Oct 182013

By Geldarion


Welcome to the war, comrades. You have been selected to receive the latest training and tactics fresh from the warfront. The tried-and-true strategies you are about to hear are extremely effective and CLASSIFIED. Let’s get to the briefing. Today, we discuss the Focus Target System.

More after the Jump…

Some parts of the following post are unabashedly borrowed from a post I wrote while I was the writer for Smuggler Weekly on TORWars.com. Unfortunately, due to host issues, that post had to be taken down, so the only way I can convey this info is to give it to you again here.

Today I bring you a fighting tip that will aid you in PvP and PvE. We are talking about the little-used and even less-explained focus target system. This handy little system is fantastic for DPS, healers, and tanks.


Some of you already know the details of what the focus target system is, but for those that don’t, I will briefly explain it. The focus target system is composed of five essential details: the focus target UI element, the focus target keybind, the focus target modifier keybind, and by extension, the self-target keybind, and the Acquire Focus Target’s Target keybind. What the system does is give you the option to make your current target your focus target. Doing so pops their portrait, health bar, cast bar, and buffs bar out of the main target area into a specially-designated area of the screen while simultaneously enabling certain tools. The default to do this is alt+F.

Once a target is the focus target it allows you to watch their health, resources, buffs, and so forth, while allowing you at any time to use your focus target modifier key in conjunction with a skill to act upon that target, all while keeping your current main target. At any time, you may hit alt+F again and it will switch your main target out with your focus target.

In a similar manner, related to this system, you may use a keybound self-modifier key in conjunction with a skill to use it on yourself, again all while keeping your current main target and focus target unchanged. This is pretty self-explanatory, so I will only briefly touch on this a bit later.

Finally, there is the Acquire Focus Target’s Target keybind. This is a crucial piece of the system, as it allows you to easily coordinate DPS, swap guard, focus heals on the primary target of the enemy team, etc. I will go into this in more detail in a bit.

The Focus Target UI Element

The first thing you need to do when wanting to use the focus target system is to make it even appear on your interface. To do this, simply go to your UI editor, and find the focus target element.

This element can be moved any number of places on the screen, but it may not even be active. All of its settings can be modified if you click on it. Once you click on it, the center box with all of the options will change to reflect you are editing the focus target window.

Make sure that it is “Enabled.” You can also resize the window if you want.

You can also independently move and resize the focus target cast bar.

Once you have it activated, play with it and see where you want it on your screen. I have Target of Target enabled as well, and I use this quite a lot in both PvE and PvP. This sometimes gets in the way of the focus target pane, so you have to play with sizes and locations to get the perfect setup.

Focus Target Keybinds

You can set a keybind for the actual key that turns your current target into your focus target. This is default Alt+F, but it can be changed in your Key Bindings settings.

The next thing you might want to change is your keybindings for the self- and focus target-modifier keys. They are default as Home and End, respectively, which is just awful! That is nowhere near your hands while in even the most unusual hand-position, and this is a split-second thing that you have to be able to manage.

You can change them in your keybind page like for the Set Focus Target keybind.

Notice that I have changed my keybinds for Focus target modifier to X and Self target modifier to C. Do I recommend this configuration for everyone? Absolutely not; it is annoying to use these while playing with conventional keybinds (ctrl, alt, shift + numbers). If you are using a Razer Naga however, it works just fine. I usually play with a Naga, but occasionally I have to only use my trackpad (and yes, I can pass the Huttball on the run with a trackpad, but I’m not here to brag). If I am using the trackpad, I use the alternate keys “,” and “.” for Focus- and Self-target modifier keys, respectively.

The default key for Acquire Focus Target’s Target is Ctrl+F. I don’t really like this, but I haven’t figured out a good alternative. I recently switched to Shift+Z, which isn’t much better. I will let you know if I figure something out. Feel free to leave your suggestions for a good keybind for this as well!

How To Focus

Now that you have the tools, let’s talk about the use of these in actual play. First off, let me note that the cursor turns blue with the Focus-target modifier key is being held down and green when the Self-target modifier key is being held down.


The most important thing you can do as a DPS in an arena is focus-fire with other DPS. The easiest way to do this is to coordinate with everyone on your team to get them to do the following.

  • Pick a member of your team to act as the Focus Target. It is best to get a Gunslinger or Sentinel on this, but the better the player is, the less it matters which class they are playing.
  • All other DPS players then put that player on Focus target.
  • When one of the following events happens, you hit Acquire Focus Target’s Target to get a new enemy to attack:
    • Your target dies
    • Your target pops a defensive cooldown
    • Your target gets guard thrown on them
    • Your target LoS’s or runs away

If you are in the regular warzones, you might try some of the following strategies.

Use this system to have the healer on Focus target and use it to interrupt him when he is casting. That way, you can stay on your current target and still be annoying to the healer by multi-tasking.

Another way that DPS can use Focus target is to temporarily place a target on hold if they pop a defensive cooldown. For example, I was playing my Gunslinger, and I was fighting a Marauder in melee range. He was very close to dying, and he popped Undying Rage, which prevents 99% of all incoming damage (i.e. virtually unkillable). Nice thing is that it only lasts 4 seconds, so I popped Pulse Detonator and he flew back and got rooted. I put him on Focus target and started attacking another player. Five-ish seconds later, I used the Focus target modifier to shoot him with Flurry of Bolts and kill him (hehe).

Lastly, Focus target can help in PvP if you have a particularly persistent potential capper. Putting the capper on Focus target allows you to continue attacking more important targets while occasionally sending an Flurry of Bolts at the capper to prevent the capture. Since you can see their cast bar, it is easy to tell if you should be doing that.


Healers can use this to keep a main target alive. There are a couple of ways that you can do this.

The most important way to use this system in arenas is to put the other team’s DPS as your Focus target, making it easy to see which person on your team they are going to be attacking next. If they are really focusing your team well, this is practically the only way to anticipate their attacks. Of course, they may just end up attacking you, but still…

If you know you have a tank that is guarding you, keep the tank on Focus target and heal other people using normal targeting. That way if you see that the tank is taking damage, you can send a few heals his way. It helps you to see it as an extension of your own health bar. More than likely, if he dies, you will die.

Another way to use it (usually in regular warzones) is to put another healer on Focus target, then if they seem to be overwhelmed, you can shoot a few heals their way to help lighten the load.


The biggest thing you need to do as a tank is learn to swap your guard well, while simultaneously DPS’ing correctly. This is a tricky balance. You could be like the other DPS and put the primary DPS on Focus target and acquire their targets. But this means, that you have to tab around to the other team’s DPS to see who they are attacking, while your target may be the healer. To more easily facilitate this difficult playstyle, use Focus target on the other team’s DPS, like I said above for healers. Acquire their targets and guard accordingly.

Since you have to use Focus target for that, you have to use a different system to acquire your team’s target to burn down. Use hotkeys for your group members (default are F1-F4). Figure out which is your primary DPS (because you are F1, the order isn’t always obvious), then use Target of Target to get the enemy. NOTE: Use something besides an Alt+something keybind for Target of Target. You don’t want to have a group member be F4, then accidentally get the order wrong on your key presses, because you might hit Alt+F4 and disconnect from the warzone. Yikes!

Final PvP Tip

Stuck with a bad team in regular warzones that doesn’t seem to know how to call out incoming enemies in PvP? Station yourself at one turret/pylon/bunker/what-have-you and put another player at the other turret on Focus target so you can see if they are being attacked. Use this to direct your team if the other player doesn’t call out incoming enemies.



Hopefully these tips help push your game to the next level! Does this help you to understand the Focus Target System? Any ideas on ways to use it that I didn’t discuss? Let me know in the comments!

  3 Responses to “Tactical Strike: How To Use the Focus Target System”

  1. Excellent! Just what the doctor ordered. I’ve got to get this down before season 1 begins. Cheers, Spero

  2. I use “F” as the target focus target’s target key. It works for everything but agent/smuggler. Haven’t quite figured out how to handle that for those classes yet.

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