Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back Line Defense

Lately I've been assigned the role of protecting the back line of the party while another tank handles the front line players. I find the SM is quite adept at this role, especially in offensive sovereign gear. The SM is especially capable of frustrating melee trains to no end.

The SM has a few tools to help him keep the enemy melee line from reaching his friendly back line. First, the SM has access to a zero cooldown snare and a zero cooldown single target knockback with a tactic. This will effectively take a single target at a time out of the fight every 2-3 GCDs if you use Sudden Shift to skip normal balance. This is best used after a melee DPS pops some sort of cooldown to make him waste it. I've been against Forceful Shock in the past, but it's quite useful for this purpose. It will see more use in my slots.

Next, the SM can reduce an entire melee train to useless at morale 2. Wings of Heaven into the group and then pop Gusting Wind to send the entire enemy train away from your back line. Wings of Heaven is a morale snare meaning it's unbreakable and at a duration of 10s, it will be awhile before they can reach the back line again. This will usually buy your back line 15s of safety. If Wings of Heaven is on cooldown, you can also pop Leading the Charge! for your back line to let them get more distance. Using both Wings of Heaven and Leading the Charge! at the same time is overkill in my experience and leaves you more at risk of not having a cooldown available to save your group when it's needed.

In the worst case scenario, which is the enemy has Immovable and you don't have Leading the Charge! up, you can reduce a melee train down a third of it's normal damage against a target by using both Guard and Challenge just like any other tank. You also want to use your debuffs against the enemy's best melee DPS to further reduce incoming damage.

I know some of you are thinking that it would be easier to just use a Knight and stagger. You would be right in a sense that it requires fewer button presses. However, the stagger works off Unstoppable and the SM punts work off Immovable. You could almost chain CC a melee train that bunches up with both a Knight and SM working together making it easy for a ranged group to pick them off one by one.


  1. Great stuff as always T. What about WW so AM's can keep MotM up on the train??

  2. It wouldn't do much. MotM is normally on a 20s cd, same as WW. With WW you can put every other one on a 15s cd, so average 17.5s cd. The effect would go from 50% up time to 57.2% up time assuming you can get WW off every time it's up. So instead of 10s of snare out every 20s, you get 11.5s. The result is one extra GCD of snare every 20 seconds. If you're taking WW anyway because your group can use it effectively then I would definitely take advantage of it, but I would not take WW solely for this reason.

  3. Hm, so what you are saying is that SMs are better suited for the role of a backline guard because of a no-CD singletarget snare and knockback and Wings of Heaven?

    First off Knights can spec for a tactic Slice Through (many do) that makes their snare snare 3 other targets inside 25 feet. I would prefer that snare over the SM one.

    Second of all, the snare and BS may be zero cooldown abilities but you'll only be able to do two snares in a row (three with PoH) and you can't chain BS at all (not even with SS and PoH). Unless I'm missing something here.

    And thirdly, Wings of Heaven is indeed very useful but knights get a morale 3 with a hefty damaging component and a 5 sec root. It is affected by immunities and a M3 so not as good as WoH at M2, but still almost as useful.

    And then you have the KotBS knockback tactic which makes the knockback really good, as it improves both the distance and the flight time. The above does require two tactics dedicated to backline guarding, but Slice Through is versatile enough to be an all-arounder and you're slotting Forceful Shock anyway, so it's tactic for tactic.

    Add the stagger and the auras (say the interrupt one which is underrated imo, especially now with the WPs casting much more) and you have a better backline guard. In my opinion at least.

    SMs can fill many roles, but claiming that they are the best backline guard tanks order has is a bit short sighted. Not trying to rain on your parade, I just noticed some flaws in your thinking and thought I'd point them out and ask your opinion.

  4. No, I'm saying the SM can do back line defense, not that it's the best at it. The last paragraph even gives the nod to the Knight being easier to play. A Knight and SM can work together to almost completely shut down a melee train since they give different immunities. The assertion that the SM is better at it than the Knight is your own creation.