What are you gonna do, bleed on me?
What is Annihilation?
Or, How to Not Suck at Playing an Annihilation Marauder
Annihilation is one of the three talent trees available to Marauders. It focuses around your given bleed - Rupture - and grants another bleed through Deadly Saber.
The spec revolves around making sure Rupture and three stacks of Deadly Saber have maximum up-time, assuring the Annihilate buff is rolling at all times, extra incoming Rage due to Empowerment and focusing on maximizing Berserk up-time due to Short Fuse.
Like Carnage, Annihilation is very straight-forward in what talents are neccessary and bring the 'proper' play style to the spec. There are, however, filler talents which I will detail later. A lot of the talents are generic "makes your bleed hit harder or do something else" mechanics, so I'll only go into the game-changing ones.
My spec can be found here.*
*Note: I prefer Phantom over Ferocity. However, the URL for the spec with Phantom in it had o m f and g in sequence, thus rendering it censored. Therefore, the above spec does not include it. I apologize in advance.
Juyo will be the ONLY form you will ever be in, no exceptions. I feel I can't stress that fact enough. The talent itself gives a 3% critical chance increase for your bleeds per stack of Juyo, up to a 15% increase.
Your next 3 attacks cause the target to bleed, stacking up to 3 times for 6 seconds. Costs 3 Rage, 12 second CD. Keep 3 stacks up as much as possible.
Vicious Slash has a 33% chance and Annihilate has a 66% chance to finish the cool-down of Rupture. Amazing for keeping Rupture up-time to maximum.
Your bleeds have a 30% chance to generate 1 Rage. Makes our bleeds a Rage battery; very useful.
Base cost of 5 rage, 12 second cool-down. Using it gives Annihilator for 15 seconds, lowering the CD of Annihilate by 1.5 seconds and stacking up to 3 times. One of the Marauder's hardest hitting moves, coupled with Pulverize it's going to be high in our priority. Because of its cool-down, however, it will not replace Vicious Slash the same way Massacre does.
Other Important Talents:
Blurred Speed/Close Quarters/Enraged Charge:
The Juyo form in canon is all about pressing the attack and constantly pushing into your opponent. These two talents bring that to life. Lowering the cool-down on Charge and removing its minimum range, this makes Charge one of our primary Rage builders (behind Battering Assault and in front of Assault).
Not really a DPS increase, per se, however you get some very nice survivibility: your bleeds crits will heal you for 2% of your health. While it doesn't scale with the bleed's damage it is still a very nice health return.
Essentially makes Annihilate's Rage cost 4 and Vicious Slash's 2. They still cost 5/3 to activate, however refund 1 Rage right away.
Makes our Rage-spenders generate an additional 2 Fury. This will cause Bersek to be up a LOT.
The above spec is, of course, including the filler talents.. Below are the ones I feel are viable for end-game, marked with my *personal favorites. The placement of them is completely a personal decision. Unfortunately, a lot of the would-be filler talents for Annihilation are actually required for the spec to work properly. Therefore, this list is relatively short.
Reduced CD on Obfuscate and Disruption. Meh.
Camo reduces all damage taken by 100%. Great for large AoE phases and kind of gives us a secondary Undying Rage.
Increases the personal movement speed increase of Predation by 30%. I'm a huge fan of mobility and it's a close tie between this and Phantom, however because of the lowered Charge cool-down in Annihilation it comes out to be much more PvP focused than PvE, however it is still viable.
Cloak of Carnage:
Cloak generates 1 rage when it reciprocates damage, 3 second cool-down. Okay on any AoE that procs it and it's decent if you're off-tanking anything, however it would easily turn Cloak into a DPS cooldown and healers will hate you for it: you shouldn't be standing in fire.
Rotation (Or Lack There-of)
Annihilation's Rage generation is bursty and therefore, like Carnage, relies more on a priority system than anything. You do not want to refresh your Rupture.
If it is off CD, wait until the debuff is gone before reapplying it. Rupture gets a tick off as it wears off and reapplying it before it goes away is a huge DPS loss in the long run.
The opening rotation should look like this:
Charge -> Deadly Saber -> Battering Assault -> Rupture -> Annihilate
The mid-fight priority is thus:
Berserk > Deadly Saber > Rupture > Annihilate > *Rage Builder > **Vicious Slash
*Rage builder implies: Battering Assault > Charge > Assault
**You want to insure you have enough Rage to continue with your rotation after things come off CD. This will take practice, however you won't be using Vicious Slash very often and should really only use it if Rupture is on CD and Pulverize is not on its 6sec CD.
There's debate on whether or not Ravage should be used. Its priority comes under all your other abilities and the window where it is Viable to use is quite short - only when everything is off CD. You can either try to weave it in or not and I doubt it will hurt.
Pretty obvious, however you will, at some point, use Bloodthirst instead of a Berserk for a raid-wide burn phase. Know when it's coming and have the Fury for it.
Our Primary stat. Increases damage and critical chance with melee and Force powers. You want to maximize this.
Lets you stand in fire longer. You want it, but don't go out of your way. Your job is to kill things.
You don't want it, Inquisitors will kill you.
You don't want it, Bounty Hunters will kill you.
You don't want it, Agents will kill you.
((This section will need to be updated as more information becomes available, but as of now this will probably be the best allocation.))
Secondary stats available are:
Increases chance for attacks to hit; over 100% it reduces the target's defense (dodge/parry).
Increases damage done by melee and Force attacks.
Increases critical strike chance.
Increases critical strike damage bonus.
Reduces activation time. (There is much debate on whether or not this does/should affect the base GCD (for us attack speed) however at this point evidence is pointing to it only affecting the GCD on activated abilities (for us Ravage) and is therefore pretty terrible.
As for priorities, at this point I've been able to piece together this:
Before Crit/Surge Diminishing Return Cap (~30% Crit, ~30% Surge):
Accuracy to 108% > Surge/Crit > Power
After Reaching Diminishing Return Cap:
Accuracy to 108% > Power > Surge/Crit
The weights themselves are a bit misleading due to Crit and Surge's heavy Diminishing Returns. At around ~30% Crit and ~30% Surge (~80% Crit Multiplier) both stats reach soft caps where getting any more Crit or Surge Rating would not yield as much of an increase as it normally would.
Therefore, after reaching those two 'caps' it's advised to swap your priorities to maximize your Power. This is un-buffed
as flat percentage increases from buffs does not add to the DR at all; it's based on your rating.
What it comes down to is reaching our Main Hand hit cap before adding anything else.
All special attacks (everything but Assault) have a base 100% chance to hit. It is currently theorized that bosses have an 8% Defense chance (parry/deflect). By increasing our Accuracy to 108% we negate the Defense chance for our special abilities (Rupture, Annihilate, etc, can no longer be dodged/parried/resisted.). Any Accuracy over 108% only increases Assault's chance to be dodged/parried, and is therefore quite lackluster compared to other stats.
Surge should be brought up to the ~30% DR area as quickly as possible. Berserk's up-time coupled with the massive amount of passive Crit/Crit Multiplier talents in Annihilation make bleeds hit like trucks of cocaine. Remember that Surge loses a lot of its luster post-DR cap so make sure to hover around 35% for maximum efficiency.
Crit should be brought up to the 30% DR area as quickly as possible. Surge and Crit are two stats that almost literally go hand-in-hand. Because of the large Crit and Crit Multiplier talents present in Annihilation maximizing the amount of Crits you get is important. A whopping 15% from Juyo Form means, buffed, you'll probably be sitting at ~50% Crit for your bleeds.
Power is by far one of the Marauder's strongest stats. It's our Attack Power and Spell Power stat rolled into one so, obviously, every one of our attacks benefits from this. Don't sacrifice a lot of it for a little Crit or Surge, but know that getting to those DR points is fairly important.
Annihilation is an extremely strong spec. DoT based specs always do very well on fights where little movement or little target switching is required. At time of writing I have yet to start Hard/Nightmare Operations, however from doing Eternity Vault several times there are a few encounters where Annihilation will definitely shine. The self heals and quicker Charges make us less squishy and more mobile at the same time. Annihilation will do well as either a PvE or PvP spec.