SWTOR 4.0 Deception Assassin PvE Guide by Artorias.[toc]
Introduction to Deception Assassin
Deception Assassin like before is still a burst spec with little set up and easy target switching, versus Hatred’s sustained DoT rotation which puts them opposite one another.
Deception is a semi-positional, stealth utilizing spec. Meaning you’re always going to be behind a target with ease of access to rotational requirements and utilizing the stealth aspect of your class for various buffs and perks which lie within the passives of the class.
Deception can be brought into any fight. How ever Deception like some other specs can be shut down by positioning or aggro. Meaning if the boss or an add is on you, it can cause some rotational strain. So if you’re constantly going to be picking up threat on targets, Deception may not be the best option.
Though I prefer Hatred, there is no doubt that Deception is currently the sharpest of the two and the most useful. Though I believe Hatred should be the top in their respective damage ratios, right now Deception is your best bet to utilize in raids and flashpoints if you seek to be a strong DPS in your group. Hatred itself is still a worthy option and I encourage you to learn it as well.
In 4.0.3, Assassin recieved some damage nerfs which led to some Force management changes, as such the spec is slightly slightly less harsh on Force but deals less damage than before.
Utilities have some flexibility. I will merely outline the ones I deem mandatory. Merely select the others you want for your own play style or situations within a fight. I personally find Insulation Mandatory but this above all others, I find debatable. Some people think it’s useless, others always take it, I’m the latter.
|Insulation: Increases your armor rating by 30% while Lightning Charge or Surging Charge is active. (Mandatory)|
|Fade: Reduces the cooldown of Blackout by 15 Seconds and Force Cloak by 30 seconds. (Mandatory)|
|Audactity: Reduces the cooldown of Overload by 2.5 Seconds and Recklessness grants 1 additional charge when activated. (Mandatory)|
|Disjunction: Increases the duration of Force Shroud by 2 seconds and Force Speed by 0.5 Seconds|
|Emersion: Force Speed grants Emersion, removing all movement-impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration|
As I outlined above, some of these are mandatory purely for a large contribution to DTPS reduction or DPS increase. For example, having one extra charge of Recklessness is an additional crit for every activation. Which is a DPS increase. Fade will allow the use of Force Cloak more, meaning more frequent reductions on Blackout and Recklessness, again a DPS increase and rotational QOL.
Your utility load out in regards of the others will depend on the fight itself. For example, Disjunction will be very useful for fights like Torque, Draxus, Tyrans and other bosses where the brunt of their continous damage can be resisted. But for fights such as Sword Squadron, Nefra, Revan and other fights where the use of Shroud is either a cleanse or to negate one big spike, the additional 2-seconds though useful isn’t as important as the previously mentioned fights. As such you have flexibility to mess around with things.
Assassin’s shelter’s raid utility is debatable. A 6 second HoT + 5% DR every 45 seconds versus the old 5% Healing done for 10 minutes to me makes the utility not as strong of a raid contribution as once before though still useful for assisting for some AOE heavy moments or a raid wide DoT going out. For me it used to be a must have but not any more.
Shroud of Madness is a bit tougher of a utility to justify in Deception than Hatred due to rotational use of Force Cloak. Force Cloak should be used pretty much on cooldown (with exceptions which will be mentioned below). Which means when time comes to sleath and your shroud goes up, it may be likely you missed that big spike you were trying to stop. It’s not useless in Deception, just harder to aim onto the parts of the enemy’s rotation you were trying to negate versus Hatred which has complete freedom of saving their second Shroud to stop damage.
- Accuracy: 110% Melee. 1% from companion, 9% from gear. (681 Accuracy)
- Crit: 1180
- Alarity: 760
- Augments: Distribute accordingly to reach above stats.
- Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
- Set Bonus: 6 Piece Stalker
- Technique: Surging Charge
These stats are for 216 gear and were taken from the “Optimal Stats For All 24 Disciplines” thread. I have made some adjustments to my gear as I have gotten pieces but these are pretty solid numbers, feel free to experiment with various alacrity and crit distributions once you’re comfortable with the class.
How Deception Works
Deception’s concept is a rather simple concept. Speccing into Deception and smacking an enemy, you’ll likely see all these buttons light up and all these stacking buffs and you’re probably a bit overwhelmed at first but Deception is merely a list of rules to follow to ensure you don’t trip over yourself versus a set rotation.
Deception is all about one ability; Discharge. Discharge in Surging Charge will begin to be buffed by your rotation and once it’s at max capacity, will hit the target for a decent amount. So Deception is simply, get out as many Discharges as you can while also doing as much damage between Discharges as you can. The reason I state why Discharge is so important is because it’s the biggest contribution of damage on top of the fact it’s so easy to mess with by hitting the wrong button at the wrong time.
But before we go any further, it’s ideal you know what icons mean/do what and why some are very important to keep track of.
There are various ways of opening in Deception. Each vary in complexity and the short duration of action you have as such they vary in difficulty but reward for added damage. However, one must realize that some openers, though in parsing are the most ideal, in some (or most) fights, they do more harm than good due to their set up being so tight in regards to boss pulls happening on the right mark. How ever, there is some flexibility and as such you can adapt to the fight itself depending on how it opens and how comfortable you are.
The openers all follow the same rules and grant the same buffs; You’ll recieve Dark Embrace, you’ll gain crits from Recklessness, you’ll auto-crit on your first Maul (so long as you have your 6-piece). All of these will occur, however it’s the placement and usage of certain abilties that will change.
There are three openers, each vary in complexity and set up, but also difficulty and damage output. They’re the; Simple, Pre-cast and Crushing Darkess openers. Also keep in mind these openers are assuming you have the 6-piece Stalker Set Bonus.
The Simple Opener is how it sounds. It lacks difficulty but is a bit less effective than the alternatives. Simply opening from Stealth with Discharge (buffed and activated by Adrenal and Recklessness). Following your first Discharge, your Phantom Stride will build another 3 stacks of Static Charge allowing a second Discharge. Next comes your 2xVoltaic Slashes (and Blackout as soon as the first Dark Embrace fades), which build Induction and Voltage, both allowing Ball Lightning to proc Static Charge and reducing its cost. Through your previous damaging abilities, Duplicity will be procced and you’ll be granted the Stalker Critical Bonus from Volatic, making your Maul Auto-Crit. At this point you merely fill in Voltaic’s until the 3rd stack of Static Charge is gained, Discharge, Ball Lightning and finally, Force Cloak to finish the Cooldown on Blackout and reduce the cooldown of Recklessness from a minute and from there, merely follow the rules below.
The Pre-cast Opener is a touch more complex and tighter in windows of buffs. You start off with 2 Lacerates, both will grant a stack of Voltage and Induction each. Then stealth and follow on. The Lacerates will allow you to circumvent the use of two Voltaic Slashes later on. The use of Voltaic in this opener, prior to the first Maul will grant the Critical Bonus, this can be skipped if you so choose, but it’s just guranteed opening burst. As before, use Blackout as soon as the Dark Embrace from your Stealth fades, and once the second Dark Embrace fades, use Force Cloak.
The Crushing Darkness Opener is the most complex of the three. It uses Crushing Darkness to apply a DoT to sit along your opener. In a parse or in a boss that you can pull from very close range without risk of triggering the encounter prematurely, this is the most ideal. As mentioned before, this is the case where even the most ideal opener can be the worst. For example in a boss where there is a small window of downtime before you can engage or you can’t pull from up close, this opener is the least ideal, due to the 2 second channel time. It’s not worth the added damage for 2 seconds of inactivity, as such a boss where this opener is not ideal, is best suited for the Pre-cast opener.
All of these openers a susceptible to the same problem of not knowing when your Surging Charge will proc. This can cause it to occur later (or even earlier) than you may anticipate. It’s worth your while to keep an eye on when your non-Ball Lightning stack was generated as it’s at least 4 GCD’s from that point when the second one can occur, same as the cooldown of Ball Lightning.
You can use Overcharge Saber to increase the chance of it proccing, but in my opinion Overcharge Saber is best saved for the defensive capability when in raid situations due to how minimal of a damage increase it is over all. This is where most of the RNG comes from in the spec. The Recklessness 60% chance is another, which means even under a Recklessness window abilities are not guaranteed to crit.
Deception has rules to follow, these are what creates your rotation instead of a usual A -> B -> C rotation which is used for other classes.
Rotational Rules and Tips
1) First and foremost. When Static Charge Procs, it needs to be used instantly (Most of the time), any delaying could result in the generation of a 4th stack of Static Charge which obviously will be consumed by the stack cap (in other words, you generate a 4th, but you’ll remain at 3 stacks) and will not be of any benefit to you. You want to ensure every stack of Static Charge goes to use in rotation since you can sometimes strain to get your third stack, so there’s no point throwing them away. You’ll notice the stacks hitting 3 due to the unique body animation which takes form crackling lightning cascading from your arms and saber and the border of Discharge turning golden.
2) You should maintain a 100% uptime on Voltage. This may sound easy but if you get too DPS hungry you can let it fall off in the execute by using Maul, Assassinate, Ball Lightning and Discharge as well as juggling Saber Strike. Outside of the execute, this task is rather simple due to how over used Voltaic Slash is in rotation and during down time, you can use Lacerate. But sub 30%, the damage and force management benefit from the use of Assassinate can cause you to neglect Voltaic in favor of these two points. Don’t get cocky kid.
3) Ball Lightning should be always used under 2 Voltage stacks and 2 Induction stacks. For the first point, a 50% chance on a rotation that demands the stacks of Static Charge ASAP isn’t favourable to be dared upon, play it safe and spend the extra GCD to get your second stack. 12 Force, even 6 is a big difference in rotation, every costly melee ability that’s supposed to be used will generate a stack of Induction, as such there is no reason to go flat out with 1 or no stacks.
4) Your Execute should be an Execute, make use of Assassinate and don’t worry about using it on cooldown. You may need to delay the use of Assassinate to refresh Voltage, however it is ideal to do this by delaying Maul. Duplicity lasts a long time, long enough that delaying it will not cause you to sweat to try and use it before it falls off, the ICD of Duplicity triggers upon gaining the buff, not expiring. As such you can delay Maul in favor of Saber Strike if resource demands it or Voltage for stacks and you won’t have to worry about bloating the ICD of Duplicity.
5) Never Maul outside of an Duplicity window. This can cause huge DPS loss in the form of both resource drain and a sub optimal damage output. Maul does a lot more harm than good if used outside this window and occurs often enough so that you won’t feel obligated to touch Maul outside of this time frame.
6) Saber Strike should be used to gain Force when needed. Blackout has a 45 second cooldown and you will spend a lot of force during the 39 second down time. You will have moments of back to back Blackout and it’s nice, but do not rely on it coming off cooldown in say 9 seconds so go a head and burn yourself out. 50% Force regen isn’t a lot, so make use of it. Make sure you balance out your saber strikes enough that you don’t over do it and that you don’t need them. I find a good balance of location is around your Duplicity, you’re using your lowest costing (and near highest hitting) ability of 10 Force coupled with a free ability that also restores Force.
7) Force Cloak is destructive to your rotation if you don’t know how / when to use it. Using Recklessness at an inconvenient time is also just as bad. You never want to Force Cloak and clip Blackout’s CD nor do you want to Stealth out if your Recklessness is pushing to nearly off cooldown. Blackout and Recklessness take priority over Force Cloak’s use, you can waste a 3rd Blackout and a 2nd Recklessness if you carelessly use it. As I mentioned above if you use Recklessness with stacks generated of Static Charge, you’ll over write the original stacks, effectively wasting it. It’s more ideal to wait the extra few seconds and do a back to back Discharge combo, keep in mind it is costly.
Just so this is easier on the eyes, I’ll make these in the forms of questions! So you can refer to these if you have any of your own.
Can I ever delay Discharge?
Yes and it’s important to do so, only in certain cases. Static Charge is gained every 6 seconds due to the ICD (Internal cooldown). The reason Discharge must be used ASAP is to avoid generating another stack while you have 3 stacks, thus the fourth goes to waste. How ever, if you generate your third stack with an ability that isn’t Ball Lightning, you can delay Discharge in favor of certain abilities, usually the only ones are Saber Strike if you’re really hurting for Force and Assassinate. In the Execute, the most ideal rotation is the delay of Discharge for Assassinate, again, I repeat, only if the third stack was generated not by Ball Lightning. If it was generated by Ball Lightning and you delay Discharge, you risk wasting your non-Ball Lightning Static Charge stack.
How do I close the gap between myself and the boss?
You have three means of doing this, how ever, in an ideal DPS scenario, you have two. The three tools you have are Phase Walk, Force Speed and Phantom Stride. The first two are the most ideal. Phase Walk will teleport you to your previously marked destination, through this, if you’re familiar with bosses enough you can plan a head of where and when to use it, to negate any distance increases. If you cannot or did not use Phase Walk, Force Speed is the next best thing, there are little cases where the full duration of Force Speed will not put you where you need to be. Phantom Stride, yes, is a gap closer, best in fact, but, its damage benefit of 3-stacks in rotation is far better than to simply leap to your target. Think of this aspect as pre-4.0 Annihilation Marauder, your gap closer is best served in rotation.
Can I ever use Phantom Stride to gap close?
Of course, Phantom Stride’s use for gap closing is fine under two cases; You have no stacks of Static Charge and Recklessness is not coming off cooldown in the immediate future as it’ll be more ideal to save Phantom Stride for a 2 or 3 back to back Discharges.
Should I delay Phantom Stride to be used with Recklessness?
This all depends on how long the fight will last. In a fight like Nefra or Malahphar, fights typically under four minutes, I always wait and use Phantom Stride with Recklessness for added burst. How ever in long fights such as Revanite Commanders, The Dread Masters, Brontes, Raptus and so on, I will not delay. It’s all about how much of Phantom Stride is being used, as time goes on the delay of say 5-10 seconds builds up, you may go from missing one use of Phantom Stride in a small fight for some added burst/damage versus missing three uses or four in very long encounter.
Which is best to use first if they’re off cooldown, Recklessness or Phantom Stride?
Recklessness, then Phantom Stride. This will allow you to have two near guaranteed critting Discharges versus one.
Is Low Slash useful in PVE?
Yes! For me, Low Slash has two uses; To stun an add in a fight (Revanite Commanders etc.) and to generate stacks of Static Charge. The latter is probably having you confused. At times when a boss leaps or you’re swapping to a target at range and you’re running to the enemy (using Force Speed ideally), I use Low Slash during the transition, usually this will allow you to generate a stack of Static Charge on the go, meaning your ICD (Internal cooldown) is not prolonged by the small gap closing. Typically in an ideal world, this will generate my third stack of Static Charge meaning as soon as I get to the target, I can Discharge. How ever, within Melee range, I will not use Low Slash as there are many better and cheaper alternatives.
Is Overcharge Saber useful? How do I get the most DPS out of it?
Overcharge Saber is only as useful as when you’re using it. Overcharge Saber buffs the damage of the Surging Charge’s additional hit. The most ideal location of using Overcharge Saber is when hit can occur most often. The only ability that cannot generate stacks of Static Charge is Discharge. Meaning simply, to get the most DPS (as minimal as it may be) from Overcharge Saber, you should use it in the part of your rotation when Discharge is used the least. As mentioned before, the damage increase isn’t anywhere near Adrenal or Recklessness levels, I use it mostly as a defensive cooldown.
Here is a pie chart of all the used abilities of a 4.0 rotation with the Crushing Darkness opener. Discharge will always be the highest contribution of damage, Maul following.
- Voltaic will come close or even surpass Maul on occassions due to crits, usage and so forth.
- Ball Lightning will be also as contributing but will be out done due to how often Voltaic Slash is used.
- Your Surging Charge is a decent contribution, it may not hit very hard in comparison to other abilities but it does have a bite to it and you will notice a crit or two of it if paying attention, it’s not as weak as one may thing.
- Assassinate will not contribute a large total damage but will contribute to DPS.
- Twin Surge is RNG and some fluffed damage, it’s not substantial but nice when it activates, but it’s never going to be a key contributor to your total damage.
- Saber Strike will also depend on how much you’re needing a free filler or additional force, the less of a percentage in your parse it has, the better.
Finally, if you decide to use Crushing Darkness its total damage will be miniscule, but the added DPS of it in your opener is the purpose of why it is used.