SWTOR 3.0 Combat Sentinel Guide by Vulkk of The Red Eclipse. Updated for patch 3.2.1 (changes are mostly utilities).[toc]
Intro to Combat Sentinel
Combat Discipline Path is the 2nd (middle) spec for Jedi Sentinel Class. It provides great Burst damage and is suitable for both experienced players and beginners. It offers good survivability and enough mobility.
What is Combat good for
It does not have too many main abilities included in the rotation and is perfect for leveling and EndGame. You get the most out of the spec in PvE EndGame boss encounters with multiple waves of adds/trash and/or short and tight burn phases. Combined with the right utilities (more on that later), it can be very deadly in a matter of seconds.
Who is Combat for
The Spec is best choice for beginners of all 3 available Sentinel Discipline paths. The simplicity and the new highlight system developed by Bioware in 3.0allows for new players to be efficient. The Combat’s AoE is strong enough to kill all weak trash mobs while focusing heavily on the stronger elite/champion/boss.If you are new to the class, Combat is most likely the best option to start with. If you want to strive for perfection, this Discipline has its perks and hidden tricks, like all others do.
If played to the best of its abilities, it is on par with the other 3 Discipline Paths for the Sentinel Class. Maybe a little behind in terms of raw DPS numbers (at the moment of writing this guide), but it makes up for that with Great Burst.
The biggest issue with it is that after the changes to Precision and Alacrity (more on these later), it now benefits a lot from low server latency. If you have bigger skill delay, you may miss out on DPS. Not much, but still needs to be said in advance.
Changes in Patch 3.0
With the Shadow of Revan Expansion the spec was dumbed down a bit. While for the better part of 2.X patchesit was considered one of the most complicated specs in the whole game, also the most RNG and gear dependent, shortly before 3.0 we learned from the Devs that it was actually all a mistake and miscalculation on their part. The original idea was Combat to be simple and straight forward. Well, now it is. As can be expected, if played well and smart (by experienced sentinel players), it will result in a much higher DPS output.
The biggest change we saw in 3.0 was in PRECISION (called Precision Slash before). It does not require a target any more, is still off the GCD, lasts only for 3s (down from 4.5s).
Ataru Form (now granted at lvl 10) has been altered again and it grants 3% alacrity now, lowering the GCD and all abilities CDs.
Cauterize is now only reserved for Watchman.
Blade Rush has been boosted, now it takes absolute priority over Slash. The ability is granted at lvl 26 (down from lvl45+in the old AC system)
Clashing Blast (replaces Blade Storm at lvl 57) has its Opportune Attack Crit proc almost always up and is close to impossible to miss, unless you deliberately want to for a specific reason.
- Single Target Dps: 8
- AoE Damage: 8
- Rotation Difficulty: 5
- Burst: 10
- RNG Dependent: No
- Server latency Dependent: Yes
- Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes
The main and strongest damage is coming from Clashing Blast (Blade Storm) and it is very easy to proc it for a 100% crit chance (Opportune Attack buff). My recommendations for gearing is as follows:
Most important stat is Accuracy. Needs to be 100% melee and 110% Force.
Alacrity is not priority in my current build for Ops, but depending on your server lag, you may want to include 2 enhancements with that stat in your build to help fit in an extra skill in the Precision window. The stat is more viable in Dummy parses compared to real boss fights due to the down times included in almost all of the encounters, but is still not good enough for Combat Sentinel Discipline.
Surge needs to be 67% minimum. With newer gear the stat will grow on its own. Compared to before 3.0, Surge is lower due to the extra Accuracy in our gear, both stats hold the same slot in enhancements, implants, ears.
Critical can be anywhere between 0 and ~200 (0 from gear was BiS before 3.0, and is still a good choice).I am happy with ~20-21% crit (0 from gear), but 23-24% is still good and there is no big difference in boss fights. It works also fine and does not require constant gear swap before each boss encounter (note: Watchman benefits from more Crit). For NiM content, things will be adjusted and different sets of gear will be a requirement.Theorycrafters have proved that due to the alterations and internal changes to stats for lvl 60 from lvl 55, Crit is a little closer now to Power in terms of benefits it grants. While it can still be considered weak for this spec in particular (because the strongest hitting ability is always buffed to crit 100%), Crit does look more appealing and that is why for HM I have left a wide window in gearing recommendations. If you strive for best result vs the ops dummy and best parse, you should lower the crit to 0 from gear or close to it and parse until you get that one “lucky” result.
After maxing out Accuracy and reaching the Crit rating you are most comfortable with, the rest you should spend on Power/Surge.
The debate about which one is better between PWR or STR Augments is still going after so many years. TheoryCrafters have proved recently that in 3.0 PWR takes the lead with a very small amount, but the difference is so insignificant, that it is absolutely not worth arguing over. Whichever you prefer, it is the right choice, for you.
Abilities and Utilities
Important Active Abilities
Utilities – Descriptions and Usefulness
With the recent changes in Game Update 3.2.1, a lot of the Utilities for the advanced class have been reworked – removed and replaced and/or adjusted.
A Quick recap of the Changes from Bioware’s Patch Notes:
- New Masterful Utility: Ardor. Transcendence no longer requires or consumes Centering, but goes on cooldown for 30 seconds when activated.
- Jedi Promulgator is now a Heroic Utility.
- Removed the Defensive Forms Utility
- New Skillful Utility: Stoic. Stoic increases your damage reduction by 2%, and you build 2 Centering when attacked. This Centering building effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.
- Defensive Roll now additionally increases internal and elemental damage reduction by 5%.
- Force Fade now additionally increases your movement speed by 15%.
- Removed the Force Aegis Utility.
- Enduring now additionally increases the duration of Guarded by the Force by 2 seconds.
Here is the full list and my personal recommendations on the new combinations and where they are useful. The new setup allows for a lot more variations depending on what the player is doing and what is most beneficial to the group and encounter:
- Jedi Enforcer – Good and useful in all PvE encounters. Rebuke is both Defensive and Offensive buff, always nice to have.
- Debilitation – Pure and great passive for PvP. Never needed in PvE.
- Jedi Crusader – Great to be used in combination with Jedi Enforcer as they both buff the same ability. Not a 100% Must-Have, but close to it.
- Adamant – Almost never needed in PvE, good buff for PvP where as MDPS sentinels are often victim to constant CC effects.
- Stoic – The new passive to replace Defensive Forms. Great for both PvE and PvP, useful everywhere. A Must-Have.
- Trailblazer – Very good for boosting AoE, situational, not a Must Have
- Reining Reach – A New Utility to replace the total Junk called Stagger. Great use for PvP, useless in PvE.
- Incisor – Great for PvP, useless in PvE
- Ardor – Another new Utility from 3.2.1. Fantastic for many PvE encounters as well as for PvP, a great group tool. Not a Must-Have, but depending on your group balance and skills, it can save many wipes.
- Defensice Roll – An extra buff to this was added from the non-existent any more Defensive Forms. Nearly 100% needed and useful anywhere and everywhere. Very few situations where it is not needed in PvE. In Warzones it is a Must-Have Utility.
- Watchguard – Good, but very VERY situational. Can be useful in both PvE and PvP
- Pulse – I see no use of this passive in PvE, a very small usage in PvP, situational mostly.
- Displacement – Good usage in PvP, no reason to pick it up in PvE at all.
- Force Fade – More useful than before with the new 15% speed bonus attached to it after 3.2.1. Still situational and optional. Useful in such encounters like Master and Blaster, where quick and often movement is required. The extra Force Camouflage duration can be useful in both PvE and PvP as a defensive buff or to escape.
- Fleetfooted – Great in PvP, very situational in PvE (useful in Underlurker from ToS, for example)
- Expunging Camouflage – Very rarely useful in PvE, great for PvP (good combo with Fleetfooted for Underlurker)
- Jedi Promulgator – Moved to Heroic from Masterful. Since it buffs the same ability (Rebuke), it can be used in a combination with Jedi Enforcer and Jedi Crusader.
- Just Pursuit – Totally useless in PvE, good CC addition for PvP
- Enduring – Totally Situational. Can be useful in Master and Blaster, depending on the sentinel’s role and group balance.
- Zealous Ward – Great buff on the first sight, but the long CD on Saber Ward makes this Utility more situational and optional, not a Must-Have.
- Contemplation – A great buff for PvP, a must have in Warzones. Very situational in PvE. With the alterations for 3.2.1, now there is a lot wider variety of choices for the player to make which Utilities are suitable for what encounter or task. Contemplation is not the Must-Have any more, because even if the 30 stacks of Centering are tempting to have in the beginning, remember, the Boss fights are 4 to 15 minutes long.
A lot of passives have been changed in 3.0. Here is a short list of some of the most important ones.
- Force Health – Moved over to Combat from the old Focus tree. Transforms Twin Saber Throw into a filler ability and a resource builder.
- Opportune Attack – In addition to boosting your next Clashing Blast (Blade Storm) it also grants the Sunder buff on the target, lasting 45s and reducing its armour rating by 20%.
- Focused Slash – Adds a new buff to the target “Beat Down” – lasts for 45s and makes the target take +5% more damage from melee attacks.
- Hand of Justice – No more RNG for Dispatch. This passive now grants hits from your Ataru form a free use of Dispatch on a target with any amount of HP once every 20s
Openings & Skill Priorities
Basic Opener that can be used almost anywhere:
Force Leap +Zen ->Zealous Strike + Valorous Call-> Blade Rush -> Adrenal+Precision+Master Strike -> Clashing Blast –> Blade Rushes as fillers ->Zealous Strike -> Twin Saber Throw -> Precision -> Dispatch -> Clashing Blast
The fillers are usually 3x Blade Rush. Depending on the situation, you may include Inspiration with the adrenal in the start. If not, you can use Valorous Call’s 30 stacks as soon as the first one expires. Or save it for the 2nd Precision window and make it a sure success (more on that later). This depends on the type of encounter/opponent you are starting.
Because of the Ataru’s Alacrity bonus, the sentinel’s GCD is now 1.455s instead of 1.5s. Zealous Strike should be used before each Precision as it has the same CD, also with the new set bonus it increases damage outputby 2%for 15s every 30s.
If your server lag is high, you may not be able to fit in Clashing Blast before the end of Precision window (here Alacrity comes to play, but I do not recommend stacking it). It is safe to clip (interrupt) Master Strike 0.3s before its channel ends, but even then the risk of not fitting successfully another ability in Precision is big.After the first Precision, you will have a free Dispatch to use. The highlighting system introduced with 3.0 helps a lot by showing you when the skill is ready after the proc if you are not playing the class as a main or if you are just learning/mastering it.
There is no long and standard rotation for this spec.Everything is about those 3 seconds of Precision. The whole fight is separated into smaller phases, very similar to before 3.0, but with less abilities fitting in:
Precision Window -> Filler Abilities (or down time) -> Precision Window
Some of the most basic and popular combinations for single target DPS are:
Precision -> Dispatch -> Clashing Blast
(ONLY with Zen active!)Precision -> Master Strike -> Clashing Blast
(Situational) Precision –> Dispatch -> Blade Rush
(Situational) Precision -> Blade Rush -> Blade Rush
Note: The last one should not be used, unless for some reason all others are impossible. Clashing Blast should fit into as many Precisions, as possible. Best in all, but not always possible.
The AoE capabilities of the Discipline have been boosted compared to before 3.0. An example of “AoE-Precision” is:
Precision -> Force Sweep ->Cyclone Slash
The Cyclone Slash AoE effective range has been changes from frontal 180 deg. To 270 along with all other abilities in 3.0. Its damage is now also boosted by the passive Ataru Savvy, which is granted automatically at lvl 12 by the Discipline Path.
If timed correctly, you will have Zealous Strike available before each Precision, which will give you enough Focus for the incoming 3s window. It is preferable to always keep your Reseurce in the Filler phases at 4-6 Focus, but do not stack it over 6 using Strike. That would lower your DPS between Precisions and will make the 6 Focus coming from Zealous Strike (+2 from Twin Saber Throw, when available) go over the cap, which is also waste of DPS. Time the Blade Rushes correctly.
Due to the delay of damage applied to the target from Blade Rush, Twin SaberThrow and Dispatch (applied ~0.5-0.7s after it’s used), these 2 abilities may be used right BEFORE Precision and their damage will be buffed by it. Then inside Precision you can use whatever is available at this point of the fight. My advice is to not use this trick when you have Master Strike included in the Precision window. The reason: because you have to activate Precision right after Dispatch or Twin Saber Throw, you will lose precious time inside precision and there’s a risk the last hit (the strongest one) from Master Strike to fall off the Precision window and miss its buff. Clashing Blast gets priority, but I would like to remind you that it is to be used only when the buff Opportune Attack is present (proc for 100% crit chance on Clashing Blast).In the beginning I mentioned that the spec is heavily dependent on quick key-press reactions and server lag. It is very likely when you attempt these combinations with Dispatch and Twin Saber Throw before Precision, you will not be able to include the 2 standard abilities inside the 3s window. Mathematically it is possible, but in real gameplay, it is risky.
My theory to prove the possibility of this combo (not taking server lag into consideration) is based on the fact that from Ataru we have 3% alacrity, which makes the GCD 1.455s instead of 1.5s and then the standard timing:
0s (Twin Saber Throw + Precision) -> 1.5s (Dispatch)-> 3s (Clashing Blast)
0s (Twin Saber Throw + Precision) -> 1.455s (Dispatch)-> 2.91s (Clashing Blast)
Just mentioning it here – 2.91 is now the standard channel for Master Strike, again, because of the Ataru’s 3% alacrity.
Combining this with the fact that we press TSW and Precision one after another, that gives us upto 0.5s more making the end of the Precision window around the 3.5s after the start of the counter. This is doable on the dummy, but against a boss in a real fight, it is close to impossible to perform. And if we take the server delay into the formula, the result is even worse.
Here is an example of this combo vs ops dummy:
Priorities for abilities inside Precision:
- Master Strike (only when Zen is active)
- Clashing Blast
- Blade Rush
How to read logs and what to look for
Whether you parse vs Dummy or in real EndGame ops, the logs should always show Clashing Blast as top damaging ability and its crit needs to be 100% or very close to it. It’s not the end of the world if you use Clashing Blast without Opportune Attack, but these situations are VERY rare (never vs Dummy!)
Blade Rush is usually the 2nd Damaging ability, it is also the most used one, far ahead of all others).
Another measurement from the logs is the count of Dispatch and Hand of Justice. Depending on the type of log, Dispatch should always be more used than the number of Hand of Justice buffs. The same CD on Clashing Blast and Zealous Leap are also connected in regards to judging the combat log results. They do not need to be same in numbers, but the closer the better.
Random Parse vs ops boss
Note: We see a small difference in percentages between the 2 graphs. This is because I used 3 different desktop clients and 2 website parsing tools during my testing.
Differences between Dummy Parse and Boss Encounter
While parsing Dummy, you need to properly time use of adrenals and strictly follow rotations mentioned above, while using Zen as soon as it reaches 30 stacks. APM on dummy needs to be 50or higher (without extra Alacrity in your gear). In real boss fights it can be as low as 35, it all depends on the encounter and there APM is the least important stat in the parser tool.
Random Parse vs Ops dummy
Note: We see a small difference in percentages between the 2 graphs. This is because I used 3 different desktop clients and 2 website parsing tools during my testing.
Why Carnage over other specs
The spec is simple enough for everyone to play it and without going into too many details with its above mentioned secrets, it yields decent results. It’s not RNG dependent (anymore) and has very strong Burst. It is a bit too simple and a lot of its Shining has been removed by the Developers. We all are waiting for it to be fixed or buffed and soon.
About the Guide
This guide is based on my personal experience with Combat from the first days into 3.0. Most of the tests were done with the old Dread Master 186 NiM gear and the old set. Numbers are going to grow, but skill priorities will not change, unless Bioware changes the spec. The Early Access server lag and insane ability delay prevented me from properly testing it thoroughly. It is unwise to think my guide is perfect. Don’t believe the person who tells you they have nothing to learn any more. That is foolish. We all learn new things every day.
This is a guide, not a rule or a law. It is not meant to give you orders and tell you how to play. With it I want to give you directions and share my experience, while leaving enough room for each player’s individual style to shine.
About the Author
Vulkk is a Jedi Sentinel and a Progression Raider on The Red Eclipse server. A 30 years old Bulgarian, who has loved Star Wars since a small child. Vulkk has been playing SWTOR since beta. Constantly learning and improving, striving to be better than the day before. Working as an Architect in the real life (or “AFK mode”?).