SWTOR 4.0 Hatred Assassin PvE Guide by Aelanis.[toc]
Intro to Hatred Assassin
At the beginning of 3.0, Hatred was a respectable Discipline in PvE. It had respectable damage, could handle some mechanics in very interesting ways, and had some range over your typical melee DPS. It was a little squishy, but that was the price we paid to get the extra damage over Deception, and we could live with it. Unfortunately, it was also extraordinarily strong in PvP, and over the course of a few patches, we found ourselves a shadow (pun intended) of what we were at launch. 4.0 only made it worse with the loss of a lot of our surge bonus on our melee moves. However, since the burst nerf of 4.0.3, we stand in a, relatively, better place than before. We do slightly more damage than our sister, burst Discipline, Deception, and stand roughly middle of the road in terms of sustained damage, making Hatred the preferred Discipline for many fights. However, the vastly better defenses Deception possesses and the still-decent burst Deception offers make it a better choice on some fights.
- Single Target DPS: Average
- AoE Damage: Moderate
- Group Utility: Low
- Rotation Difficulty: Moderate-High
- RNG Dependent: Very Slightly
- Burst: Low-Moderate
- Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes
As these ratings are relative to other classes, it will be a little while before “accurate” ones can be given.
Gearing and Stat Priority
- **Must Have** Accuracy: As close to 682 accuracy rating as possible.
- ~66%-67% Critical damage bonus (~1,050-1,200 Critical Rating)
- Augments: All into Alacrity that you don’t use for Accuracy and Critical Rating
- Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
- Set bonus: 6 piece Stalker’s
- Lightning Charge
- Reaching the Accuracy cap should be your highest priority. You do no damage if you miss, and so reducing how much you miss increases your damage.
- With the change in 4.0 for Crit and Surge to be rolled into one stat, the only thing to really talk about any more is what enhancements to use and how to augment yourself. With the large pools of Power and Mastery we passively have from our gear, the Tertiary stats have become the most valuable stats to augment for.
- Critical Rating, now a tertiary stat, is extremely valuable, in that it combats its own diminishing returns, since it also affects our critical damage bonus. Despite it being bad in previous tiers, make sure to not skip out on it.
- Alacrity is also good for this Discipline. Despite the changes to Critical Rating making it so good, we still have a high enough stat budget that the nature of diminishing returns causes the first few (many at this point) points in Alacrity to overtake Critical Rating in terms of damage increase above a certain value.
- The stat bonus between the Boundless Ages and Serendipitous Assault/Focused Retribution is now so large that the Boundless Ages relic is strictly inferior, even if it controls burst better, and is even better than the tertiary stat relics, because they just give so much more stat.
- Getting your set bonus as quickly as possible is highly recommended. It will increase your DPS substantially enough that having lower item level armorings with the set bonus is a better option than higher item level armorings without it.
As in every expansion in this game, gearing a DPS character will require grabbing numerous pieces. However, at each tier in the game it’s possible to mix and match enough pieces that there are no longer any “best” pieces to get multiples of. With augments, it’s very possible to get close to best in slot gear without having to get a tremendous amount of extra drops in instances. Combined with the fact that there is now only 1 secondary stat, which leaves only 3 total different stat distributions for each piece in each slot, it makes gearing a significantly smaller hassle in this expansion than in others in the past. Basically: keep your old set until you get your full new bonus, and swap in new mods, enhancements, etc. as you get more pieces.
Utility selection should go on a boss-by-boss basis, as we have a wide variety of abilities that can make certain situations go from challenging to sleep inducing. There are two utilities that you’re going to want regardless of the fight, and a bunch that have situational use, but are not always mandatory. Each boss you’ll probably want a different Utility set. However, there are a few you should have for each boss fight, due to them being so strong in general.
- Misdirection/Obfuscation: Movement speed bonuses help you increase uptime on a boss by both being able to keep up with it and close gaps between adds faster. Any time you can take a movement speed increase as a melee class, you probably should. As icing on the cake, the extra 5 stealth levels help you to sneak up closer to enemies before being detected. (Skillful)
- Force Harmonics/Audacity: As the only utility that increases your single target DPS, you should definitely take it. Despite seeming small (1 extra charge every minute and a half?) it’s actually a fairly significant boost in damage. (Masterful)
That leaves 5 more utilities to choose based on the boss.
- Celerity/Avoidance: Reduced cooldown on our stun breaker is more or less useless, and Force Speed now has a long enough cooldown that it’s hard to justify the utility based entirely on that merit. Reduced cooldown on our interrupt, however, gives this utility serious use in fights that require lots of them, as it lets you and another person with an 8 second interrupt cooldown keep an ability from being casted permanently. (Skillful)
- Shadowy Veil/Insulation: Good for if you have to take a lot of unavoidable damage as long as it can be mitigated by your extra armor rating. (Skillful)
- Lambaste: Are there significant portions of the boss where you can do AoE damage? If yes, you should really take this talent, since 25% more damage on Lacerate is pretty massive. (Skillful)
- Mind Over Matter/Disjunction: At an extra 2 seconds of Shroud, this talent is overall very strong, but gains even more use in some situations. It can help you survive, or even completely cheese, mechanics that you can’t with just a 3 second Shroud. (Masterful)
- Egress/Emersion: This is a utility that DPS Assassins used to be very jealous of tanks for, it’s invaluable on fights where there are persistent slows, back to back roots, or enemies leaping to you. (Masterful)
- Speed Surge/Kinetic Acceleration: 50% extra move speed with 50% up time that you get by properly using your rotation? It’s a pretty good deal if you have to chase a boss being kited by a tank, or move quickly between adds. The downside is that you can’t control when you get the buff, since it’s rotational, or else it would be mandatory.
- Cloak of Resilience/Shroud of Madness: This talent comes in handy when you need an extra few seconds of immunity to Force/Tech attacks. Use it to eat otherwise nasty abilities so that you can keep better uptime on bosses or as a backup for if you need to use Shroud again. (Heroic)
- Containment/Haunted Dreams: Very situational. In fights with non-CC immune enemies (read: Revanite Commanders), it can be very useful to point at an enemy and insta-mez them for 8 seconds. (Heroic)
- Sturdiness/Dark Stability: Not terribly useful in Operations, as there are few times you will get stunned, which also makes Mental Defense/Shapeless Spirit a less than optimal choice, but there are lots of stuns in daily areas that can make these utilities still very useful. (Heroic)
Abilities and Rotation
The opening rotation is a chance to deal quite a bit of damage in Hatred, as well as set you up for the entire rest of the fight. Before the fight, start with Phantom Stride. This will trigger Bloodletting very early, and not start combat (though it’s not recommended in boss fights without Blackout up!), allowing you to possibly fit another Assassinate into the fight. You move on by pre-casting Demolish into: Discharge > Adrenal + Death Field > Thrash > Assassinate > Creeping Terror > Demolish > Leeching Strike.
This sets you up for a very high damage first Assassinate, as the Demolish ticks combined with the Discharge ticks, Death Field, and Thrash give you a nearly 100% chance of having both relics going for maximum damage on your auto-crit Assassinate, which you know you’ll have from your earlier Phantom Stride. Unfortunately, Leeching Strike does not fit into the opener until later as losing a relic boost on the auto-crit Assassinate is a damage loss over the 2% damage boost.
An opener that does not hurt your Force bar as badly, and lets you open up from further away, would be: Creeping Terror > Phantom Stride + Adrenal + Death Field > Discharge > Thrash > Demolish > Leeching Strike > Assassinate. It does not pack the same punch as the first opener, nor does it flow into the normal rotation cleanly, but has a much easier Force recovery phase that follows.
There are two ways to look at the rotation for Hatred: Move Priority and a strict Rotation
Rotation (previously dubbed “DoT Focus Method” by MKnightRider)
This is the method I prefer to use when I play Hatred. It’s a little tricky, but once you get used to it, it is quite easy to follow, and made life before debuff sorting much less of a hassle. Basically, your two 18 second dots will stay fixed at 2 points in your rotation, where nothing should interfere with them. This means you should have perfect uptime on Discharge and Creeping Terror, and they should consume more of your stacks of Death Mark, which is good, since they deal slightly more damage than Demolish per tick. Your rotation framework should look very similar to this:
Discharge > F > M* > F > Creeping Terror > F > M* > F > M > F > M* > F
Each F is a spot in the rotation where you will have Death Field rotate through, or where other things will happen that I’ll explain later. Death Field has a 15 second cooldown, Raze has a 9 second internal cooldown (a half multiple of 18 seconds), and Discharge and Creeping Terror both have 18 second durations. That means that if you look at the Hatred “rotation” in an 18 second block, Death Field will fall back 2 spaces each rotation. Example (MA = melee attack, De = Demolish):
D > MA > MA > De > CT > DF > MA > MA > MA > De > MA > MA
D > MA > MA > DF > CT > De > MA > MA > MA > De > MA > MA
D > DF > MA > De > CT > MA > MA > MA > MA > De > MA > DF
As you can see, you’ll occasionally delay Demolish in order to not delay Death Field. Previously, this would never happen, due to the 7.5 second lockout on Raze, but it is okay to do it now, because you can safely delay Demolish up to 2 GCDs after its Raze trigger and still not miss out on Demolish uptime. With that part of the rotation explained we go back to the framework:
Discharge > F > M* > F > Creeping Terror > F > M* > F > M > F > M* > F
Those Fs in there aren’t just for Death Field. Demolish will, if you go from the suggested opener, land on the second and fifth F spaces, and once in a while be delayed from the second space to the third space or the fifth space to the sixth space when Death Field passes through. Because of its 12 second cooldown, Leeching Strike, used in the M* spaces, will never interfere with Death Field, Creeping Terror, or Discharge, allowing for perfect usage on cooldown during the pre-execute phase. Assassinate and Thrash will always fall into spaces where nothing else interferes.
The main focus of this method is reapplying Discharge and CT right away, which you can flow right into from the suggested opener. You want to keep 3 GCDs between those two DoTs. The only time you will let either dot fall off or break your 3 GCD buffer is to use Assassinate in the execute phase, which has more priority at that point. As MK had said before, prioritizing Assassinate in the execute phase will definitely break the 3 GCD separation, and so at that point this method reverts to a priority method during the execute phase and moves Demolish up the priority. (A = Assassinate, T = Thrash, LS = Leeching Strike, SS = Saber Strike)
- DF on CD
- D (or CT)
- CT (or D)
- T/SS (likely SS due to Force Starvation)
Priority Method (coined by MKnightRider as well)
Most of this is quoted directly from MK’s old guide, and updated for 3.0, and the rotation hasn’t changed since. “The only difference in this method is it always prioritizes Demolish reapplication instead of the rigid Discharge and Creeping Terror reapplication. This means it can be a little harder to follow in an actual fight but this priority does flow perfectly into the execute phase and is exactly what you end up doing in the DoT Focus method during the execute phase anyways.”
Priority is this:
- DF on CD
- D (or CT)
- CT (or D)
- T/SS (likely SS due to Force Starvation)
Openers will be the same as the other method, the differences show up when you get to the second DoT applications and later.
In addition, regardless of what part of the fight you’re in, and regardless of how you’re playing Hatred, you could use Phantom Stride for the Bloodletting trigger if you’re getting unlucky and have passed the 15 second ICD, unless doing so would put you in danger. However, it’s stronger as a gap closer for Hatred, especially with the Force Speed CD increase.
Some extra things to note about Hatred priorities and rotations:
- Saber Strike usage: Saber Strike will refund you 1 Force each time any of its 3 hits actually land. You need to always make sure you have enough Force to get through your DoT application. If you leave 3 spaces between your long duration dots, you have 2 moves you can always count on in there to recover Force, as Death Field may be coming through. The Death Field + Creeping Terror + Discharge combo will cost you a whopping 70 Force, and you naturally recover 60 Force over the course of the 5 GCDs. With a cost of 20 and 30 being possibly back to back, you need to start with at least 38 Force going into this block. If you have more, you may not need to Saber Strike. If you have less, you’re going to have a bad time. Keep aware of this, and use Saber Strike proactively, not reactively.
- Dot application dos and don’ts: If your target isn’t going to survive at least 6 seconds of your dot, don’t bother; it will be a damage loss versus just hitting it with Thrash. Discharge may still be useful for Raze triggers, but that’s it. I’ll go more into this in the AoE section.
- On Overload: With Overload now being limited to 8 targets, you generally won’t use it any more. Lacerate hits the same number of targets and does more damage without knocking enemies back.
- We still have Shock and Force Lightning? Sometimes you can’t quite stay in melee range, but want to keep doing damage. That’s when these abilities come into play. They aren’t rotational, but they have a 10 meter range, and Shock can be used on the move. Useful if you have to, say, kite Raptus in the Dread Council fight.
- About Recklessness: You want Recklessness to be used on Death Field more than you do on Demolish. If you have to delay activating it a few seconds, it’s not the end of the world, and will still net you more damage that way. Conversely, if you’re in an AoE situation, you want to use all but 1 stack on things other than Death Field to maximize the number of critical hits you get, because all critical hit chances are calculated before any of them remove the Recklessness stacks. Therefore, you can get 2 crits off of Demolish and any other Force move, and up to 8 more off of the last stack of Recklessness after only a single use of it.
If you mess up: It’s going to cost you a chunk of damage, but freaking out and messing up more will cost you even more. If you accidentally delay an ability (like Death Field) or mess up dot reapplication, do what you need to in order to fix it, even if it means clipping dots on your next application or delaying Death Field by a global to get it back on track. Don’t let things snowball out of control, or your damage will drop sharply.
AoE Rotation (DoTspread explanation and example by Evolixe)
With the advent of 3.0, you can now spread your long duration dots from one target to up to 7 more. You must simply have one target in your Lacerate’s range that has one of Creeping Terror or Discharge (or both) applied to it, and up to 7 additional targets will become affected by those dots. With more than 8 targets, the selection becomes random and which ones you hit is out of your control, save for targets that have your Creeping Terror or Discharge already on them. Please note: Demolish will not spread to other targets (which would be hilariously more overpowered), do not waste time applying it before Lacerate.
Case 1: You have some number of targets (Evo used 4). You hit one with Discharge and Creeping Terror. After you use Lacerate to hit them, all 4 have both dots, because none of them started with it.
Case 2: You have some number of targets (Evo used 4). You hit one of them with Discharge and another with Creeping Terror. After you use Lacerate to hit them, all 4 will have both dots, since Discharge will spread to all targets without it and Creeping Terror will spread to all targets without it. This method is a little trickier but a little safer. Instead of risking killing your only “host” (has all the dots) if you crit when they don’t have a lot of health, you have less chance to crit and kill both of two hosts. The spreading works just as well, and it’s slightly less likely to kill low health enemies instead of spreading your dots, it just requires a slightly tighter grouping of your targets. It’s also less predictable in PvP. It can also ensure that you hit 2 different targets with Lacerate that you want to make sure die first (or get more damage dealt to them) by forcing the game engine to select them as targets for Lacerate, in the case that there are more than 8 enemies in range.
After you spread your dots, if there are 3 or more targets, you want to spam Lacerate. If they all survive for 18 seconds, you can simply repeat this rotation (dot up, Lacerate, Death Field on CD). With no rate limit, as soon as they fall off the first, you can reapply them to that target, and from them, back to 7 other targets. In the case that they don’t all survive for 18 seconds, you still have a target with both dots on them and can begin your single target rotation.
- Demolish (dot) should be taking first place. It ticks very quickly, resulting in roughly twice as many hits as your other two dots independently. It’s worth roughly 16% of your damage.
- Creeping Terror takes second place. It receives a lot of damage and crit boosts from the tree, and has very good uptime. It’s worth about 13% of your damage.
- Assassinate should be the near the top. You use it fairly often, it hits incredibly hard, and you use it an absurd amount in the execute phase. It’s worth roughly 12% of your damage, down from 3.0 with the loss of 2/3 of its surge boost.
- Death Field hits particularly hard, and has a very high critical chance thanks to Recklessness. Used on cooldown, it should end up in fourth place. It contributes roughly 11% of your damage.
Fifth place goes to Discharge, now, with the increased crit chance, and reduced melee surge boost, at about 10% of your damage, roughly tied with Demolish’s initial hit. 7th place is now a toss up between Thrash and Leeching Strike, largely dependent on their crit percents. Each pair totals roughly 16% of your damage.
The last 12% is split roughly equally between Lightning Charge and Saber Strike. Despite hitting very often with a very high crit chance, Lightning Charge and Saber Strike (not so much on the crits) just don’t hit very hard.
For damage breakdown, roughly 25% of your damage (Death Field and Creeping Terror) is Internal/Elemental, while the rest is Kinetic/Energy. A further split shows that roughly 64% of your damage is Force damage, while the remaining roughly 36% is melee damage. This goes to show that your dots (and Death Field) are an incredibly important part of your damage. Lastly, roughly 11% of your damage that Death Field is worth is Area of Effect damage. You can use this information to try to work out with your raid team what debuffs you want to try to include on your team
About the Author
Aelanis is an avid forum-goer on the Shadow/Assassin forums, hailing from The Shadowlands. Despite having only raided Nightmare content since 2.8 released, Aelanis has put up very competitive numbers on numerous boss fights and previously held a spot on the World DPS leaderboards. If you play on the Shadowlands, you can reach him on Theraton, in Exit Area on the Imperial side, or Ellendra, in Death Mark on the Republic side.