Monday, January 7, 2013

Sith Assassin Guide: Darkness 101

Absorb Damage as a Darkness Tank

Darkness Assassin Tank w/ HK-51

Read the newer post to adapt for Rise of the Hutt Cartel tanking.

New Darkness tanks: start here. As with the Madness guide, you'll quickly learn your role and be ready for group content after reading this.


The Assassin's tank spec is Darkness. You have a variety of ways to defend against damage, including passive and active buffs as well as strong activated skills. Additionally, your abilities provide debuffs and self-healing.

Stat Targets

SWTOR enforces a balancing act between stats to be effective. On your character's stat breakdown, aim for:
  • Endurance and Willpower as your primary stats
  • Little to no Accuracy
  • 25%+ Defense
  • 50%+ Shield Chance
  • 50%+ Absorption

Endurance provides extra health, which your self-heals are based off of. As Darkness most of your skills are Force abilities and don't require extra Accuracy.

Although not all enemy abilities can be shielded against, it is an important part of soaking up damage. Shield rating makes you shield more often (assuming you wear a Shield Generator and use Dark Charge), while Absorb is the amount a shield can prevent out of the incoming damage.

Defense is your chance to dodge or parry an attack.

Recommended Builds

Full Darkness (31/0/10) is a go-to PvE spec that gives you every defensive improvement you need. Our tank spec comes with other useful perks like Force Pull, Speed breaks snaring effects, and Spike (a knockdown) can be used while out of stealth.

Shin'arika uses a clever PvP tank build (27/1/13) that drops Wither in favor of the range Death Field has to allow you to dance outside other melee class' melee range. With this spec, you also gain Exploit Weakness procs from Duplicity. That gives you Maul as an extra burst ability without giving up anything but an AoE snare.

PvE Skills for Darkness Tanking

  • While in Dark Charge for extra Armor and threat
  • Keep Dark Ward up
  • Shock, especially with Energize
  • Wither - does not break crowd controlled enemies near your target
  • Discharge - not a smart AoE; can break crowd control
  • Force Lightning at 3 Harnessed Darkness buffs
  • Thrash
  • Saber Strike when low on Force

Wither makes enemies deal 5% less damage and Discharge in Dark Charge is an Area of Effect (AoE) skill that reduces accuracy by 5%. Both hit up to five enemies, which makes holding threat on multiple enemies fairly easy.

Every tank has a taunt and AoE taunt to get aggro back if you lose it or need to switch with another tank. Some enemy abilities only hit what is in front of them, so the rule of thumb is to point them away from the group you're playing with.

Use Recklessness with an Energized Shock and/or Force Lightning to do significantly more damage (and threat) than normal via crits and Energize's bonus 50% critical damage.

You have great options to interrupt your foes as Darkness as well. In addition to Jolt, Electrocute, and in some cases Overload, you can Spike susceptible enemies to knock them down.

Guard decreases a friendly target's threat generated and redirects some of the damage they would have taken to you. It has a limited range, so pick somebody who will be near you and protect them with it.

Defensive Cooldowns

Dark Ward

Increases your Shield chance by 15%. Dark Ward should be kept up constantly unless you know the incoming abilities are not able to be shielded against.


Deflection increases your defense by 50% for 12 seconds. You'll see ~75% of weapon attacks missing if your stats are up to par.

Force Shroud

Shroud cleanses harmful effects from you and makes you immune to Force and Tech attacks for 5 seconds as Darkness. You can avoid many player abilities and some boss mechanics with it, making it a very strong tool.

Overcharge Saber

In addition to increasing your Dark Charge healing done, this will heal you for 10% of your health as a tank.

Recommended Companion Types

Inquisitors are somewhat limited by companion availability, but once you have the option I recommend you try pairing with a DPS or Healing companion. Extra DPS will let you kill enemies faster. For long or tougher fights, Tank & Healer can stand up to a lot of punishment - it will just be slow going.


Darkness doesn't take too long to get used to. If you're new to SWTOR and you're starting with the tank spec, you shouldn't have trouble growing into it.

For veterans making a switch from another spec, the different skills lend themselves to be bound pretty naturally to the slot they're replacing. From there, you just shift your awareness to things like positioning and debuffs that require you to react. Assassin tanking is fun and not at all painful.