In SWTOR, the character development system is based on three skill trees. These skill trees are in the form of three specializations. The first two are unique to the character class type. For example, for the Sith Assassin, the exclusive specializations are Darkness and Deception.
The third specialization is shared among the parent class’s specializations.
That means that for the Sith Assassin, the third specialization or tree ‘Madness’, is also the third one for the Sith Sorcerer, since both the advanced classes belong to the parent class ‘Sith Inquisitor’.
The builds in all the guides here are showed like (XX,XX,XX), where the ‘XX’ is the number of points, and the commas separate the three specializations.
Thus, for a Darkness oriented Sith Assassin configurations like (31,0,10) or similar means 31 points for Darkness, 0 for Deception, and 10 for Madness. In total, there will always be a maximum of 41 points available at game level 50.
Now, let’s see the builds and rotations for the Vanguard:
The Vanguard has the following specializations:
The Shield Specialist specialization is focused more on heavy tanking with great shield defenses.
High Impact Bolt
Recommended PvE/PvP Build: (33,8,0),(33,3,5)
The two listed builds are quite similar. However, the (33,3,5) one has better threat generation. The added bonus from the Ion Cells gives more damage to targets down range, hence raising your threat generation which obviously helps in tanking.
The first (33,8,0) build is more focused on high shield defenses and smoke bomb. In the rotation, you would want to make sure to regularly be using Hammer Shot between important skills now and then. Basically, Hammer Shot will act as a filler between situational and hard-hitting skills.
High Impact Bolt
Fire Pulse / Pulse Cannon
Recommended PvE Build: (8,31,2)
This build more focused towards an off-tank DPS oriented Vanguard. Do note that many actually find it rather difficult to play with this build, as the points in Shield defenses can cost quite a bit of energy.
The burst is a little less with this build, but there is great sustainability. The added tankiness of Ion Cell is really helpful. However, generally a Vanguard is more tanky rather than being like a conventional DPS.
Recommended PvP Build: (2,32,7)
This build sacrifices the tankiness from Shield Specialist and puts the points in Assault Specialist. Obviously, the sustenance is greatly reduced in this built, but there is much more damage output. As a Vanguard, I would generally recommend building a tank instead of DPS.
However, for a DPS orientation, it is best to Kite with Ion Pulse and free High Impact Bolts, and then using other abilities when they come off cooldown. As a DPS, you can’t really spam the rotation – try to prioritize the abilities instead.
High Impact Bolt
Recommended PvE/PvP Builds: (2,6,33), (22,1,8)
For a pure DPS, the best Vanguard option is to build the (2,6,33) variant. However, if you’re looking for some better sustenance, the hybrid (22,1,8) build is probably the best, and most well suited for tougher PvE scenerios and PvP games.
Make sure to use High Impact Bolt on a burning target to refund ammo. Stockstrike and Ion Pulse take out HIB from cool-down and make it free. However, it is generally not recommended to use HIB when the ammo is above 10 – try using Hammer Shot in those scenarios as it will be a waste of resources otherwise.