Frequently Asked Questions
Updates and Expansions
How will this guide be updated for the 6.0 expansion?
The guide will be periodically updated for initial 6.0 updates over the first several weeks of the expansion. Initially, I will add a brief discussion at the beginning of each discipline discussion regarding the preferred set bonus(es) and tactical(s) to be equipped. I will also add some discussion about the impact on the rotation but will leave the core rotation discussion alone. Pending more information about the ease of obtaining desired set bonus and tactical items, I may revise the guide to make the optimal rotation part of the core discussion rather than an introductory comment.
I will also endeavour to keep the guide updated for class changes throughout 6.0. As each class guide is updated, I will add a notation as of which game data set was current when it was updated.
The optimal rotation and gearing for 6.0 will be very different from 5.X in many circumstances. This is largely due to having many more options for set bonuses and the introduction of tactical items. Tactical items are essentially a second set bonus contained in a single item. Some classes will have a single best in slot set bonus and tactical item, with some changes to their optimal rotation as a result. Other classes will need to swap tactical items from fight to fight and similarly change their rotation. Subject to the availability of set bonus pieces (and the cost to equip/augment them), a few class disciplines may even benefit from swapping set bonuses from fight to fight.
The discussion for each discipline in this guide for best in slot and recommended set bonus items and tactical items is tentative based on initial analysis and theorycrafting, and may be subject to change.
Gearing by Class
How should I gear my player?
See my Gearing Guide page for more detailed gearing discussions.
That said, it is my opinion that some players looking to improve their performance spend way too much time focusing on their gear mix. To be very very clear, a good player can equip poorly optimized gear and still put out HM numbers. See the next question about maximizing DPS for more details.
With all that said, there is no doubt that optimizing your gear can improve performance. I would provide the following as important points to bear in mind from a gearing perspective (in approximate order of importance).
For all classes - augment your gear as soon as you can afford to do so. See below for more details.
(DPS only) Reach or get very close to 110% accuracy. In my opinion, anything above 109.8% is probably okay. Going slightly over is okay, though.
You want plenty of critical and alacrity for all classes. If you are unsure of how to balance the two stats, look for a 3:2 ratio for critical/alacrity early on and tweak with augments as needed.
In most circumstances, you do not want to seek out augments/enhancements that give you additional power or mastery. You get a lot of mastery and power anyway. After accuracy, the only decisions should generally be how you balance critical and alacrity.
Be aware of how alacrity affects your GCD. The game rounds up with respect to alacrity and GCD’s (i.e., if your alacrity reduces your GCD to 1.31, the game will round up and your GCD will be 1.4). As such, alacrity between these “breakpoints” may benefit you with respect to energy regeneration but will not improve your APM and thus has a limited benefit to boosting DPS or HPS. It doesn’t hurt to have a few hundred points above the “breakpoint” as it can make energy management easier (e.g., can really help the rotation for classes like Tactics Vanguard and Assault Specialist Commando that are very tight from an energy management perspective). Some players with latency issues also find a few hundred extra alacrity points helps offset the lag by providing a buffer within their GCD window. That said, for the majority of classes and players it is optimal to try and be just above the breakpoints for a 1.4s GCD or 1.3s GCD.
The amount of points in alacrity needed to hit a GCD "breakpoint" varies depending on the discipline and your guild's perks. Disciplines with built-in alacrity buffs or the guild 5% alacrity perk will require fewer alacrity points. As of 6.0, the prevailing theorycrafting is that classes with either a discipline or guild alacrity perk should gear for 1.3s GCD and all others should gear for 1.4s GCD.
Do not equip augments or enhancements for defense. You will get a lot of defense as a secondary stat anyway. Most theorycrafters agree that there is an effective “defense cap” that you will hit just through inherent defense on your gear, thus any additional provides very little or no benefit.
You need plenty of shield and absorb. The exact mix to be optimal varies by class and by boss fight. High shield / low absorb will smooth out your incoming damage, while high absorb / low shield will make your DTPS spikier but will have periods of lower damage taken.
A common strategy for HM/NiM tanks is to seek out B mods (for gear tiers where it is an option) to replace the typical unlettered mods that come with set bonus gear. The difference between unlettered and B mods is the mix of stats, where unlettered provide greater primary stat (mastery) and secondary stat (defense for tanks), and less endurance, whereas B mods have slightly less mastery and significantly less defense in exchange for significantly more endurance. For tanks, the greater HP pool is typically worthwhile given the minimal impact of slightly less defense.
A less common but still sometimes strategy is to add endurance augments. This increases your damage taken but gives you a higher health pool so you have a bigger “cushion” for healers to have an extra GCD or two to get you heals. I wouldn’t object to anyone putting in one endurance augment but generally don’t follow this gearing strategy myself.
How did 6.0 impact gearing?
This is a fairly complicated topic so here are some high level points below. I highly recommending doing more research to make up your own mind, though. With the common availability of enhancements, augments, and ear/implants and all such pieces being Bound to Legacy (BoL), it is easier than ever to tweak your gear as needed.
All pre-6.0 "legacy content" now has a stat cap on certain primary and secondary stats. In such content, your Mastery, Power and Endurance are fixed at set points irrespective of your gear ratings. In 6.0 new content such as the new Dxun Nature of Progress operation, these caps are not applicable. This has a LOT of implications for gearing.
What is the biggest key to maximizing my DPS? Is it how much alacrity/critical, my utility build, power or mastery, or something else?
None of the above. To be really really clear, other than optimizing your rotation THE BIGGEST KEY TO GREAT DPS IS YOUR ACTIONS PER MINUTE (APM). I frequently do significantly greater damage in HM ops with toons in non-optimized non-maxed gear, despite my team members being in max gear, entirely due to having much higher APM while still executing my rotation/priority.
If you are a player who knows mechanics, is a reliable team member, supports your team, and does everything else to be a great HM raider except for poor DPS, the first things you should prioritize are your rotation and maxing out your APM. Only after that should you start worrying about min/maxing gear.
Stats and Augments
How should I approach augments?
Once you are at end game, get *some* augments on all your gear as soon as you can afford to do so. Don’t worry about augments prior to reaching the level cap. Crafting new augments can be expensive and time consuming, but given how the stat cap operates you can get nearly as much benefit out of old 228 augments that are very cheap. Having augments makes a *huge* difference.
If your gear doesn’t have augment slots open, then fully augmenting a gear set with 228 augments may cost 2-3 million credits. That’s a lot but a few hours of running heroic missions will pay for that. New augments will only make a noticeable difference on level 75 content where mastery/power are uncapped, but those take a lot more time/credits. Definitely upgrade to those when you can but don’t wait.
How important is min/maxing my mix of critical, alacrity, accuracy, mastery and power?
See the above discussion about gearing. If you are a DPS, get to max accuracy but otherwise don’t worry about mix/maxing until (1) you have mastered your rotation/priority list; and (2) you can achieve a high APM in actual fights (not just dummy parses). A good rule of thumb is 3:2 for the other applicable tertiary stats (critical/alacrity for healers and dps, shield/absorb for tanks) and figure out the rest later.
Why dummy parsing?
How important is dummy parsing? Will I need to parse a hundred times to master my class?
Parsing is a useful tool but is not the be-all end-all to become a great end game player. Parsing is most useful for the following purposes and in this approximate order as you progress:
Open-ended parse: Getting comfortable with your spec abilities and rotation - in this scenario, you don’t actually need to run a parsing tool but you just keep running your rotation on the operations dummy until you start to get comfortable with it. The biggest thing here is for classes with tough energy management (tactics vanguard, AP commando, etc.) to see how often you can use high energy abilities versus low energy abilities.
Low-energy parse: For players struggling with APM, I recommend doing a few parses where you only use your key abilities and substitute your free spammable filler for all other abilities. This greatly simplifies your thinking and let’s you focus on APM and the key timing. It is worth noting that some classes with tight energy management can do this exclusively and be successful in most SM operations.
Traditional dummy parse: This is what most players think of when parsing. Apply a HP modifier (I recommend either 2.5 or 4.0 million) and debuff modifier to the operations dummy then kill it as quickly as possible. Don’t overdo this, once you do one complete parse that feels like the best you can do right now then stop. This will give you a snapshot of your potential DPS. Do semi-regularly to see how you are doing, anywhere from once a week to once a month is fine.
Gear optimization: When you start to approach max gear level, running traditional parses in different gear set ups can be useful to figure out what gear works for you. For some specs with energy management challenges, building in some extra alacrity for regeneration may feel helpful. For specs that depend on crits to proc certain abilities, stacking crit can be useful. Also, stacking alacrity to hit certain GCD breakpoints can make a meaningful difference. Lastly, doing a before and after parse when upgrading gear or augments can give you a sense of how much the gear improved your DPS potential.
So, parsing is nice, helps you quantify your gear progression/skill development, and can be helpful. That said, it does not consider any of the following:
Survivability: You cannot deal amazing DPS if you die to avoidable damage. I prefer someone with below average DPS who can follow mechanics to “elite DPS” who constantly stand in stupid to fluff their numbers, as we can usually out-gear or even carry someone a little if needed. You must understand mechanics before worrying about DPS. This is why in progression the focus should be on surviving up to enrage then worrying about numbers.
Ability to DPS on the move: This is the biggest cause of “dummy champions” who can hit 9k on the dummy but can’t break 6k on an average Ops boss. You can practice moving while parsing to some degree but this is a learned skill. See the above regarding a “low energy parse”, that is what you should try to do at first if this is a challenge, as you can move while using a filler and only sit still for key rotation casts.
Raid buffs: When timed appropriately, these can make a meaningful difference particularly for burst DPS. Bringing a class that adds a raid buff to a team can have a large impact as it will add incremental DPS to everyone on the team.
DPS boosts from in-game fights: Numerous classes have abilities and cool downs that can increase damage dealt based on receiving damage, such as Rebuke for Sentinels, proccing Into the Fray / Close and Personal for Vanguards, a wide range of reflect defensive cooldowns for most classes, and many more. Since the Operations Dummy doesn’t deal any damage, this can understate the DPS potential for certain classes.
AOE DPS capability: Some specs excel in AOE situations and can therefore serve a valuable role in some fights when played well despite poor single target DPS potential.