Last Updated: 5/31/21
Table of Contents
About the Class
Deception Assassin is the Assassin class’s burst DPS discipline. Deception is particularly strong as a melee burst DPS class and is relatively easy to play though it has among the highest skill ceilings to maximize its DPS due to the RNG nature of certain aspects of its rotation. Due to passive abilities in the Deception tree and the Assassin class’s utilities and defensive cooldowns, Deception Assassin is among the very best emergency off-tanks as well.
Utility and Mobility
Assassins have strong utility for a DPS class. They can guard and taunt, they have a 4 second hard stun (Electrocute), an 8 second soft stun (Force Lift), an additional 2 second hard stun (Spike), Force Slow, tank classes can pull certain targets for positioning, all classes have Overload as a knockback, and Deception Assassins can apply Force damage taken and armor rating debuffs to targets.
Regarding mobility, Assassins have very strong mobility when needed. All of the spec abilities are instant. Assassins have a gap closer (Phantom Stride, though it is buggy when not on level terrain), and Force Speed provides a great mobility boost on a very short cooldown (15 seconds with utility). That said, given the power of Phasing Phantasm utility, choosing to use Force Speed for mobility sacrifices an enormously powerful defensive cooldown (though given its short cooldown that usually isn’t a big issue).
Assassins have the best survivability of any class in the game. They enjoy the largest and most powerful selection of defensive cooldowns, of which the most powerful are on a relatively short cooldown. Force Shroud can be used on a 1 minute cooldown to mitigate virtually all Force/Tech damage (and nearly all big hitting abilities in operations are Force/Tech) and/or to self-cleanse. With utilities, Force Cloak can be used every 1:15 to provide a shorter duration Force Shroud. With utility, Force Speed can be used every 15 seconds to provide a brief 60% absorb boost on all damage. And that isn’t even all the defensive abilities!!! Given these abilities (and more), Assassins are the best tanks due to their ability to cheese big hitting mechanics, and Assassin DPS players are the best emergency tanks for the same reason.
Role in Operations
Deception can easily target swap and has very high mobility, so they are ideal choices to swap targets when needed. They do not excel at AoE so are not typically ideal to handle large groups of adds, however. They are also arguably the best emergency tank among all DPS classes due to their passive survivability buffs and powerful defensives.
6.0 Impact on Discipline
Assassin was arguably the strongest overall class in the 5.x update cycle, so it’s not too surprising that it could only go down (somewhat) from there. Great options at both burst and sustained DPS, really strong DWT utility and defensives making them the best “emergency tank”, a very strong class in PVP, and boasting by far the best tank discipline in the game at that time, they had it all.
In the 6.0 cycle (6.1 as of this writing), Assassin has come down somewhat in the rankings. It is unclear where they will settle as we move further through the patch cycle, though early indications were that the DPS disciplines were somewhat underpowered and have received some slight buffs.
The biggest changes to the class relate primarily to the tweak to Phasing Phantasm utility. Prior to 6.0 this provided very frequent 60% damage absorption via Force Speed, making a 2.5s 60% absorb buff available every 15s (that is 20% uptime, which was crazy...and awesome). In 6.0 and moving forward, this utility is worthless for tanks and only provides a 25% buff for DPS.
For Deception, the discipline remains as a strong burst melee DPS class. It has very strong synergy with the Death Knell set bonus, a great primary sustained DPS tactical in The Awakened Flame, a great secondary burst DPS tactical in Blade of the Elements, an AoE DPS tactical that adds much needed AoE sustained DPS in May Cause Injury, and finally a host of useful opener tacticals for swapping out via combat stealth early in the fight to add some impressive burst DPS.
While the competition amongst burst DPS has gotten much tougher in 6.x with Concealment, Lightning and Arsenal all seeing major buffs, Deception remains a solid choice in PVE while maintaining its exceptional performance in PVP.
I usually take some combination of the following Utilities, though the optimal combination can change from fight to fight. As of 6.0, the tiers have been reorganized.
You must take 3 to advanced to Masterful.
Shapeless Spirit - As Darkness, reduces all damage taken while stunned by 30%. As Deception and Hatred, reduces the damage taken from area attacks by 30%.
Should always be taken by DPS players, as nearly every PVE encounter has some form of AoE damage. The utility is somewhat more situational for tanks as stuns are not always present. As a tank, I typically swap between this utility and taking Lambaste when this utility is not needed.
Lambaste - Increases the damage done by Lacerate by 25%.
A situational utility that can be helpful in increasing AoE DPS. I commonly take this utility as a Deception DPS, as it lacks really strong AoE DPS.
Avoidance - Reduces the cooldown of Jolt by 2 seconds, Unbreakable Will by 30 seconds, and Force Speed for 5 seconds.
Previously a must-take in 5.X, this utility is much more situational due to the nerf to Phasing Phantasm in 6.0. I find myself typically choosing between this utility and Assassin’s Shelter as to whether a slight AoE group mitigation buff or increased uptime on mobility/interrupt/stun-breaker is more useful on a fight-by-fight basis. If taking Phasing Phantasm then I do recommend Avoidance.
Assassin’s Shelter - Mass Mind Control provides Assassin’s Shelter to all allies within range, excluding yourself, reducing the damage they take by 5% for the next 6 seconds and healing them for a small amount over the duration.
This utility can provide a marginal mitigation boost and AoE heal. The benefit it provides is minimal, so I only recommend considering in fight where there is heavy sustained AoE damage and where Force Cloak’s use for a more frequent mini-Force Shroud is unlikely to be helpful.
Electric Bindings - Overload unbalances its targets, immobilizing them for 5 seconds. Direct damage dealt after 2 seconds ends the effect prematurely.
Highly situational. This utility has limited applications in Hard and Nightmare Mode operations on several specific fights (e.g., Styrak Nightmare, Tyth Hard/Nightmare).
You must take 6 between Heroic and Masterful.
Audacity - Reduces the cooldown of Overload by 2.5 seconds and Recklessness grants 1 additional charge when activated.
Should always be taken by DPS players as it provides a strict DPS increase. Is not quite as mandatory for tanks though still increases DPS, though can and should be exchanged for another utility where mitigation (Assassin’s Shelter) or movement (Obfuscation) is more useful.
Fade - Reduces the cooldown of Force Cloak by 45 seconds and extends its duration by 5 seconds.
I usually take this utility along with Force Shroud in the Heroic tier. When combined, I effectively gain a second (though slightly shorter) use of Force Shroud on nearly the same cooldown. When used skillfully, this adds another very powerful defensive ability to the Assassin’s kit.
Obfuscation - Increases your movement speed by 15%.
Not a super helpful utility but one I sometimes take in fights with lots of transition. I typically find investing in Avoidance is more useful to have higher uptime on Force Speed, whether for movement or for mitigation if taking Phasing Phantasm.
Emersion - Force Speed grants Emersion, removing all movement-impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration.
A very situational utility for PVE (though amazing for PVP) and should only be taken on fights where it will be useful to avoid slows (e.g. Underlurker Hard Mode).
Dark Stability - Activating Deflection grants 6 seconds of immunity to stun, sleep, lift, and incapacitating effects.
A highly situational utility, it should only be taken by players for specific encounters in PVE.
A maximum of 3 utilities
Shroud of Madness - Activating Force Cloak grants 2 seconds of Force Shroud.
I find this utility incredibly useful for tanks and DPS. Since Force Shroud functions as a self-cleanse, this gives Assassins an additional self-cleanse every 2 minutes (1:15 if taking the Fade utility). If taking Fade, this nearly doubles the availability of Force Shroud (which has a 1 minute cooldown). If tanking, Force Cloak can be used to cheese certain mechanics, though care must be taken to avoid a big hit swapping to another player if timed poorly and ensuring that a taunt is available and used immediately to regain aggro. Particularly for DPS players, this utility can be used to help increase the success rate of stealth rez attempts, since the self-cleanse of Force Shroud should avoid being pulled into combat by a ticking DoT.
Reaper’s Rush - Phantom Stride grants Reaper’s Rush, allowing your next Assassinate to be used on any target, regardless of remaining health. Reaper’s Rush lasts for 10 seconds. Also, if the target of your Phantom Stride is killed within 10 seconds of using Phantom Stride, Phantom Stride’s cooldown is reset.
I always take this utility as a DPS player as it provides a strict DPS increase by enabling more frequent use of Assassinate. For Deception players, it provides an even larger DPS boost due to proccing a full stack Discharge. If I am playing Darkness, I frequently choose between this utility and either Disjunction or Retaliatory Grip depending on whether more mitigation is needed or more DPS (and if so, which DPS utility will provide greater benefit).
Disjunction - Increases the duration of Force Shroud by 2 seconds and Force Speed by 0.5 seconds. Also, Force Speed slows all enemies within 5 meters by 75% for 2.5 seconds when activated.
This utility should be taken by all tanks but generally should not be taken by DPS unless dealing with a very damage intensive fight (thus prioritizing mitigation over the DPS boosting utilities below). The extra 2 seconds of Force Shroud increases from 3 to 5 seconds which can be enormously useful on some fights (e.g., tanking Master’s Ion Cutter attack in the Ravagers / Master & Blaster encounter).
If taking Phasing Phantasm as an Assassin DPS, Disjunction and Avoidance synergize well to increase the effectiveness and uptime of the Force Speed DR.
Retaliatory Grip - Deflection grants Retaliatory Grip, reflecting 50% (or 100% for the Darkness discipline) of all direct single target tech and Force damage back at the attacker. Retaliatory Grip lasts for 12 seconds and does not absorb incoming damage.
The Assassin’s reflect ability is useful but is overall one of the most limited reflects as it (1) reflects the least damage (as little as 50% for DPS specs); and (2) it does not mitigate any damage. It is also notable that it does not reflect melee/ranged single target damage unlike most reflects (though due to the defense buff from Deflection, most melee/ranged single target attacks will be dodged anyway and thus wouldn’t be eligible for reflection). This can be useful in situations where DPS checks are troublesome or in progression, though in general I prefer other utilities for all specs.
Phasing Phantasm - Phantom Stride can be used while immobilized and purges movement-impairing effects when used. Also, Force Speed grants Phasing Phantasm, which reduces all damage taken by 25% for the duration of Force Speed.
This utility was heavily nerfed in 6.0 to reduce the DR from 60% to 25% and removing it entirely for Darkness tanks. As currently constituted the DR can be helpful for fights with high damage taken for DPS or if you may need to emergency tank while a combat revive goes out.
Example Utility Build
Here is what I run for most encounters, though I frequently take other situational utilities for specific fights.
Surging Charge - Utilize a Surging Charge, giving your melee attacks a 50% chance to deal internal damage and build 1 charge of Static Charges. Static Charges stack up to 3 times and increases the damage dealt by your next Discharge. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
This passive provides the key mechanic and RNG nature of the Deception discipline in Static Charges. As these buff Discharge to be your highest DPS ability, maximizing procs of Surging Charge to build 3 Static Charges is key to maximizing usage of Discharge and overall DPS.
Induction - Thrash, Lacerate, Voltaic Slash, Reaping Strike, Maul, and Assassinate grant Induction, reducing the Force cost of your next Shock or Ball Lightning by 25%. Stacks up to 2 times.
This passive introduces yet another stack to manage to maximize DPS in Induction. Ball Lightning does high damage but is very expensive, thus is should only be used with 2 stacks (will be glowing).
Saber Conduit - Your Surging Charge restores 9 Force over 9 seconds when it deals damage to an enemy target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds. Also, Lacerate builds charges of Voltage and Discharge causes its targets to become Vulnerable (take 5% more damage from Force attacks) for 45 seconds.
This passive does a LOT. It increases the importance of proccing Surging Charge as often as possible. It enables the player to use Lacerate twice to build 2 stacks of Voltage (each stack gives +50% chance for Ball Lightning to trigger Surging Charge off its normal rate limit). The Vulnerable debuff is very helpful but not relevant to the rotation since Discharge is used as often as possible anyway.
Dark Embrace - While in stealth mode and for 15 seconds after leaving stealth mode, Force regeneration is increased by 25%.
This passive provides a second reason to use Force Cloak regularly (the first being to lower the cooldown on Recklessness), which is the 15 seconds of increased Force regeneration. More Force = more DPS.
Duplicity - Direct damage attacks grant Duplicity, causing your next Maul to deal 20% more damage and consume 75% less Force. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
Maul is a very expensive ability (40 Force) and deals only moderately more damage than Voltaic Slash. As such, it would not be usable in most circumstances outside of maintaining Dark Embrace if not for this passive ability. This proc should be used every time.
Darkswell - Maul grants 15 seconds of Dark Embrace. While Dark Embrace is active, all damage taken is reduced by 15%.
This passive is key to the energy management of Deception. Skilled players should be looking to maintain full uptime of this buff for energy management purposes. This passive also helps make Deception a very tanky DPS discipline. Since Duplicity can proc every 10 seconds, it should generally be possible to maintain nearly full uptime of this buff without overt changes to the rotation.
Electric Ambush - Recklessness builds 3 Static Charges, and exiting combat reduces the active cooldown of Recklessness by 60 seconds. Also, the critical damage dealt by Maul is increased by 30%.
This passive provides for the use of Force Cloak in the Deception rotation due to the incredible DPS buff provided by Recklessness and being able to dramatically reduce its cooldown.
Assassin's Mark - Maul sunders its target (armor rating -20%) for 45 seconds.
This passive applies the second debuff applied by Deception Assassins, and is notable for being a debuff that is beneficial to all DPS classes.
Entropic Field - Dealing critical damage grants Entropic Field, increasing damage reduction by 3% for 15 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
Another passive increasing the tankiness of Deception. Due to current critical rating levels, it should be possible to maintain nearly full uptime of this buff (+9% damage reduction). Combined with Dark Embrace, this provides Deception Assassins with +22% damage reduction above and beyond the amount provided by other buffs and armor rating, which is phenomenal for a DPS discipline.
Amped Voltage - Activating Phantom Stride builds 3 Static Charges.
This passive provides for the “ping pong” effect that can happen in trash pull situations. When combined with the Phasing Phantasm utility (which should always be taken by an Deception Assassin), a player can use Phantom Stride to proc a buffed Discharge, kill the add which resets Phantom Stride, then bounce to another add and repeat. Phantom Stride should still be used in a single target rotation to enable more frequent use of buffed Discharge.
Gearing in 6.0
Gearing Stat Allocation
For Deception Assassin, I gear as follows:
Set Bonus: Death Knell
Tactical: The Awakened Flame (May Cause Injury for heavy AoE)
Amplifiers: Armor Penetration
Mods: Unlettered Lethal Mods
Relics: Devastating Vengeance & Primeval Fatesealer (Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution for Dxun/PVP)
Adrenal: Critical (Attack for Dxun only)
For Deception Assassin, I allocate my tertiary stats as follows:
Accuracy: 1,585 - 1,630 (anything outside this approximate range and I usually try to re-optimize by swapping around enhancements and augments)
Alacrity: around 1,400 (at least 1,895 if the Zeal guild perk applies)
Critical: all remaining tertiary points go into Critical
Increased drop rate from conquest crates.
(2) +2% Mastery
(4) The cooldown of Recklessness is reduced by 15 seconds. Whenever you consume a charge of Recklessness you gain a stack of Reckless Critical, making your next Maul, Assassinate or Leeching Strike critically hit. Stacks up to 3 times.
(6) Whenever you consume a charge of Recklessness you gain a stack of Reckless Slaughter, increasing melee damage done by 10% for 30 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
Recklessness has a 75s cooldown net of this set bonus, while Force Cloak has a 90s cooldown, assuming you took the Fade utility, and when used will reduce the cooldown of Recklessness by 60s. With typical alacrity levels at the 1.4s or 1.3s global cooldown, the effective cooldown of Recklessness is usually around 65-70s. As such, this means that using Recklessness then Force Cloak will reduce its cooldown to around 5s or so such that it is almost immediately off cooldown again.
Prior to 6.0 and the Death Knell set bonus, the discipline would typically use Recklessness early in the rotation, reset its cooldown with Force Cloak, then use it again as soon as its charges had been consumed by critical hitting abilities. Now with Death Knell, we have to intentionally delay Recklessness due to the 6-piece set bonus…
Each time you consume a charge of Recklessness (consumed by a critical hitting ability), you gain a stack of Reckless Slaughter that buffs your melee damage +10% for 30 seconds and scales to +30% as you consume all 3 charges of Recklessness. With critical chance levels typically already above 40% and the +60% critical buff from Recklessness, it should only take a few GCDs to consume all 3 charges and reach +30% buff. As such, the overall duration of the buff should be around 35-37s or so.
If we used Recklessness, then Force Cloak to reset it, then used it again around 7-10s later after the first charges had been consumed, we would be clipping most of the duration of the 30% melee damage buff from the first cooldown use. To avoid this, the rotation calls for an early use of Recklessness and resetting its cooldown almost immediately, but then waiting 35s or so for the stacks of Reckless Slaughter to fall off before using Recklessness again.
But delaying it significantly reduces how often you can use Recklessness in a boss fight, you say? Not so good sir or madam! Let’s do the math…
You use Recklessness (65s cooldown with a 1.3s GCD), then use Force Cloak. We get back an immediate Recklessness after 5s but Force Cloak is on cooldown for 90s (note this cooldown is NOT affected by alacrity). Whether we use Recklessness in 10s or in 35s we get to essentially the same result as far as overall usage. If we use Recklessness 10s after the first use (the “old way”) then it comes off cooldown 65s later, which is about 80s or so after we used Force Cloak so it is still on cooldown for another 10s. If we delay Recklessness by 30s to let the +30% melee damage buff go its full duration before re-applying it, then Recklessness comes off cooldown 5s + 30s + 65s = 100s after we used Force Cloak. Given Force Cloak’s 90s cooldown, this means we end up delaying Force Cloak by 10s or so under this method.
So is delaying your usage of Force Cloak from its 90s cooldown to 100s worth it in exchange for getting more uptime of the +30% melee damage buff from Reckless Slaughter? YES!!! Under the “old way”, we get around 40-45s of overall uptime per each 90s Force Cloak window, or as much as 50% uptime. Not bad. Under the “new way”, we get 65-70s of uptime per 100s Force Cloak window, or as much as 70% uptime. In exchange for this trade-off, we run the risk of losing one use of Recklessness in very long fights like Izax or Apex Vanguard though most really long fights have downtime that skews this analysis. For any “normal length” fights of 6-7 minutes, you should not even lose one use of Recklessness. Getting a +30% melee damage buff on 2 more out of every 10 melee abilities is a fantastic damage buff so the analysis clearly supports this as being optimal.
Impact on Rotation:
The only change is that now we need to delay Recklessness after its cooldown is reset by Force Cloak so that we get maximum uptime of the +30% melee damage buff from the 6-piece set bonus. Use Recklessness at the normal point in the opener, immediately reset its cooldown with Force Cloak, then watch for the Reckless Slaughter buff to fall off then use Recklessness again.
This should result in Force Cloak coming off cooldown around 10s or so before Recklessness comes off cooldown. Make sure to wait for Recklessness to come off cooldown normally then resume the (use it) / (reset via cloak) / (wait 35s for buff to run) / (use again) strategy.
When to Take:
This set bonus is the preferred choice for both DPS disciplines and is particularly strong for Deception due to its ability to use Recklessness more frequently via the Electric Ambush passive ability. Take in all situations.
The Awakened Flame
Increased drop rate from operations.
When Ball Lightning deals damage, it causes its target to take elemental damage over 6 seconds.
Each use of Ball Lightning applies a DoT called Burning Bolts that ticks once every 1.5s (before alacrity) for 6s (so 4 ticks total). The ability ticks appear to average around 75-80% of the total damage applied by Ball Lightning, so the net effect of this tactical is to buff its damage by the same amount leading to nearly double the overall damage.
For context, Ball Lightning normally comprises around 15% or so of total damage in a good parse, so its buff corresponds to an overall DPS increase of around 10% or so. Given that Ball Lightning has a cooldown of 6s and should be used on cooldown to generate stacks of Static Charges, this means the DoT should have nearly 100% uptime.
Impact on Rotation:
No change to rotation. Ball Lightning continues to have a very high priority behind only Voltaic Slash to keep Voltage stacks up and Discharge when at 3 stacks of Static Charges.
When to Take:
I recommend taking in all PVE encounters except those with exceptionally high sustained AoE damage requirements or if burst DPS is anticipated to be an issue. In those cases take May Cause Injury for AoE or Blade of the Elements for burst DPS.
Blade of the Elements
Increased drop rate from flashpoints.
The critical hit chance of Reaping Strike is increased by 50% per Voltage stack. Critically hitting with Voltaic Slash reduces the cooldown of Reaping Strike by 1.5 seconds.
This tactical seems designed to be the “burst tactical” option for the discipline. Deception is already a very strong burst class that lacks sustained DPS compared to some disciplines (above 30% health anyway) and AoE sustained DPS. So it seems unlikely this one will be as useful but let’s give it a whirl…
Reaping Strike has a base cooldown of 18s before alacrity or 12 GCDs. With a 1.3s GCD the cooldown is still 12 GCDs but down to 15.6 seconds. Ideally we would use the ability once every 12 GCDs, though due to the complicated ability priority list it is frequently delayed 2-5 GCDs depending on what the rotation is doing at that time. Discharge and Ball Lightning should be used on cooldown, Voltaic Slash should be used frequently to maintain buffs, Maul needs to be used periodically to maintain Force regeneration, and so on.
The first part of the tactical is the most powerful and reliable element. Tweaking the rotation to ensure you always use Reaping Strike with 2 stacks of Voltage is fairly straightforward, meaning you should have each Reaping Strike be an automatic critical hit with a huge “super crit” buff to critical damage. That makes the opener that much stronger between 2-3 uses of Discharge, a procced Assassinate and then this ability along with the regular ability usage.
In an average rotation, I would expect a skilled Deception player to use Voltaic Slash 2 - 5 times between uses of Reaping Strike. As noted above, this normally would not involve using Reaping Strike on cooldown anyway and if we contemplate a reduced cooldown it would be even lower. So let’s use 2 uses of Voltaic Slash as a baseline while keeping in mind it might be 0-4 in practice.
A typical critical chance in 6.x for this discipline should be around 45% and Voltaic Slash hits the enemy twice per activation. So we should get on average 4 ticks of damage and chances to critically hit, of which we should get 1 critical hit nearly all the time and 2 crits almost half the time. Let’s call it 2 crits and round up for us being lucky. That means we should get on average around 3s of cooldown reduction for Reaping Strike and reduce its cooldown from 12 GCDs to 10 GCDs (a 20% increase in uptime)
The downside to the CD reduction has several elements. First, any cooldown reduction isn’t a straight DPS buff because the ability consumes a GCD so the actual DPS increase is based on the trade-off between using Reaping Strike versus whatever we would otherwise have used. This should nearly always be Voltaic Slash and thus would be a DPS gain even before the critical chance buff.
Second, the nuances of the rotation are such that we can’t count on using Reaping Strike on cooldown even with this damage buff. It is still a relatively long cooldown ability so the overall trade-off to prioritizing Ball Lightning or Assassinate (while sub-30% HP) is still against this tactical’s benefit. Thus we can count on using the ability more often but not as often as the CD reduction would suggest.
So to summarize, this tactical makes Reaping Strike a much more powerful burst damage ability via the critical chance buff. It provides a nice potential cooldown reduction as well, though that buff is likely to be partially wasted due to the nuances of the rotation. On balance, this makes the tactical great for PVP where burst is king and potentially for specific fights where burst DPS is a concern. That said, it fails in comparison to The Awakened Flame that provides an extra DoT with full uptime as compared to the once-every-10-to-12-GCD Reaping Strike per this tactical.
Impact on Rotation:
Reaping Strike remains a high priority item and should be utilized as close to on cooldown as possible within the priority. It is worth delaying it a GCD to make sure it is only ever used with full stacks of Voltage for the +100% critical chance.
When to Take:
Not recommended for PVE content but may be optimal for PVP.
Crafted by Armstech.
Phantom Stride has 2 charges.
I believe this tactical would be useful in the opener if not for Two Cloaks being better. Assassin players (along with Operative players) can utilize one tactical in the opener or early stages of an encounter then use their out-of-combat time following combat stealth to swap tacticals before rejoining the fight. Let’s unpack why you should never really take Jerra’s Persistence.
Phantom Stride is a great ability for Deception due to the Amped Voltage passive ability, which causes the ability to build 3 stacks of Static Charges and enable a fully buffed Discharge. The key to maximizing DPS for this discipline is maximizing the generation of stacks of Static Charges, so this a clear DPS gain.
In this sense, Jerra’s Persistence is great in that it provides a clear additional use of a fully buffed Discharge in the opener (as discussed in the next bullet point). Via a utility a second use can also provide an extra use of Assassinate in the opener as well, which is a DPS gain versus an extra use of Voltaic Slash. This initially appears superior to Two Cloaks as Force Cloak does not directly provide an additional use of Discharge…
The key to Two Cloaks being superior resides in the Death Knell set bonus and the Electric Ambush passive ability. Together these provide that Recklessness has its cooldown reduced by 15s all the time, using it grants 3 charges of Static Charges (enabling an immediate fully buffed Discharge), using Force Cloak reduces its cooldown by 60s, using it grants 3 charges to make either Assassinate or Maul a critical hit, and finally using it also grants a stacking melee damage buff that caps at +30% with a 30s duration.
So when we consider all the additional buffs provided by Two Cloaks and being able to get an extra use of Recklessness, it is no contest. When you consider that an extra use of Force Cloak can have powerful implications for survivability by providing an extra self-cleanse via the Force Shroud provided via utility, an extra cheese of damage via the same, or even an extra attempt to stealth rez if the first one fails, it becomes even more lopsided.
Impact on Rotation:
Use back to back Phantom Stride / Discharge in the opener after Recklessness / Discharge, and do so any time downtime allows you to get 2 charges built up.
When to Take:
Not recommended. I strongly suggest taking Two Cloaks in the opener and swapping it out during the second Force Cloak for another tactical better suited to the rest of the encounter (see below for various options).
May Cause Injury
Increased drop rate from flashpoints.
Activating Severing Slash causes your next Discharge to arc to multiple targets.
Deception has very poor sustained AoE DPS as it’s AoE rotation is limited to spamming your basic AoE attack. Adding Severing Slash provides an AoE damage buff and synergizes well with this tactical for the sole purpose in which the new ability is useful. This tactical provides a much needed buff in a content era that provides nearly every DPS class with very powerful AoE DPS, and a few fights in Hive Queen and a few Dxun fights that require very high sustained AoE DPS.
Impact on Rotation:
Use Severing Slash on cooldown in very heavy AoE situations to ensure each use of Discharge to be an AoE ability.
When to Take:
In encounters with very heavy sustained AoE DPS requirements. Hive Queen, Dxun Holding Pens and Dxun Control Center are the two best candidates. It is also likely preferred for many Flashpoint runs while clearing trash then swapping to The Awakened Flame for boss encounters.
Increased drop rate from PVP.
Force Cloak has 2 charges.
UPDATE - Tactical swapping is no longer a viable strategy in combat, so this tactical is not recommended for any PVE content. Two Cloaks remains a very useful tactical for PVP since the extra self-cleanse and stealth out can be very useful.
Two Cloaks is handy because it lets you reset the cooldown of Recklessness a second time in the opener. With the Death Knell set bonus, this means 3 more auto crits from the +60% critical bonus, 3 more auto crits from Assassinate or Maul, and more uptime on the +30% melee damage buff from Reckless Slaughter.
The key point to bear in mind is that the tactical does not increase the rate at which you recover charges of Two Cloaks. If you use Force Cloak nearly on cooldown per the normal rotation guide, then you will only get one extra use for an entire fight via this tactical.
As such, it is ONLY worth taking if you are able to swap tacticals during the cloak phase. This involves swapping tacticals during the first cloak while out of combat, which leaves the remaining charge intact but you got the benefit of the extra one and now have a more viable tactical for the remainder of the fight.
Impact on Rotation:
Only use for the opener. The Death Knell opener should go normally where Recklessness is used very early then immediately reset via the first Force Cloak. The player should swap tacticals at this point. They then wait around 35s for the Reckless Slaughter +30% melee damage buff to expire then use Recklessness again and reset its cooldown again via Force Cloak. Then go into the normal rotation where you delay Force Cloak slightly to allow for Recklessness to come off cooldown, use it immediately, then reset its cooldown via Force Cloak and wait 35s to reuse it.
When to Take:
I recommend this tactical for all encounters provided the player is comfortable with the quick swap. Taking more than 1 GCD (at the absolute most) is as much as is allowable to make this tactical worth using. I highly recommend putting the tactical you will swap in on your quickbar so you can hit [Force Cloak] -> [New Tactical] without losing more than a fraction of a GCD.
Friend of the Force
Increased drop rate from Onderon and Mek'sha daily missions.
Force Shroud also applies to any ally you are guarding.
UPDATE - A previous update changed the mechanics for Guard such that non-tanks guarding players have their damage reduced by 50%. As such, Friend of the Force is not recommended unless you really really need it to cleanse another player and do not mind sacrificing significant DPS to do so. If so, wait to guard the player until just before you activate Force Shroud, then remove Guard after Force Shroud cleanses you and the guarded player.
Friend of the Force is a really neat tactical for utility purposes but adds nothing to your DPS. As its description clearly implies, its value resides in helping another player mitigate big damage spikes and/or provide an additional cleanse.
There are two primary scenarios where I find this tactical potentially useful. First, I might take this tactical to share my Force Shroud with my other tank or a DPS/healer for predictable big damage spikes. If sharing with a tank, I make sure I am only guarding them immediately before hitting Force Shroud and remove it right after the defensive expires.
The second use is as an additional cleanse to a teammate. Most cleanse mechanics in boss encounters can be handled adequately by healers and tanks/DPS with built-in self cleanses. Having a couple Powertech or Sniper players is not a big deal for most fights. There are some exceptions where DoT cleanse mechanics become critical and being able to consistently get someone else’s cleanse can make a huge difference:
TFB Dread Guards: Help someone cheese Lightning Field, help a tank survive Force Leech damage
DF Draxus: Help a tank or melee DPS survive the exploding Subteroths in first wave, help self-cleanse Mass Affliction if it goes off
DF Corruptor Zero: Help a tank survive channeled attacks, enable a cleanse of tank if no tech healer is present
DF Brontes: Enable two people to cheese orbs during push to clockwork phase
DP Tyrans: Help tank avoid damage from Thundering Blast
DP Calphayus: Additional cleanse for group going Right in first phase if an add gets its cast off
DP Council: Additional cleanse for Death Mark
Ravagers Sparky: Help tank cheese damage from Brutalize
Torque: Help another melee player avoid damage from fire AoEs
Master & Blaster: Use to help a non-Assassin take Ion Cutter stacks without taking damage, or alternate with a Assassin tank holding Master to help avoid damage from basic attacks, or help whomever is holding Master during burn phase avoid damage from conal channel
Pirate Captains: Additional cleanse of DoTs, help two players run through red circles to clean them up
ToS Revan: Help a tank resist damage from Trail of Agony on first floor
Gods Aivela & Esne: Help another player survive a hit by Overdrive Energy Burst (AoE during burn phase) or help a player survive Purification Beam (wiper phase) if they are Spiked (tank) or just are unfamiliar with mechanics, could also be used to enable a DPS to stay in the middle more easily to DPS the Nexus
Gods Nahut: Help a tank move while affected by Mass Distortion
Gods Scyva: Help another tank survive Accelerated Destruction channel, help a fellow player survive Extinction Protocol
Gods Izax: Help another player mitigate damage from Induction Cascade
Dxun Red: Help a tank mitigate damage from Acid Jet
Dxun Trandoshans: Additional cleanses for tanks holding Kronissus or Hissyphus
Dxun Huntmaster: Help tank mitigate damage from Penetrating Shots
Dxun Apex Vanguard: Provide a dual cleanse of Contagion for yourself and a teammate without a self cleanse
Impact on Rotation:
No change, just make sure you apply a guard to the player you intend to buff prior to hitting Force Shroud.
When to Take:
This tactical is very situational to your playstyle, group composition and relative experience of teammates. In a wide range of circumstances it can be very helpful and should be taken, but only when you CAN use it to mitigate big damage by sharing the defensive and when you WILL actually do so in a timely and consistent fashion. If not, take a different tactical to buff your DPS.
The majority of damage dealt by Deception is energy damage so is buffed most powerfully by Armor Penetration. Armor Penetration is also the second best amplifier for Hatred so is a really great choice of amplifier if you run both disciplines.
Severing Slash (20 Force, 12s cooldown, 5m range) NEW IN 6.0 - Strikes targets in a cone, dealing weapon damage and slowing their movement speed by 50% for 3 seconds.
New ability for 6.0, it will have minimal use in PVE content.
Saber Strike (no cooldown) - Basic attack.
Free filler ability, it should only be used very infrequently when main tanking an encounter, and somewhat often when off-tanking.
Phantom Stride (30s cooldown, range 30m) - Teleports to your target and increases your movement speed by 75% for 3 seconds.
Assassin’s gap closer and with a utility can be used to proc Assassinate. For Deception Assassins, it procs a full stack Discharge. Be wary of using Phantom Stride when elevation changes are relevant, as it can bug and leave you in a weird position or even kill you (e.g., I have died several times using Phantom Stride to get onto the tanks in the Firebrand & Stormcaller encounter in the Explosive Conflict operation).
Discharge (20 Force, no cooldown, range 10m) - Deals high internal damage. Damage scales up with each stack of Static Charges.
Highest DPS ability that should only be used with 3 stacks of Static Charges (will be glowing). Should be used immediately after getting to 3 stacks so as to avoid capping and wasting a stack of Static Charges from a proc of Surging Charge.
Ball Lightning (32 Force, 6s cooldown, range 10m) - Replaces Shock. Blasts the target for high kinetic damage.
The second key ability for Deception, Ball Lightning deals good damage but is very expensive. Optimal rotation should use Ball Lightning nearly on cooldown but with 2 stacks of Voltage (+50% chance per stack to proc Surging Charge off rate limit) and 2 stacks of Induction (-25% Force cost per stack). This guarantees an extra Surging Charge proc and an extra stack of Static Charges (which enables more frequent use of buffed Discharge) and maximizes the DPS/Force of this ability.
Reaping Strike (15 Force, 18s cooldown) - Last the target with an acrobatic strike dealing high weapon damage. Only usable from stealth or within 15 seconds of performing a critical strike.
A high damage filler with a relatively long cooldown, Reaping Strike should be used within the 15s proc window but takes a relatively low priority for other abilities due to the rate limit on proccing its use.
Assassinate (10 Force, 6s cooldown) - Issues a subduing strike, dealing high weapon damage. Only usable on targets at or below 30% max health.
The Assassin’s execute ability, it can also be procced by Phantom Stride (with utility) while above 30% health. Assassinate is not a high priority when procced as long as it is used before the proc expires. Once the boss is below 30%, Assassinate takes priority over every ability except buffed Discharge, Ball Lightning (with 2 stacks of Voltage) and Voltaic Slash when used to proc Surging Charge.
Maul (40 Force, no cooldown) - Deals high weapon damage to a single target if used from behind the target or medium damage otherwise.
Maul is a very expensive ability absent a proc and should rarely be used outside of a proc of Duplicity. When it procs (and Maul is glowing) it should be used relatively quickly. The buff causes it do 20% more damage and cost 75% less Force (so only 10 Force) making it a very good DPS ability. Even better, Maul grants the Dark Embrace buff (+25% Force regeneration, +15% damage reduction). Maul should be prioritized to avoid letting the Duplicity buff expire and to maintain the Dark Embrace buff, even if that means using an unbuffed (and very expensive) Maul.
Voltaic Slash (20 Force, no cooldown) - Strikes the target twice dealing medium damage.
Deception’s spammable filler ability that replaces Thrash. Voltaic Slash also builds stacks of Voltage (15s duration) that give Ball Lightning a +50% chance to trigger Surging Charge off its normal 6s rate limit, and stacks of Induction (15s duration) that reduce the Force cost of Ball Lightning by 25% per stack. As such, Voltaic Slash enjoys an odd priority where it normally is a very low priority filler (only above Saber Strike) but every 6s / 4 GCDs it takes top priority to proc Surging Charge and generate a stack of Static Charges. Timing the use of Voltaic Slash in this manner is a key to maximizing the DPS of this discipline.
Lacerate (20 Force, no cooldown) - Deals low weapon damage to up to 8 targets within 5 meters.
Assassin’s spammable AoE filler ability. Can be buffed 25% with a utility and generates stacks of Voltage similarly to Voltaic Slash. It has very little use in single target rotations other than it can be used pre fight or during movement/downtime phases to generate/maintain stacks of Voltage (+50% chance for Ball Lightning to trigger Surging Charge) and Induction (reduces Force cost of Ball Lightning by 25%).
Recklessness (instant, free, 90s cooldown) - Grants 2 charges of Recklessness (3 w/ utility), which increases the critical chance of your Force attacks and heals by 60%. Each time an ability crits, a charge is removed.
A very powerful cooldown for Deception, using it immediately grants 3 stacks of Static Charges to enable use of Discharge. Using Force Cloak also reduces its cooldown by 60 seconds via the Electric Ambush passive ability. It should be used as close to on cooldown as possible without capping Static Charges (i.e., use the next time you activate Discharge, as at that point you will have 0 stacks so won’t be wasting any by using this ability).
Force Cloak (120s cooldown) - Combat stealth ability removes you from combat. Taking damage while in stealth will make you reenter combat.
A great utility ability for Assassins as it enables a stealth rez and via the Shroud of Madness utility (grants 2 seconds of Force Shroud) can be used as a defensive cooldown / self-cleanse. Even better, Deception benefits from the Electric Ambush passive ability that causes your combat stealth to reduce the cooldown of Recklessness by 60 seconds. As such, your combat stealth becomes an ability you should use as often as possible after a use of Discharge.
(Pre-fight) Lacerate x2 - Builds 2 stacks of Voltage and Induction
(Pre-fight) Stealth - Used to ensure we gain Dark Embrace when exiting stealth to attack
Recklessness OFF GCD - Used to generate 3 stacks of Static Charges
Attack Adrenal OFF GCD Entering opener burst window so want to maximize damage
Discharge @3 stacks of Static Charges
Force Cloak OFF GCD - Used immediately after Recklessness to reduces its CD by 60s
Phantom Stride OFF-GCD - Used to build 3 stacks of Static Charges and with the Phasing Phantasm utility to proc Assassinate
Discharge @3 stacks of Static Charges
Overcharged Saber OFF GCD - Used here since it increases the chance to trigger Surging Charge by 25%, which would not be useful until this point
Ball Lightning - Since 2 stacks of Voltage are active, should trigger Surging Charge
Reaping Strike - High DPS filler
Maul - Procced, used to deal damage and maintain Dark Embrace
Assassinate - Procced by Phantom Stride
Ball Lightning OFF GCD
Voltaic Slash - Filler
(Continue general rotation priority)
The Deception Assassin rotation is a very fluid priority system due to the 50% chance of melee attacks proccing Surging Charge to build stacks of Static Charges. This changes the timing of when Discharge can be used as well as when Voltaic Slash should be prioritized to proc Surging Charge. As such, it is best to recap on the key buffs/procs that need to be monitored to determine the appropriate priority.
50% chance to trigger from melee attacks, builds 1 stack of Static Charges, normally can only occur once every 6 seconds.
Used to buff Discharge for maximum damage. Requires 3 stacks to enable buffed Discharge. Can be generated by (1) triggering Surging Charge (50% chance from melee attacks once every 6 seconds) and (2) Ball Lightning (+50% chance per stack of Voltage)
Increases the chance of Ball Lightning to trigger Surging Charge by 50% up to a maximum of 100%. Generated by using Voltaic Slash and lasts for 15s.
Reduces the Force cost of Ball Lightning by 25% up to a maximum of 15s. Generated by using any melee attack and lasts for 15s.
Increases Force regeneration by 25% for 15s. Triggered by Maul.
There are some other buffs but the rest should happen naturally and don’t impact the rotation playstyle...and let’s be honest 5 different buffs is plenty to be watching.
Let’s start with Static Charges and Surging Charge as they are the most important. The two are interrelated in that Surging Charge is how Static Charges are built. Thus the only way to know when Surging Charge procs is when a stack of Static Charges is added to the buff bar (excluding Ball Lightning with 2 stacks of Voltage that guarantees a “bonus proc” of Surging Charge). Given there is a 50% chance of melee attacks triggering Surging Charge and it can only be triggered every 6 seconds / 4 GCDs, the rotation should ensure that a melee attack is used every 4 GCDs. Also an important note - Voltaic Slash has two attacks and Lacerate has 3 so has a 75% and 87.5% chance to trigger Surging Charge, respectively.
Also important to note is that Ball Lightning is guaranteed to trigger a bonus proc of Surging Charge with 2 stacks of Voltage, so should be utilized on cooldown.
Induction can be ignored to a large degree as we already need to use a melee attack every 6 seconds / 4 GCDs to trigger Surging Charge. This aligns with the cooldown of Ball Lightning so each use should at a minimum require 25% less Force or possibly 50% less Force.
Voltage needs to be watched but most of the time will not impact the rotation. Unlike Surging Charge or Induction - both of which can be triggered by melee attacks - Voltage can only be built / refreshed by Voltaic Slash. Voltage has a 15s duration so that leads to a requirement to use Voltaic Slash every 10 GCDs. Given that Voltaic Slash has 2 attacks and thus a 75% chance to trigger Surging Charge (i.e., 50% + [50% x 50%] = 75%) instead of 50% for other melee abilities, it should be prioritized in any cases where the player knows they can generate Surging Charge and delaying another ability (procs of Assassinate or Maul) a GCD won’t delay the rotation.
Finally, Dark Embrace requires monitoring but for the most part should be taken care of automatically. Duplicity can trigger every 10 seconds whereas Dark Embrace lasts 15 seconds. As such, using Maul each time it procs within a few GCDs should maintain nearly full uptime on this buff.
1. Use a melee ability every 4 GCDs to proc Surging Charge (builds Static Charges to buff Discharge), maintain 2 stacks of Voltage (ensures Ball Lightning gives a bonus proc of Surging Charge), and build 1 stack of Induction (reduces cost of Ball Lightning).
2. Ball Lightning on cooldown every 4 GCDs to proc Surging Charge
3. Voltaic Slash at least every 10 GCDs to maintain Voltage and preferably at least once every 4 GCDs to build Induction to reduce the cost of Ball Lightning.
4. Voltaic Slash every 4 GCDs when doing so will not delay the overall usage of a higher priority ability, as it is more effective at generating stacks of Surging Charge
5. Maul within 4-5 GCDs when procced by Duplicity to maintain uptime of Dark Embrace (+25% Force regen, +15% damage reduction)
1. Discharge @ 3 stacks of Static Charges - Discharge is top damaging ability and should be used at 3 stacks ASAP. Delaying Discharge while at 3 stacks could lead to a melee ability proccing Surging Charge and wasting a stack of Static Charges.
2. Voltaic Slash (if about to lose Voltage) - Voltage is critical to ensuring Ball Lightning gets a bonus proc of Surging Charge. That said, this situation should be fairly rare so will not typically be required to prioritize Voltaic Slash this highly except during periods of downtime.
3. Ball Lightning @ 2 stacks of Voltage (should always have 2 stacks of Voltage) - Is guaranteed to provide a bonus proc of Surging Charge. Since Ball Lightning has a 6 second cooldown just like the rate limit on Surging Charge, this prioritization should nearly double the rate of using Discharge @ 3 stacks.
4. Assassinate (If <30% boss health) - Assassinate is an amazing DPS ability given its high damage, low cooldown during execute phase, and very low Force cost (10 Force). It should take priority over anything that doesn’t lead to faster use of Discharge. That only leaves Discharge @ 3 stacks, Ball Lightning (due to bonus proc), and Voltaic Slash (when needed to maintain Voltage stacks) as higher priorities.
5. Reaping Strike - Reaping Strike has a long cooldown but deals high damage. Any abilities prioritized below are due to procs that are independent of when the ability is used, thus delaying them for Reaping Strike won’t reduce the frequency with which they can be used.
6. Voltaic Slash (If able to proc Surging Charge) - Voltaic Slash has half again the chance of triggering Surging Charge (75% due to having 2 attacks per activation, versus 50% for other single target melee attacks). Thus, any time it has been 4 GCDs since the last proc and Voltaic Slash can be used without wasting a proc for Assassinate or Maul, it should be used to maximize the rate of Surging Charge procs.
7. Assassinate (If procced by Phantom Stride) - When procced by Phantom Stride, Assassinate just needs to be used within the proc window.
8. Maul (If glowing) - Maul does not have a cooldown and should proc Duplicity every 10s. Therefore, when procced Maul should be used within 6 GCDs but otherwise should not be prioritized any higher unless Dark Embrace has fallen off.
9. Voltaic Slash (If above 25 Force) - Voltaic Slash remains the spammable filler to the extent Force levels permit. With full uptime of Dark Embrace, Voltaic Slash will be used more frequently than Thrash is by either Darkness or Hatred.
10. Saber Strike (If below 25 Force)
11. Low Slash (If at range) - Low Slash does minimal damage but is the only 30m ranged ability for Deception.
12. Lacerate (If during transition) - Use to maintain 2 stacks of Voltage and Induction
Force Management & Maul
Force management as a Deception Assassin is pretty easy once you get the hang of the rotation. There are a few key buffs and passives mentioned above that are key to balancing your Force regeneration with ability activation costs. Here are the key ones to consider:
Induction (passive skill) - Thrash, Lacerate, Voltaic Slash, Reaping Strike, Maul, and Assassinate grant Induction, reducing the Force cost of your next Shock or Ball Lightning by 25%. Stacks up to 2 times.
Saber Conduit (passive skill) - Your Surging Charge restores 9 Force over 9 seconds when it deals damage to an enemy target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
Duplicity (passive skill) - Direct damage attacks grant Duplicity, causing your next Maul to deal 20% more damage and consume 75% less Force. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
Dark Embrace (passive skill) - While in stealth mode and for 15 seconds after leaving stealth mode, Force regeneration is increased by 25%.
Darkswell (passive skill) - Maul grants 15 seconds of Dark Embrace.
Inclusive of these passive benefits to Force ability costs and regeneration rate, we end up with the following net costs:
Discharge - 20 Force (we can use once every 10 seconds or so)
Ball Lightning - 16 Force w/ 2 stacks of Induction (6 second cooldown)
Reaping Strike - 15 Force (18 second cooldown)
Assassinate - 10 Force (6 second cooldown sub-30% health)
Maul - 10 Force w/ Duplicity (40 Force w/o glowing) (10 second cooldown on proc)
Voltaic Slash - 20 Force (no cooldown)
Assuming no alacrity, our base Force regeneration rate is 8 Force per second and is buffed to 10 Force per second assuming we keep full uptime on the Dark Embrace buff. The Saber Conduit buff can usually be maintained about two-third's of the time, which averages out to around 0.7 extra Force regeneration per second. Altogether, we can expect an average Force regeneration rate of 10.7 Force per second.
It is worth noting that gearing with alacrity to increase your ability activation speed should be net neutral to Force regeneration assuming your alacrity is close to the breakpoint for the global cooldown. If you over gear alacrity then you should have slightly higher Force regeneration. Please note the below comments are all considered prior to the effects of alacrity but the net conclusion should remain the same regardless of alacrity gearing.
Above 30% boss health and with the Reaper's Rush utility to use a buffed Assassinate, my average Force expenditure typically works out to a bit over 10 Force per second. Compared with Force regeneration of 10.7 per second, this means the Infiltration rotation should be slightly net positive in energy.
Below 30% boss health you should be using Assassinate on its short 6 second cooldown to replace most uses of Voltaic Slash. This change the rotation to be much more positive in net Force.
We should also note that while parsing should have no downtime, in most boss encounters there are movement phases, transition downtime, target swapping, etc., that lead to bonus Force regeneration without being able to activate abilities. Given that and the above, we should be able to count on some extra Force above 30% boss health and quite a bit of extra Force sub-30%.
However can we use that extra Force for more DPS? Enter the risky strategy of using Maul without its glowy buff...
Maul should primarily be used when glowing due to Duplicity. The passive skill can trigger every 10 seconds to cause Maul to deal 20% more damage and cost 75% less energy. This makes Maul a powerful and energy efficient filler with the Infiltration Tactics buff, and also maintains the Dark Embrace buff to energy regeneration.
This begs the question as to whether and in what circumstances should you use Maul outside the Duplicity proc (i.e., when it is not glowing)?
The simple answer is only use Maul when it is glowing. Dark Embrace lasts for 15 seconds and Duplicity can trigger every 10 seconds, so you should never have to use Maul unbuffed to maintain your energy regeneration buff. Maul costs 40 Force to use unbuffed and only 10 Force with the Duplicity buff, so using an unbuffed Maul is EXTREMELY expensive!
As discussed above, in most situations the Deception rotation should be net positive for energy and can support using an unbuffed Maul occasionally. This is an advanced tactic and should be used very carefully, because having to use Saber Strike or delaying Discharge or Ball Lightning makes the tactic a DPS loss.
My approach to using unbuffed Maul breaks down as follows:
Above 30% boss health - I try to use an extra Maul when I am above 70% or so Force
Below 30% boss health - I try to use Maul on cooldown. Ball Lightning and Assassinate remain higher priority on a 6 second / 4 GCD cooldown, as do Discharge when glowing and Voltaic Slash at least once every 15 seconds to maintain the Voltage buff. Duplicity will also continue to proc around every 10-12 seconds and allow a buffed Maul. All of this combines to mean that I use Maul as often as I am able.
Be careful when using this strategy. It can be a meaningful DPS increase but requires keeping a close eye on your Force to make sure you can continue to use higher priority abilities.
Recklessness & Death Knell
Assuming the player is equipping the Death Knell 6-piece set bonus, properly managing Recklessness and the Reckless Slaughter buff provided by the Death Knell set is very important.
As a quick reminder, Recklessness grants 2 charges that increase the critical chance of attacks by 60% and each attack that critically hits consumes 1 charge. Recklessness normally has a 90 second cooldown.
Deception Assassins also benefit from the Electric Ambush passive skill. Electric Ambush causes Recklessness to generate 3 Static Charges and lets us use a fully buffed Discharge. Electric Ambush also causes Force Cloak to reduce the cooldown of Recklessness by 60 seconds and increases the critical damage dealt by Maul by 30%.
All Assassins can benefit from the Audacity Masterful utility that increases the charges granted by Recklessness from 2 to 3.
The Death Knell 4-piece set bonus reduces the cooldown of Recklessness by 15 seconds and each time a Recklessness charge is consumed (i.e., an attack critically hits) you receive 1 stack of Reckless Critical that makes Maul or Assassinate critically hit. Stacks of Reckless Critical can accumulate up to 3 stacks.
The Death Knell 6-piece set bonus applies a 10% melee damage buff called Reckless Slaughter each time you consume a charge of Recklessness. Reckless Slaughter lasts 30 seconds and can stack up to 3 times, so can reach +30% melee damage.
So with the Death Knell set bonus and the Audacity utility, Assassins have a 75 second cooldown on Recklessness and it grants 3 charges that grant +60% critical chance to attacks and as those charges are consumed will make 3 extra Maul or Assassinate attacks auto-crits and will grant +30% melee damage. Deception Assassins also receive 3 stacks of Static Charges from Recklessness to enable a fully buffed Discharge. Lastly, Deception Assassins can use Force Cloak (2 minute cooldown, 1:15 minutes with Fade utility), to reduce the cooldown of Recklessness by 60 seconds which almost completely resets its cooldown.
Hopefully this is obvious by now but Recklessness is really strong and important to maximizing DPS as an Assassin and particularly as an Deception Assassin.
There are a few key guidelines to follow when using Recklessness as a Death Knell Deception Assassin:
Always take the Audacity and Fade utilities. Audacity causes Recklessness to grant 3 charges instead of 2 and Fade reduces the cooldown of Force Cloak from 120 seconds to 75 seconds. These are huge DPS increases since each extra charge of Recklessness means an extra +60% critical chance on an attack, an extra charge of Reckless Critical (auto-crit of Maul or Assassinate) and an extra charge of Reckless Slaughter (+10% melee attack damage for 30 seconds). Fade almost doubles your uptime of Force Cloak for which ease use grants an extra Recklessness. Taking these utilities together should more than double the DPS increase provided by Recklessness. I do not believe there are ANY disciplines that get more DPS from utilities than Deception Assassins, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take these utilities.
Only use Recklessness in your opener or when at 0 stacks of Static Charges. The Deception rotation is built around generating stacks of Static Charges via Ball Lightning and procs of Surging Charge. Using Recklessness at 1-3 stacks of Static Charges wastes those stacks since you get 3 anyway from the cooldown. This is not an issue for your opener since we lead with Recklessness, but during your rotation the best place to use Recklessness when it comes off cooldown is immediately after a buffed Discharge resets you to 0 stacks of Static Charges.
Only use Force Cloak right after Recklessness unless you need it as a defensive cooldown. Force Cloak reduces the cooldown of Recklessness by 60 seconds due to the Electric Ambush passive skill, which reduces its effective cooldown from 75 seconds to 15 seconds. We want to get full benefit from Force Cloak and get it on cooldown as quickly as we can so it is up again as soon as possible. Please note that for specific fights you may want to save Force Cloak for use as a defensive cooldown as it provides a self-cleanse and brief immunity to Force/Tech attacks via the Shroud of Madness Heroic utility. Saving Force Cloak will lead to a fairly significant decrease in DPS due to loss of uptime on Recklessness, so make sure to discuss with your team if it makes sense for your team's strategy to prioritize survivability over DPS. Please note the next tip in combination with this one!
Do NOT use Force Cloak back to back after resetting its cooldown! This is probably the biggest mistake by newer players. Stacks of Recklessness, Reckless Slaughter and Reckless Critical can only stack up to 3 charges. If we go Recklessness / Discharge / Force Cloak / Recklessness / Discharge, then we waste ALL the benefits from the second Recklessness except the extra buffed Discharge. That is a MASSIVE DPS loss. See the next tip for proper timing.
When resetting with Force Cloak, use the second Recklessness after Reckless Slaughter expires. The biggest DPS increase provided by Recklessness is the +30% melee damage Reckless Slaughter buff. The buff will briefly stack from 0 to 3 stacks as you use abilities right after Recklessness and once reaching 3 stacks the buff will last for 30 seconds. The buff is blue and visible above just below the Recklessness buff. The optimal use of Recklessness is right after Reckless Slaughter expires, which lets you carry over another 30 seconds of +30% melee attack damage. This slightly delays the next use of Recklessness but higher uptime on the Reckless Slaughter buff is more important to DPS than the Reckless Critical, extra Static Charges or charges of +60% critical.
Maul takes priority over Assassinate right after Recklessness. Ideally we want Reckless Critical charges to be consumed by Maul due to the Electric Ambush passive skill that increases the critical damage by Maul by 30%. That buff stacks with the critical buffs from Recklessness and Reckless Critical to make Maul deal more damage.
When played optimally, the cooldowns should align naturally where you go through the following cycle of Recklessness and Force Cloak:
Recklessness then Force Cloak to reset its cooldown
Recklessness immediately after Reckless Slaughter debuff expires (around 35 seconds later)
Wait for Recklessness to come off cooldown, then repeat steps 1-2 (around 75 seconds after step #2). Force Cloak will come off cooldown prior to Recklessness but wait to use it until after Recklessness
Another neat trick as to cooldowns is aligning your use of Phantom Stride within the Recklessness windows. See the next section for tips.
Recklessness & Phantom Stride
See above for all the discussion on Recklessness and the Death Knell set, as this carries over to discussing how to effectively use Phantom Stride.
Phantom Stride is your gap closer, though beware using Phantom Stride on changing elevations as it may kill you. Phantom Stride is more reliably a DPS buff for Deception due to the Amped Voltage passive skill and the Reaper's Rush Heroic utility. Phantom Stride has a 30 second cooldown.
The Amped Voltage passive skill causes Phantom Stride to grant 3 charges of Static Charges and enable an extra use of fully buffed Discharge. The Reaper's Rush utility causes Phantom Stride to grant Reaper's Rush, allowing your next Assassinate to be used on any target, regardless of remaining health. This makes Phantom Stride a big DPS increase for extra uses of Discharge and Assassinate.
Phantom Stride's 30 second cooldown pretty naturally lines up with uses of Recklessness for Deception Assassin. There is a 30 second delay between uses of Recklessness when Force Cloak is available to reset its cooldown, which naturally lines up both times to use Recklessness and a buffed Discharge, then immediately Phantom Stride and get a second buffed Discharge.
After the two uses of Recklessness, you then have 75 seconds until Recklessness comes off its full cooldown. That may sound like it is clunky for using Phantom Stride given its 30 second cooldown, but is usually works pretty smoothly since Phantom Stride should not be used exactly on cooldown. Since Phantom Stride grants 3 charges of Static Charges, we should only ever use Phantom Stride immediately after a buffed and glowing Discharge. This typically delays Phantom Stride as much as 10 seconds or so, which leads to using Phantom Stride lining up nicely in the following pattern:
Recklessness / Discharge / Phantom Stride / Discharge
(30 seconds later) Recklessness / Discharge / Phantom Stride / Discharge
(30-40 seconds later) Discharge / Phantom Stride / Discharge
After another 30-40 seconds after #3, Recklessness and Force Cloak should both be off cooldown and you can repeat the #1-3 pattern. This leads to 2 out of 3 Phantom Strides enabling Discharge buffed by Recklessness and then 1 outside the buff window.
Overcharged Saber & Discharge
Overcharged Saber is a neat cooldown that provides both offensive and defensive benefits. Its defensive benefits are discussed below.
As an offensive cooldown, Overcharged Saber increases the damage of Surging Charge by 50% and increases the chance to trigger Surging Charge by 25%. Overcharged Saber has a 15 second duration and a 2 minute cooldown.
Deception Assassins utilize Surging Charge, giving your melee attacks a 50% chance to deal internal damage and build 1 charge of Static Charges. Surging Charge can trigger once every six seconds. Some attacks deal damage more than once per activation so have an effective chance above 50% to trigger Surging Charge (e.g., Voltaic Slash has a 75% chance to trigger since it deals damage twice per activation). Surging Charge can also be triggered by Ball Lightning and ignores the 6 second cooldown.
Overcharged Saber provides a DPS increase in your opener by buffing the damage of Surging Charge procs and making it essentially a guaranteed proc every 6 seconds normally.
The key to using Overcharged Saber effectively in the opener is delaying it until after the two consecutive Discharges and before the Ball Lightning that follows Discharge. Discharge cannot trigger Surging Charge so Battle Readiness does not provide any DPS increase during those 2 GCDs, and Ball Lightning is a guaranteed proc of Surging Charge if you have 2 stacks of the Voltage buff active.
After the opener, I typically do not use Overcharged Saber again for the fight so I can save it for use at least once as a defensive cooldown or save it for soft enrage burn phases. For fights with a lot of damage I may skip Overcharged Saber in the opener entirely and use it solely as a defensive. I find Overcharged Saber is more useful defensively than offensively, so be thoughtful about when to use it.
1. Force Shroud (Force/Tech damage) - 1 minute cooldown. Force Shroud purges all removable effects (aka self-cleanse of all debuffs, not just 2 per cleanse like normal) and increases the chance to resist Force and tech attacks by 200% for 3 seconds (5 with utility). Force Shroud is an amazing defensive as it provides complete immunity to most heavy hitting mechanics in PVE content. It has a very low cooldown and can be reduced further by successfully shielding attacks. Should be saved for heavy hitting mechanics to cheese the damage, otherwise should be used nearly on cooldown.
2. Force Cloak (Force/Tech damage, certain interruptible channels) - 2 minute cooldown (1:15 with utility). Force Cloak is the Assassin’s combat stealth. It is notable as taking the Shroud of Madness utility will also grant 2 seconds of Force Shroud when stealthing out. This provides a second self cleanse on a low cooldown and can be used situationally to cheese mechanics and break certain casts. A great example is the Master & Blaster encounter in the Ravagers operation, where using Force Cloak during the Ion Cutter channel will interrupt the cast and prevent any further stacks being added. Great care should be taken as to the timing of using Force Cloak (to ensure a big hitting ability doesn’t swap to a DPS or healer) and the boss should be immediately taunted to regain aggro.
3. Force Speed (all damage) - 20s cooldown (15s with utility) and 2.5s duration (3.0s with utility). When taking the Phasing Phantasm utility (as everyone should), Force Speed provides 25% absorption of all damaged taken in its duration. This provides decent damage mitigation and up to 20% uptime when taking the Avoidance and Disjunction utilities. In fights with large burst damage abilities, Force Speed should be used whenever Force Shroud (for Force/Tech) or Deflection (for ranged/melee) isn’t available. In fights without large burst hits, use Force Speed on cooldown for better average mitigation.
4. Overcharged Saber (all damage) - 2 minute cooldown and 15s duration. Overcharged Saber does a little of everything, providing 25% damage reduction, immediate healing of 15%, increasing damage of Surging Charge by 50%, increasing the change to trigger its effects by 25% and healing some each time it triggers. I recommend using for sustained phases of Force/Tech damage, where Force Shroud and Force Speed will be useful but their short duration will not provide as much benefit.
5. Deflection (ranged/melee damage OR heavy sustained AoE Force/Tech damage) - 2 minute cooldown and 12 second duration. Increases ranged and melee defense by 50%. This defensive ability should be used to mitigate ranged/melee damage.