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10.26.2012 , 04:01 PM | #1
Quote: Originally Posted by EatenByDistance View Post
I have decided to quit ToR. Information about the future of this guide and just a general farewell can be seen in this topic:

I'd like to give a special thanks to everyone in this thread that has defended, theorycrafted and otherwise supported this guide and I since I created it way back when.

also, five+ hours of top-tier rwz gameplay (teamspeak chatter included!)[/SIZE]


Hi Party Time Wakalord Flex Guildmaster here from the Bastion server. I've played Assassin more or less exclusively since launch and I've noticed that there aren't any real guides updated for 1.4. Given that our resident Shadow/Assassin hero Xinika has been fairly inactive as of late I am taking it upon myself to update our community's resources on everyoneís favorite force lightening-ing (or pebble throwing) double-bladed saberists.

To set the record straight, this isnít a guide on the basics of the Assassin. If you donít know what Exploitive Strikes, Crackling Blasts, Eye of the Storm, etc/Republic equivalents are, donít bother reading this guide first-go look read up on the classí abilities first. In fact, go read up on every class/spec/ability, itíll make you a much better player. Secondly, this guide pertains exclusively to PvP. So uhÖI wonít be talking about parsing your dps on trash mobs or whatever it is people are doing these days.

Iím going to begin by discussing the notable 1.4 balance changes for the Assassin. Afterwards Iíll describe and share my opinion on every common and not so common Assassin spec. Lastly, Iíll describe how to play my own personal Deception-based spec! In the end, youíll hopefully walk away a better player, with a better grasp on the assassin class, ToR PvP, sex, religion and microeconomics.

Important changes in 1.4
Duplicity: When Exploit Weakness activates, your next Maul deals 30% more damage and costs 75% less Force. This cannot occur more than once every 15 seconds, but each rank after the first reduces this rate limit by 3 seconds.
Big buff, extra damage is much more useful than 50% armor penetration. When properly geared Maul will crit pretty much everything that isnít a tank for about 5k (tanks still get chunked for a good deal). Itís always been important to take at least 1 point in Duplicity regardless of spec, and that is even more important now. Very good buff, take advantage of it.

Lower cds on stuff
Darkswell now additionally finishes the cooldown of Blackout when you exit stealth.
Avoidance now additionally reduces the cooldown of Force Speed by 2.5 seconds per point.
Force Cloak now has a 2 minute cooldown.
Force Speed now has a 20-second cooldown (down from 30).
The changes to Force Speedís cooldown is an absolutely gigantic buff to non-darkness specs. Seriously, the cooldown on Force Speed was literally halved. Thatís huge, (while this couldíve been mitigated pre-1.4 via Lightening Recovery it sucked not being able to take Chain Shock). This is amazing for Deceptionís ability to stick to a target and to dart around the map to do various things like reinforce/ninja a node. The lowered cooldown on Force Cloak is no less impressive. Darkness/Madness will still want to stick with using it as their big escape tool/ball reset as 2 minutes is still a bit iffy for liberal use. Deception, however, can afford to be a bit more ballsy with their vanish. Assuming you start a fight from stealth, if youíre willing to use Force Cloak you can keep Blackout (and thus, your 25% damage reduction) up for 24 seconds. Eat it, Rebuke/Cloak of Pain! 90 second cooldown means that if you arenít stupid the ability will usually be up when you need it. Need to disengage from a fight and go ninja something? Escape? Go balls deep on your target? You can do it, and do it frequently. An extremely welcome change.

Entropic Field
Critical hits now cause you to build an Entropic Field, increasing damage reduction by 1% per point per stack. This effect stacks up to 3 times. This skill is now located in tier 5 of the skill tree.
It was a meh talent before, mostly filler because honestly, what else were we supposed to take? Much better now. 6% damage reduction really adds up when you factor in Sith Defiance and Blackout. Youíll pretty much always have this buff up in a fight thanks to Recklessness and the multi-hitting Thrash. Very much worth taking.

Magnetism is a new 1-point skill in tier 6 of the skill tree. It causes the target of your Spike to be slowed by 70% for 3 seconds when the knockdown effect ends. It requires Static Cling.
Nah. If Iím running full Deception Iíd rather take Insulation over Static Cling for further survivability. Due to Force Speed buffs youíll rarely be kited so hard to make Static Cling necessary. Even though a 70% slow, however brief, is quite good, the target can simply use a CC of their own in turn to buy time for the very short (3 second) Spike slow to wear of. There are better talents to take than the three points necessary for Spike slow.

Lightening Recovery
Lightning Recovery has been redesigned. It now requires Lightning Reflexes and increases the Force recovered by Lightning Reflexes. Successful shielding, parries, and deflects now reduce the active cooldown of Force Shroud by .5 second per point. This effect cannot occur more than once every second.
The changes to Force Shroud, on the other hand, arenít so hot. Great for tanks in PvE but shielding isnít as prominent in PvP (though it is certainly still a factor, despite what most of the idiots in this game would argue). Full tanks donít have much to worry about-itemized correctly youíll shield enough stuff to make the cooldown fairly similar to pre-patch. 23/1/17 hybrids may consider taking a shield as they shouldnít be the primary dps anyways, though itís iffy at best-is losing out on ~200 power really worth a tad lower cooldown? Given that the shield is the only tanking piece hybrid should take no matter what, Iíd argue no. An exception may be made in Huttball where you really want Shroud off cooldown to run through fire pits and whatever. But still, meh. Overall it sucks for nontanks, but played smartly, it hardly breaks the class.

Darkswell causes Dark Embrace to reduce all damage taken by 25% while active.
This and the Maul change have singlehandedly brought Deception back from the grave. Flat 25% damage reduction is huge and drastically increases Deceptionís survivability. I tend to use this ability more for the 25% damage reduction in small encounters/duels as it really is a huge boon to your ability to not immediately die to everything ever. You shouldnít be running out of force too often (stop using Maul without exploit weakness you dummy) so it is generally better to pop Blackout when you are getting focused and stuff.

Assassin specs
The best thing about the assassin AC is its versatility-it can maintank/offtank/burst/sustained dots. They have tons of crowd control, taunts and the ability to do tons of damage. In theory its very much a jack of all trades class, and while that means they shouldnít be as tanky as Guardians or deeps as hard as Marauders/Snipers, they are more than capable of doing it all (not at the same time, of course). In my experiences, anyways.

One thing is certain-there are more viable/semi-viable assassin specs compared to other advanced classes. Here are some of the more commonly seen specs and my opinions on each:

Classic Hybrid 23/1/17
The old standard. Still a very competitive spec, the utility of 30m death field, force pull, out of stealth spike and instant whirlwind is unparalled by any other class or spec in the game. Due to this, this is far and away the best assassin spec for undergeared players. I will repeat this: if you don't have at least full war hero (aka non-itemized war hero), don't run any other spec (except maybe full darkness). You simply won't do enough damage and you'll die way too quickly. Spec is simple in execution. If you know how to play the class, you'll still be able to contribute a good deal to the team even if you're in recruit gear.

This spec received a slight nerf in 1.4 due to the changes to force shroud, since shielding isnít as big in PvP and you ideally want to run a focus in this spec anyways. It hurts our survivability but it hardly relegates the spec to unplayable status. This spec is still arguably the best node guard in the game but still does a more than adequate job of offtanking, ninja capping and just derping around middle nodes on Civil War and Alderaan. A very good spec, the one that all assassin players should master first due to its versatility.

Given that Iíve emphasized how this should be the spec all rookie assassins should play, Iíll give a brief rundown on what to actually do. Your rotation is basically:
Death field (EVERY COOLDOWN...unless you really need to save it for some reason, but as a general rule of thumbÖ)
Energized Shock
Saber Strike

It is important to note that Thrash does more damage per Force than Shock. So unless you need to burst something down or you have the Energized buff, always Thrash instead of Shock. Use your CCs as needed. Remember, Force Pull makes big plays. Donít randomly use it-use it to pull ball runners into fire pits. In high level PvP it probably wonít outright kill them but youíll probably force a big defensive/escape cooldown. On Civil War/Novare Coast/Voidstar (but mainly the former two) you can pull suspectible targets into your team and just blow them up. Save Spike to interrupt big hitters like Harnessed Darkness Force Lightening/Ravage. For additional examples of smart use of CC see the ďHow to play 0/27/14Ē section.
Finally, you have a guard, so use it. As this spec isnít the main tank (hopefully) you shouldnít be burdened with guarding the enemyís primary focus target. Thatís the maintanks job usually. But just guard something, it is really important and greatly beneficial to your team. Especially if youíre undergeared. Your miniscule health bar will drop even faster guarding somebody, but youíll be keeping a more important member of the team alive longer. It isnít glorious but your allies will love you in turn. Actually, theyíll probably just give you hell for being undergeared. Oh well, Iíll love you <3

Full Tank 31/1/9
Yes, run one point in exploit weakness thereís absolutely no reason not to even in full tank-maul is really, really good. While full tank is often overlooked by the above hybrid spec, it is still quite useful. Full tank has great peel and a spammable slow in Wither (donít forget how useful the aoe 5% damage reduction debuff is)! Itís okay for guarding nodes, though the lack of death field and insta whirlwind doesnít really make up for the (minimal) added survivability-if you arenít stupid you wonít be soloíd at a node anyways and 23/1/17 deals with multiple people better. Unlike tank juggs/pts, this spec can still be run in full dps gear without being useless, but you should really stick to 23/1/17 if you want Darkness dps. Underrated spec, very useful in big drawn out fights, but preferably stick to hybrid for solo guarding.

It should also be noted that depending on what your team needs, 31/10/0 could also be a very good spec. As you're in full tank gear you won't be doing much damage anyways, so why bother with Chain Shock when you could have lower cooldowns on Force Speed and Unbreakable Will? The lowered cost of Thrash and Shock (mainly the latter) is extremely helpful, but 10 points in Deception should not be overlooked. If you're Wither spec in Huttball you should always take points in Deception over Madness, just because of how the warzone works. Again, depends on team composition and how much damage you really need to do as a tank.

Harnessed Hybrid 27/1/13
Itís like 23/1/17 but you get Harnessed Darkness instead of insta Whirlwind whoop dee doo. A lot of people liked this spec in 1.3 which is a shame because it is exceptionally retarded, moreso now in 1.4. If youíre running hybrid darkness youíre team support and exist to CC the living hell out of everything. Harnessed Darkness doesnít make you a better node guarder-the essential loss of Whirlwind makes it VERY difficult to 1v2 and to even stall 1v1. If your opponents are too stupid to use a knockback when you cast Force Lightening you can probably beat them regardless of the spec anyways. Itís compromising utility for a damaging skill that will never be fully casted against any competent player. Donít use this spec.

Dark Maul 23/17/1
Apparently all the rage on the forums. I donít know why, this is an awful spec in all but one situation. People espouse the maul crit damage and Blackout, but again, if youíre hybrid darkness your role is team support. You lose out on Death Field and instant Whirlwind, those things=big utility. Not having them as hybrid darkness=very bad. Besides, while sure, youíll be doing tons of Maul damage, youíre missing out on Chain Shock, Claws of Decay, Death Field and Exploitive Strikes. Oh gee, bummer.

The only situation where you would want to run a darkness hybrid with Darkswell is when youíre going to be a primary carrier of the Huttball. I still strongly believe that in all other cases 23/1/17 outclasses this spec. And really, while you can do a decent job of being a ball carrier with this spec, youíre still a poor manís Juggernaut tank. Vastly overrated spec.

Wakajinn 0/27/14
My personal favorite spec for dps. Besides myself and Majinn, nobody I know of runs this spec. So Iíll just go out on a limb and call this the Wakajinn spec (if Xinika can make up names for specs so can I). Basically, youíre a deception spec with Death Field over Voltaic Slash. Though you lose out on additional Shock damage and a slightly more damaging (not really though since weíre discounting Claws of Decay) spammable melee attack, you gain Death Field, which is more than worth it.


Though your Shock is weaker, if you add in the 25% crit damage from Thrash and the extremely hard hitting (internal damage and it hits up to 3 people!!!) Death Field, youíll find that you do far more overall damage. Of course, damage isnít everything, especially in these boring objective based warzones where all you need to do is ram your junk into a nodeÖ.But uh I digress. Your single target burst is more or less the same. Actually, factoring in various cooldowns, your damage is essentially better. Having an additional high-damaging ability makes your burst far less predictible, something that is MASSIVELY undervalued in this game. Death Field can catch people in stealth (important since Overload is currently bugged and doesnít seem to do it half the damn time), hit multiple people, is a 30m ability and at worst, does pretty much the same damage (usually more) overall than Shock. And as noted, Claws of Decay Thrash will trump Voltaic Slash in all but the most drawn out fights. But really, if your goal is to do sustained damage, play Madness. Deception is about burst and this hybrid is simply better than full Deception, regardless of burst or sustained damage. As an added bonus, the force management is great. 23 force Thrash may seem like an inconsequential difference than 25 force Thrash, but it really adds up. And the lower cost of Shock? After Induction it basically costs nothing. It seems small but is hugely important and very noticeable over full Deception.

Madness 3/7/31
Inferior to Madness Sorcerers in most ways. Largely due to the fact that Sorcerers simply have more range. Basically, Madness assassins have three advantages over Sorcerers: Taunts, Stealth and some actual bursty abilities (Maul, Assassinate). If you play this spec, you damn well better make good use of these three things. This is literally the squishiest spec in the game and if the enemy team has half a brain theyíll abuse the living hell out of that fact. Madness assassins are workable, but require some changes courtesy of Bioware if theyíre to ever be on the same level as their Sorcerer counterparts.

Pre-1.4 standard was 8/3/31 for Force Speed cooldown. Now you should run 3/7/31 instead. 15 second Force Speed will help your kiting. You don't need anything in second tier of Darkness tree. Avoidance is a very good talent so take it.

Arika 0/14/27

The old Arika hybrid, with one point in Darkswell because itís really, really good and you should take it. The only thing this spec really has over 0/27/14 is instant whirlwind, 10% bonus melee damage and a harder hitting death field/thrash crit. Of all of these, instant Whirwind is the only really important loss. But in its stead we get 50% bonus crit damage on Shock and Discharge (as opposed to much less impressive 20% and 25% Death Field and Thrash, respectively), low slash, lower cd force cloak/blackout, 10 more force, essentially a persistent 6% damage reduction in entropic field and a some force regeneration/discharge damage that doesnít really matter but whatever.

Thatís a lot of stuff to give up for what basically amounts to instant Whirlwind. Donít get me wrong, instant Whirlwind is absolutely amazing but if you really want great team utility and cc just go play 23/1/17. Certainly not an unplayable spec, but largely outclassed by my 0/27/14.

Full Deception 2/31/8

Basically anything that is full deception. While the deception tree finally received some much needed buffs, most all of them were in the lower portions of the tree (the voltaic slash buff not disappearing after using Shock is great for pve but much more niche and unreliable in pvp). The new Spike slow talent isnít bad but certainly not essential. Would you rather have a brief slow that wonít matter since youíll just get hard ccíd during its duration, or would you rather have death field? YeahÖ

There are lots of variations on this spec that people like. 8/31/3 was largely used pre 1.4 for the Force Speed cooldown. It is entirely obsolete now. 0/33/8 lets you get the Spike slow, but as explained above in my thoughts on 1.4 changes, it isnít really worth it. If youíre running full Deception Iíd advise 2/31/08. Iím assuming that since you are running full Deception you really like Voltaic Slash, so you might as well take the talent in Darkness that buffs its damage.

Mad Maul 0/14/27
Looks similar to Arika but plays very differently. Lightening Charge and you get Raze. There's a stupid argument in the first few pages of this topic where I explain why I think this is a bad DPS spec. While in theory in can pull decent numbers the setup takes too long against good players. This spec tries to burst and do good sustained damage. Wakajinn and full Deception do the burst thing better and full Madness crushes this thing in terms of sustained damage. And I can not stress this enough: the setup is insurmountably long. Avoid this spec.

Tl;dr on specs

Run full DPS gear. Best spec for overall team support and utility. Also does good damage. Best node guarder in game. Due to mix of great cc, damage and survivability this is the spec all assassins should strive to learn first and due to its great supporting abilities, it is the best spec for undergeared players.

Run tank gear. Full tank spec, very useful for peeling/spamming slow+damage debuff. Standard methods of playing a tank apply. 31/10/0 can also work in some situations.

Best overall spec for dps. Exceptional single target burst, enough sustained damage to remain competitive next to other melee dps. Adequate node guard, great fray fighter, nigh-peerless duelist.

Largely outclassed by Sorcerer counterpart, but still workable if you desperately want to play it.

How to play 0/27/14. (There are already plenty of resources for rotations and stuff in older guides and they still stand true. Given that this is the only new spec that is worthwhile, it is the only one I will be discussing in depth at the moment). Regardless, many of the ideas here could be applied to full Deception (with some obvious slight adjustments) and really, PvP in general. Have at it.

Basically, your rotation goes like this:
Death Field
2x Induction Shock
Exploit Weakness Maul
Saber Strike

*While normally such a hard hitting ability would have higher priority, in most cases Death Field and Shock will do comparable damage. Therefore, we hold off on Discharge in hopes that we can gain a stack or two of Static Charges to compensate for the delayed use of the ability.
This is all variable. If, for example, you need to do some immediate burst, you can use Shock without Induction. You ideally want to use Maul right before Exploit Weakness expires so youíll reacquire the buff again shortly after use, but sometimes you just need to rip apart a squishy freecaster ASAP, so it could be used sooner. And so on so fourth. Just donít play like a retard. Oh, and make sure you know what everything in the game does. If a Sentinel uses Pacify on you, donít waste your time using weapon damage attacks-just kite him and useÖ.you know, not weapon damage attacks.

Oh, and this rotation obviously doesnít really apply to small encounters/duels. For example, I tend to Spike into Maul, exploit weakness or not, against Sentinels before they Pacify me, simply because Iíll largely be kiting until it wears off and wonít be expending as much Force as I would if I were spamming melee stuff. Similar situations occur when dueling other classes, it all just depends. I canít stress this enough-be adaptive.

Throw in CC accordingly. Combat Sentinel rooting you with Master Strike while youíre Pacified? Use Overload. Did your rival assassin just pop force shroud? Use low slash (donít break the stun, wait out the duration), youíll effectively waste his entire defensive cooldown. Is that obnoxious sage freecasting and you need him out of the fight but he keeps interrupting your whirlwind? Use low slash into whirlwind. It will give him full resolve unlike a straight up whirlwind, but hey, canít have it all. A marauder pop undying rage and he has full resolve? Donít waste your recklessness buff by Discharging him for 50 damage-use force slow and kite him until it ends. Again, just play logically and donít act like a complete retard. Itís really quite simple. This basic idea in this paragraph applies to pretty much every class/spec in this game, really.

This spec can be used for a variety of purposes. Due to its incredibly strong dueling potential against most every spec in the game it is a decent node guarder. However, most enemies that try to ninja capped you will be stealthed, and if you happen to get caught by a good concealment operative/ any assassin you could really be in trouble. As such, while this spec is an okay defender, darkness based specs still get the job done much more safely. This spec truly shines at good old fashioned dps. While youíll still be very squishy in a sustained encounter (hey, you canít have Blackout up always) it really isnít any different for Marauders. Your tanks should be guard swapping to you when necessary and hopefully your healers know how toÖWell, heal. Due to Death Field AoE youíll be racking up quite a bit of damage and youíll still have a massive amount of single target burst and CC to shut down priority targets whenever needed.

While this spec makes for an excellent skirmish fighter, it truly shines when attempting to ninja cap a node. Played correctly you can 1v1 literally any spec in the game (I tend to have most trouble against darkness-based assassins, but only the absolute best. And even then, I still am more than capable of winning). You burst fast and have a lot of CC-youíre more than capable of soloing a defender and capping a node. Against top-tier teams you probably wonít be able to outright kill the defender but you should be able to divert 1-2 people to the off node, which is plenty worth it.

Attempting to explain the intricacies (I use the term rather loosely, as in all honesty this is a pretty simple game lol) of dueling every class isnít worth my time and will go over most peopleís heads so Iíll just say this about trying to solo cap a node: Defenders are usually stealthers. And usually assassins. If they try to Force Cloak you can bet they will try to sap you and heal up. If your CC break is down you can not let this happen. So, the second they stealth, use Overload in the direction they were in. On the chance that they wonít be instantly destealthed (damn Overload bug), and Death Field is on cooldown, use Mass Mind Control. While taunts donít destealth a person, they will be put back into combat for a time and will be unable to sap you. This is more reliable than spamming Lacerate hoping to hit the target-because usually you wonít. At the very least, AoE taunting someone who has vanished will buy you some time to reorient and hopefully stop you from getting sapped.

Itemizing (for 0/27/14 and basically any non Madness-based DPS spec)

Here's my gear:

Set bonus should be Stalker for Deception/23/1/17 hybrid. Madness specs want Force Master. Willpower is a means to an end. More specifically, a means to getting crit. Power gives you more overall damage, so you only want to get Willpower as a means of getting your crit to a certain percentage. While deception is largely crit based (without having anything to boost crit chance unlike most other dps specs zzz) you donít want to completely itemize for crit because in the end your overall damage will suffer.

You want about 75% Surge. Deception is largely crit-based so Surge is very important. 75% is the soft cap and thus, going over gives you diminishing returns. So go to about 75%, pretty simple.

30% crit chance is less of a mathematical thing and more just a fine balance that's been fine tuned by myself and most other good assassins. We're playing a crit based spec, and while it may seem like a good idea to just itemize for the crit hard cap, it doesn't really work that way. Sure, you'll crit more with 40% and in a sustained encounter you will certainly be critting a lot more often. But in the smaller skirmishes/focus bursting this spec excels in, you won't really be attacking as much. Therefore, while you will still crit more often, your damage over a shorter period of time will be much lower. If you're a super lucky person sure, give it a shot I guess. But trust me, it won't be worth it for most people.

As Deception is more martially based than other assassin specs you might want some accuracy. 96.90% may seem like a lot, but what other options do we have if we don't want to waste points on surge? Just take some accuracy enhancements, it's better than wasting one of the main enhancements stats for some more power.

Also, I havenít yet gotten fully Elite War Heroíd. Given how miniscule the stat boost is on the mods/enhancements (+1 statÖwtf) I am instead dedicating my commendations to perfecting my incomplete tanking set.

Important note

Donít use lightsaber crystals with black cores. They arenít canon (no I donít care about the darksaber) and look stupid and ugly and Iíll tunnel vision you in warzones if that happens then may god have mercy on your soul :B

If you have any questions/comments/concerns feel free to message me in game or in this topic. I will do my best to respond to any inquiries you guys have regarding assassins/PvP/ToR in a prompt and informative manner. As long as it isnít something stupid a quick search couldnít answer, anyways.

Responses to this topic would be greatly appreciated and stuff thanks for reading hopefully Iíll have made a difference-aka I wonít continue to see 14k assassins running deception and hard casting Crushing Darkness like omg stop doing that.

This is Party Time Wakalord Flexguildmaster signing out may the force be with you

Changelog (notable additions only)
11/4/12 - Added armory. Added names to every spec. Elaborated on full tank spec. Added Mad Maul spec.

11/23/12 - Juggernaut and Assassin dueling video guides added.

12/31/12 - Marauder dueling video guide added.

1/5/13 - Six hour reg wz video added.
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