melee attacks).
Similar to Burning Blade, this passive converts Overhead Slash from an instant damage ability to instant damage + DOT. It also applies a key debuff, the application of which is why I typically open with Overhead Slash per the opener below.
Reduces the cooldown of Saber Throw by 3 seconds and causes Saber Throw to sunder its target for 45 seconds (have armor rating reduced by 20%).
The reduction in cooldown is helpful as Saber Throw can be a useful filler due to its decent damage (nearly as much as Slash) while also generating 3 Focus.
Force Leap grants Robust, providing immunity to interrupts, stuns, knockdowns, and incapacitating effects for 4 seconds. Additionally, during this time, damage reduction is increased by 20%.
Not terribly useful in PVE content, this passive is worthwhile to note for its various immunities and damage reduction.
Plasma Brand, Overhead Slash, Whirling Blade, and Vigilant Thrust increase the critical chance of your next Blade Storm by 50%. Lasts 15% and stacks up to 2 times.
Due to this passive, Blade Storm should always be a guaranteed critical hit. Rotationally a player should be using Overhead Slash and Vigilant Thrust between each use of Blade Storm, as they all have the same cooldown. In most cases Plasma Brand should be used as well. Thus, following the rotation should take care of this but it is important to know that Blade Storm should never be used except when it is “flashing”.
Increases damage reduction by 5% at all times and an additional 15% while Enure is active.
This passive makes Enure a helpful defensive cooldown for its duration of 10 seconds. This makes it slightly less powerful than Saber Ward but with 1 minute cooldown instead of 3 minutes for Saber Ward, players should use Enure regularly as a defensive in situations where they can be confident that the “ninja heal” aspect of Enure won’t be needed.
Increases the damage dealt by your burning effects by 15%. Also, your Blade Barrage and burning damage has a 30% chance to trigger Keening, which finishes the cooldown on Whirling Blade and makes its next use free and usable on a target with any health level. This effect cannot occur more than once every 20 seconds.
The proc of Whirling Blade is a very useful benefit, and it should be utilized within the 20 second window. This means it doesn’t need to be used right away but at the next convenient filler. It is also important to note that due to Shien Form the ability is not only free but it refunds 1 Focus so is a net focus builder.
For each of your burning effects active on an enemy target, you deal 5% more burn damage, up to a maximum of 15% more burn damage while Plasma Brand, Burning Blade, and Burning Purpose are each burning a target.
This passive provides a powerful amount of bonus damage for maintaining 100% uptime of your DoTs on the target. To clarify, these DoTs are applied by Plasma Brand, Blade Storm (Burning Storm passive), and Overhead Slash (Burning Purpose passive).
Gearing in 6.0
Gearing Stat Allocation
For Vigilance Guardian, I gear as follows:
Set Bonus: Descent of the Fearless
Tactical: Hemophilic Slash (Cut to Pieces for very heavy AoE fights)
Amplifiers: Armor Penetration
Mods: Unlettered Lethal Mods
Relics: Devastating Vengeance & Primeval Fatesealer (Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution for Dxun/PVP)
Adrenal: Critical (Attack for Dxun only)
For Vigilance Guardian, I allocate my tertiary stats as follows:
Accuracy: 1,585 - 1,630 (anything outside this approximate range and I usually try to re-optimize by swapping around enhancements and augments)
Alacrity: around 1,400 (at least 1,895 if the Zeal guild perk applies)
Critical: all remaining tertiary points go into Critical
Descent of the Fearless
Increased drop rate from Daily Missions.
(2) +2% Mastery
(4) Whenever you gain or use a Force Clarity ability charge while in combat, your damage is increased by 10% for 10 seconds.
(6) Dealing damage has a 10% chance to build a Force Clarity ability charge. Can only occur once every 5 seconds.
Analysis: The only set bonus that is BIS across multiple advanced classes, Descent of the Fearless is BIS for all Guardian and Sentinel DPS disciplines. The set bonus should provide a very high uptime on a straight 10% damage buff. Vigilance should benefit from this set bonus even more than Focus as each DoT tick can proc the set bonus to build stacks of Force Clarity, providing a further buff through more frequent use of the new 6.0 ability to buff specific ability damage by 25%.
Impact on Rotation: Make sure to use Force Clarity every 10 seconds to keep the buff active. Monitor your charge generation and use extra charges to avoid capping, but always save 1 charge to refresh the buff. Overhead Slash is the best ability to buff via Force Clarity. Otherwise, make sure to keep DoTs active on your target via the main rotation to ensure maximum generation of charges of Force Clarity.
When to Take: All situations. Descent of the Fearless is easily the BIS set bonus for all Jedi Knight disciplines.
Increased drop rate from Flashpoints.
Blade Barrage refreshes the duration of Blade Storm, Overhead Slash and Plasma Brand burns on the target and ticks their damage.
Analysis: While Plasma Brand applies a DoT with the same duration as the ability’s cooldown (thus ensuring full uptime), the DoTs applied by Blade Storm (via the Burning Blade passive) and Overhead Slash (via the Burning Purpose passive) only have a duration of 6 seconds / 4 GCDs. The abilities have a cooldown of 9 seconds / 6 GCDs, so in every rotation cycle you lose 2 GCDs of DoT ticking.
This tactical enables refreshing these DoTs and ticks their damage such that nearly full uptime should be possible. This also increases DPS by increasing the benefit provided by the passive (+5% DoT damage / DoT, so each GCD of +2 DoTs also provides +10% DoT damage to all DoTs!)
Impact on Rotation: Further testing is necessary to validate when (if ever) it is optimal to delay any of the “Big 4” to use Blade Barrage to refresh/tick DoTs. That said, the initial conclusion is that you should try to use Blade Storm and Overhead Slash back to back in your rotation without a filler in between. This aligns the duration of their DoTs to make it easier to use Blade Barrage to refresh their DoTs.
When to Take: Any fights without significant AoE damage potential. Hemophilic Slash is definitely the BIS tactical for Vigilance in pure single target sustained damage situations.
Cut to Pieces
Increased drop rate from Flashpoints.
When a burn critically hits it reduces the cooldown of Vigilant Thrust by 1 second.
Analysis: Vigilant Thrust is the Vengeance player’s primary AoE damage dealing ability and DoT spread while remaining a viable single target priority damage ability. Cut to Pieces makes the discipline (already really strong in AoE situations) far stronger. Given a decent level of critical chance and 3+ enemies in melee range, the player should be able to use Vigilant Thrust nearly every other ability.
Impact on Rotation: The normal rotation should be used to alternate DoTs and fillers. Substitute Vigilant Thrust for any filler abilities when available and refresh DoTs on cooldown.
When to Take: Any fights with multiple bosses in proximity or consistent AoE damage situations. This tactical will also be BIS on most trash pulls and in most FPs and should be swapped in and out with Hemophilic Slash fight to fight when it is optimal.
A Vicious Cycle
Increased drop rate from Operations.
Whirling Blade triggers a Riposte that does 30% more damage.
Analysis: A Vicious Cycle appears to be designed to synergize with the Ardent Advocate and Battlefield Command utilities to provide additional burst damage capability for Vigilance. By using Force Leap as often as possible (including backing briefly out of melee range so as to use it) to proc Whirling Blade and Riposte, that would provide as much uptime of the tactical buff as possible in >30% boss health situations. For any fights with frequent target swapping, it would also provide semi-frequent burst damage. In sub-30% boss health, it would provide the discipline with stronger DPS via more regular use of Riposte and its 30% damage buff.
The challenge for the tactical is that above 30% boss health the DPS increase is likely to be nominal. Sacrificing a GCD to move out of range to leap back in is a DPS loss due to the lost GCD and the minimal damage done by a leap, even if the succeeding abilities do somewhat more damage.
While Vigilance has 3 DoTs, two of them deal low damage in comparison to their base damage and only Plasma Brand is a true DoT like with other DoT-based DPS classes. As such, the discipline has respectable burst for a “DoT discipline” and any buff to burst damage via this tactical is nominal and at the much higher opportunity cost of sustained DPS that could be buffed much more via other tacticals.
Impact on Rotation: N/A, not recommend in any situations.
When to Take: Not recommended. It provides a much lower DPS increase as compared to Hemophilic Slash or Cut to Pieces. Even though Cut to Pieces is recommended above only for AoE DPS situations, it should provide a superior single target sustained DPS increase in comparison to A Vicious Cycle.
The Vigilance Guardian discipline consists of skills with either a Weapon or Force type dealing Energy/Kinetic and Internal damage. The discipline includes several DoT damaging abilities.
When considering the abilities based on the mix of damage, the mix between Force and Weapon type attacks is fairly close though weighted in favor of Force type attacks. Of the top 5 damaging abilities, Overhead Slash deals Weapon type damage while Blade Storm, Vigilant Thrust, and Plasma Brand (and its DoT) deal Force type attacks. The mix between Energy/Kinetic and Internal damage is very heavily in favor of Energy/Kinetic damage as only Plasma Brand and the 3 DoTs applied by the discipline deal Internal damage, making up around 30% or so of the discipline’s total DPS.
Armor Penetration provides the highest overall DPS benefit and synergizes well with nearly all other Guardian/Sentinel disciplines for DPS.
Consumes all ability charges and applies Force Clarity stacks to you. Each stack increases your next direct single target melee attack by 25% and is consumed whenever you deal damage with these attacks. Recharges 1 ability charge every 30 seconds.
A new offensive cooldown, it can be used in the opener to buff you heaviest hitting ability for +100% damage or used every ~30 seconds to buff an ability damage +25%.
Requires 5 Focus to activate but only consumes 1 Focus. Deals moderate elemental damage and applies a DoT that deals moderate elemental damage over 12 seconds. Resets the cooldown of Blade Barrage via the Zen Strike passive.
Highest damaging ability, Plasma Brand also has a different cooldown (12s / 8 GCDs) from the other big 3 abilities (9s / 6 GCDs) so it will float in the rotation and never be delayed more than 1 GCD.
Deals high weapon damage. Applies a DoT via the Burning Purpose passive.
Highest burst damage ability that deals some additional damage via a DoT. It should generally be used first in an opener or when swapping targets in a short duration burst window. It has the same cooldown as Blade Storm / Scream and Vigilant Thrust so should have a consistent place in the rotation and be used on cooldown.
Deals moderate kinetic damage. 30m range. Applies a DoT via the Burning Blade passive. Receives up to 100% critical chance via stacks of Force Rush via use of Plasma Brand, Overhead Slash, Vigilant Thrust or Whirling Blade.
High damage ability that should be used on cooldown. It should always be a critical hit due to its buff via the Force Rush passive ability.
Deals high energy damage to up to 8 enemies with 5 meters of the player. Spreads DoTs via the Burning Storm passive.
The last of the Big 4 abilities, this provides very high burst AoE damage and DoT spreading. However, it is still a rotational ability in single target DPS encounters. As such, it provides Vigilance with the capability to deal very high AoE damage without sacrificing any single target sustained damage. As it shares a cooldown with 2 of the other 3 key abilities, it should always be used on cooldown.
Deals high weapon damage.
High damage and free filler. It should be procced every 9s / 6 GCDs by the use of Plasma Brand, so it can be delayed for any higher priority ability so long as it is used prior to the next use of Plasma Brand.
Deals high weapon damage and slows movement speed of target by 50% for 3 seconds. Normally only usable on targets at or below 30% of max health.
High damage filler when it procs, it is not a high priority outside of the execute phase given the cooldown on it proccing again. Priority should be given to avoid its proc being wasted, otherwise can be delayed as/if needed.
Deals moderate weapon damage, generates 5 Focus, and causes the target to become Sundered (-20% armor for 45 seconds).
Main energy building ability, care should be taken to use on cooldown as often as possible without (1) delaying a key rotational ability; or (2) capping energy.
Deals moderate energy damage and knocks the target back several meters and stuns them. Force Push immediately finishes the cooldown on Force Leap. No energy cost. 10m range.
A low priority filler with a long cooldown. Force Push is only optimal as a filler to replace a use of Slash when taking the Unyielding Justice Legendary utility.
Deals moderate damage and generates 3 Focus. 30m range.
A ranged ability and energy generating ability. Use when needed as a filler. If swapping targets and Sundering Strike is on cooldown, using Saber Throw while running in or before leaping is optimal to apply the Sundered debuff to reduce the target’s armor by 20%.
Leaps to target and deals low damage. Immobilizes target for 2 seconds and interrupts its current action. Builds 4 Focus. Cannot be used against enemies in cover. 10-30m range.
Used for movement and to add a second interrupt.
Hits up to 8 enemies within 5 meters in front of you for low weapon damage.
Your spammable AoE conal ability, only use in AoE situations.
Deals low weapon damage and generates 2 Focus.
Your basic filler, only use when you are low on energy and need it for abilities. You generally should not use often in this discipline.
Deals moderate weapon damage.
Your spammable filler, you should use to spend excess energy but takes bottom priority otherwise.
Generates 6 Focus. Off-GCD ability. 45 second cooldown.
Your only energy cooldown ability.
The opener for Vigilance Guardians is very important due to the need to align key abilities so they can be used on cool down. It should be used as follows. This opener assumes the player has equipped the Hemophilic Slash tactical.
Force Leap IF AT RANGE - Used to close the distance and build energy.
Force Clarity OFF GCD - Used here to start the Descent of the Fearless +10% damage buff rolling and to apply 4 stacks of +25% damage for eligible abilities in the opener.
Vigilant Thrust - Deals high single target damage, applies an armor debuff with Utility, grants 1 focus, used here for convenience to set up the rotation.
Sundering Strike - Used to apply the Sundered debuff (-20% armor for 45s) and build sufficient energy for the rotation.
Adrenal OFF GCD - We want to wait to use our adrenal until after Sundering Strike has gotten us plenty of energy, so use here as we begin to deal big damage.
Overhead Slash - Deals high damage and applies a DoT. Overhead Slash deals the most immediate damage of all the discipline's abilities, thus we use right after the adrenal to ensure we get a second use during the adrenal's duration.
Combat Focus OFF GCD (USE IF NOT AT RANGE) - Used to refund the energy used by Overhead Slash.
Plasma Brand - High damage ability that deals most damage via DoT, we apply as early as possible within the adrenal window to ensure the maximum DoT uptime during the adrenal.
Blade Storm - Second highest damage ability by initial damage, we use here so we can get a second use in the adrenal window. It is also important to time it's use within 2 GCDs of Overhead Slash so Blade Barrage can tick and refresh both DoTs in the opener and in the main rotation.
Blade Barrage - Free damaging ability, used now so that it (via the Hemophilic Slash tactical) can refresh and add 3 extra ticks of DoTs applied earlier by Plasma Brand, Overhead Slash and Blade Storm.
Vigilant Thrust - Used on cooldown after 6 GCDs.
Whirling Blade - Should be procced from Force Leap (with utility) or Keening by this point. This is the first open GCD in the rotation so is prioritized here.
Force Clarity - Since Overhead Slash does the most instant damage per activation, we prioritize Force Clarity right before to ensure its +25% damage buff affects Overhead Slash.
Overhead Slash - Used on cooldown after 6 GCDs
Sundering Strike - Used to build energy before next cycle.
Blade Storm - Used on cooldown after 6 GCDs.
Plasma Brand - Used on cooldown after 8 GCDs
Vigilant Thrust - Used on cooldown after 6 GCDs.
Blade Barrage - Used when convenient before next Plasma Brand. As often as possible, we try to use Blade Barrage when all 3 DoTs are ticking but only without delaying any of the big 4 abilities.
Overhead Slash - Used on cooldown after 6 GCDs
(continue main rotation)
Note - I think it's very important to note that various openers can work effectively. I like this opener a lot because I feel like it helps set up the main rotation well, but others can work fine as well.
Basic Rotation and Priority System
1. Utilize Big 4 on cooldown. The most important key to optimal DPS for Vigilance is using Overhead Slash, Plasma Brand, Vigilant Thrust, and Blade Storm on cool down. If the opener is properly executed, this should happen automatically as long as you keep your focus at appropriate levels through the rotation. All but Plasma Brand have a 6 GCD (9s without alacrity) cooldown and Plasma Brand has an 8 GCD (12s without alacrity) cooldown. Thus each “rotation” will consist of the following (with Plasma Brand using a Filler slot whenever it is off CD):
2. Use Blade Barrage prior to each use of Plasma Brand. Blade Barrage normally has a 15 GCD cooldown (18s without alacrity), but is procced by each use of a Plasma Brand. Thus, it can be used between each usage of Plasma Brand (8 GCD / 12s w/o alacrity) and can be delayed for higher priority abilities as long as there is a filler spot prior to the next use of Plasma Brand.
3. (With Hemophilic Slash) Use Blade Barrage with DoTs ticking. The Hemophilic Slash tactical causes Blade Barrage to refresh and tick all 3 DoTs applied by Plasma Brand, Overhead Slash and Blade Storm. Blade Barrage ticks 3 times so it refreshes the DoTs and triggers 3 additional ticks of each DoT. The Plasma Brand DoT has an identical duration to Plasma Brand's cooldown, so it does not impact when we should use Blade Barrage. Before alacrity, Overhead Slash and Blade Storm apply DoTs that last 6 seconds while the abilities themselves have a 9 second cooldown. So our goal is to use Blade Barrage as often as possible after Overhead Slash and Blade Storm, which will get us higher uptime on those DoTs in addition to the 3 extra ticks.
It isn't always possible to use Blade Barrage on its ideal time due to Plasma Brand floating in the rotation. The ideal position for Blade Barrage is #4 in the above basic rotation. No matter what, make sure to use it before Plasma Brand's next use, as wasting Blade Barrage's damage and special effects from Hemophilic Slash is a huge waste!
4. Use Force Clarity at least every 10 seconds and avoid capping stacks. The Descent of the Fearless set bonus provides 10 seconds of +10% damage by using Force Clarity. A key goal of any ideal rotation is to ensure full uptime of this important damage buff. The many ticks of damage from ability activations and DoTs should provide plenty of bonus stacks for this frequent level of use. I highly suggest prioritizing Force Clarity for Overhead Slash to maximize the +25% damage bonus for the ability used after Force Clarity, as
4. Only use Blade Storm with 2 Force Rush stacks (glowing). This ensures an auto-crit for Blade Storm. However, given that Vigilant Thrust and Overhead Slash each build a stack (and have an identical cooldown), following #1 should ensure this is never an issue and Blade Storm will always be glowing when it comes off CD.
5. Prioritize focus building abilities when possible. Vigilance can be tricky for energy at times if you want to avoid any delays for the Big 4. As such, I recommend avoiding the usage of Combat Focus just in case you end up short of focus. That said, skilled players should prioritize Sundering Strike, a proc for Whirling Blade, and Saber Throw (generally in that order) whenever those abilities will not cap you on focus. If you use Combat Focus on cooldown to enable more use of Slash in your filler rotation, capping a point of two of focus is preferable to avoid delay of the Big 4. It is also worth noting that the primary damage fillers (Blade Barrage, Whirling Blade proc) are either free or grant focus.
6. Use Whirling Blade within proc window. The proc will last 15s so you have more than one rotation to fit in into the filler window. It should be prioritized behind Sundering Strike if low on Focus or Blade Barrage.
Plasma Brand (not actually a filler but it is floats into a Filler slot and is #1 priority always)
Blade Barrage (if Plasma Brand will come off CD before next filler slot)
Sundering Strike (if low on focus)
Whirling Blade (if procced)
Saber Throw (if usage will not cap focus)
Whirling Blade (if NOT procced)
Strike (only if you are low on Focus and higher priority skills coming up)
Combat Focus (6 Focus), off GCD, 45s cooldown
Sundering Strike (7 Focus)
Saber Throw (3 Focus)
Force Leap (3 Focus)
Whirling Blade w/ proc (1 Focus)
Vigilant Thrust (1 Focus)
AoE Rotation without Cut to Pieces
Same as above except substitute Cyclone Slash for all filler abilities except Plasma Brand , Sundering Strike and Blade Barrage). Vigilant Thrust will spread your DoTs through your single target rotation. For this reason, Vigilance Guardians are among the very best, if not THE best, at doing amazing AOE and single target damage simultaneously. If you are damaging the boss at the same time as adds, revert back to your single target rotation as the DoT spread and AOE damage by Vigilant Thrust alone will be sufficient AOE damage.
If you are attacking adds that will die relatively quickly, you should open with Plasma Brand then use Vigilant Thrust to spread its DoT. Plasma Brand DoT hits by far the hardest and should be spread ASAP in those situations.
AoE Rotation with Cut to Pieces
The Cut to Pieces tactical is amazing for AoE encounters in Flashpoints, add pulls within Operations, and some Operations with very heavy AoE requirements. By applying your DoTs and spreading them with Vigilant Thrust, the many DoT ticks will make Vigilant Thrust spammable with almost no cooldown.
When running Cut to Pieces, I suggest the following rotation.
Sundering Strike - Use first to build energy to apply your DoTs
Plasma Brand - Apply strongest DoT first
Overhead Slash - Apply second DoT
Blade Storm - Apply third DoT
Vigilant Thrust - Spread DoTs
Filler - Depending on energy and situation, use an appropriate filler. Vigilant Thrust is ideal if its available instantly.
Filler - Use Plasma Brand if its DoT has fallen off somehow, Sundering Strike if low on energy, Cyclone Slash for extra AoE damage, etc. If you do not need to use Plasma Brand or Sundering Strike, it's ideal to use Vigilant Thrust if its cooldown is instant.
Vigilant Thrust - Use in between high damage single target attacks.
Overhead Slash - Use Overhead Slash to deal heavy single target damage and ensure its DoT stays up.
Vigilant Thrust - Use in between high damage single target attacks.
Blade Storm - Use Blade Storm to deal heavy single target damage and ensure its DoT stays up.
Vigilant Thrust - Use in between high damage single target attacks.
(repeat until end of encounter or until only 1-2 targets are left then swap to single target rotation)
You might ask "why no just endlessly spam Vigilant Thrust"? Fair question. The rotation above will not do quite as much AoE damage as just spamming Vigilant Thrust. However, there are a few reasons I suggest this rotation is preferable in nearly all circumstances.
Firstly, there are no boss fights in operations that depend solely on AoE DPS. Let's take the Hive Queen and Dxun Control Center encounters, since those are the most ideal fights for high AoE DPS. While high AoE DPS is important to kill adds in both fights, the real DPS check for those fights remains a single target DPS check to kill the Hive Queen before the soft enrage and to kill the big adds and Warden Droids in Dxun. You need enough AoE DPS to avoid being overwhelmed by the adds but sacrificing too much single target damage is not ideal. This rotation should do as much or more single target DPS through extra uses of Vigilant Thrust and will add a lot of AoE damage from Vigilant Thrust's AoE.
Secondly, the cooldown from Vigilant Thrust can be reduced nearly to zero from Cut to Pieces but in practice it will frequently be slightly more than zero. If you try to endlessly spam Vigilant Thrust, on a fairly frequent basis you will have to delay your ability activation for a short time. Alternating Vigilant Thrust with other high damage attacks should ensure a smooth rotation without any APM loss.
Thirdly and lastly, using Overhead Slash and Blade Storm I feel is helpful to ensure maximum uptime of DoTs on the group. You can spread DoTs from one target to another but doing so does not refresh them. So in some cases it is possible to have a DoT accidentally drop off. By steadily refreshing Overhead Slash and Blade Storm on your main target, these should always be easily re-spread to adds as it expires. Plasma Brand is less of an issue due to its longer cooldown, but the same principle applies.
Saber Reflect (large single target damage)
Reflects single target ranged/force/tech abilities for 5s with Utility. Also works great to build AoE threat. Is best used for really heavy damage mechanics (e.g., Terror’s Scream) that would otherwise one-shot you. Be really careful about knowing when it will work so you don’t waste it (e.g., the Huge Grenade in HM S&V Titan 6 can’t be reflected since it’s AOE damage). 1 minute cooldown, so you can use many times during a fight.
Saber Ward (Melee/Ranged damage)
Increases Defense by 50% and Force/Tech damage reduction by 25% for 12 seconds. It also provides a second buff, Blade Turning, that increases Melee/Ranged Defense by 100% for 2s. This cooldown is best used during damage phases that can be dodged, as it should cause you to dodge most attacks for its cooldown. The 25% damage reduction is icing on the cake, but optimal use focuses on the 50%/100% Defense boost. 2:30 cooldown.
Your “oh s**t” button, this provides a temporary self-heal and provides +15% damage reduction for 20s. Use it during heavy damage phases. 1 minute cooldown.
Focused Defense (continuous damage)
Usable when below 70% health, cooldown grants 12 charges that will be used one at a time to provide a small heal as damage is taken. Best used during damage phase with lots of small damage (e.g., the Tank challenge during HM Dread Palace Raptus). 10 second duration, 1:30 cooldown (2:00 without Utility).
Challenging Call (AOE damage)
Your threat drop reduces AOE damage by 60% for 15 seconds. This cooldown is best used during heavy AOE damage phases. 45s cooldown.
Blade Blitz (any large individual mechanics)
Increases defense by 100% during ability. The timing of the buff is difficult to manage during a fight, but when timed appropriately can be used to ignore various mechanics. With Saber Reflect, this makes Guardians extraordinarily strong at avoiding large one-off damage mechanics. 45s cooldown.
Your gap closer, Force Leap also provides +20% damage reduction for 4 seconds for Vigilance Guardians.
Tips for focus management
Be aware that Plasma Brand is really tricky with regards to its focus cost. It only consumes 1 focus each usage but requires 5 to be usable. This is by far the most common reason your rotation and “Big 4 on cooldown” goal gets messed up. I always try to save Combat Focus for Plasma Brand just in case I misjudged my focus and end up short when Plasma Brand is about to come off cooldown.
Similarly to above, Overhead Slash and Blade Storm use 3 Focus each but require 4 to be usable.
Just to reiterate on energy usage, the worst case scenario is when your rotation ends up Blade Storm > Plasma Brand > Overhead Slash. That will require 8 Focus but will only use 7. If that seems weird, see below. For this reason, always try to stay as high on Focus as you can without capping more than a point or two of Focus.
8 Focus prior to mini-rotation
5 Focus after using Blade Storm (costs 3, requires 4)
4 Focus after using Plasma Brand (costs 1 but requires 5)
1 Focus after using Overhead Slash (costs 3, requires 4)
I find that you will use both Slash and Strike in an optimal rotation in order to manage your energy. As most fillers are free or build energy, only use Slash when you are nearly capped on focus and will have Sundering Strike or Combat Focus off cooldown shortly. Use Strike when you about to enter a heavy focus set of GCDs (like the Blade Storm> Plasma Brand > Overhead Slash scenario discussed above). Offhand I believe that is the only scenario where I typically use Strike, as otherwise using Saber Throw and Sundering Strike are adequate.
Tips to using Saber Reflect
EC Zorn & Toth - all circles
EC Tanks - Double Destruction, Lightning Pylons, Adds
EC Vorgath - turrets
EC Kephess - Add damage inside reflect bubble (reflects to Warrior), Walker (stand under it while it is immune after popping reflect)
TFB Dread Guard - Doom
TFB Kephess - red laser
TFB Terror - slam, Scream
S&V Thrasher - firebug AOE
S&V Operations Chief - terminate
S&V Warlords - Sunder
S&V Styrak - add’s channeled lightning attack, orange debuff during lightning AOE
KP Jarg & Sorno - Unload
KP Karraga - fire puddles
DF Draxus - Subteroth explosion, Draxus non-cleave attacks, Guardian thundering blast, Guardian cleave
DF Grob’thok - raidwide Roar
DF Corruptor Zero - chest laser, missile Barrage, ranged add attack’s
DF Brontes - orbs (note you can taunt someone else’s orb then use reflect to pop without damage)
DP Tyrans - fire at the door (not inferno), though be very careful doing this
DP Raptus - force execution
DP Council - burn phase AOE
Ravagers Sparky - brutal punch, add jump
Ravagers Bull - scatter blaster, mass barrage, ore carts, add attacks
Ravagers Torque - turrets, fire device, shoots lasers, knockback from panel destruction
Ravagers Master/Blaster - rain of pain
Ravagers Cora/Ruugar - most boss attacks
ToS Malaphar - spear throw
ToS Commanders - Kurse smash
ToS Revan - heave, Saber overcharge, HK mines, Core’s AOE
Toborro - purple circle
Monolith - slam, first tick of Curse