The Vanguard Experiment: Preliminary Results

Last week I wrote about how, having realised how tedious I was finding Commando, I decided to give the Vanguard Class another go with new-character Jehnira. Just to emphasise again, she is approximately the seventh Vanguard to have been created; the previous six had all failed to 'stick' at some point in their careers.

There are a few potential reasons for this. Either I didn't think there was a need to dedicate much time to a Vanguard due to the Commando's existence, or I just didn't like the playstyle as I had perceived it as being. The story being very memorable to me due to it being my first SWtOR story endeavour might also have had a part in it; certainly beyond the very first only one had reached Tatooine whilst the rest had stopped at Nar Shaddaa or earlier.

However, because I was unsure about the future of my Commando, this first potential issue had all but disappeared. This largely only left the playstyle and story issues, both of which are joined hand-in-hand in some ways; if I enjoy the playstyle of a character I tend to take them through as much of the content as I can instead of just skipping to the end and being done with it.

So, how have things been turning out?

Long-story short: so much better than I was anticipating.


I decided to level up using Plasmatech, because based on my previous experiences with the alternative DPS Spec, Tactics, I had found it to be incredibly clunky. Again, probably due to the fact that I hadn't the need and thus neither the desire to dedicate time to working out the rotations.

I think I made the right decision here, because Plasmatech is really quite good fun, especially now it's all mobile and has no channels (discounting Artillery Blitz). I currently have a vague idea about the rotation, but because I've only seen a mere handful of fights which lasted long enough to properly utilise it, I don't yet have it down perfectly. This will hopefully come with more exposure, although I doubt I'll be wanting to take her into any Operations anytime soon.

The next issue was slogging through the story. Trooper is one of those stories which has always been very memorable to me, but as I said above this is because it was the first story I indulged in of the eight.

Presenting Spectrum Squad; our armour is colour-coded so you can work out what roles we are!
However, as you can infer from the above image, the good news is that I have finally bested my inability to get beyond Tatooine, and as a result Jehnira is the first Trooper since March 2013 to have completed up to and beyond Act II. She started Act III late on Saturday and has just completed the first area of Corellia today.

"But, wait; you first posted about this character last Monday, so why has it taken you so long to get to this point? Class Stories don't take that long to do..."

Correct, and this is where the "indulgent" part of this experiment comes in. You see, I've never managed to get a Companion from empty-to-full Affection via Quests before now, and it's something which I've had a desire to do since 4.0 changed the system into Influence and made it impossible to lose Influence with a Companion.

Aric Jorgan is one of the easiest initial Companions to please regardless, bested probably only by T7, so he's one of the better test-subjects in this regard. Be heroic yet uncompromising, a good soldier yet chastising those who beat about the bush and have no spine, and ultimately true to the Republic and condemning everyone on the other side, even if they have good intentions. Basically, a sprinkling of Dark Side choices in amongst a sea of Light.

The end result is that Jorgan hit 50 immediately after the completion of The Battle of the Gauntlet, AKA the Act II Mission. This was the result of doing every single Quest on every single Planet and even picking up Heroics from their original Quest-givers rather than just picking them all up via the Terminals. Obviously not every Heroic has Influence to be gained, and of those which do it's now sadly impossible to earn Influence the other end with the sole exception of the Motivator Heroic on Imperial Balmorra, so this hasn't yielded that much Influence, but every little helps.

One Planet, however, proved to be rather an annoying stepping stone. Apart from the main Trooper Quest, only a couple of Missions on Quesh yielded any Influence for Jorgan whatsoever. If it weren't for this absolute bleccch of a Planet, Jorgan would have hit 50 on Hoth easily; he was only 238 off 250,000! That's one "Aric Jorgan Approves" right there!

Just one more reason to hate Quesh.

Regardless, at least now I have an answer to the question which people probably knew beforehand; that it takes roughly eight Planets' worth of Missions to get a Companion 'fully-Affectioned' out.

I've been bookmarking everyone else's progress at the end of each Act. Currently, as of the completion of Act II, Dorne is at Rank 12 with 14,820 Influence, 4X is at Rank 10 with 11,180 Influence, Vik is at Rank 5 with 3,510 Influence, and Yuun is at Rank 1 with 260 Influence. This is purely through the bookend Missions at the start and end of Planets and through personal Conversations alone, although now Jorgan is done M1-4X has become my Companion of choice, so his Influence will have skyrocketed by the next bookmark point.

It would be nice if they could find a way to finally fix his Tank abilities; he and every non-bipedal Droid Companion are unable to use their new-since-4.0-Leap ability as an actual Leap, instead staying at 30 metres and not thinking of closing in to use their 4-metre range Abilities. Joy. T7 and 4X are thus the only two Class Companions of mine to utilise a different role other than the one they were originally prescribed (DPS rather than Tank) as a result, since at least they're somewhat useful to me that way.

I touched on the fact that this phase of the experiment involved me completing every Quest available - well, okay, I might have been unable to find the Quest-giver for Into the Killik Warrens, but that's my least-favourite Heroic in the game, so no loss there as far as I'm concerned - but this also reveals a small benefit of Galactic Command.

Prior to 5.0 there were very few incentives to run Missions outside of your Class Quest once you had hit max-Level. Unless your gear was not consistently up-to-scratch or you needed the Credits, they offered you nothing whatsoever. Nowadays, thanks to Galactic Command, there is a reason to keep going with them, since you of course get CXP for every mission.

Having hit Level 70 in the first area of Nar Shaddaa, Jehnira has gained the most part of eight whole Planets' worth of CXP, although she did not pick up the overarching Heroic Mission Daily and has been doing this with only the 25% Legacy and the game-wide Double-CXP Boosts aiding her. Despite only earning max. 180 CXP per Mission, Jehnira is now at Command Rank 76, making her the fourth-highest Character in my Legacy.

It is also worth noting that this is the furthest I have ever come with a female Trooper, which not only allows me to finally see the Jorgan romance (Trooper being one of three Classes which I have not experienced at least one romance on both genders with, alongside the Consular and the Knight - but then these last two won't be 'rectified') but also be surprised with some side-Quest developments.

When a male Trooper is called back to visit Ava Jaxo following the freeing of the Safecrackers, it's just you and her. She states how she knows you freed them, having a friend in the unit, but otherwise it's just an excuse to have a one-night fling or to say "Yeah, no, I'm with Dorne now".

Female Troopers, on the other hand, get a very different side-Quest, since rather than just you and her it's you both and two of her friends partaking in a "ladies' night". Both of these extra characters are surprisingly interesting for just minor one-time characters, since one of them, Keran Vondi, is a gunner aboard the Brentaal Star - the starship boarded in the Black Talon Flashpoint - and the other is the aforementioned friend from within the Safecrackers, Jorda Pell. Somewhat distractingly, Jorda wears the same armour as Keran - white with blue markings - when the Safecrackers' designated armour colour is apparently white with yellow markings.

Maybe they like to colour-code their armour based on combat roles, but only a madman would do such a thing.

Still, I was very pleasantly surprised to encounter both of these characters, since despite only being in-game for a tiny amount of time they added a surprising amount of depth, especially since both characters are referred to indirectly to male Troopers as well. Jorda is of course the friend who describes the escape, while Keran later corresponds with the Trooper if Jaxo dies in A-77. It's nice to actually get to meet these people when all you get otherwise is a name.

Perhaps the only thing which would have made this small encounter better is if Keran had mentioned an attack on the Star by Imperial forces in her "I don't think you've saved my life yet" spiel, but then maybe she joined the crew after the events of Black Talon. Still, it's nice to know that the Brentaal Star survived to remain in active service approximately two in-game years after it was boarded.


My goal with this experiment was to see whether or not I could develop a newfound appreciation for Vanguard with the aim of displacing my Commando as main-Trooper. I don't yet have a conclusive answer for this, but I am most certainly finding Plasmatech much more fun than Gunnery, and in terms of Command Rank Jehnira has just completely outstripped Ziodus, who is only at CR 11.

Additionally, his highest Companion is Influence 39, and as I've said above Jehnira already has an Influence 50 of her own. Even if she doesn't 'work out' in the long-term, she's practically replaced him already.

I have certainly enjoyed finally breaking my constraints within the Trooper storyline and actually getting beyond the second Act for the first time since 2013. Act III is still fresh in my mind even four-and-a-half years later, so I won't be as appreciative of seeing it again as I perhaps should be, but this is an issue which affects pretty much everything else as well, so nothing against the Trooper in this regard.

So, where to go from here? First I need to figure out whether or not I'm truly serious about replacing Ziodus - my longest-serving character to have been transferred from The Harbinger - with this young upstart of a Vanguard. It's not going to be an easy decision. The sensible thing to do beyond this is probably to create a Powertech to complement Jehnira. As I touched on yesterday, it certainly wouldn't make sense to say "I don't like Commando so I'm now playing Vanguard" only to then keep a Mercenary in existence.

Still, I very much enjoyed this experiment, and I look forward to seeing how it concludes.


  1. "But, wait; you first posted about this character last Monday, so why has it taken you so long to get to this point? Class Stories don't take that long to do..."

    This line made me chuckle because it's pretty much the exact opposite of what I actually thought. "Didn't he only just start this 'experiment' the other day? How can he already be half done?"

    Ah, to be a student with endless amounts of free time again... I didn't appreciate for what it was.

    1. In my case I think my regrets when the working world comes a-knocking will not be making more use of the free time but rather not taking advantage of it to do something more interesting whilst I had the opportunity.

      But then, this limitation has come about mainly because I have no personal mode of transport (and quite honestly, that's a good thing; I sincerely believe that I will meet my end while driving due to my horrendous lack of spatial awareness), so anything "interesting" has to happen within reach of public transport and still be cheap in doing so. The two often don't correlate.

      Still, at least the fact that this won't be easily remedied (there are multiple solutions, but absolutely none of them have been practical for the past four years) will mean that there won't be as much regret as there would have been otherwise.