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Sentinel // Marauder Top 3 Answers!

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes > Jedi Knight > Sentinel
Sentinel // Marauder Top 3 Answers!
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EricMusco's Avatar


EricMusco
08.08.2013 , 12:14 PM | #1 This is the last staff post in this thread.  
Hey folks!

Here are your top 3 issues and the answers provided by the combat team. I want to thank all of you, especially KBN for the work you put in to get these issues gathered. Hopefully helps in addressing some of your concerns.

I will try to keep an eye on the thread and pass along to the combat guys anything that requires followup. All skills are referenced as Sentinel/Marauder skill names for easier readability for everyone!

-eric

PvP


Quote:
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.
The stacking Annihilator/Merciless buff and the stacking buff from Juyo Form are both too short at their current 15 second durations. We will increase the duration of these buffs to give Marauders/Sentinels more time to get back into action before needing to start back up on their long entry ramp. As for a faster way to ramp up, we plan to give you something to help in this regard, but it will not be coming anytime soon. We may also experiment with decrementing the stacks on expiration, rather than removing all of them at once, but we cannot make any promises at this time that you will ever see it decrement stacks in the Live game.

PvE


Quote:
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?
If Rage/Focus had the best burst damage, the best AoE damage, and the best sustained damage; then there would be very little to no incentive for a Marauder/Sentinel to ever spec anything else. Rage/Focus is the top burst spec for a Marauder/Sentinel, and that is by design. Right now, it is also the top AoE damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels (by design) – but that is something we would like to get away from in the future. Ideally, any damage spec should be able to deal formidable AoE damage when necessary (and should prefer to leave most AoE attacks out of their rotation in a single-target fight). It will take some time to right this ship, as it has already sailed and must come back to port for repairs (so don’t expect Annihilation/Watchman and Carnage/Combat to be pumping out massive AoE DPS or for Rage/Focus to get a huge AoE DPS nerf next patch).

Annihilation/Watchman is intended to be the top sustained damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels, while Carnage/Combat is meant to be better sustained damage than Rage/Focus (but worse than Annihilation/Watchman) and better burst damage than Annihilation/Watchman (but worse than Rage/Focus). As a result, the top damage over an extended period should go to Annihilation/Watchman. The top damage in a short fight should go to Rage/Focus. Carnage/Combat should hold its own in both situations, while not being the best at either – think of its strength as versatility.

Right now, the goal for Rage/Focus in PvE is to be good burst damage and good AoE damage, and it already does very well in these respects. In the future, when the other specs have improved ways to do AoE damage, then you can expect the sustained damage gap between Rage/Focus and Carnage/Combat to shrink a little bit. In summary, yes we know that Rage/Focus is the worst Marauder spec for single-target sustained damage because that is exactly how we designed it. Unfortunately, because target dummies never drop in health you cannot use them as a 1:1 replacement for Operation boss encounters. Only certain specs (Rage/Focus is not one of them, but Carnage/Combat is) can use execute abilities on a target dummy. It is also unlikely that you are testing on a target dummy with your own personal armor-debuffer (which you should definitely have against a real raid boss). So that 9% gap you may be seeing on target dummies is closer to approximately 4% in reality.

All


Quote:
Centering/Fury does not build for the duration of Zen/Berserk, Inspiration/Bloodthirst or Transcendence/Predation. This is a somewhat odd design decision since sentinels/marauders are penalized significantly when these raid buffs are used. This is a noticeable DPS loss for Watchman/Annihilation and Combat/Carnage, but it is absolutely devastating for Focus/Rage as their rotation is actually dependent on consistently building Centering/Fury (due to the Singularity/Shockwave mechanic). As such, most Focus/Rage sentinels/marauders actually click off the Inspiration/Bloodthirst buff when another sentinel/marauder provides it. No other DPS class is handicapped in this fashion. What is the design rationale for suppressing Centering/Fury build up during these buffs? Could this restriction be removed (especially when *another* sentinel/marauder has supplied the raid buff)?
We agree that it seems an odd design decision was made here. While Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence are active, we see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to build Fury/Centering stacks. However, being allowed to build Fury/Centering during Berserk/Zen would be a substantial damage increase that would only serve to widen the gap between Marauders/Sentinels and the rest of the pack that they are already leading. We may change it in the future, but for now Berserk/Zen will continue to block Fury/Centering generation while we will make changes to allow the building of Fury/Centering during Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence.
Eric Musco | Community Manager
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Yodawizard's Avatar


Yodawizard
08.08.2013 , 01:09 PM | #2
I have read through responses for both of the ACs that were addressed today and it looks like you realize there are a bunch of AC specs underperforming/overperforming but at the same time are fine with it and asking us to not expect any changes in the next patch.

I have one question,

Why?

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
08.08.2013 , 01:24 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
The stacking Annihilator/Merciless buff and the stacking buff from Juyo Form are both too short at their current 15 second durations. We will increase the duration of these buffs to give Marauders/Sentinels more time to get back into action before needing to start back up on their long entry ramp. As for a faster way to ramp up, we plan to give you something to help in this regard, but it will not be coming anytime soon. We may also experiment with decrementing the stacks on expiration, rather than removing all of them at once, but we cannot make any promises at this time that you will ever see it decrement stacks in the Live game.
It's good to hear that there is some hope here. I'm actually concerned that increasing the duration removes a significant skill factor from the opener, particularly at the second Merciless Slash / Annihilate (where you presently have just a single GCD to squeeze it in). Increasing the duration of the buff does help in situations where you're already ramped up (e.g. on Titan), but it doesn't solve the problem in general and requires the content designers to be very aware of the limitation. Right now, I think a buff increase of 5-10 seconds would probably be sufficient to resolve all current PvE downtime concerns, since that's enough to cover the Titan 6 downtime with about 3-4 seconds of cushion to account for enforced rock distance.

I'm not sure that buff duration would resolve the PvP concerns though. Perhaps, but without addressing initial ramp-up, it's hard to imagine this spec really coming alive in competitive PvP. I guess I could see it fulfilling a single-target pressure role if Merciless/Annihilation stacks were retained for longer, but this same role is better fulfilled from range by Dirty Fighting/Lethality Gunslingers/Snipers, so it still seems a bit weak. Honestly, I'm not even sure that addressing ramp up for Watchman/Annihilation would resolve the issue entirely. It's going to depend a lot on how the metagame shifts in response. Make changes with care! :-)

Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
If Rage/Focus had the best burst damage, the best AoE damage, and the best sustained damage; then there would be very little to no incentive for a Marauder/Sentinel to ever spec anything else. Rage/Focus is the top burst spec for a Marauder/Sentinel, and that is by design. Right now, it is also the top AoE damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels (by design) – but that is something we would like to get away from in the future. Ideally, any damage spec should be able to deal formidable AoE damage when necessary (and should prefer to leave most AoE attacks out of their rotation in a single-target fight). It will take some time to right this ship, as it has already sailed and must come back to port for repairs (so don’t expect Annihilation/Watchman and Carnage/Combat to be pumping out massive AoE DPS or for Rage/Focus to get a huge AoE DPS nerf next patch).

Annihilation/Watchman is intended to be the top sustained damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels, while Carnage/Combat is meant to be better sustained damage than Rage/Focus (but worse than Annihilation/Watchman) and better burst damage than Annihilation/Watchman (but worse than Rage/Focus). As a result, the top damage over an extended period should go to Annihilation/Watchman. The top damage in a short fight should go to Rage/Focus. Carnage/Combat should hold its own in both situations, while not being the best at either – think of its strength as versatility.
As things stand right now, I would actually consider Combat/Carnage to have superior single-target burst, based on measurements in dummy parses in short fights (where the lack of Focus/Rage execute doesn't mean very much). However, Focus/Rage has a lot more control over this burst, which I think is a nice balancing factor. A good example of a PvE fight where this is beneficial is Styrak during the first phase, since a Focus/Rage player can simply proc up and defer their burst until after the damage redux phase, while a Combat/Carnage player is forced by the ICD on Hand of Justice / Slaughter to blow their big attacks on schedule.

The concern I would have with the design goals as you have stated them is Combat/Carnage generally does somewhat better than Watchman/Annihilation (roughly 3%) over sustained dummy parses. Watchman/Annihilation picks up an execute on a boss fight, so we'll cheat that up a bit, but I still can't see Watchman/Annihilation out-sustaining Combat/Carnage by more than 2% (if that). Given that the Combat/Carnage burst isn't particularly controlled, this is perhaps fair, but it's still noteworthy that Watchman/Annihilation are incredibly close, while Focus/Rage is penalized quite significantly for its AoE components and its superior burst control.

Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
Right now, the goal for Rage/Focus in PvE is to be good burst damage and good AoE damage, and it already does very well in these respects. In the future, when the other specs have improved ways to do AoE damage, then you can expect the sustained damage gap between Rage/Focus and Carnage/Combat to shrink a little bit. In summary, yes we know that Rage/Focus is the worst Marauder spec for single-target sustained damage because that is exactly how we designed it. Unfortunately, because target dummies never drop in health you cannot use them as a 1:1 replacement for Operation boss encounters. Only certain specs (Rage/Focus is not one of them, but Carnage/Combat is) can use execute abilities on a target dummy. It is also unlikely that you are testing on a target dummy with your own personal armor-debuffer (which you should definitely have against a real raid boss). So that 9% gap you may be seeing on target dummies is closer to approximately 4% in reality.
The other nice bit about Focus/Rage is that it benefits tremendously from raid damage due to faster Zen/Berserk. Of course, all sentinel/marauder specs benefit in this fashion, but Focus/Rage derives the most value by far from Zen/Berserk, which translates into a much more significant DPS jump than the other specs see. And also, as you said, they do pick up an execute and an armor debuff.

One very important point though is that Focus/Rage is 8-9% behind even Watchman/Annihilation, which also lacks an armor debuff and an execute. Thus, while Focus/Rage will gain some ground on Combat/Carnage, it will remain essentially relatively static with respect to Watchman/Annihilation. I'm not sure 4% correctly reflects the gap in that case.

A good case study here is HM Styrak, which is a generally excellent fight for Sentinels/Marauders with a large number of execute phases, solid uptime and absolutely no AoE. Watchman/Annihilation requires slightly more care to play ideally, but it's not fundamentally impossible. The top Sentinel parse on this fight is a 2877 in Combat spec. The next highest fair parse is 2819 in Watchman. So, that's a bit skewed, but raids always have some variation, particularly considering relative kill times on the Nightmare Manifestation adds. Here's the problem: the highest Focus parse that I am aware of (it's not even on the leaderboards due to death at the hard enrage) is 2660 (link coming as soon as I can dig it up), which is 7.5% behind the top Combat parse. That seems like a fairly wide gap (note: the top Carnage Marauder parse is even higher). I'm not sure that the cap is closed quite as effectively as intuition would indicate.

Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
We agree that it seems an odd design decision was made here. While Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence are active, we see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to build Fury/Centering stacks. However, being allowed to build Fury/Centering during Berserk/Zen would be a substantial damage increase that would only serve to widen the gap between Marauders/Sentinels and the rest of the pack that they are already leading. We may change it in the future, but for now Berserk/Zen will continue to block Fury/Centering generation while we will make changes to allow the building of Fury/Centering during Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence.
I generally agree that Zen/Berserk should block Centering/Fury building. At the very least, it's not a significant hindrance since a) it is a self-buff rather than a raid-buff, and b) it has a very short duration. It is very, very good to hear that the Inspiration/Bloodthirst and Transcendence/Bloodthirst blockage will be rectified.
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K_osss's Avatar


K_osss
08.08.2013 , 01:28 PM | #4
Big Kudos to the devs! Thanks for answering our questions in a detailed way. I'm impressed and definitely appreciate both KBN's work in putting the questions together and the work in putting together responses!

Thanks to Eric as well for his community management skillz

oofalong's Avatar


oofalong
08.08.2013 , 01:34 PM | #5
I think these are great answers; and great job preparing the questions KBN. The Devs even cited that some changes would be forthcoming, too bad they didn't say when.

In any event, I particularly liked their long-term plans for the AC:
  • Watchman - Best Sustained Damage Output
  • Combat - In the middle
  • Focus - Best Burst damage

And, good AoE from all...

I believe this means we will have two viable options for PvE and two viable options for PvP although we'll have to see what the specific changes are...
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Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
You are correct Oofalong.

Sprgmr's Avatar


Sprgmr
08.08.2013 , 01:47 PM | #6
And here people didn't think we'd get "good" answers. This should at least give hope to those yet to come.

Maelael's Avatar


Maelael
08.08.2013 , 01:58 PM | #7
Thank you KBN for pointing out the inconsistencies between the Dev answers and reality with Focus spec.

I read the watchman part and was like "Right on!", read the Focus part and was like "Am I playing a different game?" and read the Trans/Insp response and went "Woot!".

Personal opinion wise I think the devs are nuts with the focus spec response, almost as if someone else answered that question vs the other two. The concept of Watchman = sustained single target, combat = burst single target, focus = aoe as is, is actually a pretty damn good balance to me. I don't know why they'd wanna mess with that given how easy and quick it is to respec and move around a few skills on the hotbars. Bit better aoe for both Watchman and Combat seems good though, but sort of lacking in importance on how raids go (CCs, etc). I hope they really aren't trying to pull down Focus' aoe and upping watchman and combats so they are comparable (Within 5%), as that would sort of make Focus unwanted/unneeded.

Quote: Originally Posted by oofalong View Post
I believe this means we will have two viable options for PvE and two viable options for PvP although we'll have to see what the specific changes are...
Honestly I'd worry we'd have 1 viable option for PvE and one viable option for PvP if this was rebalanced that way. People tend to not play the master-of-none trades.
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KarethRiker's Avatar


KarethRiker
08.08.2013 , 02:21 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Maelael View Post
Personal opinion wise I think the devs are nuts with the focus spec response, almost as if someone else answered that question vs the other two. The concept of Watchman = sustained single target, combat = burst single target, focus = aoe as is, is actually a pretty damn good balance to me. I don't know why they'd wanna mess with that given how easy and quick it is to respec and move around a few skills on the hotbars. Bit better aoe for both Watchman and Combat seems good though, but sort of lacking in importance on how raids go (CCs, etc). I hope they really aren't trying to pull down Focus' aoe and upping watchman and combats so they are comparable (Within 5%), as that would sort of make Focus unwanted/unneeded.
+1 to that part, couldn't agree more
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oofalong's Avatar


oofalong
08.08.2013 , 02:31 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Maelael View Post
Honestly I'd worry we'd have 1 viable option for PvE and one viable option for PvP if this was rebalanced that way. People tend to not play the master-of-none trades.
Let's assume Watchman is 5% ahead of Combat which is 5% ahead of Focus on single target fights, while their burst damage is the exact opposite. Given the current PvE content, I would imagine Combat and Watchman would both be more than viable for any boss.

As for PvP, I would hope Combat would offer enough utility to warrant its use here. I would specifically suggest shortened CDs to Pacify, Stasis and/or interupt. I would expect these to be skills within the Combat tree. In other words, you won't do as much damage, but you will prevent damage being done instead.
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Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
You are correct Oofalong.

Maelael's Avatar


Maelael
08.08.2013 , 02:35 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by oofalong View Post
Let's assume Watchman is 5% ahead of Combat which is 5% ahead of Focus on single target fights, while their burst damage is the exact opposite. Given the current PvE content, I would imagine Combat and Watchman would both be more than viable for any boss.

As for PvP, I would hope Combat would offer enough utility to warrant its use here. I would specifically suggest shortened CDs to Pacify, Stasis and/or interupt. I would expect these to be skills within the Combat tree. In other words, you won't do as much damage, but you will prevent damage being done instead.
On the PvE side, even with that scenario I'd see either watchman or focus used. As you and I have had some really good convos in PMs, the door seems to swing only two ways: Burst or Sustained. 5% isn't too huge, but its enough to make me buy in. Would give us two specs to play (Focus or Watchman) I think tho. Might not leave combat out with the paste eaters, but still would not be optimal.

On the PvP side, I can agree to that - but it wasn't included in the response. Believe it or not, if they did a sustained damage, CC/Defensive/Amp centric inbetween, and burst damage spec spread, they'd actually be mirroring several other games' class archetypes, and I'd be fine with that. But if it's just inbetween damage style, it's gonna be unused without other perks which are currently not enough-of in the tree as is.
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