SWTOR 4.0 Balance Sage PvE Guide written by Splizza[toc]
Introduction to 4.0 Balance
After occupying the lowest single target DPS slot during the "Shadow of Revan" expansion, Balance has climbed the ranks up to 13th out of the 18 DPS disciplines (See: Goblin_Lackey’s theory craft on the SWTOR class / role board). A new passive ability, Psychokinetic Torrent, has increased DOT critical chance by up to 8%, improving single target results. Although the damage output is being forecasted to be on the lower end, it is still projecting higher than Telekinetics (15th), and is within average DPS range compared to other classes/disciplines.
While there is still much room for improvement, and some quality of life issues remain with Force management, Balance is in a much healthier position for end-game PVE content than it was, and continues to perform exceptionally in PVP.
Existing Abilities for Balance Damage Rotation
Existing Passives for Balance Damage Rotation
New Abilities and Passives
Important Situational and Support Abilities
Sages continue to offer great support abilities ideal for Operations and Group content while using DPS disciplines, including off-heals, self-heals, and a threat management ability that can be used on an ally in danger.
Healing and Defensive Abilities
Threat Management and Important Raiding Utilities
Utilities selected should vary, depending on encounter, situation, and group composition. There have been some additions and changes in 4.0, which appear below, along with my highlighted recommendations for PVE Group and Operation based content.
Tier 1 – Skillful
- Benevolent Haste (New): A completed Benevolence activation increases your target’s movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds. This cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
- Psychic Suffusion: Force Wave heals you and up to 7 affected allies a small amount (Recommended for all encounters).
- Pain Bearer: Increases all healing received by 10%. Does not affect redistributed life (Recommended for all encounters).
- Jedi Resistance: Increases damage reduction by 3% (Recommended).
- Tectonic Mastery: Increases the damage dealt by Forcequake by 25% (Recommended for multi-target encounters)
Which selections to take from the above recommendations again varies depending on fight. For the majority of encounters, you will find yourself taking Pain Bearer and Psychic Suffusion while choosing between Jedi Resistance and Tectonic Mastery.
Tier 2 – Masterful
- Dizzying Force (New): When Force Lift ends, target’s accuracy is reduced by 20% for 8 seconds.
- Blockout: Activating Cloud Mind grants Blockout, which increases damage reduction by 25% for 6 seconds (Recommended).
- Valiance: Reduces the damage taken by the target of your Rescue by 25% for 6 seconds after you rescue them. Additionally, increases the healing done by Force Mend by 30% (Recommended).
- Telekinetic Defense: Increases the amount absorbed by your Force Armor by 10% (Recommended)
- Mind Ward: Reduces the damage taken by all periodic effects by 15% (Recommended for encounters where you may receive a DOT effect).
- Egress: Force Speed grants Egress, removing all movement-impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration (Recommended for encounters where you may receive a Slow, Snare or Root effect).
Once again, what you want varies depending on the fight. Blockout and Valiance are both generally always useful.
Tier 3 – Heroic
- Kinetic Collapse (Moved): Moved from Tier 2 up to Tier 3. Force Armors end with an AOE stun. Not recommended for PVE.
- Ethereal Entity (New): Reduces all area of effect damage taken by 30%. In addition, using Phase Walk to return to its marked location grants Ethereal Entity, keeping you from being leapt to or pulled and making you immune to interrupts and ability activation pushback for the next 6 seconds (Recommended for any encounter where you may receive AOE damage).
- Force Mobility: Force Serenity can be activated while moving (Recommended)
- Force Haste: Reduces the cooldown of Force Speed by 5 seconds, Force Slow by 3 seconds, and Force Barrier by 30 seconds (Recommended).
- Life Ward: Your Force Armor, Force Barrier, and Enduring Bastion heal you for 2% of your total health every second for as long as they last. This healing scales up to 8% with the charges for Enduring Bastion.
I take Force Mobility for every Operations boss. Balance is already less mobile than Telekinetics. Adding another stationary cast would be unfortunate.
Gearing has been simplified in 4.0. Players no longer have to choose between power and critical rating. Critical rating has been moved down a tier, and has combined/replaced Surge, which is no longer in the game. As such, Critical rating now increases both your chance, and your multiplier. Alacrity, with its revamp in 3.0, continues to be an effective stat for DPS classes to stack.
For the sake of this guide, I will recommend statistics based on 220 rated HM gearing. After running close to 400 parses to sample from, using varying builds, I have found the best average results with the following:
- 2 x 220 rated Accuracy pieces (320)
- 5 x 208 rated Accuracy augments (365)
- 4 x 220 rated Alacrity pieces (640)
- 1 x 208 rated Alacrity augment (73)
Total: 713 (Minimum recommendation)
- 4 x 220 rated Critical rating pieces (640)
- 8 x 208 rated Critical rating augments (584)
- 2 x 136 rated Critical rating crystals (82)
Total: 1306 (Minimum recommendation)
I would recommend stacking at least 700 Alacrity and 1300 Critical rating, then build from there. As always, Accuracy rating must be stacked high enough to achieve 110% Force accuracy.
Relics and Adrenals
With the additional critical chance that balance DOTs now receive from Psychokinetic Torrent, the discipline has an excellent average critical performance. However, because Balance already receives a large amount of full-time Critical chance, the performance using Critical chance boosting relics and adrenals is underwhelming, compared to the guaranteed damage gain that comes with a large increase in Mastery and/or Power.
- Relic of Serendipitous Assault – Healing or Damaging an enemy have a 30% chance to grant a large amount of power for 6 seconds.
- Relic of Focused Retribution – Healing or Damaging an enemy have a 30% chance to grant a large amount of mastery for 6 seconds.
- Advanced Anodyne Attack Adrenal – Increases power by 750 for 15 seconds.
In 3.0, many Sages kept their old set bonus armors from 2.x, rather than use the new set bonus granted by Revanite gear. So far in 4.0, the old 3.0 set bonus is stacking with the new set bonus. That being said, the 6-piece set bonus for Sage has changed in this expansion, and was definitely worth review.
The 6-piece armor set bonus now grants 1 additional charge of Force Potency. The old 2-piece from last tier is stacking with the 2-piece from this tier, increasing all damage by 4% instead of 2% whenever active.
After a large sampling of parses, using the 6-piece bonus has yielded better results for me as opposed to using the old 2 / new 4. I averaged a net gain of roughly 60 to 100 DPS using the new set bonus. Therefore, I recommend using the new 6-piece and gaining the additional armor, Mastery, and endurance.
As with any discipline, depending on instance and situation, you will want to use differing rotations. Balance offers a solid DOT based rotation which is built around the 18 second spans of Weaken Mind and Sever Force. With the addition of DOT spreading in 3.0, Balance can also be extremely potent for multi-enemy encounters.
Single Target Rotation
The Balance single target rotation can be broken up into sevensegments.
Segment 1 (Opener)
- Pre-cast Vanquish > Sever Force > Weaken Mind > Mental Alacrity + Force Potency + Force Empowerment + Adrenal > Force in Balance > Force Serenity > Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw (Clipped by start of Segment 2)
Segment 1 features the use of Mental Alacrity. While that is active, any abilities activated will be affected by the additional alacrity, and will have their cooldowns reduced.
During this window, there is time to execute two Disturbance attacks rather than the typical 1 found in the other segments. The reduced cooldown that Mental Alacrity grants to Force in Balance is what allows for the DOT placement to occur after Force in Balance in Segment 2.Without Mental Alacrity, the cooldown on Force in Balance is too long to allow the DOTs to pass it in the rotation seamlessly.
The logic behind the remainder of the rotation is simple. Vanquish, Force in Balance and Force Serenity must be used on cooldown, while DOTs should not be reapplied before their duration is complete. Telekinetic Throw, when marked as “clipped”, should be clipped at 0.7 seconds, with Vanquish.
- Vanquish > Force in Balance > Sever Force > Weaken Mind > Force Serenity > Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw (Clipped)
- Vanquish > Force in Balance > Telekinetic Throw > Force Serenity >Sever Force > Weaken Mind > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw
- Vanquish > Force in Balance > Force Serenity >Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance >Sever Force > Weaken Mind > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw (Clipped)
- Vanquish > Force in Balance > Force Serenity >Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Sever Force > Weaken Mind > Telekinetic Throw (Clipped)
- Vanquish > Force Potency > Force in Balance > Force Serenity >Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw (Clipped)> Sever Force > Weaken Mind
Segment 7 Back in to Segment 1
- Vanquish > Force in Balance > Force Serenity >Telekinetic Throw > Disturbance > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw > Telekinetic Throw >
- (Start of Segment 1) Vanquish > Sever Force > Weaken Mind > Mental Alacrity > Force in Balance…
The rotation itself, while long, is simplistic. DOT reapplication cannot occur too early, as Balance continues to have Force management issues, and early DOT application will quickly escalate that problem. To summarize, the theory behind the above rotation is as follows:
- DOTs reapplied as they fall off
- Vanquish, Force in Balance and Force Serenity used on cooldown
- 4 stacks of Psychokinetic Torrent kept up at all times
- Clip Telekinetic Throw with Vanquish at 0.7 when off cooldown.
For Balance to put up competitive damage numbers, the critical chance on Force in Balance and Force Serenity must be high. These attacks, along with Vanquish are crucial to the overall damage and must be used on cooldown. Sliding the application of DOTs down in each segment allows for the large burst abilities to be used whenever available, while also keeping the Force quality of life issues somewhat at bay.
The rotation for multi-target encounters is extremely simple in Balance.
DOT application > Force in Balance (DOT spread)> Telekinetic Throw> Forcequake
Keeping DOTs on all targets will maximize damage. Once DOTs have been applied, and Force in Balance has granted Abundant Justice, Forcequake will produce decent damage to all enemies in the AOE. Telekinetic Throw should be used to keep Psychokinetic Torrent at 4 stacks.
Sample Parse and Video
Operations and Group Content
Sages can offer a lot to Operations and Group content. A responsible Sage will focus not only on damage output, but also on using utilities to improve group quality of life. First, here are some basic tips and tricks:
- Wide Camera Angle: Keep zoomed out. Get a wide view of your battlefield
- Parser / Timers: A great asset. Timers come in very handy for certain encounters (IE Revan, Sword Squadron, etc)
- Target of Target / Focus Target / UI: Don’t be shy to go into interface editor and get your UI just right. This game has a great, customizable interface. Take advantage of it.
- Key Binds: I have 48 keys bound to my mouse alone. Do what feels right, but the less screen clicking that takes place, the better.
- High APM: Abilities per minute. Keep them Above 40. Work. You are stacking lots of Alacrity now. It only works if you are all over those cooldowns.
Key Operation Utilities
- Restoration – Assisting healers with cleansing can be key with many fights (IE Dread Council, Nefra, etc)
- Mind Snap – performing interrupts to execute mechanics are paramount to successful encounters
- Cloud Mind – Threat management should not be overlooked. A great DPS, no matter the class, will put care into dumping threat.
- Rescue – Used responsibly, this unique ability can save a party member from certain death.
- Force Barrier – Not just a great defensive cooldown, this ability can be used to help with multiple end game mechanics (IE laser cutter from Master / Blaster)
- Force Speed – With no physics immunity, Force Speed is critical to a sage trying to get into proper position to execute a mechanic.
- Force Empowerment – Use this raid-wide buff responsibly. Always communicate and coordinate with your group before deploying.
Light armor classes always bring their own challenges to end-game content. Luckily, Sages do have some tricks up their sleeves to deal with their cloth exteriors.
Organically, through the rotation, Balance is now producing roughly 1400 HPS of self-heals. That is incredibly high, and will continue to be an asset in Operations and Group content. Combining that with a free, instant heal (Force Mend), certainly helps quality of life for a light armor DPS class.
As a DPS, you need to ensure that targets are defeated within the given time constraints. That being said, it is always important to choose targets responsibly. With any DOT spreading discipline, the temptation will always be present to spread DOTs to secondary or unimportant targets, when the mechanic calls for DPS to focus on just a single boss (IE Bulo). Fluffing the damage by attacking additional enemies does not help the encounter.
DOT spreading might be the most valuable asset a Balance Sage brings into an Operation from a damage standpoint. However, if not used responsibly, it can be a detriment. You can easily pull 8k DPS on Grob’thok, but your tanks won’t like you very much if he hits enrage because you were padding on adds.
With the addition of Psychokinetic Torrent, Balance is certainly healthier than it used to be, and with good critical luck, can be a very effective and viable single target DPS. Self-healing, off-healing, and utility are always useful to a raid. In longer encounters where there may not be breaks in attacking, Force management can start to become a concern, and this may have to be addressed down the road.
With other ranged classes offering better armor, defensive cooldowns, and most importantly, physics invulnerability, it becomes tough to recommend Balance over its counter parts. But for many fights, it is a very easy choice over Telekinetics. Just don’t bring it into Revan HM and expect to put up any damage during the core phase.
About the Author
I have many characters and play many classes, but would be most recognized by Splizza, a Sage on The Harbinger server. I started playing in December of 2011. In Spring of 2014, I became Guildmaster of a Republic progression guild by the name of Paramount, which continues to go strong. I have cleared all content in the game and achieved 100% operations pre-4.0. I have been using a Sage as my main class since the launch of this game, but for the first two years, Balance was a PVP spec for me, as I mostly healed in PVE content. I currently continue to raid in Paramount and have characters in Provectus and YES on the Imperial side.
I would like to thank all of my guildies and teammates. Thank you Ka’ya, for making the Paramount Guild Ship the nicest one on The Harbinger. Thank you, Dulfy, for hosting this guide. Thank you, Shizzel, for the inspirational photography. Thank you, Yssane, for doing enough tank damage to carry me on a Madness Sage through Revan core phase. Thank you, Bioware, for giving Paramount tanks Translocate, and granting them the ability to get revenge for years of my abuse of Rescue. They are making good use of it. Thanks to Krakatau, Seshirou, Fyttov and Shadowshot for pushing me from a DPS perspective and giving me something to strive towards. Big thank you to Kaname for the proof read and edit.