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12.26.2011 , 06:01 PM | #1
Last updated April 2, 2016

NOTICE: The game mechanics of SWTOR have changed substantially since this guide was originally written. This guide is now obsolete and no longer applies today.

The primary stat of all player character classes is now Mastery. Companion gear stats have no effect whatsoever and companion gear is now strictly cosmetic.

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Every player character and companion has seven main attributes (Strength, Presence, Aim, Cunning, Endurance, Willpower, Expertise), but among these attributes, each character or companion has their own primary attribute or stat. There are four class primary attributes/stats in SWTOR: Aim, Cunning, Strength, and Willpower. Only one of these four is the primary attribute or stat for a particular class or companion. Everyone's secondary stat is Endurance.

You can find the primary attribute or stat of your character and your companions by opening the Codex and reviewing the information there. To open the Codex, press L and then click on the Codex tab at the bottom. The Codex entry for your character class can be found in the Game Rules section, while Codex entries for any of your companions will be placed in the Persons of Note section. You will only see a Codex entry for every companion that you presently have, you will not see Codex entries for any future companions until you actually obtain each future companion one by one through your class story.

The following is a list of the primary attributes of each player character class.

Bounty Hunter (Mercenary/Powertech): Aim
Imperial Agent (Operative/Sniper): Cunning
Sith Inquisitor (Assassin/Sorcerer): Willpower
Sith Warrior (Juggernaut/Marauder): Strength

Jedi Consular (Sage/Shadow): Willpower
Jedi Knight (Guardian/Sentinel): Strength
Smuggler (Gunslinger/Scoundrel): Cunning
Trooper (Commando/Vanguard): Aim

Note: To prevent the disclosure of class story spoilers, this guide will not list companion primary stats. Don't worry, every time you get a companion, a Codex entry that reveals the companion's primary stat will also be given to you.

The goal here is quite simple, you should always focus on raising the primary attribute or stat of your characters and their companions as much as possible. For example, the primary attribute of the Sith Inquisitor is Willpower. You do not have to raise the SI's Aim, Cunning, and Strength attributes as they are not important for the SI and will raise on their own as you level up. As a matter of fact, you should not even bother trying to raise non-primary attributes, just ignore them. If you don't follow this important guideline, your character or companion will be weak and incompetent. The primary attribute/stat directly affects both damage and healing overall, including all melee, ranged, Force, and Tech abilities. It would be in your best interest to focus on raising the primary attribute or stat as much as possible for the entire lives of your characters and companions.

Aim and Cunning can be confusing and both appear to be similar, but make no mistake, only one of these should be the focus for raising its number, depending upon which one is the actual primary stat for any given character or companion. For example, Cunning is the primary stat for the Imperial Agent and the Smuggler. It may seem that raising Aim for the Imperial Agent or the Smuggler would be a good idea, but in reality, that would be a bad idea. In other words, Imperial Agents and Smugglers should ignore Aim entirely. As another example, the Bounty Hunter and Trooper primary stat is Aim. Bounty Hunters and Troopers should ignore Cunning entirely.

It is important to know that all companions have their own primary stat. A companion's primary stat may not be the same as yours. For example, the Bounty Hunter primary stat is Aim, but the primary stat of the BH companion Mako is Cunning. Make sure you raise your BH's Aim as much as possible, while at the same time, you raise Mako's Cunning as much as possible. Ignore your Bounty Hunter's Cunning and ignore Mako's Aim. As another example, the Sith Inquisitor primary stat is Willpower, but the primary stat of the SI companion Khem Val is Strength. Make sure you raise your SI's Willpower as much as possible, while at the same time, you raise Khem Val's Strength as much as possible. Ignore your SI's Strength and ignore Khem Val's Willpower.

Why raise only the primary attribute/stat? Shouldn't I raise all of the other main attributes for well-balanced characters and companions?
I understand the temptation to raise the remainder of the seven main attributes because it may seem logical at first. If you don't focus on raising the specific primary attribute or stat of yourself and your companions in SWTOR, you are doing it wrong and your characters and companions will be weak and incompetent. For example, if you are currently playing a Bounty Hunter and a Cunning gear item suddenly drops, equipping it on your Bounty Hunter is not recommended because Cunning is not the primary stat of the Bounty Hunter. Instead, either equip the Cunning gear item on a companion whose primary stat is Cunning, mail it to one of your own alts that can use it, or trade it to another player.

Among the seven main attributes, there is only the class primary stat (either Aim, Cunning, Strength, or Willpower, depending upon the class or companion) and the secondary stat (Endurance for everyone) that players should pay close attention to. In addition, there are also a bunch of bonus stats that you should consider raising and it would be a very good idea to raise your bonus stats based on your play style. For more information on bonus stats, see further below.

Will the class primary attribute/stat ever change at any point during my character's or companion's life?
No, the class primary attribute/stat will remain the same for the entire lives of your characters and companions all the way to level 50. For example, the class primary attribute of the Sith Inquisitor is Willpower. At level 10, you will have to choose one of two advanced classes, either the Assassin or the Sorcerer. At that point, whether you choose Assassin or Sorcerer, your class primary attribute will not change and will continue to be Willpower all the way to level 50.

Does character race or gender make any difference when it comes to stats?
There are no racial or gender modifiers that directly affect stats. All races and both genders are created equal in SWTOR. Each race has its own unique social ability, as well as unique looks and background, but race and gender has no effect on stats.

How are player and companion stats increased?
There is no manual direct editing of stats. In other words, there isn't some kind of user interface that you can open to manually edit your stats. Most of your main attributes automatically increase a little every time you level up. In SWTOR, gear is the predominant way of raising all stats. Your characters and companions depend very heavily on gear throughout their entire lives. Be sure to upgrade their gear and modifications on a frequent basis. Note that the Expertise attribute is raised through PvP (Player versus Player) gear. If you don't equip PvP gear that raises Expertise, the number for Expertise will display as zero and will not raise on its own.

What about Endurance?
If you play the role of a tank frequently, it may be in your better interest to raise Endurance as much as possible. However, you still should not neglect your class primary stat. You may notice a lot of gear that has Endurance listed as a higher number, such gear may be better for tanks. Even if you're not a tank and if survivability is quite important to you, raising Endurance more may be a good idea for you. Feel free to adjust the numbers between your primary stat and Endurance to match your own needs.

What about Presence?
Presence increases the effectiveness of all your companions, but Presence is not a class primary attribute among the seven main attributes. It would be far more effective to gear up your companions with their own proper gear and build up their primary stat as much as possible. If you come across a gear item that includes Presence, it should also include one of the class primary stats. Of course, make sure the item matches your primary stat and don't equip it just for the Presence alone.

What about Expertise?
For those who frequently participate in PvP (Player versus Player), Expertise is important to raise as much as possible and PvP gear will take care of this for you.

What if I currently have an empty gear slot and I suddenly acquire a gear item that could go into the empty slot but the item doesn't match my primary stat, could I at least equip the gear item for now to fill the empty slot until I find a proper gear item later on?
Yes, go for it. This is because all armor and weapons that are green or better quality at least have Endurance, which is everyone's secondary stat. For example, low level players likely won't equip an ear, head, or implant piece until later on. If you come across any gear for those particular slots early in the game but the gear does not match your primary stat, you may equip it for the time being so that you can take advantage of the Endurance. Just make sure that later on you eventually fill the slot with the correct gear that matches your primary stat. This applies to your companions as well.

I'm still not convinced. I think your guide is not telling the whole truth for whatever reason.
The evidence is all in the gear and the way gear is typically presented to the player. As you play the game, you may notice that gear items given as mission (quest) rewards usually benefit either your character or your companions. For example, while playing a Bounty Hunter, armor pieces that are given as mission rewards will be Heavy Armor with Aim and Endurance. The best armor proficiency of the Bounty Hunter is Heavy Armor and the class primary attribute of the Bounty Hunter is Aim. As another example, while playing a Sith Inquisitor, armor pieces that are given as mission rewards will be Light Armor with Willpower and Endurance. The only armor proficiency of the Sith Inquisitor is Light Armor and the class primary attribute of the Sith Inquisitor is Willpower.

Later in the game, many mission rewards will start granting gear pieces for your companions specifically. You may notice that armor pieces given for companions will match their best armor proficiency and their own primary stat. For example, Mako's best armor proficiency is Medium Armor and her primary stat is Cunning. Every armor piece given through mission rewards that is labeled as "Requires Mako" will be Medium Armor with Cunning and Endurance.

You may also come across NPC vendors that sell gear specifically labeled for particular classes. For example, you may come across a vendor that sells gear labeled as "Requires Sith Inquisitor." Such gear that is specifically labeled for a particular class will always match the correct primary stat and armor/weapon proficiency for that class. In other words, you will never see Medium Armor with Strength and Endurance labeled as "Requires Sith Inquisitor" simply because Sith Inquisitors cannot wear Medium Armor and their primary stat is not Strength. As another example, you will never see Heavy Armor with Cunning and Endurance labeled as "Requires Bounty Hunter" because the Bounty Hunter primary stat is Aim, not Cunning, even though a BH can wear Heavy Armor.

If you'd like, you may do the following while playing the game to see more evidence of the class/companion primary stat concept. Press C to open the character/companion sheet, then mouse over the primary stat of your character or companion to see what combat outputs the primary stat covers. After you do this, you may mouse over the rest of the attributes and you will see that the other attributes don't cover combat outputs as much as the class/companion primary attribute does.

As an example, I'll use the Bounty Hunter since Aim and Cunning confuses many players.

If you mouse over the Aim attribute for the Bounty Hunter, a tooltip will open and the following combat outputs will be displayed:
Ranged Damage Bonus
Ranged Critical Chance
Tech Damage Bonus
Tech Critical Chance
Healing Power: Tech

If you then mouse over the Cunning attribute for the Bounty Hunter, the tooltip will only display a couple combat outputs: Tech Damage Bonus and Tech Critical Chance. So you see, raising only Aim as much as possible would highly benefit the Bounty Hunter.

Compared to some other MMOs, BioWare took a somewhat different approach to managing character stats and they applied this same approach to companions in SWTOR. They assigned each individual class and companion with their own primary attribute/stat. Some other MMOs may do this to a certain extent, but BioWare implemented this concept somewhat differently and took this a couple steps further to make this easier for players to manage. Unlike other MMOs, the primary stat in SWTOR covers all combat abilities of a particular character including melee, ranged, Force, and Tech abilities. The primary stat also covers all damage and healing output. Make no mistake, raising the primary stat as much as possible is the correct way to go in this game.

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For a listing of various stats found on your character and companion sheets along with brief descriptions of each one, visit the link below.

Character Sheet

There are bonus stats in the game that are important to take note of. As you play the game, you will come across gear that raises any of the bonus stats. It is very beneficial and effective to equip gear that raises bonus stats in addition to raising your primary stat and Endurance. Bonus stats do support your character further and should not be ignored.

The following is a list of bonus stats, in alphabetical order, that provide a bonus to a "parent" stat. The names of bonus stats are listed in wheat bold while the names of parent stats are listed in white bold.

Absorption Rating provides a bonus to Shield Absorption.
Shield Absorption (shield wielders): Percentage of damage lost when an attack is absorbed by your shield.

Accuracy Rating provides a bonus to Accuracy.
Accuracy: Chance that Force, Melee, Ranged, or Tech attacks will successfully hit the target. Accuracy over 100% reduces the target's defense or resistance depending upon the type of attack.

Alacrity Rating provides a bonus to Activation Speed
Activation Speed: Reduces the time needed to activate or channel abilities, so they can be executed more frequently.

Critical Rating provides a bonus to Critical Chance.
Critical Chance: Chance that a successful attack or heal will deal critical damage or perform a critical heal.

Defense Rating provides a bonus to Defense Chance.
Defense Chance: Chance to avoid incoming attacks.

Power increases the damage and healing done by all abilities.

Shield Rating provides a bonus to Shield Chance.
Shield Chance (shield wielders): Chance that a successful melee or ranged attack will have its damage reduced by your shield.

Surge Rating provides a bonus to Critical Multiplier.
Critical Multiplier: Critical hits or heals increase the damage dealt or health restored by this percentage.