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Sage vs Shadow - pros/cons

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes
Sage vs Shadow - pros/cons

JFrombaugh's Avatar

12.02.2012 , 02:31 PM | #1
I’ve played both Advanced Classes up to level 50. For anyone wondering which one to choose, here’s my thoughts

The Consular storyline has often been slammed for being boring, or at least lacking the edge & epicness that the Jedi Knight storyline has. The Sage Advanced Class I worried would feel the same way: a decent caster class that could be found in any other MMO… but SWTOR isn’t just any other MMO.

Thankfully, there’s a lot to like about the Sage that makes it feel at home in the Star Wars universe. The force powers it has are commonly carried enough by NPC Jedi bosses that at this point it doesn’t count as a gimmick but just more elements in the Force’s toolbox, and in groups Sages seem to be most valued because of their ability to be healers. The class does suffer a bit from taking awhile to really emerge; most of its best abilities are obtained after Level 30, and the Telekinetics spec is surprisingly reliant on RNG procs (I have definitely had minute-long fights without a single Tidal Force proc).

The biggest problem with the Sage is that I’ve found it really hard, or at least annoying, to level through the story as. At times it feels like as a Sage you’re sending your companions to fight in your place rather than fighting alongside them like a Shadow or Jedi Knight - once you get into the harder parts of the game Qyzen dies surprisingly fast, and depending on what it is you’re fighting, you can end up spending as much time (or more) healing as DPSing, which I’ve found really annoying. Because you have light armor & most enemy mobs use blasters, I haven’t had much luck with using the other companions either. I’ve always kind of felt that the setup of the game just isn’t really that friendly to “caster” classes (as opposed to ranged weapon classes like the Trooper).

Another minor nitpick I have with the Sage is that single lightsaber. For some reason, your character always draws it whenever you enter combat, and to me it just feels really weird to have that saber and not really use it. I mean, I know that all Jedi carry lightsabers as tradition, but if you’re not going to use it just keep it turned off; you’re wasting the crystal battery thing. Perhaps the Balance tree could be made into a more melee oriented style (same talents as the Shadow’s version) at some point.

As for Shadows…
From what I’ve heard they’re much less desired in groups unless you’re a Tank, but the Shadow as a class I felt was much more fun to play. It starts off slow, more or less a Double Strike machine with proced Shadow Strikes as a filler, but once you get some of your better abilities, it has a really good mix of psychic powers/Force abilities and lightsaber attacks that all really flow well together. Force Cloak & Mind Maze are also useful for getting out of combat if you’re about to die/need to resurrect a companion.

The theme of the Shadow is also quite different. Usually stealth classes convey a theme of being a “rogue” or “thief” who sneaks in, knocks the enemy for a loop, and gets back out alive. With the Shadow, it’s more of a martial priest who uses the Force to become invisible and avoid unnecessary fighting, rather than a “dirty fighter”. I can appreciate the difference and it aligns well with the Jedi as a whole and their goal of galactic peace.

While there are other melee classes in SWTOR, and other stealth users in different MMOs, the Shadow’s Force powers, control, and even its theme all add up to a unique experience. It’s highly survivable in Tank spec, has some fun lightsaber strikes, and is meant to be a wide-reaching powerful Jedi and it fully delivered. Maybe it’s the story, but there’s a larger sense of the experience than just what I’ve described above. It’s tough to put my finger on exactly why, but the Shadow is a special class.

I think overall I like the Shadow better. It seems like a lot of people disagree though, because I’ve seen (on Harbinger anyway) at least three times as many Sages as Shadows. Thoughts?

QuiQuaeQuod's Avatar

12.06.2012 , 11:58 AM | #2
I love my Shadow tank, it has a little DPS from the Balance tree thrown in and has a great rotation using those Balance skills in conjunction with harnessed shadows/particle acceleration and project/telethrow/slow time.

It really feels the closest to the stereotypical 'movie Jedi' to me, the characteristic Obi-Wan old-order Jedi with good defences and the power to use both their lightsabres and the Force where appropriate to defeat enemies, and stealth to avoid confrontation where appropriate.

And it's nice not to rely on heavy armour for defence; my Shadow has a very good defence %, and it once again feels more appropriate for a Jedi to be dodging and deflecting incoming attacks instead of trying to soak up damage directly.