Looking For BSOCK In All The Right Places

After being thoroughly disappointed with the empire-side boytoys, my assassin met Andronikos Revel, pirate of mystery.  Rawr.


But she wasn’t ready to settle down on a moisture vaporator farm and pop out horned offspring quite yet.  On the very next planet, an eligible suitor appeared!


Sith Problems

You know that a sith is trying to kill you if…

He/she wants to meet you in a tomb, a temple, or the ruins of a temple or tomb.

He/she wants to meet you in his/her office.

He/she wants to meet you just about anywhere, actually.

He/she is in competition with you for anything.

He/she is helpful in giving you information, advice, or items.

He/she is your master or another apprentice of your master.

He/she is your apprentice.

He/she is a Lord/Darth who is an enemy or ally of your master, or that darth/lord’s apprentice.

He/she comes into contact with you in any way.  It’s just a matter of time.

I Paid Credits For This Hat

So I invested in a Mira’s headband for my assassin.  I like the way it sits a bit higher above the eyebrow area than most circlets or headbands.

good headband

Things were going well until I got on my speeder.  Is that a visor?  A beak?



But, hey, I’m not on my speeder ALL the time, right? I can live with that.

Then I log out to the load screen and it’s doing a lovely job of forehead clipping.

headband clipping

I discovered shortly thereafter that it forehead clips in-game whenever her head is turned. That, ladies and gents, is a deal-breaker.

And the search for the perfect hat continues.

Setting Goals And Priorities For Game Events

I love world events, but I am not a fan of the pressure to complete all the things in a limited timeframe.  At times like this, though, I remind myself that I’m an adult and I can simply choose NOT to participate in whatever I don’t want to participate in.  Neiner neiner.

Most WoW events were on an annual calendar, so even though the event would come back, it was on such a long timeframe, continuation seemed impractical.  Knowing full well that I haven’t a prayer of finishing most WoW events, I didn’t do more than dabble in them.1

But SWTOR events are different and better, in my opinion.  Or at least, after a few hiccups, they’re becoming better.

  • Events are Recurring: with the exception of the first two (goddammit), they’ve figured out that people like the ability to continue an event, rather than starting all over from scratch.
  • Events recur often enough.  Once a month or once every couple of months is just about right.  If you miss it because you’re on vacation, you’re not going to be shit out of luck for another YEAR.
  • Rewards are linked to rep that carries over from previous events AND is legacy-wide.  No more doing brewfest on each damn alt.  You know what i’m talking about.
  • Rewards are available at all times.  You don’t need to spend all your tokens now or lose them.  The vendor will still be there even after the event ends.  Shit happens, and sometimes you INTEND to buy something but life happens and you can’t.

I really enjoyed doing the bounties. I chose to do them without really reading a guide and just picking planets as the mood struck me.  I purposely didn’t “grind” or try to pokemon catch them all this time around.  There will be time for polishing off any stragglers that I haven’t finished later on when the event comes back.  See?  My attitude is already improved by the fact that I know it WILL come back and about WHEN that will happen.

So as not to drive myself totally nutto with this event, I set my goal for this week as “newcomer” status for the armor.

Screw the hat, it looks so badass with a scanner.

Screw the hat, it looks so badass with a scanner.

This worked out pretty well.  I spent some days doing a lot of bounties, some days doing a few bounties, and easily made my goal by mid-week.  It was great to then let myself off the hook for the rest of the event.  Any bounties I did after that would be “gravy”.2

Next BH week, my goal is to get to friend status for that awesome-looking pistol-blaster.  Nothing says “I am overcompensating for the size of my nonexistent e-dong” like a comically oversized blaster in each hand.

  1. Which is too bad.  I really liked pissing out horde fires during midsummer festival, but I knew I didn’t have a prayer of getting to them all before the end of the event.
  2. That worked out rather well since I ended up getting the plague and couldn’t play anyway. No “gravy” bounties occurred.

Sentinel/Marauder: The First 3 Answers

So, as you probably know, there are class reps for all the classes now and they’re asking the devs the class’s top questions that the devs will totally answer and not dodge, right? The first batch came back for Sentinel last week.1  We should get the marauder ones next go-around.

You’ve probably read these already but just in case, I’m going to give you my commentary.  I’ve already incorporated all this STUFF into the sent/mara guide.

This first one is the “PVP” question, though really it applies to all watchman/anni specced sent/mara:

Q: Watchman/Annihilation currently suffers from a very long ramp-up time and is severely punished for any downtime due to the Merciless/Annihilate stacking buff. This ramp-up makes the spec nearly unconscionable in competitive PvP, and the downtime penalties cause severe issues in both PvP and certain PvE encounters (such as Titan 6 or Dread Guard). Would it be possible to improve the ramp-up and downtime penalties in this area? Perhaps by talenting Valorous Call/Frenzy to build Merciless/Annihilate stacks. Another idea would be to decrement Merciless/Annihilate stacks upon expiry rather than removing them entirely.

A: The stacking Annihilator/Merciless buff and the stacking buff from Juyo Form are both too short at their current 15 second durations. We will increase the duration of these buffs to give Marauders/Sentinels more time to get back into action before needing to start back up on their long entry ramp. As for a faster way to ramp up, we plan to give you something to help in this regard, but it will not be coming anytime soon. We may also experiment with decrementing the stacks on expiration, rather than removing all of them at once, but we cannot make any promises at this time that you will ever see it decrement stacks in the Live game.

Oooo, “decrement.”  Fancy.2

I am psyched that the devs acknowledge that this slow ramping is a big deal, especially for encounters that are “hit and run” and require you to lay off the boss for a while and hide behind a rock.  It sounds like a step in the right direction but, unfortunately, on a hugely long timeline.

Q: While Focus/Rage has excellent AoE DPS and on-demand burst, it falls significantly behind in terms of single-target DPS. In fact, dummy parses in the hands of skilled and geared players show a roughly 9% disparity between Focus/Rage and the other two specs on a single-target fight. This represents an unacceptable liability for most serious progression groups, as the majority of DPS pressure in current content comes in the form of hard enrage timers in single-target encounters. Despite this, the community is concerned that an increase to single-target DPS might make Focus/Rage the “go to” spec for sentinels/marauders. What are the design goals for Focus/Rage in PvE? Is the spec currently meeting those goals? If low single-target DPS is indeed the balancing factor for this spec, how is this justified with the current PvE design focus on single-target bosses?

This answer has a lot of parts and a lot of information, so I’m gonna break it up, k?

If Rage/Focus had the best burst damage, the best AoE damage, and the best sustained damage; then there would be very little to no incentive for a Marauder/Sentinel to ever spec anything else. Rage/Focus is the top burst spec for a Marauder/Sentinel, and that is by design. Right now, it is also the top AoE damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels (by design) – but that is something we would like to get away from in the future…

It will take some time to right this ship, as it has already sailed and must come back to port for repairs (so don’t expect Annihilation/Watchman and Carnage/Combat to be pumping out massive AoE DPS or for Rage/Focus to get a huge AoE DPS nerf next patch)….

Right now, the goal for Rage/Focus in PvE is to be good burst damage and good AoE damage, and it already does very well in these respects. In the future, when the other specs have improved ways to do AoE damage, then you can expect the sustained damage gap between Rage/Focus and Carnage/Combat to shrink a little bit. In summary, yes we know that Rage/Focus is the worst Marauder spec for single-target sustained damage because that is exactly how we designed it.

It is on purpose that Focus/Rage rules at burst and aoe, but lags behind in single-target DPS, because otherwise it would be the all-around best spec and nobody would use the others.3  So the single-target DPS for focus/rage is actually limited not by the aoe prowess of the focus/rage spec itself, but by the AOE suckitude of the other trees.  

They want to fix it. At some future point.  Far in the future.  Like long white beard far in the future.

Ideally, any damage spec should be able to deal formidable AoE damage when necessary (and should prefer to leave most AoE attacks out of their rotation in a single-target fight).

But many DPS specs have a long-cooldown AOE dps ability that they use for a single-target dps boost in their rotations.  Orbital strike, for example or fusion missile.  I wonder if the devs are trying to axe those too.

Annihilation/Watchman is intended to be the top sustained damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels, while Carnage/Combat is meant to be better sustained damage than Rage/Focus (but worse than Annihilation/Watchman) and better burst damage than Annihilation/Watchman (but worse than Rage/Focus). As a result, the top damage over an extended period should go to Annihilation/Watchman. The top damage in a short fight should go to Rage/Focus. Carnage/Combat should hold its own in both situations, while not being the best at either – think of its strength as versatility.

This outlines the intentions of the 3 specs, with watchman/anni as sustained single-target dps king, focus/rage as burst/aoe king, and combat/carnage as somewhere in the middle (single target with burst, but less sustained damage).

I haven’t found that combat/carnage is worse at sustained single-target tank-n-spank dps than watchman/anni. If that’s the goal, it fails.  I also haven’t really found focus/rage more bursty than combat/carnage, but having played focus/rage very little, I’ll have to take their word for it.

Unfortunately, because target dummies never drop in health you cannot use them as a 1:1 replacement for Operation boss encounters. Only certain specs (Rage/Focus is not one of them, but Carnage/Combat is) can use execute abilities on a target dummy. It is also unlikely that you are testing on a target dummy with your own personal armor-debuffer (which you should definitely have against a real raid boss). So that 9% gap you may be seeing on target dummies is closer to approximately 4% in reality.

Combat dummy numbers are bullshit, to a certain extent, they’re right about that.  However, I do not think, by any stretch, that using one execute every 20+ seconds in a combat/carnage rotation is going to account for 5% DPS.

OK, last question.

Q: Centering/Fury does not build for the duration of Zen/Berserk, Inspiration/Bloodthirst or Transcendence/Predation. This is a somewhat odd design decision since sentinels/marauders are penalized significantly when these raid buffs are used. This is a noticeable DPS loss for Watchman/Annihilation and Combat/Carnage, but it is absolutely devastating for Focus/Rage as their rotation is actually dependent on consistently building Centering/Fury (due to the Singularity/Shockwave mechanic). As such, most Focus/Rage sentinels/marauders actually click off the Inspiration/Bloodthirst buff when another sentinel/marauder provides it. No other DPS class is handicapped in this fashion. What is the design rationale for suppressing Centering/Fury build up during these buffs? Could this restriction be removed (especially when *another* sentinel/marauder has supplied the raid buff)?

A: We agree that it seems an odd design decision was made here. While Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence are active, we see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to build Fury/Centering stacks. However, being allowed to build Fury/Centering during Berserk/Zen would be a substantial damage increase that would only serve to widen the gap between Marauders/Sentinels and the rest of the pack that they are already leading. We may change it in the future, but for now Berserk/Zen will continue to block Fury/Centering generation while we will make changes to allow the building of Fury/Centering during Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence.

Hell. Yeah.  Reiterate “long white beard” timeline.

  1. Yes, I know, I’m late to the party.  Also, punchy. Shut up.
  2. It sounds like it’s related to poo.
  3. I’m actually ok with a non-viable-for-raiding spec because we have 2 others that are perfectly fine for it.

Treek The Awesome (Quinn Is So Fired)

I just got Treek, and so far I’m pretty happy.  Although, honestly, I was about to slap the shit out of that droid that kept calling her “it”.  No, droidbrain, you’re an “it”.  Treek is a “she”.  Get it right.

Treek, your first assignment is to turn this THING into scrap.

Treek, your first assignment is to turn this THING into scrap.

I very much like Treek.  The main reason I wanted her was as a healer to replace Quinn, and she has delivered on that.  Her healing is strong and she doesn’t seem to overuse attacks when healing needs to be done.  But when she does attack, she throws grenades.

Coolness factor is great.  The animations are cool.  The sounds are cool.  And she doesn’t whine.  The little voice is so freaking cute, but her little trash talk is also a refreshing change of pace from Quinn’s cringing routine.

Don't you wish your healer was awesome like me?

Don’t you wish your healer was awesome like me?

A few other things that are actually relevant to questing:

She does heal a little in her tank stance.  There is a very minor trickle of healing during the battle, which is not going to make or break any encounter.  However, she does heal both of you completely up between battles even when in tank stance.  Considering that one perk of having a healer companion is lack of downtime, this can be a serious WIN for questing.  I leveled my gunslinger with a tank companion, even after I had a healer companion, because it was strategically the best combo.  Downtime was annoying.  If I were to level a sniper right now, Treek would be my companion of choice.

She does not have standard healer companion cc.  All the other healer companions have a carbonizing or zapping channeled CC – which has saved my butt on many occasions when used strategically.  However, I don’t need CC all that often, and I actually end up turning it off sometimes on Mako or Quinn to prevent the idiot companion from spending all the time trying to carbonize weak enemies rather than healing my butt.  I can see using the mostly-retired Quinn at some point if I truly need that carbonizing stream to buy me some time during a particularly difficult encounter.

Well worth the million credits.  I haven’t bought the account-wide unlock yet, but that is the plan, as soon as one of my alts needs a Treek.

Prioritizing New Content For The Casual And Busy Gamer

It’s no secret that as a gamer with a job or kids, or both, or having a LIFE for that matter – you have to prioritize.  It’s just not possible to do all the things all at once, unless you want to move into your mom’s basement.  Don’t do that.

The way I see it, there are a shitton of things that are new and might possibly be done.


The biggest obstacle to getting Treek is money, either in cartel coins or in credits.  Under the “time equals money” theory, grinding the one mil credits is basically a time cost.  Spending cartel coins is either a drain on real-pocketbook or you have saved up a bunch of stipends and are willing to forego other cartel-buyable items.

If you HAVE legacy 40, grind the 1 mil to unlock the first Treek (because spending 2100 cc at one time is bullshit).  Then spend the 700 cc to unlock via collections for everyone else (because grinding and spending 300k per Treek is bullshit).

This companion has great strategic value and I would set this as one of my top priorities for this patch.  For one thing, you can have a tank or healer on your alts just as early as you please.  Remember how I swore about Doc being so damn late in the Jedi Knight story?  Well, Treek solves that.1  Second, and most importantly, you can tell Quinn he’s been reassigned to fresher-cleaning duty.2

Tauntaun Mounts

For this mount, it costs time or money.  The quest is reported to take 2-3 hours.  Even if this estimate is too low, it takes a hell of a lot of time to earn 1-5 or 2 million credits.

For the busy gamer, I suggest waiting for the initial rush to dissipate, and then finding a random off-peak time to mop up the quest. Especially on a PvP server, you don’t want to be competing with other players for resources.

Bounty Hunter Week

Argh, I hate limited time events.  I get why BW does them, but I HATE IT.  This is mostly a time/scheduling problem because you’re in the position of having to squeeze playtime into a timeframe that might be inconvenient for you.  At least it’s coming back on a predictable schedule, so there’s no rabid foaming at the mouth that you need to finish it all NOW.  I wouldn’t cancel raiding for this.

The only item I consider “useful” is the modified blaster carbine which you can get at friend level.  This is useful for smuggling barrels between alts.  Since it is capable of being an offhand, you might also be able to smuggle offhand barrels.  This may or may not be important to you.

As with the tauntauns, I suggest trying this at off-peak times.  Competing for resources or spawns with other players multiplies the time required for any activity.

New Dailies

Sorry, I’m not going to be first in line to grind dailies.  Yes, it’s new content.  And yes, new rewards.  But it will be crowded at first (remember – competing for resources and mobs makes it go slower) and it will be old hat soon enough – what’s the rush?  The dailies aren’t going anywhere, and I’m in no rush to be bored with yet another daily hub.  Put this one on hold until the rush dies down.

These will be both a time and money suck.  You finally get to the desired rep level, only to find that the desired item costs a ton of credits or comms.

The good rewards come at Champion level – all the more reason not to rush since it is going to take forever.  First, a bind on legacy sword for smuggling hilts. Second, a black and deep blue dye module for artificers.  There are few modules with black as the primary color, so this will be a crowd favorite.

Droid armor schematics are pretty cool, if you use HK a lot.  I guess.  Can’t you just use an orange droid part and then slap in armoring etc like everyone else?  If so, seems like a waste to be spending time and energy on droid-specific items.

The overpriced main hand weapons aren’t worth mentioning.  300+ elite comms for a weapon?  Are you shittin me?  For that price, buy the isotopes and get your friendly neighborhood crafter to make you a hilt or barrel.  Also, 1 mil for customizations and a vanity car?  Sorry.  Got better things to spend my cash on.

New Flashpoints

Sure, why not?  That sounds awesome.  The only priority you need to put on this is finding the time to run it every now and then.

Definitely do these at peak time.  First, the queues will generally pop faster.  Second, your guildies are more likely to be online.  If you are a DPS, you can grab a healer or tank guildie to make the queue even faster.  And, regardless of queue times, having guildies in your group always increases your chance of success – which means fewer wipes, which means less time suck.


It seems pretty overwhelming and expensive, and it is completely impossible to get all the things right away.  But if you strategize and have a little patience (don’t just blindly jump face-first into new content), you can get a lot done pretty efficiently.

  1. And yes, Hodara, I GET that I could outfit the ship droid, but EEW.
  2. I fucking hate Quinn.

Leaping, Jumping, And Ops

You guys know how I suck at jumping, right?  Well, I totally do.  To the point that I get YOINKED by your friendly neighborhood sorc more often than I’d like to admit just to keep things rolling along.

Anyway, we’re in Scum & Villainy the other night, and I’m on leap duty on Thrasher.  Now, you think, no problem, just hit your leap button, right?

Nope.  There are some serious “you cannot see the target” issues.  So the “leap” involves repositioning and THEN jumping – you can “see” the mob at the apex of the jump, so the leap has to occur mid-jump.  Sigh.  And after ALL that effort, if the leap actually occurs, there’s still a reasonable chance of faceplanting on the wall and sliding back down to the ground.  Ouch.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t as bad at it as I thought I’d be, but this sort of assignment makes me reconsider taking an arrow to the knee and applying for a cushy healer job.  DPS is easy, my ass.

Limited Time Offers On The Cartel Market

My brain is going to seriously explode.  Monday, Eric Musco announced that they’re going to be able to rotate the cartel merchandise and discounts without any server downtime.

They’re going to announce when they add something new but not announce discounts.  This means we will have to *gasp* log in for ourselves every day and LOOK.   Well, not really, because Dulfy has our back and has gone to the trouble of listing all the discounts, and presumably will continue, because she’s thorough like that.  This is a real help to people like me who don’t necessarily log in every night but always check the interwebs.

  • Discounts are updated/changed sometime between 9am and noonish.
  • We have no idea how long they last. The Monday discounts lasted only 24 hours, but it looks like the Tuesday discounts are still the discounts today.

I will be checking Dulfy daily to see if my favorite outfits go on sale.  Which basically means “stalk the outlaw set.”

Speaking of the outlaw set, you cannot add it to collections and make copies!  Any outfit/piece that comes WITH mods in it cannot be added to collections and copied, I guess so that people don’t get unlimited mods… level 30 mods.  That would be a game-breaking advantage there.  If I can’t make copies, that definitely affects how much I’m willing to pay for the damn thing.

One Year Later: Free To Play. Topic Shamelessly Stolen From Shintar

I was reading Shintar’s post on F2P – one year later, and was about to pontificate in the comments when I realized that I had way too much pontificating to do than could fit into a comment.

Pay to Win? Nah

As a subscriber, I’m pleasantly surprised that there’s nothing in the market that would help me perform better in a raid or whatever.  When the high-level ship parts were added to the market, that was sort of bullshit, but nothing like that has happened since.

Crafters and Fashion

Oy.  Crafting.  Shintar says that crafting has taken a big hit, and that is dead-on – and my biggest dissatisfaction with the new model.  I used to have business because I bothered to track down every recipe and could offer obscure items that nobody else was making.  I used to have business for at least orange bracers and belts, and that has completely dried up due to the cartel market.

The cartel market doesn’t take business away because every piece is cooler.  It takes the business away primarily because of the convenience.

First: adaptive gear.  I find that I, along with most others, browse the GTN for fashion with adaptive armor instead of my armor class.  There may be a perfectly decent belt or boots or whatever that goes perfectly with an outfit, but the first instinct is to look at the adaptive armor.

Second: most pieces are wearable at level 1.  You can just find something you like and be done with it, the whole way up.  No “oh I love that shirt, can’t wait to wear it at level 39.”  Nope, done.

Third: collections.  This doesn’t appeal to me, so I didn’t see what the big deal was.  To my shock, this got my previously-uninterested-in-fashion husband to start buying outfits on the GTN like a fiend.  He now has unlocked 3 outfits in the cartel market and has an army of similarly-dressed alts and companions – with a few dye kits to give them a unique feel.  He apparently likes the convenience of starting an alt, being able to generate an entire level 1 moddable outfit on demand for his toon and all the companions, and not have to do any additional thinking about it ever again.  (Since I tend to mix and match AND dress all my toons uniquely, I have unlocked only one outfit so far.)

Buying Fashion

Without a doubt, the cartel market has the best fashion out there.  I really thought that BW would limit cool fashions to the cartel market, and to an extent, it has.  However, I’m glad to see that the rep grinds, as painful as they are, do lead to really unique fashions (I am excited about bounty hunter week).  So there are alternatives.  And also, while I bitch and moan (extensively) about fashion, it really isn’t a “pay to win” thing.

Legacy Unlocks

Here’s where it gets interesting with math.  The cartel-to-credit ratio of some unlocks is very favorable to using cartel coins, and for others it pays to use credits.  The cartel market and stipend gives me the chance to buy things that I would never normally have the credits for (rocket boots!).  On the other hand, as a subscriber, I can still choose to pay credits for those items with an unfavorable ratio (such as speedering 1).  All in all, this has led me to get more legacy unlocks and enhance my quality of life in the game.

Subscription All-Inclusive?

I feel a little iffy about the decision to make Cathar purchasable with cartel coins.  On the one hand, we should get everything, right?  On the other hand, we get a stipend.  If you view the monthly cartel stipend as a cafeteria plan, it is actually pretty advantageous.  I have no bleeping interest in being a cat.  This means that I can take the coins that would have gone to cat and put them toward something that interests me more.  Instead of all-inclusive, it’s more of a “choose your inclusion.”  Likewise, people who have no interest in pink hair don’t have to buy it.

The Secondary Market (GTN)

If people want to turn cartel coins to cosmetics, that’s their prerogative. I love that I can get just about any item I want for cold hard credits, as I always have been able to in any subscription model.  I buy almost all my cartel fashion on the GTN, except if there’s a super-sale of something I really want.  I also buy unlocks there if the price is less than the “unlock with credits” option (like third or subsequent cargo bay).

Gambling Boxes

I don’t like gambling.  I’d rather pay a premium for the contents of the box than to roll the dice on the actual box.  But a lot of people like these boxes and apparently they’re a big money maker.  When I went to the community cantina event that followed the f2p transition, I was told that on the first day of the cartel market, people had plopped up to $100 on cartel boxes.  Like, not just their stipends but REAL MONEY.

Now, this annoys me because I think these overpriced boxes prey on some people’s addictive personalities.  But it’s not up to bioware to babysit people and tell them to be responsible with their credit cards.

I am pretty peeved that most of the dyes may only be purchased via “dye packs” which are basically gambling boxes for dyes.  Even if you find a box with a “good” dye, it may not be the one that you want.  It’s practically mandatory to trade those on the GTN.

Limitations and Expectations

The F2P experience is a shitty one.  I was actually looking forward to F2P, on the theory that I could simply buy a la carte the elements of the game that I do use (flashpoints and ops) and omit paying for the ones that I don’t (warzones and space).  But that wasn’t really viable because the F2P experience is so limited.  If I were to buy only the pieces I use, it would still add up to the cost of a subscription, and possibly even more.1

Then there was the QQ, which was unsurprising but annoying.  You expect to play this game for free and still have access to everything your little heart desires?  This feeling of entitlement isn’t unexpected. In general, on the internet, we expect to receive all the news for absolutely free and then grumble if reporters want to earn a living by charging a subscription – when previously we would have bought a damn newspaper and thought that was completely fair.

It turned out that F2P is inappropriate for most players and is only good for extremely casual players or people who are trying the game for the first time and don’t know if they want to subscribe.

In Conclusion

There are parts of the F2P transition that I have liked a lot and parts that annoy the shit out of me (like “hey guys, btw, my week-long-ops pass runs out in the very middle of the raid tonight, LOL!”) but overall it hasn’t fundamentally changed the way I play the game.

  1. Someone did an analysis/spreadsheet of this and for the life of me I cannot find it now.
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