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8/2 Sentinel/Marauder Questions

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes > Jedi Knight > Sentinel
8/2 Sentinel/Marauder Questions
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
07.29.2013 , 03:20 PM | #1
Update: Added draft questions.

Update 2: Final questions have been posted! I made a last-minute decision to swap the Combat/Carnage question with a question on Centering/Fury. This decision was based on my own concerns, as well as the advice of top sentinels/marauders.

The polls have closed, and it looks like I'll be your Sentinel representative for this round (thank you!). Down to work…

We have three questions to fill. One of those needs to be about PvP. As a general structure, I see the following immediate points:
  • Watchman/Annihilation viability in PvP due to ramp up time and low burst
  • Focus/Rage viability in single-target PvE fights due to low sustained DPS (~9% behind on dummy parses)
  • RNG issues in Combat/Carnage

Other wildcard issues that I have on-hand:
  • Guarded by the Force/Undying Rage don't appear to work at all on Lightning Field
  • Centering/Fury do not build during Transcendence/Predation or Inspiration/Bloodthirst (*major* issue for Focus/Rage)

I'm not sure there are any really huge outstanding issues besides the ones I've listed, but this is all about what the community feels are the most significant issues. Weigh in and make your voice heard!

Note: I really would like this to be about both Sentinels and Marauders. We're the same class anyway. I'll be cross-posting this to the Marauder sub-forum to ensure everyone gets to see it, and will be PMing Gudarzz (Marauder rep) and Oofalong (awesome sauce) for further thoughts.

Draft Questions

Thoughts and revisions welcome.
  1. Watchman/Annihilation currently suffers from a very long ramp-up time and is severely punished for any downtime due to the Merciless/Annihilate stacking buff. This ramp-up makes the spec nearly unconscionable in competitive PvP, and the downtime penalties cause severe issues in both PvP and certain PvE encounters (such as Titan 6 or Dread Guard). Would it be possible to improve the ramp-up and downtime penalties in this area? Perhaps by talenting Valorous Call/Frenzy to build Merciless/Annihilate stacks. Another idea would be to decrement Merciless/Annihilate stacks upon expiry rather than removing them entirely.
  2. While Focus/Rage has excellent AoE DPS and on-demand burst, it falls significantly behind in terms of single-target DPS. In fact, dummy parses in the hands of skilled and geared players show a roughly 9% disparity between Focus/Rage and the other two specs on a single-target fight. This represents an unacceptable liability for most serious progression groups, as the majority of DPS pressure in current content comes in the form of hard enrage timers in single-target encounters. Despite this, the community is concerned that an increase to single-target DPS might make Focus/Rage the "go to" spec for sentinels/marauders. What are the design goals for Focus/Rage in PvE? Is the spec currently meeting those goals? If low single-target DPS is indeed the balancing factor for this spec, how is this justified with the current PvE design focus on single-target bosses?
  3. Combat/Carnage spec has large number of procs at comparatively low odds which introduce a highly random element to the gameplay. Some procs can happen too early (e.g. Hand of Justice / Slaughter procing on opening moves such as Leap/Charge), or even not happen at all (e.g. Opportune Attack / Execute failing to proc before a natural Precision Slash / Gore window). This can be extremely frustrating, since no amount of skill can fully compensate in these scenarios, and DPS can drop significantly (~10%) through no fault of the player. Would it be possible to give this spec some more control over some of these procs? Perhaps a guaranteed proc on Hand of Justice / Slaughter following a double Blade Rush / Massacre use if the ICD is expired? This could be balanced by reducing the natural proc chance from Ataru hits, which also helps with the "unintended proc" problem.

I really, really wanted to raise some other issues, most notably the building of Centering/Fury during Inspiration/Bloodthirst and Transcendence/Predation, but we're out of questions and the Combat/Carnage issues seemed more pressing. Oofalong also had a really neat issue that he sent to me in private correspondence regarding the final tick of Master Strike / Ravage and the off-hand damage penalty, but it seemed to be of a less pressing nature than the fundamental spec issues listed above.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Dragonslayer on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (combat sentinel) Nimri (df scoundrel)
Averith (hybrid sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (jugg tank)

Mr_Fuzzle's Avatar


Mr_Fuzzle
07.29.2013 , 03:30 PM | #2
Well, one thing that comes to mind is actually related to your first point. Bear in mind that I'm a Combat Sent predominantly but have had to learn Watchman to teach my guildies how to play it effectively, but Watchman/Annihilation needing to build stack of Merciless/Annihilator in order to do max damage in both PVE and PVP is pretty huge. Particularly when you have fights like Titan 6 where you can easily lose the 4 stacks or the Dread Guard if you get unlucky with the timing on Doom. I'm not entirely sure how the whole building stacks thing could be solved (maybe add something attached to Valorous Call to build 2 stacks when used?) but the question of increasing the duration of the Merciless/Annihilator buff I feel needs to be asked.
As far as your other points go, you are spot on. Focus is for most fights a liability in terms of progression (particularly if your group comp can take care of the AoE situations with minimal help) while the RNG on Combat can be frustrating at times. That being said, for Combat spec returning a guaranteed autocrit on Blade Storm (2 or 3 consecutive Blade Rushes forcing the proc similar to 2 Charged Bursts forcing the Trickshot proc for Sharpshooter Gunslingers may just do the trick) would help alleviate the RNG issues and turn the spec from being total chaos to partially contained chaos.
In all, congratulations on the nomination KBN, I know you'll get the most reliable information to the devs and represent us well like you already do.

oofalong's Avatar


oofalong
07.29.2013 , 03:37 PM | #3
I posted this in the nomination thread awhile back, and suggested it was an example of a good question:

Quote:
Watchman/Annihilation has a long ramp-up to achieve its maximum damage output. And, it relies on maintaining the Merciless/Annihilator buff or using Merciless Slash/Annihilate at least every 15s. Plus, ~40% of its damage comes from DoTs. These are easily removed negating much our the specs damage in PvP.

These two factors primarily make this spec inferior to the other available specs for PvP. If the goal is to make this a more viable PvP spec some necessary changes might include:

  • Increasing the duration of the Annihilator buff and/or reducing the rate with which it falls off ie one stack at a time.
  • Making the DoTs unremovable or applying some other adverse event when removed like reducing healing received or slowing the target. (After all, if I was bandaged up after bleeding heavily I might not be so quick to charge back into action )

These are ideas the community has come up with. Does the development team have any other ideas to make this spec more viable in PvP? Are there plans to introduce any changes to increase its viability? If there is no goal to make this a more viable PvP spec, can you please explain this rationale?
The simple version of this question is why does Watchman/Annihilation under-perform in PvP. I know it is a bit wordy, but I think this could still count as one question. And, I think it would be great if something like this was asked.
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You are correct Oofalong.

akabane_k's Avatar


akabane_k
07.29.2013 , 04:06 PM | #4
the rng problems of carnage come down to a couple of things, firstly no sure way of getting an execute proc. unlike pre-2.0 blood frenzy. other autocrit proc(thundering blast, rage-spec smash, ap-railshot) are 100% to occur.

secondly, slaughter rng comes from 2 issues. The first is that the icd of the proc is long than the cd of gore. the second is slaughter procs off of ataru form dmg, which is random and uncontrollable. This leads to the problem that if you do not immediately use gore, you have 5 seconds after the slaughter proc occurs to use that gore, in order to avoid getting a slaughter proc when gore is off cd and wasting it. However, many times the proc occurs during gore, which cuts down on the time before you can use it to between .5 and 5 seconds. Realistically, this means that you must use gore as soon as it comes off cd, or the previous gore buff runs out. Also, Gore is a buff whose effectiveness depends on the other abilities that have cds(fs,ravage,berserk). Due to the previously mentioned timing problem, you cannot wait a few seconds for these abilities to come off cd. This causes gore to encourage an inefficient playstyle, where you cannot control burst unless you stop attacking entirely(as burst is dependent on having 2 gore windows) and instead of timing your attacks, you are forced to use whatever is off cd at the moment.

basically, this problem could be fixed if slaughter procced off massacre dmg instead of ataru form, and maybe give gore 100% chance of an execute proc(90% of the time, you have the proc anyways, this would just help with bad rng).

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
07.29.2013 , 04:09 PM | #5
Random thought…

An ideal Focus/Rage single-target parse has Master Strike/Ravage at about 15.7% of total damage dealt. The spec is just over 9% behind the other two specs in terms of single-target damage. We don't want to buff AoE burst, and we don't want to buff reliable single-target burst since that would raise significant issues in PvP. If anything, we want to incentivize a slightly longer average delay on Force Sweep/Smash (situationally).

What if Force Sweep/Smash had a 25% chance to finish the cooldown on Master Strike/Ravage? If it were a 100% chance, then Master Strike/Ravage could be used 233% more frequently than it is now, which is a damage buff of almost 36%. However, 36/4 = 9, which is about what we're looking for. Thus, inject a bit of RNG into the Focus/Rage rotation and you've got a roughly balanced buff. Note that this increases single-target damage tremendously while simultaneously delaying Force Sweep/Smash slightly (on average, less than 0.5s per Force Sweep) and not increasing AoE burst.

The downsides of course are a) it's unreliable, and b) it happens with a low enough proc rate that you will frequently find yourself in danger of stepping on the natural CD for Master Strike, which incentivizes putting Master Strike ahead of Force Sweep and thus delaying the smash even further, which seems like a significant reorganization of priorities. A simpler solution might be to simply lower the CD on Master Strike/Ravage in Shi-cho form, gated by a talent high in the tree.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Dragonslayer on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (combat sentinel) Nimri (df scoundrel)
Averith (hybrid sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (jugg tank)

TheCourier-'s Avatar


TheCourier-
07.29.2013 , 04:16 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by oofalong View Post
I posted this in the nomination thread awhile back, and suggested it was an example of a good question:



The simple version of this question is why does Watchman/Annihilation under-perform in PvP. I know it is a bit wordy, but I think this could still count as one question. And, I think it would be great if something like this was asked.
The reason that watchman spec does not work for PVP is mostly because of the merciless buff only lasts 15 seconds, and watchman spec takes way too long to ramp up. I've tried annihilation spec several times in PVP since patch 2.0, and the primary thing about the spec, is that if I got a 4 stack of the merciless buff, then the spec did very nice damage. The best solution would be to tie the merciless buff to Juyo form (1 second per stack, for a total of 6 seconds). This would make the ramp up time much faster because of Juyo form stacks accumulating quite fast.

Note, the buff that I proposed wouldn't change PVE DPS much for long battles.
Multiple characters on Pot5

akabane_k's Avatar


akabane_k
07.29.2013 , 04:29 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by KeyboardNinja View Post
Random thought…

An ideal Focus/Rage single-target parse has Master Strike/Ravage at about 15.7% of total damage dealt. The spec is just over 9% behind the other two specs in terms of single-target damage. We don't want to buff AoE burst, and we don't want to buff reliable single-target burst since that would raise significant issues in PvP. If anything, we want to incentivize a slightly longer average delay on Force Sweep/Smash (situationally).

What if Force Sweep/Smash had a 25% chance to finish the cooldown on Master Strike/Ravage? If it were a 100% chance, then Master Strike/Ravage could be used 233% more frequently than it is now, which is a damage buff of almost 36%. However, 36/4 = 9, which is about what we're looking for. Thus, inject a bit of RNG into the Focus/Rage rotation and you've got a roughly balanced buff. Note that this increases single-target damage tremendously while simultaneously delaying Force Sweep/Smash slightly (on average, less than 0.5s per Force Sweep) and not increasing AoE burst.

The downsides of course are a) it's unreliable, and b) it happens with a low enough proc rate that you will frequently find yourself in danger of stepping on the natural CD for Master Strike, which incentivizes putting Master Strike ahead of Force Sweep and thus delaying the smash even further, which seems like a significant reorganization of priorities. A simpler solution might be to simply lower the CD on Master Strike/Ravage in Shi-cho form, gated by a talent high in the tree.
master strike is actually a pretty minimal increase for focus due to the fact that focus almost never runs out of rage and master strike doesn't reduce the cd on sweep, zealous leap. so, each time you master strike, you effectively increase the cd of the next sweep by 2 seconds, which offsets some the gain you would get from using it instead of slash. example, my vicious slash does around 2600 including force lash, my ravage does around 6800. so you gain 1600 damage from doing ravage. However my smash does 8.3k fully buffed. Since the cd is 8-9 sec Increasing the cd by 2, decreases by dps of smash in that time by around 20%, or in this case around 1600. The numbers aren't exact, but close enough to show that ravage is a very minimal increase in dps for rage spec and is more used in the rare case you are out of rage and battering assault and berserk are on cd.

Maelael's Avatar


Maelael
07.29.2013 , 04:39 PM | #8
Watchman is just not built for PvP.

Save pounding solo on a double healed Op, you just do not have the opportunity for the DoTs to do their work, as fights do not last long enough for them - not to mention the ability to keep your stacks so the DoTs are even more useful.

Single target damage has to be high DPH, or high burst within a 3-12 second window to be optimal/truly effective. Watchman relies too heavily on longer fights due to both DoTs and Stack issues to be effective (not put numbers on the scoreboard, but be effective to the field). Add in the ability to cleanse and vs smart opponents, this spec is dead in the water.

I have a guildmate who swears that Watchman is much better for 1v1s or defense, and myself and multiple others have been proving him so wrong since Friday, he's finally learning to utilize combat better and actually learn focus spec.

Sure, you can use it as is - and you can troll regz all day in it, but it's not as effective as Combat or Focus due to the design principal of the spec. In talking with SLC, I do think you could decrease the tick time in PvP (IE, same damage, less time it takes to get the damage done), and do something about the stacks (they last longer, whatever) and make the spec more comparable in PvP.

But at the same time, Im okay with this. Watchman is good for tank and spanks, Focus is good for aoeing trash/PvP. It's a balanced class even if the specs aren't balanced across the board.
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In balance with chaos and harmony, Immortal in the Force.

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
07.29.2013 , 04:44 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by akabane_k View Post
master strike is actually a pretty minimal increase for focus due to the fact that focus almost never runs out of rage and master strike doesn't reduce the cd on sweep, zealous leap. so, each time you master strike, you effectively increase the cd of the next sweep by 2 seconds, which offsets some the gain you would get from using it instead of slash. example, my vicious slash does around 2600 including force lash, my ravage does around 6800. so you gain 1600 damage from doing ravage. However my smash does 8.3k fully buffed. Since the cd is 8-9 sec Increasing the cd by 2, decreases by dps of smash in that time by around 20%, or in this case around 1600. The numbers aren't exact, but close enough to show that ravage is a very minimal increase in dps for rage spec and is more used in the rare case you are out of rage and battering assault and berserk are on cd.
Pulling numbers from a handy Focus parse
  • Master Strike averages 2107.32 per tick. It ticks 6 times with 3 ticks at 77% accuracy (but this is accounted for in the averages). Thus, the average damage of one activation is 12643.92
  • Slash averages 1578.09 per tick. It ticks twice with one tick at 77% accuracy (accounted for in the averages). Force Lash is 192.59 per activation. Thus, the average damage of one activation is 3348.77, or 6697.54 for two
  • Force Sweep averages 7346.48, with a per-second use rate of 0.096666667, or once every 10.34 seconds. Subbing out Master Strike decreases the CD by 2 seconds every 30 (ignoring costs), which drops the per-second use rate by 0.006710311.

Thus, subbing in double Slash instead of Master Strike sacrifices (12643.92 - 6697.54) / 30 = 198.21 DPS to gain 7346.48 * 0.006710311 = 49.30 DPS. Verdict: LOSS

The only way this would be a benefit is if you're consistently hitting four or more targets with your Force Sweep and you're able to otherwise fudge your rotation to absorb the added focus costs. I can't think of any bosses where this applies over enough time to matter (Dash'roode only has two Xuvvas per pack), and so I think we can call this a general loss.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Dragonslayer on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (combat sentinel) Nimri (df scoundrel)
Averith (hybrid sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (jugg tank)

TheCourier-'s Avatar


TheCourier-
07.29.2013 , 04:47 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Maelael View Post
Watchman is just not built for PvP.

Save pounding solo on a double healed Op, you just do not have the opportunity for the DoTs to do their work, as fights do not last long enough for them - not to mention the ability to keep your stacks so the DoTs are even more useful.

Single target damage has to be high DPH, or high burst within a 3-12 second window to be optimal/truly effective. Watchman relies too heavily on longer fights due to both DoTs and Stack issues to be effective (not put numbers on the scoreboard, but be effective to the field). Add in the ability to cleanse and vs smart opponents, this spec is dead in the water.

I have a guildmate who swears that Watchman is much better for 1v1s or defense, and myself and multiple others have been proving him so wrong since Friday, he's finally learning to utilize combat better and actually learn focus spec.

Sure, you can use it as is - and you can troll regz all day in it, but it's not as effective as Combat or Focus due to the design principal of the spec. In talking with SLC, I do think you could decrease the tick time in PvP (IE, same damage, less time it takes to get the damage done), and do something about the stacks (they last longer, whatever) and make the spec more comparable in PvP.

But at the same time, Im okay with this. Watchman is good for tank and spanks, Focus is good for aoeing trash/PvP. It's a balanced class even if the specs aren't balanced across the board.
I used watchman for ranked PVP back in patch 1.3. It was definitely viable back then. The dots actually tick very strong. The dots aren't the problem. TBH, almost no medics on Pot5 cleanse dots. Cleansing dots is usually a waste of time, since a heal could be being channeled instead, and watchman's dots reapply super fast.
Multiple characters on Pot5