Posts Tagged ‘Sith Assassin’

Beating Bulo HM: Tips for Melee DPS and More!

On Sunday in my operations group, we downed Quartermaster Bulo, the second boss of The Ravagers operation, in 8-man hard mode for the second time in a row! Last week was the first time we beat him, so I’m glad to see some kind of consistency on beating the boss, even if we still had quite a lot of wipes.

In my group, we have three ranged DPS and one melee (me), so I just have a few tips for other melee players on this fight! I know that there are other things to worry about on this fight that I’m not assigned to do, like the barrels and the other adds, but as a single melee DPS (Deception Assassin) in the group, this is what I do to stay alive as long as possible and put out competitive DPS numbers with the other ranged players.

Drios, our operations leader, was really emphasizing maintaining the DPS last night during our pulls. The week before, I had simply been concentrating on staying alive for the entire fight, but this time I made an effort to put out more DPS. A lot of times, I manage to be one of the last ones alive long enough for our ops leader to tell us to /stuck out. A couple things I do to avoid damage:

Stay at max melee range from the boss

  • My tanks were also at max melee range in the opposite direction, so when the mine carts come out and explode on the tanks, they are not as close to me (avoiding damage)

Use damage mitigating utilities and abilities

  • The utilities I used for this fight allow me to take advantage of Force Shroud more often, which makes my character resist a lot of damage during this fight! I tried to use Force Shroud as often as possible when I anticipated getting hit by something. Here are the related utilities I took for this fight:
    • Insulation
    • Disjunction
    • Fade
    • Shroud of Madness

Stay on boss during Mass Barrage… kind of

  • In story mode, and when we first started doing this boss on hard mode, I simply moved my character out of the blue circles that would drop during Mass Barrage. At one point I was assigned to using them to get rid of the adds, but that has been assigned to someone else. What I do now is continue hitting the boss during this phase until two circles come up, and then move out of the circle. This way I’m hitting the boss longer and putting out more DPS. Also, if I can, I don’t stray too far away from the boss so it’s easier to get back in melee range of him.

Watch for and kite load lifters

  • Load lifters are the other damaging enemies that come out besides the mine carts, and they go after a specific member of your group. I don’t have to move away from hitting the boss if I can see that the load lifter is going after someone else. Usually I can see if they’re coming after me or not, but sometimes it’s difficult if I’m centered right in the middle where Bulo starts, because sometimes I don’t have enough time to realize the load lifter is after me and run away.

Keep your camera zoomed out as much as possible.

  • There was one pull where I died unnecessarily because I wasn’t paying attention and had my camera zoomed in. A few things exploded around me! I couldn’t see through the smoke and ended up moving my character in the way of one of Bulo’s blasts at the tank. However, if I had my camera zoomed out, I would’ve been able to see a bit better to avoid this.

Drop threat!

  • Use threat dropping abilities so that you don’t aggro the boss, especially at the beginning! My class and discipline starts with a lot of burst damage that can sometimes overtake the tanks before they’ve had enough time to establish threat.

I hope this helps you melee players and ops leaders looking to help the melee players on your team! Good luck!

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!

SWTOR 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Revan cutscene entrance

Last week I wrote about my SWTOR Predictions and Wishes for 2015, but how about my in-game goals and “resolutions?” Here are a few things I’m hoping to do in 2015 in-game!

Become more proficient at playing my Vengeance Juggernaut.

Before I ever even thought about playing an Assassin, my main toon was a Sith Juggernaut! I tanked a little, but it was a bit stressful for me. I’ve played with Vengeance for a while, and I like it! However, I am nowhere near as good as playing my Assassin, and I hardly ever play my alts. However, it’s good to have a backup in case of an emergency (ex: BioWare destroys Deception Assassins.).

Become more confident tanking with my Sith Assassin.

A few weeks ago one of my guildies asked if I could tank something, because she’s only ever played with me tanking. I was like, lolwut? I will tank, reluctantly (if I can’t get a flashpoint group to pop in the queues,) however, I would really rather not. This should change. I would like to be more flexible, and while I can definitely tank, I would like to be very good at it. I don’t like to do things unless I can do it well. Also, I really, really wish you could save your quick bars instead of swapping out abilities every time you change disciplines.

Clear The Ravagers & Temple of Sacrifice in story and hard modes.

Sword Squadron Temple of Sacrifice

Sword Squadron in Temple of Sacrifice

I’m about halfway there right now, but my ops team probably won’t be going into hard mode until we are all geared a bit better. We have plenty of time to do this of course!

Complete Jedi Knight and Smuggler class stories.

I know–what kind of SWTOR player am I to not have done these yet? Even if I don’t take these toons into end-game content, I would like to see these stories that have been around for three years already. Most likely I would level a Sentinel (since I don’t have a max-level Marauder) and finish my Scoundrel (level 39? 42? I don’t remember.)

Level a Sith Assassin on the Prophecy of the Five server to level 60.

I’ve got my Shadow on the Bastion that I can do end-game content with, but I actually had started to level an Assassin on Pot5 last spring when I met some players at the Boston community cantina. I feel a little bad that I haven’t played with any of them because I hadn’t had a max-level toon.

Participate in a Ranked PvP Season and complete at least 20 matches.

But I need better gear first. PvP stresses me out sometimes.

What are your goals in SWTOR in 2015? Leave me a comment on this post or tweet me @Heather_PLS!


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!

Why I Play A Female Character



A legendary video game character near and dear to my heart is getting a sequel! While my Tweeps are going crazy over me posting about SWTOR’s double XP WEEK, I would like to say that I’m excited that my favorite lady anthropologist Lara Croft is coming back for another round in Rise of the Tomb Raider (Holiday 2015). Tomb Raider (2013) is one of the few games I have installed on my computer, amongst SWTOR, Nancy Drew Mystery Games, Skyrim, and The Sims 3.

In that very short list, you can see that I’ve chosen games in which I can play a female. Throughout my life I’ve always loved “strong female characters.” I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was on air. When The Hunger Games series came out, I loved Katniss too. Interestingly, I did not care for Xena. I’m also not familiar enough with female comic book characters to have an opinion on them. However, I could go on and on about all the female characters I like, such as Daenerys, Hermione, and Leia. They all have common aspects to them which are reflected in the way that I play my Sith.

I’m not a hardcore role-player, but I think about my character’s personality in my head while I play. Yes, she is a dark-side Sith, but no, she is not going to kill injured Sithlings that can’t fight. She will get them medical care so they can be more productive in the future. She is a “soft thing,” as Khem Val says, but she is also very smart, resourceful, cunning, and not afraid to beat the bloody pulp out of everyone in the room because they pissed her off.

And so, there comes the real life realization that I am not as strong or tough as these fictional characters. In one part of Tomb Raider (2013), Lara is “raped” and killed (game over) if you don’t hold off the bad guy the right way in your gameplay. When I first played it, I failed this part at least once. I really didn’t expect the scene at all. As a small person, sometimes it can be a bit frightening to be out alone, and this may be the reason I like to watch/play other small, tough female characters that can defend themselves.


Today is also the last day you can comment on my 100th blog post to win an M8-3R Astromech Droid pet-code! I will be choosing the winners some time tomorrow. Good luck!

PvP Series Episode 4: Frustration, Perseverance, & Learning

Although I was in Mexico for the greater part of the past week, I’ve still felt like I haven’t done as much PvP as I wanted to or should do to continue getting better. Of course, I’ve also been busy running operations and farming dailies and flashpoints for crafting materials, which leaves less energy to be motivated enough to get potentially ROFLstomped in the warzone! I felt like I was slacking off a bit, but I did play a few warzone matches yesterday.

I logged into my Assassin on the Prophecy of the Five server and found myself to be the lone guild member online. That felt a bit discouraging. However, I did get an instant queue pop for level 10-29 Voidstar match, which was very encouraging! I’m not sure how the queues were going for Ranked and unranked PvP at higher levels on the server, but it was pretty nice to not have to wait. I still lost that match. Even though I think it’s better to learn while you’re leveling, I felt really frustrated and gimped with less abilities than I’m used to playing a level 19 character.

I realized—I’m really not a noob. I’m not a terrible PvPer. I’ve been playing this game since near launch, and while my current guild is more focused on PvE and GSF, my last guild from almost a year ago took me into quite a few warzones. I also vaguely remember wanting to PvP when I joined <Despair>. (Remember me dragging you guys out to Korriban to duel on the steps of the Sith Academy? So much fun.)

Basically, I said to myself that I was tired of this lowbie PvP. I’ve done enough matches, and I wasn’t leveling nearly fast enough. And it’s such a drag to do the same class story for the third time. I logged into my level 55 Assassin on the Harbinger, tricked out in “beastly” PvE gear (which means nothing in PvP) and armed with a single Obroan Relic of Serendipitous Assault—and queued with one of my guildies, a Marauder.

When I enter a warzone or arena, I try to go in with low expectations. Then I’m not that disappointed if we lose. Surprisingly, we won that first Huttball match, but this time, I don’t think it was due to any contribution of mine. I didn’t have the right abilities in the right spot, nor was I specced for PvP, but we still won by sheer luck. Maybe our team was really good, or maybe the other team was just horribly bad. Our other guildies heard our victory in Mumble and decided to join. Why not? We brought in another DPS and a healer.

We got smashed in the next few matches. I was a little sad that we didn’t get The Civil War, which is my favorite map, but we completed the [DAILY] mission. My guildies stopped queuing, but I persevered for a few more matches.

I did try something new that’s probably elementary to veteran Shadows and Assassins. In Voidstar, it takes 8 seconds to plant the bomb on the door. I saw that there was only one visible person, a non-stealther, guarding one of the doors. Since we were already in the second round and the other team had already made it to their Datacore, why not take a chance? I snuck up to the player and zapped him with my CC. He broke it. Perfect. I quickly casted my Whirlwind which also lasts 8 seconds, and knowing that he had already blown his CC breaker, I successfully planted the bomb. It was not without a slight interruption, because a derpy teammate shot the Whirlwinded player and broke my CC. Luckily, I still was able to get the door open.

I know I said I’ve been playing this game for a while and that I’m really good at using my Assassin, but wow! That was a cool trick that I had never done before. I did it again on the next door. We still lost because we weren’t fast enough, and I didn’t get as many MVP votes as I wanted from the non-guildies on our team (hello? Objective points?!) . However, I’m glad I learned something new, which I shamefully should have known for a long time.

Have you ever had any eureka moments in-game? What were those like? Let me know in the comments! You can also send an e-mail to or a tweet to @Heather_PLS!

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