SWTOR 5.0 Darkness Assassin PvP Guide by Kre’a

SWTOR 5.0 Darkness Assassin PvP guide by Kre’a.

Intro to 5.0 Darkness Assassin

Overview

Darkness Assassin is the Tanking Discipline for the Assassin advanced class. Out of the three Tanks available in PvP, Darkness has the highest single target burst as well as the most potential utility in a PvP environment. Your goal as Darkness will be to mitigate as much of your team’s incoming damage as possible and redirect it to yourself. Do you want to actively save your teammates while dealing out some pretty good damage as well? If so, Darkness is the Discipline for you.

Rating

  • Single Target DPS: 7
  • AoE Damage: 6
  • Group Utility: 8
  • Difficulty: 9
  • RNG Dependent: Yes
  • Burst: 7
  • Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes

Gearing & Stat Priority

  • Accuracy: 0
  • Alacrity: 0
  • Critical Rating: All tertiary stats should go into Critical Rating
  • Power: All Secondary stats should be put into Power (Lethal Mod 45B)
  • Defense: 630
  • Shield: 0
  • Absorb: 924
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault &Focused Retribution
  • Set Bonus: 6-Piece Survivor’s Set
  • Augments: Fortitude Augments (Endurance)

Gearing Overview

I want to preface this section by saying, the gearing specifications are the ones that I personally use in Solo Ranked, Group Ranked and Regular Warzones. I have found that this gear gives the best balance between damage mitigation as well as offensive damage output. The earpiece I use is Bulwark Device and the implants in use are Bulwark Package. I have chosen to use these implants and earpiece because they give more Endurance than DPSImplants/Earpieces do and they also help bump up your Tank stats just slightly to help with what little damage can be mitigated. DPS Relics help with your damage output, but they are also the only relics that have endurance on them naturally, as the Tanking relics give Mastery instead of Endurance.

I do not put any points into Shield rating because this Discipline has a skill that increases your shield chance by 18% and it has 100% uptime. I would rather use those points to gain more damage. The armorings should all be from the Survivor’s set bonus. The hilt can be from either a Stalker’s main hand weapon or a Survivor’s main hand weapon. Tank stats in 5.0 are still less than optimal compared to DPS stats, so you will only be using 3 pieces of tank gear (1 Earpiece + 2 implants) and all of you other pieces of gear should be High Endurance, Low Secondary/Tertiary DPS enhancements and modifications. The only exception to this should be your armorings, which should be the tanking set bonus armorings.

Utilities

As with all Disciplines, there are many viable options for utilities. I am going to provide the utilities that I personally use in Unranked Warzones, Solo Ranked Warzones and Group Ranked Warzones. I have chosen utilities that will give me a good mixture of survivability, group utility, and offensive output.

Skillful

1207197945_2750951007 Avoidance – Reduces the cool down of Jolt by 2 seconds, Unbreakable Will by 30 seconds and Force Speed by 5 seconds.
3387050273_3599725236 Electric Bindings –Overload unbalances its targets, immobilizing them for 5 seconds. Direct damage dealt after 2 seconds ends this effect prematurely.
301863494_3861063944 (1) Shapeless Spirit – Take 30% less damage while stunned and 30% less AoE damage.

Explanation: Electric bindings is a great peeling tool for the Tanking Discipline. Shapeless Spirit is a good utility to take to reduce damage taken while stunned, since you will be running high endurance DPS gear with very little mitigation. This will help you when you are being Tank tunneled.

Masterful

586135883_2494795226 (1) Fade – Reduces the cooldown of Force Cloak by 45 seconds and extends its duration by 5 seconds.

Explanation: With the buff to Fade, we are now able to have access to even more Force Cloaks, which in turn means more access to Force Shrouds. Force Shroud is the bread and butter skill of this Discipline, so being able to use it more often will always be of great benefit to the specs survivability.

Heroic

2724083129_1457492570 Haunted Dreams – If your Whirlwind breaks early from damage, the target is stunned for 2 seconds. In addition, Whirlwind activates instantly.
2193850922_3823462269 Shroud of Madness – Activating Force Cloak grants 2 seconds of Force Shroud.

Explanation: The most beneficial utility in this tier is Haunted Dreams. It allows you to set up a lot of great plays, especially when used in conjunction with Phantom Stride and Force Pull. Having Whirlwind as an instant cast is core to the utility of the Darkness Discipline and you are only gimping your utility as a Tank without it. Shroud of Madness is more useful in 5.0 than it was in 4.0, simply because of the buff to the Fade utility, allowing for more uses of Force Cloak per warzone.

Legendary

2283959809_1879981577 Renewing Darkness – When entering stealth with Force Cloak you generate a stack of Renewing Darkness and heal 4% of your maximum health every 2 seconds, for 10 seconds. Stacks last for 6 seconds. When stealth is broken, each stack of Renewing Darkness heals you for 4% of your health.
2640553275_3055077919 Phasing Phantasm – Phantom Stride can be used while immobilized and purges movement-impairing effects when used. Additionally, Force Speed grants Phasing Phantasm, causing you to absorb 60% of all incoming damage for the duration of Force Speed.

Explanation: At first I thought very little of Renewing Darkness, until I considered the utility a bit more. Essentially, when you stealth out you heal 4% of your max health for every 2 seconds you’re in stealth, for 10 seconds. So this is basically a 20% heal. But then you heal an additional 20% after you leave stealth while these stacks of Renewing Darkness are still up, so that makes this utility a 40% heal, every 1 minute 15 seconds with the Fade utility. This is actually really good, since this makes your Force Cloak equivalent to a better version of a Warzone Medpac. This is also good because you no longer have to drop guard and go somewhere to try to heal to full in order to benefit from this heal. Overall, this is a good utility.

Phasing Phantasm is just a great utility in 5.0 for all Assassin specs. 60% reduced damage while popping Force Speed is already great, but having this utility on a tank, where we gear for damage instead of mitigation is just a godsend. All tanks should be taking this utility.

Some will note that I do not advocate Retaliatory Grip for tanks, despite it reflecting the full 100% damage instead of the 50% that DPS specs get. This is because as a tank, if you’re doing your job correctly, you really shouldn’t ever be getting focused. And if you are getting focused and your team is any good, the enemy team will be well on their way to losing the game. There are only very specific circumstances where tank tunneling is a beneficial strategy to winning, but with the addition to a 15 second 60% damage reduction in Force speed, tank tunneling an Assassin will be a huge mistake. So we don’t actually need to reflect any damage since we really shouldn’t be taking any direct damage. Most of the damage that we take will be from Guard or AoE.

Abilities and Rotation

Key Abilities

3863959637_4222850897 (1) Mind Control/Mass Mind Control – Use these abilities always, they should never be available and should always be on cooldown. Taunting reduces the damage your enemies do to your allies by 30% for 6 seconds. Being a good Tank means always taunting the correct targets.
3979230229_4083229421 Guard – Guarded targets take 5% less damage. As long as you remain within 15 meters of the guarded target, 50% of all incoming damage from enemy players is transferred back to you. This literally halves the damage that your friendly target takes and is the most important ability in your arsenal as a Tank.

You should not be only guarding one target. You should be swapping guard based on who is about to take a large amount of damage so that you mitigate as much damage as possible. You do not want to be swapping guard on a target that has already taken a large amount of damage. Your guard swaps should be determined by reading your enemy, recognizing when your enemies’ burst is available and paying constant attention to your enemy’s target. The best Tank in PvP is one who can swap guard before your enemy gets their burst on to their target, so that you can mitigate as much damage as possible. Good Tanks are proactive, not reactive. Do not be one of those Tanks that only guards a Healer and leaves it at that. That is not a good Tank; that is a lazy Tank.

1836110798_3560046461 Force Pull – A simple ability that pulls your target to you. This ability is key to pulling off a multitude of combos. Try not to waste this ability since it has a fairly long cooldown. Using Force Pull on an enemy that is affected by Whirlwind will not break the Whirlwind mezz
1619650073_4023440607 Whirlwind – This ability is an 8 second mezz. It also stuns for 2 seconds when the mezz is broken by damage when you have the heroic utility, Haunted DreamsPhantom
226830758_1545327392 (1) Stride – The main use of this ability will be to break roots and slows or to immediately get to a target that your team is planning on bursting down with a coordinated hard swap.
1382399769_4178367132 (1) Deflection – This is a key ability because of the passive Mounting Darkness. This passive gives Deflection a debuff to all enemies within 8 meters, causing them to deal 15% less Force and Tech damage, for the duration of Deflection

Offensive Abilities

26371841_400787461 Shock – Single target ability that deals medium to very high damage. This ability builds Harnessed Darkness stacks, which cause your Depredating Volts to do 25% more damage per stack, and make Depredating Volts uninterruptable. This ability is also affected by the passive, Energize, which will reset its cooldown and cause it to become an automatic critical hit. In addition, Energized shocks that consume a Recklessness charge will do 50% extra critical damage
1118172899_2083108364 (1) Discharge – This ability has a 10 second cool down and functions as a low-medium damage AoE ability. This ability is affected by the Lightning Reflexes passive, which increases the damage of your Discharge by 75% whenever you shield, parry, or deflect an attack. This ability is also affected by your Torment passive, which makes enemies hit by your Discharge to gain the ‘Unsteady’ debuff, reducing their ranged and melee accuracy by 5%.
3009782362_761825729 Wither – AoE damaging ability that does moderate damage. All targets hit by this ability are slowed by 30% for 10 seconds. This ability will apply the ‘Weaken’ debuff to your enemy, decreasing all melee and ranged damage that the enemy does by 5% for 45 seconds. This ability also builds Harnessed Darkness stacks. This ability also activates your two piece set bonus, which increases your damage reduction by 2% for 3 seconds after using Wither.
1076525610_2911944164 Maul – Deals medium damage. This ability is affected by Conspirator’s Cloak passive, which allows you to use Maul while face-to-face with an enemy as well as reducing the force cost of this ability by 50%. Only ever use maul when it is buffed by Conspirator’s Cloak.
4041134505_4163502825 (1) Thrash – This is your filler ability. This ability has a 30% chance to proc your Energize passive. This ability will proc your Conspirator’s Cloak passive with a 10 second internal cooldown. This ability is also affected by your Electrify passive, which causes targets hit by this ability to suffer from Trauma, reducing their healing from all sources by 20% for 6 seconds.
4212575335_1422053831 (1) Lacerate – Use this as filler instead of Thrash when you can hit at least 2 targets. This ability is affected by all the same passives as Thrash. This ability does 15% more damage on targets debuffed by your Discharge’s ‘Unsteady’ debuff.
946057216_457421213 Spike – 2 second hard stun that deals medium damage. You are able to use this ability out of stealth as a Tank, use this ability to interrupt Healer casts or to briefly stun a DPS to relieve pressure from your team.
2860373072_2681422092 Depredating Volts –3 second channeled ability that deals high damage and slows the enemy by 50% for the duration of the channel. This ability replaces Force Lightning. This ability can be channeled while moving. Only ever use this ability with 3 stacks of Harnessed Darkness. The best use of this ability is to line it up with the burst of the DPS on your team, as it deals an extremely large amount of damage and cannot be interrupted or suffer from pushback with at least 1 stack of Harnessed Darkness active.

Defensive Abilities

1382399769_4178367132 (2) Deflection – As Darkness, you probably don’t have the Dark Stability talent. Without the talent, this is only of any use against a class that deals mainly Melee/Ranged (M/R) damage or a hybrid of M/R damage and Force/Tech (F/T) damage, such as Assassins or Marauders. Pop this when you predict a large amount of white damage coming your way. For example, if you see a sniper casting ambush but you can’t break LoS, or if you see the enemy Deception Sin has no discharge stacks but has a duplicity proc ready. Or if you are falling into the execute range and fear the impending Assassinate, Takedown, or Viscous Throw coming your way. This ability is affected by your 6 piece set bonus, which increases its duration by 3 seconds and reduces its cooldown by 10 seconds. You can also use this ability when your team is taking a large sum of Force/Tech damage, as the Mounting Darkness passive will cause Deflection to debuff your enemies’ Force/Tech damage by 15%.
1181912592_4091553054 (1) Force Shroud – This ability is best used to either a) avoid large amounts of Force/Tech damage or b) avoid Force/Tech based stuns and crowd control. Because of its rather short cooldown, it will more than likely be used before any other DCD. If you can predict when an enemy will stun you, pop this milliseconds beforehand to counter it. The same goes for if you can predict a large Force/Tech based damaging ability coming your way, such as a Powertech’s Energy Burst and/or Thermal Detonator. This ability is affected by your Lightning Recovery passive, which reduces its cooldown by 1 second each time you shield, parry, or deflect an attack.
650995404_397149997 Dark Ward – This ability gives you 15 charges which increase your shield chance by 15% for 20 seconds. Each time you successfully shield an attack, you lose 1 Dark Ward charge. This ability is affected by your Dark Bastion passive, which reduces its cooldown by 5 seconds, increases the shield chance gained by 3%, totaling 18%, and shielding an attack while Dark Ward is active has a 20% chance to restore a charge and increase its active duration by 1 second. This ability is also affected by Dark Bulwark passive, which changes consumed Dark Ward charges into increased shield absorption at a rate of 1% per charge consumed. In PvP, it is less important to maintain maximum mitigation through proper maintenance of the Dark Bulwark passive but if you can, try to only refresh Dark Ward right before it’s about to fall off to maintain maximum Dark Bulwark charges.
3023871630_1522836190 (1) Overcharge Saber – This is a good heal that I use after popping my Warzone Adrenal. Note, the self-heal portion of this ability does NOT proc from Force damage. It only procs when your Dark Charge procs and Dark Charge will only proc off of melee damage. This ability is also affected by your Premonition passive, which increases your damage reduction by 25% for the duration of Overcharge Saber.
3409672072_3539350271 Recklessness – This ability is in the Defensive Cooldown section because it is affected by your Shroud of Darkness passive as a Tank, which grants 30% shield absorption for 20 seconds after using Recklessness. I would personally use this ability mainly to coordinate burst on an enemy, but it can be used as a defensive cooldown.
586135883_2494795226 (2) Force Cloak – Your bread and butter skill. This should be the last ability you use and is your ‘worst case scenario’ ability. Hold on to this for as long as possible. You can sometimes use this ability in conjunction with the Renewing Darkness utility in order to heal for 40% of your max health, but this requires you to be in stealth for at least 10 seconds for the full 40% heal. Sometimes it’s better to only heal for a little bit before going back into the fight. Judge these things on a case by case scenario.

Rotation

First and foremost, the most important aspect to successfully Tanking in PvP is to perfect your Guard Swaps and peeling. Keeping your team alive always comes first, doing damage is always secondary to that. Second, with majority of your GCDs being spent on peeling abilities or guard swaps, there is little room for an ‘actual’ structured rotation. With that being said, here is a generic Tank rotation to generate the most DPS and procs as possible in the shortest time frame:

Start from stealth to build 4 stacks of Dark Protection.

Shock > Wither > Discharge > Thrash/Lacerate > Maul > Recklessness + Shock > Depredating Volts > Start back at Shock.

This is a very basic rotation. In practice, your actual rotation will vary depending on what procs you get. For example, sometimes you will reset your Shock by getting an Energize proc after using Thrash/Lacerate. In this case, you will want to use Shock and then go straight into Depredating Volts, pushing your Maul back since it has a long internal cooldown before you can proc Conspirator’s Cloak again (10 second internal cooldown). If you can, try to only use Discharge when it is proc’d and does 75% more damage or if you need to reapply the ‘Unsteady’ debuff to an enemy, otherwise, always use Lacerate in its place, as it puts up a very valuable Trauma debuff on the enemy. Only ever use Maul when it is buffed with Conspirator’s Cloak, as spamming it otherwise will starve you of Force. Darkness is a spec that really lacks a structured rotation and is all about procs. When you consider the fact that a large majority of your GCDs will be spent swapping guard or peeling, your rotation becomes even less important.

Guard Swapping

Guard swapping is the most important aspect of Tanking in a PvP environment. Use all of your tools available to you in order to swap guard efficiently and effectively.

Focus Target – Using this, you can set up a hot key to ‘Acquire Focus Target’s Target’ in order to immediately swap to whoever your Focus Target is and guard them immediately. To get the most out of this, you will want to put the enemy with the highest DPS potential on the enemy team as your Focus Target. In a Team Ranked scenario, more often than not, my Focus Target will be the Healer so that I can use Focus Target Modifier to interrupt the Healer’s heals without ever targeting them.

Here is a quick video on Focus Target modifier.

Acquire Target’s Target Keybind – This keybind is good to immediately pick up the target of whoever you have targeted. For example, I target an enemy Marauder. I see his target switch from myself to my teammate. I press the hotkey to acquire his target and immediately swap guard. Now all of the burst that the enemy throws onto that target will be mitigated by 50%.

Acquire Focus Target’s Target – As explained above, this is used to pick up the target of your Focus target, allowing for easy guard swaps.

Focus target Modifier: This is used to use abilities on your focus target, without ever targeting that player.

Here is a guide on how to set up and use Focus Target Modifier:

Combos

Darkness is known for its wide array of utility and potential combos that can be pulled off to secure a kill. Here are a few:

1) Force Speed away from the fight > Force Pull the enemy Tank> Whirlwind the Tank>Phantom Stride back to the fight.

This Isolates the enemy Tank and allows your team to burst any target of their choosing since they won’t have access to guard. This combo takes about 3-4 GCDs or 4.5-6 seconds to execute.

2) Electrocute your target > Phantom Stride to a group of enemies on one of your team mates > Throw a grenade >Force Pull original target.

This keeps your original target CC’d on the spot while peeling for another teammate and incapacitating the enemy. This entire combo can be achieved in only 2 GCDs, or 3 seconds.

3) Run off the edge of tier 2 of a map (Makeb Arena Bridge, Orbital Catwalk) > Force Pull enemyTank> Whirlwind them > Phantom Stride back to an enemy on tier 2.

This will once again isolate the Tank and depending on the type of Tank, prevent them from getting back to the fight to guard a target for an extended period of time.

4) Overload a Tank to root them > Force Pull an enemy DPS or Healer away from the Tank> Burst them down.

This keeps the Tank rooted for 5 seconds while pulling their guarded target outside of the 15m Guard range, allowing for maximum burst to be achieved on this target while the Tank is rooted and cannot get back into guard range.

Maps

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.

Orbital Station

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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

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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.

Corellia Square

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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.

Tatooine Canyon

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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.

Rishi Arena

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.

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.

Tier 1

  • 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.

Tier 2

  • 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.

Tier 3

  • 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.

Summary

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!

About the Author

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.

  • Wychh

    Love the Tier part – great work

  • Nightrain

    I don’t get why you ranked DPS jugg as tier 2 and Tank as tier 3.
    Jugg tank is competitive both in solo and team ranked, while both DPS specs are complete garbage in solo, along with AP PT and madness sorc.

    • Gangstalicious

      Lol wut?

      • Nightrain

        What exactly did you find funny?

    • Ahzhihod

      Jugg Tanks are very competitive in regs, as for ranked, they don’t have the utility that Assassin tanks do, the burst potential isn’t nearly as high and they don’t have the ability to completely lock another player down with the enormous amount of CC that Assassins have. Assassins are just a better choice for ranked. AP Powertechs have lost quite a bit of burst and have poor survivability, Madness lost a lot of DPS, and Annihilation is nowhere near as good as either Vengeance (better pressure damage and survivability) or Rage (better burst).

      • Nightrain

        Just saying that on TRE two of the strongest ranked teams are running with anni mara. You are underestimating their potential.
        About vengeance, it simply doesn’t have appropriate defensive cooldowns to be viable in ranked.

        • Ahzhihod

          Juggs don’t have the defensive cool downs? Let’s see. They have Enraged Defense, which is a heal to full if used right, as is Endure Pain. They have Reflect, Saber Ward which gives them 100% defense for the first few seconds, Blitz which can be used as a cheese, so please tell me how Juggs don’t have the defensive cool downs?

          • Nightrain

            Saber ward has 3 minute cooldown and is obsolete while stunned.
            ED has 2 minute cooldown (or 1-30 while specced) and with every patch healing becomes lesser and lesser.
            Endure pain is dangerous to use because good opponents will CC healer when endure pain wears out and you will die.
            Reflect doesn’t work with melee dmg and some force/tech and for guaranteed mad dash usage you have to spec for another legendary utility (to sacrifice aoe dot or extended reflect).
            These cooldowns are not appropriate for dps spec anymore, because you can be simply bursted through it.

            • fake

              qft. ed is extremely overrated now being quite bad. jugs have zero anti focus, only one breaker ( had two with utility but nerf) and barely any mitigation. what good are limited self heals if u cant mitigate any incoming damage or are controlled to death with ease. jug dcds are nothing compared to maras who also have a reset in form of stealthing out and gbtf potentially allows them to suck up massive amount of burst damage which would otherwise force jug to use all dcds or just global him. they all also have more passive mitigation for most of the fights thanks to cop.

    • Kre’a

      The list is for solo ranked, Juggs are just as viable, if not stronger in Group Ranked (depends on composition).

      In Solo Ranked, sin tanks are stronger.

      Anni mara again, is great in Group but the list is for solos.

    • Fake

      The only reason we do well on our jug tanks on tre is because most of the other tank players are pure trash, often just being cxp farmers. All jug specs should be in tier 3 but if any of them is to to tier 2 its immortal. It is the only one viable for solo ranked.

  • ShadowDancer

    Do you use Adept Enhancement?

    • Ahzhihod

      Discipline Enhancements. More Endurance.

  • Ahzhihod

    Great guide, though, I do have to ask, why not use Adept Earpiece/Implants over tank ones? Is the Endurance gain on the tank earpiece/implants worth losing the extra damage? And having the shitty mitigation stats on gear too?

    • Kre’a

      Because you’re a tank first and a damage dealer second, we’re aiming for the best of both worlds with this load out and while tank stats do suck for the most part, they still help to defend against white damage. Snipers are pretty strong this expansion, so the stats don’t really go fully to waste.

      • Ahzhihod

        Oh okay, then that makes sense. Would you have any idea how much HP we are getting from using the tank implants/earpiece vs the DPS ones? I’d assume about 1000 health?

  • Thanks But No Thanks

    Great guide, but just another reason why Biosuck epicly flopped by killing off PVP gear and going to this new RNG bullshit for drops. People can’t experiment or try things out like this easily anymore…

    I spend half my time doing PVE and half my time doing PVP, and share the same 1 legacy gear set (mostly up to all 240’s now) for my Shadow/Assassin. I like and want to try your method for adding a ton of dps to my gear, but I can’t do so with my existing set because then it won’t be usuable for PVE (where the 2ndary stats do matter). And the chances I get a full new set through the CXP drops are zero to none, so its not like I can just do a KP/EV run to get a new 6 piece real quick.

    So ultimately I’d either have to buy/build a set with no set bonus to experiment, which seems worthless (you’re only holding onto the set bonus armorings for the set bonus perks, else you’d just go full dps set). Or completely mix & match the armorings from my Tank set with the Mods/Enhancements from my DPS Shadow/Assasin set, thusly making both usless for PVE.

    Or I can spend roughly 125k everytime I want to swap back and forth to pull and push just the armorings around into an extra set that just has mods and enhancements…….no thanks.

    Maybe for now i’ll just swap out the relics and wear my DPS Assassin set and see how that goes. Thanks again though, great guide!

    • Kre’a

      Yea, this new system that shares gear between activities hurts tanks the most, honestly.

  • StimsBruh

    Do you use the tank (fortitude) or dps (versatile) stim?

    • StimsBruh

      Also, Endurance crystals in your weapons or Crit?

      • Kre’a

        Honestly either stim is fine, I carry a set of both and will switch to the Endurance stim when I feel like I’m being tunneled.

      • Ahzhihod

        Yes you’d use Endurance Crystals, you get 800 health from the 2 crystals put together (that’s an approximation btw), and what Kre’a said about Stims is spot on, carry some of both, good to be prepared.

  • Math Don’t Add Up

    Defense: 630 & Absorb: 924 ???

    I built a set exactly as you noted, and have no idea how you got these stats with all fortitude augments. Even using 3 absorb augments (in my Ear & both Implants), I’m only at 823 absorb. My defense # is 642 unstimmed and jumps to 741 with a Fortitude stim. Unless you have at least 1 Enhancement somewhere with Absorption (maybe your shield), I don’t get how you hit 924. I put Discipline enhancements in both weapons and all 5 gear pieces.

    • Kre’a

      Are you using the Tank Earpiece/implants?

      • Math Don’t Add Up

        Yeah Bulwark ones you mentioned. Do you have 240’s or something? 228 and 230 (230 actually has less absorb) don’t get anywhere near that 924 # even with absorb augments added to them.

        • Spencer Colaço

          Honestly, what he might mean is get close to those absorb/defense numbers first then put in all the dps mods/enhancements. Thats all i can think of man. I doubt he is running all 242’s.

      • Spencer Colaço

        I agree. I’ve been looking at this for a bit now and not sure how you came up with 924 absorb? If you have time to elaborate that would be awesome.

  • guest333

    Great guide! Kre’a why you stopped streaming? :/

  • Garabet

    I believe that the healer Mercenary doesn’t deserve the Tier 3 as it has the same defensive cds as dps specs which makes them a bad target to focus by enemy team even without a guarding tank. Also healer Merc have same free cast window during full resolve as you described for dps spec. It is possible to burst heal someone for about 60K in 2 gcds during that period.

    Yes, it is not a 3 button spec as Arsenal Merc and it is definately not easy to play as Sorc healer. Also it requires quite high skill level to play it effectively but it is so much fun to play and highly rewarding anymore after patch 5.0.

    Everyone jumped into Arsenal spec after buffs because it is so easy to play and bursty but imo people will discover the power of healer Merc soon

    • Garabet

      I also see no point placing Engineering Sniper to Tier-3 while putting Virulence to Tier-2. Imo, no Sniper spec deserves Tier-3.

      I even find Engineering a bit better than Virulence with spammable %70 aoe slow ability, extra stun ability and more bursty than Virulence spec. I think Engineering is performing better in pvp than Virulence

    • Kre’a

      Merc healer is t3 compared to the other healers. Tanks and healers were rated based on their respective roles. Operative and Sorc are both above merc healers in ranked at the moment, so this means that merc is tier 3 by default.

  • Actual Shitter

    Have you even queued ranked in 5.0?? These tiers are actually the most cancerous thing I’ve seen on this website. M8, you were a decent PvPer but this just makes you look like an idiot. Sorry to bash the hours that went into this guide but come on, make the section only if you know what you’re talking about

    • Kre’a

      Thank you for the feedback, glad you enjoyed the guide 🙂

  • MakePVPmericaGreatAgain

    I spent the last week toying with this spec and have been doing significantly more damage output and barely any cost to my survivability. I don’t do ranked though, so this is in general PVP and in Unranked arenas. If nothing else, its definitely more fun to play then just full on tank. Thanks for the guide!!!!!

  • napoleonss

    Great guide and help to the community as always.
    A small comment on Lethality. My thoughts are that is at least Tier 2. Extra DPS in 5.0 and insane heals with the correct utilities allow for 3k dps and 2k hps or 5dps.

  • Shawn Cowden

    MM sniper and anni mara are tier 1. Can’t imagine you’d place anni at tier 3 if you played 4s seriously since the patch

  • S’renx

    PT tank vs Sin tank for group ranked?

  • Bob

    Hey, Kre’a,

    I’ve been doing a lot of Arenas lately, and I’ve noticed that when I go up against Juggernaut tanks, that tank often does perhaps a million more damage than I do unless the fight is a tight cluster, in which case we’re about equal. On the bright side, I normally have two to five time the amount of protection they have, and I tend to focus more on CC’ing, knockbacks, taunts, and interrupts.

    Admittedly, I don’t have anywhere near BiS gear like they do, and I’m running a build closer to full tank stats, but the damage difference seems pretty massive to me. Are Immortals simply better in the DPS department, especially with the Piercing Chill Legendary utility?

  • Neg

    I know it’s a minor thing but which stats do you choose on your color crystals?

    Also, do augments and color crystals get bolstered or do they stay at 228 and 136 respectively?

    Thanks !

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