Monday, 19 December 2011

The Juggernaut so far...

Today is an update about my Juggernaut's progress! I'm level 31, and I've so far tanked every flashpoint I've had access to. The difficulty on the flashpoints has so far been rather tame, but I have gone up against a few challenging encounters. I've mostly been running these with my spouse, who is playing a Sith Sorcerer, and a good friend who is playing a Sith Assassin. We've been pugging healers and so far we've had good luck. With that in mind, I've drawn some conclusions about Flashpoint tanking, and Juggernaut tanks generally:

  • Flashpoint tanking requires more concentration than in some other games. In the most recent Flashpoints I've run (Cademimu and Mandalorian Raiders), there were a lot of enemies (and some bosses) that drop threat completely at certain points, and need to be picked back up immediately. Stay on your guard!
  • Sometimes, you need to prioritize. Most groups won't be marking kill targets for trash, so you'll need to watch your group's damage dealers and grab targets accordingly. Make sure you always grab all the strong/elite enemies. Sometimes your enemies will be very spread out over a large area. If a random normal enemy is firing a blaster at someone, don't panic. Grab it only if you can be sure you won't lose aggro on a stronger enemy, preferably using an ability with some range like Force Scream, Force Push, Force Choke. Your Taunt is on a 15 second cooldown, so you need to use it only when appropriate.
  • Juggernauts are active tanks. My point here is that you can prevent a lot of damage with a Juggernaut by using the right ability at the right time. Smash and Force Scream will stun normal enemies, preventing them from attacking you. Force Choke can be used to prevent damage from a Strong (and sometimes Elite) enemy with the added benefit of granting you rage and doing some damage. Retaliation, once improved via Blade Barricade, grants you extra defense, and should be used on cooldown.
  • Juggernauts have powerful survival cooldowns. Make sure your cooldowns are somewhere accessible, because you'll want them handy. Juggernauts get Endure Pain, Saber Ward and Invincible. Which one you will use at a given time depends on the situation. I'll write a more in-depth article on cooldown use a little later on.
  • Initial Juggernaut Area Threat is lacking. You will receive Threatening Scream (AoE Taunt) at level 30, and Sweeping Slash at level 32, but before these, all you will have is Smash. Just do your best, and as I said above, prioritize your targets.
I hope these initial thoughts help you when deciding if a Juggernaut is the tank for you. I've had a blast so far, and look forward to seeing our performance in Operations, as well as in Warzones. Have some thoughts on the Juggernaut tank that you'd like to share? Feel free to start a discussion or ask a question in the comments.

Friday, 16 December 2011

SWTOR Tanking Basics

Since my Juggernaut is starting to feel more like a tank now that I've hit level 20 (more to come on that tomorrow), I decided it might be time to take a closer look at the secondary tanking stats and how they affect tanking. Please note, I've omitted Strength, Willpower, and Aim as these depend on the class of the tank in question.
  • Endurance: Increases health by 10 per point. Every 5 points also increases health regeneration out of combat by 1% (though this doesn't really matter as you can just use your out of combat heal).
  • Defense: Increases your chance to parry or deflect attacks. We can call this avoidance, as it means you stop the attack completely by avoiding it.
  • Shield: Increases your chance to prevent some damage with your personal shield generator. Unlike defense where you avoid the attack, your shield usually only absorbs part of an attack. We can call this mitigation, as it reduces the amount of incoming damage.
  • Absorption: Increases the amount of damage that you prevent when your shield activates. Again, this is part of your mitigation.
  • Armor: Decreases damage you take from kinetic and energy damage. Does not reduce internal or elemental damage.
As noted above, I'll be updating on my Juggernaut's progress tomorrow.

For the Empire!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

SWTOR Crafting is Addictive

Follow the arrows! As posted on Link
I'd like to start by saying that I am not normally a crafter. Sure, in other MMOs I've dabbled in it, and even had some crafting and gathering skills maxed out. Generally though, the process is quite boring. I don't enjoy it, and I usually only do it to gain some benefit at the end of it all, whether it is a new weapon, armor, crafting-specific perk, etc. To put it simply, crafting is normally a means to an end for me, and not an end in itself.

In Star Wars: The Old Republic, crafting is quite simply a joy. It is incredibly gratifying, and I plan to level crafting of some kind on all of my characters. That's how you know I'm serious. Rather than just rant about it  or give a detailed description of the system (which has been done much better elsewhere), I'd like to explain the specific points that, in my opinion, make it superior to other MMOs:

  • Convenience. It can be done while you run a Flashpoint, while you wait for your leveling buddy to finish the next step of their class quest, or while you run to turn in some quests. You don't have to stop questing, go to a designated area, and sit around fiddling with recipes on a vendor.
  • Ease of use. The interface for crafting skills clearly tells you what each component is (is it a Power Crystal? a Gemstone?), and the gathering skill missions tell you clearly what type of component you can expect to receive from sending your companion on it.
  • Relevant. The gear is, for the most part, better than gear of equal level from quests. You're normally not crafting useless items. If you do craft a useless item, you can reverse engineer it to possibly learn a better version of that recipe. Everyone can reverse engineer items that they can craft.
  • Engaging. Since your companions actually do the crafting, they get to take some of the glory. Each of the gathering missions gives you a story blurb about what kind of mission your companion will be sent on (I take a certain amount of satisfaction from telling Vette to go dredge out a Sarlacc's stomach). You'll find yourself watching that timer tick down, because you desperately want to know what kind of goodies your companion found. I found myself saying "Just one more Archaeology mission" far too often.
My only complaint thus far is that there isn't a very good tutorial to crafting. There is the standard quest which asks you to talk to your crafting trainer after learning a crafting skill, but it doesn't really teach you anything about the system. For MMO veterans, it isn't especially difficult to figure out. Even so, this game has a very wide appeal, and so I believe a more in-depth crafting tutorial might be in order for newer players to the genre.

If you play SWTOR, you owe it to yourself to try the crafting. It doesn't feel like a chore, trust me. You can start crafting once you make it to the Imperial/Republic Fleet, after leaving your origin world.

As always, feel free to leave your comments on your experiences with crafting.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Early Access breakdown

Taken from Reddit. Disclaimer: The numbers don't reflect EU or Digital Pre-orders.

Early Access officially begins tomorrow morning at 7 am EST, and in an attempt to make the largest MMO launch ever also the smoothest MMO launch ever players will be admitted in the order that their pre-order codes were redeemed on the website. From Stephen Reid (@Rockjaw), Senior Community Manager for SWTOR via Twitter:
 Stephen Reid 
Third: No, not *everyone* will get in tomorrow. We are strictly allowing people admittance by when they redeemed pre-order code.
It will be very interesting to see how the launch goes. I predict it will go smoothly, with perhaps a couple server resets as the servers take on increasingly larger loads. The above chart, taken from Reddit, shows the volume of pre-orders by time period. Feel free to let me know when you redeemed your code, and when you got your invite! If I get enough responses, I'll make an updated post so that those still waiting can get a sense of the timeline.

See you in-game!

Welcome to Thrown Gauntlet

Welcome to Thrown Gauntlet! This blog's focus will be on Star Wars: The Old Republic, the upcoming game from Bioware and EA. Specifically, I'll be discussing current SWTOR news, raid content (called Operations in SWTOR), and the Juggernaut advanced class. I'll be discussing my own experience with the game, as well as my guild's. I'll sometimes address general MMO news, too.

Why start a blog at all? For one, I love writing. I love the discussion that inevitably comes with any MMO community. I also love the theorycrafting behind the pixels (though I promise to keep the extreme number-crunching off this blog's main page). I want to bring my own personal viewpoint on news regarding SWTOR, and help provide information to up-and-coming tanks and/or raid leaders.

Simply put, I want this to be an interesting place for players of SWTOR of any class or faction to read another player's opinion. I want to help those aspiring to tank or lead a raid. That I get to write all of this for you is just a bonus.

Thanks for reading, and welcome to Thrown Gauntlet.