Tanking, Healing, and DPS Roles in SWTOR

The PvE battle system in Star Wars The Old Republic functions similarly to a profusion of other MMOs, where group compositions are required to contain at least one Tank, Healer and DPS. The way in which this works is that, bearing everybody completes the tactical objectives correctly and knows how to fulfill their role, the only measure left to govern is your group’s gear. Therefore, in order to progress through the game’s end-game content, players must first successively defeat the prior bosses in order to obtain enough gear for a specific encounter.

The theory behind this concept is that the boss will be attacking the Tank and causing an amount of AoE damage to the group, therefore the Healers will be required to constantly heal both the Tank and their injured comrades, thus resulting in a race between the DPS classes slaying the boss before the boss’ damage output causes the Healer’s resources to expire. Therefore, back to the original point, if everyone is maximizing their effects, the only measure left to govern the encounter is the group’s gear. Additional pressure is added when Enrage Timers are thrown into the mix.

That explains SWTOR’s group mechanics, though what exactly should Tanks,

Healers and DPS be doing during a PvE encounter?

Firstly, everybody should be aware and receptive throughout each encounter. The majority of bosses in SWTOR are equipped with an arsenal of abilities that each require precise tactics to overcome. Know your tactics before you enter even the simplest of frays and listen to the Group or Ops Leader at all times. A large number of battles require players to complete tasks outside of their typical role; ensure you get your task finished successfully.
The Tank’s Role

The Tank is the pacesetter of the group and should be the one making the pulls and attacking enemies first. Once an encounter has begun, the Tank should gain and maintain the boss’ Aggro (Attention) throughout the fight. In order to achieve this, the Tank must secure a greater level of Threat on the opponent than the rest of the group. Continuing, the Tank should also be doing everything possible to increase their chance of survivability.

Further to this, the Tank is in control of the enemy and should therefore maneuver it where needed. It is common during boss fights to need to move the boss multiple times.

Check out this guide to The Basics Behind Tanking.

The Healer’s Role

The Healer has an uncomplicated duty, yet also an inordinately taxing one. Their task is to simply keep everyone alive, by any means necessary. In an ideal world, everyone would perform perfectly and the Healer’s job would be a simple one, however this is rarely the case, and the Healer’s role will become increasingly demanding as more players are damaged.

Check out this guide to The Basics Behind Healing.

The DPS’ Role

The DPS are the group’s weaponry. If the Tank and Healer are the assembly’s defense, then the DPS are certainly the offense. Other than avoiding taking unnecessary damage the DPS should be solely focused on hitting the enemy hard until it drops.

Furthermore, the DPS are typically in command of Crowd Control and will be expected to step away from dealing damage periodically to CC additional combatants.

The Basics Behind DPS

SWTOR DPSThe most difficult part of playing DPS is the ability to stand out. The majority of people play DPS either due to the excitement of hitting things hard or the simplicity of only having to hit things. Seriously though, DPS players are fundamental to a group’s success and if you do opt to play the most popular role, you should expect to have to work hard to get noticed. It may sound simple, however DPS also have their fair share of concerns, from tactical DPSing and CCing to Rotations and watching their Threat.

DPS is an essential part of every group because without them, the enemy simply won’t die. You can have the best Healer in the world aligned with the best Tank in the world, and yes they will do well, but they’re not going to be clearing Operations on their own. It may initially be hard to gain respect as a DPSer, however if you can maximize your output and drop an enemy before the resources of the Healer are taxed, you will rapidly receive your ovation. Plus, there are additional skills you bring to the party too; Crowd Control abilities and group wide buffs spring to mind.

Every class in SWTOR can fulfill the role of DPS if specced correctly.


Rotations are essential to a DPS player putting out the maximum damage they can; by definition this is what a rotation is designed to do. A rotation is a sequence in which you use your abilities. This sequence is designed to maximize your damage output by eliminating the downtime typically squandered waiting for cooldowns.

I will not be posting Rotations for each class because they can change with every update and take the combined effort of the community to calculate. The best answer is to speak to high end players of your class and discuss Rotations with them. Knowing your Rotation will automatically boost your damage output significantly and put you on a path to greatness.
CC and Breaking It

Crowd Control is paramount to a battle’s success and as a DPS class you will be expected to take on this role as Healers and Tanks already have enough to concentrate on. The Ops or Group Leader will designate which targets will be CCed during battle and who will be CCing them. If you are assigned this role it is critical that you fulfill it successfully. Do not underestimate the role of CCing, without it your Tank may not be able to withstand the force laid upon him and ultimately you will cause your group to wipe. Furthermore, if a your CCed opponent breaks out before the desired time, always reinstate the CC effect immediately.

On the flipside, if you are a DPSer who has the advantage of not having to focus on CCing targets then you must ensure you are doing your remaining tasks effectively. Primarily you need to be on point with your DPS to make up for the reduced damage output coming from the CCers. Also, you must make certain that you are not causing havoc and breaking CCed adversaries. If they are close to the pack and the Tank hasn’t maneuvered away, do not lay down an AoE ability and break the CC. Laser-sight your single target attacks on the Tank’s focus until it is safe to return to your optimal Rotation.
Target Priority

SWTOR Group Icons

The Ops or Group Leader should mark targets in a kill order or announce the order over Ventrilo or TeamSpeak. It is imperative that you follow this order exactly as the Tank will assume this and will build primary Threat on the focus target. If you attack a different target to the rest of the group, you are at risk of pulling Aggro and distracting the Tank. If this occurs, the Tank has to stop his Threat building and taunt the mob off of you, thus leaving the possibility of him losing Aggro on the boss or focus mob.

Furthermore, some battles will require the DPS to attack different targets as the fight progresses. You need to be aware of your surroundings and switch targets instantly. Examples of this are if a boss spawns Adds or if the boss uses an ability that traps a player until they are broken free.
Aggro and Threat

Although it is the Tanks priority to maintain Aggro of the target, you must also understand the power you possess and know the optimal time to either unleash it or restrain it. Pulling Aggro is not fun for anyone, it stresses the Tank a great deal, it puts pressure on the Healers, it distracts the DPS and you now have the big nasty gunning for you. You may hit hard but I can assure you, it hits harder.

Inevitably there will come a time where you will pull Aggro; albeit your fault or not. You need to know how to endure this situation. Firstly, each DPS class has an ability that will allow them to drop a large amount of Threat; use this. If said ability is not available for any reason, do not run away from the Tank. I know your primal instinct is to turn and run when a big nasty is charging at you but I insist that you don’t. If you run, the Tank will not be able to cover the additional distance in time to save you. Instead, either stand still and notify the Tank, who will typically already know, or find a pillar or object and continuously break Line of Sight with the enemy until the Tank regains Aggro.
The Pull

If you are assigned the role of CCer, this is a critical time. You must head towards the pack either with or before the Tank depending on your type of Crowd Control and ensure you successfully land your CC. Once you have achieved this you must maintain that CC for as long as possible, ensuring that you reactivate the CC if it should break unexpectedly; following this you can return to the pack and DPS as normal.

If you are not required to CC a target, then all you have to do is wait. Yes, I said wait. Give the Tank a few seconds to position the pack of mobs in an effective position, away from the CCed mobs, and build a little Threat. Once the Tank has started building Threat, lay waste to the enemies in their prioritized sequence. Also note, the Tank may pull casters with the pack by breaking their Line of Sight, it is essential that you do not cause Threat during this time, otherwise you risk ruining the entire Pull strategy.
DPS the Battles

Once the battle has commenced you should be maximizing your DPS in every way possible and following your group’s tactics to the letter. If you are a designated CCer then you must also be maintaining your CC effects. Other than this, maximize your damage output, attack the correct targets, move out of unnecessary damage such as: Cleave Effects and Ground Markers, and watch your Threat. Follow these fundamental rules and you will have a dead boss and a lot of loot ripe for the picking.
Useful Tips

Watch Your Procs – A lot of DPS specific abilities have proc effects that are effectively very short duration buffs that appear randomly while carrying out specific attacks. Know what these procs do, watch for when they appear and be sure to capitalize on them. Making use of your procs will increase your damage output greatly.

The Power of the Knockback – Often in Flashpoints you will find mobs that are dangerously close to the edge of a platform; The False Emperor comes to mind. Feel free to activate your knockdown ability and /wave to the mob as gravity one shots it. It’s quick, it’s effective and it looks damn cool.

Watch Your Surroundings – A lot of bosses and other mobs use AoE type abilities that can often be avoided by simply relocating. Be sure to avoid unnecessary damage. Your Healer will be grateful and if the Healers are already being stressed, I can assure you that their priority will be maintaining the Tank and not you.

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