I yammered a few weeks ago about what I thought about the Sentinel changes before I had a chance to test them.  Now I am playing with them and I’m going to share my incoherent thoughts with you.  (I’m in process of writing the 2.0 Sentinel guide but it’s not nearly done.  Also whilst writing this, the Dev Blog came out.)

Right now I’m leveling in Focus Spec, because it’s supposedly good AOE, crowd control, and other such nonsense for leveling.  Plus, it is the spec I know the least well.

From the dev blog:

Our intentions with Focus Sentinels in 2.0 are to continue to support their viable sustained damage, but to lessen the burst potential of Force Sweep. This isn’t solely about correcting issues though, so we’ve also added some gameplay improvements and better utility to Focus.

Yeah, no shit.  Force Sweep was nerfed to the ground.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really a fan of only being able to do reasonable damage once every 10-15 seconds, but still, now my AOE kinda sucks.

I am hating this spec.  I’ve done levels 51-53 and I can’t exactly put my finger on why I hate it.  I think it’s because there’s a lot of “charging up” you need to do for Force Sweep to be awesome (but less awesome than before), and when leveling, you just want to go in there and come on strong, like other classes can do, instead of having to charge up prereqs.

When I charge in, I have to Force Leap, then Zealous Leap (for the auto-crit to Force Sweep).  At which point I have no focus left and have to Zealous Strike.  Now, should I Force Sweep right now?  Or build Singularity to further enhance the damage of the impending Force Sweep with Force Exhaustion (and will the mob on which I cast Force Exhaustion croak before all 3 ticks are done?).   Are all the mobs closest to me already dead from the Zealous Leap and Zealous Strike damage, plus the damage of my leveling partner?  (If Zen is up, then I have both Singularity and focus, and I can pwn face, but it’s obviously not always up.)

I will say that Focus Spec has improved in single-target DPS because of the freebie Blade Storm that you get after a Zealous Leap.  Those things hit like trucks.

Moving on, I did my first raid in Combat Spec and it was quite a lot to get used to.  Devs say:

Combat has been criticized for being a little too simple to play. While they have lots of fun utility, their core rotation was a little boring. However, some players like a more relaxed playstyle, so it’s important to us that we don’t change things too much.

To that end, we’ve helped unlock Combat’s most fun utility (Transcendence, right?), and livened up their core rotational gameplay with a deadly new proc effect.

Relaxed playstyle my ass.  There’s nothing relaxed, now or then, about trying to jam buttons like a coked-out ferret to cram all your good abilities into a 4.5 second window.

The major changes are the nerfing of Zen and the addition of Hand of Justice.  I’m still struggling with how to get the most out of Zen (from what I can tell, you get one extra GCD in your Precision Slash window).  Hand of Justice resets Precision Slash and lets you use Dispatch regardless of the health of the mob, but it completely throws off your timing!  If Precision Slash is now off cooldown but Blade Storm still has 10 seconds left, then what?  Do you use Precision Slash with your new Dispatch, or wait for Blade Storm to come off CD, at which point, did the Precision Slash reset do any good at all?

I haven’t played around with Watchman because I think that the rotation has changed least of the three, despite being able to use (and find 5 focus for) Merciless Slash more often.  Oh hey, the devs said that too.

Watchman has always had a strong rotation with good sustained damage and utility. We didn’t want to mess with the formula to Watchman’s success, so we just made them better at doing what they already do.

I swear I thought this before they said it.  This will probably be my raiding spec just because I think I’m better at juggling varied cooldowns than trying to get my cooldowns to line up for a burst phase in Combat spec.

A final note: Twin Saber Throw is badass.  It fills a serious gap in our abilities and is usable at any range.  I’m not sure how it will fit into a standard spank-n-tank rotation until the math nerds start crunching the numbers.


It also looks cool.


Sentinel In Makeb — 8 Comments

  1. I have a level 20 Marauder somewhere in my leveling queue, and it took me a minute to realize this post was actually relevant to me for my mirror class. Silly Jedi, “Sentinel” sounds like a name for a tank class, not a stabby.

    Anyway, the character in question is currently Fury(/Focus) spec largely due to the ability you call Zealous Leap. Not because of whatever that bonus thing is you mentioned, but because it has a non-zero range. My main is a Vanguard Trooper, who prefers to be in melee but has decent damage out to 10 meters. My second level 50 is an Operative, who would also prefer to be in melee but has at least some buttons, including an autoattack, that work at range.

    When I play a strictly melee character in this game (the Marauder or my lower level Shadow) I find that I promptly end up sitting and doing nothing in response to my key-presses because my target died and the new target is not in melee range. Meanwhile, my companion went ahead to kill the next target without my input (exacerbated for the Warrior because your first companion is ranged DPS) because it’s powered by a cheating AI that always knows which way its next target is, even if that’s behind it outside of its field of view. Having even a short-ish range ability to close the gap seemed to be a pretty big improvement.

    • The short-range gap-closer is really nice, I agree with that! I do often find myself having killed a mob and searching around for the next idiot who will be the target of my slashy-ire.

  2. I don’t have a Sentinel but I agree about Twin Saber Throw. During our first couple of flashpoint runs at 55, a considerable amount of time was devoted to marvelling at how cool it looks and sounds (whoosh!).

  3. I used to run Combat, and loved being the Fresh Prince of Bursty Goodness, but @#$% me if the windows haven’t tightened so much that your ‘coked-out ferret’ comment spoke directly to my heart…and it’s not like they threw the spec a grab-bag of extra resource generation as a consolation prize. So I’m a coked-out ferret without the coke.

    Aaaand I’ve respecced to Watchman. I have no idea what I’m doing, have literally been transcribing rotations (from various parts of teh intertubes) longhand on college-rule notebook paper (because, having graduated from college quite some time ago, I’m a little pleased to actually have a use for my surplus college-rule notebook paper). But wow, adding that fourth stack of Merciless Slash? So now we have a SIX SECOND window in which to make sure our Overload Saber and Cauterize are up and burning before worrying that our MS stacks will fall off? We’ll practically be napping in between cooldowns. Which is good. Because as a recovering ferret cokehead, I could really stand to catch up on some sleep.

    (just found this blog, btw. love it.)

    • Yay! New reader!

      I quested as combat for a while but seriously, resource regeneration! Throw us a bone, right? I’m actually doing pretty well questing (I mean… missioning?) as watchman, even though it doesn’t really excel in that environment. While you can take a nap after you get 4 stacks of merciless up, that almost never happens on your typical trash pull – although merciless slash can near one-shot.

  4. I’m still laughing at the “…coked-out ferret…” statement; funny as hell that, but 100% on the money!

    I’ve been playing combat spec on my main for over 15 months in 16-man pve ops. Pre-2.0, Combat spec was the most fun for me due to its complexity and stabby bursty coolness. It required class knowledge and skill to maximize the dps potential of this class; but, it was quite doable.

    Now, there is no real rotational predictability due to RNG procs like HoJ, which while nice, are a big hiccup in the microsecond dps planning needed in boss fights. Compounding this is the rapidity with which focus is used. The end result has been that the fun factor is down and the work factor is way up to play this even reasonably well.

    I’ve never played Watchman as DoT specs do not appeal to me. The challenge I’ve set is to find a way to take this spec from “viable” to “good” again: I just hope it’s possible.

    • I’m not a big fan of dot specs. However, as one of my guildmates (correctly) pointed out, there’s little-to-no debuff tracking in watchman spec because the dots are FAR shorter than their cooldowns. You just hit them on cooldown and don’t really worry about it. Sure, cauterize has a chance to reset, but it’s unlikely to reset in that 6 second window when it is ticking, and if it does, and you hit it again and you clip your own dot, oh well, not the end of the world. The thing that you would want to track is merciless stacks to try to keep them up. Annoying as well but, again, if you don’t track them, and just hit merc slash every time it comes up off CD (which is what you’re supposed to be doing regardless because it hits like a truck), you’ll probably be stacking them just fine.

      TL;DR watchman is more about watching cooldowns than watching dots. And a little focus pooling, which isn’t a problem because it generates focus now better than combat (sigh).

      • Yeah, watchman got waaay easier with the additional stack of Merciless Slash…sure, you hit it on CD because it’s huge, but once you’re at 4 stacks, you have SIX SECONDS of window. I’ve taken shorter naps. And, dear Maker, my Zen is ALWAYS up. Which means the next time i run out of focus will be the first time. Hold me, Bioware…

        OTOH, a guildmate of mine has really mastered the new ‘fuzzy logic’ combat spec and the spikes of burst he gets when he lines up precision slash are just so glorious…nothing the watchman does is half as sexy as that 4.5 seconds of lightsabery destruction. So you really do have heavenly lights at the end of your tunnel…it’s just a hell of a drive to get there.