How I Play My Deception Assassin – PvE

EDIT: I seriously flubbed here and posted the wrong image for the skill tree! It’s updated now.

If you are at least a little familiar with me, you’ll know that I play a Deception Assassin, and only a Deception Assassin.

I don’t assume to be the best person ever playing this class (I have no need or desire to check parse leaderboards), but I’m confident enough to say that I know what I’m doing, I’m very familiar with the Deception skill tree, I’m skilled enough to defeat Nightmare level bosses and parse top DPS numbers in my operation groups, and I win one-on-one duels against other players.

For me, the keys to success with this class are Force management and knowing what abilities are highest priority so that I can hit them as fast as possible. There is no real “rotation” in that you use a bunch of abilities in a certain order and repeat. I watch for procs, and hit abilities based on what popped up in my buffs. I think it’s pretty easy, but somehow this must not be easy for many people, because I don’t see a lot of Deception Assassins, and rarely—perhaps never—have I run into another player as good as me.


Deception Skill Tree

I was asked by Bad Feeling Podcast to post my skill tree, so I thought I’d give you guys a little insight on what I do. I don’t particularly like to write “guides,” but I thought my knowledge would be helpful to many people on this topic. These tips are mostly for PvE, because less people use Deception for PvE. I do some things completely differently in PvP! Additionally, I spec a bit differently as well for PvP, but I’m still learning that aspect of the game. Here are the skill tree abilities that I consider the most while I’m DPSing:

Surging Charge

The Deception skill tree uses the Surging Charge. This is key for my explanation on Recklessness and Discharge, because Static Charges are only built with Surging Charge.


Assassins do it from behind! In this skill tree, Maul can only be used behind or to the side of your enemy. Maul hits for a lot with Duplicity, and you will seriously handicap yourself if you try to DPS something from the front using Deception. The Duplicity proc looks exactly like Maul, which makes it easy to remember. I only ever use Maul when Duplicity is up. In PvE, I don’t ever use Low Slash during my priority moveset to proc Duplicity because the damage versus Force used is not worth it. It procs often enough to not worry about manually trying to bring it up.  Additionally, Spike is hardly used in PvE because I can only use it when I’m out of combat and stealthed, which is not often during a boss fight.


Voltaic Slash, Assassinate, and Lacerate all grant a stack of Induction. Thrash also does, but if you’re playing Deception, you should be using Voltaic Slash (top of the skill tree move) instead, since it does the same thing but better. Induction stacks up to 2 times, and while it does increase critical strike damage of Maul, when I see two stacks of Induction, I use Shock. The 25% reduction in Force usage is extremely helpful, because Force management, I think, is one of the weaknesses in this skill tree–less sustained damage versus much more burst.

Electric Ambush

Use Recklessness on every cooldown. Electric Ambush increases the amount of Static Charges gained by Recklessness, which are consumed by Discharge. I only ever use Discharge if I have three Static Charges. You can obtain Static Charges via other methods as well, but Recklessness gives you three quickly and all at once.

Other Tips:

  • Start fights in Stealth. You have a Force regeneration bonus after breaking Stealth.
  • Overcharge Saber heals you and increases damage! I try to save this if I think my health will get low, otherwise I use it on every cooldown.
  • Learn to use Blackout and Force Cloak together for Force Management. Use Blackout first during a fight to regain 15 Force, then Force Cloak, which puts you into Stealth, resets the 45s cooldown so you can use Blackout again. This is really handy for when you are low on Force and increases your ability to have more sustained damage output.
  • Assassinate is the top priority ability when your enemy is below 30%!

Additionally, I’m pretty sure it’s a bug that Bioware has not corrected yet, but Infiltration Shadows do not have to fully spec into their equivalent of Nerve Wracking to get their top of the tree ability. Deception Assassins unfortunately do, and that extra point would be useful elsewhere.

As I said before, the key to this skill tree is knowing what to hit and doing it quickly. The faster you can hit abilities, the more DPS you will do. Leave a comment below if you have any questions, or send an e-mail to me at

1 Comment

  1. Deception Class Changes According to a Deception Assassin | Pretty Little Sith

    August 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    […] recently posted “How I Play My Deception Assassin,” and I mentioned that I exclusively play this particular skill tree. SWTOR has recently announced […]

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