Posts Tagged ‘Deception’

Sith Assassin DPS Set Piece Gearing Post 3.0 Update

assassin set bonus

Previously, I wrote about my gearing progress in 3.0. Here are some updates and new information about the Stalker set bonuses for PvE.

I’m very thankful to have people in the SWTOR community test and parse gear modifications for the Sith Assassin, since I don’t have enough time or gear to try out different optimal combinations. Tenebras of the Death and Taxes guild, who also mainly plays the Sith Assassin, tweeted to me some of his Assassin/Shadow parsing discoveries: “4-piece old set > 198 set. Deception within ~5% of Hatred if you track surging procs.”

Here are links to his parses that he has shared with me. This is something that he has tried multiple times already:

186-rating Set Bonus

New Set Bonus

His stats using Deception discipline

This means I need to play around with my gear a bit more! If you read my previous post about my 3.0 gearing progress, I was planning on keeping the old 2-piece set bonus with the new 4-piece bonus. Instead it looks like I will have to try to obtain 186-rating set pieces from Nightmare Dread Fortress and Dread Palace (I currently only have 180 set pieces and one 186, I think) and combine them with the belt and bracer 198-rating set pieces.

This ends up looking like this:

186-rating 4-piece set bonus

(2) Saber Strike hits restore 1 Force.

(4) Increases the critical chance of Thrash/Voltaic Slash or Double Strike and Clairvoyant Strike by 15%.

198-rating 2-piece set bonus

(2) Ball Lightning and Leeching Strike or Psychokinetic Blast and Serenity Strike increase damage by 2% for 15 seconds.

Of course, I have not tried this myself, but I trust someone that does far more progression raiding than me. I already do very well in gameplay, but any bit of increase in my DPS will help as my ops team progresses into more difficult content.

I don’t need guaranteed crit once every minute when I already crit on my abilities multiple times within a minute.

The only thing I’m concerned about for me personally is the gap in stats between using 180/186 (94/114 Willpower x 4) armorings and 198-rating armorings (134 Willpower each would be a difference of 80-160 Willpower lost at current gear levels) and the gear-level upgrade for upcoming Nightmare operations. I’m not sure if I would be able to get all of those 186 set pieces, since I haven’t cleared the Dread operations in Nightmare mode, and I’m not sure my team will go back for me. Additionally, I will be a bit squishier using lower rating armorings. Eventually the old armorings may become too underpowered to make up for the set bonus, so I will have to wait and see how my DPS measures in the future!

My 3.0 Gearing Progress: Deception Assassin

Dianah new stats

If you’ve been following me for a little bit, you’ll know that I only ever play a Sith Assassin in the Deception discipline. (I sometimes play its mirror, an Infiltration Shadow, when I’m on the Bastion server!) So far, I’ve geared quite a bit, but not as much as my uber-elite nightmare progression friends! Currently I have a mix of commendation and operation drop gear. I normally run operations twice a week for a couple hours and flashpoints to earn commendations and gear.

As far as optimization goes, it’s really a lot of work to do when I’m still trying to upgrade all of my 186-rating gear. What I’ve been trying to do is make sure I’m over Melee DPS 100% accuracy (110% Force Accuracy), and then I can play around with the other stats once I’m fully in 192-rating gear, because it will take some time for me to start picking up 198-rating pieces. I’ve also been trying to select pieces that aren’t heavy on Endurance vs. main stat, but sometimes I don’t really get an option.

I’ve additionally purchased enough Augmentation Kit Mk-10s for a full set of gear, but I anticipate that I may be changing outfits very soon, so I don’t want to augment my current outfit until I know what my character will be wearing next! Besides, I don’t have any of the new augments to put in them yet. For now, it hasn’t been making a big difference for the story-mode operations I’ve been doing (The Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice). When I get everything augmented, I will be using Power augments.

For my set-pieces bonuses, for now I’m sticking to the old 186-set 2-piece bonus with the new four-piece bonus. This is what it ends up being:

Underworld  Stalker’s Gear (2/5)

(2) Saber Strike hits restore 1 Force.

Revanite Stalker’s Gear (4/7)

(2) Ball Lightning and Leeching Strike or Psychokinetic Blast and Serenity Strike increase damage by 2% for 15 seconds.

(4) Reduces cooldown of Recklessness or Force Potency by 15 seconds.

Eventually I think the bonus from the 6-piece set will be more useful than 1 Force per Saber Strike.

I will certainly not throw away the old set pieces, so I can experiment later to see if the Force regeneration (old 2-piece bonus) is more important than the guaranteed critical hit bonus (new 6-piece bonus), but that is a long way off from now! One of the struggles in my opinion that the Deception discipline has is Force sustainability, but I don’t believe I use Saber Strike enough to make a huge difference.

However, it will take me quite a while to earn a 6-piece set bonus, so I will take advantage of the bonus that I have now by keeping the 2-piece until I have better gear. When I do have the 6-piece set bonus, it will look like this:

Revanite Stalker’s Gear (6/7)

(2) Ball Lightning and Leeching Strike or Psychokinetic Blast and Serenity Strike increase damage by 2% for 15 seconds.

(4) Reduces cooldown of Recklessness or Force Potency by 15 seconds.

(6) After activating Voltaic Slash and Thrash or Clairvoyant Strike and Double Strike your next Assassinate and Maul or Spinning Strike and Shadow Strike will critically hit. This effect can only occur once every minute.

An important note for other Deception Assassins is that the Alacrity stat is detrimental to your proc timing, so that is not something I will be factoring into my gear. For more information about that, I highly recommend listening to the OotiniCast interview with Redna and theory crafters Oofalong and Keyboard Ninja, which you can find here.

Other very helpful sources for Assassin DPS information are Tenebras of the Death & Taxes guild and Adam of the Mad Sith Assassin blog. I suppose Adam is now the “Hateful” Sith Assassin since BioWare changed the name of the Assassin’s Madness discipline!

How is your gearing progress so far? Have you been able to try out the new operations yet? Also, if you have any additional gearing tips, leave a comment on the post!

Deception Changes According to a Deception Assassin

I’ve recently posted “How I Play My Deception Assassin,” and I mentioned that I exclusively play this particular skill tree. SWTOR has recently announced that this will be one of the skill trees with some changes in Game Update 2.10, and I’m so excited about it! Here is a link to the complete set of class changes if you’d like to see them (these could still be changed at any time before the update comes out), but I’ll include the Deception ones here:


  • Discharge now properly calculates damage based on the current number of Static Charges. This results in the damage at 1 stack being increased, the damage at 2 stacks being decreased, and the damage at 3 stacks remaining the same.
  • Voltaic Slash now has a base cost of 23 Force (down from 25).
  • Voltage now increases the chance to trigger Surging Charge by 12.5% per Voltage stack, in addition to its other effects.
  • Saber Conduit can now occur once every 9 seconds (down from every 10 seconds).
  • Electric Ambush now has a 100% chance to grant 1/2 stacks of Static Charge when Recklessness is used (changed from a 50%/100% chance to grant 3 stacks). It still reduces the cooldown of Recklessness upon exiting combat.

The changes that have been made buff the Deception skill tree. There is a slight “nerf” to Recklessness, in that it only gives 2 charges rather than 3, but when I tried this in the PTS, it really made no difference to my style in gameplay. I only hit Discharge if I see 3 charges anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. Additionally, I do not start my “rotation” with Recklessness/Discharge, rather, Stealth, Recklessness, Spike, Maul. In the case that I’m not in Stealth, I would use whatever the highest priority ability is based on my procs/buffs.

As far as sustainability goes, this is still a challenge. However, I clearly wasn’t suffering that much because I did a lot more damage.

I parsed a bit over 300 dps more than usual on the PTS. I parse on the Operations Training Dummy, with the armor reduction debuff and 1 million HP. I do not have full Nightmare-level gear (186s), but just the drops from the first and only boss I have cleared in Nightmare Dread Fortress, Nefra (implants and earpiece). Additionally, my gear is still not actually fully optimized, because one of my enhancements is Endurance heavy.


I really like playing Deception, and I think it says a lot about a person to stay faithful to something they like purely because it’s fun, not because I’m trying to jump on the bandwagon to the flavor of the month class/spec. I’m glad that it’s getting a buff, so maybe people will stop telling me to spec Madness for once.

Fitting Life Around SWTOR

The pending class changes to the Sith Assassin’s Deception skill tree have been out for a few days on the PTS, and I have yet to try them. I haven’t even downloaded the PTS. I haven’t even logged into game since Tuesday. However, this does not mean I’m unhappy with SWTOR.

What this means is that lately I’ve found myself to be very busy in real life, and I’m very thankful that I have regularly scheduled operation nights. Having this allows me to figure out what I’m going to do for the rest of the week.

I’ve started to attend the gym regularly, and I’ve been making an effort to get out of the house and off the computer. Yesterday, in fact, I accidentally double-booked myself for some semi-work-related activities. Thankfully I made it to both events, and they were really fun!

IMG_3913I don’t have any children, so that is one thing I will have to think about it in the future regarding gaming. At that point though, I think I would be going out to special events less and probably staying at home more.

So now, when you wonder: when is the next post on Pretty Little Sith? What are my thoughts on the Deception class changes? Just remember that I think a lot about the game. I think about it, talk about it (more than you might think), write about it–all the time. There are no new games drawing me away from it (except perhaps The Sims 4, which I pre-ordered and will probably binge-play when it comes out next month on September 4th), and in fact I may be getting even closer to it, despite me trying to maintain a social life outside of gaming.

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

Gear Update: Full 180s!

Kudos to whoever can figure out where I took this screenshot in-game.

Kudos to whoever can figure out where I took this screenshot in-game.

A week or two ago I got the final 180 set piece armoring I needed to be at full 180s on my Assassin! I’m not sure if I told you guys, but I added in a Dread Forged Relic of Focused Retribution, which I didn’t have before. I also switched out some mods to add Critical Rating. Like I’ve written before, I’m not an expert at gear optimization, but listening to Redna’s OotiniCast interview with theorycrafter Oofalong a while back inspired me to try just a little bit harder.

When I’m more motivated, I’m going to try to bring down the Accuracy closer to 100%. I’ve had it as low as 100.28, so I’ll aim for that at least.

As far as parsing goes, I honestly don’t know how much of a difference everything makes, if adding the Critical Rating helped or if the relic helped… I don’t really know. I do know that my DPS is not an issue when we’re downing operation bosses!

How I Set Up My Quickbar, Keybinds, & UI

I actually parse on the ship to use the armor reduction and HP modifier tools.

Last night when I added some new gear, I ran a couple parses on the training dummy. I didn’t do as many as I wanted to, but today, the fingernails on my left hand hurt a bit!

I was also inspired by listening to OotiniCast’s latest episode and their conversation about how they play, regarding UIs and key binds. I thought that it would be interesting to let you guys know how I play and also give you an insight on why a certain nail on left hand hurts today.

Seriously though, if you’re wondering how I play my Deception Assassin in PvE, this is it!


Detailed Explanation of My Quickbar Abilities

If you examine how I have my quickbar set up, I place frequently used abilities closer to the left side of the keyboard, and lesser used abilities towards the middle and right. Recklessness (Q) is always hit on cool down which is right below Discharge (2) & Voltaic Slash (3), which are used a lot. I placed Discharge there because it is part of my opening move and the proximity to Recklessness, and it’s also hit every time I have 3x Static Charge.

Maul (4) is usually only hit during the Duplicity proc, and Shock (5) is only hit with the 2x Induction proc. These are important abilities that are very easily accessible with the left hand. Saber Strike (1) is a bit farther to the left because it’s seldom used, but still needed sometimes.

While Assassinate (6) is a high priority ability, I can only use it when the enemy is below 30%; thus it’s further away from the left of the keyboard. In PvE, I don’t have a big use for Low Slash (7) except to forcefully proc Duplicity, and personally I think it’s a waste of time to include in your rotation. Still, it’s a good ability in PvP so it stays in the middle.

Deception Assassins have terrible AOE abilities, but I still leave them on the bar for some situations. Overload (9) is only used if I have to knock back anything. Lacerate (8) is only used if there are at least five enemies grouped up. Lacerate only hits up to 5 enemies anyway, which is very limiting.

Electrocute, while a very cool stun ability, has a bit of a long cool down for my taste, which is why it’s all the way to the right at 0. My CC is “- and Stealth is =. Not important to have extremely close to the left side of the keyboard.

On the bottom row is what I consider a lot of my “support” abilities that are mostly not damaging. I mentioned before why I placed Recklessness at Q. I consider W to be very important; it’s my interrupt ability. If I miss an interrupt, it’s either on cool down or I’m not paying good enough attention to raid. (My raid group will now use that against me if I miss one.)

Blackout (E) and Force Cloak (R), work hand in hand. For a Deception Assassin specced into the right abilities, you can use Blackout, which immediately completes the cool down on Force Cloak, therefore allowing you use it again if you want to gain 40 Force. Additionally, while you are coming out of stealth you initiate Dark Embrace, which boosts your Force recovery rate. This is a nice time to do bursty damage again.

Overcharge Saber (T) provides a little buff to damage and also heals me a bit. Right below T is G on the keyboard, which is my click to proc relic, Underworld Relic of Boundless Ages. They are placed next to each other so they can be hit almost simultaneously. I will be changing my relic next, as I have almost enough mats for the Dread Forged Relic of Focused Retribution. (Still need some Isotope-5s and EEEs, which I can probably farm this weekend.)

Force Lightning (Y) is a DPS ability; however for a Deception Assassin it’s only useful in certain situations and not in my regular rotation. A situation where I would use Force Lightning would be in Dread Fortress Nefra, if the droid’s red circle of death is blocking me from getting into melee range to the boss, I’m not going to stop DPSing. Depending on how far I am and whether or not Recklessness is available, I’ll hit Force Lightning so I’m doing some damage from afar. I would use Crushing Darkness (I) similarly, but this is more of a PvP ability in my opinion. I sometimes change out Crushing Darkness with the single-target taunt.

Unbreakable Will (U), which is my CC break, and Deflection (O), my defensive cool down, are important to have.However, they not used as much as Voltaic Slash for example, which is why they so far to the right. Force Speed (P) and Rocket Boost is also all the way to the right, but not difficult to access when I need to move quickly.

This seems like I somehow master planned my quick bar, which maybe I have! However, over time I really just placed abilities into spots I thought they would work best.

What About the Mouse?

I use a regular, non-gaming mouse with my right hand. I only use my mouse to move, turn the camera, and zoom in/out. With a Deception Assassin, there are really no casted abilities other than Force Lightning/Crushing Darkness, which I only use in special situations and not during my regular rotation. Because it’s only for movement, it’s a bit easier for me to avoid stuff on the ground. I still make mistakes, but the class and skill tree allow for so much mobility.

My UI Setup

UI screenshot

As far as my UI goes, it’s pretty basic. Everything is pretty much in the default spot that Bioware placed them, except scaled much smaller. I like to see what’s on the screen, not the quick bar. I use two quick bars at the bottom for my combat abilities, and things like the fleet pass, Quick Travel, Seethe, Phase Walk, buffs, stances, etc. are on vertical bars on the right.


Everyone plays differently, but this is what I do. Now you can picture it in your head, muahaha. I had never played a game where I had to use abilities on a keyboard before SWTOR and had to teach myself about keybinding, so if my way seems a bit odd, that’s why. It is a ton of fun playing my Assassin like this, so whatever way works for you is great!

Here’s a quick tip for those that like to wear nail polish and use their keyboards a lot: When you get your nails done, get the gel polish that is cured with the UV light. It never chips or dents unlike normal polish and will withstand long hours of button mashing your rotation on the keyboard! My nail polish lasts forever, and the only reason why I change is because the nail bed looks funny if it grows out too much.

Assassin/Shadow Top 3 Answers: Bittersweet Thoughts from a Deception Sin

Sad Deception Dianah waiting outside Dread Fortress.

Sad Deception Dianah waiting outside Dread Fortress.

Eric Musco has posted the top 3 answers from SWTOR’s combat team addressing issues with the Assassin/Shadow classes. Click here to read that post in its entirety.

The answers are pretty much what I should’ve expected, but a girl can dream! I think Phase Walk is fine the way that it is for DPS Assassins. Also, it looks like they are really revamping Madness to be more sustainable and viable in both PvE and PvP.

Here’s the question that was most important to me:

The stated intent of all DPS classes is to perform within the 5% bracket. Do you actually feel Assassins are performing up to par in that design intent? Are there any plans to help us out in this area?

We do not believe that Assassins/Shadows are currently capable of dealing competitive sustained damage for endgame PvE content, and that is one of the things we are aiming to fix with the 2.8 update. The answer to the PvP question above contains a list of many potential changes to the Madness/Balance Assassin/Shadow that increase sustained damage. Our goal is to make Madness/Balance Assassins/Shadows a viable choice for picky Nightmare Operation group leaders once the 2.8 update goes live.

Deception/Infiltration Assassins/Shadows already do quite well in PvP, even with their uncompetitive sustained damage output. Their skill tree provides them with very effective burst damage, and at this time we have no plans to boost their sustained damage for fear of creating unstoppable killing machines in PvP. In the more distant future, we might diminish some of Deception’s/Infiltration’s burst damage output in exchange for more sustained damage output, but we cannot currently provide a timeframe for any potential changes.”

Basically, like I’ve been told over and over again, Madness = PvE and Deception = PvP. I will still continue to play Deception in PvE, albeit bittersweetly, because I like the style. It’s a lot of fun, easy to move around, and I can handle maintaining my Force (energy). I don’t think my DPS has ever hindered my group to the point that I was not viable or “good enough” to be on our raid team. If you are going to play Deception in PvE, you better be really good at it.

Some other thoughts: I should be a queen in PvP since I’ve nailed that Deception skill tree. So far it’s been working since I’ve been killing people like crazy in the warzone.

It’s an interesting feeling for me, to go into a warzone/arena with other people that like to play your class/spec, and to win. And that is really great! But yet, it’s sad because I love raiding, I try really hard in operations to be good, and to see the parse numbers and know that I’m still competitive with my team. It feels weird. I guess I’m just sad that the naysayers won’t stop badgering me to change my spec. It’s really insulting, because no one ever says it in a nice way.

To me, the most important thing is to have fun when I play. There are more important things than having the best parse number to me. It’s like making more money in a job, but not being as happy as you would be working a job that you love with a lower salary. If I have to sacrifice being top tier PvE DPS because I like to enjoy playing Deception when I raid, then that’s what I’ll have to do.

2.7 Invasion Is Out & So Is My OotiniCast Interview!

Apparently, today I’m supposed to write about SWTOR’s 2.7 update, Invasion. (Hehe..) We’re getting the two new flashpoints, craftable 78s, PvP class changes, Nightmare Mode Dread Fortress, and more. Ta da, mission complete, haha! Click here read the patch notes on SWTOR’s official site for more details.


If you haven’t listened to it already, episode 129 of OotiniCast has also been released featuring an interview with me and one of the hosts, Chill. I write much better than I talk, but it’s still super freakin’ awesome, and I’m excited to share it with you guys!

I actually updated my game this morning because my computer was on. I normally shut it down every night, but yesterday I forgot the wall-plug thing of my charger at work. I charged my phone from my computer instead, but it only works if the computer is on. Anyway, I was awake to update my game for today, so I won’t be delayed logging in for tonight’s Sith Inquisitor raid!

I’m not sure if I want to bring my awesome Assassin or the newly-55-and-geared Sorcerer. I’m leaning towards my Assassin because she’s my favorite, but the Sorcerer could use some better set-piece armorings if they drop, depending on what operation we do.

On my Sorcerer I’ve chosen the Madness skill tree. When I originally leveled the toon to 50 like two years ago, I was doing a weird hybrid Lightning/Corruption build, which I did badly as a noob. Now at level 55 and much more knowledgeable about MMOs, I’m playing Madness. I love Death Field (instant, powerful AOE)! It also seems so delightfully more evil than Lightning!? I like DoT effects, and being able to cast, wait and kill! I asked Drios, who mainly plays a Sorcerer, what a good rotation was, because he of course has a notebook filled with notes about every single skill tree (I’m assuming he has every one???) and every single class. That rotation has been working well for me, but compared to the Deception Assassin, it’s pretty hard to screw up your rotation or run out force.

I can also play Madness on the Assassin, but I love Deception too much to want to do that. Thus, I have a Sorcerer that uses it instead. Mallgus talked a bit about how he loved Madness on the Assassin that he is leveling, and it also sounds very cool. Eek, just remembered that skill trees reset today!

Have a good day everyone playing the 2.7 Invasion update, have fun, and don’t take gaming so seriously!