SWTOR 5.2 Deception Assassin PvE Guide by Jaek

SWTOR 5.2 Deception Assassin PvE guide by Jaek

Intro to 5.2 Deception Assassin

I’m Jaek, an Aussie NiM raider on Harbinger who started playing SWTOR properly at the start of 2016 (4.0). I’m currently a member of <Kai Sith’ari>, and have been a member of raid teams in my current guild, <Dark Times>, and <Unzip Thud>, having cleared all 4.0 8-man content except Brontes/Dread Council NiM.

For this guide, I’ve tried to include as much of the rationale behind my writings as possible – so apologies for the length. For those who want a quick read, look to the bolded text or the TL;DR sections. I wanted this to be usable by players of all abilities/experience with the class, so feel free to take away what is useful to you.

Deception is an extremely durable and high-burst melee DPS specialisation which offers decent sustained damage and aoe. Changes in 5.0 to the spec are integrated into the guide.

I have updated this guide from 5.1 to better reflect how the spec is played without the stance bug.

Feel free to message me on Jaekmeow in game, or leave a comment below.

Ratings

These are my own personal ratings, relative to what I believe are the capabilities of other classes in the game.

Single Target Damage: 8.5/10

With the addition of Reaping Strike, the Reaper’s Rush utility, and changes to the uptime of Dark Embrace and the cooldown of Force Cloak, Deception has received a strict damage increase from its levels in 4.0. So, the spec should be able to compete with/outperform Carnage, Fury, Hatred, Arsenal, Marksman, Concealment, and all Juggernaut, Powertech, and Sorceror specialisations in a single target parse.* Although it is one of the DPS specs with the weakest 10 metre+ damage in the game, its ability to close gaps quickly with Phantom Stride (with Reaper’s Rush), coupled with 5.0’s changes to Force Speed, have made Deception Assassins competitive with Snipers, Mercenaries and Marauders in almost any given raid encounter. It also has a reflect!

*This conflicts with several projected DPS metrics, but I would remind cynics that Deception is often undervalued. For example, Bant’s 4.0 DPS hypotheticals severely underestimated not only Deception (which would roughly equal Arsenal by the end of the year), but underestimated even the top parsing spec, Annihilation, by almost 10% (600 dps).

AoE Damage: 6/10

Compared to the spec’s single target damage/rotation, little depth exists in the AoE rotation/output for Deception. Lacerate does some nice damage, but due to the rotational need to use Maul to refresh Dark Embrace, Lacerate-only spam isn’t advisable. That said, this spec’s AoE output is slightly stronger in 5.0 due to the extended duration of Dark Embrace, but it pales in comparison to the potential damage of Hatred.

Burst Damage: 9.5/10 

The only reason I wouldn’t rate Deception’s burst damage at 10/10 is due to the spec’s lack of an off-global-cooldown source of damage (e.g. Volatile Substance, Shoulder Cannon, Thermal Detonator). Yet, it has some of the most frequent burst windows of any class in-game due to the low cooldowns of Phantom Stride, Recklessness and Force Cloak, and the high frequency of Discharge and Maul.

Survivability: 9.5/10

With an innate, ‘permanent’ 24% damage reduction due to Entropic Field and Dark Embrace’s 100% uptime, combined with a 30% AoE damage reduction passives and a 30% damage reduction when stunned, there are many high-damage situations in which a skilled Deception Assassin mightn’t feel forced to deploy an additional tool to survive. Nevertheless, Deception is spoiled for choice in relation to their defensive cooldowns. With a self-heal in Overcharge Saber, the opportunity to use a medpac on-cooldown in a fight due to Force Cloak’s rotational use, the potential to run an insanely good 2-2.5 second 60% absorb on a 15-20 second cooldown, shared access to Deflection (50% melee and ranged defence), as well as enjoying the infamous ‘F**k Mechanics button’ in Force Shroud, Deception Assassins have comparable survivability to a Sniper (albeit offering far less raid-wide mitigation), and so are among the most durable characters that could be brought to a raid.

Raid Utility: 2.5/10 (passively); 7/10 (as an offtank)

Of the 3 taunt classes, Deception is most lacking with respect to utility directly provided to other raid members – sporting only a meager heal and 5% damage reduction to others with Assassin’s Shelter. However, due to the spec’s extreme passive durability and its myriad of defensive tools, Deception Assassins can temporarily serve as near-unkillable tanks in a pinch (depending on the type of incoming damage), and can also be used to absorb/nullify most mechanics or extreme instances of incoming damage with a brief and timely taunt to take aggro from the main tank (e.g. shrouding Thrasher NiM slams, or Sunder’s ‘End’ in NiM). With the addition of a Guard and their own threat-nullification through combat stealth, the utility Deception brings to a raid has never been higher.

Note: Stealth-rez is always a potentially invaluable tool for any raid group, but as Deception uses force cloak rotationally and almost on-cooldown, you would have to delay its use.

Execute Phase: 10/10

Assassins boast the strongest class-wide execution phase in the game (in relation to their OWN non-execution phase). Deception receives a strict 5% damage boost and the opportunity to use the high-damage and force-efficient Assassinate ability virtually on cooldown.

Difficulty: 10/10

Deception Assassin has a fairly low skill floor, meaning it, like Arsenal Merc, is relatively accessible to a new player (unlike Annihilation Mara or IO Merc, for example). However, from my experience playing all DPS classes save Pyro PT at a NiM level/while clearing NiM at tier, I would argue that Deception is one of the most, if not the most, difficult spec in the game to play optimally (key word). This is because it is the spec in the game where randomness has the greatest effect on your rotation and moment to moment decision making, in conjunction with its limited range (4m) and high APM requirement (below Carnage and Annihilation only), and the minimally prescriptive nature of the rotation/priority system mid-fight. You should be assessing your buffs, positioning, and wagering the odds of your procs/tracking two different internal cooldowns, constantly. Moreover, the state of those buffs (i.e. Surging Charge) can change not merely every GCD but every HALF-gcd (due to the second hit of Voltaic Slash), which places an even greater demand for quick thinking on players (with lag).

Overall Raid-viability: 8.5/10. A very competitive DPS which is so durable I think of them as a 3rd tank, Deception is certainly capable of carrying in any progression group; but it demands practice, discipline, and quick thinking.

For these reasons, I’d argue Deception is competitive with Hatred (Grob’thok, Draxus, Dash’roode, Bestia, Torque) or superior to it (every other fight) for all 5.0 PvE content.

Gearing

To see a good guide (which is no longer being updated) giving and ‘optimal’ gearing choices for each class and spec, visit Bant’s Optimal Stats For All 24 Disciplines, KoTET Edition forum post on the SWToR website at http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=847112

I’ve included his relevant gearing numbers to Deception. For reference, E means Enhancements or Left Side Pieces (Implants or Earpiece), C means Crystal, and A means Augments.

Iokath MK-5, iLevel 242:

8439 Endurance | 6536 Mastery (1xC) | 3694 Power

1742 Critical (6xE, 2xA, 1xC) | 1509 Alacrity (3xE, 9xA) | 743 Accuracy (1xE, 3xA, Stim)

Iokath MK-3, iLevel 240:

8106 Endurance | 6327 Mastery (2xC) | 3506 Power

1679 Critical (2xE, 11xA) | 1435 Alacrity (7xE) | 733 Accuracy (1xE, 3xA, Stim)

Eternal Commander MK-15, iLevel 236:

7962 Endurance | 6216 Mastery (1xA) | 3424 Power

1643 Critical (1xE, 12xA, 2xC) | 1400 Alacrity (7xE) | 736 Accuracy (2xE, 1xA, Stim)

Eternal Commander MK-13, iLevel 234:

7653 Endurance | 6128 Mastery (Stim) | 3337 Power

1434 Critical (13xA, 2xC) | 1236 Alacrity (6xE, 1xA) | 760 Accuracy (4xE)

Eternal Commander MK-3, iLevel 230:

7372 Endurance | 5901 Mastery (Stim) | 3183 Power

1447 Critical (7xE, 2xC) | 1152 Alacrity (12xA) | 735 Accuracy (3xE, 2xA)

Note: For a more general list of stat thresholds to keep in mind, I recommend aiming for 40-43% crit, at least 11% alacrity, and as minimally above 736 Accuracy rating as possible. Anything else can be put into Mastery (due to the bonus crit % it provides).

Relic choices should be Focussed Retribution and Serendipitous Assault; their benefits are multiplicative and are the most reliable increases to damage output of any relic choices.

As per usual, aim for the 6-piece Stalkers set bonus.

Note: Keep in mind that while there are certain guidelines and thresholds to keep in mind when gearing a dps, there is definite flexibility available and no player should ‘have’ to gear in exactly the same way. For example, the value of alacrity is reduced for a player who is not able to maintain a sufficiently high apm (actions per minute) and fluid execution of their rotation.

Utilities

I will only be discussing the utilities I believe have any relevant benefit to standard PvE encounters; the remainder are best left to PvP. While in the first two tiers there is (for the most part) very little flexibility, in the final tier you are spoiled for choice, with many options I’d recommend.

Skillful

clip_image002 Shapeless Spirit: Reduces all damage taken while stunned by 30%. RIP DOUBLE AOE REDUCTION. This should now be taken situationally, whenever there is a scripted stun in the fight. This utility is part of what makes Assassins (especially Deception Assassins) so incredibly durable.
clip_image004 Avoidance: Reduces the cooldown of Jolt by 2 seconds, Unbreakable Will by 30 seconds, and Force Speed by 5 seconds. Should be taken in conjunction with Emersion and/or Phasing Phantasm, or on fights where mobility is demanded from melee dps. Due to the nerf to Shapeless Spirit, this should be taken on all fights due to the buff to mobility.
clip_image006 Lambaste: Increases the damage dealt by Lacerate by 25%. Useful when there is an AoE requirement for DPS, and Electric Bindings or Avoidance aren’t necessary.
clip_image008 Electric Bindings: Overload binds its targets in electricity, immobilizing them for 5 seconds. Direct damage dealt after 2 seconds ends the effect prematurely. Useful (required) on fights like Styrak NiM.

Masterful

clip_image010 Fade: Reduces the cooldown on Force Cloak by 45 seconds and extends its duration by 5 seconds. This is mandatory on all fights as Force Cloak is used rotationally. It is a strict DPS increase in enabling a more frequent use of Recklessness, and, should your group (unfortunately) be relying on it, more frequent opportunities for stealth rez.
clip_image012 Audacity: Reduces the cooldown of Overload by 2.5 seconds and Recklessness grants 1 additional charge when activated. This should be taken on all fights as it results in a strict DPS increase.
clip_image014 Assassin’s Shelter: Mass Mind Control provides Assassin’s Shelter to all allies within range (15m), excluding yourself, reducing the damage they take by 5% for 6 seconds and healing them over the duration. A pittance compared to Sonic Rebounder, but it is the only group-wide mitigation that Assassins have access to. Although rarely ever more useful than the two above utilities, it can be of use in fights where 7 raid members will be affected and will help reduce high, continuous incoming damage during the 6 seconds (such as Colossal Monolith HM).

Heroic

clip_image002[5] Insulation: Increases your armour rating by 30% with Lightning Charge or Surging Charge (the rest of the description is meaningless). This is mandatory on all fights for its strict increase to your durability.
clip_image004[5] Shroud of Madness: Activating Force Cloak grants 2 seconds of Force Shroud. Unlike Hatred, since Deception uses Force Cloak rotationally, the opportunity to benefit from a second Force Shroud is limited. See the Defensive Cooldown Section for more.
clip_image006[5] Emersion: Force Speed grants Emersion, removing all movement-impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration. Useful on fights where mobility is both required and (potentially) hindered (such as Underlurker HM, Brontes NiM and Dash’roode HM/NiM).

Legendary

 

clip_image002[7] Reaper’s Rush: Phantom Stride grants Reaper’s Rush, allowing your next Assassinate to be used on any target, regardless of remaining health, within 10 seconds. If the target of your Phantom Stride is killed during that time, Phantom Stride’s cooldown is reset. This should be taken on most, if not all, fights. It results in a strict DPS increase by enabling Assassinate, which has the added benefit of making your standard rotation more Force-efficient. Furthermore, it gives the potential for extremely efficient target swapping if used such that your Phantom Stride will be reset upon your target’s death (especially if it is used on a weak, short-living add). This gives an even GREATER DPS increase by enabling more 3-stack Discharges and windows for Assassinate.
clip_image004[7] Phasing Phantasm: Phantom Stride can be used when 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. Your 20 (or 15) second mobility tool becomes one of the strongest defensive cooldowns in the game with this utility. I recommend taking this on most fights since it significantly adds to the already high durability of Deception Assassins, enables them to serve as temporary off-tanks, and reduces the burden on healers in healing-intense circumstances. With Force Shroud, you may often find yourself asking ‘What are mechanics’ as much as Snipers.
clip_image006[7] Retaliatory Grip: Deflection grants Retaliatory Grip, reflecting 50% of all direct single target tech and Force damage back at the attacker. Retaliatory Grip lasts 12 seconds and does not absorb incoming damage. The greedy, number fluffing utility (but hey, it’s not number fluffing if the boss dies faster!).This is a largely accurate guide (not written by me) as to what damage can and can’t be reflected, and what opportunities an Assassin has for reflectable damage that is unlikely to kill you. However, I recommend taking Phasing Phantasm over this unless the reflected damage is significant, or necessary to beat an Enrage timer.
clip_image008[5] Disjunction: Increases the durations of Force Shroud by 2 seconds and Force Speed by 0.5 seconds. Additionally, Force Speed slows all enemies within 5 meters by 75% for 2.5 seconds when activated. Should generally be taken in conjunction with Phasing Phantasm (replace Reaper’s Rush) on extremely healing-intensive fights where the DPS loss is outweighed by the increase to durability. The additional duration of Force Shroud applies to Shroud of Madness. Can be used in place of Phasing Phantasm when it will negate any damage taken, and absorb isn’t necessary.

Abilities and Rotations

Rotational Abilities and Important Passives

clip_image002[9] Assassinate: Instant, 10 Force, 4m, 6 second cd. Attempts to Assassinate the target, dealing a high amount of weapon damage. Only usable on targets at or below 30% max health.
clip_image004[9] Ball Lightning: Instant, 32 Force, 10m, 6 second cd. Deals a moderate amount of energy damage, stunning standard and weak enemies.
clip_image006[9]
clip_image008[7]
Dark Embrace, Darkswell (passives, acquired level 28 and 36): While in stealth mode, or 15 seconds after leaving stealth mode or casting Maul, Force regeneration is increased by 25% and damage taken is reduced by 15%.
clip_image010[5] Discharge: Instant, 20 Force, 10m. Deals a moderate amount of internal damage, scaling up with each stack of Static Charge. Consumes all active Static Charges.
clip_image012[5] Duplicity (passive, acquired level 32): Direct damage attacks grant Duplicity, causing your next Maul within 15 seconds to deal an additional 20% damage and consume 75% less Force. This effect cannot be triggered more than once every 10 seconds.
clip_image014[5] Entropic Field (passive, acquired level 52): Reduces the damage taken by area effects by 30%. Dealing critical damage grants Entropic Field, increasing your damage reduction by 3%. Stacks up to 3 times.
clip_image016 Induction (passive, acquired level 20): Voltaic Slash, Lacerate, Maul, Reaping Strike and Assassinate grant Induction, reducing the next Force cost of your Ball Lightning by 25%. Stacks up to 2 times.
clip_image018 Lacerate (with Voltage): Instant, 20 Force. Deals moderate weapon damage to up to 8 targets within 5 meters. Each use of this ability builds Voltage, which gives Shock and Ball Lightning a 50% chance to automatically trigger your Surging Charge off of its normal rate limit. Stacks up to 2 times.
clip_image020 Low Slash: Instant, 20 Force, 30m, 15 second cd. Deals low weapon damage and incapacitates the target for 2 seconds. Damage causes this effect to end prematurely.
clip_image022 Maul: Instant, 40 Force, 4m. Deals moderate-high weapon damage to a single target. Only usable from behind the target. Has 30% additional critical strike damage.
clip_image024 Phantom Stride (with Amped Voltage): Instant, 30m, 30 second cd. Appear at your enemy target and increase movement speed for 75% for a brief period (can be used while stealthed). Builds 3 Static Charges.
clip_image026 Reaping Strike: Instant, 15 Force, 4m, 18 second cd. Deal moderate-high weapon damage. Only usable while stealthed or within 15 seconds of performing a critical strike.
clip_image028 Saber Strike: Instant, 4m. Deals low weapon damage spread across a flurry of 3 melee attacks, restoring 1 Force per hit.
clip_image030 Surging Charge (passive, acquired level 12): Replaces Lightning Charge. Gives your melee attacks a 50% chance to deal low internal damage and build 1 Static Charge. Static Charge stacks up to 3 times and increases the damage dealt by your next Discharge. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
clip_image032 Voltaic Slash (with Voltage): Instant, 20 Force, 4m. Strikes the target twice for moderate weapon damage per hit. Each use of this ability builds Voltage, which gives Shock and Ball Lightning a 50% chance to automatically trigger your Surging Charge off of its normal rate limit. Stacks up to 2 times.

Opener

You should aim to always pre-cast lacerate twice, and stealth, before entering combat (meaning you open with Voltage, Induction, and Dark Embrace for more efficiency on your first Ball Lightning).

With that in mind, the most reliable opener I use with the stance bug is:

Pre-cast) Lacerate x2 + Stealth

-> Recklessness + Polybiotic Attack Adrenal + Discharge (you may use Force Cloak from this point)

-> Phantom Stride + Discharge

-> Overcharge Saber + Ball Lightning

-> Voltaic Slash

-> Maul

-> Assassinate

-> Ball Lightning

-> Discharge

-> Recklessness + Discharge

-> Voltaic Slash

-> Ball Lightning

->Reaping Strike/Voltaic Slash (if Surging Charge is not on cd)

-> Maul

An image of this is below:

We use Overcharge Saber slightly after our adrenal as it gives 0 DPS benefit to Discharge, and so would waste up to 1.5 seconds of its duration if used with it. We use Phantom Stride during Recklessness for an extra 60% crit on one of our Discharges.

After the opener, you should follow the Priority System below.

Priority System for Rotation (TL:DR)

Due to the variance at the heart of Deception (that variance being a 50% chance to generate a stack of Surging charge on a melee hit per 6 seconds), even with the stance bug, there is no strict rotation a Deception Assassin should follow. Instead, we have a priority system (with some exceptions) that will allow you to maximise your damage output.

Here is the simplified version, but I’d encourage all readers to examine the detailed section below to understand the nuances behind the ‘perceived simplicity.

I’ve made a simple flowchart of this priority system indicating the generally appropriate next move, with red arrows for ‘No’ and green for ‘Yes’:

  1. Glowy Discharge (3 Stacks of Static Charge) (see Exceptions section for when to delay Discharge by 1 gcd).
  2. Keep Voltage at 2 stacks, and only let it fall off if you know that you’ll be able to use Voltaic Slash/Lacerate twice before the next Ball Lightning without disrupting the priority list. It shouldn’t be let to fall off regardless in a single target parse due to the benefit of using Voltaic Slash when Surging Charge is off cooldown.

2b. Aim to have 1 or 2 Stacks of Induction before each use of Ball Lightning.

  1. Ball Lightning.

3b. Assassinate if target is above 30% HP and Reaper’s Rush is about to time out

3c. Glowy Maul if Duplicity is reaching 5 seconds remaining (see Exceptions for why Maul shouldn’t be delayed for more than 10 seconds (to remain within cooldown window of Duplicity)).

3d. Make sure Dark Embrace has 100% uptime.

  1. Voltaic Slash, 3+ target Lacerate or Saber Strike to generate Static Charges efficiently (Surging Charge must be off-cooldown for this to have priority 4).
  2. Reaping Strike if not in Execute Window.
  3. Glowy Maul with autocrit.
  4. Assassinate.
  5. Reaping Strike if in Execute Window.
  6. Glowy Maul if Duplicity has plenty of remaining time (i.e. more than 10 seconds, factoring in other ability cooldowns).
  7. Voltaic Slash fill, Grenades, etc.
  8. Saber Strike (if literally out of force (see Exceptions)).
  9. Low Slash (if beyond 10 metres).

 

Priority System for Rotation (Extended, with Rationale)

The long version.

1. 3-stack Discharge. Discharge is Deception’s biggest source of damage, consistently hardest hitting ability, and the core of the discipline. Due to its linearly-scaling damage but flat cost (1 gcd, 20 force), you only want to use this ability at 3 stacks of Static Charge as this results in the highest net-DPS and time/force efficiency. It is best to use Discharge as soon as you acquire 3 stacks; any later, and you risk delaying Ball Lightning, or wasting the next time you generate a stack since stacks are capped at 3. However, there is an exception to this! See the section below!

2. (As close to) 100% uptime on 2 stacks of Voltage is essential. This reduces the variance of your Discharge’s frequency as it guarantees that your Ball Lightning will generate a free charge of your stance, dealing extra internal damage and bringing you closer to using your Discharge. As Voltaic Slash is your lowest priority skill (besides Saber Strike/Low Slash), but maximising efficient generation of Static Charge is your second highest priority (with Ball Lightning), some moment-to-moment decision making is required to decide when Voltaic Slash/Lacerate should be used (factoring in current stacks of Surging Charge, and the cooldowns/availability of your other abilities).

2b. Induction uptime isn’t hard to maintain, as you will typically fall into a pattern where you will be using 2 of the 4 gcds of Ball Lightning’s cooldown for an ability which isn’t Saber Strike, Discharge, or Low Slash. However, it will fall off before your next Ball Lightning with the use of Recklessness and/or Phantom Stride, so keep it in mind in relation to your Force consumption (it can be worth delaying Ball Lightning for an Assassinate to build 1 stack of Induction if you are on extremely low Force).

3. Ball lightning. This is your second-highest priority skill, and should be used on-cooldown so long as you aren’t already capped at 3 stacks of Static Charge and have uptime on Voltage and, preferably, 2 stacks of Induction. It hits for a decent amount, looks cool as hell, and most importantly, nets a guaranteed 1 stacks of your stance which otherwise are generated randomly every 6 seconds.

3b. Assassinate isn’t available for a target over 30% hp unless Reaper’s Rush is taken/active, and you want to make use of your utility/this dps increase. It is worth delaying any skill except Discharge/Ball Lightning if your Surging Charge is off-cooldown to use Assassinate if the buff is about to time out. The trick is finding a way to use it so it doesn’t disrupt your on-cd use of Ball Lightning/Proccing Surging Charge/Maul windows, but not delaying so much that it ends up throwing out your rotation anyway.

3c. Maul under Duplicity can conventionally be delayed (since its cooldown is independent of its usage, at least theoretically by design). However, there is a key problem (or intended opportunity for skilled players to excel) with the design of Duplicity itself. As it has a 10 second internal cooldown but 15 second duration, I have observed after testing that if Maul is the first ability used to proc Duplicity after that 10 second cooldown expires, but Duplicity is already active, that first Duplicity buff will be consumed and another will not be granted, but Duplicity itself will be put back on cooldown. This means that, if Maul is delayed from Duplicity’s proc time by more than 10 seconds, you effectively ‘lose’ a Maul (either delaying Maul the next 5 seconds, making the last Duplicity a wasted proc; using another spell within those 5 seconds which will proc it but cause you to have wasted a Maul; or using Maul within those 5 seconds and precluding you from using Maul again for the next 10 seconds). There is an easy solution: aim to use Maul within 10 seconds of proccing Duplicity (this is two thirds of the way through the buff’s timer). This is roughly equivalent to 6 global cooldowns worth, meaning you want to use Maul (under Duplicity) within 6-7 global cooldowns of proccing it (depending on whether it was procced on cast, or with the second hit of Voltaic slash [see the next section below for more on half-gcd procs]).

3d. Dark Embrace’s 100% uptime is critical to 5.0 Deception’s Force ‘management,’ which is to say, very little active management at all. It has a long duration, and while you should ONLY be using Maul with Duplicity, you will/should still be using Maul frequently enough to maintain 100% uptime on this. Not a huge concern otherwise.

4. As Discharge is the core of your rotation and highest damaging ability, it is essential that you generate stacks of Static Charge as efficiently as possible. See the section below for more on optimal stacking. If it is triggered, it won’t trigger again for 4 gcds. Keep in mind that while Surging Charge has only a 50% chance per melee hit to activate, Voltaic Slash triggers TWO melee hits (having a 75% chance to trigger it), Saber Strike triggers THREE (having a ~88% chance to trigger it), and Lacerate counts as ONE melee hit per target hit. Considering how to maximise the probability that Static Charges are generated via melee hit every 6 seconds (or 4 global cooldowns) is essential to maximising your reliable dps/use of Discharge. As proccing Surging Charge via melee hit is not guaranteed, it holds a strictly lower priority than Ball Lightning (unless you want to gamble). We keep it lower than Maul when Duplicity is reaching 5 seconds remaining, and lower than Assassinate when Reaper’s Rush is about to expire, as both abilities CAN trigger Surging Charge, and losing the benefit of Maul every 10 seconds/Assassinate every 30 seconds is a greater DPS loss than the potential 1 gcd Surging Charge is delayed by. However, deciding to delay a Maul or Assassinate by 1 global cooldown and use Voltaic Slash or 3+ target Lacerate when Surging Charge is off cooldown increases the likelihood of generating Static Charges. This is one of the biggest differentiators between good and great Deception players: choosing when to delay Voltaic Slash/higher probability procs, when not to delay them, and how long to delay them for.

5. Reaping Strike (outside of the Execute/sub-30% window). This is your next-highest priority skill. At a low cost of 15 force, it deals much more damage than a 2-target Lacerate or Voltaic Slash. While it deals less damage and costs more than either Assassinate or Maul (under Duplicity), its static on-use cooldown means that in the general case, delaying its use results in a small net dps loss in comparison to delaying the use of Maul (which has a relatively long window to be used in), so long as step 4 is maintained above!) or Assassinate (within 10 seconds of Phantom Stride).

6. Maul (under Duplicity) with autocrit proc, assuming timing of Duplicity/Maul’s usage isn’t an issue. As the internal cooldown of Duplicity is independent of when Maul itself is activated, Maul’s use can be delayed. However, as Assassinate will consume your autocrit proc (from the Stalker’s 6-piece set bonus) for an inferior amount of critical damage, Maul under Duplicity AND autocrit has a higher priority than Assassinate.  It is worth delaying Assassinate until you can next use Maul for the benefit to the crit damage when Auto-crit is activated, so long as the delay is not more than 4 gcds.

7. Assassinate is your next priority, and while its use can be delayed (like Maul) prior to the execute phase, aim to use it as close to on-cooldown as possible during the Execute/sub-30% window. This is a worthwhile consideration, but isn’t imperative, and can/should be delayed for an occasional Voltaic Slash/Ball Lightning. An exception is with Reaper’s Rush – where, if its duration is about to expire, it is worth using to make use of your utility choices.

8. Maul (under Duplicity) without autocrit proc. High damage, refreshes Dark Embrace, and extremely efficient, to a new Deception Assassin this might seem higher on the priority list. Yet, as written above, its internal cooldown is independent of its actual use, so it can be delayed after your abilities that do carry static cooldowns. It falls this low on the priority list assuming it has just been procced, and the aforementioned issue in step 4 isn’t a concern. TL;DR YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE THIS AS SOON AS YOU SEE IT GLOW.

9. Reaping Strike during Execute. Reaping Strike falls in priority during the Execute phase (sub 30%) simply because of the time taken using your other abilities. Usually, 3 of every 6 seconds will be taken using Assassinate and Ball Lightning as close to on-cooldown as possible. Combined with the requirement to use that remaining time Discharging, and casting Maul and Voltaic Slash (to refresh Voltage), Deception just doesn’t have the luxury it usually does to cast Reaping Strike that often.

10. Voltaic Slash Fill. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself having more than 0-20 Force, and no other abilities to use, cast Voltaic Slash to fill up the time.

11. Saber Strike. In an ordinary single target situation, Saber Strike should not have to be used if Induction stacks are properly managed. Should you find yourself in a similar situation to that outlined in 9., and below 20 Force, Saber Strike is your next best option. In AoE situations, you will have to use this occasionally as Lacerate spam is quite Force intensive. There is a possibility (as yet untested by me) that mismanaging Induction stacks such that the need to use Saber Strike once every 2 minutes arises for the greater probability on Surging Charge may result in a DPS increase. It should be used not in place of an ability which grants Induction, as restoring extra Force only to be consumed by a Ball Lightning which has 1 less stack of Induction renders Saber Striking pointless in the first place.

12. Low Slash. This ability has no place in a standard single target rotation. It should only be used for its incapacitation effect (such as on a priority caster like the Interrogators in Dread Palace HM/NiM), or when unable to use any other ability for damage for at least 1 gcd due to being beyond 10 metres from the target (you should be able to close a gap of 20 metres within 1 gcd if under Force Speed).

Managing Surging Charge mid-fight

In the past, I have analogised playing AP PT to Deception (bear with me). This is because of the nature of Surging Charge’s internal cooldown (4 gcds), which should require you to essentially ‘count’ 4 gcds after its proc from a melee hit to decide when it is best to next use Voltaic Slash, Lacerate, or Saber Strike, to maximise the probability of its next proc (just like using Magnetic Burst for Rail Shot procs). However, this is slightly more complicated in the case of Deception for 2 reasons. The first is that there is only a 50% chance of proccing per hit, meaning that priority list above needs to be reconsidered virtually every global cooldown, especially as you approach the end of Surging Charge’s cooldown (it is not worth just assuming it will proc and using Voltaic Slash mindlessly every 4th gcd). The second reason it is more difficult than AP PT is that the cooldown of Surging Charge (when it triggers) doesn’t, and won’t necessarily, always occur on the beginning of a global cooldown. Why? Because Voltaic Slash’s second hit occurs mid-way through a GCD, and Voltaic Slash is the ability which will most commonly trigger Surging Charge (unlike all of your other melee hits which could proc this ability). I’ll elaborate on this more in a bit. Because of this, I consider that Deception’s rotation mid fight fits into one of two different categories, based around how you manage each proc of Surging Charge/when it occurs.

1. Surging Charge procs on the initial hit of a melee ability (i.e. Voltaic Slash’s first hit, or on the activation of any other melee ability).

This is where the similarity with AP PT exists, since, like AP PT, we count ‘1’ on the proc of our Surging Charge (when it occurs, presumably with a Voltaic Slash), and then allow ourselves 3 more abilities before we KNOW that we are able to proc Surging Charge via melee hit again.

If we don’t have a higher priority ability to use after those 3 abilities (i.e. Ball Lightning, Discharge at 3 stacks, Maul with Duplicity almost at 5 remaining seconds or Assassinate under Reaper’s Rush), we will use a melee ability hoping to proc Surging Charge again (presumably Voltaic Slash). Note that ANY melee ability can re-proc Surging Charge on that new ‘1’ (after the 3 spells), only that Voltaic Slash is the most likely to do so (excluding Saber Strike).

2. Surging Charge procs on the second hit of Voltaic Slash (this occurs semi-regularly).

This is where the similarity ends, since we can potentially have our proc occurring on the half-gcd. Because of this, the cooldown of Surging Charge will come up only halfway through the gcd of our 4th ability after the proc! This means that, if you want to be time efficient, you MUST use Voltaic Slash on that new ‘1’. However, if you do, you only have a 50% chance of triggering the proc since only ½ of Voltaic Slash’s hits will occur when Surging Charge can be activated!

Therefore, I suggest using a counting system in ‘5s’ for the second type of Surging Charge proc, where you can use Voltaic Slash on your fourth gcd but at a much lower priority than normal (use lower than almost every spell except Maul with at least 2 more gcds before Duplicity’s cooldown ends), and instead use Voltaic Slash as the 5th spell since at that time Voltaic Slash will have its usual 75% chance to trigger your stance.

Note: This exact same method of counting via half-gcd applies to tracking the internal cooldown of Maul (if it is procced on the second hit of Voltaic Slash, which it will be if you are playing with perfect APM).

Use of Offensive/Defensive Cooldowns

Offensive Cooldowns

3409672072_3539350271 (1) Recklessness: Instant, 75 second cd (with set bonus). Grants 2-3 charges of Recklessness, increasing the critical hit chance of your next Force ability by 60%. Each critical hit consumes one charge. Grants 3 Static Charges on use. Exiting combat reduces Recklessness’ active cooldown by 60 seconds.Should be used virtually on cooldown, but NEVER with any stacks of Static Charge active (unless a tight burst window demands it). Gives a strong burst dps increase and a free Discharge.
586135883_2494795226 (3) Force Cloak: Instant, 75 second cd (with utility). Exit combat and gain stealth.
On use, it reduces the cooldown of your Recklessness by 1 minute on its current cooldown, thereby giving you more crits, and more Discharges. This means that, ideally, you want to use Force Cloak after Recklessness, but before the cooldown timer on Recklessness hits 59 seconds.
226830758_1545327392 (2) Phantom Stride: Instant, 30 second cd, 30m. Dash to appear at your enemy target and gain 75% movement speed for 3 seconds. Does not break stealth. Grants 3 Static Charges.
Try to couple this with Recklessness (not mandatory, and you’ll get 2 in per Recklessness cd). Best used at 0 stacks of Static Charge.
3023871630_1522836190 (2) Overcharge Saber: Instant, 120 second cd, 15 second duration. Heals for 15% of your max health, increases the damage dealt by Surging Charge by 50%, and increases the change for Surging Charge to passively trigger by 25%, healing you every time it triggers.
This cooldown would normally result in only a minor DPS increase. Try to time it just after your first use of your Adrenal, and use on cooldown afterwards should you not need it as a defensive.
Advanced Polybiotic Attack Adrenal: Instant, 180 second cd, 15 second duration. Increases power by 835 and reduces all healing done by 20%.
Aim to sync this with as many of your offensive cooldowns/raid buffs as possible in general, since the benefit of most damage boosts are multiplicative when activated (e.g. more power when you have guaranteed/more likely crits = bigger guaranteed/more likely crits). ). It will fall out of sync with Overcharge Saber. Keep in mind it reduces your self healing from Overcharge Saber and medpac.

Defensive Cooldowns

1181912592_4091553054 (2) Force Shroud: Instant, 60 second cd, 3 second duration. Purges all hostile removable effects and increases your chance to resist Force and Tech attacks by 200%.The strongest defensive cooldown Assassins have access to. Since the vast majority of outgoing damage to melee DPS is either Force or Tech (think the ‘spells’ used by enemies), this ability enables you to essentially ‘ignore’ mechanics as they come. Overpowered?
1382399769_4178367132 (3) Deflection: Instant, 120 second cd, 12 second duration. Increases melee and ranged defence by 50%.
To leverage the greatest benefit from this ability, it is important to differentiate between Force/Tech damage, and melee/ranged damage. Unlike Juggernauts’ Saber Ward, Deflection gives an increase to defence only, which is a % chance to resist damage rather than a strict decrease in damage taken. Regardless, it is still useful. . With Retaliatory Grip, this becomes a reflect (but you still take damage). It is worth knowing for each fight not only what meaningful opportunities there are for reflecting damage, but also what safe opportunities there are. See the link above in the utility section for more.
586135883_2494795226 (3) Force Cloak: Description above.
Gives 2-4 seconds of Force Shroud depending on your utilities, removes you from the threat table, and refreshes your combat timer on your medpac. A great tool, but unfortunately it should be used on cooldown rotationally. However, you not only have the option of sacrificing DPS to save your Force Cloak as an additional defensive cooldown, but there is also flexibility in when you activate your stealth (so long as it is before the cooldown of Recklessness hits 60 remaining seconds), enabling potential use as a rotational defensive.
Advanced Polybiotic Medpac: Instant, 90 second cd. Heals for a moderate amount instantly and an additional amount over 15 seconds. Only usable once per fight.
Standard fare for all medpacs for all classes. However, Deception has the benefit of being able to use this multiple times per fight. Don’t forget to bring these to your raids.
3023871630_1522836190 (2) Overcharge Saber: Description above.A 15% max health heal, which isn’t insignificant, and the heal with every trigger of your Surging Charge is nice.
227986349_4268452020 Force Speed: Instant, 20 second cd. Grants 150% movement speed for 2 seconds. 60% absorb with Phasing Phantasm utility.
Both a gap closer and a supreme defensive cooldown with the right utilities. Like all your defensive cooldowns, it’s off the global cooldown, so try to time its use to absorb as much incoming damage as possible.

Exceptions

As with all PvE encounters, you should use your discretion and ‘raid awareness’ to decide if any abilities/cooldowns should be delayed/used abnormally. Here are just a few common exceptions to the above cooldown/priority list sections I haven’t yet covered.

    1. When to delay Discharge: When you hit 3 stacks of Static Charge, there is a single situation rotationally where Discharge can be delayed by 1 gcd to result in a net DPS gain overall. For this to occur, Ball Lightning must have 2 gcds left on its cooldown (meaning it was used to gain the second stack of Static Charge). Further, a melee hit was JUST used to proc Surging Charge, bringing you to 3 Static Charges. If, in this circumstance, Maul/Assassinate/Reaping Strike/2-3 target Lacerate is available, you can afford to delay Discharge for 1 gcd only. After your Discharge, your next spell should be Ball Lightning.
    2. When to delay Phantom Stride/use Phantom Stride or Recklessness with Static ChargesThis is more about raid awareness than anything else. Apart from delaying Phantom Stride by a few seconds to use with Recklessness every second usage, understanding when a fight demands tight burst windows is critical as an Assassin. This means that, should it be required of you to increase your output over a short span of time, you may have to Recklessness or Phantom Stride while Ball Lightning is on cooldown to bypass the RNG of Surging Charge’s melee procs and Discharge earlier
    3. Gap Closing/Use of Phantom Stride vs. Force Speed.Phantom Stride covers up to 30m semi-instantly – the next best option available to Assassins is Force Speed, which enables roughly 20*m-30m to be covered over 1.5 seconds, or 1 gcd. Sometimes, for maximum efficiency, you should delay your Phantom Stride and use it when needed to gap close – your goal is maximum uptime on your dps!If you don’t have Phantom Stride, or want to save it and FURTHER increase your dps efficiency, you should move using Force Speed. This opens a spot in your rotation which can only be filled by Low Slash unless you move preemptively and are able to cast Ball Lightning/Discharge as you close the distance to your target. Better yet, you can move immediately upon spell cast to arrive at your new target before the end of the gcd, meaning 0 downtime is required! This involves positioning and moving in a smart way.

      To help illustrate this, I’ve inserted two simple diagrams. The triangle represents the current target, and the ball represents an Assassin. The star represents a new target the Assassin will have to quickly switch to, or a new position they will have to move to.

      Here, we can see that, like a lot of players, the Assassin has positioned unthinkingly. They are well within the 4m range of their melee abilities, not to mention they have extended the distance they will have to travel on-target-swap. One force speed will not bridge the distance between them and their new target, so they will have downtime on their output. This is a bad Assassin player.

  1. Here, we can see that this Assassin is ‘behind’ the target and out of range of most cleaves, so they can still Maul effectively. They are on the very edge of their 4m range, minimising potential travel distance as they are on the closest possible point of that range to their new target. Not only that, but if the last spell cast before movement is Discharge or Ball Lightning, that Assassin may have already moved to their 10m range (since those abilities have a 10m range)! As soon as they cast their spell, they would start moving from 10m from their old target, instead of 2m, already in a straight line direction! With Force Speed, they will likely have no downtime, and won’t even have to Low Slash. This is a good Assassin player.These two examples illustrate an important limitation placed virtually only on melee characters: the need to position intentionally and carefully throughout a fight. You should be checking your distance from target periodically, and your position in relation to your target when movement is required, to minimise movement and maximise uptime and therefore your output! (Use your discretion when doing this, sometimes stacking behind targets is important for healers as an example).

Tinkering with Priority List for More DPS

In the context of play, mid-rotationally, there is an additional level of depth available to a few classes which enables a higher DPS output. Namely, where there exist more flexibility with respect to choice of spell, gcd for gcd, more depth exists (think Deception, AP PT) when you can rearrange the order of spell casts to maximally benefit from temporary buffs.

To understand this, you need to understand DPS from two pretty intuitive fronts. Further, you need to be able to play at a level where most movements, rotational tricks and key bindings are well-known to the point of muscle memory – you must pay active attention to Raid buff durations, and Relic procs, throughout the fight.

On the one hand, you have the ‘Instantaneous approach,’ which measures total DPS by gcd for gcd, leading to an overall average of Damage per second/Damage per 1.5 seconds (or gcds). This elevates the significance of DPS in the specific case.

On the other hand, you have the ‘Overall approach,’ which measures total DPS by total damage done over time. This prioritises understanding of DPS in the general case.

The ‘Overall approach’ is the traditional manner of understanding DPS and calculating rotations/priority systems for each class, due to the high frequency of DPS buffs in SWTOR (e.g. Relic Procs, Raid buffs). However, slightly playing around with these rotations/priority systems can result in an increase to DPS in the specific case, while not really lowering Overall DPS!

For example, when my relic proc may be about to expire, but my Surging Charge is off cooldown. To increase my net dps, I can decide to not delay my Maul by an extra gcd for a Voltaic Slash. This contradicts the priority system above in that it focusses on the instantaneous DPS gained by using a stronger ability when your stats are increased (DPS boosts are multiplicative). However, it yields an overall slightly higher DPS as the net DPS gained by using that Maul under a relic proc vs. a Voltaic Slash outweighs the net DPS lost by delaying Surging Charge by 1.5 seconds!

Being able to do/benefit from this act – i.e. calculating if an instantaneous DPS increase actually results in an overall DPS increase – is something few classes have the option of doing due to the incredibly prescriptive rotations they have to follow. But it is another area where Deception Assassins can dive into the depths of their specialisation and discover new ways to minorly increase damage output.

I only recommend this for Advanced players already highly familiar with the priority list above/the class as a whole, as the benefit is minor but the level of raid awareness and observation required is quite high.

Note: The main consideration for this light tinkering is whether or not to delay Voltaic Slash by 1 gcd, when under the effect of a relic proc/raid buff which is about to expire, and replace it with Reaping Strike, Maul or Assassinate.

Advice to (new) Raiders

I recommend watching Hayete’s PvE guide for some UI/playstyle tweaks.

Further, as Veldix said in his 5.0 Virulence PvE guide,

“You can be able to put out fantastic numbers on a dummy and easy bosses, but none of it matters if you can’t execute mechanics. To be a good raider, you need to put mechanics ahead of DPS. The key to being the best is being able to execute mechanics while maintaining great DPS. Learn to be aware of the things that are happening around you and prepare for mechanics in advance. Know when you need to move and be prepared to save a few abilities or pop defensives in advance.”

Lastly…

  • Aim to know the capabilities of the players/classes in your raid, and the demands of all roles for each fight.
  • Watch the ‘target of target’ to ensure you can pop defensives where necessary.
  • Move pre-emptively rather than reactively, watch the positioning of yourself and the raiders around you, and anticipate mechanics as a priority.
  • Learn to react to the unexpected with knockbacks, stuns, or taunts.
  • Weave your rotation/priority system around those mechanics, as you would with your offensive and defensive cooldowns.

These are some of the skills demanded by more challenging content, especially for those who play a melee class. Master those, and you’ll have mastered most of raiding. Good luck 🙂

TL;DR: Numbers aren’t everything. Mechanics first. Be proactive.

Acknowledgements

Glor, for keeping me alive over everyone else (except on Dread Guards) and being my co-lead/Biochem Buddy/RP role model.

Yleenakhai, for convincing/showing me Deception was viable in 4.0 and inspiring me to use it on Brontes (RIP).

Pebble, for suggesting I write a guide in the first place.

Ubiqus, for reminding me to be calm and civil when I’m salty af.

Mac, Blas. For teaching me to tunnel less and theorycraft via discussion.

Jaymis and Veldix. For some of the structure/content in my guide.

Artorias, for the work he did in 4.0.

The Level 10 Combat Dummy on the Ziost Shadow, because who needs a ship for rotation practice.

Lastly, all of the members of Kai Sith’ari and everyone I’ve raided with in the past. You’re the ones who make this game worth playing.

  • Shadowofdeath

    Holy crap another Aussie, My question for you is this. How do you find trying to prog during the week given the timezone difference?

    • Pebble SWTOR

      APAC teams like dark time and it’s lit

  • ionica

    is it worth investing time in sin? Most likely bio will nerf it soon

    • Pebble SWTOR

      Yes, even without the stance bug they’re still one of the best dps

    • Draco Glacies

      Definitely the spec is kinda a joke how good it is right now. Even without the bug.

      • Jaek

        Compared to how strong PT was in 4.0, I’d say Deception without bug is in a good place. Hatred isn’t and is definitely in need of a buff. I don’t believe Deception needs nerfing due to its lack of group wide utility, but I’d hope BW would adjust its post-bugfix playstyle to be more similar to Deception with bug – it feels far more dynamic.

  • Corwin

    Great guide!

    • Jaek

      Thanks!

  • chameleon2000

    Great guide – any chance for a Rep version of it?

    • Jaek

      I’ve messaged Dulfy to see if she wants me to do it 🙂

      • chameleon2000

        Hey thx in advance can’t wait! 🙂

    • Jaek

      It’s on its way!

      • chameleon2000

        Wow, great!! Thanks again!

  • Ry

    Great guide! I’ve been playing Assassin as my main for almost 5 years now, but I’ve always mainly concentrated on tanking and played deception/hatred as secondary spec. This expansion though I decided to go out full Deception, and am really enjoying it so far. I find myself concentrating a LOT harder and feel like if I misjudge something by a little, I will get off track. It keeps raiding really interesting for me :). Really enjoy the high difficulty of Deception, and I am really glad that they finally got some love this expansion.

    I kind of wish I had the double stance bug, but I was in tank stance during the expansion :(. On the plus side I am sitting at 53% shield with 0 shield rating 😀

  • Andrew Humphrey

    What is the double stance bug?

    • Ry

      From what I understand, whatever charge you had active before 5.0 hit, is still active regardless of which spec you are in currently. Which means, those that were in Deception spec prior to expansion and had surging charge on, now has 2xStance active, doubling all the procs/effects.

      • Andrew Humphrey

        lol that’s dumb

  • Ahzhihod

    Great guide, but from my understanding, blowy Discharge is a serious medical problem :p

    • Skeat

      Yes but only if it gets in her eyes

  • Nez

    I would add 12. Lacerate when unable to reach and low slash is on cd.

    • Jaek

      Yep 100%, if I do the infiltration guide I’ll put it there

  • Andre Alexander Jackson

    Many thanks for such an informative guide.

    • Jaek

      Thanks!

  • Honza Hladík

    10/10 on sustained? players can parse above 11k 😀 its more like 12/10.. why my mara is not bugged..

    • Jaymis

      Carnage is bugged

      • Jaek

        Dat sweeping slash tho

      • Honza Hladík

        not mine..

  • Draco Glacies

    Opener with non stance bug would be nice! Also priority list with non stance bug would need to be altered. To maximize your DPS with this spec when playing the legitimate way, ball lightning should be used on CD above all other abilities (with some exceptions with certain CDs). Without the bug, the only way to get 3 stacks for discharge is by activating ball lightning at least twice for most cases. But everything else was perfect! Great guide man 😀

    • Jaek

      Wrong! You can get Discharge via 2x Ball Lightning + 1 proc OR by 2xproc + 1 Ball Lightning, either works, depending on how your RNG is/the timings on your procs. You actually have more than a 75% chance of having one Discharge with 2 melee procs per Discharge if your cooldowns align that way. You actually want to keep both the 6 second internal cooldown of Surging Charge, and the 6 second cooldown of Ball Lightning, at roughly the same priority level. The priority list is actually built around the legitimate way to play the spec due to the need to optimally proc Surging Charge via melee hit.

      As for the opener without the stance bug, it is more RNG based. But as I wrote, use voltaic slash BEFORE ball lightning, and add in any extra filler to reach your discharges. Your use of maul, assassinate, reaping strike should be where written, or earlier if fill is needed.

      • Draco Glacies

        lol i know that… i’m saying the majority of the time in a non bug spec you will be using 2 ball lightning to get the 3 stacks. Rng may allow for the use of only 1 ball lightning once in a while but not the majority.

      • Draco Glacies

        I have plenty of parses where i prioritize the abilities you stated over ball lightning. They all fall short to the parses where i prioritize ball lighting over all. I’m talking 500 dps difference but still.

  • Ludovic Hansen

    You’re saying that Bant underevaluated DPS output for 4.0, but you’re forgetting that he produced theoretical average numbers. He didn’t introduced the standard deviation in his work until 5.0. And thus it’s evident that players parsed way higher than that since everybody make a god-like parse from time to time where all the stars aligned. You should really give him more credits than that.

    • Jaek

      Possibly, but I don’t believe his DPS numbers are statistically accurate even on average, especially when the average parses are usually higher than he expects anyway.

      • Ludovic Hansen

        You have to consider his simulation portray an infinite number of rotations where a parse is a very smal portion of that and in most parses opening burst is far from diluted because it’s too short so, most notably burst spec, parse higher than his numbers.
        On top of that, you’d have to make thousands of parse, record all of them and make their average to even approach a level of average Bant has gone for.
        Surely people will parse higher than what his numbers show, everybody has done god-parse, but he did not make his simulation to predict what will the highest parse be. He’s done it to find the best stat repartition to achieve the best average DPS for each class.
        All in all, this best average DPS is nothing more than 1% better than everything you could do and is mostly here for people that want to min-max without taking the time to swap enhancements/augments and test over and over again their changes.
        But one thing that he’s done really good is define the true ranking of the different specs.

      • Evan

        I’ve also talked to Bant and he’s explicitly told me that he can’t accurately model Shadow DPS for this spec because it doesn’t have a proper rotation, which is why it also always has the highest margin of error too.

  • Evan

    This is Eudoxia (HM/NiM Infil Shadow on JC).

    Just wanted to say this is a really good guide! However, you should mention that using a Discharge highlighted by recklessness takes priority over using a phantom stride-highlighted discharge. Because the stacks of recklessness will last long enough to give a more or less 100% crit chance on the second discharge (so you end up with 2 18K force breaches instead of a 9K and an 18K).

    You should also mention that the doubled class stance can activate and deactivate randomly, it’s normally triggered by entering or exiting an instance (such as an op, pvp match, going from PvE to PvP open world, etc). Or by logging out. So there’s no guarantee to tell if you’re going to be doing 9K or 11K DPS, unless you look at your actual logs or at least your readout in Parsley.

    Blegh… had to edit this 5 times. Imp terminology.

    • Jaek

      I myself have never had bug deactive unless I swap out of spec myself, and even then, I don’t know if I should be teaching people how to bug stuff hahaha!

      The point about discharge + recklessness is implicitly covered since recklessness automatically gives 3 static charges, recklessness should be used on cooldown, and you wouldn’t use phantom stride with those charges activated. I wrote avoidance OR lambaste is good.

      Electric bindings are required on NiM Styrak as on the chained manifestation, the box closes much faster but to compensate the adds can be knocked back and rooted, giving you more time to kill the manifestation before the raid is wiped.

      • Evan

        Fair enough.

        Duly noted on NiM Styrak. Although you could always do more DPS. 😛

        • Jaek

          Literally impossible to do Manifestation without knockbacks, damage check isn’t less than at least double what current dps are capable of

          • Evan

            Ouch. Yeah it was high in HM. Although maybe that was low DPS from a couple of our DoTspec Commandos on my team.

            On that note, I can’t wait until Bioware screws this class over next patch! /sarcasm

  • Kalerra

    As far as I know is Insulation still bugged and active on every Assasin. So you can skill Emersion and Shroud of Madness.
    Otherwise nice guide with explanation of how to play this spec in ops smartly. I’m just one place behind you in parsley 😛

    • Jaek

      I didn’t know that! I’ll have to do some research myself

      • Kalerra

        Could be wrong. But I dont see any stats changing if i use insulation, but still have more amor rating and hp as sentinel/maro for example

        • Mac

          It’s not bugged for dps assassins, only tank specs seems to get it for free.

  • Mushu

    Could I get a screenshot of what your quickbars look like? Im trying to organize mine to fit the rotation and have everything there for easy access

    • Jaek

      When I’ve returned from vacation, sure

  • Nuno Bacharel

    Was there a change on skillful utilitie “Shapeless Spirit”? Is the damage reduction only when stunned?

    • Jaek

      Yes it was just updated in the most recent patch

  • Jaek

    I will update this for post bug-fix 5.1 when I return from vacation, just before Valentine’s Day

  • Bogdan Paunescu

    Great guide. Before 5.1, I was doing 8.5k in almost full 230 using the 4.0 rotation with slashes as resource management :)). After the bug was fixed, only 7.4k. I believe the gear is a problem too, but the rotation is a bit more difficult now and still need to adjust.

    • Jaek

      You shouldn’t need to ever saber strike single target for resource management. With full 230 set bonus gear, 8: expect at least 8k or above, probably mid 8s at least assuming correct rotation. You are right in that it is actually not faceroll anymore since it’s back to 4.0 priority system with Reaping Strike added in. I’ll update the guide when I return from vacation.

  • benjamingrant

    Given the two significant changes (Shapeless Spirit is gone, 2x bug is gone) and the fact that I have just started a Deception Assassin (and the fact that I am still n00bish), I’ll be eagerly looking for the updated guide when you have returned. Thanks.

    • Shapeless Spirit being gone just gives you the amazing option of having both Avoidance and Lambaste. Other than that nothing has changed.

      As of the dual stance bug.. that also doesn’t really change anything aside from the fact it is now much safer to delay a Discharge. (However also more punishing if you get it wrong)

      Honestly though, I don’t think I fully agree with the portayed simplicity of the priority system here. I think there is much more to it. You can do all sorts of little things to squeeze out more damage. But it’s very in-depth.

      • Jaek

        Exactly! That’s what I’m writing now.

  • LaGauffreDesBois

    Did you update the guide already or not ?

    • Jaek

      Working on it

      • LaGauffreDesBois

        ok thanks jaek

  • Justin Emmons

    I get so confused on all the terms that are used when trying to figure out on how to gear. Examples are

    Eternal Commander MK-3, iLevel 230:

    7372 Endurance | 5901 Mastery (Stim) | 3183 Power

    1447 Critical (7xE, 2xC) | 1152 Alacrity (12xA) | 735 Accuracy (3xE, 2xA)

    I’m so confused by all this, wish there was a diagram

    • Jaek

      Mostly check for the iLevel (the average level of gear it refers to). Each of those are the respective stat thresholds to aim for. Eternal Commander MK-3, for example, is the start of most set pieces/tier gear at iLevel MK-3

  • Kryen

    question, im torn between crystals, power or crit for higher damage output? thanks for the advice and the amazing guide

    • Jaek

      Run crit unless over 1700, then I’d say a mix of power/crit or mastery/crit. I haven’t done enough testing on them yet.

      • Kelly

        So are you saying 0% alacrity then if dumping stats after 1700 crit into mastery crit/ power crit? If so, isn’t mastery better?

        • Jaek

          DO NOT DROP ALACRITY TO 0. That is terrible advice.

          In general alacrity is increased lightly less than crit (so at full build in BiS, you might expect mid 1700s crit and mid 1500s alacrity for any given dps spec).

          The reason this is the case as alacrity gives a flat % increase to total output assuming you miss no actions/each ability ties fluidly into the next. So, with 10% alacrity, your resource regen is increased by 10%, your cooldowns are reduced by 10%, your global cooldowns are reduced by 10%. If you can do a total of 100 damage in 10 seconds, with 10% alacrity, you can do the same amount in 9 seconds.

          Getting crit from 42 to 46% crit requires nullifying alacrity. This means you are sacrificing a potential 10% damage bonus for a 4% increase in crit. This is, obviously, inadvisable and a foolish move.

          No serious or legitimate end-game raiders run 0% alacrity as heals or dps.

          The reason I don’t think Deception in particular should run the 12-13% alacrity of other classes is because not ALL of its cooldowns DPS wise are affected by alacrity. Specifically, Phantom Stride and Force Cloak have static cooldowns, so the strict % increase assumed by perfect play under an alacrity increase doesn’t occur since your Stealth-reset remains at 75 seconds, and Phantom Stride cannot be used more than once every 30 seconds. Nonetheless, alacrity is still worthwhile for the reasons I mentioned.

          When at BiS and looking at stat tinkering, putting more points into mastery or power is quite finnicky. Power gives more Bonus Force/Melee damage per point than mastery, but mastery does give some small % increase to crit (but not crit multipliers). I’d suggest using any remaining stats after reaching mid 1700s crit, and maybe mid 1200s alacrity, into EITHER power or mastery. There will come a point when mastery begins to award less and less crit per point. When you establish at what threshold this begins (it was about 5400 mastery in 4.0, I’m not sure what it is currently), begin putting points into power.

          • Kelly

            Thanks for the reply. Totally appreciate it!

            • Jaek

              Eddie flagged my reply to hers as spam when I provided mathematical refutations of her build. If you have any questions pm me. Or ill directly comment on my article with the previous message she deleted

              • abaddonsmummy

                I’m not saying she did or didn’t flag you, just that Dulfy has recently tightened the spam rules on posts to stop the usual spam we see on forums.
                A lot of posters have recently been similarly caught out if they put something in their posts like a percentage sign like you have above.
                By the way I totally agree with the alacrity build you use, it’s brilliant.
                Thanks.

          • I’m at 6871 Mastery in practically full 248. The main point is you’re going to be above 40% Critical Chance. And I honestly don’t think you want to be getting any more of it purposely after that. 40% ensures your Recklessness autocrits. That’s the reason it’s so good until that point.

            I do feel like having more Alacrity is better for a steady output though. Currently got 1653 Alacrity and I quite like it. If I look at my Critical Disparity between parses all I can conclude is that Critical Strike is inconsistent AF.
            It might increase your peak (which is great if you want to get #1 parse), but it also digs out your bottom.

            The fact that it doesn’t affect all of your cooldowns is a bit of a moot point because Critical Strike doesn’t do anything if you don’t Crit either. Crit is an RNG element (at least it will be untill you can reach 100%.. Kappa).
            Alacrity on the other hand is not. It, like power, increases ALL forms of output.

            For the longest time, world of warcrafts identical “Haste” stat didn’t do anything with cooldowns either. And for a while Alacrity didn’t in this game. That didn’t make it a completely undesirable stat. It affecting cooldowns just makes it even better. But for the sake of balance we can’t have Alacrity reduce all cooldowns.

            • Jaek

              Of course that would be unbalanced af haha, but its why alacrity is slightly less useful than, say, for a Marauder or a Sniper (whose cooldowns are all reduced by alacrity)

        • Eddie Dexx

          alacrity is totally useless for deception. trading alacrity to other stats (especially crit) raises the damage output a lot. have 45-46% crit and you’ll see what i mean when u parse. a huge difference

    • Eddie Dexx

      I prefer going full crit.. Accuracy at 110% and rest on crit and drop alacrity to 0%. that makes your crit go 46%+, and with the passive mitigation u gain more than 50% crit as well as recklessness will be autocrit guaranteed on every burst window. Also since crit raises crit multiplier (formerly known as surge rating) the crits goes really high. Imo alacrity is totally useless for deception, a lot better to rely on high crit instead since it raises your average dps a lot. with the alacrity rating the author suggested.. the crit frequency will be a lot lower even though u get more hits per minutes.

      • Jaek

        DO NOT DROP ALACRITY TO 0. That is terrible advice.

        See my comment below as to why this is the case.

        • Eddie Dexx

          It is not! my parse and is a lot higher with alacrity traded to other stats. Same goes with a couple of guildies who also took my advice to drop alacrity rating to zero. highest possible crit rating is the best way to make most damage output. I dunno why u tell people to put a lot of pointless points in alacrity since alacrity do no good for deception. Only advantage is lower gcd:s but beside that there isn’t anything good from it. 45% crit chance minimum (with the following multiplier that will hit 72-73%). The “diminishing” return of crit isn’t true since even though it’s on paper looks like 45-46% crit.. in reality the crit goes like 52-56% in parse. in other words, more than every second attack crits and that is what raises the damage output a lot more than with your favoured alacrity.

          No idea why you favour unnecessary alacrity.. is it because you don’t want people to know that there is extra damage output with more crit instead of alacrity?

          • Jaek

            Crit will result in higher DPS IF your apm is very low.

            Check below for mathematical analysis of why your build is inferior.

            Crit on your parse will appear as 52-56% due to 1. Melee hits as assassin have an additional 5% crit from an Advanced Class passive ability; 2. Recklessness gives 3 guaranteed crits per use; 3. You have a maul autocrit once per min. That would naturally elevate your crit overall.

            I’d be interested to see your parse link, and the experience of those who recommended this shift change.

            The advantage is not MERELY lower gcds. It also reduces the cooldown of your Ball Lightning (meaning Discharge is more frequent), the cooldown on Duplicity (meaning the Maul buff is more frequent), the cooldown on your Overcharge Saber, the cooldown on your Reaping Strike, the internal cooldown on your Surging Charge, the cooldown on your Assassinate, and the cooldown on your Adrenal.

            If you have 10% alacrity, your adrenal will have 18 seconds reduced cooldown. Your assassinate will have 0.6 seconds reduced cooldown. And so on.

            I’m not saying more crit isn’t good. What I AM saying is that, what you believe is a 52%-56% crit from higher crit, is really only 2-4% more crit than my parses which run 42% crit (I’d see 49-53% crit on average). By increasing the crit in that way, you are giving yourself an extra 2% to 4% to deal an extra 70% damage, per hit.

            Lets say you decide to spam, hypothetically, Reaping Strike (as if it had no cooldown). You want to do this for 150 seconds.

            Lets assume it will hit for 10k damage exactly on a non crit each use.
            With 0% alacrity, you will only be able to use your ability 100 times (150/1.5).

            If you have 45% crit (50% with the passive bonus to melee crit chance), you have a 50% chance per hit to do an extra 72% damage. Mathematically, this means we can say that half of your hits, 50 hits, will deal 72% bonus damage.

            The total damage is thus 50 x 10k (the non crits) + 50x 10k x 1.73 = 1,365,000 damage.

            If you had 10% alacrity, you would only have 42% crit. With 10% alacrity, your GCD is 1.35 seconds. This means you can use Reaping Strike 111.11 times in the same timeframe (i’ll round down to 111) (150/1.35).

            With 42% crit (47% with bonus pasive), you have a 47% chance to do an extra 69% damage. Thus, with a 47% chance to crit on 111 hits, you will crit for 52 of the total hits for 69% bonus damage.

            The total damage is thus 59 x 10k (the non crits) + 52 x 10k x 1.69 = 1,468,800.

            Thus, with a 10% increase in alacrity but a 3% reduction in crit from the relevant stat redistribution, you gain an additional 103,800 damage done in the same time frame.

            This dps increase is INDEPENDENT of ANY additional uses of adrenals, or faster/more frequent cooldowns. This is MERELY assuming your gcd is faster.

            Thus, in a worst case (which you assumed is the truth), if your gcd is faster by 10% but you lose some crit, you will STILL do vastly more damage.

            This difference will only INCREASE when you factor in the increased frequency of damage related cooldowns, as well as the increased frequency of damage abilities with cooldown timers (such as Surging Charge’s internal cooldown, or Ball Lightning).

  • Jaek

    Update has been completed and sent to Dulfy!

    • Zett

      Öhm…okay

  • beruhl

    Doesn’t Insulate utility only translate to 2% DR?

    • Jaek

      still worth

      • I would most definitely not agree. Not in the least because it doesn’t increase your armor at all.. but even if it did, we have more defensive capacity than we could wish for. Even without it.

        Let the healers do some work and pick utilities that actually make a difference.
        5% raid-wide Damage Reduction on demand, now that’s something that can actually help the group.

        Still the weakest link utility, but as a baseline option far better than any alternatives.

        • Jaek

          It actually IS worth since it translates to about 5% dr. Also due to bug, it does increase amour (check above) if you change utilities out of phase before re-entering. You can actually run it WITH assassin’s shelter atm.

          • Eh, only if you give up obfuscation for it. And as far as I’m considered movementspeed = uptime = dps so that isn’t going away.

            And I stand by my earlier argument. I’m already taking the least amount of damage of everyone in the raid. I don’t need yet more passive DR. But I can’t get insulation to give me armor either way.

            • Jaek

              You misunderstand. Due to an existing bug, you can gain the benefits of the utility without wasting a point in it. See above as to how this occurs. (A reply to gringo above).

              • Then I already have it. I wouldn’t put a point in it even if that wasn’t possible though.

  • LaGauffreDesBois

    has the update been uploaded or still waiting for Dulfy to release the update ?

    • Jaek

      Waiting for dulfy to update the guide, I sent the updated version mid March

      • LaGauffreDesBois

        sorry for the 2 replies, wasn’t so sure where to ask and where you’d see my comment ^^

      • vrix

        damn, they take a lof of time everyday I come to look for it

        • Jaek

          Dulfy replied 5 days ago and said she’s hoping to have it up soon though 🙂 She’s pretty busy running the whole site, not just for SWTOR

          • vrix

            Let’s cross fingers, thanks for the update

  • Sean

    There are some annoying quirks that I’ve found with Force Cloak that will affect your use of it in rotations when you’re running solo:

    1. It can reset missions. For example, in the Dromund Kaas heroic “Saving Face”, where you loot explosives off a body, apply them to a drill, then fight three waves of attackers, using Force Cloak during the fight against the three waves of attackers takes you out of combat — and resets the mission, making you go recover the explosives again.

    2. It will drop your Mind Trap. When Force Cloak takes you out of combat, if you have a mob CC’d with Mind Trap, they come out of it. This will sometimes cause the mob to turn around, interfering with your use of Maul or Spike, or forcing you to reapply it before using Maul/Spike on another mob in the spawn. A time-wasting annoyance.

    • Eddie Dexx

      Force Cloak is rarely needed in rotation when doing solo content. u do the same rotation but without force cloak in rotation.

  • gringo

    Apparently Insulation/ShadowyVeil is broken and not functioning to increase armor.
    http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=920068

    • Jaek

      It does increase armour, however you cannot change spec or utilities in phase otherwise it doesn’t work. The upside is that, if you change your utilities out of phase such that your armour is increased, you can change OUT of that utility and keep the armour. Frees up an extra utility point.

      • Yeah okay, so it doesn’t apply within a phase but once you get out it does. Good game.

        Either way, I’ve played without this extra armor for the longest time and I won’t change now. All this hassle for 4.5% extra damage reduction on a class that already takes less damage than everybody else. It’ll be on when it’s on. But I’m not going out of my way to get it back after a respec.

        • Jaek

          They may have patched it in the last week, but a week ago I was able to run 5.5k armour with 242 armorings only.

          • 5728 is what I get out of it when it actually works. But I resets everytime you enter or leave a loading screen/phase. Can’t get it to work in warzones period, because you aren’t allowed to respec. And to have the armor you need to have the utility on before going through the loading screen.

            All in all, huge amounts of effort.. and for what?
            So your healers have do to 50hps less? Nah, thanks.
            They can get their ass to work.

            Not having this utility isn’t going to get you killed. Failing mechanics is.
            And in that sense, you’re better off having Obfuscation and Assassin’s Shelter anyway.

      • gringo

        So why is Exo on the forums saying it doesn’t increase armor?

        • Jaek

          It only works if you change it outside of phase then enter phase. Can confirm having tested it.

  • Kaelin

    Thank you!
    Very educational for people who are creating their very 1st assassin pet.

  • Andres Arancibia

    can u give me an skill calculator? thanks so much

  • Senate-kin

    So..in laymen’s terms: why exactly do I need Alacrity? I don’t exactly see how it’s worth it sacrificing quite a lot of crit chance, especially on the lower gear tiers to get reduced cooldowns.

    • Jaek

      Scroll down in the comments.

      Basically, 1% alacrity is 1% total damage increase effectively. Due to diminishing returns of the two stats, solely investing in one of them is less efficient than investing in both. One percent additional crit chance is heavily outvalued by once percent straight up damage increase.

  • Jaek

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