SWTOR 4.0 Serenity Shadow PvP Guide by Krea.[toc]
Intro to Serenity Shadow
Serenity Shadow plays as a medium range melee fighter, specialized in dealing a mixture of force damage as well as melee damage.Unlocking this Discipline’s maximum potential requires a fine balance between spending time in the thick of the battle and spending time at medium range from your enemies. Serenity playstyle is very different from Infiltration and requires a lot more situational awareness due to the fragile nature of the Discipline in terms of raw damage reduction. If you enjoy playing at medium to short range with access to some of the most powerful DoTs in the game as far as PvP goes, then continue reading onward!
- Single Target DPS: 8
- AoE Damage: 7
- Group Utility: 3
- Difficulty: 6
- RNG Dependent: Yes
- Burst: 7
- Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes
Gearing and Stats Priority
- Accuracy: 0
- Alacrity: 0-274
- Critical Rating: 1096
- Power: Secondary stat points should be put into Power
- Relics: Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution
- Augments: Critical Augment 40
- Set Bonus: 6 piece Stalker’s set
- Technique: Force Technique
Gearing in 4.0 has taken a large turn in the opposite direction compared to the 3.0 era. Critical Rating is now much more valuable than before because it now increases both critical chance % as well as surge %. Accuracy is still unused in this Discipline, so refrain from taking any accuracy. Lastly, while Alacrity is still a decent stat, the new Critical Rating stat has simply proven to net greater gains than Alacrity. Because of this, I recommend gearing in a full power/Critical Rating set of gear. You can afford to take 2-3% Alacrity. At the end of the gearing path you will have so much Critical Rating that your DoTs will have a 50%+ Critical Chance and your melee abilities will have a 45%+ Critical Chance. This is almost 3x the amount of Critical Chance % that we had in 3.0. This has greatly increased sustained damage as well as made our self-heals from damage more reliable, which means an increase in survivability. Due to the large amount of Critical Rating that you will be taking your burst windows will also be even more potent, rivaling levels of burst that Infiltration has access to.
As far as augmentation goes, I recommend Critical Augment 40. If you want Alacrity in your build, feel free to use a couple Alacrity enhancements as well in order to hit the 2-3% mark, but you can completely forgo Alacrity if you wish to add more burst to your build through increased Critical Rating. Power augments are still a viable option if you wish to see a higher bonus damage number on your stat sheet, but in practice, the increased Crit % and Surge % are the more attractive option for this Discipline.
Here is the math behind why the Best in Slot augments are what they are as well as why the best in slot relics are what they are: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=846804
Utility choices will vary based on what type of PvP you’re partaking in and most importantly your personal playstyle. While Infiltration has a large array of choices for utilities, Serenity only has a few viable utilities to choose from. Serenity really lacks in the defensive department and because of this, you will want to choose utilities to help boost your defenses.
- Celerity – Cooldown reduction on CC breaker, Force Speed and Interrupt.
- Force Wake – Your knockback roots enemies for 5 seconds. Your DoT damage will not break this root.
- Mental Defense – 30% damage reduction while stunned. Very useful since you will be required to stand in the middle of many enemies to spread your DoTs and you will more than likely be caught by at least one hard stun.
- Egress – Root break attached to your Force Speed. Good utility for kiting and preventing enemies from kiting.
- Mind Over Matter – Force speed lasts .5 seconds longer and Resilience duration is increased by 2 seconds. This also applies to the Resilience gained through the Cloak of Resilience utility, boosting its total duration to 4 seconds. Gives you a total of 4 extra seconds of Resilience in total. This is great for mitigating Force and Tech based damage and CC.
- Cloak of Resilience – Gives you an extra Resilience that activates on use of Force Cloak. Good to use defensively or offensively. As Serenity, you’ll mainly want the defensive boost that this gives.
- One with the Shadows – Allows your Shadow Stride to be used while rooted, and also purges all movement impairing effects when you use Shadow Stride. This is pretty good for kiting as it prevents your enemy from locking you down with roots. There aren’t very many good utilities left in this tier since Sturdiness was nerfed. You could potentially take Containment instead of this utility.
*Note: Sturdiness has been nerfed from 12 seconds in duration down to only 6. Because of this, it’s not worth taking in my opinion. 6 seconds of immunity every 2 minutes is simply not worth it. Most of the AoE CC that this utility would prevent you from being caught in can instead be avoided by having superior positioning skills during a fight.
Abilities and Rotation
In PvP there are no ‘real’ set rotations. With that being said, there is a basic and generic order to use your abilities:
Open with Spinning Kick>Sever Force>Force Breach>(Force Potency)Force in Balance>Whirling Blow/Double Strike>Vanquish>Spinning Strike (If proc’d) otherwise >Whirling Blow/Double Strike>Serenity Strike (If you’ve lost health by this point) >Whirling Blow/Double Strike>Whirling Blow/Double Strike>Whirling Blow/Double Strike>Vanquish.
At this point, you will reapply your DoTs and attempt to DoT spread again via Whirling Blow. Ability usage in ‘Whirling Blow/Double Strike’ blocks will depend on how many enemies you can hit. If you can hit multiple enemies use Whirling Blow, in single target situations just use Double Strike. Sometimes an enemy may purge your DoTs, in these situations you will want to reapply them via Whirling Blow while hitting another enemy that already has DoTs up. If they are out of range of another player with DoTs on them, manually reapply the DoTs before starting your single target DPS rotation using Double Strike. Serenity Strike is best used when you need to recover at least 4k HP so that the self-heal isn’t wasted.
Doing this general rotation will net you maximum possible DPS. Here is a picture of a Solo Ranked match where I was Hatred (imperial version of Serenity)
With better offensive cooldown management, I could have pushed 5k DPS or higher probably. This is just to show what this spec is capable of in an Arena environment.
Peeling is a bit harder to do as Serenity because a lot of the CC that could be used to relieve pressure will be broken by your DoTs. Because of this, I suggest using the Stun Grenades instead of the Seismic Grenades while playing this spec. The stun grenade CC duration is in fact shorter, but it will not break on damage. In conjunction with that, you can use your knockback root to peel for your teammates because your DoTs will not break the root applied from your knockback.
This section will show you key locations on each map to use for line of sight, various locations to drop your Phase Walk offensively and defensively, as well as locations where you want to force fights to happen.
This map is one of the best for a Shadow player. Use the red marks for offensive Phase Walks, green for defensive. Try to initiate the fight by getting a stealth knockdown on as many enemies as possible. Force the fight up on the catwalk and use your knock back to force imbalanced fights for the enemy. If you set your PW up top and have focus fire on you, jump down. If the enemy chases you, PW back up and you have now forced a 3v4 in favor of your team.
Makeb Mesa Arena
The green circles indicate places you want to place your Phase Walk to ensure that you do not get popped out of stealth if you decide to Phase Walk and use Force Cloak to heal to full. The red circles indicate common locations that a ranged or even melee class will run to kite you or to escape being focused by your team. If you place your Phase Walk in these locations, you can often teleport behind your enemy when they go to run or escape.
An amazing trick that is severely underused is setting your Phase Walk on the top bridge and jumping down when you’re focused. I will make a video showing this mechanic, as it will make more sense when it is seen. Essentially, if you are being focused, you will want to jump down off of the bridge to the ground level. If you jump at the appropriate time (about 50-60% HP range) you enemy will 8 times out of 10 attempt to chase you down for the kill. This is when you will use Phase Walk to teleport you back on top of the bridge. This creates an extremely favorable position for your team, as you have now secluded 1 or more of the enemy team on the ground level, forcing their team to fight a 3v4 or even 2v4 if more than one person chases you down.
You will want to communicate with your team that you want to force the fight on the bridge. The reason is that you were a superstar and decided to take Force Wave/Overload root. When the fight is just starting, the enemy will more than likely do 1 of 2 things. 1) Huddle together around the base of the bridge, near the LoS rock. Or 2) Rush the bridge to claim the high ground. This is your time to shine, you will use stealth as your gap closer and use Blackout to increase your stealth level so you can get in undetected. Initiate the fight by properly timing your knock back to knock as many off of the bridge as possible, creating an imbalanced fight for the enemy team, and giving you the advantage as now, whoever was knocked down will have to use movement increasing effects to try to re-engage into the fight, effectively wasting their time and reducing the overall damage your team will take. If you can help it, always try to force the fight up top. The only exception to this is in Tank/Heal/2 DPS matches, as attempting to fight up is just a waste of time. In Heal/3 DPS matches, you will still want to fight on the bridge, even more so, because if you can knock the healer down, you put yourself at a very large advantage towards winning the round.
Corellia Square Arena
Green squares indicate places to place your Phase Walk defensively. Red squares indicate offensive positions to potentially cut off a running enemy. This map plain sucks for Shadow/Assassin players. It is the widest open of the 4 maps, and as such, is terrible to play on when you are facing a multitude of ranged DPS classes because it makes it difficult to Line of Sight. There are a few LoS objects, but they are situated in such a way that you will not be able to always continue to DPS while LoS’ing. The best thing you can do in a map such as this is to wait for the enemy team to engage on your terms, by simply waiting around a LoS object and attempting to attack from behind it. This strategy actually works well if the enemy team has at least 1 melee DPS, as they will be forced into the center of your team, allowing you to both DPS the Melee enemy while simultaneously LoS’ing the ranged DPS. With practice, this becomes easier.
The red indicates places to place your Phase Walk offensively, to catch someone kiting potentially. The green indicates locations that are generally safe to heal to full from. This map is really good for Hatred players. The small size of the map forces fights to be in one centralized location, which is optimal for DoT spreading. There are also a large sum of LoS objects for kiting purposes. A small trick that many don’t utilize is using the outer edge of the pit to LoS players who are on the top of the ledge of the pit. The angle is just slight enough that players will be unable to see you if you hug the wall inside of the pit, effectively allowing you to LoS ranged classes with ease. Knock back root is best utilized here by rooting someone behind one of the 4 inner pillars, or knocking them into the pit when the fight is happening on the top level. Make sure that as a melee DPS, you do not find yourself DPSing your target with your back to the pit, as you will inevitably be knocked in, which is a hassle considering there is only 1 focal way to escape the pit and get back to the fight, depending on which side of the arena you are playing on.
About the Author
Special thanks – Special thanks to <Clickers> of the Bastion/Harbinger. Te’fia of Harbinger, Aelanis of Shadowlands and everyone on the Assassin/Shadow forum. Also, a special thanks to No’Touchy of Harbinger, check her out at Twitch.tv/NoTouchyTv.
Hey guys, I’m Kre’a! I’ve mained an Assassin/Shadow for about 3 years now. In season 4,I achieved 2931 ELO, placing me as Rank #2 overall across all advanced classes and Rank #1 for the Shadow/Assassin advanced class. In season 6 I was Rank #3 for the Shadow/Assassin advanced class. You can check me out at Twitch.tv/Kreea.