I’ve seen a lot of confusion and misinformation when its comes to attack types and damage types in SWTOR. Some people speak of them as if they are the same thing, thinking of them all as a “damage type”. A good many people also have some pretty whack ideas on how avoidance and mitigation work. Tanks really need to understand this stuff so hopefully this post will help clear things up.
There are four attack types: Melee, Ranged, Tech, and Force.
Each of these attack types can do one of the following four damage types: Kinetic, Energy, Elemental, and Internal. To illustrate, the Force attack type might do the Kinetic damage type (as in the Consular skill Project), or it might do Energy damage (as in the Inquisitors Lighting Strike skill). Note: You may also read “Weapon Damage” on tooltips. Weapon damage translates into whatever damage type your weapon does (eg a Light Saber does Energy Damage).
Melee and ranged are not damage types, but are often spoken of as if they are. You do not take melee damage. You do not take ranged damage. You take, for example, Energy damage. “Melee” and “ranged” is the kind of attack. “Energy” is the kind of damage. It is important to keep this distinction in mind when you start thinking about damage avoidance and mitigation.
Avoidance in SWTOR comes in the form of Defence. Defence gives a player a percentage chance to deflect, parry, resist, etc an incoming Melee or Ranged attack. If successful, the player takes no damage. If unsuccessful, the player takes damage which may then be modified by mitigation.
Damage taken is mitigated via armour and shields (and Expertise in PvP).
Armor mitigates Kinetic, and Energy damage types.
Shields mitigate a percentage of damage from the Melee and Ranged attack types via Absorption.
Expertise mitigates all damage types, but only from other players in a PvP environment.
So to sum up…
The Four Attack Types:
The Four Damage Types:
Avoidable Attack Types:
Note: Defence does not give avoidance for Tech and Force attacks.
Attack Types that can be Shielded
Note: Tech and Force attacks cannot be shielded.
Damage Types Mitigated by Armor: