Attack Types, Damage Types, Avoidance and Mitigation in SWTOR

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:

  1. Melee
  2. Ranged
  3. Tech
  4. Force


The Four Damage Types:

  1. Kinetic
  2. Energy
  3. Internal
  4. Elemental


Avoidable Attack Types:

  1. Melee
  2. Ranged

Note: Defence does not give avoidance for Tech and Force attacks.


Attack Types that can be  Shielded

  1. Melee
  2. Ranged

Note: Tech and Force attacks cannot be shielded.


Damage Types Mitigated by Armor:

  1. Kinetic
  2. Energy
Note: Internal and Elemental damage is not mitigated by armor.
The upshot? Not all attack types are avoidable and not all damage types are mitigatable.
If you want to know what sort of attack type a particluar skill has, open up your skills panel (P by default), and it will be listed on the right hand side of the skill. If you want to know what sort of damage type a skill has, then look at it’s tool tip.




  1. [...] Attack Types, Damage Types, Avoidance and Mitigation in SWTOR: an excellent guide from Alostrael, clearing up a lot of misinformation and confusion. Share this:EmailRedditFacebookPrint [...]

  2. Maris says:

    I would say separating “weapon” damage type is confusing things, as you correctly add, it is always one of other types (kinetic for vibrosword, energy for lightsaber/blaster etc).

    Another good guide

    And question – any information how these types of attacks are distributed in % (melee/ranged versus tech/force) ? 50/50 ? 20/80 ?

    • Alo says:

      Hi Maris.
      Yeah, now that you mention it separating “weapon damage” might confuse things a little. I’ll see if I can find a better way to word it. I had to include it because that is the term the tooltips use. I admit I probably could have done a better job in that department.

      Thanks for the link to Taugrims guide. Ed does good stuff! I wasn’t aware of all of the details of the “2 roll system” that he references there.

      As to your question, I don’t really have the answer and finding it would be beyond the scope intended for this blog post. I do know that the percentage changes wildly depending on which class/advanced class you play. Some classes, like the Sniper, get stuck with a lot of the worse attack types (eg ranged), where as others, like the Operative, get a lot of the better variety (eg tech).

  3. Achillean says:

    So, according to this, there is no defense whatsoever versus a Tech/Force attack that does internal/elemental damage. You cant avoid it or mitigate it at all? I find that somewhat hard to believe. Where exactly are you getting your information on how this works? I can say with 100% certainty, that when I hover over the armor stat in my character sheet, it gives a rating (very low) on internal/elemental mitigation. How does that fit in with what you are saying?

    • Alo says:

      What you are seeing when you hover over the “damage reduction tab” and read internal and elemental damage reduction figures is “passive reduction”. As far as I can tell, everybody after a certain level gets a flat 10% damage reduction to these damage types (or so the character sheet implies). Some classes can enhance this number by spending points in certain skill trees, or using certain combat stances (like Combat Technique if you are a Shadow). You cannot actively gear to avoid internal or elemental damage types though. Armor and shields will not help you there at all. That is a fact.

      You can test this yourself. Look at your internal/elemental reduction. Now take all your armor off. You will see you have the exact same reduction. Note, Expertise will mitigate this damage in PvP though. It mitigates any and all damage done by another player.

      My sources for the information in the post are personal testing, correlated results of other peoples testing, and bits and pieces the devs have said over time.

      You want to get the best bang for your PvP damage buck? Then yes, use a force/tech attack that does internal or elemental damage.

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