THIS GUIDE IS OUTDATED. FOR THE POST 2.0 VERSION, CLICK HERE.
WORK IN PROGRESS, current through Patch 1.7.2a.
“If I can do it, any idiot can!”
What This Guide Covers (And What It Does Not)
Covers: Playing a PvE sentinel primarily in progression, but not hardcore, operations.
Does Not Cover:
- Leveling (in any detail)
- Super leet theorycraft
- Best in slot gear
- User interface
- Advice for specific boss encounters
If you are a dirty stinkin Imp Marauder, check out the abilities conversion chart on Dulfy.
- Essential Concepts
- General Abilities
- Watchman Spec
- Combat Spec
- Focus Spec
- Crew Skills
From the beginning, jedi knight and then later sentinel is a fully-functional melee class. Sure, some abilities you may not end up using as you climb the trees, but you don’t fundamentally change your playstyle at level 10. There was no point at which I felt gimped through the levels.
- Great single-target DPS
- Best gap-closer EVER
- Good interrupting
- Groupwide/Raidwide buffs
- Great burst (combat spec)
- Raids seem to favor ranged dps
- Little good crowd control
- No cleansing ability
- No offspec to another role
- Lousy AOE (Except focus spec)
- Begging the tank to put guard on you is undignified
It doesn’t really matter how you get to level 50, and I don’t feel like there’s an optimal path. The hardest part about leveling a sentinel is that you don’t get your healer until the end of Balmorra, around level 35, and some encounters are a real pain without a healer. I used Kira for most things, as I found T7 a squishy tank, and just used a brute force “kill it quickly” technique. Apparently, you can gear up your ship droid if you are desperate. I learned this after the fact. It might be worth it on the imp side to avoid that nasty bootlicker Malavai Quinn.1
Watchman is good single-target dps with good survivability. The downside is poor aoe and a dot effects ramp-up time that is more suited to killing bosses than trash.
Combat has great single-target burst and mediocre AOE. I would not recommend taking combat spec until level 20 when you can actually get Ataru Form. Combat without Ataru Form is incomplete. Each subsequent skill buffs Ataru Form and procs and it just takes off from there. If you are struggling with combat spec, you may want to gain a few levels in another spec and then come back to it.
Focus is considered a pvp spec, but can be good for leveling because of its strong AOE and crowd control abilities. I admittedly know almost nothing about leveling using this spec.
Why The Raid Wants You (Or Not)
You’re a one-trick pony. No healing or tank offspec. Point being, to be useful as a one-trick pony, you’d better be fucking good at that one trick.
Serious Business Single-Target DPS – in Watchman or Combat spec. Go the extra mile and practice on the dummy.
Interrupts - You will have at least an 8-second interrupt with Force Kick, and in Watchman spec, you can talent a 6 second interrupt. Interrupt the fuck out of things. Seriously, it’s the way you can prove that you are a Valuable Team Player. Put the boss cast bar in the middle of your screen at 125% scale and INTERRUPT! In a pinch, alternate abilities can serve as an interrupt if, for some reason, kick is on cooldown. More on that later.
Groupwide buffs – You get 2 groupwide buffs (and in watchman spec, a groupwide heal). Inspiration should be used at the raid leader’s discretion. It’s very powerful and can really kick the ass out of a burn phase. Depending on the length of the fight, you might get 2 or 3 uses out of it. I’m not going to lie, Transcendence (raidwide!) can be situationally useful for getting the raid out of the bad.
Sentinels wear medium armor. Most of the jedi knight armor is boring hooded robes. Just go to the cartel market and save yourself the pain.
For hitting your “soft caps” just assume that you will have all four buffs in raids. Ever since that legacy perk came out, I’ve never been missing a buff in any raid. (I bring 3 of the 4 buffs myself).
- First get strength. Strength buffs your other stats (crit and power), so when you consider the other stats, first take into account the amounts you get already from strength.
- Accuracy (force/special): 110% or 108%*
- Crit: 35%
- Surge: 75%
- THEN POWER ALL THE THINGS
*About Accuracy: it does vary slightly spec to spec, and you’ll get different answers from different sources.2
Do not want:
- Alacrity is for chumps.
- Endurance. Sure, you need some endurance, but don’t prioritize it. It will just happen.
- Expertise. That’s for pvp, fools
- Absorb, Defense, Shield. Eew, tanking stuff!
What the Flip is a “Soft Cap?”
A soft cap means that if you reach that level, you start getting diminishing returns and you are better off using your stat budget on other stats. It does not mean that you stop getting benefit from that stat.
Mixing And Matching Mods
As if grinding one set wasn’t hard enough, some pieces are so shittily itemized that you end up buying additional pieces just to rip out the mod or enhancement and replace a shittily itemized one. Buying armorings a la carte is not the worst idea.
Remember, it’s perfectly ok to buy a well-itemized piece of heavy armor intended for a DPS guardian, and plunk the pieces into your medium armor shell. The set bonuses are mediocre (honestly the 4-piece is terrible.)
You want might armoring. No matter what level, might armoring.
Might hilt. Not guardian.
Mods have all sorts of mix and match, but the key here is to get the highest strength humanly possible, and then go for power (or crit, if you’re still under cap).
- Deft mod: Power
- Potent mod: Crit
Watch for “A” or “B” after the mod number. Example: Deft Mod 27 is good, 27A is also OK (higher strength, but probably too much endurance), 27B sucks.
- Crit OR Power
- and then a “tertiary” stat like Accuracy or Surge.
Again, look at your caps, and decide. Some versions are Endurance-heavy, so avoid those. Remember, you can’t get an enhancement with both crit and power. They occupy the same “spot”. So do accuracy and surge.
- Adept: Power/Surge
- Initiative: Power/Accuracy
- Acute: Crit/Accuracy
- Assault: Crit/Surge
Bonus reading: Black Hole Gear for Sentinels and DPS Guardians.
Augmenting All The Things
No excuses. 14 items. 14 strength (might) augments.
Wait, What is this I hear about power augments?
TL;DR: unless you are the leetest of the leet and can crunch your own numbers, don’t try this at home.
At higher gear levels (really obscenely high levels), you will get so much crit from strength alone, that you can shed every single +crit item in favor of +power and STILL be above soft cap. At that point is the only time when you would even remotely consider changing your might augments for power augments. It is still under heavy debate.3
Strength stim. Power adrenal. Medpack. I highly recommend carrying “you + companion” medpacks (or a reusable if you are a biochem) whilst leveling. It has saved my butt on countless occasions. Mostly my companion’s butt.
Jedi knights have a quirky resource system, and a weird stacking buff for triggering certain cooldowns.
Your Resource Bar (Tax N Spend)
Resource management is a little bizarre for sentinels, but you’ll get used to it. Hell, I actually like it.
You have 12… bubbles of focus. Yes, bubbles, that’s a good term. They start at empty and will eventually decay back down to empty when you’re out of combat.
Unlike ammo, heat, and energy, there is no penalty or benefit for keeping your bar full or empty. So, how many bubbles should you try to have? Should you pool? Depends on spec (you knew I was going to say that). The vague answer is “enough that you can use your good abilities right when they come off cooldown, but not so much that you waste any.” More later.
There are some abilities (4 to be precise) that BUILD focus, and the rest either SPEND focus (with either terrible efficiency or long-ass cooldowns) or are freebies (with long-ass cooldowns).
Your spec will lower the focus cost of some abilities (usually the good ones for that spec.) Also, depending on what spec you choose, you will gain focus bubbles through various things. These are generally passive and just happen in the course of doing things. What this means is that at the beginning, focus generation is sucky but you’ll notice it pick up as you start talenting into any of the trees.
Centering, How The Eff Does That Work?
You gain Centering stacks from various things. Generally it involves beating the crap out of a mob. When leveling, Centering generation is slow to the point that you basically ignore Zen because it is almost never available. As you go up in one of the trees, your Centering stacks will go up faster.
Now, when you get to 30 stacks, you can spend it. In general, you’ll be getting up to 30 fairly regularly in a fight so don’t SAVE it. Use it, unless it’s a really inopportune time. The sooner you use it, the sooner you can start earning stacks again.
Zen is the most common thing you’ll use. It varies from spec to spec. More on that below. Roughly speaking:
- Ataru Form (Combat): a burst dps cooldown
- Juyo Form (Watchman): crit increase to dots (modest DPS increase) and a groupwide heal trickle
- Shii-Cho Form (Focus): fills up the focus bar completely (so you CAN spam DPS abilities) and grants 4 stacks of Singularity making your next stomp awesome (more on this later)
Inspiration is our big fat magical ability which boosts DPS and healing of our group (not raid). It is on a 5 minute timer, and it probably will be used only once per fight, depending on the length of the fight. Trust me, there is nothing more embarrassing than not having 30 stacks when the raid leader calls for that. My compromise is to use Valorous Call very rarely so THAT is available to instantly give me 30 stacks when needed. Generally I use Valorous Call at the beginning of a fight and by the time I need to pop it again for Inspiration, it’s up.
Transcendence is not great for damage mitigation (10%) but the run speed increase (for the whole raid, not just the group) can be situationally useful depending on the fight.
The abilities that you will use on a regular basis really depend on your spec, but some will stay the same across the board.
There are 4 focus builders (that don’t depend on proccing or Zen or other such nonsense). It is worth your while to keep an eye on their cooldowns and make sure you are hitting them in a timely manner before you discover, quite by accident, that your focus bar is empty.
Strike – your basic starter attack. Generally that should be last in priority unless you need to keep your focus at a specific level and your other focus builders are not available.
Zealous Strike – This is your best focus builder. It builds 6 freaking focus! Always remember…
- Use it every cooldown immediately! but..
- Make sure you’re below 7 before you use it, or you’ll WASTE PRECIOUS FOCUS
Yes, in all the priorities, there are things that DO hit harder than Zealous strike, but if you don’t have focus to use them, you’re up shit creek. The sooner you use Zealous Strike, the sooner you get to use it again, so make an effort to get that sucker in pronto.
Force Leap – Generally you’ll only get to build focus with this situationally – when you first jump in, when you need to change to a target across the room, when the boss moves, or after you get knocked back. However, in Watchman spec it can be used as part of your basic rotation.
Force Stasis – I think of this as a crowd control ability, but it also builds focus. It has a really long cooldown and the focus generation and damage are… ok, I guess. I usually use it on adds to immobilize them or as part of my rotation in focus spec.
Hard-Hitting Abilities That You Use In All Specs
To various degrees, depending on what bonuses you get in a particular spec, you will use these basic abilities.
Master Strike – you get it back on tython, and it continues to be awesome. It’s on a fairly long cooldown, but it’s the go-to ability when you are waiting for your other stuff to come off cooldown and you are low on focus.
Dispatch – both sentinels and guardians get this, usable while mobs are below 30%. While it’s almost impossible to use out in the dailies grind, because the mobs die so fast, it is a highly powerful attack used in every rotation at fairly high priority. Also, in many boss fights, there’s a burn phase at below 30%, so that works out for you.
Blade Storm – A pretty hard-hitting focus-hogging ability. It can be used from 10m out, so it’s good when you’re running toward a mob if Force Leap is unavailable. Although it looks like an aoe wind animation, it’s just single target. Other than that, the use varies throughout the specs.
Slash – This is a pretty standard filler that you may use if you don’t have anything better. Its use varies spec to spec.
A Cautionary Note About Spammable Focus Spenders
Slash and, in Combat spec, Blade Rush are spammable focus spenders. They hit pretty hard. If all your good focus spenders and focus generators are on cooldown, you should be spamming Slash or Blade Rush, right? OH HELL NO! When your focus spenders do come off cooldown, there won’t be any focus left for them! Try to think 5 seconds ahead and decide whether that is a good idea. It may be worth it to use Strike (with its shitty dps) to pool some focus for some stuff that’s coming off cooldown momentarily.
Force Sweep – This is the stompy one. It’s nice while soloing since it makes the mobs just stand there like idiots after you stomp, and then you pound on them.
Cyclone Slash – a craptastic swipey thing that takes WAY too much focus to be worth it.
Unless you’re focus spec, it’s better to just single target things down anyway, and the rest of the raid won’t kick your ass our for breaking CC.
Interrupt ALL THE THINGS
Force Kick – it ignores the GCD, it’s free, and it’s on an 8 second cooldown (6 seconds if you talent it in Watchman spec). Use it, love it. This is better than your other options because it also locks down that ability for 4 seconds.
Force Leap – this one also interrupts. It doesn’t lock out of any abilities though, and you have to be across the room to do it (unless you’ve talented it in watchman spec). It is subject to the GCD.
Force Sweep (standard and weak only) – this becomes less useful when you’re raiding, but it will work in a pinch for sissy mobs.
Blade Storm (standard and weak only) – not terribly useful in raids, but it can be used from 10m out to interrupt those sissy mobs.
Saber Ward – You get this early, really early, and at the end game, it’s still really good. It’s a good strategic cooldown for when there is unavoidable damage, or in cases where otherwise you’d have to stop dps and back up from the boss.
Rebuke – is less good than Saber Ward, but it does the trick sometimes. It is really short, but refreshes when you’re hit. If you pop it too early, it disappears before there’s even an opportunity to get a refresh upon hit.
Guarded by the Force – this is the ultimate OH SHIT button. It takes half your current health and trades it for near-invulnerability for a few seconds. Note: half of CURRENT health. If you use it when you’re near full health, your healer will kill you. This is for when you’re at like 10%, about to croak, and you need to get in just a few more hits to finish off the boss.
Force Camo – it’s your aggro dump, and can work as a damage reduction if you don’t hit the mob for its duration. It’s also a small run speed increase, so it’s great for GTFO. In combat spec, you can talent it to break snares too, so even better for GTFO. Watchman spec has a speed increase and duration increase which probably isn’t worth it.
But – get this – according to a guildmate (and unbeknownst to me) it can be used as stealth, like REAL STEALTH past mobs. In which case, a speed increase and duration increase is hawt.5
Resolute – everyone has a snare breaker in some form.
Crowd Control (Ha Ha)
Disable Droid – this only works against droids – however there is no cooldown, so it can be reapplied if (when) some idiot breaks it early. It is decently useful, and can free up the sage or commando in your group to CC the humanoid targets.
Force Stasis (which is less cool than force choke) – this is nice when a mob just will NOT leave you alone in a trash pack, despite your best efforts. It doesn’t work at all on bosses, but it holds the trash up in the air while your best buddies smack the shit out of it.
Before we go into the individual specs, these talents you must have. PERIOD. ALL SPECS.
Dual Wield Mastery: DUH! Guys, seriously! DUH!
Focused Slash: Every spec will benefit from the focus cost reduction. Although the mechanic is a little weird with the “refund” and you need to have that extra focus up-front to even trigger the ability.
Insight: Ok, I think it’s a good idea in every spec, but as you get closer to crit cap, meh, maybe you don’t need it. Maybe. If you can find something significantly better.
Watchman spec focuses on short-duration dots and a steady stream of damage.
Why Watchman Spec is Cool
- High sustained DPS
- Self Healing and Group Healing
- Best Interrupting spec
- Good mobility
Why watchman spec is sometimes uncool
- Even a little dot tracking is hard with the current UI
- Mediocre burst DPS
- Tricky rotation and focus management
- Lousy AOE
You must be in Juyo Form.
Seriously. No debate.
Watchman Talents and Spec
I think this spec is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll highlight a few things that I think are important:
Blurred Speed, Close Quarters, and Focused Leap work together to make Force Leap usable at any range and a powerful focus generator as part of your basic rotation. Being able to use Force Leap at any range also gives you an extra interrupt.
Watchguard lowers the cooldown by Force Kick by 2 seconds. In most situations you won’t need a 6 second Force Kick, but in situations where you do, you’ll be the hero of the raid. Besides, I don’t see anything better to get.
Watchman Abilities and Rotation
Watchman Single Target Abilities
Overload Saber – this puts a lovely burn on your next ability. Use it all the time. This ability does not trigger the GCD.
Cauterize – your standard dot. Use it, love it. It’s only 6 seconds long, so it’s not much to “track”.
Merciless Slash – This is a strange duck and is the hardest part of the rotation. It eats 5 focus, and then burps back 1 – so you need to have at least 5 focus to trigger it. It has a very good chance to reset your Cauterize so you can reapply the dot. Every time you hit this, you get a stack that lowers its cooldown – up to a 3-stack. Keeping up the 3-stack is very important! The more you keep it up, the quicker Merciless Slash comes off cooldown, and the more likely you are to get a reset on Cauterize. It’s a very short window, so you have to be diligent about hitting it right when it comes off cooldown.
Force Leap – If you talent this right, you can use it in the standard course of business for focus generation, which is great. However, in some boss fights, you will need to save it for knockbacks or other strategic times when you will need to leap or interrupt. In those fights, you’ll notice you have noticeably less focus to work with and need to conserve6.
Slash – This ability can reset your Cauterize in this spec, but it has a way lower chance than Merciless Slash. In general, this ability should be avoided unless you have absolutely nothing else you can do (i.e. all your crap is on CD and your focus is close to full)
Don’t bother with Blade Storm in this spec, it is way too expensive.
Watchman Basic Priority Order
Most of your things are on a reasonably long cooldown, so once you get rolling, there won’t be much CHOICE in the matter – it will be whatever happens to be off CD.
Bread and Butter Abilities
- Dispatch (if available)
- Master Strike (should be woven in every CD, as long as your dots are applied and stacks don’t fall off)
- Slash (don’t overdo it)
- Force Leap (if you don’t need to save it for mobility)
- Zealous Strike (under 7 focus – every CD!)
Strategery: Dot and Buff Tracking and Maintenance
In theory you want to do the following:
Keep up Overload Saber. Easy enough. Hit it on cooldown. Duh.
Keep a 3-stack of Merciless on you.
- you must drop everything and hit Merciless Slash pronto when it comes off cooldown. There’s a very small window before your stacks will drop off.
- you must keep your focus at or above 5! Although, talented, Merciless Slash actually costs 4, the mechanic is “spend 5, refund 1″ so you need 5 to trigger.
Use Cauterize whenever possible, without clipping your own dot. You will hear a little “hey!” or “grunt!” when Merciless Slash or Slash has reset the cooldown. As you well know, dot tracking on the boss is horrendous. This is why you should look at your own cooldown on Cauterize before hitting Merciless Slash or Slash. The dot is 6 seconds long. The cooldown is 15 seconds.
- If the cooldown is in the single digits when you reset, it won’t clip.
- If it’s in the double digits, go do something else for a few GCD and THEN reapply Cauterize.
Use Slash Sparingly. Although Slash has a chance to reset Cauterize, if you don’t keep a decent pool of focus built up, you will not have enough when Merciless Slash comes off cooldown, and then your stacks will fall off. Before you use Slash, make sure you aren’t rowing yourself up shit creek.
How Zen Works In Juyo Form
In Juyo Form, Zen makes your dots hit harder but, more importantly, it gives a trickle of health back to the group from those dots. This is a good thing to have when the healers are otherwise occupied or need a little help on heavy-aoe phases.
I’m not putting Zen in the priority list, even though if I did, it’s the biggest DPS boost that you have. That is because, if you’re not an idiot, you’ll realize that you probably want to use it strategically for times when you need a little more DPS or the group needs a trickle of health. If you jam it every time it comes up, you’re doing it wrong.
If you don’t like nasty surprises, don’t use Zen on the Council fight in Eternity Vault. It counts as a “heal” and gives you the “do no damage” debuff.
… is horrible. Just single target.
Combat spec is based around direct damage abilities that proc Ataru strikes for additional damage.
Why Combat Spec is Cool
- Great burst dps. Seriously awesome there.
- Decent sustained DPS too
- Easy focus management
- Straightforward rotation
Why Combat Spec is sometimes uncool
- Focus generation can be sluggish
- Still mostly lousy AOE.
- Not a lot of group/raid utility
You must be in Ataru Form.
If not, you fail.
Combat Talents and Specs
Again, I basically took all the abilities in the tree that weren’t PvP and didn’t suck, but here are some highlights.
Steadfast: This accuracy boost is pretty nice when you’re still gearing and aren’t even close to cap. However, at higher levels it is kind of crap, but there really isn’t anything better to take its place. (Note that Ataru form adds accuracy as well, so that’s a lot of accuracy you can shed if need be.)
Combat Abilities and Rotation
Combat Single Target Abilities
Precision Slash – Gives you 100% armor pen for the next few attacks. This is great if you’re doing trash. Even if the mob dies, it’s a buff on YOU, not a debuff on the mob. This ability does not trigger the GCD.
Blade Rush – This is your filler move but ALSO increases ataru proc rate.
Blade Storm – It is reduced cost in this spec AND is an almost guaranteed crit.
Because many of the hardest hitting abilities are long cooldown and low focus cost or no focus cost, there is no real need to pool focus in this spec.
Combat Basic Priority Order
The key to high dps in this spec is to use the Power Combo and the Zen Combo (both below) as much as possible. Barring that, here’s the basic priority list.
Bread and Butter
- Precision Slash
- Master Strike (ideally right after Precision Slash)
- Blade Storm (ideally next)
- Blade Rush (woven in, see below)
- Zealous Strike (under 7 focus) – use ASAP when off cooldown, or as soon as possible after executing something awesome.
- Strike if you need to
Power Combo Version 1:
- 0:00 Blade Rush (+1.5 sec GCD) (start procs)
- 1.50 Precision Slash (no GCD triggered, start 4.5 second arpen window)
- 1.50 Master Strike (buffed with Precision Slash)
- 4.50 Finish Master Strike
- 4.50 Use Blade Storm (still buffed by Precision Slash, triggers +1.5 GCD, which is irrelevant because you’re done with your combo.)
- 6.00 Precision Slash wears off
This order presumes that it’s better to do Master Strike and THEN Blade Storm because it’s the best chance of getting both in before the window drops. Doing the reverse risks the last tick of Master Strike being cut off. However, getting Blade Storm into that 4.5 second Precision Slash window is definitely more important than all the ticks of Master Strike, and sometimes it’s really hard to hit Precision Slash and then Master Strike in the same millisecond. After all, it’s not like we have macros. If you don’t want to risk Precision Slash falling off before you get to hit Blade Storm, reverse the order.
Power Combo Version 2:
- 0:00 Blade Rush (+1.5 sec GCD) (start procs)
- 1.50 Precision Slash (no GCD triggered, start 4.5 second arpen window)
- 1.50 Use Blade Storm (buffed by Precision Slash, triggers +1.5 sec GCD)
- 3.00 Master Strike (buffed with Precision Slash)
- 6.00 Finish Master Strike (buffed with Precision Slash, may lose on last tick)
- 6.00 Precision Slash wears off (right when you finish Master Strike)
When would you use Version 2?
- If you notice that, for whatever reason, your Precision Slash is falling off before you can use Blade Storm when you are using Version 1. That auto-crit is key and way more important than the last tick of Master Strike.
- If there’s a lot of movement and you might lose time running after the mob.
How Zen Works in Ataru Form (AKA the “Zen Combo”)
Zen is an incredible burst to single-target DPS. It reduces the cooldown and focus cost of Blade Rush (and Slash and Cyclone Slash, but we’re not going to use those.) Therefore, you get to spam the shit out of Blade Rush. But wait – you don’t want to spam the shit out of Blade Rush without getting the most out of it.
You will need to use Precision Slash first. Precision Slash will give you some serious armor pen for the next 4.5 seconds – and you’re going to cram way more hits than usual into the next 4.5 seconds with Zen.
Also, you don’t want to run out of focus during the 4.5 second gap, do you? Nope. So you need to pool your focus a bit first.
Here’s the Zen Combo.
- Step 1: Pool 6 focus (that doesn’t seem like a lot)
- Step 2: Zen
- Step 3: Precision Slash! (1 focus)
- Step 4: 3x Blade Rush (Will use 3 focus, or 4-minus-1 due to refund mechanic)
- Step 5: Blade Storm (2 focus, will hit the tail-end of the Precision Slash buff)7
- Step 6: Use the remaining 3 stacks on Blade Rush at your semi-leisure (before they fall off)
Then lament that none of the above steps involved collecting underpants or profit.
Should I Try to Line Up Cooldowns For Combos/Zen?
You will notice, obviously, that nothing lines up perfectly. Your Precision Slash comes off cooldown but there are still a few seconds left on Blade Storm, or vice versa. This happens naturally, even in ideal conditions, but also will get all screwy when you have to move or switch targets. So do you delay your hard-hitting abilities and wait for the cooldowns so you can do a combo?
Well, it depends. I know that’s not the answer you were looking for but it really depends on the fight (should you wait for a burn window?), movement, how long would you have to wait (2 seconds, sure. 7? ummm), and what else is available (the game changes dramatically when you try to weave in Dispatch).
On a personal level, being a fairly average player, I have found that trying hard to line up cooldowns too much gets me crapular results on the target dummy and is near-impossible in the field. So my only hard-and-fast rule right now is to always hit Blade Storm somewhere in the Precision Slash window for the guaranteed crit. If I can do more than that, awesome.
Strategery: Keeping Ataru Procs Up
This actually seems terribly difficult and it really isn’t. Blade Rush increases your Ataru Proc rate and lasts 6 seconds. And it’s your filler anyway. So just make sure to weave it in and use it every 4th GCD, which probably means every 3rd or 4th ability. See? Easy! (It’s pretty difficult to spend 6 seconds NOT using Blade Rush.)
Your aoe is abysmal (same as watchman) but you can use your Zen to buff it up a bit.
Therefore, your AOE combo would look something like this:
- Force Leap
- Force Sweep
- Zealous Strike
- Maybe Strike to fill up focus a little more
- Precision Slash (Armor pen boost for ALL THE THINGS)
- Cyclone Slash until you’re out of Zen stacks
Focus spec is great for PvP and AOE. It is centered around hard-hitting Force Sweeps.
Why Focus Spec is Cool
- The only spec with good aoe
- Good focus generation (duh).
- Slightly more defense using Shii-Cho Form and mitigation talents
- Decent burst
Why Focus Spec is sometime Uncool
- Single target dps lags behind
- Tracking and managing a stacking buff is annoying
- Burst DPS needs a little ramp-up
You must be in Shii-Cho Form.
I know, it’s not a sexy form. Those stupid guardians have it too.
Focus Talents and Specs
Not much to say about this. I basically avoided PvP abilities and it fell into place. You could move the 2 points from Defensive Forms elsewhere, but I’m not sure where. And, again, it always helps to keep the healers happy.
Focus PvE Abilities and Rotation
Focus Single Target Abilities
OK, I lied, you will be using AOE in your “single target” rotation. If you can’t use Force Sweep, your DPS will go into the shitter.
Force Sweep – Stomp the shit out of things! Ahem….
Zealous Leap – It’s a hard-hitting leap that costs focus – however, it’s a good gap closer at under 10 meters.
Basic Focus Priority
- Force Sweep, ONLY WITH 4x Singularity!
- Zealous Leap
- Force Exhaustion (unless you already have 4 Singularity – in which case delay until after your next Force Sweep)
- Blade Storm (if you can spare the focus)
- Master Strike (every CD, unless it interferes with your main abilities)
Use Slash Sparingly. It is spammable and can eat up all your focus, and when your good stuff comes off cooldown, you’ll be flailing for focus.
- Zealous Strike (under 7 focus) – use ASAP when off cooldown, or as soon as possible after executing something awesome.
- Force Stasis - if you need the singularity stacks
- Strike if you need to…
Zealous Leap technically should be used “before” Force Sweep, because Zealous Leap has a buff (Felling Blow) that makes the next Force Sweep within 20 seconds a crit. Having said that, Force Sweep‘s cooldown is far shorter than that, so go ahead and hit Zealous Leap ASAP when it comes off cooldown. The crit buff will still be there when Force Sweep lights up.
Singularity: Use it, love it
Singularity is awesome. It brings your cost of Force Sweep to zero, and makes it hit like a truck. Don’t worry about generating it too early. I’m not sure how long Singularity lasts, but it’s definitely longer than Force Sweep‘s cooldown.
Force Exhaustion – creates 4 stacks of Singularity. However, it creates them over time! So don’t just hit Force Exhaustion and then Force Sweep. Put some other abilities in the middle. Force Exhaustion is going to be the main way you get stacks, but of course, its cooldown doesn’t QUITE line up with Force Sweep‘s, and you don’t want to delay Force Sweep every time. Never fear, you have other options.
Zen – gives you an INSTANT 4 stacks of Singularity. That’s easy. Hit Zen, and go to town. Just make sure, before you hit Zen, that you don’t already HAVE 4 stacks and that you have emptied your focus bar.
Force Stasis – if Force Exhaustion AND Zen are both down, you can use Force Stasis to build stacks. Since it has a really long cooldown, I use it as a stopgap when the cooldowns aren’t lining up nicely.
How Zen Works in Shii-Cho Form
Zen gives you a full focus bar and 4 stacks of Singularity. In focus spec, there isn’t a strategic use of Zen for burst damage or heals. You use it when it’s up, except for checking a few things so you don’t waste the benefits.
- Do I have 4 Singularity stacks? If yes, wait. No Zen until after your next Force Sweep. If no, go to 2.
- Is my Force Exhaustion cooldown going to end before my Force Sweep cooldown? If yes, use Force Exhaustion to get stacks instead and delay Zen. If no, go to 3.
- Is my focus bar empty? If yes, Zen! If no, empty it (Blade Storm/Slash if the rest is on CD) and then hit Zen.
Yes, get them. Obviously, biostuff is the most useful, BY FAR, to a raider. Reusable stuff is pure win.
(In general, MMO Mechanics is a really good source, but watch out for outdated information.)
Reddit Thread for critique. Thank you all for your constructive feedback! (Warning: contains trolls.)
- Tip from Hodara. ↩
- Check out the Reddit Thread for a more detailed explanation. ↩
- To see the controversy, check out the Reddit Thread. ↩
- TL;DR on Riposte – it’s not worth it to keep 2 focus free on a continual basis JUST IN CASE Riposte comes up. ↩
- Again, thanks Hodara. ↩
- That jerky Terror from Beyond cannot be leapt upon and, as such, that fight is annoying in watchman spec ↩
- Thanks to Rogean on Reddit for helping with this combo! ↩