SWTOR 4.0 Lightning Sorcerer PvE Guide by Sion.[toc]
Intro to Lightning Sorcerer
The Lightning Sorcerer is a ranged burst dps class that offers some of the best utility for a dps class in the game. With our ability to self heal, off-heal, and bubble allies, Sorcs are valuable additions to any raid group. Although Sorcs are not the top parsing by any means, a well played Lightning Sorc is very capable of competing with other dps classes.
Single Target Damage: 4/10
Lightning Sorcerer is not the strongest dps class out there being a ranged burst caster spec. We gained more mobility in 3.0, but in 4.0 we did not gain a new damage passive like most other dps specs (including madness) did. Because of this as well as Reverberating Force getting decreased, our dps is not the strongest, but if played correctly it is still plenty strong.
AoE Damage: 7/10
Although our AoE is not as good as it used to be, Lightning Sorcs still boast some of the best AoE in the game among dps classes. With Chain Lightning and Force Storm, we have incredible burst AoE, and with very little resource management we can spam Force Storm for a long time without having to worry about running out of Force.
Burst Damage: 8/10
Lightning also boasts some of the best burst in the game. We have an autocrit in Thundering Blast that benefits from Supercrit every 9s, and while we may not have an ability that hits for 20k+, we do have more frequent burst windows in our rotation that make up for this.
Raid Utility: 9/10
Sorcs bring excellent raid utility with them into any group. We bring with us a copious amount of abilities including our pull (though used almost exclusively for trolling raid members it does have its niche uses), battle rez, cleanse, raid buff, force and AoEdebuffs, self and off heals, bubble, and the ability to completely mitigate some mechanics via our Force Bubble.
Even the Sorcs have Light Armor, we are not as squishy as one would think. We have a bubble that lasts for 30s that is refreshable every 15s, our new passive allows us to have 9% additional damage reduction, and we have another shield that gives us invulnerability for 8s. Additionally we have utilities that make our bubbles stronger and our threat dump grant damage reduction as well. All of this combined with our ability to heal ourselves in a pinch, allows us to survive well in fights.
The following numbers are taken from Bant’s Optimal Stats thread on the SWTOR Forums. In case there is any confusion E=Enhancement (these include implants and earpiece), A=Augment, and C=Crystal. These stat distributions are based off of token gear.
216 Defiant Gear
- 4969 Mastery
- 2639 Power
- 1213 Critical Rating (6xE, 3xA, 2xC)
- 730 Alacrity (10xA)
- 681 Accuracy (4xE, 1xA)
220 Exarch Gear
- 5158 Mastery
- 2779 Power
- 1247 Critical Rating (5xE, 5xA ,2xC)
- 772 Alacrity (3xE, 4xA)
- 685 Accuracy (2xE, 5xA)
224 Ultimate Exarch Gear
- 5372 Mastery
- 2931 Power
- 1287 Critical Rating (5xE, 5xA, 2xC)
- 796 Alacrity (3xE, 4xA)
- 701 Accuracy (2xE, 5xA)
Although I never doubt Bant’s numbers, I do like to differ a little bit, and since you won’t see a significant dps change within 200 stat either way, my gearing looks like this:
- 1265 Critical Rating (4xE, 7xA, 2xC)
- 818 Alacrity (4xE, 2xA)
This is preference, and I am sure there is no real difference between my way and Bant’s, but I tend to lean more towards alacrity than crit with Lightning, which will be evidenced more in the Set Bonus section.
Ever since 3.0 Sorcs have been a little weird when it comes to set bonus. In 3.0 it was preferable to use the Revanite Force Master 2-piece with the now unobtainable Dread Master 4-piece. After some preliminary testing, it is my opinion that this still holds true, substituting the Revanite for the Ultimate Exarch of course. The increase is not crazy. On the low end it is about 50 points higher, but I have also had parses that were a difference of 250 dps with similar crits. I will continue to test this as I am only currently 75% 224 BiS gear, though I do not expect this to change, and until hard evidence is given to the contrary, I would recommend using the Dread Master 4-piece with the Ultimate Exarch Force Master 2-piece, provided you obtained the Dread Master set pre 4.0 as it is no longer obtainable. Part of the reason this works, in my opinion, is because of the way the new 6-piece interacts with Thundering Blast, which is to say that it doesn’t. If Recklessness increased the crit damage of Thundering Blast, there probably would be no reason to not use it, but as it stands that 3rd charge of recklessness is often wasted on a lightning bolt, which is not enough of a dps increase to warrant it.
|Force Suffusion: Overload heals you and up to 7 affected allies for X-X.||Situational. An ok utility if not taking Tempest Mastery.|
|Chain Shock: Shock gains a 25% chance to produce a second Shock that deals 25% damage.||Not worth taking, even if encountering long periods of high mobility.|
|Sith Defiance: Increases damage reduction by 3%.||Always take this. With Light Armor any free damage reduction is welcome.|
|Tempest Mastery: Increases the damage dealt by Force Storm by 25%.||Boss fight with adds? Take this utility. Works great with Storm Brewing passive.|
|Empty Body: Increases all healing received by 10%. Does not affect stolen life.||I often take this for the same reason as Sith Defiance.|
|Sapped Strength:Targets stunned by your electrocute suffer Sapped Strength when Electrocute wears off, which reduces all damage dealt by 25% for 10 seconds.||Extremely situational. This is mainly a PvP ability, but it is useful in mitigating damage from energy spheres in Brontes HM/NiM.|
|Oppressing Force: Lowers the cooldown of electrocute by 10 seconds. In addition, your Whirlwind affects up to 2 additional standard or weak enemies within 8 meters of the target.||PvP/leveling utility. Not worth taking.|
|Dark Speed: Dark Heal increases the movement speed of the target by 50% for 6 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.||This is more of a healer utility, and situational at that. It won’t do much for dps specs.|
|Suppression: Activating Cloud Mind grants Suppression, which increases damage reduction by 25% for 6 seconds.||Very useful for mitigating large hits. I use this on most fights as an extra defensive CD.|
|Corrupted Flesh: Reduces the damage taken from all periodic effects by 15%.||Take this on fights with non-cleansable dots.|
|Emersion: Force Speed grants Emersion, removing all movement impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration.||Good for fights where you need to break out of slows. Can be helpful in Underlurker or Reaches phase in Brontes.|
|Dark Resilience: Reduces the damage taken by the target of your Extrication by 25% for 6 seconds. Additionally increases the healing done by Unnatural Preservation by 30%.||Useful because of the increased healing to Unnatural Preservation. I take this on most fights to alleviate some of the healing on myself.|
|Electric Bindings: Overload binds its targets in electricity, immobilizing them for 5 seconds. Direct damage dealt after 2 seconds ends the effect prematurely.||Mostly a PvP utility. It does come in handy for NiMStyrak though.|
|Lightning Barrier: Increases the amount absorbed by your static barrier by 10%.||Very useful, especially if there is not a Sorc healer in your group.|
|Conspiring Force: Targets affected by your Affliction are slowed by 30% for its duration.||Also a PvP utility, but like Electric Bindings it is useful for NiMStyrak.|
|Dizzying Force: Reduces target’s accuracy by 20% for 8 seconds after Whirlwind ends.||PvP utility. Not worth taking.|
|Backlash: Static Barriers you place on yourself erupt in a flash of light when they end, blinding up to 8 nearby enemies for 3 seconds. This effect breaks from direct damage.||PvP utility.|
|Surging Speed: Polarity Shift increases your movement speed by 50% while active. Force Speed lasts 0.5 seconds longer, and when Force Barrier ends, the active cooldown of Force Speed is reset.||Even in high mobility fights this is not worth taking. Too little benefit to use a utility point.|
|Shapeless Spirit: Reduces all damage taken while stunned by 30%.||Situational. Useful on fights where the boss will switch targets and stun like Brontes.|
|Force Haste: Reduces the cooldown of Force Speed by 5 seconds, Force Slow by 3 seconds, and Force Barrier by 30 seconds.||The reduced CD on Force Barrier is nice, but I find that there are other utilities that provide more than this.|
|Force Mobility: Thundering Blast, Innervate, and Force Leach may be activated while moving.||This should be taken on every fight. Increased mobility is always a good thing.|
|Corrupted Barrier: Your Static Barrier, 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 of Enduring Bastion.||This is good in fights where Shifting Silhouette’s damage reduction won’t get used. This will help out your healers as well so take this in fights with little AoE damage.|
|Haunted Dreams: If your Whirlwind breaks early from damage, the target is stunned for 2 seconds. In addition, Whirlwind activates instantly.||This can be helpful in fights like Revanite Commanders or Colonel Vorgath (minefield assassin droids) but is not a must take.|
|Shifting Silhouette: Reduces all area of effect damage taken by 30%. In addition, using Phase Walk to return to its marked location grants Shifting Silhouette, keeping you from being lept to or pulled and making you immune to interrupts and ability activation pushback for the next 6 seconds.||With 4.0 Sorcs finally have an AoE damage reduction. Always take this if there is any AoE in a fight. We have light armor, any extra damage reduction is always welcome.|
Here are some example utility selections. These are not all of them, but I feel that they illustrate what I often do in fights. Keep in mind that these are my personal preferences. They are only here to give people ideas and starting points and are far from rules by which to live.
w/ or w/o AoE damage
Adds w/ or w/o AoE damage
Passives and Abilities
Lightning Discipline Passives
|Crushing Darkness [CD]- Summons a dark cloud of energy to crush the target, instantly dealing X-X kinetic damage and an additional X kinetic damage over 6 seconds.
Range: 35m, Activation: 2s, Force: 36, Cooldown: 15s
|Affliction [Aff]- Casts a powerful Force affliction that deals X internal damage over 18 seconds.
Range: 35m, Force: 32
|Thundering Blast [TB]- Sends a thundering blastwave at a single target that deals X-X internal damage. Thundering Blast automatically critically hits targets affected by your Affliction.
Range: 35m, Activation: 1.5s, Force: 45, Cooldown: 9s
|Lightning Flash [LF]- Blasts the target with a quick flash of lightning, which deals X-X damage and grants Force Flash, which reduces the activation time of your next Crushing Darkness by 0.5 seconds. This effect lasts up to 12 seconds.
Range: 35m, Force: 45, Cooldown: 15s
|Chain Lightning [CL]- Delivers an arc of lightning that deals X-X damage to up to 8 targets within 8 meters of the primary target.
Range: 35m, Activation: 2.5s, Force: 45, Cooldown: 6s
|Lightning Bolt [LB]- Hurls a bolt of lightning at the target, dealing X-X energy damage and slowing the target by 30% for 3 seconds. Replaces Lightning Strike.
Range: 35m, Activation: 1.5s, Force: 30
|Force Storm – Calls down a Force Storm over the target area, consuming 60 Force and dealing 1402 energy damage to up to 8 targets within 8 meters over the duration of the channel. Standard and weak targets have a 33% chance to be stunned by the storm each second.
|Shock – Shocks the target for X-X energy damage. Standard and weak targets are additionally stunned for 3 seconds.
Range: 35m, Force: 36, Cooldown: 6s
|Dark Heal – Heals a friendly target for X-X health.
Range: 30m, Activation: 1.5s, Force: 50
|Resurgence – Immediately heals the target for X-X, plus an additional X over 9 seconds.
Range: 30m, Force: 27, Cooldown: 6s
|Unnatural Preservation – Immediately restores X-X health to you. Cannot be used on others.
|Expunge – Cleanse a friendly target of up to 2 negative mental or Force effects.
Range: 30m, Force: 12, Cooldown: 12s
|Extrication – Lowers the target’s threat by a moderate amount and, if the target is a group member, pulls the target to your location.
Range: 30m, Force: 27, Cooldown: 1 minute
|Force Speed [FS]- Increases movement speed by 150% for 2 seconds. Does not break stealth.
|Phase Walk – Activating this ability marks your current location for 10 minutes. When this ability is activated again, if you are within 60 meters of the marked location, you instantly return to the marked location|
|Reanimation – Revives an incapacitated ally. This ability is usable while in combat. When used, all group members can neither use nor be the target of an in-combat revival for the next 5 minutes.
Range: 30m, Activation: 1.5s, Force: 27, Cooldown: 5 minutes
Offensive and Defensive Cooldowns
|Polarity Shift [PS]- Your connection to the Force shifts, granting 20% alacrity and immunity to pushback and interrupts for 15 seconds.|
|Recklessness [Rck]- Grants 2 charges of Recklessness, which increases the Force critical chance of your direct attacks and heals by 60% and increases the ranges of Force Lightning and Depredating Volts to 30 meters. Each time a direct Force ability critically hits or a channeled Force ability is activated, 1 charge is consumed. Lasts 20 seconds.
Cooldown: 1m 30s
|Unlimited Power [UP]- Increases mastery, endurance, and presence for you and your Operation group members within 40 meters by 10% . Lasts 10 seconds
Force: 45, Cooldown: 5 minutes
|Force Barrier – Projects a Force Barrier around you, granting immunity to all control, damage, and negative effects while channeled. This ability does not respect the global cooldown and can be used while controlled. While you are protected by Force Barrier charges will build up and grant you Enduring Bastion, a shield that absorbs an amount of damage based off the charges that are present when Force Barrier ended. Enduring Bastion also grants immunity to interrupts.
Cooldown: 3 minutes
|Static Barrier – Surrounds the target in a lightning shield that lasts 30 seconds and absorbs a high amount of damage. The target becomes deionized and cannot benefit from Static Barrier again for 20 seconds.|
|Cloud Mind – Wipes enemies’ thoughts, instantly lowering your threat by a moderate amount.
Additionally grants 25% damage reduction for 6 seconds. (with Suppression utility)
|Advanced Anodyne Attack Adrenal – Increases Power by 750 and decreases all healing done by 20%. Lasts 15 seconds.
Cooldown: 3 minutes
This opener applies regardless of whether you are using the Dread Master 4-piece and Ultimate Exarch 2-piece or the Ultimate Exarch 6-piece.
CD -> PS, Aff -> UP, Adrenal, TB -> FS, LB ->Rck, LF -> CL -> LB -> LB -> LB -> TB -> CL -> LB -> CD -> LF -> LB -> TB -> CL -> Priority System
One thing to note is that in the opener I use Polarity Shift before casting Affliction. This is done because the increased alacrity increases the tick rate of the DoT. This carries over whenever Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning refresh Affliction as well. This allows us to squeeze a little extra damage out of Affliction. With the increased tick rate, Affliction can now tick right before a refresh from Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning, which will then cause it to tick again, thus gaining just a little bit more damage from Affliction.
The nice thing about Lightning Sorcerer is that it is a priority system. Because of this you don’t have to worry about where to pick up if you experience downtime due to boss mechanics. You simply use the ability with highest priority and work from there.
There are really only 5 abilities that factor into the priority system, but the caveat to that is Affliction must be on your target. That being said, the priority is as follows:
- Thundering Blast
- Crushing Darkness (with proc)
- Lightning Flash
- Chain Lightning (with proc)
- Lightning Bolt
Thundering Blast must always be used on cooldown. It is an autocrit every 9 seconds (with no alacrity) and therefore must take priority over everything else. This leads us into Crushing Darkness, which should be used only with the Force Flash proc. Lightning Flash is next due to its decent damage and because of the Force Flash proc. Although Chain Lightning hits rather hard, its proc’s 10s internal cooldown pushes it rather low on the priority provided the proc is not about to fall off, which it never should. When everything else is on cooldown, Lightning Bolt is your primary filler. I say primary because there are times when movement is a higher priority. In cases such as these it is acceptable to use Shock while moving provided that none of your rotational abilities are available for use.
There are a few ways of going about this depending on the priority of the group of adds that are being killed. However, regardless of the scenario you want to prioritize Chain Lightning and Force Storm. If they will die pretty quickly this is all you want to do. If there is a higher health add in among lower health ones, then you can throw in Affliction and Thundering Blast and the continue with Chain Lightning and Force Storm. You should not be using Lightning Flash, Lightning Bolt, or Crushing Darkness though.
Some Notes on Offensive Cooldowns
Polarity shift is by far your best offensive cooldown. I always try to use this right before a Thundering Blast. However, I will uses it earlier if a Lightning Flash will benefit from its use sooner than a Thundering Blast would. The reason is a combination of your Chaos Nexus and Forked Lightning Passives. You want to make sure you can fit as many of your hardest hitting abilities into a Polarity Shift block so don’t just use it on cooldown, but never delay it longer than one Thundering Blast cycle. While talking about Polarity Shift, it is also worth talking about ability usage during the time that it is active. Traditionally, it has been considered important to prioritize Lightning Bolt over Crushing Darkness during Polarity Shift because Chaos Nexus doubles Lightning Bolt’s chance to proc. I have found, however, that it is still not worth delaying Crushing Darkness. If you look at how much damage is done by each ability, Lightning Bolt would be better, when it procs, as far as instant damage goes. However, when you consider how much additional damage Crushing Darkness does with its DoT, that is still for only a 1 gcd cast, CD comes out ahead in damage even if it doesn’t proc once and Lightning Bolt does. This is under the assumption that they are critting more or less equally. Because of this, and what I have seen in my own parses, I find it more beneficial to never use Lightning Bolt over Crushing Darkness.
Next we come to Recklessness. I try to use Recklessness when under the effects of Polarity Shift as often as I can, partially because of the reduced cooldown the increased alacrity brings me, but also because with the increased chance to proc on abilities we are making an almost guaranteed crit. As far as ability usage goes, always try to use a Recklessness on Chain Lightning and Lightning Flash. The next highest priority for a Recklessness charge is Crushing Darkness, followed lastly by Lightning Bolt. Always be careful when using Recklessness following Thundering Blaster however. Because of its travel time, Thundering Blast can consume a Recklessness charge even if Recklessness is used after. This is why I often buffer these two abilities with a Lightning Bolt, as is shown in the opener above. Using Recklessness is always a little bit of weighing your options with what you will have available. Delaying it for a short time is okay, if you will get your hardest hitting abilities to align, but like all your offensives, too long of a delay will make you lose dps. Each situation is different and it just comes down to knowing the fights and knowing your class in order to determine what to use and when.
Unlimited Power should not be used in the opener if you will need it later for a tight burn phase. It is always important that you use your offensive cds appropriately for the maximum potential dps, instead of just when they are available. That being said, you don’t want to over delay these abilities either, and some discretion on the player’s part is necessary.
One final note for Force Speed is that there is no dps gain to use it on cooldown since you are simply making the damage of the Lightning Bolts come at the beginning of the gcd instead of the end. Where this does have use though is within proc windows, the most relevant being relic procs. When a casted Lightning Bolt would fall outside of the proc, but an instant wouldn’t, you would use Force Speed for the instant proc.
Sample Parse and Video
Here are links to a parse and the corresponding video for said parse. These are by no means perfect, but they do illustrate what the class can do in decent gear with good crit. I am using the Dread Master 4-piece, but the rotation really doesn’t change either way.
How to Analyze Your Parse
The most important part you should look is if you are using Thundering Blast, Crushing Darkness, and Lightning Flash on cooldown. The way to check this is to look at the ability usage section and then look at the Avg Time. At the very minimum this should be the same as your abilities cooldown, heavily varying by alacrity. As a note, Thundering Blast’s cooldown only starts once the cast finishes. This means with no alacrity, the average usage of Thundering Blast should be 10.5 seconds. While talking about Thundering Blast, the crit % should 100%. If it is not you have messed up somewhere.
As far as damage profile goes, Lightning Bolt should be your highest damage because of its high usage, followed by Thundering Blast, Chain Lightning, Affliction, Lightning Flash, Crushing Darkness (crushed) which is the DoT, and Crushing Darkness which is the initial hit per cast. What follows will be your Forked Lightning and Forked Darkness procs. Due to large amounts of rng, the amount of damage, and their occurrences, will vary heavily.
Visual illustration based on the above parse:
I just want to thank Bant for his amazing work both on his Optimal Stats, but also in helping me editing this and telling me a few things that I didn’t know about Affliction. A special thanks to Vladishun as well for helping me edit the rambling mess that this guide originally was.
I owe a big thank you to all the other guide writers, without which this guide would have far less structure.
I also want to thank everyone in my raid group in Psy-ops for helping me to become a better player and for putting up with my shenanigans.
Finally, I want to give a special shout out to Apries, without whose particular skills as a test dummy, I would never have learned so many ways to kill someone with Extricate.