SWTOR 5.0 Hatred Assassin PvP Guide by Kre’a.
Intro to Hatred Assassin
Hatred Assassin 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. Hatred playstyle is very different from Deception 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: 9
- AoE Damage: 7
- Group Utility: 2
- Difficulty: 7
- RNG Dependent: Yes
- Burst: 7
- Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes
Gearing & Stat Priority
- Accuracy: 0
- Alacrity: 0 (2-3 Enhancements in Alacrity is Optional)
- Critical Rating: All tertiary points should be put into Critical Rating
- Power: Secondary stat points should be put into Power
- Relics: Serendipitous Assault and Devastating Vengeance
- Augments: Advanced Overkill Augment 45
- Set Bonus: 6-piece Stalker’s set
Changes to gearing in 5.0 mean that you will have to have Cybertech to craft mods and enhancements to min/max your gear. Make sure that you are able to craft the best Power/Critical Enhancements that you can, though you may optionally add in a couple Power/Alacrity enhancements, as you see fit. While Alacrity is still a decent stat, the 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 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 Deception has access to.
As far as augmentation goes, I recommend Overkill Augment 45. 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.
Utility choices will vary based on what type of PvP you’re partaking in and most importantly your personal playstyle. While Deception has a large array of choices for utilities, Hatred only has a few viable utilities to choose from. Hatred really lacks in the defensive department and because of this, you will want to choose utilities to help boost your defenses.
- Avoidance – Cooldown reduction on CC breaker, Force Speed and Interrupt.
- Shapeless Spirit – 30% damage reduction while stunned and 30% damage reduction from AoE. 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 and AoE cleave damage.
- Snaring Slashes – Thrash and Lacerate reduce the movement speed of targets they damage by 30%. This is great for controlling your opponents while you spread your DoTs.
- Fade – Force cloak cooldown reduced by 45 seconds and duration increased by 5 seconds.
- Shroud of Madness – Gives you an extra Force Shroud that activates on use of Force Cloak. Good to use defensively or offensively. As Hatred, you’ll mainly want the defensive boost that this gives.
- Dark Stability – 6 second CC immunity on Deflection. By itself, this ability is subpar, but we will be combining it with a Legendary tier utility to create a synergy that will greatly benefit Hatred’s playstyle and lack of defensive cooldowns.
- Phasing Phantasm – Phantom stride can be used while immobilized and purges movement-impairing effects. Additionally, Force Speed absorbs 60% of all incoming damage for its duration. This utility adds an extra layer of protection to Hatred that it really needed to thrive. This utility, combined with Retaliatory Grip will turn Hatred back into the powerhouse spec that it formerly was.
- Retaliatory Grip – Deflection reflects 50% of all direct single target tech and force damage back at the attacker. Retaliatory grip lasts for 12 seconds
With the arrival of 5.0, Hatred Assassins were forced to choose between an array of very good utilities. For 4.0, there was really only one way to spec a Hatred Assassin that would yield the best results. In fact, the only real “choice” was in the Heroic tier and it was really only deciding whether to use 1 utility or another, the other 7 utility points almost always went into the same spot. In 5.0, this is no longer the case and there are multiple different ways to spec Hatred Assassins. I’ve chosen to spec this way because I found that these choices yield the best results when I play Hatred. These utilities synergize very well with the overall nature of Hatred, which is to create immense pressure on the enemy by overwhelming them with incredible amounts of damage, all while you, as the player, attempt to be resilient to the enemy’s CC by using well timed Force Shrouds and well timed CC.
We put 3 points into the Skillful tier in order to get a large buff to our survivability in the form of Shapeless Spirit. Avoidance directly synergizes with the new Phasing Phantasms utility, that turns our Force Speed into a damage reduction tool. Snaring Slashes meshes well with our DoT spread mechanic on Lacerate. This in turn, turns our Lacerate into a Control tool by throwing out a 30% slow, which is beneficial to our team, as well as us. We can also proc Snaring Slashes with Thrash, meaning that the slow can have 100% uptime.
Fade use to be a mediocre utility, but buffing it to reduce Force Cloaks cooldown by an additional 15 seconds (45 seconds, up from 30), almost cuts its cooldown in half, which is too good to pass up since Assassins no longer have access to Phase Walk.
Shroud of Madness is a pretty straight forward decision, since it doubles the amount of Force Shrouds at your disposal, which is useful for fighting Force/Tech heavy based classes. Dark stability is likely to be the surprise choice here. In 4.0, I shunned the use of this ability since it had been nerfed from 12 seconds to 6 seconds. However, in 5.0, there is a new utility that directly synergizes with it. The legendary utility, Retaliatory Grip, allows Deflection to reflect 50% of all Force/Tech damage for the full duration of Deflection. This means that while you have Deflection up, your enemy will be discouraged from fighting you, since they will just be taking extra damage from themselves. To combat this, the most logical thing to do would be to CC you for the duration of Deflection, which would be possible by using an 8 second mezz combined with a 4 second hard stun. To combat this, we take Dark Stability. This will essentially return Deflection back to its former 3.0 glory, which allows Hatred to shine yet again as an overwhelming force that does a ton of damage and is resistant to being taken down.
The last utility to talk about is Phasing Phantasm, and the main thing that needs to be discussed is this utilities new ability to turn Force Speed into a defensive cooldown. Since Phase Walk was removed from the Assassin advanced class, Force Speed saw a cooldown reduction to compensate. On top of that, we can further reduce its cooldown with Avoidance. This means that we can have 60% reduced damage taken every 15 seconds, which is extremely powerful for Hatred. Having access to this utility, in conjunction with the new Deflection utility, may be just what Hatred needed to push it away from being the very powerful, but very fragile offensive spec, into something more of a powerful and aggressive, as well as strong defensive spec.
Please note, that while this is the utility load out that I will be running with, and recommend, it is not the only viable utility load out. Disjunction, Haunted Dreams, Emersion, and Reaper’s Rush are all extremely viable and plausible choices. Each of these utilities changes to overall play style of Hatred, so feel free to pick and choose whichever load out suits you best.
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 Spike > Creeping Terror > Discharge > (Recklessness) Death Field > Lacerate/Thrash > Eradicate > Assassinate (If proc’d) otherwise > Lacerate/Thrash > Leeching Strike (If you’ve Lost health by this point) > Lacerate/Thrash > Lacerate/Thrash > Lacerate/Thrash > Eradicate.
At this point, you will reapply your DoTs and attempt to DoT spread again via Lacerate. Ability usage in ‘Lacerate/Thrash’ blocks will depend on how many enemies you can hit. If you can hit multiple enemies use Lacerate, in single target situations just use Thrash. Sometimes an enemy may purge your DoTs, in these situations you will want to reapply them via Lacerate 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 Thrash. Leeching 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.
This section will show you key locations on each map to use for line of sight as well as locations where you want to force fights to happen.
This map is one of the best for an Assassin player. 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’re under focus fire, jump down and If the enemy chases you, Phantom Stride back up and you have now forced a 3v4 in favor of your team.
Makeb Mesa Arena
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. Make sure to force fights around certain choke points that allow you to Line of sight.
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) your enemy will 8 times out of 10 attempt to chase you down for the kill. This is when you will use Phantom Stride to an enemy 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. 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.
Red squares indicate offensive positions to potentially cut off a running enemy. This map plain sucks for 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 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 is 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. 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.
This map is terrible for melee players in general. The map is very buggy, so when you attempt to Phantom Stride or use any type of leaping ability to get to the upper level, sometimes you will clip through the boardwalk and just rubberband back to your original location. If you can help it, try not to use leap/teleport type of abilities on this map, as it will only hurt you more than help you.
Peeling is a bit harder to do as Hatred 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.
5.0 Meta Analysis
With a new expansion comes a new meta and 5.0 has definitely changed up the meta game for PvP. In this section, I aim to highlight each of the advanced classes and describe what the changes to these classes mean for Assassin players. In summarization, I will compile a Tier list of which classes and disciplines perform better than others in PvP. This analysis caters to the Solo Ranked community and not Regular Warzones, since all classes are more or less balanced in regs. T
The tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1: Well optimized class or discipline with extremely efficient and overwhelming ability and utility synergies that makes losing to this class feel helpless and unfair
- Tier 2: Competitive classes and disciplines that have a few slight weaknesses (Easily kited, no self-healing, etc); can still beat Tier 1 classes but requires skill to do so.
- Tier 3: Classes or disciplines that are extremely fun to play but are not competitive for the average user. Usually requires extreme knowledge of the class or disciplines limitations and boundaries to excel and beat higher tier classes. These classes and disciplines fill a very niche roll.
- Innovative Ordnance Mercenary
- Arsenal Mercenary
- Darkness Assassin
- Corruption Sorcerer
Explanation: IO and Arsenal Merc find themselves in Tier 1 as of the 5.0.1. Both of these specs have access to some utilities that synergize completely with the playstyle of the class and that augment the glaring weaknesses that the class had in all prior expansions. What specifically makes these classes Tier 1 worthy is the fact that they have access to immense amounts of damage and burst, while simultaneously having access to some of the best defensive cooldowns in the game. As an example of the insane synergy in their utilities, they can take both Power shield and Energy Rebounder as well as Trauma Regulators. For those of you who don’t know what these abilities do, here’s a description:
Power Shield: Energy Shield now further decreases ability activation pushback by 30%, increases all healing received by 20% and makes you immune to interrupts.
Energy Rebounder: When you take damage, the active cooldown of Energy Shield is reduced by 3 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds. In addition, when taking damage, you have a 20% chance to emit an Energy Redoubt, which absorbs a low amount of damage and lasts 6 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
Trauma Regulators: While Energy Shield is active, you generate a stack of Trauma Regulators each time you receive direct damage. Stacks up to 15 times. When Energy Shield expires, each stack of Trauma Regulators instantly heals you for 5% of your maximum health.
Mercenaries are using Energy Shield when they are being tunneled and specifically while they are full on resolve (immune to further CC for 10-16 seconds). This makes them uninterruptable for the duration of Energy Shield, which is 12 seconds, allowing them to free fire at will. On top of this, because they are full resolve, you cannot CC them to stop them, and if you hit them, you will lower the cooldown of their Energy Shield in conjunction with healing them up to 75% of their max health when the shield ends. You cannot simply kill a good merc while this shield is up because they can preemptively end the shield by right clicking the buff on their bar, which will heal them for however many stacks they have available. This means the only way to escape this is by running away for 12 seconds. These utilities synergize extremely well with their playstyle of ‘run and gun’ since they are essentially a more mobile version of the Sniper class, and they augment the main weakness that Mercenaries had, which was the fact that they lacked defensive cooldowns. Combine these utilities and Energy Shield with their new ability, Responsive Safeguards (absorbs all damage, reflects 50% of it, and is usuable while stunned), and their insane damage, and finally their Electro-net, and you will see why Mercenaries are a Tier 1 class.
Corruption Sorcerer are considered the Tier 1 healer this patch because of the fact that Sorcerers received some nice new healing tools and because of the fact that this meta has shifted away from pressure damage comps (DoTs/cleave) to burst damage comps. Operatives shined previously in the pressure meta, but Sorcerers have always been considered the kings of burst healing, and the shift in the meta has caused Corruption Sorcerer viability to rise to Tier 1 status.
Darkness Assassins are the Tier 1 tanks for this current patch. They received some insane new defensive cooldowns in the form of Phasing Phantasm (Force Speed reduces damage taken by 60%) and Retaliatory Grip (Deflection reflects 100% of damage taken). They also received some great team buffs in the form of their updated passive ability, Mounting Darkness, which makes Deflection give out an AoEdebuff to all Force and Tech damage by 15% on the enemy team. All of these new utilities and abilities synergize extremely well in making Darkness Assassins a lot tankier than they were in previous expansions, enough so that they have now surpassed Powertech tanks in competitive viability, pushing them down to Tier 2 and moving this spec up to Tier 1.
- Marksman Sniper
- Virulence Sniper
- Carnage Marauder
- Fury Marauder
- Concealment Operative
- Deception Assassin
- Hatred Assassin
- Madness Sorcerer
- Vengeance Juggernaut
- Rage Juggernaut
- Advanced Prototype Powertech
- Medicine Operative
- Shield Tech Powertech
Explanation: All of the classes that are in this list are here because they are very competitive specs that feel fair and balanced to play against, unlike their Tier 1 counterparts which feel unfair and almost oppressive to face. These specs perform well in a ranked environment because they all have either a large window for burst, or have extremely reliable damage (sustained damage). The reason that these disciplines are considered Tier 2 is because they all have very specific weaknesses that can hinder the success of the spec.
There are too many specs in this list to go through them all, but as an example, Concealment Operatives have reliable and high burst windows and excel at killing a single target, but are extremely weak at AoE and lack team fight presence. Medicine Operative excels at AoE healing but are considered subpar when it comes to single target healing a target that is being bursted down. Carnage Marauder has an amazing burst window and can even lock down a single target with their new Gore ability, but they are very susceptible to being kited, shutting down their single target burst entirely. The list goes on, but the point is that disciplines in this tier have obvious weakness that can be played around, and feel balanced as far as playing them and counterplaying them goes.
- Annihilation Marauder
- Lightning Sorcerer
- Engineering Sniper
- Lethality Operative
- Bodyguard Mercenary
- Immortal Juggernaut
- Pyro Powertech
Explanation: These classes or disciplines are simply too niche to fit anywhere in the meta. They are only really used in a specific composition (such as in team ranked) and only really shine when they have specific teammates to back them up. All of these disciplines need to be supported by teammates in order to perform well or they require extreme knowledge of your classes limitations and boundaries to do well. In fact, many of the specs in this tier will require an immense amount of effort to utilize them, but will only ever yield average to below average results for the effort spent, which makes using these specs feel ‘worthless’ or like a waste of time. This is not to say that these specs cannot be good, it simply means that it takes more effort to make them good, which isn’t good enough when it comes to solo ranked.
So what does this mean as an Assassin player? We have access to one Tier 1 discipline and two Tier 2 disciplines, so the class as a whole remains competitive. With the abundance of Tier 1 disciplines in play at the moment, I would highly recommend playing Darkness Assassin if you are only interested in climbing the ladder effortlessly, but Hatred and Deception are equally viable to climb with, although they require a bit more effort and very careful use of defensive cooldowns due to the large amount of Mercenaries running around. Good luck and happy climbing!