Disclaimer: This is mainly geared toward PVE. My assassin is50(Huzzah! Time to gear) but I felt like writing this up and getting the community to consolidate its ideas so that we have some discussions for future patch notes, new discoveries, and just specialization ideas. That, and everyone thinks double-bladed lightsabers are amazing. I may add Darkness stuff later after I've had a good chance to play it. This is also my first guide so I stole the template a bit from the Jugg DPS Compendium, the author of which whose name I have since forgotten while writing this all up. But anyway, thanks for the template .
PS: Précis is just a fancy name for summary if anyone was confused
EDIT: Added a couple FAQs/Tips as well as Companion se
The Sith Assassin is one of two Advanced Classes one can choose by initially picking the Sith Inquisitor as their base class. The other is the Sorcerer - but we don't like them because of their long range OP lightning snare. Also, they smell bad. Assassins rely on stealth to gain the first strike and, through a lethal medley of Force and melee strikes, decimate their opponent(s) before disappearing into the shadows to sit in wait for the next assault.
Much akin to "forms" you'll see Jedi Knights or Sith Warriors using, these imbue your saber with one of three (spec dependent) "charges". Only one may be active at a time and you NEED a double bladed lightsaber to use them:
Lightning Charge: This is the initial charge you get as you level up your Assassin. It charges your weapon with lightning and lets you deal additional energy damage on a proc.
Dark Charge: This is the tanking "stance." This increases armor, but lowers the damage you deal. This proc will damage the opponent and convert it into health.
Surging Charge: Only by speccing into the Deception tree will you be able to pick up the third charge. This charge deals internal damage to the enemy based on a proc. This is the charge you should be using while playing a Deception Assassin. Now, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that internal damage ignores armor thus making it extremely ideal. Anyone who knows otherwise please correct this.
All Assassins will gain the ability to Discharge the lightning that is affixed to their saber. Before anyone asks, no you do not have to reapply the charge after you Discharge. Depending on what charge you have on your saber will determine the effect it has on the enemy.
Lightning Charge: Discharging this will add a DoT that ticks over 18 seconds which can be improved via talents (Charge Mastery: Darkness tree Tier 1) for an extra 3 seconds.
Dark Charge: An excellent way of AoEing groups, this Discharge will hit up to 5 enemies dealing damage and reducing their accuracy for 18 seconds. Charge Mastery will increase internal and elemental resistance by 9%.
Surging Charge: Deals straight up damage to the target. Charge mastery will add 9% armor penetration to all your attacks.
Resource and Abilities:
Assassins require the use of Force to activate their abilities. We have 100 unless you take Deceptive Power for 110. No force means no attacking except for Saber Strike which costs nothing and you start with at level 1. Through specific talent speccing, one can increase Force regen with cooldowns as well as procs on attacks. I will be listing most abilities you get while leveling an Assassin even if they're mostly irrelevant to the spec.
Shock: 6 second cooldown. Requires 45 Force but can be reduced through the talent Induction for up to 50% cost free when we Thrash or Voltaic Slash. We will see the synergy between these two abilities later on. Stuns weak and standard targets.
Force Lightning: All Assassin ranged attacks have a 10m range. If I recall correctly, melee range is 4m. There are no talents worth taking to improve this ability unless you're specced Darkness. It does have its uses in PVP though with its slow and if you're out of range and snared on a mob. A channeled attack that has a 6 second cooldown.
Electrocute: This is the obligatory 4 second stun that, as far as I know, every class has (at least some form of it). Deals damage and stuns for 4 seconds.
Whirlwind: 2 second cast time that engulfs a target in a whirlwind making them unable to act. Damage breaks the effects prematurely. Some targets will be healed while being crowd controlled.
Maul: For those of you that played a Rogue in WoW or any other MMO, this ability is essentially Backstab. High Force cost, high damage, and can only be used from behind. When we get into speccing we'll see that it's only useful some of the time.
Overload: AoE with a knockback. Good for use in conjunction with Force Lightning for adds on fights.
Discharge: See above.
Jolt: Your interrupt. It has 10m range on it which is nice.
Mind Trap: Again, going to reference my beloved WoW Rogue. This is a sap. You MUST be in stealth to use this and it incapacitates an NPC mob for 60 seconds.
Crushing Darkness: Another ranged attack with a 2 second cast time that deals initial damage followed by a DoT. Again, I see this being useful if you are just out of melee range and have no way of getting to a mob.
Deflection: Increases melee and ranged defenses by 50%. Pseudo-evasion tanking, right?
Lacerate: A sweeping attack that does damage to multiple enemies.
Assassinate: What would we be if we didn't have an ability named after us, right? This is your execute mechanic. Below 30% you will be using this to mow down your foes.
Force Shroud: Removes all hostile effects that are classified as "removable." Additionally, increases your chance to resist Force and tech attacks by 100%. Can you say "Skill Shroud?" Essentialy Cloak of Shadows. Does not break stealth.
Spike: One of the few true stealth abilities we have. This is ability will deal damage and knock a target to the ground for 2 seconds. I can see it being useful for add control and PVP as an interrupt. With a 1.5 GCD those 2 seconds go away mighty quick.
Low Slash: Picked up in the upper tiers of the Deception Tree. This will deal damage and also incapacitate the target (breaking on damage). Yet another ability I see as great for some quick crowd control on adds.
Tumult: A force-free ability that is only usable on targets who are incapacitated. Damage varies based on what type of enemy the target is (weak vs. strong).
Voltaic Slash: Essentially Thrash's replacement once you have enough points for it. It does more damage, has the same cost, and also has a sexy bonus effect built in wherein 2 of these will increase your Shock damage by 15% (stacking 2 times). Remember what I said about every two Thrash's and Voltaic Slash's also reducing Shock's cost?
Assassin's have quite the myriad of cooldowns at their disposal and it is important to see what they do and what abilities they affect.
Recklessness: The first cooldown you will learn. Grants you 2 charges and increases your Force critical chance with direct attacks by 60%. Oh, it also increases Force Lightning to 30m. One charge will be used when something like Shock or Discharge crits. If you use Force Lightning AT ALL it consumes a charge. Lasts 20 seconds.
Force Cloak: See Vanish. I kid, I kid. But really, that's what it is minus the whole 100% reduction in healing received thing. That can be removed via talents though. Drop combat, enter improved stealth, reset fights.
Blackout: Without talents this ability is meh and I have only found use for it while soloing the 2-man heroic quests. It increases your stealth level by 15 for 8 seconds. With talents however, it becomes a fantastic way of regenerating your Force.
Overcharge Saber: This is a straight up damage buff to your saber charges. Using Lightning or Surging Charge and activating this ability will increase the damage of either of them by 100% for 15 seconds (Dark Charge is 300% to its heal factor).
Mark of Power - This is our 60 minute buff we bring to the group. Increases Strength, Aim, Cunning, and Willpower by 5% as well as increasing damage reduction by 10% against internal and elemental attacks.
I am currently in a debate with someone over this and so it is obviously not a done deal (I think I'm right, though :P). Having no logs or ways to find out what is the best makes these things somewhat guesswork. That said, I feel that the spec I have put together for level 50s is not terrible and makes sense based on the abilities we use, the type of damage we deal, and where that damage comes from.
Armour Penetration Spec
I put together this spec around the synergy between Voltaic Slash, Shock, and Discharge. As you can see, it will rely heavily on critical strikes and that is why I believe that is the Assassins stat to go for. There is much Force>Melee synergy here and that is really what the Assassin is all about. Being able to manage your Force properly will allow you to dole out some insane damage. Manage cooldowns like Blackout to keep regen up.
Below I will go through the talents in each of the trees that I opted to pick up followed by some for of reasoning that at least made sense to me.
Duplicity 3/3 - direct damage attacks i.e. not Dots have a 30% chance to give you Exploit Weakness. What EW does is cut the Force cost of Maul in half as well as have it ignore 50% of the target's armour.
Dark Embrace 2/2 - Much like Overkill in WoW, this talent, upon exiting stealth will increase your Force regeneration by 50%.
Obfuscation 3/3 - Increases your stealth level by 3 and movement speed by 15%. I guess you could put points into Avoidance thus reducing the cooldown of Jolt and Unbreakable and that will leaving you an extra point for Insulation or Obfuscation. I opt for the maxed out movement speed increases.
Recirculation 2/2 - Reduces cooldown of Discharge by 3 seconds making it 12 instead of 15. Means you discharge more (ew that sounds gross) and have some heavy hitting Surging Discharges.
Induction 2/2 - Increases your critical strike damage via Maul by 30%. Additinally, your Thrash and Voltaic Slash will reduce the Force cost of Shock by 25%, stacking twice. That means, Thrash once and your Shock is 34 Force. Do it again and it will drop to 25 Force. This talent is a must because Shock is a heavy-hitter and we will do anything to use it.
Surging Charge 1/1 - Our main saber charge. Its effects are explained above.
Darkswell 1/1 - This talent lets you use Blackout (remember, it increases stealth level) out of stealth. That means that it will give you the 6 second Dark Embrace regen buff as well as giving you a flat +10 to Force. It also gets rid of that pesky 100% reduction to healing received/done that comes with Force Cloak.
Deceptive Power 1/1 - Exactly the same as Rogues' Vigor. Just increases max Force to 110. Nothing insane, I just needed to get to the next tier.
Saber Conduit 3/3 - Your Surging Charge has a 100% chance to restore 10 Force when it damages an enemy. Any form of regeneration is always good especially when it comes from us attacking.
Fade 2/2 - Lowers the cooldowns of Blackout and Force Cloak by 15 and 60 seconds respectively. More Blackouts means more regens and the drop in Force Cloak is icing on the cake.
Resourcefulness 2/2 - Reduces the cost of Lacerate by 10 and drops Overcharge Saber's cooldown by 30 seconds. More AoE attacks as well as being able to use one of your cooldowns more.
Static Charges 2/2 - When Surging Charge deals damage you have a 100% chance to add a static charge. Each static charge increases your next Surging Discharge by 6%. This will stack up to 5 times for a total of a 30% damage increase.
Low Slash 1/1 - See abilities description. I picked this up because you need it to get Voltaic Slash.
Crackling Blasts 5/5 - Critical strike damage of your Discharges and Shocks is increased by 50%. Obviously critting often is going to be key to this class.
Voltaic Slash 1/1 - As I mentioned above, this will replace Thrash which is awesome because it's like Thrash's mutated (for the better) sibling. And it has a sick animation to boot.
In my opinion, picking talents in the Deception tree is not that difficult. It's where you put those other 10 points that seem to be the points of debate and it is my hope that I can spark something here. I use both the Darkness and Madness to complement my Deception spec.
Thrashing Blades 2/2 - Increases damage dealt by Voltaic Slash, Thrash, and Lacerate by 6% (a no-brainer, in my opinion)
Charge Mastery 3/3 - For the purposes of our spec this will give us a 9% armour penetration to all of our attacks. I feel like these passive damage talents are going to eliminate some of the RNG that I see some other players taking from talents.
Electric Execution 2/3 - Increases damage dealt by your saber charges by 6% (9% if fully talented). I will be raising a point of contention shortly with the next tree.
Entropic Field 2/2 - Reduces damage taken from area effects by 15/30%. These last two points are really up to you. My reasoning for EE was 6% damage from a proc (Surging) is still 6% more than someone else. However, if it turns out that there is a lot of splash AoE damage in Operations then it would probably be better to take EF.
Exploitive Strikes 3/3 - Critical hits by Force attacks (i.e. Discharge or Shock) will increase your melee critical chance by 9% for 10 seconds. Now here is the issue I posit to you all. Is that worth it? If you can load up on crit then I can see this being fantastic. Does it outweigh the potential to do more damage overall than, say, the full 9% damage from your charges? I have not determined yet. I only picked this up and maxed it because more Maul crits are better and since you're already buffing it through Induction, I felt this was more necessary. That, and using Recklessness will aid in getting the melee crit buff.
Now I was in a discussion, as I've mentioned several times already, about the viability of Chain Shock which is, in essence, a Shaman's Lightning Overload only with Shock. Each Shock has a 45% chance to trigger a free Shock of 50% the damage. Sounds great, right? Now, I'm gonna play a little bit of devil's advocate and ask, what are you giving up to get that talent 3/3? To me, it's too much. I'm losing 6% charge damage and 9% ArP to gain...2% damage reduction from Sith Defiance and, what I see as more randomness than I want, a talent that could be great 45% of the time.
Chain Shock Spec
More testing is being done, however, on targets that have low armour, it is very likely that the Chain Shock spec (2/31/8) will pull ahead. Essentially, what you do is pick up Sith Defiance and then max out Chain Shock instead of taking Charge Mastery and wherever you wanted those extra two points. This is where I curse Bioware and their lack of a combat log.
As always, weigh in here because I'd love to hear thoughts on this. To me, more consistent damage sources make things better.
This is still a work-in-progress, but I feel I have looked at enough of the abilities to have some semblance of what ought to be done. I'm still looking for a suitable stealth opener. Currently, I am using Discharge because Maul costs too much without EW buff up. It's also possible you could just open up with VS and go from there. My goal is to use Saber Strike as little as possible, so use Blackout if you feel you're running dry on Force.
Here's how I have been doing things or would do things at higher levels things:
Discharge --> Voltaic Slash x2 --> Shock
Essentially what the rotation/priority becomes is Voltaic Slash twice and then shock. You now have 6 seconds to fill in with other abilities. You will Maul when you have EW up and never any time else (usually after the above it will be up). Discharge because of the internal damage and its buff from Recklessness should be used on cooldown. Below 30%, you will add Assassinate to list of things to do since it hits like a truck...or speeder...or Imperial Walker.
Basically, don't shock unless you've VS'd twice. Don't Maul unless you have EW up. Discharge on CD. Saber Strike in between to regen or if you're getting too low on Force and want to fill in GCDs.
Maul normally does not do enough damage per Force and thus should only be used when Exploit Weakness is up. A typical Voltaic Slash/Thrash + Shock is normally going to be better.
In a nutshell it should be something like this:
0. Saber Strike (Out of Force)
1. Assassinate (Target at <30% health)
2. Maul (Exploit Weakness buff about to expire, behind target)
3. Discharge (Every Cooldown) **Up for debate**
4. Shock (2x Induction buff... so near basically every CD)
5. Maul (Exploit Weakness just proc'd)
6. Voltaic Slash or Thrash
This of course is after you get the ball rolling with your first Induction stacks. This just shows, once that ball IS rolling, how to prioritize your attacks.
AoE Packs: I just Discharge all over them and then you would Lacerate that all day. On large groups of high HP mobs, throw up Blackout for extended Dark Embrace followed by a Force Cloak and more Lacerates. As deception, it's really your only AoE but you can spam it if cooldowns are used properly. Only Lacerate with 3+ targets around.
Here's a great site that outlines all the stats and what they improve! Great for ANY character you level!
New information has been discovered and here is what seems to be a consensus among the general public. You will opt for Power over Force Power as you use both Force and melee. Critical rating is also what you want to strive for since many of your abilities (through talents) have their critical damage already bumped up. As with WoW the higher your level gets the more you need to gain 1% of crit. My guess is once diminishing returns kick in, that is when surge rating becomes a bit more attractive.
Aside from those two Accuracy Rating has now entered a lot of the discussions. There is some discussion going on stating that bosses apparently have 10% defense. This would require you to get your accuracy up to 110% to eliminate the resists you would get. After that it is believed to continue to take Critical Rating (+30% untalented potential soft cap) and Power wherever you can get them and Surge Rating. I also found out that Surge Rating diminishing returns is unaffected by outside influences like Crackling Blasts. This potentially makes Surge an attractive stat as well.
This is possibly what we are looking at in terms of stat priority:
Accuracy (to 110%)> Crit (until approx 30% untalented) > Power > Surge
It is possible that Power and Surge could switch, but I'm inclined to think that since Power benefits everything, it stays there.
As you get higher in level, you'll gain more and more companions in your quest to basically tell everyone, "I really am the best." Reflecting on the companions you get, it's quite a ragtag group of people/aliens and I wouldn't have it any other way. They really do complement each other in the story and Bioware did a great job with them.
Korriban - Khem Val. You get him at the end of your class quest on Korriban. He's big on consuming things and destroying them, but, be forewarned, not every DS choice will gain affection with him as being honourable is also important to him.
Tatooine - Andronikos Revel. You pick him up in the middle of your questing on Tatooine. He's a pirate who's rough around the edges. Sporting dual blasters, he becomes your first, legit DPS companion. He also likes being tough and hates sissies.
Taris - Ashara Zavros. Our only female companion is a Jedi Sentinel. She's another DPS companion and one I used more often than that smelly pirate. She's also very Light Side oriented so if you plan on being a dick, don't have her around. Win her affection like you would any other female and shower her with gifts (I kid, I kid).
Hoth - Talos Drellik. A quirky man whom you meet whilst exploring tombs on Hoth. Finally, we get our healer. He can help in a pinch with group quests. He loves exploring and discovering new archaeological artifacts.
Korriban - Xalek. Just pure badass. He is an Assassin tank and speaks very little as he likes to do the talking with his lightsaber. He's like Khem and prefers fights and all that Sith Code stuff. Oh, and he is our new apprentice.
Q:Should I pick an Assassin or a Sorceror?
Frequently Asked Questions
A: That depends on if you want to cast/heal or melee/tank. I prefer the melee aspects in MMOs so that's why I went Assassin.
Q: What is the main stat of the Assassin?
A: As with all Inquisitors, our main stat is Willpower since, as an Assassin, it increases both Force and melee damage.
Q: What secondary stat is the best for Deception Assassin?
A: Simply put, Critical Rating. As I stated above (Even though most people don't read 75% of this) while Surge Rating - the one that increases actual crit damage - sounds tempting, we have talents that already increase that from 50% baseline. We want to crit more to proc buffs and whatnot. That said, Surge is not terrible and I am not forbidding anyone from taking it. Just know that Critical rating is where it's at.
Q: Is it easy to level as an Assassin?
A: Depends on your definition of "easy." Sorcerers get heals and ranged attacks. If you're having trouble with mobs, I might suggest speccing into Darkness and using a DPS or healing companion. I have not run into any problems, though, in PvP I do feel very much like a glass cannon unless I get heals and am guarded by a tank.
Q: How on earth do I complete "that" encounter at the end of Act I?
A: I'm assuming if you've uncovered this part you're okay with spoiling the story. Darth Zash is a bitch and a half as an Assassin. This is because Khem isn't entirely the smartest tank in the world (hooray for standing in lightning storms!) and it becomes exceedingly difficult to damage her if you miss an interrupt. After, I think, 4 tries I decided to have no tank. Switch Khem to DPS stance and have some medpacs ready (Channel the Force doesn't hurt either). Make sure you interrupt her lightning storm, her whirlwind and her other lightning attack. You have Electrocute, Low Slash (hopefully), and Jolt. Stagger those and don't worry about her little heal, you can outdamage it. Just keep the DPS pumping, use your cooldowns early. If she focuses you, use Deflection. I beat her the second I changed Khem's stance - with health to spare on both of us, I might add. Now, sit back and enjoy the cinematic finale of Act I!
Q: How do you get the "Darth" title?
A: At the end of your story, after you have defeated Thanaton (again) in front of the Dark council, Darth Marr will give you a Darth title depending on your alignment. I got Darth Nox (which was crazy because my character's name is Nox'atra) with DS alignment. The other two are Neutral/Occulus and LS/Imperious. Hope you enjoyed the story!
Q: How do I beat <insert elite NPC here>?
A: I'm talking about the Class story ones that can be challenging. Now, admittedly, Assassins (especially Deception) do have a rougher time dealing with elites than say Tank specced or Sorcerers. However, with careful use of CC and proper companion choice you can kill them easily. The way I dealt with these nuisances was to use Khem (sometimes tank, sometimes dps) and rotate taunts with him while using my stuns to interrupt. It also helps to use Channel the Force for the extra stun and to give Khem some time to regen a bit while you tank. That said, fighting Thanaton at the end is a pain in the ass for two melee, so I swapped him out and brought my good buddy, Talos. When Thanaton does is lightning immune channel just make sure not to stand near Talos otherwise you'll have to put him on passive to follow you. Never went below 50%.
This guide will be an on-going project. This is the first MMO that I have been in since launch (technically before hehe EGA ftw!) and thought it would be nice if I actually helped out around the community. That said, I'm going to devote some of my free time to updating this as more information is gathered, discussions had, Jedi slain, galaxies conquered etc. Look for updates on gear to be had including a BiS list and all that good stuff.
The Sith Assassin's Codex a fantastic guide. Much better than mine and where a lot of the discussions take place and where I get a large part of my information.
Power Stats Linked again so that people can skim and find the website. Details all of the stats and what they increase.
TORhead the SWTOR version of WoWhead. A great place to look up abilities, quests, talent calculators, etc.
Constructive criticism is always welcome and any discussions to be had would be spectacular. Don't be a knob and say "lol ur guide is teh Suxz0Rz!" At least tell me, in regular English, why it "Suxz0Rz." Also tell me about spelling errors. As an English major I never re-read my essays prior to handing them in and I've barely skimmed over this .
Enjoy the read.