3.0 Class Guides 3.0 Operative SWTOR

SWTOR 3.0 Operative DPS Guide by Raulos

SWTOR 3.0 Operative DPS guide written by Raulos.[toc]

Introduction to 3.0 Operative DPS

Although it will take some time to see how the overall class balance ends up, Operative DPS is probably slightly weaker now relative to the other classes, although it plays somewhat similar to its previous iterations across both Disciplines. The most difficult part of Operative DPS in 3.0 is that ranged classes and/or Bounty Hunters are particularly strong for all fights, and almost every other melee DPS brings a bit better utility. Off healing is objectively weaker for Operatives than in 2.x, while stealth rez is just as relevant. However it is slightly harder to stealth rez in the average 3.0 fight, in my view. While Operative DPS will be viable, only very strong players will easily keep up with other classes on difficult fights in Hardmode/Nightmare. However, I find it still very rewarding to play.

Also, while Operative DPS have always been used to limited AOE, long time players of Operative DPS will have to get used to the slight reduction in moveset. Explosive Probe and Orbital Strike are no longer available for any Disciplines and Hidden Strike has been rolled into Backstab/Lethal Strike. There are a few more Discipline specific changes that will be described shortly.

The biggest change in some sense is that Tactical Advantage (TA) no longer gives any damage or healing bonus to Operatives. So not only should you feel free to use up all of your TA stacks, but you should be encouraged to, when possible, as the optimal choice of filler. This reduces some of the skill in holding a TA stack at all times, but may increase skill in that it opens a few opportunities for more energy intensive choices in the rotation since you do not need to always Rifle Shot (basic attack) just to hold onto 1 TA. Rifle Shot instead is used purely for energy management. While the total number of TAs will always be limited by Shiv/Veiled Strike and Backstab (from stealth), it could be advantageous to use all of the TAs upfront, leaving fewer for the next block in the rotation. It depends if you have to target swap, or reapply DoTs, etc.

Also Operatives now have Tactical Superiority which provides a 10% flat Critical Rating bonus to the entire raid for 10 seconds. While this is arguably not the best of the offensive raid bonuses, at least it’s something. In addition, since it only costs one TA (and 0 energy!), it is a very minor DPS loss so use freely. I even use it in some parses by simply using Stim Boost to gain an extra TA in the opener.


While there are strong indications that Concealment is slightly weaker sustained single target DPS than Lethality in 3.0, Concealment is viable on most fights in Hardmode, although I frequently recommend Lethality since any target switching is less important than overall DPS in at least half of the fights. Concealment remains one of the premier burst specs and has better control with skills like Volatile Substance, a version of Hidden Strike that can be used on cooldown. Also, Acid Blade has been removed as an active ability from Concealment and made into a passive. This has the bonus of simplifying the use of Acid Blade (since you can no longer pre-load it before phases to conserve energy, and generally don’t have to think about it at all). At the same time, Hidden Strike is now Backstab (when used from stealth), so there is no concern about how to time Hidden Strike in order to be able to afford it.

Note that Veiled Strike now replaces Shiv, offering slightly more damage. Apart from this, Concealment’s new move in 3.0 is Volatile Substance, although it can be viewed as a replacement to Explosive Probe which has been removed for all Operatives. Volatile Substance is placed on a target and remains for a number of seconds until triggered by a DoT tick (Acid Blade or Corrosive Dart). This move is particularly useful because it also counts a periodic effect itself, which allows you to use the TA regrant from the Tactical Opportunity talent without Acid Blade or Corrosive Dart at all. While you will most likely aim to have either Acid Blade or Corrosive Dart on the target, full uptime on Corrosive Dart while using Volatile Substance on cooldown is very difficult on energy. This gives you a way to continue using 2 Lacerations every other Veiled Strike no matter what happens.

One of the major downsides to Concealment is that the strict 4m range with little AOE is punishing on some fights, since most other classes have either more range options, more AOE, or both. However, Concealment still has essentially everything that made it fun and useful before, it is just a bit weaker in relative terms compared to the other options available in 3.0.


The biggest difference for Lethality in 3.0 is that it is now a completely viable Discipline DPS wise and in full 198 gear, I expect it to be competitive with other high-end DoT specs like Pyrotech Powertech and Annihilation Marauder. Whereas in 2.x, Lethality Operative was one of the weakest specs, this is simply no longer the case. The primary proc, Fatality, which makes the next Corrosive Assault (formerly Cull) regrant TA and cost no energy, now is guaranteed from Shiv once every 10 seconds. Period. That major source of RNG is gone which makes for a much more consistent rotation and higher DPS overall. However, energy regen from DoT crits is still one source of RNG and slightly affects the rotation.

Lethality did not get a new move in 3.0, but rather one of the “replacement” moves. Lethal Strike replaces Backstab and not only functions in the exact same way for the same cost, but provides higher damage which comes in the form of some kinetic damage and internal damage regardless of stealth. This is in opposition to Backstab which is only kinetic damage unless used from stealth. Lethal Strike can also be used from any direction unlike Backstab, which makes Lethality entirely independent of position. In other words, Concealment is the only positional Discipline for Operative DPS now.

The only other major changes are that both DoTs are 24 seconds, which is a refreshingly long duration, as well as the changes to Toxic Blast (formerly Weakening Blast). Like for the Virulence Sniper’s Weakening Blast, Toxic Blast no longer consists of stacks on the target which are consumed by DoTs or Corrosive Assault. Instead, Toxic Blast provides a 10 second debuff on the target in which any additional DoTs or Corrosive Assaults on the target will proc extra weapon damage. In addition, Toxic Blast now grants a TA, making it a very effective replacement for Shiv if Fatality’s internal cooldown has not expired.

The consistent Fatality proc, together with the reduced cost of Lethal Strike, which is also a slightly more important filler than in 2.x, makes energy management extremely generous in this Discipline. In a very good parse, you will find that you hardly have to use Rifle Shot at all.


Compared to some other classes, the best PvE Operative DPS utilities change very little from fight to fight. The bolded utilities indicate those which I believe have primary preference.


  • Nanotech Suit – Reduces all area of effect damage taken by 30%.
  • Chem-resistant Inlays – Increases damage reduction by 5%.
  • Imperial Weaponry – Carbine Burst deals 25% more damage.
  • Flash Powder – Reduces target’s accuracy by 20% for 8 seconds after Flash Bang ends.
  • Hit and Run – Striking a target with Shiv or Veiled Strike grants Hit and Run, increasing your movement speed by 50% for 3 seconds.
  • Infiltrator – Increases movement speed by 15% and effective stealth level by 3.
  • Slip Away – Reduces the cooldown of Debilitate by 15 seconds.


  • Pin Down – Sever Tendon immobilizes the target for 2 seconds.
  • Precision Instruments – Reduces the cost of Debilitate and Sever Tendon by 5.
  • Med Shield – Your Shield Probe heals you for 5% of your maximum health when it collapses.
  • Advanced Cloaking – Reduces the cooldown of Cloaking Screen by 30 seconds and Sneak by 15 seconds. In addition, activating Cloaking Screen increases movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds.
  • Sedatives – When Sleep Dart wears off, the target is struck by Sedatives, reducing all damage dealt by 50% for the next 10 seconds.
  • Counterstrike – Countermeasures will also purge all movement-impairing effects when activated.
  • Endorphin Rush – Adrenaline Probe now immediately restores 15 additional energy.


  • Imperial Tactics – Sever Tendon will now grant a Tactical Advantage.
  • Evasive Screen – When activated, Cloaking Screen grants 2 seconds of Evasion.
  • Jarring Strike – When used from stealth, Backstab and Lethal Strike interrupt and immobilize the target for 3 seconds.
  • Evasive Imperative – Every time you get attacked, the active cooldown of your Evasion is reduced by 3 seconds. This effect cannot occur more often than every 1.5 seconds.
  • Revitalizers – Stim Boost now additionally grants Revitalizers, restoring 5% of total health every 3 seconds and reducing damage received by 20% for the duration.
  • Augmented Shields – Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Shield Probe by 30%.
  • Escape Plan – Reduces the cooldown on Escape by 30 seconds, Shield Probe by 5 seconds, and Infiltrate by 60 seconds.

Skillful utilities: Nanotech Suit is a must. Chem-resistant Inlays is also nice for survivability. Imperial Weaponry is not that useful since Carbine Burst is hard to use and AOE is not a big source of damage for Operatives, but in certain cases, such as on Revanite Commanders or ToS trash, you might find it powerful. Otherwise, I usually prefer either Hit and Run or Infiltrator for movement speed bonuses. I tend to find Hit and Run slightly better since I prefer more movement speed for a shorter duration rather than a small amount of increase all the time, especially since I have Exfiltrate for movement if I am away from any targets.

Masterful utilities: Both Endorphin Rush and Advanced Cloaking are essential for maximum DPS. In very limited scenarios, I could see taking Med Shield instead.

Heroic utilities: Generally I find Revitalizers and Augmented Shields to be the superior option, although like many others, I’m not much of a fan of using Stim Boost as a defensive cooldown since it is a somewhat important offensive one as well. However, in a pinch, or for fights with large predictable hits, Stim Boost is still excellent for being a lot more survivable. If you’re a Concealment Operative, this is slightly less important since it would only be used for general defensive capacity in a burn situation; Concealment Operatives have Exfiltrate for any predictable damage. Note Escape Plan could also be an acceptable choice, but the reduction on Shield Probe cooldown is the only truly useful PvE aspect, so I’d rather have stronger defensives than a slightly more frequent one. Note that while Evasive Imperative is very good (and I might take it for some fights), it requires a lot of consistent damage, as well as an actual use for Evasion, in order to be useful.


  • Accuracy: As close to 100/110 as possible; ~750 with companion bonus which equals 7 186 pieces + 1 augment, 7 192 pieces or 6 198 pieces + 1 augment. These combinations take you slightly above 100 so you can take off an augment if you wish. Note that Concealment plays quite well with lower accuracy (up to around 50-100 less), especially since you can play it with low Corrosive Dart usage and do not need Corrosive Dart for the Tactical Opportunity regrant, so do not feel obligated to cap out Accuracy immediately. However, Lethality players should absolutely cap Accuracy as soon as they can, since DoT specs are a nightmare to play without full accuracy, since you have a very high number of hits overall. This makes you have an extremely high chance to miss, whereas non-DoT specs can easily get lucky and have no misses. In addition, if you miss a DoT application, you are in a lot of trouble.
  • Surge: At least two Surge pieces are almost necessary to gain enough Surge. Beyond that, the returns are steep very quickly, so either just take two and use the rest of the budget for Alacrity, or take three and work in some Alacrity (see below) once you can get Accuracy high enough to no longer require 7 full pieces.
  • Alacrity: I have heard from others that they enjoy quite good success with a piece of Alacrity (both in Concealment and Lethality), but I generally have not been focusing on this for now, especially since I barely have any gear for my Operative yet and a lot of Accuracy and at least a small amount of Surge are necessary. In full 198s you might work in one to two Alacrity enhancements. I generally recommend either a 2 to 1 Surge to Alacrity ratio or 3 to 1.
  • Critical Rating: For Concealment: I currently recommend between 200 and 300 crit since Concealment benefits from massive Surge bonuses: 30% to all the primary moves and 35% to Volatile Substance. For Lethality: take zero (or very low crit, in the range of 0-100) since energy management is very good (DoT crits regrant +2 energy per tick, but you don’t actually need a lot of this) and you will benefit more from the higher power on your moves than extra crit. In addition, this means that having higher Surge is less important so this gives a small amount of extra support to Alacrity. In other words, despite Lethality’s status as a DoT spec, I have not observed any major benefits from stacking crit.
  • Augments: Power. There is good reason to believe the theorycrafting towards power (as described by several others and recommended in KeyboardNinja’s forum guide), so if you can afford a set of those, I recommend power. I personally just use cunning augments at the moment because I prefer them for healing. If you are an Operative healer who plays DPS in an alt role, just go with whatever you have chosen for your healing augments. Otherwise, Power is definitely slightly better on average for Operative DPS, but you’ll probably find the difference is barely noticeable.

The old set bonuses for Operative are not that great, so I recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible to the full new 6 piece.

Old 2 piece (+15% crit bonus to Shiv): While Lethality Operatives can still use the critical bonus to Shiv, Shiv is a relatively low amount of damage for that Discipline. For 192 gear, Lethality Operatives could easily justify keeping this. However, 198 gear not only gives a significant stat upgrade but the 6 piece bonus is not too bad, so I recommend upgrading by then. On the other hand, Concealment Operatives use Veiled Strike, not Shiv, so they do not benefit at all, and should upgrade immediately without question.
Old 4 piece (+5 energy): Operatives can still benefit from a bonus like this for energy management, especially in Concealment. However, this is useless in Lethality, which does not need it. In addition, -2 energy off Backstab/Lethal Strike from the new 4 piece is a much stronger benefit in my opinion, so there’s no reason to keep the old 4 piece.



  • Single Target DPS: 6
  • AoE Damage: 2
  • Group Utility: 4
  • Rotation Difficulty: 5
  • RNG Dependent: No
  • Burst: 9
  • Sub 30% Talents or Buffs: No

Discipline Changes

  • A new ability to replace Shiv – Veiled Strike
  • A new ability (arguably to replace Explosive Probe) – Volatile Substance
  • A new ability – Crippling Slice
  • Shadow Operative Elite now gives a 100% chance to dodge all attacks for 1.5 seconds after activating Exfiltrate
  • Laceration now only costs 10 energy, but only regrants 2 energy with the Culling talent tied into Collateral Strike damage.
  • Backstab now only costs 10 energy.
  • Acid Blade has been made into a passive ability that activates with every use of Backstab. This grants you a buff for the 30% armor penetration in addition to applying the Acid Blade DoT to the target. Note that the Acid Blade DoT has been weakened in 3.0.
  • Volatile Substance now applies the assailable debuff, causing all targets to take 7% more damage from elemental and internal attacks for 45 seconds.
  • Veiled Strike now applies the susceptible debuff, causing all targets to take 5% more damage from tech attacks for 45 seconds.


viledstrike Veiled Strike (VS): Generates a stack of Tactical Advantage and deals a modest amount of damage. The total damage is slightly less than Laceration and a moderate amount lower than Backstab. The main purpose of this move is generate TAs so that you can spend them on Laceration. 6 second cooldown, replaces Shiv and costs 15 energy.
laceration Laceration (L): Laceration is your primary, powerful filler attack. No cooldown, costs a TA and 10 energy but regrants 2.
backstab Backstab (BS): Backstab is a strong ability that does a slightly more damage compared to Laceration when Collateral Strike from Laceration and the Acid Blade DoT from Backstab are factored in. However, the most important aspect of Backstab is the 30% armor penetration buff provided which lasts for 15 seconds. Note the cooldown is slightly less than the duration of this buff, so while you want to try to use Backstab consistently on cooldown, you can technically let it slide up to two extra GCDs. 12 second cooldown, costs 10 energy (8 with new 4 piece Enforcer’s set bonus).
volatilesubstance Volatile Substance (Vol): Volatile Substance can be placed on a target and left on for up to 15 seconds. Upon periodic damage on the target, it explodes for massive damage (buffed by +35% surge and +5% damage bonus). This move counts as a periodic effect for TA regrant from Laceration. It can be viewed either a replacement to Explosive Probe or a frontloaded, slightly more powerful version of Corrosive Dart. Note it is available every 18 seconds like Corrosive Dart so this is a reasonable comparison. 18 second cooldown, costs 15 energy.
corrosivedart Corrosive Dart (CD): A strong DoT, Corrosive Dart is relatively expensive to use in comparison to mainstays like Backstab and Laceration, but should be worked in as often as energy allows. It also provides the easiest means of forcing a TA regrant when Laceration is used, since this is the longest DoT available to put on a target. No cooldown, 18s duration, 15 energy.
cripplingslice Crippling Slice (CS): Essentially a stronger version of your basic attack that can only be used from melee range (4m), Crippling Slice has a relatively short cooldown so it can be rotated in for Rifle Shot every 2 or 3 times. 15 second cooldown, 0 energy.
rifleshot Rifle Shot (RS): Heat management is rather tight in Concealment when it is played aggressively so use Rifle Shot whenever you need to recover energy and/or all your key moves with cooldowns (Veiled Strike, Backstab, Volatile Substance) are not available. No cooldown, 0 energy.
overloadshot Overload Shot (OS): Extremely situational for Concealment players in PvE, Overload Shot consumes 15 energy but can be used at 10 meters. This provides a viable ranged alternative to Rifle Shot that does significantly more damage. It can also be used in place of Backstab if you have a good amount of energy but cannot get behind the target for whatever reason. Use sparingly, but use it. No cooldown, 15 energy.
stimboost Stim Boost (SB): Grants an extra TA and more importantly in 3.0, an Alacrity boost of 10% for 10 seconds. It’s essentially your own personal version of the Merc alacrity buff on a much shorter CD. Yes, a flat 20% alacrity boost when combined with that in a raid! This can be specced via Heroic utility to additionally provide healing and damage reduction for the duration. 2 minute cooldown.
adrenalineprobe Adrenaline Probe (AP): Regrants 50 energy over 3 seconds (ideally 65 with the Masterful utility). You should attempt to stop using your basic attack and play aggressively shortly before this comes off cooldown so that you use as much energy as possible to push your DPS higher. 2 minute cooldown.
cloakingscreen Cloaking Screen: Immediately forces you to exit combat and drastically increases your stealth level for 10 seconds. This should be used almost exactly on cooldown in order to maximize DPS (use right before Backstab/Lethal Strike which have significantly increased damage when used from stealth). 2 minute cooldown (1 minute 30 seconds with Masterful talent).

Key Discipline Talents

  • Imperial Ammunition: Increases the damage dealt by Carbine Burst by 15% and its critical damage bonus by 30%.
  • Collateral Strike: Laceration triggers a Collateral Strike, dealing additional kinetic damage. Standard and weak targets are additionally stunned by Collateral Strike. Received at Level 16.
  • Tactical Opportunity: Collateral Strike immediately re-grants a Tactical Advantage when hitting a poisoned target. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 10 seconds. Received at Level 20.
  • Culling: Increases damage dealt by Laceration and Collateral Strike by 5%. In addition, when Collateral Strike damages a target, you recover 2 energy. Received at Level 28.
  • Calculated Frenzy: Backstab grants Calculated Frenzy, which increases ranged and tech critical chance by 5% for 15 seconds. In addition, damage dealt by Veiled Strike causes the target to become susceptible for 45 seconds. Susceptible targets take 5% more damage from tech attacks. Received at Level 48.
  • Shadow Operative Elite: Increases your effective stealth level by 2. In addition, when you activate Exfiltrate, you dodge or resist all incoming attacks for 1.5 seconds. Received at Level 52.
  • Meticulously Kept Blades: Increases the critical damage dealt by Veiled Strike, Backstab, Volatile Substance, and Laceration by 30%. Received at Level 56.


As the unbearable torrent of your knife attacks bears down on the enemy, you move forward with a certain quickness in your step, anticipating your next move. You stealth out of combat, one hand around your knife, moving around behind him and lashing out with a terrific Hidden Strike. The combined effect of your Corrosive Dart and Acid Blade now tick away at him, pressing the assault even in between rapid knife strikes. The worst is yet to come. Reaching into your pocket, you inject Volatile Substance into your opponent’s bloodstream with your wrist device. He squirms with discomfort, and you take advantage of the opportunity to Lacerate him. Then your Volatile Substance reacts with your poisons and he explodes. Yeah, that’s burst.

Maximizing Your Damage

In Concealment, the priority is still to maximize Laceration hits, especially since you grant extra damage from Collateral Strike every single Laceration. This is accomplished by using Veiled Strike and Cloaking Screen + Backstab as often as possible to generate TAs, as well as spending all TAs in order to not cap out. After that, your priorities are to use Volatile Substance on cooldown (for massive damage given +35% surge and high base power), maintain the Acid Blade buff for +30% armor penetration, and to finally use Corrosive Dart if you have the spare energy.


Attack Adrenal + BS -> Vol -> VS + Tactical Superiority -> L -> L + Stim Boost -> L -> VS ->
L -> Cloaking Screen + BS -> L -> VS -> CD -> L -> L -> Vol -> VS -> BS -> CS -> L -> VS ->
L -> L -> CD -> VS


Some people like to think of Concealment in terms of a bunch of fixed block possibilities which you rotate between. It’s possible to analyze the spec this way but I prefer to think in 6 second generic blocks, and within that, work from a priority system. This is superior for a real raid too since it gives you more flexibility. You don’t panic if your Backstab isn’t in, say, the 2nd of the three filler slots every single time. Feel free to work out a particular fixed rotation for maximizing dummy parses (e.g. minimizing any conflict between Veiled Strike, Backstab, and Volatile Substance) since this spec has no RNG.

The generic 6 second block is motivated based on the status of Veiled Strike as you primary TA generator and its 6 second cooldown.

VS -> Filler -> Filler -> Filler

This is repeated over and over, leaving us merely with the choice of Filler. I use this priority system:

  1. Stealthed Backstab This is the most powerful move you have due to the bonus damage from stealth, the extra TA you gain, plus the Acid Blade DoT you apply. Make sure to run out your TAs with Laceration (or Tactical Superiority, if available) before using this. See Cloaking Screen section below for more information.
  2. Volatile Substance. This does a large amount of burst damage and also puts a Volatile Substance on the target which allows you to get your Laceration TA regrant without Acid Blade or Corrosive Dart. The only exception here is that you should not use Volatile Substance if you do not have a DoT already ticking on the target and it will die within several seconds, because you may waste your Volatile Substance entirely which is a huge DPS loss.
  3. Backstab. This does roughly the same damage as Volatile Substance, but you can afford to delay it a GCD or two if there any conflicts since the Acid Blade armor penetration buff lasts 15 seconds and Backstab has a 12 second cooldown. Of course, this is still a DPS loss from the delay itself, so ideally don’t do this. However, it may occasionally happen especially in a real fight with target swaps.
  4. Laceration with TA regrant. If the internal CD on the TA regrant has expired, you want to fit in your Laceration as soon as possible in order to start the next internal CD. Since Laceration always triggers a Collateral Strike for extra damage, this is your strongest possible use of a GCD outside of Volatile Substance or Backstab. The Laceration itself does slightly less DPS than Backstab with Acid Blade factored in. Also, remember the internal CD is based on when you use Laceration, not Shiv!
  5. Corrosive Dart. Corrosive Dart deals approximately the same base damage as a Volatile Substance (just without any of the surge bonuses), so it may seem strange to place it this low on the priority list. However, the only time you can use Corrosive Dart aggressively alongside all your other moves is roughly 20 seconds before and after you use Adrenaline Probe. This means you use Corrosive Dart on CD during the opener, starting a little while into it. Then you watch the availability of Adrenaline Probe to see when you can afford to use it again. Also if you have any down time in a fight, you will be able to use Corrosive Dart much more often. As long as you have the energy, Corrosive Dart should be prioritized over everything but the above three items. In most cases, though, you will be using Crippling Slice instead of Corrosive Dart to help your energy management.
  6. Crippling Slice. Put this in the earliest filler slot possible that does not delay your important large CD moves. By using it as soon as possible, you put it back on CD in order to be used again in a short while as a 0 energy alternative to Rifle Shot. For example, if your last two fillers are going to be Laceration and Crippling Slice, make sure you do the Crippling Slice first since there’s no hurry to use Laceration.
  7. Laceration without TA regrant. This is your standard high damage filler that can be placed anywhere. Use everything else before this in a generic 6 second block.
  8. Rifle Shot. Use if in danger of falling below 60 energy and Crippling Slice is not available.
  9. Overload Shot. Very rarely used (and certainly not on the Training Dummy) but occasionally useful if you don’t have any TAs, cannot get behind the target for a Backstab, and/or you cannot get within 4 meters of the target.

Note that if you end up at 2 TAs, do not just hit Veiled Strike. Always extend your window to include a fourth “Filler”, and make that filler Laceration. This does happen very easily and I don’t worry about it; this is a minor error at best. However, hopefully you are not somehow at 2 TAs with your Laceration TA regrant also available. That is a significant error since it causes Veiled Strike to be delayed by 2 GCDs since you must include both a fourth AND a fifth “Filler”, which will both be Laceration.

Cloaking Screen

There is one more thing to talk about which is how to use Cloaking Screen to stealth out and gain the damage boost from a stealthed Backstab. Unlike Hidden Strike from 2.x, the energy cost of performing this manuever is absolutely zero compared to your normal rotation. Therefore, it isn’t hard to do, but there are two things to be wary of:

1) Make sure you spend all your TAs on Laceration in the window before this is due to occur, so that you can use Cloaking Screen + Backstab and then a Veiled Strike. You don’t want to start delaying Veiled Strike just because you gained a TA from a stealthed Backstab and then capped out with 2 TAs. Otherwise, you’re losing some of the potential DPS gain from the extra TA.

2) If Cloaking Screen is 1 GCD away when Backstab is available, I like to delay Backstab to use it immediately with Cloaking Screen and thus get Cloaking Screen on cooldown earlier. Definitely do not delay Backstab more than this since it’s a very minor benefit. If you are uncomfortable doing this, it’s not at all terrible to just wait another 12 seconds for your next Backstab.

Stim Boost
The best use of Stim Boost is as follows: run down your TAs to 0 in prior windows, and then do something like Veiled Strike + Stim Boost to reset to 2 TAs. This gives you plenty of time to make sure you’re at 1 TA by your next Veiled Strike. If you use Stim Boost only a GCD before Veiled Strike, and you realize you need to use, say, Volatile Substance, you’re going to delay Veiled Strike without question.

Stim Boost can also be thought of dynamically in terms of Lacerations. In such case, it should be used either for a third Laceration in a window (Laceration -> Laceration + Stim Boost -> Laceration) with two Lacerations or more commonly, a second Laceration in a window with a single Laceration (Filler -> Laceration + Stim Boost -> Laceration). Be wary not to try to use it if you have a window with both Backstab and Volatile Substance, since this forces you to delay Veiled Strike.

Adrenaline Probe
Adrenaline Probe usage is very simple in this spec. It’s not hard at all to run your energy down below 60 and there is no RNG factored in. So when you see 10-15 seconds left before Adrenaline Probe, stop using Rifle Shot, and possibly abandon Crippling Slice as well, favoring Corrosive Dart and more Lacerations instead. Use Adrenaline Probe at around 35 energy for maximum benefit. Recall the extra 15 energy from the Masterful utility is restored immediately, followed by 50 energy over 3 seconds. So if used immediately when the GCD is triggered, you will regain 40 energy by the time you activate your next ability. Approximately 75 energy is sufficient for any move you wish to use in Concealment without dipping back below 60.

Target Swapping

Concealment is a very good spec for target swapping, but it’s still important to review the practice of it. Where possible, you ought to swap targets on Backstab, so that you can immediately benefit from the Acid Blade. 3.0 gives us a new possibility, however. If you swap on Volatile Substance, you add a significant amount of burst and Laceration will now regrant TA under Volatile, not only Acid Blade and Corrosive Dart. So this gives you a lot you can do after putting on Volatile, and usually Backstab will follow only a few GCDs later to detonate it. If neither of these is immediately available, consider if the target swapping is urgent. If it is, swap anyway and make the best of it, continuing to use TAs on Laceration between Veiled Strikes and wait for Backstab or Volatile, at which point you may want to swap back to your main target, or continue on your new target using those moves. If it’s not urgent, you can just wait until you have Backstab or Volatile available.

A bit more theory: if you just used Backstab a GCD or two ago, and Volatile Substance is available, you can actually open with Corrosive Dart -> Volatile Substance on your new target, then continue your rotation, most likely with something like Crippling Slice -> Laceration -> Veiled Strike -> Laceration -> Laceration. Since Corrosive Dart + Volatile Substance is an expensive combination, you have to be careful with this one and make sure you will at least get some uptime on your new target.

Using Shadow Operative Elite

If you choose to play Concealment in a raid, Shadow Operative Elite is an excellent talent. It mitigates all incoming damage for 1.5 seconds after using Exfiltrate. Remember every time you do this that it costs you a GCD to Exfiltrate so it will slightly lower your DPS, but this talent is one of the primary reasons to play Concealment other than the high burst and target swapping capacity. Here is a list of some places that you might consider using it:

  • Sparky – not really necessary, keep DPSing.
  • Bulo – use for Load Lifters.
  • Torque – as soon as fire spawns to avoid damage while repositioning.
  • Blaster/Master – double roll while taking laser stacks from B055 for a tank. Also can roll the Barrage explosions with good timing.
  • Coratanni – use for “yellow” turret AOEs in Phase 1, as well as Mouse Droids in phase 2.
  • Malaphar – not really necessary, keep DPSing.
  • Sword Squadron – pretty much all the various circles can be rolled. Big Grenade and the mine from the pull-in (on Hardmode) are excellent choices. Anything else simply slows your DPS too much.
  • Underlurker – you can roll the cross if it looks like you are going to fail. Also, if you are slow getting to a rock, roll (and Evasion + Shield Probe) will help you stay alive longer. As a fun note: it is possible to actually stay out for an entire round of Rage Storm if you use every single defensive in order, including a medpac, and possibly put some self-heals on like Kolto Probe or have a Kolto Shell on.
  • Revanite Commanders – if lower on health and in the Suppressive Fire, you might want to roll out since the AOE can be slightly bigger than it appears.
  • Revan – the raid-wide Heave attack is the only major thing you can use this talent on.

Sample Parse Analysis & Video


I don’t have any real gear yet for my Operative in 3.0 so take the overall parse number with a grain of salt. I’ll update this section if I can when I get a full amount of 192 or 198 gear for DPS. My current gear is old set bonuses (which are virtually useless) with all 186s and 198 offhand. The highest amount of your damage should always be Laceration, followed by almost all of the rest of your abilities at 10-20% a piece. One thing to pay attention to in particular is how many Rifle Shots used in relation to Crippling Slices. Very good parses will have a high ratio of Crippling Slice to Rifle Shot. My ratio is 1:1 in this parse which is definitely worse than it ought to be, however I used this parse since everything else fell out mostly correctly and the corresponding video was a good representation of the spec overall.



Note at the time of writing this guide, Ruffian Scoundrel is bugged to hit for 5 ticks of Sanguinary Shot (Toxic Blast) per Brutal Shots (Corrosive Assault), as opposed to the likely correct value of 3 ticks that the Operative receives. This has been reported to Bioware and will either be patched to bring the Ruffian down or bring Lethality up. Hopefully it will be the latter, since buffing Lethality like that will bring its single target DPS closer in line with where it should be. Until then, Concealment and Lethality do virtually identical damage for Operatives.


  • Single Target DPS: 6 (8 if buffed like Ruffian)
  • AoE Damage: 4
  • Group Utility: 4
  • Rotation Difficulty: 9
  • RNG Dependent: No
  • Burst: 2
  • Sub 30% Talents or Buffs: Yes (increase in DoT ticks by 15%)

Discipline Changes

Lethality has undergone a number of changes including:

  • A new ability to replace Backstab – Lethal Strike
  • Lethal Strike now grants the Cut Down buff, which increases all Corrosive Grenade and Corrosive Dart damage on all targets by 20% for 6 seconds.
  • Both Corrosive Grenade and Corrosive Dart now last for 24 seconds.
  • Fatality still has a 10 second internal cooldown but now procs 100% of the time from Shiv assuming the internal cooldown is expired.
  • Carbine Burst now spreads Corrosive Dart (Lethal Proliferation talent).
  • Toxic Blast now grants a TA and deals extra damage for 10 seconds rather than using a depleting stack mechanic.
  • Corrosive Grenade now applies the assailable debuff, causing all targets to take 7% more damage from elemental and internal attacks for 45 seconds.
  • Shiv now applies the susceptible debuff, causing all targets to take 5% more damage from tech attacks for 45 seconds.


shiv Shiv (S): Generates a stack of Tactical Advantage and deals a modest amount of damage. The total damage is significantly less than Corrosive Assault and Lethal Strike. The main purpose of this move is generate TAs so that you can spend them on Corrosive Assault. In addition, every 10 seconds you can use it to proc Fatality, which causes your next Corrosive Assault to immediately regrant a TA and cost no energy. This significantly helps DPS by essentially providing more TAs and aiding greatly with energy management. 6 second cooldown and costs 15 energy.
corrosiveassault Corrosive Assault (CA): This is your primary TA spender and filler in the Lethality rotation. It deals a moderate amount weapon damage, plus additional internal damage hits for each poison on the target. This means that if both Corrosive Dart and Corrosive Grenade are up, this move will deal three separate hits to the target for a combined large amount of damage. No cooldown, costs 15 energy (0 with Fatality) and 1 TA.
toxicblast Toxic Blast (TB): Toxic Blast grants a TA and puts a 10 second debuff on the target which causes all periodic damage effects (Corrosive Dart, Corrosive Grenade, and Corrosive Assault) to tick for extra damage when used. Note this does not actually buff those moves but counts as a different category of damage (Toxic Blast damage). So this can be thought of as its own DoT. Note this works a little different from Weakening Blast in Rise of the Hutt Cartel. 15 second cooldown, costs 0 energy.
leathalstrike Lethal Strike (LS): Deals a large amount of damage split between kinetic and internal damage, with more damage if performed from stealth. Additionally, it triggers Cut Down, a talent which buffs all damage from your Corrosive Dart and Corrosive Grenade for 20% on all targets for 6 seconds. Replaces Backstab, 12 second cooldown and costs 10 heat (8 with 4 piece Enforcer’s set bonus).
corrosivedart Corrosive Dart (CD): The stronger of the two primary DoTs, Corrosive Dart is single target only and more expensive than its cousin Corrosive Grenade. However, in Lethality spec it has a 6 second longer duration. Corrosive Dart can also be spread by Carbine Burst to multiple targets. No cooldown, 24s duration, 15 energy. No cooldown, 24s duration, costs 15 heat.
corrosivegrenade_thumb.png Corrosive Grenade (CG): The weaker of the primary dots, Corrosive Grenade not only applies the assailable debuff but also functions as a 5 meter AOE. No cooldown, 24s duration, costs 10 heat.
assassinate.jpg Rifle Shot (RS): Heat management is fairly easy in Lethality since the Fatality proc offers a free Corrosive Assault every 10 seconds, 2 energy is regranted for every dot crit, Lethal Strike has a very low cost with the set bonus, and Toxic Blast still costs 0 energy and additionally grants a TA. However, you will still need to occasionally fill with Rifle Shot if there is nothing to do but you cannot afford Overload Shot (see below). No cooldown and 0 energy.
overloadshot Overload Shot (OS): Since Lethality does not have a new filler move like Crippling Slice, this is the main energy-consuming higher damage alternative to your basic attack (Rifle Shot), although it only has a 10 meter range. Use this whenever Lethal Strike is not available as filler, but you have plenty of energy (>80 energy). No cooldown, 15 energy.
stimboost Stim Boost (SB): Grants an extra TA and more importantly in 3.0, an Alacrity boost of 10% for 10 seconds. It’s essentially your own personal version of the Merc alacrity buff on a much shorter CD. Yes, a flat 20% alacrity boost when combined with that in a raid! This can be specced via Heroic utility to additionally provide healing and damage reduction for the duration. Also, this ability regrants 10 energy in Lethality spec so it should be used roughly when at 85 energy or below together with an energy-consuming ability (typically Corrosive Assault). 2 minute cooldown.
adrenalineprobe Adrenaline Probe (AP): Regrants 50 energy over 3 seconds (ideally 65 with the Masterful utility). In Lethality, this has a reduced cooldown by 15 seconds. You should attempt to stop using your basic attack and play aggressively shortly before this comes off cooldown so that you use as much energy as possible to push your DPS higher. 1 minute 45 second cooldown.
cloakingscreen Cloaking Screen: Immediately forces you to exit combat and drastically increases your stealth level for 10 seconds. This should be used almost exactly on cooldown in order to maximize DPS (use right before Backstab/Lethal Strike which have significantly increased damage when used from stealth). 2 minute cooldown (1 minute 30 seconds with Masterful talent).

Key Discipline Talents

  • Lethal Proliferation Carbine Burst spreads your Corrosive Dart to the targets it damages, as long as it damages at least one target already affected by your Corrosive Dart. Received at Level 12.
  • License to Kill Reduces the energy cost of Corrosive Assault by 5, and causes damage dealt by Shiv to make its target susceptible for 45 seconds. Susceptible targets take 5% more damage from tech attacks. Received at Level 16.
  • Fatality: Shiv triggers Fatality, which makes your next Corrosive Assault regrant Tactical Advantage and cost no energy. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 10 seconds. Received at Level 24.
  • Corrosive Microbes: Corrosive Dart has a 15% chance to tick twice when it deals damage. In addition, Corrosive Grenade makes its targets assailable for 45 seconds. Assailable targets take 7% more damage from elemental and internal damage. Received at Level 36.
  • Lethal Purpose: Reduces the cooldown of Adrenaline Probe by 15 seconds. In addition, critical hits with poison effects restore 2 energy. Received at Level 44.
  • Quickening: Increases the duration of your Evasion by 1 second and your effective stealth level by 2. In addition, when you activate Exfiltrate, you gain quickening, which makes your next Kolto Infusion activate instantly, require no energy, and not activate or consume Tactical Advantage. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds. Received at Level 52.
  • Devouring Microbes: Increases the damage dealt by poison effects by 15% on targets below 30% of max health. In addition, if a target dies with Toxic Blast, it finishes the cooldown of Toxic Blast. Received at Level 56.
  • Cut Down: Increases the damage dealt by Lethal Strike, Overload Shot, Carbine Burst, and Corrosive Assault by 5%. Additionally, after using Lethal Strike you gain Cut Down for 6 seconds, increasing the damage done of Corrosive Grenade and Corrosive Dart by 20%. Received at Level 59.


At first the enemy laughs. You’re barely dealing 2000 DPS. The Advanced Prototype Powertech next to you has already pulled aggro from the main tank. You’re not just at the bottom of the DPS board, some of the tanks and healers may be beating you too. But then your multiple poisons, now lingering, eat away at your opponent, slowly suffocating him as his life drains away. Your blade connects, first once, then again, and all of your poisons begin to cripple him further. Your Toxic Blast begins to tick away now too, essentially doubling the impact of your poisons for the next ten seconds. Just when the magnitude of this barrage is setting in, you unleash multiple Corrosive Assaults, dealing massive burst damage for each of your poisons on the target. Now you’re in business. Sound fun? Read on.

Maximizing your Damage

In order to do maximum damage in Lethality, your goal is to maintain both primary DoTs (Corrosive Dart and Corrosive Grenade) and use Toxic Blast on cooldown to add an extra poison from your DoT and Corrosive Assault ticks. Spend TAs with Corrosive Assault whenever possible, pushing as many as possible in when Toxic Blast is up on the target. You want to ensure that you waste as little time as possible doing anything but Corrosive Assault when Toxic Blast is active. Also, you need to ensure you work in Shiv at least every 10 seconds to gain a free Corrosive Assault and TA regrant. Every other Shiv is guaranteed to gain you this bonus since Shiv is on a 6 second cooldown. Lethal Strike, Overload Shot, and Rifle Shot are fillers which depend on your current energy.


One difficulty with Lethality is that there is simply more TA generating ability than you can possibly use up given that you need be reapplying your dots. The following is the standard opener and is the best compromise. Note you can skip using Tactical Superiority after the first TB and go right into Attack Adrenal + CA. However, you have plenty of TAs and you miss out on some of the 5% tech damage boost (Susceptible) until you do your first Shiv, so this is not highly recommended.

Full standard opener:
Stealth + LS -> CG -> CD -> TB + Tactical Superiority -> Shiv (Fatality) + Attack Adrenal ->
CA -> CA + Stim Boost -> CA -> Shiv -> CA + Cloaking Screen -> LS -> CA ->
Shiv (Fatality) -> CA -> CA -> TB -> CA -> Shiv -> CG -> CD


This achieves the maximum number of Corrosive Assaults under Toxic Blast, Corrosive Grenade, and Corrosive Dart which in general is the strategy for maximum DPS in this Discipline. We could work in Lethal Strike on CD or always enforce Shiv on CD (note I delay Shiv by 1-2 GCDs several times in this opener). However, this turns out to be suboptimal, especially in the opener.

From here your first goal is to use up any remaining energy and hit Adrenaline Probe (ideally not right at the same time as you use up a Fatality proc, but you may not have much of a choice). At some point (depending on your RNG with DoT crits), you should be able to push your energy down to around 30 and do this, especially if you work in an Overload Shot or two. When I did this opener it took me awhile to use Adrenaline Probe because I had the old 4 piece DPS set bonus (+5 maximum energy). This is one reason that old set bonus is very unnecessary is that it makes it difficult to even run out your energy in the first minute of a parse!

Lethality is best explained via a general priority system on single target. This system is taken directly from KeyboardNinja’s guide on the SWTOR forums and cannot really be improved upon in my opinion.

1) Both DoTs. (If not ticking or about to expire and nothing better is up)
2) Toxic Blast (<if <2 TA)
3) Stealthed Lethal Strike. (If >80 energy and <2 TA)
4) Shiv. (<if <2 TA)
5) Corrosive Assault. (If required to drain TA before Toxic Blast or Shiv)
6) Corrosive Assault. (If Fatality and <80 energy)
7) Lethal Strike. (If >80 energy)
8) Corrosive Assault.
9) Both DoTs. (If < 3 seconds on duration, 0 TA, and >95 energy)
10) Overload Shot. (If 0 TA and >90 energy and Toxic Blast coming off CD)
11) Overload Shot (If 0 TA and >95 energy)
12) Rifle Shot.

Note a few things: there is no case for Toxic Blast at 2 TA since you should always get to 1 TA before using Toxic Blast. Do not waste TAs since this fundamentally wastes Corrosive Assault which is your most damaging move by far. It’s painful, yes, but it’s better to delay Toxic Blast. The same goes for Stealthed Lethal Strike. Don’t do it from 2 TAs!

To maximize DPS, you need to manage TA stacks as well as possible. This is almost all that you should be thinking about when selecting your next move. Know in advance when your Shiv and Toxic Blast are coming off cooldown (and also your Cloaking Screen + Lethal Strike), since these moves generate TAs. Don’t be tempted to squeeze in a random Lethal Strike if you’re sitting at 1 TA and Shiv/Toxic Blast are both coming off CD next GCD. In such case, use Corrosive Assault to get to 0 TA stacks, then use Toxic Blast, then use Shiv, then Corrosive Assault away.

So in other words high DPS = using up TAs as possible during the fight. Remember there’s no benefit to sitting at 1 TA anymore! In particular, if Toxic Blast is on the target, I will use as many TA’s on Corrosive Assault as possible. If Toxic Blast will only last 1 more GCD on the target, I’ll even delay Shiv by a GCD if I have a spare TA in order to gain as many Toxic Blast ticks as possible. If Toxic Blast is not on the target and also you do not have Fatality for a free Corrosive Assault, you can be slightly more conservative with Corrosive Assault, since that is a good way to bleed energy. In general, if at 80 energy or less, save your energy on full cost Corrosive Assaults for the next time Toxic Blast is up on the target.

Now for some other general comments, which I’ve organized into sections:

DoT Order

It really doesn’t matter, but I like to use Corrosive Grenade first. Note that Corrosive Grenade before Corrosive Dart has the advantage of frontloading your damage debuff (Assailable). Many Lethality players are simply used to this order from past experience so if you are comfortable the other way around, feel free. This might be worth experimenting with more in the future.

Clipping DoTs

Don’t clip your DoTs. It’s tempting to do so since you want to be focused on maximizing Toxic Blast and Corrosive Assault, but it’s possible to play this spec without clipping. However:

I do take advantage of the fact that Corrosive Grenade ticks immediately. So if I refresh Corrosive Grenade after the second to last tick (3 seconds from expiry), it is only the slightest of DPS loss. Sometimes this is the best choice of filler, rather than waiting until exactly when Grenade expires, and then realizing you have 3 other things you need to do, such as refreshing your other DoT and using up TAs. In short, you don’t want to end up refreshing too many DoTs at the same time as you need to be putting a powerful move on cooldown like Toxic Blast. This is a strategy that was valid in Lethality in 2.x and continues to be important.

Other than this case, however, it is very inadvisable to clip DoTs since you flat out lose damage from doing so if you are maintaining your rotation correctly.

Cut Down

Lethal Strike grants a personal buff called Cut Down. The Cut Down 20% boost to both Corrosive Dart and Corrosive Grenade is a nice bonus. Unfortunately, it only buffs two ticks of each DoT and the gain isn’t enough to justify moving Lethal Strike up in the priority order. It is worth keeping in mind that it is more important in the execute phase, however, so consider using Lethal Strike slightly more < 30%. Here’s the theory for that:

Since your DoTs are 15% more powerful in execute range, it is more important to work in Lethal Strike during execute, since the 20% bonus from Cut Down applies as a multiplicative factor. For instance, my base Corrosive Grenade does around 850. With either execute or Cut Down, it does around 1000 damage. However, with both, it does not just 1150 damage, but around 1250 damage. Also the crits you can get in execute phase are massive: in my current, mostly 186 gear, I have seen Corrosive Dart and Corrosive Grenade hits of up to 2400, and over 2500 with an Attack Adrenal. Recall my base Corrosive Grenade is only around 850!

The lone other exception may be in AOE scenarios where you have your DoTs ticking on 3-4+ targets. In such case, it may be worth using Lethal Strike over an extra Corrosive Assault, since Lethal Strike does good damage inherently, but your DoTs on all targets will be buffed.

Energy Management

Your primary energy management tools are the Fatality proc (your next Corrosive Assault is free instead of 15 energy and regrants the TA that it spends) and Toxic Blast (important to use on CD, grants a TA, but also free). Use these liberally. You should be getting a new Fatality proc every 12-13.5 seconds depending on whether Shiv has to be delayed by a GCD. Toxic Blast should be always used on CD every 15 seconds.

You regain 2 energy every time a DoT crits. So running higher crit in your gear helps energy management, but at some point, you don’t need better energy management (and thus Power in your gear benefits you more, as explained in the Gearing section).

Outside of these, you will probably need to use your basic attack (Rifle Shot) an average of around twice per minute. If you are using it more often than this, you should work on your rotation.

Overload Shot is an excellent replacement for Rifle Shot, but it is as expensive as a regular Corrosive Assault (15 energy) and you almost always have something better to do (reapplying DoTs, using up all TAs on Corrosive Assault, etc.) So you will likely only use Overload Shot a few times in a parse, if at all. Practice the spec without Overload Shot until you are very comfortable, and then incorporate it in place of a Rifle Shot or three. Crits on Overload Shot will definitely benefit your DPS so this is worth working on.

Stim Boost is also available as needed for +10 energy boost. See below.

Stim Boost

The short story: use Stim Boost on cooldown from 0 TAs.

The long story: In practice, within about 10 seconds of Stim Boost becoming available is fine, since it’s hard to get it precisely on cooldown. TA generation is extremely plentiful in Lethality so it can be difficult to work in Stim Boost naturally without delaying it much. Stim Boost is on a 30 second shorter cooldown so it is available every minute and a half, which is quite often. One particularly good time is if Tactical Superiority comes off cooldown, since this provides a good way to burn that extra TA. Pay attention well in advance (15 seconds) of Stim Boost becoming available so that you can try to get to 0 TAs when Stim Boost is available, and then use Shiv or Toxic Blast and start spending TAs again.

The alacrity gain from Stim Boost should not affect your rotation.

One nice bonus of Stim Boost in Lethality is that it grants 10 energy. So if you really plan ahead well, you can sit barely on 60 energy as you pop Stim Boost, meaning you’re sitting at approximately a comfortable 80 energy around when you execute your next move, assuming Stim Boost is used after the previous move, just as the GCD activates.

Adrenaline Probe

The short story: use Adrenaline Probe on cooldown from about 35 energy.

The long story: It can actually be quite difficult to use Adrenaline Probe in this Discipline because you have some RNG with your energy management and you also have fairly substantial energy swings depending on how your Fatality proc (and in particular, the moment you consume it) aligns with Toxic Blast, which costs 0 energy. When you’re around 15 to 20 seconds away from using Adrenaline Probe, stop using your basic attack entirely. Since you are pressing as hard as possible and there is very little room for fillers in general in Lethality, there’s simply not much more you can do. As soon as you reach approximately 35 energy, pop Adrenaline Probe and continue your rotation. In practice, you can actually go slightly lower than this on energy (by around 5-10 energy) if you have a Fatality proc and/or Toxic Blast available to prevent falling back below 60 energy while Adrenaline Probe regenerates your pool, but I find 30-40 energy is the sweet spot. Never use Adrenaline Probe above 40 energy because this is a flat out DPS loss.

Target Swapping

Lethality is not very good at target swapping so your raid leader should keep you on main boss whenever possible. If you really need to target swap in a fight you should consider playing Concealment. However, if you absolutely must target swap in Lethality, the ideal moment is 2-3 GCDs before Toxic Blast becomes available again and with your next Shiv guaranteed to proc Fatality. Toxic Blast will grant you a 10 second window of extra damage on your new target, and since it costs 0 energy, it helps your energy management which will offset some of the costs of reapplying DoTs. You want to swap just before Toxic Blast actually becomes available so that you do not delay Toxic Blast while applying DoTs.

Also look for opportunities to DoT spread: it may be possible to Carbine Burst the primary target and new target(s) at the same time, spreading your Corrosive Dart and dealing some AOE damage. Do this if there are at least 3 distinct targets in your Carbine Burst, otherwise do not bother since it costs you energy and a TA. If you have just used Toxic Blast on the primary target and you cannot afford to wait for it again, then you should just apply DoTs to your new target and use Corrosive Assault as many times as possible. Fill with Lethal Strike, Overload Shot, and Rifle Shot as usual. By the time you do this, Toxic Blast should be up, at which point you can use that to target swap \emph{back} to the primary target.

Note for adds that will be up 12 seconds or less, you may as well not bother at all with this procedure since the DoT damage will be utterly wasted and you will probably not even get a full Toxic Blast off. What you can do alternatively is help your raid group by pushing all your direct damage on to the new target. If there are multiple adds, Corrosive Grenade and Thermal Grenade, then use Carbine Burst once or twice. If there is only one add, use Shiv, Lethal Strike, and Overload Shot, tab back to primary target and use your Corrosive Assaults, and then Shiv again on the secondary target.

Some of the details of this will depend on how urgent it is to kill an add. Note that if it is very urgent you may just have to spam whatever is available (again skipping Toxic Blast if uptime is < 12 seconds). This is sort of a waste but can be done in a pinch.


Quickening is one of the best off-heals in the game so you should know how to use it. Quickening makes your next Kolto Infusion after using Exfiltrate activate instantly with no energy or TA cost. The internal cooldown on this effect is 10 seconds. This is as powerful as the Sage/Sorcerer ability to bubble people, but even better since you don’t even have to worry about conflicting with the healer, and it has the potential to do better than a bubble with crits.

The best time to use Quickening is when rolling between targets if you do not have to use GCDs to reapply DoTs. Even if you do, you should consider using it if the raid is severely low on health and/or your healers are not very strong. It will lower your DPS since it costs a GCD, but you should be willing to sacrifice a little DPS sometimes in a pinch. Remember though that the raid sometimes gets lower on HP, even with good healers, so don’t waste GCDs in a panic off-healing. Only use when it’s crucial or if you have a spare GCD where you’re not within 10 meters of your primary target.

Quickening is also a good way to self-heal if separated from your healers.

Sample Parse Analysis & Video


I don’t have any real gear yet for my Operative in 3.0 so take the overall parse number with a grain of salt. I’ll update this section if I can when I get a full amount of 192 or 198 gear for DPS.My current gear is old set bonuses (which are virtually useless) with all 186s and 198 offhand.

Notice how much damage comes from Corrosive Assault, followed by Toxic Blast (ignore my high Shiv amount – this comes from old 15% crit set bonus). Your regular DoT ticks only do a modest amount in comparison, so try to think of your DoTs as a means to an end (high damage from Corrosive Assault -> Toxic Blast -> Lethal Strike). Note again that Ruffian Scoundrel will get considerably more Sanguinary Shot (Toxic Blast) ticks than a Lethality Operative. Also, the balance of things is slightly off without the new set bonuses since I can afford to use very few overall basic attacks with 105 total energy, but I have to use Lethal Strike a bit differently since it is more expensive than it ought to be.

In any case: the priority for the parse is to maintain your two DoTs, then maximize Corrosive Assault under Toxic Blast while using Lethal Strike as frequently as possible as high-damage filler. Lethal Strike does not contribute more total DPS than your various other moves like Shiv and your two primary DoTs due to its longer cooldown, but recall that it still has excellent damage per energy (DPE) and buffs your other DoTs via the Cut Down talent.


Fight Specific Roles

Note: Generally, Lethality is recommended for extensive single target burns since it has arguably higher sustained DPS when played well. It also has a range and positional advantage over Concealment. However, Concealment is fairly strong at target swapping and has a slightly easier rotation to resume if distracted or interrupted.

The Ravagers

  • Sparky: Lethality if main on boss. Concealment if main on adds.
  • Quartermaster Bulo: Lethality for single target damage, DoT ticks while away from the boss, and range capabilities, although Concealment is still possible to use and is very nice for rolling Load Lifters with Exfiltrate exploiting the Shadow Operative Elite talent.
  • Torque: Lethality if main on boss. Concealment if main on adds (not highly recommended unless there are 1-2 strong ranged with AOE capacity and/or a Juggernaut tank to Saber Reflect since Operative can basically only direct target swap).
  • Blaster: Lethality. It allows you more flexibility to attack either target, and swapping is not very important.
  • Coratanni: Either Lethality or Concealment. Lethality brings slightly stronger DPS, which is particularly important for the DPS check on Hard Mode. Also the positional advantages are good on Lethality when dealing with Ricochet Shot. However, Concealment’s Shadow Operative Elite talent with Exfiltrate is particularly nice in this fight for various reasons.

Temple of Sacrifice

  • Malaphar: Lethality.
  • Storm Squadron: Either Lethality or Concealment work very well. Lethality can potentially double DoT and has good self-heals in a pinch. Concealment has excellent defensives especially with Shadow Operative Elite as well as the Heroic tier Utilities and can swap targets easily when needed. In addition, Volatile Substance is excellent for timing the kill at the end of the fight.
  • Underlurker: Either Lethality or Concealment. Concealment is more bursty for adds, but the 4m range and Backstab requirements are very annoying in a fight where you are slowed. Operative does not have a cheese like Hydraulics or a gap closer like Leap, which makes it difficult if not impossible to swap adds. In addition, you take significantly more damage from the adds if not at slight range. Ideally you should play Lethality and be given your own add to kill while the other DPS work on the other two.
  • Revanite Commanders: Concealment. Operative doesn’t have very good AOE in general and a DoT spec won’t get much up time on adds or help with the enrage. Lethality would be fine for the burn phase, but Concealment is much easier to work with in my opinion.
  • Revan: Lethality is preferrable due to its range capacity and long single target burns. However, Concealment could be more viable if you used Exfiltrate with the Shadow Operative Elite talent as a strategy to mitigate incoming damage such as from Heave. However, your healers can heal through this, so it’s probably more important to go for the highest DPS option.


This guide wouldn’t be complete without very helpful discussions with Thrax (Drop It Like It’s Hoth) and KeyboardNinja (Aisthesis), who helped with perspective on Concealment and Lethality, respectively. In addition, KBN has an excellent guide on Lethality DPS hosted on the SWTOR forums which I have borrowed several major ideas from. Also a special mention to Kesmet and Invinc/Carl, who both originally helped me with Operative DPS in the 2.x content.

About the Author

I’m Raulos and I’m currently one of the main healers in Zorz, a world progression guild which has achieved most world first clears since the beginning of Dread Fortress Nightmare. In spite of this, I have been playing Operative extensively since prior to 2.0 and I have solid knowledge of all three Disciplines in 3.0. In previous gear cycles, I have held the #1 parses at both Concealment and Lethality at different points in time. I have also cleared all previous NiM operations as an Operative DPS.

Please direct any comments or further questions to my forum account (Saenth), or post in the comments below. Thank you!

68 replies on “SWTOR 3.0 Operative DPS Guide by Raulos”

You’re my hero, Raulos. We’ve got finally our precious and pretty useful guide for us, Concealment Operatives. 😛

Thanks a lot for your help dude! /salute!

my .tep-aunt makes $79 every hour on the computer . She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her check was $19362 just working on the computer for a few hours. check out this site;.Thanks

I just corrected a few minor errors with the Concealment opener, let me know if anyone finds any particular problems (especially in the corresponding Scoundrel translation). Thanks everyone.

Very nice guide, learned quite a few new things. The six second block based on Veiled Strike definitely threw me for a loop. I’ve always been using 12 second blocks based on Backstab. However, you make a very good point on the six second block’s flexibility. Great food for thought on the Shadow Operative Elite buff as well.

it is pretty good and I might upgrade the rating depending on how it does in the final rankings once everyone has full 198 + mainhand. However when compared to specs like Innovative Ordinance and Annihilation – it’s not quite there.

sorry if this is a dumb question, but why isn’t imperial tactics used? it’s a cheap extra tactical advantage right?

You don’t have room in the rotation for that given Tendon Blast doesn’t do much DPS itself. I haven’t seen any evidence that you can do higher DPS by adding Imperial Tactics and reworking the rotation to somehow use more TAs. You already have a lot to do.

on an overall scale with assault commandos at the top and whoever down at the bottom, ops fall at a 6. There are numerous other melee dps that simply do better dps (anni mara, veng jugg, ap pt, hatred ass, etc) and offer more utility. That’s not to say you could not bring anop to any fight and perform well, just that since 3.0 dropped their dps is not as great relatively as it once was. It is still entirely viable tho, unlike infiltration/deception was.

Zerzes, here Screw!!!!! you Raulos and your freaking operative/scoundrel ya bastard 🙂 nice guide by the way

my .ister-in-law makes $84 an hour on the computer . She has been without a job for 9 months but last month her payment was $20120 just working on the computer for a few hours. find more info;.Very nice

Thanks for the guide.

But I’m still the opinion BioWare finally killed this class/spec because they ripped all the fun out of it.

Then play a different class. I found a lot of my favorite classes from 2.0 are not the same as the ones from 3.0.
What I played, most to least, pre-3.0.
IMP: Mercenary, Assassin, Juggernaut, Sorcerer, Operative, Sniper
PUB: Sentinel, Vanguard, Shadow, Scoundrel, Guardian, Commando
Combined: Mercenary, Assassin, Juggernaut, Sorcerer, Sentinel, Vanguard, Operative, Shadow

I agree, the numbers I make with it are easy to be top DPS when I pug into a HM group, even with Sm gear, but the class is audibly boring now with lots of little things that made sounds taken out.

What a surprise, the Pub class gets the better side of something again. Remember when Guardian had the higher % defense vs Internal Damage on one of their top tier skills over Jugg?

Mercs would out dps mando’s due to offhand bonus on weapon damage abilities like rail shot. Got fixed after forever.

do you remember when Powertech 6 piece wasn’t consumed by immolate but Vanguard one was? Oh wait that’s right now i’m thinking of…

Yeah, “Mandos” is an abbreviation for Commandos. Which is confusing since the Mercenaries are Mandalorians…. Needless to say, I felt stupid about this once, glad to see I wasn’t the only one with confusion.

never red such a bullshit… dont trust this guide my stealthy friends! 40% complete bullshit!
for example… lethal strike for opener… a skill that lets your dots tick 20% higher for 6 sec but there are no dots on the target… and by the way the extra TA skill in the 3rd try fits exactly with the “good” rotation! my main is also operative since 1.x i have also cleared the whole old nim content and know all 3 trees but… i dont share my experience with everyone! use your brains on your own… and dont copy this trashy guide

Are you dumb? He said his DPS gear ist still mostly the old one. that means the 186 raiting gear. You are at least full 192 with some 198 raiting items…..

May I just throw in here that the German localisation is positively hilarious? Zerfleischung, my beautiful Teutonic arse.

LOL 1min 30 sec parse anyone can get that down brah. Don’t post under 3 min. Unless you know some operation bosses that be dying under 2 min lolz

Question about the Lethality rotation. If you open up with using TB and Shiv which both grant TA and a Fatality buff wouldn’t it be better to use the 3 Corrosive assaults from that THEN use Stim boost for a 4th corrosive assault? Or does that sorta muck up the whole rotation?

yep! also i throw in my toxic blast after that first shiv to get in 5 or 6 corrosive assaults while the target is weakened with that debuff 🙂

First of good guide, thanks for all the stuff. I’m still new to the dps on my OP, but i’m amazed at how you can get your avg damagerolls so much higher than me.
I’m decked out en full 186 gear except relics(178), no set bonuses Cunning augs on most except relic, implants and ear.
You your avg. laceration does 600 more damage than mine. Same for Veiled Strike, and your backstab almost 1000 more than mine.
Any idea how that can be ?

Your surge is too low. However, the biggest problem I find in your parse is not the low damage from individual ability but your low APM. Your APM should be around 42 to 43 if the rotation is executed correctly. 36.6 is just way too low.

Yeah I know that my apm isn’t the greatest, i’m far from the best when it comes to that.
But as I wrote, my main concern is actually the difference in the damage in the individual abilities.
The apm, and knowing the rotation comes with practice. But I can’t practice my abilities to deal more damage. My avg damage pr ability is around 18% less that the guides.
If I can add 18% to my dps just by gear optimization, then i’m at around 3400 dps, then the rest should come fine just by knowing the rotation and upping the apm.

My guess? You’re using A-mods and comm enhancements. He’s using unlettered mods from Nightmare Dread Fortress/Dread Palace at least (if not mods from Resurrected + Revanite gear), and Initiative/Adept/Quick Savant enhancements. He’s also (most likely) using Revanite relics, as they work just as well for a Healer as they do for a DPS, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a bunch of other revanite-tier pieces of gear.

How do you get a destroyable Operations target dummy? I purchased the legacy operations dummy but it cannot be destroyed.

You need to buy the BOL items from thore ships vendor droid for applying the armor debuff to the dummy and setting its HP.

A little off-topic.
What option in preferences (or wherever it is) makes your hands glow with yellow light? It can be seen on first video, second strike.

Noticed this glowing on other videos on this site, and get curious.

I feel that Lethality spends too much time in melee range. Lethal Strike sounds more like a Concealment ability. Why not Lethal Shot? Have Toxic Blast as your first ability, but with a cooldown of 6 seconds, and trigger Fatality. Debilitate, should become Debilitating Shot 10m and same cooldown. There should be a utility that increases the range of some abilities by 5m. Now Lethality is more of a skirmisher, hovering around the edge of battles.

Can you talk more on surge rating while spec’d in Concealment? I’m extremely curious if you need ANY surge at all, as about 95% of your damage gets a 30% surge bonus thanks to Meticulously Kept Blades.

Currently sitting at 64% surge with 192 earpiece along with one BiS 192 surge enhancement, and still find myself averaging 9.1k Backstab crits, 8k+ on Laceration+Veiled Strike. Thinking of getting a crit+alacrity earpiece instead of power+surge for just Concealment, only thing that troubles me is the ~160 power I’d be giving up.

hrm – as PvE player, who is not good with positional rotation and the like, is there a doable AoE rotation in Lethality? I went Concealment for the stealth aspect (I like bypassing mobs & just getting class missions done), but I thought I could do it and ranged DPS- I am not a big wetworks/melee-range fan. Is there hope, or am I SOL?

Why did you guys give dps operative such a low rating? I love op/scoundrel and been playing dps/heals since 1.0 (which may be a factor in why I dps high, but i digress), and I’m actually using the same guidelines as this guide and am easily in the top 1-3 dps in groups (i always run concealment). Yes it kinda annoying being melee compared to rdps, but damage wise I think it deserves an 8 or 9 at the least. I’ve always been able to outdps maras, juggs, and sins without even trying, tbh. The only classes that can typically outdps me are snipers and mercs, and thats only if they are better geared and know their class well.

it sucks becase the general swtor community views operatives as crappy dps classes, and thats not at all the case. i raid primarily with my team but in pugs people say “ugh, operative? sure we need to fill our 16m…(he probably is just a healer and wanted a spot or he probably is just a dumb pvper) :S….” but then the tanks end up having to put a guard on me.

You forgot one of the Laceration’s in the opening rotation for concealment. Backstabbing should be done from stealth on the opener which should allow you an extra TA making it so you can do 3 Laceration’s before popping your stim boost for a 4th. This will actually put you only 1 GCD away from being able to re-perform back stab, so it may be more optimal to fill in with a corrosive dart follow up with backstab at which point you can continue and save your cloak screen for 3rd rotation.

Have yet to see the Devs to show some love to this class it the most neglected class in the game a class only few people still play and even less can make it perform good.

Needs some serious buffing here to make it more appealing for the average players group.

In story mode gear, I run single target 4,500DPS on a 1.5Million dummy. I’m not sure that it needs buffing.

This might seem like a dumb question, but anyone know what the gear is on the operative banner for these 3.0 class guides?

With the new change to Carbine Burst and Frag Grenade; I was thinking of the AOE priorities for Lethality. I was thinking the pull for AOE trash like FPoints and Operations would look something like this:

Pull: Stealth, VS, CGrenade, CDart, CBurst, Frag

With a rough priority list of:

Priorities: Dots, CBurst (if CDart not spread), Frag, CBurst

I would also assume this would be good for leveling. Any input?

Here is the rotation I use for concealment. It is energy sustainalbe, lasts 36 seconds (24 GCD) and can be broken up into 3X12 second blocks or 6×6 for memorization;

VS>BS>VOL>Lac,> VS>Lac>CR SL>Lac
VS>BS>filler>Lac,> VS>Lac>VOL>Lac
VS>BS>CR SL>Lac, > VS> Lac>filler>Lac

If you have stim boost and adrenaline probe up you can insert Corrosive Dart into the firest filler spot and stim boost+Lac+adrenaline probe into the 2nd filler. Otherwise both fillers need to be filled with rifle shots.

Basic structure of VS>BS>filler>Lac, VS>Lac>filler>Lac makes it easy to remember.
Substitute (stealth) BS>VS>Lac>VOL>Lac into the first block.for the opener and whenever you have cloaking screen available.

VS=Veiled Strike
VOL=Volatile Substance
CR SL = Crippling Slice

I’d say concealment does better single target damage than 6. In pvp I’ve gotten 12k crits on backstab, 15k crits on volatile sub, 9k crits on laceration, and 8k crits on veiled strike. Assuming just volatile substance criticals (with bonus set), thats a large chunk of health when combined with your opener. Even on lethality, I’ve burned down people to 50% with just one corrosive assault rotation (LS>CG>CD>TB>S>CA>CA). I feel like you need to buff both of them up a point or two.

You know, I’ll take that conceal is the worst parsing spec in the game as of 4.0. The rotation is the easiest in the game, a 2 * 4 slot rotation where you use 3 skills repeatedly with a four ability filler.

What I don’t like is that not only do you forsake the amazing defensive and speed utilities in concealment when you go to lethality, but you also don’t even gain much of an improvement on DPS on a rotation that’s far more complicated.

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