One of the questions that I see getting asked the most is "What is the best tank?" - to which all tanks sigh and say the same thing. "There isn't a best tank, they're just different." Which is completely true - all "tank" ACs can do their jobs and tank. Each one is unique and personally I find them all interesting to play.
- Term Glossary
- PvE at a Glance
- Written Comparison
- PvP at a Glance
- Written Comparison
- Vanguard/Bounty Hunter Playstyle
- Guardian/Juggernaut Playstyle
- Shadow/Assassin Playstyle
OverviewWhat I think people really want to know is - what kind of tank would I be best at playing? Or which one would best fit the style of play I like? My goal here is to answer that for them by outlining what makes each tank unique, where they excel and where they fall short.
Please keep in mind that my opinions and comparison with Guardian tanks are based on the Defense tree. I know many people are loud advocates of the Vigilance Hybrid tanking build - personally, I don't like it and find the Defense tree more effective at tanking.
If you're more interested in reading about the actual playstyle and what kind of roles each tank fits in to (and less concerned with how they compare to eachother) skip down to the individual sections at the end.
Term GlossaryPassive Mitigation -
This includes armor, resistance, shield and defense. Shield is scored lower because many boss fights completely bypass this mechanic. Armor is scored highest because it affects most types of attacks. All tank ACs have similar internal/elemental resistances.
Active Mitigation -
Generally this refers to defensive cooldowns or skills that affect how long a player survives.
Damage Smoothing -
This refers to the ability of the Tank to maintain a consistant level of damage rather than taking large spikes in damage.
DPS Ability -
How hard the tank hits
How easy it is to move around while still tanking and/or doing damage. Is is possible to maintain threat while having to be on the move.
The ability to affect an encounter and make it easier for a group to progress. This category contains things like Stuns/Mezzs/Snares.
How easy it is to contain or position mob groups for optimal tanking and/or AOE damage.
How much they bring to the table besides mitigation and damage. This can be a number of things, but will include things like stealth, CC (long or short) and other useful things not found elsewhere.
Single Target/AOE Threat -
The ability to maintain aggro (or hate) on single or multiple targets.
Snap Threat -
How easy it is to maintain aggro at the start of an encounter
Difficulty to Play -
This is a broad category and completely anecdotal. This includes number of keybinds to be effective, how much you have to watch your skills instead of the fight - how easy it is to understand and/or use your defensive cooldowns effectively. This also leans a bit toward what is easier to level as and how easy quests are in general to complete even at end game. Overall it's just my opinion on how much effort it takes to play each class effectively.
PvE at a GlanceI came up with the categories based on my experience with them and how I compare their differences. Due to people not liking the point values assigned I've moved this to just a three category system (best/middle/worst) to give a better overall idea.
|Role||Big Baddie Beater||Sneaky Survivor||The Collector|
|Single Target Threat||Best||Middle||Worst|
|Difficulty to Play||Highest||Easy||Moderate|
Role Breakdown -
Guardians are the best at Boss tanking, this is still true even with the damage drops from 1.3.
Taking a Shadow is sometimes like having a DPS that can CC and having a tank all in one.
Troopers excel at rounding up trash mobs for AOE damage. They are also ideal for adds during boss fights.
Keep in mind the names are just for kicks, all ACs are capable of performing in all situations adequately.
Mitigation & Smoothing -
Shadows have by far the best defensive cooldowns and they're both on a short cycle so can be used (and should be used) frequently. They also self heal as part of their regular rotation. This is followed closely by Guardians and Vanguards lag behind with only a single effective defensive cooldown. The accuracy debuff can be situationally useful but usually when you need it, it won't work.
Coversely Vanguards have the best passive mitigation, including armor, shields and defense. They have the most flat DR (Damage Reduction) talents out of all the ACs. Guardians lag behind only slightly, and as of 1.3 Shadows fall far back down behind the pack.
If you take the two numbers together Guardians (15) Shadows (16) Vanguards (15) all three specs are quite close in effectiveness. One weakness is made up for by another strength.
This leads down to the damage smoothing, which is one of the most important aspects of being a tank. How easy are you to heal? Guardians are the clear loser here due to their lack of Shielding talents and reliance on armor and defense. Both Shadows and Vanguards have a talent to actively boost their shield rate and further talents to make it more effective/useful in their rotations. All tanks can work on these stats with Augments and itemization, but in general this is how it plays out.
Don't be mislead by the damage smoothing though, Shadows in general take more overall damage than either other class (see passive mitigation).
DPS Output -
It might not be fair to compare DPS on tank classes since none of them are designed to do damage, but it does matter (to a lesser degree).
After the last patch (1.3) Guardians have fallen quite a bit in terms of damage output. Their hardest hitting defensive talent was gutted and turned into a unique AOE instead. I can clearly see an effort was made to increase their AOE threat levels - but it did cost them in overal single target damage.
Vanguards also lost some of their damage with the dump of the surge increase on stockstrike. Since they didn't rely completely on that for damage it didn't hurt them as much, but I have noticed a drop in damage from them as well. Prior to the last patch I would have put them even with Shadows.
Shadows are constantly complained about for doing too much damage (in WZs) while in a tank stance. I believe this stems from them doing mostly force damage and relying very little on "white" (blockable) damage. Their main staples are also AOE attacks which probably helps them along where overall damage is considered.
Mobility, Control, Utility -
Vanguards have the edge in mobility with their ranged attacks. There are times when you can run through a few cooldowns and stay at the 30m range to do damage and still maintain threat. They lack in overall utility and control though - no knockback, one stun, their snare is talented but is tied to the regular attack rather than being on demand. They also have no "execute" skill to up their DPs at the crunch time of a fight.
Shadows also have a few ranged attacks, but their main one is a channel and can't be used on the run. Their speed boost is a great mobility helper, but it doesn't keep up with the leaps from the other two tanks. They do rank reasonably well for utility with a stun, kick, knockback and stealth.
Guardians have the worst mobility but the best control. Their snare is an AOE and can easily keep mobs close and grouped up. They have 2 stuns and an AOE Mez. They also have a push and AOE accuracy debuffs.
You can see how mobility and control was kind of balanced. Those will less control have more mobility and vice versa.
One of the things that I am most focused on when tanking is positioning. Where is the best place to bring the mob I'm fighting. how does that affect the rest of the encounter. Do I have to watch for knockbacks, stuns, AOE effects, cleaves. These are all things that a tank has to worry about.
Vanguards and Shadows have a huge edge here with their Pulls. They also both have ranged attacks that can be used to maintain aggro in a situation where moving in to close is a bad thing. The shadow has the slight edge in this category because he has both a knokcback and a pull. The knockback isn't perfect, but when you're in a range heavy group of mobs that you want to AOE, any little bit helps.
One of the major changes they made in 1.3 was to threat. All tanks recieved a 50% increase in threat generation. That is HUGE. Anyone complaining about threat after this change is just bad. I didn't have problems before the change, now, it's laughable.
With that said, there are still differences. Guardians have the most (and most effective) High Threat single target attacks. They are also able to front load a ton of damage to begin a fight which gives them a large boost in Snap Threat. They sacrifice AOE threat though with only one major move that does good damage and another that uses up too much resource to use more than twice or three times in succession without completely starving the guardian for the next short while. Holding AOE threat as a Guardian is difficult and generally they have to rely on their AOE taunt after spamming as much damage as possible.
Shadows got a huge boon in the last patch by making slow time "smart" so that it doesn't break CC. Prior to that holding single target threat on trash pulls could be difficult with poor positioning. I know I broke a lot of CCs trying to get the right seperation in so I could hold threat. Coversely there is no double that Shadows have the best AOE threat. Their main attack is an almost spammable AOE with high threat built in. With patch 1.3 their other AOE now also causes high threat.
Vanguards are really lacking on single target and snap threat. They really have to manage their resource, and while they can frontload a good bit of damage they run the risk of starving themselves too quickly if it isn't properly managed. They also only have a single high threat attack on a long cooldown that relies on a proc from their stance before it becomes active - so can't be used first thing in a fight. They do give Shadows a run for their money on AOE threat though - and are by far the highest in AOE damage potential.
PvP at a GlanceI think it is important to go over the differences between PvE and PvP since each tank performs completely differently in PvP. They each have roles that they perform better, and since threat (and other things) become meaningless it is more about their skillset and less about how good they are at "tanking"
I do not advocate wearing DPS gear and attempting to "tank" in warzones. If you are wearing DPS gear you should be focused on killing stuff like other DPS classes and not worried about tanking. The only real use that I see from this is with the Shadow tank spec and DPS gear because the Shadow relies the least on passive mitigation (which comes from gear). People who seem to advocate DPS gear in a Tank spec believe that Guard and Taunt are all that matters to a tank - they are incorrect.
|Role||Bodyguard (35/50)||Midfielder (33/50)||General (33/50)|
|Difficulty to Play||Highest||Moderate||Moderate|
Guardians are the best single target guard that exists. With their leaps they can easily engage at the front lines and retreat to cover their target very rapidly. More of a front line in your face fighter than anything - can also target a node (instead of a player) to defend and do just as well.
Shadows are equally able to attack an defend. Very useful in a group with multiple stealth characters to help cover an attack by strong DPS - also very possible to solo attack a node against a single defender. Give a false sense of security when defending by watching from stealth and striking at the opportune moment.
Troopers work better behind the front lines, protecting other ranged classes and still outputting some DPS on people who don't know what hit them. Definitely healer spotters and killers. Find and pull a healer into the DPS face and get them to notice.
This is the controversial topic where many people feel that tanking stats have almost no effect on PvP. I'm of the opposite opinion but I don't think the debate will ever be settled. Shield and defense have less effect here than in PvE, but they do still matter - and you will see a difference if you stack them.
Active mitigation, no question has a place in PvP, so looking purely at active Mitigation you'll see that the Shadow has the edge. But armor plays a large roll here as well since it does block most attacks - so the lower your armor is the more damage you're going to take. This leaves Shadows far behind int he survivability department.
Guardians also have access to "Focused Defense" in PvP that they don't have in PvE (while tanking). Since it acts as a threat drop it's difficult to use while trying to maintain aggro - but in PvP you can use it while stunned to get a small boost in self healing. Blade Barried also performs excellently since it absorbs damage types that would otherwise completely bypass all defenses.
Troopers rely mostly on their heavy armor here since they have the lowest defense but highest shield rating. Smoothing out damage isn't as big of a deal here as just being able to take as much damage as possible. Troopers do have the largest health pool to work from - which gives them a bit more of an edge. Unfortunately their active cooldowns are lackluster and situational leaving them slightly more exposed to focused fire.
DPS Ability -
This does matter in PvP more than it matters in PvE. My Guardian will never be at the top of the DPS charts (though sometimes he comes close which scares me).
Vanguards have the clear edge here because much of their damage ignores armor, which is the only thing many characters have to mitigate damage. They also have access to the most AOE attacks, which when used effectively can really pad their damage numbers.
Shadows are a close second, again with access to AOE damage and mostly Force attacks that bypass defensive stats and go straight to armor.
Guardians while having the lowest overall damage also do the most weapon damage (blocked by defensive stats) - which means against other tanks they're even worse off.
You see a little change here because of the way warzones work. All of them encorporate some type of jagged playing field with multiple levels to work from. This gives an edge to Guardians who have two leaps to more easily navigate these different levels.
Shadows fall behind a bit because they lack gap closers, they have to rely on stealth for an initial closer, then fall back on their sprint for subsequent followup.
Vanguards once more top this chart due to their ranged attacks, pull and leap.
And with superior mobility comes lack of utility. There isn't much that a trooper brings other than the obvious. They have no knockback, a single stun and have a hard time in a "support" type of roll.
Shadows sit in the middle here mostly because stealth is a huge game changer in PvP where you are playing for objectives and not for the scoreboard.
Guardians have the most utility skills, which makes them the most effective at keeping people busy and away from critical targets (read: healers). They have a way of making an impact in a battlefield and keeping people focused on them rather than objectives and/or other players.
|A Vanguard using his social skill|
The Vanguard/Bounty Hunter
Most Favorite Feature: Being effective outside of melee range
Least Favorite Feature: No escape mechanic
Vanguards shine ... during predictable damage output and trash pulls
Vanguards fall ... if they're allowed to run low on ammo
Vanguards will ideally fight ... slow hitting high damage bosses, anything with elemental damage, or anything ranged
The Vanguard really feels more like a soldier in playstyle. He can take a beating and not blink - with heavy passive damage reduction there isn't a lot to watch out for. Health spikes very infrequently and damage is more sustained and evened out over time. The moves aren't flashy, but they get the job done - the majority of his arsenal stems from the business end of a rifle.
Troopers use a full to empty resource model. They begin with a full stock of "ammo" and each skill costs a set amount. Ammo regens at variable speed depending on how much ammo is left, so using more ammo actually causes you to have less resource avaliable. Common practice is to keep ammo above the "high" regen point and only use as fast as it regenerates. Certain skills will help regen ammo faster or generate a set amount letting you dip down lower -> then boost it back up to the optimal level.
I was dissappointed that the trooper was not a "Ranged" tank even though he carries a gun. You still have to get right up in the face of everything and slap them with the butt of your rifle to get the necessary effect. He is definately more ranged than the other tanks, having multiple (instant) 10m skills and a selection of 30m skills, but holding aggro at any meaningful range is still not viable. While it is possible to hold aggro through use of 30m skills and the taunt mechanics (on a single target) the DPS output is very poor and not worth the effort in 95% of encounters.
Vanguards in PvEI find that it's much easier to collect a trash group of mobs and have them focus on me for the whole duration than it is on any other tank. Being able to open with a high damage attack (with a knockdown) and follow up with a second high powered AOE usually assures that I can hold on to threat in the short term. With the changes in 1.3 I can now also charge in and drop two elemental AOEs without having to worry about what it does to my ammo.
For many boss fights the Mobility offered by a Trooper is second to none and invaluable. Being able to position yourself wherever you want and still be 100% effective is something that no other tanking class can claim. Similarly with trash pulls it is less onerous to collect all the ranged mobs and make sure they're pointing in the right direction - grouping them up is made simple by the use of a pull, but even so - grouping is unnecessary when you can stand in one spot and still hit them all.
Single target threat can be a challenge at the start of fights due to the lack of high threat skills and because of the ammo regen mechanic. Once you get threat though it is easy to stay ahead of DPS and continue building.
In practice a Vanguard will be more effective in a mobile environment and is easy to play while on the run. I find the ammo management takes most of my focus while trying to keep active buffs up and make sure I'm in the proper position. It does make positioning easier and I'm rarely stuck in a bad place. There are times when I wish for more active defense in moments that my health dips - so I do rely on my healers to be more active as well.
Vanguards in PvPI still have a hard time playing a Vanguard in PvP because they really don't have a defined roll. Yes you can guard and taunt, but you aren't made to be right in the middle of a group of melee characters either. Make extensive use of AOE damage and always watch for healers - being ranged you should be standing back and more easily be able to spot and target them.
When focused by melee players Vanguards have a huge edge in damage just coming from their close in AOE attacks. They have the ability to gap close with other ranged classes either by pulling them or charging to them - depending on the situation. They have a built in (talented) snare with their regular attacks which makes it far easier to kite than on any other class.
In practice Vanguards benefit from space in PvP, which makes guarding targets more difficult than it would otherwise be. To perform the best DPS wise a Vanguard has to be right in the middle of things, but they lack an escape mechanic and active cooldowns when being focus fired. There is a hard balance between staying separated enough from the fight to protect your healer and still being an effective contributor to the main melee.
I rely more on targeting healers/casters on my Vanguard than participating in the overall melee. Since they are able to hit from range and can do effective DPS and interrupt/cc it is much easier to single out and pressure these targets without immediately drawing a lot of focus fire.
With a full complement of elemental (armor ignoring) attacks even the tanking specs are somewhat threatening to all types of classes.
Overall troopers are very straight forward, they are focused on what they are doing and don't have much to worry about on the periphery of an encounter. They don't come with added utility, but their durability is second to none.
|A Guardian using his social skill|
Most Favorite Feature: Melee combat with a lightsaber
Least Favorite Feature: Lack of damage output
Guardians shine ... during single target encounters
Guardians fall ... dealing with knockbacks, snares and roots
Guardians will ideally fight ... high speed, high to moderate damage bosses, or anything melee
The Guardian has the epic Star Wars Jedi feel. Leaping into the middle of combat and laying about himself with the force and with a lightsaber (more heavy reliance on the saber). High passive damage reduction let him soak a ton of damage with active mitigation waiting to back him up during intense periods. Some moves are flashing, but mostly have to do with swinging or spinning the lightsaber in a certain pattern. Some of the animations are clunky and take longer than necessary, but overall combat flows very smoothly.
Guardians use an empty to full resource. They begin with no "focus" and gradually build it up over time by using certain resource building attacks. In practice this means that they have to spend some time building resource before they can spend it - this prevents them from frontloading a ton of damage at the start of a fight, but over a long fight gives them less problems than other classes that run out more readily - a Guardian will never run out of resource and have to "wait" for it to regenerate, even regenerating resource does damage.
The Guardian was my first character and still has a special place in my heart for that reason alone. He is purely a melee tank, outside of melee range his options are severly limited. Guardians have some of the most effective active defensive cooldowns and Blade Barrier (an absorb shield) to help with mitigation.
Guardians in PvENot having to rest or regen focus during fights leads my Guardian to charge more blindly and more quickly into mobs to preserve the focus built up from the last fight. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how the rest of the group feels about it. For trash I tend to focus on the most important targets and let the others roam free (or mostly free) due to the lack of AOE threat generation. This has changed a bit in 1.3, but I still find that maintaining the threat after initially building it up is exceedingly difficult.
For boss fights I enjoy the Guardian the most. I never had a problem getting and maintaining threat on a single target, working in a proper starting rotation just takes some practice and a bit of forethought. After the initial rotation you should have no issues continuing forward.
The lack of mobility on some boss fights can be problematic, especially when you're forced to a point that you can't maintain melee range and aren't able to attack for short (or long) periods. I also find the lack of ability to position mobs where you want them to be an issue. I didn't really notice until I started playing other tanks that could more easily position mobs, or pull a single mob out of the way of others.
In practice a Guardian is more effective in a static environment that doesn't involve a lot of re-positioning. The only caveat is dual boss fights that involve a "switching" mechanic. Due to their leap they are the most effective at boss swapping during critical phases. They are also the most effective for Boss mechanics that have high spike damage due to their excellent cooldowns.
Guardians in PvPOut of all the tank classes the Guardian is my favorite to play in PvP because of his role in the battle. My guardian is a pure bodyguard - without someone else to protect he is (at best) half as effective.
Guardians should always have an eye on a guarded target and use their utility (read lots of stuns, snares and other CC) to protect that target. Leaping into a mass of enemies to use an AOE taunt and do some damage before leaping back to your guarded target can keep enemies off balance and not sure who they were attacking or who to attack next. Often they will spend time running around following you while you leap. Making effective use of leaping to close gaps (or open them) is a staple for Guardians in PvP.
When focused Guardians are able to make use of defensive cooldowns to weather huge spikes in damage over a surprisingly long period of time. Guarding nodes solo in a Warzone is least risky with Guardian because they can usually live long enough for help to arrive.
Guardians do the last amount of damage, so killing people can become a challenge. Picking appropriate targets (targets with little or no armor) will help, but they will be spending a long time in a battle of attrition no matter their intended target.
In practice I find my Guardian to be the active. I'm constantly target swapping to make the most out of my utility and am always on the move - jumping one way or another to get right into the thick of the heaviest action. If unable to pair up with a healer a Guardian is most effective guarding a location (solo or with a partner).
Guardians also have the single best snare in the game. It is AOE and slows for 50%. It is also free (if talented) and can be used on cooldown for great effect. Using this in a crowd gives your team more mobility and a huge advantage in PvP. Using this at choke points in a map can help you keep a whole team slowed and occupied while the rest of your team races ahead, or picks them off while they are packed together. This is something that should be high on your "priority list" when you're in any type of pvp combat situation.
Overall Guardians take the most practice to be effective and seem to require the most use of skills to be optimal. In PvP they are the most team oriented of the tanks, and in PvE the most focused for difficult boss fights. Their added utility takes some skill to use effectively, but when done well can make a huge difference in almost any encounted.
|A Shadow using his Social Skill|
Most Favorite Feature: Stealth and CC on a Tank
Least Favorite Feature: Low passive mitigation
Shadows shine ... collecting AOE threat
Shadows fall ... when tanking lots of trash mobs simultaneously
Shadows will ideally fight ... high burst elemental bosses or quick moderate hitting bosses
Shadows are another light saber wielding class 'ala Darth Maul with a double bladed saber. They more heavily rely on force techniques to do their damage though, and less on beating people with thier saber. Low passive damage reduction means they have to be more active with their survivability. To accomplish this they have the best defensive cooldowns between the three tank classes. Some of their moves are flashy (throwing rocks (Reps) or lightning (Imps)) and nothing beats dropkicking someone in the head in PvP. Their combat flows beautifully from one point to the next.
Shadows use a full to empty resource similar to Vanguards. The difference is, it doesn't matter how low they dip in resource the regeneration is always the same. So a Shadow can front load all the damage they want until they completely run our of foce, and will continue to be just as effective as if they had managed it better.
Shadows are a unique tank just because they have stealth and their own CC. For soloing and levelling this is an invaluable tool. Even at end game you can easily solo some Heroics that are supposed to require 4 people to complete. They are also the only tank with an "escape" mechanic because of stealth. If things go badly they can stealth in combat and run away, dropping all aggro and exiting combat. This is less useful in PvE, but hugely useful in PvP.
Shadows in general are very "proc" based when it comes to combat. As a tank you will be using skills that proc a buff which boosts the damage of your next rock throw attack and allows it to heal you while you channel. You will also be hoping one of your skills procs for double damage - and making sure to keep your shield buff up (8 charges, consumed on use). For other tanks I watch my skills more to see what is avaliable - for shadows I watch my buffs more to make more optimal use of my skills.
Shadows in PvEShadows lead in to combat with a bit more finesse than the other types of classes. Being able to move in to the proper position without having to worry about disturbing the mob group lets you more easily plan how things are going to go. Normally you will open up with an AOE that builds a high amount of threat, then move into a positioning phase (if necessary) pulling a mob over to a group for AOEs or bouncing them in that direction. With the change in 1.3 you can even CC a close mob then use your new "smart" AOE to grab that intial threat and continue using it to boost threat without having to worry about pulling everything away from the CC'd targets.
In Boss fights I do miss the leap that the other two tanks have, the force speed works almost as well, but I feel less in control while my character zips all over the place from a brief tap on a movement key. With the extra boost to threat though it's far easier to maintain your single target threat on any Boss. Two high threat moves and high damage should mean that you have no issues holding threat after you snap it up to start with. Both high threat moves are on fairly short cooldowns (one is 8s) so can be used basically all the time.
Shadows also have some added mobility. By using a cooldown they can turn one of their 10m skills into a 30m skill. So if you find yourself out of position with an enemy, or they are moving away from (or back to) you - using this cooldown and throwing out some extra damage without having to move around is a huge bonus.
One of the biggest benefits that comes with being a Shadow is the cooldown that blocks all force/tech for 5 seconds. This can be a huge big deal on some boss fights that have a large burst phase and use some form of non-weapon damage. Knowing when to use this can make the difference between a win and a loss.
In practice a Shadow is more effective collecing adds during a Boss fight than any other Tank class - which sometimes puts them in more of an "off-tank" role than "main tanking". This isn't a bad thing, they excel at it and should be used for those kind of situations. They tend to perform best in a mobile environment that involves movement but wouldn't allow a leap from another type of tank. Like running away from the boss, or moving out of large AOE ground effects. Healers will find their health being eaten away a bit more than other tanks, but their self heals will make up some of the difference.
Shadows in PvPVery dangerous on both sides of a field - very able to both attack and defend, even in a tank spec with tanking gear. Shadows in DPS gear and a tank stance have been the bane of the forums so much recently that they were affectionally named "tanksins". I think because of this potential many people aren't sure what to do with a Shadow in PvP - I see lots of them just dueling on the sides of map trying to solo everything in sight.
Guarding a target is always a boon to the team, but I believe Shadows should be more picky of who they are guarding and in what situation. When defending a healer is generally the best option, but don't be afraid to guard a DPS when attacking to help keep them up while clearing out enemies. Shadows have the highest damage output of all tank classes and should be using it on the front lines to best effect.
When Focused Shadows have their excellent cooldowns to burn through, then can simply vanish if the fight is going against them. Living to fight another day can make the difference between everyone dying and your team losing a node - and you surviving to come back and prevent a capture then hold off long enough for more reinforcements to arrive.
Shadows need to be more DPS focused because they rely on their self heals to make up for some of their lack of overall mitigation. If you aren't hitting someone you aren't getting that beneift - other tank classes have the luxury of picking targets and sitting back to make the best options - shadows will likely be right in the thick of things swinging away with their lightsaber. It's easy to get tunnel vision during those periods, but it's very important to keep an eye on your surroundings. Killing healers or at least keeping them busy should be your top priority - Shadows are the most effective tank class at shutting down a healer and pressuring them enough that they can't help out the rest of their team.
In practice I find my Shadow spending a lot of time fighting battles rather than working toward objectives - this can change depending on group layout and what map we're on (voidstar loves stealth classes), but is usually how it goes. I often use my pulls to help out the team by relieving pressure off someone (healers especially) or preventing an enemy from reinforcing a position (pull -> kick/stun -> snare as I force speed past).
Because of the reputation Shadows/Assassins have currently in Warzones you will find people attacking you as soon as you pull out a double bladed saber. Perfecting the art of kiting people will serve you well in the long run. Using your snare, knockback and channeled throw to slow and keep them at a distance will add to your survivability immensely.
Overall Shadows are the easiest PvE tank to play because of thier ease of rotation (Cycling ~4 skills) and ability to collect AOE threat with almost no trouble. Learning when and how to use their cooldowns just takes practice, and isn't difficult. In PvP they become a bit harder to play because of how dynamic the environments are - but still use the same basic rotations, they just involve more movement and positioning to be effective.