5.0 Class Guides SWTOR

SWTOR 5.3 Lethality Operative PvE Guide by Pràise

SWTOR 5.3 Lethality Operative PvE Guide by Pràise.


Intro to Lethality Operative

Lethality operative is a damage-over-time melee damage class that offers the best single target sustained dps and great versatility in most other scenarios. While lethality is not a burst class, it can be made to dish out high burst damage if setup properly but not quite to the amount of its counterpart, Concealment.


Single Target Damage: 9.9/10

No discipline is perfect but currently Lethality dishes out the best you can get. Lethality has the highest sustained single target damage in the game as of now and since the 5.3 update, this is be a healthy margin.

AOE Damage: 8/10

Lethality has decent spreading for its DoT effects, though not nearly the best. This combined with two AOE moves that get amplified by your rotation puts Lethality in a comfortable spot for both full time and part time AOE.

Survivability: 8/10

Operative has some pretty good defensives that are available often, it has passives/utilities that give you good resistances, it can stealth out and on some fights, your evasion can work wonders. Lethality also has some very good off-heals/self-heals. However some fights don’t favor your cooldowns and when you compare Lethality defensives to something like a Sniper or Marauder, you can see its flaws.

Group Utility: 8/10

Operative may not be the best for group utility but the amount of different benefits you have for a group and how easy it is to use them makes them very versatile and earns them a 8/10 in my eyes. You have stealth revive without a cooldown on revive, the hardest hitting reflect, great off-heals, a very good raid buff (big crits = big utility), a cooldown to negate some mechanics, enough range to float out of melee range to relive pressure on other melee and finally a 5% tech damage debuff along with a 7% internal/elemental damage debuff.


The guide most people follow for optimal stats at all endgame levels of gear is here:

As for the stats I personally run at full 248 (except a couple armorings), here is my setup:


I use the proficient (accuracy) stim, critical colour crystals and the standard setup of the Focused Retribution (mastery proc) and Serendipitous Assault (power proc) relics. Of course, I also use the Enforcer set-bonus which grants:

  • (2) Corrosive Assault increase damage dealt by 2%  for 15 seconds. Cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds
  • (4) Lethal Strike’s energy cost is reduced by 2
  • (6) Activating Shiv will grant Enforcer’s Critical Bonus making your next Corrosive Assault critically hit. This effect can only occur once every minute


Icon Name Description Recommendation
clip_image002 Nanotech Suit Reduces all area of effect damage taken by 30% Mandatory: AoE damage is plentiful in operations and 30% reduction is a big deal, there is almost no fight where you shouldn’t take this utility
clip_image004 Chem-Resistant Inlays Increases damage reduction by 5% Mandatory: Like Nanotech Suit, damage reduction is always nice and 5%, while smaller than 30%, is still less worry for your healers
clip_image006 Imperial Weaponry Noxious Knives deals 25% more damage Situational: Noxious Knives is good for both spreading dots and dealing AoE damage. If there is a fight where you use this more than a few times, this utility should probably be taken
clip_image008 Hit and Run Striking a target with Shiv or Veiled Strike grants Hit and Run, increasing your movement speed by 50% for 3 seconds Rarely recommend: You won’t use this utility much, if at all but if you find yourself in a fight like Dread Guards in TfB, this is a decent utility to pick up to help with kited bosses
clip_image010 Slip Away Reduces the cooldown of Debilitate by 15 seconds Mostly PvP: There rarely is a point where you need to use Debilitate more than you have a cooldown for in PvE however, if you find a use for it, 15 seconds is a good reduction
clip_image012 Infiltrator Increases movement speed by 15% and effective stealth level by 3 Rarely recommend: Used in the same situations as Hit and Run. Provides a consistent buff but a less significant one. If that suits your playstyle more, use this but I prefer Hit and Run
clip_image014 Curbing Strategies Overload Shot and Noxious Knives reduce the movement speed of targets they damage by 40% for 6 seconds. In addition, when Flash Bang ends it leaves behind Flash Powder that reduces the target’s accuracy by 20% for 8 seconds Mostly PvP: The slow is nearly useless in PvE and if I recall, most important bosses are no longer affected by the accuracy loss. However, if you find one that is, 20% can sometimes save your tanks (but they shouldn’t need saving from you anyway)
clip_image016 Precision Instruments Reduces the energy cost of Debilitate and Sever Tendon by 5 and makes Sever Tendon immobilize the target for 2 seconds Unused: I shouldn’t need to explain this one.. You aren’t using these abilities anyway and Lethality does not need more energy
clip_image018 Advanced Cloaking Reduces the cooldown of Cloaking Screen by 30 seconds and activating Cloaking Screen increases movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds Recommended: Stealthed Lethal Strike does more damage and grants a TA. Shorter cooldown = more Stealth Lethal Strike = more damage = more TAs.. Almost always taken as it is a direct damage increase
clip_image020 Med Shield Your Shield Probe heals you for 5% of your maximum health when it collapses Recommended: Seeing as there isn’t much else in this tier, I usually end up taking this because a 5% heal every 25-30 seconds adds up especially when combined with Escape Plan later on
clip_image022 Endorphin Rush Adrenaline Probe now immediately restores 15 addition energy Unused: You don’t need energy help on Lethality, you never struggle with a standard rotation. You never struggle with a bad rotation. Don’t take this.
clip_image024 Fortified Kolto While your Kolto Probe is active on yourself, your damage reduction is increased by 3% per stack Situational: There are a few fights where you have both the downtime and damage taken necessary for this to be more useful than Med Shield. Tyrans is about the only thing I can think of now if you put some Probes on when you drop below for Simplification
clip_image026 Imperial Tactics Sever Tendon will now grant a Tactical Advantage Unused: You never desperately need the extra TA enough to throw in a sever tendon for it. I like the idea of this but I’ve tried making it work, it doesn’t.
clip_image028 Evasive Screen When activated, Cloaking Screen grants 2 seconds of Evasion Rarely recommend: You should never really need evasion more than you have it with Evasive Imperative but if you find yourself in a fight where you need to cleanse something very frequently or dodge big melee/ranged hits this can be useful. Would be more useful If Blow for Blow worked with this but it doesn’t and use of Cloaking Screen is mostly used for more damage
clip_image030 Evasive Imperative Every time you get attacked, the active cooldown of your Evasion is reduced by 3 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds Nearly mandatory: Evasion is your best cooldown, this makes it’s normal cooldown of 60s have a possible minimum of 20s and on most fights you’ll take enough damage to proc this multiple times. Only on fights where there are no cleanses, no reflect and no melee/ranged damage, is this not worth taking. As a side note, this utility along with reflect makes Operatives broken on Core phase of Revan
clip_image032 Cunning Competencies Countermeasures purges all movement-impairing effects when activated. Additionally, when Sleep Dart wears off, the target is struck by Sedatives, reducing all damage dealt by 50% for the next 10 seconds Rarely recommend: You will almost never need the sedative part of this unless you’re on trash but the purge is nice for certain situations, something like Underlurker, Brontes reaches and kiting Sunder.. However, you already have a lot of mobility and most of the time Evasion will purge the movement impair anyway so this is not very useful over other things in here
clip_image034 Escape Plan Reduces the cooldown of Escape by 30 seconds, Shield Probe by 5 seconds, and Infiltrate by 60 seconds Recommended: 5 seconds off of Shield Probe is great. That’s it. This in conjunction with Med Shield spikes your mitigation quite a bit and living is always good.. Also, there’s nothing much better in this tier except for Evasive Imperative
clip_image036 Jarring Strike When used from stealth, Backstab and Lethal Strike interrupt and knock down the target for 3 seconds. Player targets are immobilized for 3 seconds, rather than being knocked down Unused: This will never replace Hidden Strike in all the pre 3.0 Operative hearts… Don’t use this. You don’t need it
clip_image038 Circumvention Reduces the cooldown of Holotraverse by 10 seconds and allows it to be used while immobilized. When activated it purges movement-impairing effects and grants a Tactical Advantage Recommended: Holotraverse generates a TA now.. more TAs which mean more damage. There are few fights where this doesn’t work, Terror from Beyond for example but for the most part I take this if there’s nothing to reflect in a fight, otherwise I’ll substitute this for Blow for Blow
clip_image040 Mobile Strategies Exfiltrate grants a charge of Mobile Strategies, reducing the energy cost of your next Overload Shot by 100%, increasing its maximum range by 20 meters, and making it knock the target back. Each use of Overload Shot consumes a charge of Mobile Strategies and grants 10 energy Unused… kinda: Like Imperial Tactics, a cool idea and this one’s even fun in PvP but you don’t need this. I’ve made use of this utility once.. On a Revan kill where we didn’t have many knockbacks in the group.. And even then I used it once in the entire fight.
clip_image042 Revitalizers Stim Boost now additionally grants Revitalizers restoring 5% of total health every 3 seconds and reducing damage taken by 20% for the duration Nearly Mandatory: This makes Stim Boost your greatest over-time defensive. 20% flat reduction while healing is amazing. Only substitute this out if you won’t be taking much damage and can make use of both Holotraverse and Blow for Blow
clip_image044 Curative Agent Countermeasures grants Curative Agent, causing your next Kolto Probe on a new target to immediately grant two stacks. Additionally, Countermeasures heals you for 1% of your maximum health every second for 10 seconds and Kolto Infusion now initially restores more health, but no longer restores health over time Rarely recommend: This is an interesting alternative to Revitalizers because the heal on Countermeasures is up more frequently and your probes heal for quite a bit but there is no mitigation on this. Fights where you may need to recover more during downtime can make use of this. I take this on Tyrans for when I drop down below as I will be free to do non-damage abilities anyway
clip_image046 Augmented Shields Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Shield Probe by 30% Rarely recommend: Since you’re mostly going to take Med Shield and Escape Plan anyway, this final boost for Shield Probe can really do wonders for mitigation. If I didn’t prefer the mitigation of Revitalizers over this, I’d take it for sure but in most fights, you don’t take serious damage for this to be worth it as frequently. I do recommend it for some fights though. Things like Tyth where damage you take is mostly predictable and more frequent than Stim Boost would be up for
clip_image048 Blow for Blow Activating Evasion grants Blow for Blow, returning 150% of direct single target tech and Force damage taken back to the attacker while Evasion is active
Note: This does not trigger with Evasive Screen
Recommended: Shortest but most powerful reflect in the game. 150% is huge even with capped reflect numbers. If there is a fight where you can reflect, take this. You still take the damage yourself but as long as you pop your Shield Probe and hit a medpac after jumping in for that reflect, your healers…. Will probably still hate you to be honest.. But your damage will be reaaaaallly nice. I sub between this and Circumvention most fights as mentioned in the Circumvention utility


Rotational Abilities

Icon Name and Info Description Usage
clip_image002[5] Corrosive Dart
Energy: 15
Range: 30m
Fires a dart at the target that deals internal poison damage over 24 seconds One of your two main DoT effects. Costs slightly more energy than its counterpart. Usable at 30m which helps if you’re out-ranged by an enemy. Always try to keep this up on any target you’re damaging as DoTs are crucial to Lethality
clip_image004[5] Corrosive Grenade
Energy: 10
Range: 30m
Hurls a grenade that spews poisonous acid in a 5-meter radius on impact, dealing internal poison damage over 24 seconds to up to 8 targets Your other main DoT effect. Splashes all targets in the immediate area which makes it a bit better than Dart as both have about the same damage. Also 30m, making it another great ranged attack. As with Dart, keep this up on any enemy you are damaging
clip_image006[5] Lethal Strike

Energy: 15

Cooldown: 12s
Range: 4m

Ambushes an enemy for kinetic and internal damage. If used while stealthed, deals greater kinetic and internal damage, and grants a Tactical Advantage
Replaces Backstab
Deals great upfront damage but most importantly, grants the Augmented Toxins buff which increases critical chance and multiplier of all periodic effects by 30% for 6 seconds. This is an amazing buff and must be maintained as much as possible. In your rotation this is about as high priority as having DoTs on an enemy
clip_image008[5] Toxic Blast
Energy: 0
Cooldown: 15s
Range: 10m
Deals minimal weapon damage and for the next 10 seconds causes the target to take additional weapon damage whenever it takes damage from your Corrosive Assault or a poison effect. Grants a Tactical Advantage The damage this does up front is pretty weak but for the next 10 seconds it’ll deal a lot of damage between passive ticks with your DoTs or amplifying your next few Corrosive Assaults. The TA generation is icing on the cake. Ideally this move is kept up as much as possible but can be delayed sometimes for a DoT or Lethal Strike
clip_image010[5] Shiv
Energy: 15
Cooldown: 6s
Range: 4m
Stabs a target for kinetic damage (Grants a Tactical Advantage) The damage is nice but the damage is just one instance of damage and no buff/debuff so nothing crazy good. What Shiv does do for you is provide you with the majority of your TAs. The Fatality passive essentially doubles the TA generation of this move. Shiv and Fatality will be gone over more in depth later as its use is complex
clip_image012[5] Corrosive Assault
Energy: 15
Range: 10m

(Costs TA)

Executes your Tactical Advantage to fire a volley of corrosive shots, dealing weapon damage. For each of your poison effects present on the target, the target is culled for additional internal damage. Requires and consumes a Tactical Advantage You’re main damage, by far. Maximizing the uses of this move and how hard each one hits is the key to great damage in Lethality. While damaging one target, this is the ONLY ability that takes a TA so you can equate the number of TAs you generate to the number of Corrosive Assaults you use (As long as you don’t waste any by over-stacking). Past that, effectively choosing when to use your Corrosive Assaults so that they are affected by more benefits maximizes the potential of each used TA
clip_image014[5] Overload Shot
Energy: 15
Range: 10m
Blasts the target for weapon damage Purely filler, does decent damage and can be used at 10m. Since there is not much worry for energy in Lethality, you can use this whenever you can’t use anything else without any repercussions.
clip_image016[5] Rifle Shot
Energy: 0
Range: 30m
Shoots your rifle at the target, dealing weapon damage Do NOT ever use this when you could have used Overload Shot. This move is here purely because you can use it at 30m and that makes it usable when stranded at range from an enemy
clip_image018[5] Fragmentation Grenade
Energy: 20

Cooldown: 6s
Range 30m

Deals kinetic damage to the primary target and less kinetic damage to up to 7 enemies within 5 meters of the primary target. If the primary target is a standard or weak enemy, it is knocked to the ground Same as Rifle Shot, do NOT use over Overload Shot. Although Fragmentation Grenade does much greater damage than Rifle Shot and should be used over that, it does NOT do more than Overload Shot
clip_image020[5] Noxious Knives
Energy: 15
Hurls envenomed knives in a 10-meter cone in front of you, damaging up to 8 targets for kinetic and internal poison damage Your spammable AoE damage. Spreads your Corrosive Dart to other targets (inconsistently) which makes it important if you want to apply DoTs to multiple targets. With all the benefits that poison damage gets from Lethality, using this many times on a large group of enemies yields good damage
clip_image022[5] Toxic Haze

Energy: 15
Cooldown: 15s

(Costs TA)

Executes your Tactical Advantage to drop a canister that fills the vicinity with poisonous gas, dealing internal damage to up to 8 targets within 8 meters over 6 seconds. The haze stuns standard and weak enemies for 6 seconds. Requires and consumes a Tactical Advantage I’ve started to consider this an attempt at replacing Orbital Strike from way back when Operatives had it. It doesn’t match Orbital Strike but this is decent AoE damage if you have the TA to spare and can be a good “precast” dropping it just before something spawns or just before something is able to be damaged. Generally, you will get the TAs back in an opener anyway and this is extra damage
clip_image024[5] Stim Boost

Cooldown: 1m 30s

Inject yourself with a specially-engineered Imperial stim, immediately gaining Tactical Advantage and boosting alacrity by 10% for 15 seconds. Does not break stealth The Tactical Advantage is great, it allows you to hit more Corrosive underneath that Augmented Toxin window or that Toxic Blast window or extend another GCD for Fatality but the 10% alacrity can help or ruin you. On one hand, if you want to fit more abilities in, 10% is a big boost and will allow you to do so but on the other hand, this will ruin the timings of you DoTs. More on this in the later on in the cooldown section of the rotation
clip_image026[5] Holotraverse

Cooldown: 45s
Range: 30m

Supercharge your stealth generator, quickly moving you to a friendly or enemy target and increasing your movement speed by 75% for 3 seconds. Does not break stealth. Cannot be used against enemy targets in cover Only an offensive cooldown if you take the Circumvention Utility, acts just like Stim boost but a shorter cooldown and no love-hate relationship with 10% alacrity
clip_image028[5] Cloaking Screen

Cooldown: 2m

Overload your stealth generator, immediately exiting combat and entering stealth mode. For 10 seconds, you become virtually undetectable Use right before using a Lethal Strike to get an extra TA and some more damage. Be careful with Cloaking Screen’s use as you can easily over-stack TAs if you don’t look ahead in the rotation. Sometimes it’s better to delay for a couple Lethal Strikes than to over-stack
clip_image030[5] Tactical Superiority

Cooldown: 5m

Executes your Tactical Advantage to grant Tactical Superiority to you and your Operation group members within 40 meters, increasing critical chance by 10% for 10 seconds. Does not break stealth Use as you would use other raid-buffs. It can help both heals and dps and for best effect, line up with other raid-buffs. Be careful not to lose your last TA on its use as you won’t do any damage yourself. I usually make sure I have Stim Boost or Holotraverse to instantly replace the TA it costs


As a quick note, there are different ways to run this rotation. On the parsely leaderboards, you’ll see all sorts of different placements for DoTs and different buffs/debuffs prioritized. The way I’m going to talk about, I firmly believe is the best way to run the rotation as far as consistently high numbers and in the coming update, if energy is made more important, this rotation will become a very energy-stable rotation as long as Fatality remains.

Lethality does not have a set-in-stone rotation and it doesn’t have a typical priority system. Instead, Lethality uses hybrid of some abilities being kept set-in-stone and some being arranged into an unorthodox priority which relies more on paying attention to what was previously used rather than what will be used. The set-in-stone “backbone” of the rotation is your DoT refresh and use of Lethal Strike. The cooldown of Lethal Strike is half of the duration of your DoT effects so once every rotation (one DoT cycle) you will replace your DoTs and use your Lethal Strike twice as soon as it’s off cooldown. The other places in between these are filled with Toxic Blast, Shiv, Corrosive Assault or sometimes Overload Shot.



While the “Opener” itself is really just the first few GCDs, the point of the whole setup here is to show the DoT spacing before you fall into the normal rotation. As you’ll notice, you start with Lethal Strike from stealth for its added damage and TA and then you have your DoTs separated by one GCD. By the time you get through the opener, you should have your DoTs separated by 3 GCDs. To do this the first time you refresh your DoTs, as shown above, you will move Corrosive Grenade back by one GCD for a total spacing of two GCDs. Once you are done with your opener, your Corrosive Grenade will be used one GCD before that for a total of three GCDs. More on this in the next section. Note: if starting without stealth, you essentially start at the first refresh with some slight differences. Open with Corrosive Grenade into Lethal Strike, Toxic Blast then Corrosive Dart and Shiv, from there the rest follows a standard rotation.

DoT Refreshes/Backbone

Once you are done with your opening, you will have the backbone of your rotation laid out as follows:


This spacing is used to accommodate the awkward cooldowns of Toxic Blast and Shiv. Spacing allows you to never delay something more than one GCD. Also, spacing is used to help you create TAs more effectively and use up TAs more effectively. Note, as previously mentioned, Lethal Strike has a base cooldown of 12s while your dots last 24s, meaning you will use Lethal Strike once more between each of these refreshes (See opener rotation where Lethal Strike is used as much as possible making it twice per refresh.. Under normal circumstances, the second Lethal Strike is used 5 GCDs after the Corrosive Dart). To help you with timing your Corrosive Grenade so that Lethal Strike comes off of cooldown at the right point, use Corrosive Grenade when Lethal Strike has 2-3s left on its cooldown.

To simplify the changing DoT refreshes from the opener to the normal rotation, see this:

First Application


First Refresh


Second/Normal Refresh


The Filler spaces for the first two are pretty set in stone as seen in the opener but for an overall view, using them just as spacing helps understand how to space the DoTs

Fillers/Everything in Between

Now that you know how to maintain your DoTs properly, every other slot for an ability will be taken up by Toxic Blast, Shiv, Corrosive Assault or Overload Shot. Using a priority system is viable enough but to make the most out of the damage you have, you have to consider each buff/debuff that is currently applied or will be. If you are fine with a priority system, I will put one below that will serve you well enough for 90% of fights. Otherwise, the next couple sections will explain how to look at each move and decide which is best to use in each situation.

Priority (Outside of DoT Refresh and Lethal Strike):

  • Toxic Blast
  • Corrosive Assault (With two TA stacks)
  • Shiv
  • Corrosive Assault (With one TA stack)
  • Overload Shot

Toxic Blast and Overload Shot Use

Toxic Blast and Overload Shot are grouped together because they are the simplest to know when to use (Especially Toxic Blast). Toxic blast grants a TA and essentially amplifies your periodic effects along with Corrosive Assault, making it just about as important as DoTs and Lethal Strike. So use Toxic Blast whenever you can, on cooldown. It’s even ok to sometimes over-stack TAs with them because of how good it is to be kept on cooldown. Remember this move is reset if an enemy dies with it on so don’t be afraid to apply to something that may die quick. One situation where Toxic Blast may be delayed is if Augmented Toxins is about to run out and you have two TAs. In that case, you should probably Corrosive Assault. Overload Shot is used for one of two things. You either have nothing else to use and need to hit something or you only have Shiv available but Fatality has one GCD left before it can trigger (or any situation where a Fatality trigger is bridged with only one Overload Shot). Fatality Triggers/Windows will be gone over more in depth in its own section.

Corrosive Assault Use

Corrosive Assault is the bulk of your damage and the ability has no cooldown so using it while Augmented Toxins is up and while Toxic Blast is applied will yield best results. As such, always try and squeeze most of them in while those are applied, ideally both but also one. You will also have to use this without those up as it still does better damage than anything else but making sure you always try and use Corrosive Assault in those windows helps the damage significantly (Especially if your auto-crit set bonus is up). Corrosive Assault use will be perfected with practice as long as you pay attention to the buffs so the best thing to do is to practice it.

Shiv Use/Fatality Triggers

Fatality can trigger once every 10s (affected by alacrity) on the use of Shiv and makes the next Corrosive Assault cost no energy and regrant a TA, effectively doubling the TA generation on Shiv and in a sense, doubling how useful Shiv is. To think about its cooldown more easily, remember that once you Shiv and Fatality triggers, you have to use 6 GCDs before the next Fatality can trigger. Maximizing uptime on Fatality maximizes your TA generation and ultimately maximizes your dps. So using Shiv is most effective when used 6 GCDs after your last Shiv that triggered Fatality or second most effective is to keep in on cooldown which results in 7 GCDs after your last. See this video for a fully voiced explanation with examples on how to do this.



As mentioned in the video, this is a Star Parse timer you can make for Fatality. This does not take into account Alacrity as other’s may be different so keep in mind Fatality will likely be available at 1.5 seconds left on timer. For Ruffian Scoundrels, replace the effect number with 3406699339710464 (And you may want to call it Unfair Advantage instead of Fatality).

Stim Boost, Holotraverse and Cloaking Screen

These three offensive cooldowns have two things in common, they all generate an extra TA and don’t respect the Global Cooldown (Holotraverse only generates if you have the Circmvention Utility). As such, these are excellent cooldowns for squeezing in extra Corrosive Assaults. For Cloaking Screen, you usually want to use it as soon as possible for the extra damage as long as you don’t over-stack TAs with it but for Stim Boost and Holotraverse, waiting for the opportune moment is best. This moment will either be if you need to kill something quickly and using one of these allows you to use another Corrosive Assault underneath both Augmented Toxins and Toxic Blast or, as explained in the Fatality video, they are used to bridge another Corrosive Assault between Fatality. Stim Boost also grants 10% alacrity which allows you to squeeze more moves in but for the most part should mainly be looked at for the TA it generates as the 10% alacrity is also a detriment to you because it speeds up your DoT effects, making them fall off sooner, which in turn can make you use a Corrosive Assault without the DoT up because it fell off just a little too soon. Stim Boost also becomes a powerful defensive with the Revitalizers utility, meaning if you will need it defensively, use it for that. Cloaking Screen is also useful for Stealth Revives or dropping a lot of threat quickly so if you feel you will need it defensively, again, use it defensively. Holotraverse is great mobility, if you will need it to get somewhere faster, use it for mobility (See fights like Writhing Horror where this allows you to keep 100% uptime if used perfectly).

AoE Damage

I generally think about AoE damage in three different forms. The first form is when just an extra enemy or three is circling the boss and you can spread to them to fluff your numbers or help someone else who is killing them. This form is best shown in the Grob’thok fight of Dread Fortress if you have someone else focusing on AoE damage. You can try and keep your Corrosive Grenade on them by refreshing it while they are in the area and you can spread your Corrosive Dart by substituting a move for Noxious Knives (Using Toxic Haze is acceptable but only if you wouldn’t have a more useful Corrosive Assault to do in that situation). Meanwhile, you still focus the bulk of your damage on the boss. Try and only do this if it useful. For example, spreading to other bosses on the Cartel Warlords in SnV is generally useless as you don’t need extra energy regeneration and they will likely heal back up anyway. The second form of AoE damage is what you would see during most Trash in between bosses. Everything will group up and you don’t really care what dies first you just want to get the most total damage out. For this, make sure both DoTs are maintained on as many enemies as possible, use Toxic Haze when you can and keep using Lethal Strike for its added critical benefits to your AoE. Past that you can spam Noxious Knives all you want, if you’re bored you can throw a Fragmentation Grenade. The final form of AoE is a hybrid. One Target is most important but you are responsible for killing what’s around it as well. This isn’t seen too much but on something like Gate Commander Draxus of Dread Fortress or Dread Master Bestia of Dread Palace, you can have a main target (Corruptor for Draxus, Monster or Tentacle for Bestia) and you have others around that need to die. In this case, keep a normal rotation but really make sure you have DoTs on everything and use TA on Toxic Haze whenever you don’t have Augmented Toxins or Toxic Blast up, you can also Noxioius Knives more than just to spread as you will be doing more overall damage. Keep Toxic Blast and Lethal Strike on the main target for sure.

Example Parse and Damage Spread



About the Author

My operative’s name is Pràise and many people know me by that. I reside on the Jedi Covenant server and you may also know me as Kreal, Wegrike, Very Meta or just that guy with the Kephess Legacy name. I love Lethality dps and Operative dps in general and use it as much as possible in my raiding. I’ve been playing since Dread Fortress and Dread Palace were released and started doing NiM content after that in the later stages of 2.X. I’d like to thank Stratt for spending numerous hours with me discussing and trying rotation possibilities for Lethality in 4.X until we settled for what we have now and for originally convincing me to pick up my Operative again after leaving it in 2.X. I also would like to thank all the wonderful people in my guild <Kephess the Immortal> who I have known for years and put up with me on a daily basis. If you have questions, feel free to whisper me in game on the characters I listed above, I will answer them as soon as I am not parsing or in a boss pull.

By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

28 replies on “SWTOR 5.3 Lethality Operative PvE Guide by Pràise”

No they didn’t. They never said how much they are buffing/nerfing anything. Where did you read that? It’s gonna be a nerf for sure…

Not really. The only to nerf Leth is by deciding that the spec is already OVER their model of +5% target dps, which is unlikely.

A little overcomplicated, and running 14% alac on lethality is questionable to say the least, but nevertheless very nice job.

A Decent start for players new to lethality. However while this rotation / priority may be “more stable” it results in a lesser capability to capitalize on the limited time you have with the augmented toxins buff. That being said it is highly important to be able to be flexible with your priority / rotation in operations. For those who seek to master this spec i highly recommend learning more than a single person’s favorite rotation / opener as doing so will result in a higher understanding of how to maximize damage in this spec in unpredictable situations. -Iris

While I can agree that being flexible is important to maximizing your dps, you always want to use as close to an optimal rotation as you can in ops, regardless of the situation; and this rotation/priority is about as close to optimal as you can get with alacrity disparities causing rotation shifts (read Stim Boost). And as far as Augmented Toxins affecting that flexibility goes, I think you may be misunderstanding the buff. It only affects your periodic effects (aka your two dots), not all of your poison effects. This is important because, unlike with a sniper’s Cull, Corrosive Assault doesn’t proc extra ticks of your dots, but instead having dots on your target makes CA just hit harder (via extra internal damage). If the description of AT buff said it boosted your “poison” rather than “periodic” effects, then it would be different. As it stands, this rotation/priority uses the full potential of AT (assuming you maintain 100% uptime of your dots while the buff is active).

Well i agree that it is important to have a optimal rotation for specific times this rotation is not optimal in my opinion for a 100% uptime scenario. Furthermore you are correct about the buff not affecting CA ticks however the reapplication of dots during the Augmented toxins buff may result in less ticks, especially with fluctuations in alacrity as you mentioned.

An example of how this is a sub optimal rotation comes in the form of being forced to use overload shot much more often than other rotations / priorities -Iris

I’m not sure reapplying dots during AT buff should affect its usage, since both dots tick immediately upon application so you should still be able to get full uptime. But I also haven’t tested it, so can’t know for sure.

I’m honestly now more interested to see how the CA changes will affect LS usage. Because now that it will proc extra dot damage rather than its own internal damage, I wonder if if might be beneficial to sometimes delay LS if the AT buff will be wasted on more than one GCD of a non dot proc’ing ability (Shiv, TB, Overload Shot, etc.). Curious to see if lining up multiple CAs to be used under AT will be a dps gain, or if delaying LS at all will still be a dps loss.

Of course in fights you need to adjust to what’s happening. Need a burst window, set up skills differently, etc.. But on single target, this spacing of dots and this priority is best mostly because at the moment Overload shot does equal damage to Shiv and Shiv has better TA efficiency when used with Fatality prioritized rather than its own cooldown

I stacked way more Crit (way over 2k), Power and less alac(under 1000), and i got a way more stable DPS ind Bossfights and on the Dummy too. A guy in my Guild testet that build without that much Power but din like 10.888 DPS and is currently on place 9 (2.5kk), he parsed like 5 times to get this DPS. I parsed also not a lot and got decent DPS (place 14 on 2.5kk). -Jeâna

I’ve been playing around with the gearing a lot to find what works. I don’t think I’ve gone up to 2000 crit as diminishing returns are quite high at that point. As far as the build without much power, I don’t build into power. All the power I have is purely from secondary stats. Not a single augmented or crystal is invested in power so not entirely sure what you mean by subbing more out… Overall, it’ll be more worth seeing what happens to the spec soon and adjusting gearing to that

Not gona say your wrong or anything but

1) I don’t like your opener… why would u stealth LS BEFORE alacrity steroid?
i dunno maybe im dumb and inexperienced compared to you but I think thats a mistake (strictly my opinion, not criticism)

2) Toxic blast inbetween dot application? Why?
the timing doesn’t really change at all, but your losing opportune time on dart with 15% boost after LS

Either way, very nice build. Good job
Shame they gona change the class in 5.4
Imo its the most balanced class in the game atm. Operatives have always been benched since game release, this is the only patch they’ve ever truly dominated the metrics. And it wont even last a year, even tho they had to survive for 2.5 years being completely trashed on by devs and combat changes 🙁

The alacrity steroid (Stim Boost) also grants a TA, which if used before opener would cause you to overstack TAs which is not optimal unless you alter the opener to not build another TA.. Problem with that means you would have to delay Toxic Blast so overall Stim Boost is not something you want popped before opener.

For the second point, you can easily swap it but this allows you to already have Corrosive Dart spaced a little for later and Toxic Blast comes off cooldown faster. I use it mainly because it feels better later on but swapping it isn’t a big deal

Lethal Strike does not have a position requirement, however when leveling it replaces Backstab which can only be used from behind

Toxic Haze spreads your Corossive Dart to the targets it damages, as long as it damages at least one target already affected by your Corossive Dart.

Hey, Praise. Thank you for you guide, it’s very detailed and thorough, even considering that Lethality Operative is my main, I found some really good advices here.
I wanted to ask if there will be an update for 5.4 since things changed with the way Corrosive Assault works. If not, could you tell how much Alacrity/Critical you use now?
I saw your parse and some other people’s parses. What I was confused about is the amount of APM. It’s like 51-52. And I’m quite sure you need to have 1800+ Alacrity for this, since approximately at this amount you get reduced GCD time by 0,1 seconds according to the article on Reddit and your APM rate increases to exactly this point.
I tried that option, APM was good, but DPS isn’t that much. I couldn’t pull more than 10,2k and also had some problems with energy. So is that amount of alacrity worth to be taken for Lethality?
Thanks in advance.

I strongly disagree with the stats as shown in this guide.
Particular the alacrity numbers.
The fact is that alacrity isnt as effective as it should be.
You only get an advantage in the range of 750 to 800 alacrity or 1860.
All in between is wasted.
So I recommend an alacrity stat of 1860 for all Lethality Operatives.
Try to parse with this high alacrity number and you will get an average (parsed) dps of 10k.

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