SWTOR 4.0 Balance Sage PvP guide by Dacri.[toc]
Introduction to Balance Sage
Balance Sage is one of the most used classes in PvP, but the best of the best can lead the group offensively and dish out a ton of damage while enhancing the survivability of their team mates by keeping them healed, bubbled, etc.
In PvP, Balance Sage is on the top 3 of the most powerful classes and specs on republic side, where you can put up quite a lot of damage, huge survivability and crazy amounts of healing. It is probably the most overpowered class that exists right now. But it is not as easy as it looks do put up high numbers in damage and healing.
The purpose of this guide is to help every Sage improve their mastery of this class (as they say, Sage is an easy class but hard to master). I will discuss optimal positioning, melee kiting tactics, as well as ways to maximize your survivability and improve your situational awareness.
Again, the target audience of this guide is quite broad, so hopefully Sages of all skill levels will get something out of it.
The how to gear a balance sage is pretty much down to personal preferences, different sages recommend different set ups. There is a single thing every sage agree (for PvP) is that you don´t need Accuracy at all. The regular and ranked gear comes with some accuracy (enhancements) on it, you will have to change them.
The stats that you should take (in order of priority) are Power, Critical Rating and Alacrity Rating. More specifically, what I recommend is the following:
- Alacrity Rating 685 (4 Alacrity Enhancements, 1 Alacrity Implant).
- Critical Chance 1050 (3 Critical Enhancements, 5 Advanced Critical Augment 40, 1 Critical Earpiece, 1 Critical Implant).
- Power 3030 (All power mods, 9 Advanced Overkill Augment 40. Pretty much every slot and pieces includes power).
- Set bonus is Force-Master´s
You basically have 2 stats to pick up from, which are Critical and Alacrity. The amount you stack is really down to personal preference, but what I’ve listed is the most balanced you will get to maximize DPS, speed up global cooldowns, and force regeneration.
This stat increases your Force Critical Chance and your force critical multiplier (pretty much all of your abilities are “force abilities”). Force Critical is the chance that a successful Force Power will deal critical damage or critical heal. Pretty much the percentage of your Force Abilities to make a critical damage or heal.
Force Critical Multiplier is percentage by which Critical hits or heals increase damage health dealt.
What you should see on your Character Tab (under Force Tab) is Critical 35%+ (35% should be a base with the stats posted up there, difference is going to be from what Datacrons, companions buffs and class buffs. Same will apply to the rest of the stats). Critical Multiplier 65.9%
Ever since 3.0 dropped, alacrity is one of the best stats available to you, it speeds up your global cooldowns, and affects how fast your damage over time (DoTs) ticks; it basically increases the speed at which abilities are executed. Furthermore, a higher alacrity rating will boost Force Regeneration, which can be quite helpful if you have force management issues.
If you followed my stat recommendations, what you should see is Alacrity 7.46% and Force Regen Rate 8.6%. Force Regen already has a base of 8 per second, which with 685 Alacrity rating gives an extra 0.6 force regen per second.
Power has become a basic stat for sages and pretty much every slot or gear includes this stat. There is no diminishing return to it and it gives more bonus damage than Mastery. Mastery does provide some extra Critical Change, but it a low amount. In the end, the difference between Power and Mastery is small.
What you should see (under Bonus Damage/Bonus Healing) is 2378 and 1722.
Balance Sage should only run Relic of Serendipitous Assault (chance to give extra power) and Relic of Focused Retribution (chance to give extra mastery).
These stats are my personal preference; you might see differences on the percentages on your character tab (Force Tab), because all the gear I show is Ranked. There might be a difference of 100-200 points with the Regular gear, there might also be a difference since I don´t have any Datacrons at all. Make sure to always wear an Advanced Anodyne Versatile Stim.
Different utilities should be used in different situations, in the case of sages you don´t have much to pick up on Skillful part, but you do on Heroic and Masterful. What you spec into should be influenced by what you are doing (i.e. Regular WZs, Solo Ranked or Team Ranked), every situation demands a different Utilities set up.
Different Utilities Setup
The one on the left is quite basic and has all you need in case of an “emergency”. If you are not used to sitting still to cast Force Serenity, you may pick up Force Mobility. Other Sages with more experience could use the one on the right. Suppression is a really nice ability which you could use with a Warzone Adrenal, giving you a 40% damage reduction. While Containment is not really a must, but you could pick it up to help the team or cc someone annoying you; healers, etc (remember to use it on targets that are not affected by DoTs, otherwise it is going to be a 2 second hard stun). Try a mix of all of these possibilities for solo ranked, just keep in mind Egress and Life Ward are a must for solo ranked.
Abilities and Rotation
This is the fun part, but it is pretty basic, your damage rotation has to be complemented with helping teammates, positioning, kiting and situational awareness.
Defensive Abilities and Cooldowns
Your initial rotation is quite simple: open with Sever Force (because of the 2 seconds root), then Weaken Mind pop Force Potency (which gives you 2 charges+1 from set bonus), Mental Alacrity and cast Force Serenity. It is quite important to click on the ground when you use Force in Balance to spread your DoTs to many targets as it is possible (up to 5 targets), they will also gain Force Suppression which increases your DoTs damage.
Then you use Telekinesis Throw till you get 4 stacks of Presence of Mind to instantly cast Vanquish (never hard cast Vanquish), follow up with Telekinesis Throw again till 4 procs of Presence of Mind and use Disturbance. The basic idea here is always keep 4 stacks ofPresence of Mind up, when Vanquish is available use it, also keep an eye out to keep Force Suppression on the target you want to use Vanquish on for more DoT damage.
To end with basic rotation you use Project since it is an instant cast and usually should hit for 3-5k, try to use it after you use Disturbance.
Personal Advice: Try to use Force in Balance always before you use Vanquish, so the target can have Force Suppression, which increases your DoTs damages. Also Vanquish gives the enemy player a Debuff called Vulnerable, which increases the damage received by Force Attacks by 5%, my recommendation is to Vanquish different targets when possible, increasing your damage done in the end.
Always keep your DoTs up on every target for more damage, your single job is to keep them up. Make sure to not break Force Lift, Flashbang, Roar by using DoTs.
Solo Ranked Rotation
In solo ranked your rotation will deviate from the Basic one that is most suited for regular warzone matches. The difference for solo ranked is that you will have to try to maximize the survivability of your team mates. Here is the deal, Solo Ranked is about outliving the other team, when you understand that concept you begin to wonder what you can do. Sages have some healing abilities that can be used on the players from your team, such as Rejuvenate, Benevolence, Force Armor, Rescue (not a heal but can pull the target away from melee, then you can heal him to full, or half).
These abilities will make your rotation vary from what I or any sage tells you, this is where situational awareness and peeling come in to play. Both of which are discussed later on in this guide.
The ideal rotation will go as follows: putting your Phase Walk in a safe place (will see this point further the guide too), Bubble (Force Armor) your entire team (make sure to bubble only non-sages players), and run towards the enemy and do the basic rotation. After using Disturbance you will look out for your team mates health, throw them some bubbles (Force Armor debuff should be down by now), bubble everyone and throw a rejuvenate or/plus Benevolence on a low target. You may pull (Rescue) him too depending on if he has his defensive cooldown up or not (if he has defensive cooldowns up DO NOT Rescue him).
Make sure you Line of Sight ranged enemies, it will help you to not take damage, not getting interrupted, and can off heal team mates without worrying.
After helping team mates return to your rotation and repeat till you win.
Advice: Again, keep your DoTs up all the time. If you are the focused target, don´t freak out, chill and make them play your game. Put your Phase Walk in a smart place, kite the enemies to the opposite direction (never close to your Phase Walk), use PW and heal to full. Remember to keep Force Armor and Rejuvenate on you, and DoTs on all the enemy players you can, for maximum healing and survivability.
4.0 gave you a new best friend. It is basically the most ridiculous ability ever created. Well to start off, you have to put your Phase Walk in smart places such as I will list below. You can put it in different places, but make sure to put it as central as you can (since PW has a 60 meter range) and in a place that you can Line of Sight Ranged, and avoid being close to Melee. After you use your PW to return to the marked position, all you have to do is HEAL TO FULL, make sure to heal to full or you are doing it wrong. Also never use Force Barrier before you use Phase Walk or both at the same time, it is a waste. In some situations where the enemy team rushed to you and you either didn´t have the chance of placing Phase Walk or you placed it and it is a few meters away from the fight you have 2 options, force speed your way out of there, far as you can go and then use PW, or you will have to bubble. In case you bubble, after it ends run way to the limit of your PW. You need to be as far as you can from it to use it as emergency and then heal to full, this way you will take the more damage that you can, praying that your team has killed 1 or 2 players. Where to put your phase walk Solo Ranked:
Always use that thing to place your PW. Both sides has a pretty similar one, so place it in the point that you can LOS any ranged on the bridge. If melee is close to the PW placement, kite them away, go in a direction such as the other side of the map. The best thing to do is get the fight to beneath the bridge, close as you can to the other “pillar”, PW and heal to full.
On Square use these walls to put your PW. If you use the boxes right down the base you are putting yourself in risk of being too far away and it won’t port you. These marked spots are the most centric ones with the capacity of LOS and getting away from the fight quite easily; giving you time to heal to full. There are more centric spots than these marked ones, such as the box in middle, but enemy players are probably going to catch you quicker if you port there than the places I’ve marked.
PW placement here has quite a lot of possibilities, you can either use the houses or down the huts. If you use the house it will for sure let you heal to full. In case someone comes closer you can knock them back right down, giving you even more time to heal to full.
Best place to put the PW are these “walls”, try to put it in the center of this wall, making you untouchable by any possible AOE´s. Both sides have the same wall, just make sure to keep the fight away from sight so you can have some time to heal to full.
Situational Awareness and Creating UI
This is what is going to make the difference between a good Sage and an average or bad Sage. Average Sages will just straight sit on one spot and do damage while taking damage, having quite high damage numbers, but the healing done is going to be only from Force Barrier/Force Armor heals or absorb, etc.
Situational Awareness is about knowing what is going on everywhere. You need to set up your UI to something where you can easily see your team´s health and where they are.
This is my UI, the scoreboard has to be close in case you need to CC particular targets (you have to either click on the scoreboard or use focus target modifier), and the operations frame has to be real close to the middle of the screen. In case any of the team mates need help, Rescue, heals, etc., you can do it quickly without having to move your mouse all over the screen. Other ways to do this is using binds assigned to each group member.
Something that is important too is that you need a quick bar with all of the most important abilities or the ones that you use the most, to know when they are off cooldown or available to use. You can set it even in the middle of the screen, just make sure you put it in a place that you can see quickly for emergencies.
Also I recommend playing at a 100% camera distance, giving you the chance to see all the panorama, be able to tell what is the enemy team going to do, try to predict and be one or two movements ahead of the others.
Another important thing is interrupting healer or dps (in case of no healers in the match) using Focus Target Modifier.
Focus Target Modifier is one of the best things of Swtor, pretty easy to use and set up. Try to use Mind Snap (interrupt) on cooldown when there is a healer on the match. You may also use Focus Target Modifier to CC targets, attack them without having the need to move to next enemy, etc.
Here is a video from Kre´a that I highly recommend watching if you don´t know how to set up focus target modifier.
Kiting is another pretty important aspect of Sages. If you are able to kite well, by the time that you die, there will be 1-4 deaths on the enemy team. Why is this as important as a Sage? Well kiting is one of the most basic things that a Sage has to do. We are the squishiest class in the game, without force barrier we would pretty defenseless. What you have to do is kite all you can, until you have 5-15k HP with no choice but to barrier.
- Force Slow is a really good friend. Try to use it on cooldown against melee, make sure the target doesn´t have movement impairing buffs or it will be a waste of global cooldown.
- You have 2 roots to be used, one each 8 seconds and the other each 20 seconds. Sever Force roots the target for 2 seconds, giving you extra time to get away, cast a full Benevolence or full cast of Telekinesis Throw to get a Vanquish off. Force Wave knockbacks and roots the target for 5 seconds (in case the enemy player takes direct damage, it breaks the root after the initial 2 seconds)
- Force Speed has a 30 seconds cooldown, use this ability wisely. When melee jumps on you, they usually cc you instantly, and if you used force run in the same moment they jumped on you, you are probably going to get cc´d, wasting one Force Speed. So make sure you eat a CC or 2, then you Force Speed your way out.
How to use knockback while going to a different direction
- Don´t use Smart Camera (it is on preferences-> Controls -> Camera -> Leave Smart Camera unmarked.
- Bind Strife Left and Strife Right.
Here is a short video to use it as example. There are other ways to do this, this is a good one though. [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XvA-VaODx0&w=448&h=252&hd=1] I will try adding more videos doing duels against melee, to show some examples of effective kiting.
About the Author
I am Dacri, 23 years old, I’m from Chile and been playing Swtor for almost 3 years. I been quite active in the solo ranked scenario, been 2 times #1 Sage overall, and 1 time #2 Sage. I have 4 Sorcs and 2 Sages since season 4, and since then I’ve been all-star on each toon.
I really enjoy this game, I think it could improve a lot, it has had the potential for like over 5 years, but there doesn´t seem to be an interest from BW, which has made me play less and less.
I had like to mention my friend Obidion/Javelin, Glorfindel, Onzo, Reekü, Droid and a few others that have joined me on different servers such as Bastion, Harbinger, Pot5, Shadowlands, TEH, ToFN among others, and helped me to get better in different things within the game.
If you need any help, feel free to mail me/whisper me in-game, my toon names are Dacri (Sorcerer, no special letters), and Dacrí (Sage). I been only playing on Harbinger lately, and doesn´t seem like I´m moving servers anytime soon.
Here is my stream twitch.tv/Dacri1, I stream sometimes and I highly recommend Sorcerers to watch streams/videos to get an idea of what to do, concepts, etc.