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06.23.2014 , 05:53 PM | #1
Last Updated: 8/4/14

This guide is a copy of my Balance Shadow guide with terms changed to Assassin terms. Here is a link to the original guide in Shadow speak.

Now that 2.8 is here and this spec actually kicks ***, I figured it would be a good time to finally finish my guide. I hope it helps both players who are new to the spec and veterans alike.

Just to note, I am no theory crafter or crazy mathematician, I don't have any hard numbers saying that one gear setup or rotation is better. I just have my own experience working with many different combinations of gear, specs, rotations, and raid fights and feedback and tips from other players. Any feedback is welcomed; I want to keep advancing this spec as far as it can go.

Terms and Abbreviations
  • Death Field (DF) - Force in Balance
  • Crushing Darkness (CrD) - Mind Crush
  • Creeping Terror (CT) - Sever Force
  • Discharge (DI) - Force Breach
  • Assassinate (AS) - Spinning Strike
  • Thrash (TH) - Double Strike
  • Saber Strike (ST)
  • Shock (SH) - Project
  • Force Lightning (FL) - Telekinetic Throw
  • Lacerate (LA) - Whirling Blow
  • Overload (OV) - Force Wave
  • Raze (RA) - Force Strike (proc for free CrD)
  • Recklessness (RE) - Force Potency
  • Overcharge Saber (OS) - Battle Readiness
  • Force Cloak (FC)
  • Force Speed (FS)

Spec is 8/2/36. However, there can be a couple slight point variations in the Deception and Madness trees. I linked the one I use the most. You can also move the two points in Dark Embrace over to Avoidance for shorter CD on FS and your interrupt. Where those two points go is totally dependent on the situation. Like for Raptus I take Avoidance because you don't want to use FC; Nefra I take Dark Embrace because who needs FS anyways.

With the 2.8 changes to Shapeless Spirit, this skill becomes very useful and in my opinion should always be taken. The only other skill points I would move around is putting points into Corrupted Flesh instead of Sith Defiance. If a fight has DoT damage then that is worth giving up 2% overall DR. If you ever need both of these (16 man fights I'm looking at you), you can always pull the point out of Lambaste and one point from Electric Execution.

Here is my AMR profile for my Balance Shadow which I try to update fairly often. Until I get full Dread Master gear, I may run with a little more crit than what I recommend/want, just know that my goal is 284 no matter what my AMR shows.

I did a decent amount of testing on the PTS to figure out where crit should be and what I found was that for Dread Master gear crit should be somewhere between 280-300. I personally am shooting for 284 which I will reach with a crit/acc implant, one mod, and one enhancement. If you want to run a little more, you could go up to about 350-360 max and still average out to similar numbers, but I wouldn't go any higher. For lesser tiers of gear I would drop about 25 off the range I gave above. So Dread Forged = 255-275, Kell Dragon = 230-250, etc.

Preferred amount is 440, which can be reached with 4 Dread Master enhancements/implants/earpiece and one accuracy augment. I do this personally, and while I don't have any solid numbers I feel it is the best way to reach optimal accuracy. You could always run 5 pieces of accuracy but you lose surge which is very helpful to our spec. For Dread Forged gear you can also run 4 accuracy pieces but you will have to run 2 accuracy augments. For any tier lower than DF it's better to run 5 pieces of accuracy and no accuracy augments.

Should be willpower all around, unless you do what I mentioned above, then 13 willpower augments and 1 accuracy if in DM gear, or 12 willpower and 2 accuracy if in DF gear.

Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution.

Set Bonus
The 4-piece Stalker PvE set bonus is important for this spec. The 15% extra crit to TH from the set bonus along with the extra 9% melee crit from Exploitive Strikes paired with 50% extra surge on TH makes it a very valuable move. This used to be a more powerful set bonus pre-2.8, but it is still very important to this spec.

Move Priority/Rotation
There are two ways to play this spec. I will label them the "DoT Focus" and "Priority" methods.

DoT Focus Method
This is the method I am most used to and what I prefer. In this method you keep your reapplication of DI and CT static and a higher priority than reapplying CrD. Now you might think that reapplying CrD should always be priority, but the truth is as long as you aren't holding a RA proc long enough that you don't use it and lose it to proccing RA again (which should NEVER happen anyways, barring any downtime), you will still be using CrD just as much as you would if you prioritized CrD. But the good thing about this method is you have better uptime on DI and CT and they get to eat more Deathmark charges, and it helps with reapplication on targets because the GCD after a DoT falls off is when you reapply that DoT.

So the main focus of this method is reapplying DI and CT right away and keeping 3 GCDs between those two DoTs. The only thing that will break the 3 GCD separation is AS in the execute which has more priority at that point. In fact, because AS takes priority and will definitely break the 3 GCD separation, this method reverts to just a straight priority during the execute and moves CrD up the priority.

The priority will look like this:
  1. DF on CD
  2. AS when <30%
  3. CrD when <30%
  4. DI (or CT)
  5. CT (or DI)
  6. CrD when >30%
  7. MA (Melee Attack), which is: ST if below 30 force>AS>TH

I listed DI and CT in opposing spots in the priority list because if you want to you can do CT first and then DI. However, it will mean that you don't get a RA proc as early as possible and it also means you get one less tick of CT using a Deathmark charge at the beginning, and CT does more damage than DI does.

For actual fights, my opener is this:
RE,DI-->Adrenal,OS,DF-->MA-->CrD-->CT then follow priority

For parsing I use a slightly different opener that doesn't use the 3 GCD spread right at the beginning to maximize use of the adrenal at the beginning. It looks like this:

RE,Hardcast CrD-->DI-->Adrenal,OS,DF-->CT-->MA-->CrD-->MAx4-->CrD-->MA-->DF-->DI-->MA-->CrD-->MA-->CT then follow priority

For a longer look at this rotation, Aelanis has done a much better job than me at explaining it so I will quote him on that (originally written in Shadow terms, I changed them to Assassin ones for this guide):
Quote: Originally Posted by Aelanis View Post
...Death Field has a 15 second cooldown and Raze has a 7.5 second internal cooldown (a half mutiple of 15 seconds), while Discharge and Creeping Terror both have 18 second durations. That means that if you look at the Madness "rotataion" in a 15 second block, DI and CT fall back 2 spaces each rotation. Example:

DF > DI > CrD > MA > MA > CT > MA > CrD > MA > MA
DF > MA > CrD > DI > MA > MA > MA > CrD > CT > MA
DF > MA > CrD > MA > MA > DI > MA > CrD > MA > CT

If you look at it as an 18 second rotation, however, it's Death Field and Crushing Darkness that shift positions. Example:

DF > DI > MA > CrD > MA > CT > MA > MA > CrD > MA > DF > MA
MA > DI > CrD > MA > MA > CT > CrD > MA > DF > MA > CrD > MA
MA > DI > MA > CrD > MA > CT > DF > MA > CrD > MA > MA > MA

Note: this is with CrD at a lower priority than the other dots and Death Field, so its position doesn't shift as smoothly as Death Field's does. Also, in the first example, if there had been a MA before the first CrD, we would have seen it interfere with the other dots and DF and have to shift there, too.
Also, leto_cleon made a google spreadsheet to analyze my personal rotation for a couple of my top parses, I figured I'd link it too since it is very detailed and might help understand the DoT Focus method more. Here is the thread that he started when he made the spreadsheet. Note this is all in Shadow terms.

Video of me using the DoT Focus method.

Priority Method
The only difference in this method is it always prioritizes CrD reapplication instead of the rigid DI and CT reapplication. This means it can be a little harder to follow in an actual fight but this priority does flow perfectly into the execute phase and is exactly what you end up doing in the DoT Focus method during the execute anyways.

Priority is this:
  1. DF on CD
  2. AS when <30%
  3. CrD
  4. DI (or CT)
  5. CT (or DI)
  6. MA (Melee Attack), which is: ST if below 30 force>AS>TH

Openers will be the same as the other method, the differences show up when you get to the second DoT applications and later.

Video of me using the Priority method.

Some Things to Note
Using Saber Strike

When NOT to apply your DoTs

Overload does damage?

Wait, we use Shock? And Force Lightning?

AoE abilities, lol

Getting the most of Recklessness

Personal Records
Accompanying video

Deception (Pre-2.10) 5/36/5

Hybrid 4/18/24

Current Operation Fights
* = clipped to when boss died

Nefra: 8M
Draxus: 8M
Grob'thok: 8M*
C-Zero: 8M
Brontes: 8M*

Bestia: 8M - 16M
Tyrans: 8M - 16M
Calphayus: 8M - 16M
Raptus: 16M
Council: 8M

Shameless Plug
If you feel like giving me free cartel coins, here is my referral link.