Last Updated: 5/31/21
Table of Contents
About the Class
Infiltration Shadow is the Shadow class’s burst DPS discipline. Infiltration 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 Infiltration tree and the Shadow class’s utilities and defensive cooldowns, Infiltration Shadow is among the very best emergency off-tanks as well.
Utility and Mobility
Shadows have strong utility for a DPS class. They can guard and taunt, they have a 4 second hard stun (Force Stun), an 8 second soft stun (Force Lift), an additional 2 second hard stun (Spinning Kick), Force Slow, tank classes can pull certain targets for positioning, all classes have Force Wave as a knockback, and Infiltration Shadows can apply Force damage taken and armor rating debuffs to targets.
Regarding mobility, Shadows have very strong mobility when needed. All of the spec abilities are instant. Shadows have a gap closer (Shadow 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 One with the Shadows utility, choosing to use Force Speed for mobility sacrifices a useful defensive cooldown (though given its short cooldown that usually isn’t a big issue).
Shadows 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. Resilience 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 Resilience. With utility, Force Speed can be used every 15 seconds to provide a brief absorb boost on all damage. Given these abilities (and more), Shadows are the best tanks due to their ability to cheese big hitting mechanics, and Shadow DPS players are the best emergency tanks for the same reason.
Role in Operations
Infiltration 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
Shadow 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), Shadow 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 One with the Shadows 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 Infiltration, 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 Scrapper, Telekinetic and Gunnery all seeing major buffs, Infiltration 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.
Mental Defense - As Kinetic Combat, reduces all damage taken while stunned by 30%. As Infiltration and Serenity, 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 Whirling Blow by 25%.
A situational utility that can be helpful in increasing AoE DPS. I commonly take this utility as a Infiltration DPS, as it lacks really strong AoE DPS.
Celerity - Reduces the cooldown of Mind Snap by 2 seconds, Force of 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 One with the Shadows in 6.0. I find myself typically choosing between this utility and Shadow’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 One with the Shadows then I do recommend Celerity.
Shadow’s Shelter - Mass Mind Control provides Shadow’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-Resilience is unlikely to be helpful.
Force Wake - Force Wave 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.
Force Harmonics - Reduces the cooldown of Force Wave by 2.5 seconds and Force Potency 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 (Shadow’s Shelter) or movement (Misdirection) 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 Cloak of Resilience in the Heroic tier. When combined, I effectively gain a second (though slightly shorter) use of Resilience on nearly the same cooldown. When used skillfully, this adds another very powerful defensive ability to the Shadow’s kit.
Misdirection - 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 Celerity is more useful to have higher uptime on Force Speed, whether for movement or for mitigation if taking One with the Shadows.
Egress / Emersion - Force Speed grants Egress, 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).
Sturdiness - 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
Cloak of Resilience - Activating Force Cloak grants 2 seconds of Resilience.
I find this utility incredibly useful for tanks and DPS. Since Resilience functions as a self-cleanse, this gives Shadows an additional self-cleanse every 2 minutes (1:15 if taking the Fade utility). If taking Fade, this nearly doubles the availability of Resilience (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 Resilience should avoid being pulled into combat by a ticking DoT.
Stalker’s Swiftness - Shadow Stride grants Stalker’s Swiftness, allowing your next Spinning Strike to be used on any target, regardless of remaining health. Stalker’s Swiftness lasts for 10 seconds. Also, if the target of your Shadow Stride is killed within 10 seconds of using Shadow Stride, Shadow Stride 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 Spinning Strike. For Infiltration players, it provides an even larger DPS boost due to proccing a full stack Force Breach. If I am playing Kinetic Combat, I frequently choose between this utility and either Mind Over Matter or Avenging Grip depending on whether more mitigation is needed or more DPS (and if so, which DPS utility will provide greater benefit).
Mind Over Matter - Increases the duration of Resilience 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 Resilience 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 One with the Shadows as a Shadow DPS, Mind Over Matter and Celerity synergize well to increase the effectiveness and uptime of the Force Speed DR.
Avenging Grip - Deflection grants Avenging Grip, reflecting 50% (or 100% for the Kinetic Combat discipline) of all direct single target tech and Force damage back at the attacker. Avenging Grip lasts for 12 seconds and does not absorb incoming damage.
The Shadow’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.
One with the Shadows - Shadow Stride can be used while immobilized and purges movement-impairing effects when used. Also, Force Speed grants One with the Shadows, 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 Kinetic Combat 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.
Shadow Technique - Utilize a Shadow Technique, giving your melee attacks a 50% chance to deal internal damage and build 1 charge of Breaching Shadows. Breaching Shadows stack up to 3 times and increases the damage dealt by your next Force Breach. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
This passive provides the key mechanic and RNG nature of the Infiltration discipline in Breaching Shadows. As these buff Force Breach to be your highest DPS ability, maximizing procs of Shadow Technique to build 3 Breaching Shadows is key to maximizing usage of Force Breach and overall DPS.
Circling Shadows - Double Strike, Whirling Blow, Clairvoyant Strike, Vaulting Slash, Shadow Strike, and Spinning Strike grant Circling Shadows, reducing the Force cost of your next Project or Psychokinetic Blast by 25%. Stacks up to 2 times.
This passive introduces yet another stack to manage to maximize DPS in Circling Shadows. Psychokinetic Blast does high damage but is very expensive, thus is should only be used with 2 stacks (will be glowing).
Profundity - Your Shadow Technique 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, Whirling Blow builds charges of Clairvoyance and Force Breach 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 Shadow Technique as often as possible. It enables the player to use Whirling Blow twice to build 2 stacks of Clairvoyance (each stack gives +50% chance for Psychokinetic Blast to trigger Shadow Technique off its normal rate limit). The Vulnerable debuff is very helpful but not relevant to the rotation since Force Breach is used as often as possible anyway.
Shadow's Respite - 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 Force Potency), which is the 15 seconds of increased Force regeneration. More Force = more DPS.
Infiltration Tactics - Direct damage attacks grant Infiltration Tactics, causing your next Shadow Strike to deal 20% more damage and consume 75% less Force. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
Shadow Strike is a very expensive ability (40 Force) and deals only moderately more damage than Clairvoyant Strike. As such, it would not be usable in most circumstances outside of maintaining Shadow's Respite if not for this passive ability. This proc should be used every time.
Masked Assault - Shadow Strike grants 15 seconds of Shadow's Respite. While Shadow's Respite is active, all damage taken is reduced by 15%.
This passive is key to the energy management of Infiltration. Skilled players should be looking to maintain full uptime of this buff for energy management purposes. This passive also helps make Infiltration a very tanky DPS discipline. Since Infiltration Tactics can proc every 10 seconds, it should generally be possible to maintain nearly full uptime of this buff without overt changes to the rotation.
Potent Shadows - Force Potency builds 3 Breaching Shadows, and exiting combat reduces the active cooldown of Force Potency by 60 seconds. Also, the critical damage dealt by Shadow Strike is increased by 30%.
This passive provides for the use of Force Cloak in the Infiltration rotation due to the incredible DPS buff provided by Force Potency and being able to dramatically reduce its cooldown.
Shadow's Mark - Shadow Strike sunders its target (armor rating -20%) for 45 seconds.
This passive applies the second debuff applied by Infiltration Shadows, and is notable for being a debuff that is beneficial to all DPS classes.
Kinetic Field - Dealing critical damage grants Kinetic Field, increasing damage reduction by 3% for 15 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
Another passive increasing the tankiness of Infiltration. Due to current critical rating levels, it should be possible to maintain nearly full uptime of this buff (+9% damage reduction). Combined with Shadow's Respite, this provides Infiltration Shadows with +22% damage reduction above and beyond the amount provided by other buffs and armor rating, which is phenomenal for a DPS discipline.
Fracturing Force - Activating Shadow Stride builds 3 Breaching Shadows.
This passive provides for the “ping pong” effect that can happen in trash pull situations. When combined with the Stalker’s Swiftness utility (which should always be taken by an Infiltration Shadow), a player can use Shadow Stride to proc a buffed Force Breach, kill the add which resets Shadow Stride, then bounce to another add and repeat. Shadow Stride should still be used in a single target rotation to enable more frequent use of buffed Force Breach.
Gearing in 6.0
Gearing Stat Allocation
For Infiltration Shadow, 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 Infiltration Shadow, 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 Force Potency is reduced by 15 seconds. Whenever you consume a charge of Force Potency you gain a stack of Potent Critical, making your next Shadow Strike, Spinning Strike or Serenity Strike critically hit. Stacks up to 3 times.
(6) Whenever you consume a charge of Force Potency you gain a stack of Audacious Potency, increasing melee damage done by 10% for 30 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
Force Potency 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 Force Potency by 60s. With typical alacrity levels at the 1.4s or 1.3s global cooldown, the effective cooldown of Force Potency is usually around 65-70s. As such, this means that using Force Potency 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 Force Potency 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 Force Potency due to the 6-piece set bonus…
Each time you consume a charge of Force Potency (consumed by a critical hitting ability), you gain a stack of Audacious Potency that buffs your melee damage +10% for 30 seconds and scales to +30% as you consume all 3 charges of Force Potency. With critical chance levels typically already above 40% and the +60% critical buff from Force Potency, 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 Force Potency, 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 Force Potency and resetting its cooldown almost immediately, but then waiting 35s or so for the stacks of Audacious Potency to fall off before using Force Potency again.
But delaying it significantly reduces how often you can use Force Potency in a boss fight, you say? Not so good sir or madam! Let’s do the math…
You use Force Potency (65s cooldown with a 1.3s GCD), then use Force Cloak. We get back an immediate Force Potency after 5s but Force Cloak is on cooldown for 90s (note this cooldown is NOT affected by alacrity). Whether we use Force Potency in 10s or in 35s we get to essentially the same result as far as overall usage. If we use Force Potency 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 Force Potency by 30s to let the +30% melee damage buff go its full duration before re-applying it, then Force Potency 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 Audacious Potency? 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 Force Potency 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 Force Potency. 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 Force Potency 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 Force Potency at the normal point in the opener, immediately reset its cooldown with Force Cloak, then watch for the Audacious Potency buff to fall off then use Force Potency again.
This should result in Force Cloak coming off cooldown around 10s or so before Force Potency comes off cooldown. Make sure to wait for Force Potency 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 Infiltration due to its ability to use Force Potency more frequently via the Potent Shadows passive ability. Take in all situations.
The Awakened Flame
Increased drop rate from operations.
When Psychokinetic Blast deals damage, it causes its target to take elemental damage over 6 seconds.
Each use of Psychokinetic Blast applies a DoT called Energy Breach 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 Psychokinetic Blast, 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, Psychokinetic Blast 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 Psychokinetic Blast has a cooldown of 6s and should be used on cooldown to generate stacks of Breaching Shadows, this means the DoT should have nearly 100% uptime.
Impact on Rotation:
No change to rotation. Psychokinetic Blast continues to have a very high priority behind only Clairvoyant Strike to keep Clairvoyance stacks up and Force Breach when at 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows.
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 Vaulting Slash is increased by 50% per Clairvoyance stack. Critically hitting with Clairvoyant Strike reduces the cooldown of Vaulting Slash by 1.5 seconds.
This tactical seems designed to be the “burst tactical” option for the discipline. Infiltration 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…
Vaulting Slash 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. Force Breach and Psychokinetic Blast should be used on cooldown, Clairvoyant Strike should be used frequently to maintain buffs, Shadow Strike 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 Vaulting Slash with 2 stacks of Clairvoyance is fairly straightforward, meaning you should have each Vaulting Slash 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 Force Breach, a procced Spinning Strike and then this ability along with the regular ability usage.
In an average rotation, I would expect a skilled Infiltration player to use Clairvoyant Strike 2 - 5 times between uses of Vaulting Slash. As noted above, this normally would not involve using Vaulting Slash on cooldown anyway and if we contemplate a reduced cooldown it would be even lower. So let’s use 2 uses of Clairvoyant Strike 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 Clairvoyant Strike 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 Vaulting Slash 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 Vaulting Slash versus whatever we would otherwise have used. This should nearly always be Clairvoyant Strike 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 Vaulting Slash on cooldown even with this damage buff. It is still a relatively long cooldown ability so the overall trade-off to prioritizing Psychokinetic Blast or Spinning Strike (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 Vaulting Slash 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 Vaulting Slash per this tactical.
Impact on Rotation:
Vaulting Slash 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 Clairvoyance for the +100% critical chance.
When to Take:
Not recommended for PVE content but may be optimal for PVP.
Crafted by Armstech.
Shadow Stride has 2 charges.
I believe this tactical would be useful in the opener if not for Two Cloaks being better. Shadow players (along with Scoundrel 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.
Shadow Stride is a great ability for Infiltration due to the Fracturing Force passive ability, which causes the ability to build 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows and enable a fully buffed Force Breach. The key to maximizing DPS for this discipline is maximizing the generation of stacks of Breaching Shadows, 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 Force Breach in the opener (as discussed in the next bullet point). Via a utility a second use can also provide an extra use of Spinning Strike in the opener as well, which is a DPS gain versus an extra use of Clairvoyant Strike. This initially appears superior to Two Cloaks as Force Cloak does not directly provide an additional use of Force Breach…
The key to Two Cloaks being superior resides in the Death Knell set bonus and the Potent Shadows passive ability. Together these provide that Force Potency has its cooldown reduced by 15s all the time, using it grants 3 charges of Breaching Shadows (enabling an immediate fully buffed Force Breach), using Force Cloak reduces its cooldown by 60s, using it grants 3 charges to make either Spinning Strike or Shadow Strike 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 Force Potency, 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 Resilience 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 Shadow Stride / Force Breaches in the opener after Force Potency / Force Breach, 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 Cleaving Cut causes your next Force Breach to arc to multiple targets.
Infiltration has very poor sustained AoE DPS as it’s AoE rotation is limited to spamming your basic AoE attack. Adding Cleaving Cut 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 Cleaving Cut on cooldown in very heavy AoE situations to ensure each use of Force Breach 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 Force Potency 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 Spinning Strike or Shadow Strike, and more uptime on the +30% melee damage buff from Audacious Potency.
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 Force Potency 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 Audacious Potency +30% melee damage buff to expire then use Force Potency again and reset its cooldown again via Force Cloak. Then go into the normal rotation where you delay Force Cloak slightly to allow for Force Potency 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.
Resilience 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 Resilience, then remove Guard after Resilience 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 Resilience 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 Resilience 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 Vanguard or Gunslinger 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-Shadow take Ion Cutter stacks without taking damage, or alternate with a Shadow 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 Resilience.
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 Infiltration is energy damage so is buffed most powerfully by Armor Penetration. Armor Penetration is also the second best amplifier for Serenity so is a really great choice of amplifier if you run both disciplines.
Cleaving Cut (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.
Shadow Stride (30s cooldown, range 30m) - Teleports to your target and increases your movement speed by 75% for 3 seconds.
Shadow’s gap closer and with a utility can be used to proc Spinning Strike. For Infiltration Shadows, it procs a full stack Force Breach. Be wary of using Shadow 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 Shadow Stride to get onto the tanks in the Firebrand & Stormcaller encounter in the Explosive Conflict operation).
Force Beach (20 Force, no cooldown, range 10m) - Deals high internal damage. Damage scales up with each stack of Breaching Shadows.
Highest DPS ability that should only be used with 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows (will be glowing). Should be used immediately after getting to 3 stacks so as to avoid capping and wasting a stack of Breaching Shadows from a proc of Shadow Technique.
Psychokinetic Blast (32 Force, 6s cooldown, range 10m) - Replaces Project. Blasts the target for high kinetic damage.
The second key ability for Infiltration, Psychokinetic Blast deals good damage but is very expensive. Optimal rotation should use Psychokinetic Blast nearly on cooldown but with 2 stacks of Conveyance (+50% chance per stack to proc Shadow Technique off rate limit) and 2 stacks of Circling Shadows (-25% Force cost per stack). This guarantees an extra Shadow Technique proc and an extra stack of Breaching Shadows (which enables more frequent use of buffed Force Breach) and maximizes the DPS/Force of this ability.
Vaulting Slash (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, Vaulting Slash 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.
Spinning Strike (10 Force, 6s cooldown) - Issues a subduing strike, dealing high weapon damage. Only usable on targets at or below 30% max health.
The Shadow’s execute ability, it can also be procced by Shadow Stride (with utility) while above 30% health. Spinning Strike is not a high priority when procced as long as it is used before the proc expires. Once the boss is below 30%, Spinning Strike takes priority over every ability except buffed Force Breach, Psychokinetic Blast (with 2 stacks of Clairvoyance) and Clairvoyant Strike when used to proc Shadow Technique.
Shadow Strike (40 Force, no cooldown) - Deals high weapon damage to a single target if used from behind the target or medium damage otherwise.
Shadow Strike is a very expensive ability absent a proc and should rarely be used outside of a proc of Infiltration Tactics. When it procs (and Shadow Strike 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, Shadow Strike grants the Shadow's Respite buff (+25% Force regeneration, +15% damage reduction). Shadow Strike should be prioritized to avoid letting the Infiltration Tactics buff expire and to maintain the Shadow's Respite buff, even if that means using an unbuffed (and very expensive) Shadow Strike.
Clairvoyant Strike (20 Force, no cooldown) - Strikes the target twice dealing medium damage.
Infiltration’s spammable filler ability that replaces Double Strike. Clairvoyant Strike also builds stacks of Clairvoyance (15s duration) that give Psychokinetic Blast a +50% chance to trigger Shadow Technique off its normal 6s rate limit, and stacks of Circling Shadows (15s duration) that reduce the Force cost of Psychokinetic Blast by 25% per stack. As such, Clairvoyant Strike 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 Shadow Technique and generate a stack of Breaching Shadows. Timing the use of Clairvoyant Strike in this manner is a key to maximizing the DPS of this discipline.
Whirling Blow (20 Force, no cooldown) - Deals low weapon damage to up to 8 targets within 5 meters.
Shadow’s spammable AoE filler ability. Can be buffed 25% with a utility and generates stacks of Clairvoyance similarly to Clairvoyant Strike. 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 Clairvoyance (+50% chance for Psychokinetic Blast to trigger Shadow Technique) and Circling Shadows (reduces Force cost of Psychokinetic Blast by 25%).
Force Potency (instant, free, 90s cooldown) - Grants 2 charges of Force Potency (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 Infiltration, using it immediately grants 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows to enable use of Force Breach. Using Force Cloak also reduces its cooldown by 60 seconds via the Potent Shadows passive ability. It should be used as close to on cooldown as possible without capping Breaching Shadows (i.e., use the next time you activate Force Breach, 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 Shadows as it enables a stealth rez and via the Cloak of Resilience utility (grants 2 seconds of Resilience) can be used as a defensive cooldown / self-cleanse. Even better, Infiltration benefits from the Potent Shadows passive ability that causes your combat stealth to reduce the cooldown of Force Potency by 60 seconds. As such, your combat stealth becomes an ability you should use as often as possible after a use of Force Breach.
(Pre-fight) Whirling Blow x2 - Builds 2 stacks of Clairvoyance and Circling Shadows
(Pre-fight) Stealth - Used to ensure we gain Shadow's Respite when exiting stealth to attack
Force Potency OFF GCD - Used to generate 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows
Attack Adrenal OFF GCD Entering opener burst window so want to maximize damage
Force Beach @3 stacks of Breaching Shadows
Force Cloak OFF GCD - Used immediately after Force Potency to reduces its CD by 60s
Shadow Stride OFF-GCD - Used to build 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows and with the Stalker’s Swiftness utility to proc Spinning Strike
Force Beach @3 stacks of Breaching Shadows
Battle Readiness OFF GCD - Used here since it increases the chance to trigger Shadow Technique by 25%, which would not be useful until this point
Psychokinetic Blast - Since 2 stacks of Conveyance are active, should trigger Shadow Technique
Vaulting Slash - High DPS filler
Shadow Strike - Procced, used to deal damage and maintain Shadow's Respite
Spinning Strike - Procced by Shadow Stride
Psychokinetic Blast Off GCD
Clairvoyant Strike - Filler
(Continue general rotation priority)
The Infiltration Shadow rotation is a very fluid priority system due to the 50% chance of melee attacks proccing Shadow Technique to build stacks of Breaching Shadows. This changes the timing of when Force Breach can be used as well as when Clairvoyant Strike should be prioritized to proc Shadow Technique. 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 Breaching Shadows, normally can only occur once every 6 seconds.
Used to buff Force Breach for maximum damage. Requires 3 stacks to enable buffed Force Breach. Can be generated by (1) triggering Shadow Technique (50% chance from melee attacks once every 6 seconds) and (2) Psychokinetic Blast (+50% chance per stack of Clairvoyance)
Increases the chance of Psychokinetic Blast to trigger Shadow Technique by 50% up to a maximum of 100%. Generated by using Clairvoyant Strike and lasts for 15s.
Reduces the Force cost of Psychokinetic Blast 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 Shadow Strike.
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 Breaching Shadows and Shadow Technique as they are the most important. The two are interrelated in that Shadow Technique is how Breaching Shadows are built. Thus the only way to know when Shadow Technique procs is when a stack of Breaching Shadows is added to the buff bar (excluding Psychokinetic Blast with 2 stacks of Clairvoyance that guarantees a “bonus proc” of Shadow Technique). Given there is a 50% chance of melee attacks triggering Shadow Technique 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 - Clairvoyant Strike has two attacks and Whirling Blow has 3 so has a 75% and 87.5% chance to trigger Shadow Technique, respectively.
Also important to note is that Psychokinetic Blast is guaranteed to trigger a bonus proc of Shadow Technique with 2 stacks of Clairvoyance, so should be utilized on cooldown.
Circling Shadows can be ignored to a large degree as we already need to use a melee attack every 6 seconds / 4 GCDs to trigger Shadow Technique. This aligns with the cooldown of Psychokinetic Blast so each use should at a minimum require 25% less Force or possibly 50% less Force.
Clairvoyance needs to be watched but most of the time will not impact the rotation. Unlike Shadow Technique or Circling Shadows - both of which can be triggered by melee attacks - Clairvoyance can only be built / refreshed by Clairvoyant Strike. Clairvoyance has a 15s duration so that leads to a requirement to use Clairvoyant Strike every 10 GCDs. Given that Clairvoyant Strike has 2 attacks and thus a 75% chance to trigger Shadow Technique (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 Shadow Technique and delaying another ability (procs of Spinning Strike or Shadow Strike) a GCD won’t delay the rotation.
Finally, Shadow's Respite requires monitoring but for the most part should be taken care of automatically. Infiltration Tactics can trigger every 10 seconds whereas Shadow's Respite lasts 15 seconds. As such, using Shadow Strike 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 Shadow Technique (builds Breaching Shadows to buff Force Breach), maintain 2 stacks of Conveyance (ensures Psychokinetic Blast gives a bonus proc of Shadow Technique), and build 1 stack of Circling Shadows (reduces cost of Psychokinetic Blast).
2. Psychokinetic Blast on cooldown every 4 GCDs to proc Shadow Technique.
3. Clairvoyant Strike at least every 10 GCDs to maintain Clairvoyance and preferably at least once every 4 GCDs to build Circling Shadows to reduce the cost of Psychokinetic Blast.
4. Clairvoyant Strike 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 Shadow Technique.
5. Shadow Strike within 4-5 GCDs when procced by Infiltration Tactics to maintain uptime of Shadow's Respite (+25% Force regen, +15% damage reduction)
1. Force Beach @ 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows - Force Breach is top damaging ability and should be used at 3 stacks ASAP. Delaying Force Breach while at 3 stacks could lead to a melee ability proccing Shadow Technique and wasting a stack of Breaching Shadows.
2. Clairvoyant Strike (if about to lose Clairvoyance) - Clairvoyance is critical to ensuring Psychokinetic Blast gets a bonus proc of Shadow Technique. That said, this situation should be fairly rare so will not typically be required to prioritize Clairvoyant Strike this highly except during periods of downtime.
3. Psychokinetic Blast @ 2 stacks of Clairvoyance (should always have 2 stacks of Clairvoyance) - Is guaranteed to provide a bonus proc of Shadow Technique. Since Psychokinetic Blast has a 6 second cooldown just like the rate limit on Shadow Technique, this prioritization should nearly double the rate of using Force Breach @ 3 stacks.
4. Spinning Strike (If <30% boss health) - Spinning Strike 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 Force Breach. That only leaves Force Breach @ 3 stacks, Psychokinetic Blast (due to bonus proc), and Clairvoyant Strike (when needed to maintain Clairvoyance stacks) as higher priorities.
5. Vaulting Slash - Vaulting Slash 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 Vaulting Slash won’t reduce the frequency with which they can be used.
6. Clairvoyant Strike (If able to proc Shadow Technique) - Clairvoyant Strike has half again the chance of triggering Shadow Technique (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 Clairvoyant Strike can be used without wasting a proc for Spinning Strike or Shadow Strike, it should be used to maximize the rate of Shadow Technique procs.
7. Spinning Strike (If procced by Shadow Stride) - When procced by Shadow Stride, Spinning Strike just needs to be used within the proc window.
8. Shadow Strike (If glowing) - Shadow Strike does not have a cooldown and should proc Infiltration Tactics every 10s. Therefore, when procced Shadow Strike should be used within 6 GCDs but otherwise should not be prioritized any higher unless Shadow's Respite has fallen off.
9. Clairvoyant Strike (If above 25 Force) - Clairvoyant Strike remains the spammable filler to the extent Force levels permit. With full uptime of Shadow's Respite, Clairvoyant Strike will be used more frequently than Double Strike is by either Kinetic Combat or Serenity.
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 Infiltration.
12. Whirling Blow (If during transition) - Use to maintain 2 stacks of Clairvoyance and Circling Shadows
Force Management & Shadow Strike
Force management as an Infiltration Shadow 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:
Circling Shadows (passive skill) - Double Strike, Whirling Blow, Clairvoyant Strike, Vaulting Slash, Shadow Strike, and Spinning Strike grant Circling Shadows, reducing the Force cost of your next Project or Psychokinetic Blast by 25%. Stacks up to 2 times.
Profundity (passive skill) - Your Shadow Technique restores 9 Force over 9 seconds when it deals damage to an enemy target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
Infiltration Tactics (passive skill) - Direct damage attacks grant Infiltration Tactics, causing your next Shadow Strike to deal 20% more damage and consume 75% less Force. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
Shadow's Respite (passive skill) - While in stealth mode and for 15 seconds after leaving stealth mode, Force regeneration is increased by 25%.
Masked Assault (passive skill) - Shadow Strike grants 15 seconds of Shadow's Respite.
Inclusive of these passive benefits to Force ability costs and regeneration rate, we end up with the following net costs:
Force Breach - 20 Force (we can use once every 10 seconds or so)
Psychokinetic Blast - 16 Force w/ 2 stacks of Circling Shadows (6 second cooldown)
Vaulting Slash - 15 Force (18 second cooldown)
Spinning Strike - 10 Force (6 second cooldown sub-30% health)
Shadow Strike - 10 Force w/ Infiltration Tactics (40 Force w/o glowing) (10 second cooldown on proc)
Clairvoyant Strike - 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 Shadow's Respite buff. The Profundity 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 Stalker's Swiftness utility to use a buffed Spinning Strike, 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 Spinning Strike on its short 6 second cooldown to replace most uses of Clairvoyant Strike. 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 Shadow Strike without its glowy buff...
Shadow Strike should primarily be used when glowing due to Infiltration Tactics. The passive skill can trigger every 10 seconds to cause Shadow Strike to deal 20% more damage and cost 75% less energy. This makes Shadow Strike a powerful and energy efficient filler with the Infiltration Tactics buff, and also maintains the Shadow's Respite buff to energy regeneration.
This begs the question as to whether and in what circumstances should you use Shadow Strike outside the Infiltration Tactics proc (i.e., when it is not glowing)?
The simple answer is only use Shadow Strike when it is glowing. Shadow's Respite lasts for 15 seconds and Infiltration Tactics can trigger every 10 seconds, so you should never have to use Shadow Strike unbuffed to maintain your energy regeneration buff. Shadow Strike costs 40 Force to use unbuffed and only 10 Force with the Infiltration Tactics buff, so using an unbuffed Shadow Strike is EXTREMELY expensive!
As discussed above, in most situations the Infiltration rotation should be net positive for energy and can support using an unbuffed Shadow Strike occasionally. This is an advanced tactic and should be used very carefully, because having to use Saber Strike or delaying Force Breach or Psychokinetic Blast makes the tactic a DPS loss.
My approach to using unbuffed Shadow Strike breaks down as follows:
Above 30% boss health - I try to use an extra Shadow Strike when I am above 70% or so Force
Below 30% boss health - I try to use Shadow Strike on cooldown. Psychokinetic Blast and Spinning Strike remain higher priority on a 6 second / 4 GCD cooldown, as do Force Breach when glowing and Clairvoyant Strike at least once every 15 seconds to maintain the Clairvoyance buff. Infiltration Tactics will also continue to proc around every 10-12 seconds and allow a buffed Shadow Strike. All of this combines to mean that I use Shadow Strike 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.
Force Potency & Death Knell
Assuming the player is equipping the Death Knell 6-piece set bonus, properly managing Force Potency and the Audacious Potency buff provided by the Death Knell set.
As a quick reminder, Force Potency grants 2 charges that increase the critical chance of attacks by 60% and each attack that critically hits consumes 1 charge. Force Potency normally has a 90 second cooldown.
Infiltration Shadows also benefit from the Potent Shadows passive skill. Potent Shadows causes Force Potency to generate 3 Breaching Shadows and lets us use a fully buffed Force Breach. Potent Shadows also causes Force Cloak to reduce the cooldown of Force Potency by 60 seconds and increases the critical damage dealt by Shadow Strike by 30%.
All Shadows can benefit from the Force Harmonics Masterful utility that increases the charges granted by Force Potency from 2 to 3.
The Death Knell 4-piece set bonus reduces the cooldown of Force Potency by 15 seconds and each time a Force Potency charge is consumed (i.e., an attack critically hits) you receive 1 stack of Potent Critical that makes Shadow Strike or Spinning Strike critically hit. Stacks of Potent Critical can accumulate up to 3 stacks.
The Death Knell 6-piece set bonus applies a 10% melee damage buff called Audacious Potency each time you consume a charge of Force Potency. Audacious Potency 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 Force Harmonics utility, Shadows have a 75 second cooldown on Force Potency and it grants 3 charges that grant +60% critical chance to attacks and as those charges are consumed will make 3 extra Shadow Strike or Spinning Strike attacks auto-crits and will grant +30% melee damage. Infiltration Shadows also receive 3 stacks of Breaching Shadows from Force Potency to enable a fully buffed Force Breach. Lastly, Infiltration Shadows can use Force Cloak (2 minute cooldown, 1:15 minutes with Fade utility), to reduce the cooldown of Force Potency by 60 seconds which almost completely resets its cooldown.
Hopefully this is obvious by now but Force Potency is really strong and important to maximizing DPS as a Shadow and particularly as an Infiltration Shadow.
There are a few key guidelines to follow when using Force Potency as a Death Knell Infiltration Shadow:
Always take the Force Harmonics and Fade utilities. Force Harmonics causes Force Potency 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 Force Potency means an extra +60% critical chance on an attack, an extra charge of Potent Critical (auto-crit of Shadow Strike or Spinning Strike) and an extra charge of Audacious Potency (+10% melee attack damage for 30 seconds). Fade almost doubles your uptime of Force Cloak for which ease use grants an extra Force Potency. Taking these utilities together should more than double the DPS increase provided by Force Potency. I do not believe there are ANY disciplines that get more DPS from utilities than Infiltration Shadows, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take these utilities.
Only use Force Potency in your opener or when at 0 stacks of Breaching Shadows. The Infiltration rotation is built around generating stacks of Breaching Shadows via Psychokinetic Blast and procs of Shadow Technique. Using Force Potency at 1-3 stacks of Breaching Shadows wastes those stacks since you get 3 anyway from the cooldown. This is not an issue for your opener since we lead with Force Potency, but during your rotation the best place to use Force Potency when it comes off cooldown is immediately after a buffed Force Breach resets you to 0 stacks of Breaching Shadows.
Only use Force Cloak right after Force Potency unless you need it as a defensive cooldown. Force Cloak reduces the cooldown of Force Potency by 60 seconds due to the Potent Shadows 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 Cloak of Resilience Heroic utility. Saving Force Cloak will lead to a fairly significant decrease in DPS due to loss of uptime on Force Potency, 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 Force Potency, Audacious Potency and Potent Critical can only stack up to 3 charges. If we go Force Potency / Force Breach / Force Cloak / Force Potency / Force Breach, then we waste ALL the benefits from the second Force Potency except the extra buffed Force breach. That is a MASSIVE DPS loss. See the next tip for proper timing.
When resetting with Force Cloak, use the second Force Potency after Audacious Potency expires. The biggest DPS increase provided by Force Potency is the +30% melee damage Audacious Potency buff. The buff will briefly stack from 0 to 3 stacks as you use abilities right after Force Potency and once reaching 3 stacks the buff will last for 30 seconds. The buff is blue and visible above just below the Force Potency buff. The optimal use of Force Potency is right after Audacious Potency expires, which lets you carry over another 30 seconds of +30% melee attack damage. This slightly delays the next use of Force Potency but higher uptime on the Audacious Potency buff is more important to DPS than the Potent Critical, extra Breaching Shadows or charges of +60% critical.
Shadow Strike takes priority over Spinning Strike right after Force Potency. Ideally we want Force Potency Potent Critical charges to be consumed by Shadow Strike due to the Potent Shadows passive skill that increases the critical damage by Shadow Strike by 30%. That buff stacks with the critical buffs from Force Potency and Potent Critical to make Shadow Strike deal more damage.
When played optimally, the cooldowns should align naturally where you go through the following cycle of Force Potency and Force Cloak:
Force Potency then Force Cloak to reset its cooldown
Force Potency immediately after Audacious Potency debuff expires (around 35 seconds later)
Wait for Force Potency to come off cooldown, then repeat steps 1-2 (around 75 seconds after step #2). Force Cloak will come off cooldown prior to Force Potency but wait to use it until after Force Potency
Another neat trick as to cooldowns is aligning your use of Shadow Stride within the Force Potency windows. See the next section for tips.
Force Potency & Shadow Stride
See above for all the discussion on Force Potency and the Death Knell set, as this carries over to discussing how to effectively use Shadow Stride.
Shadow Stride is your gap closer, though beware using Shadow Stride on changing elevations as it may kill you. Shadow Stride is more reliably a DPS buff for Infiltration due to the Fracturing Force passive skill and the Stalker's Swiftness Heroic utility. Shadow Stride has a 30 second cooldown.
The Fracturing Force passive skill causes Shadow Stride to grant 3 charges of Breaching Shadows and enable an extra use of fully buffed Force Breach. The Stalker's Swiftness utility causes Shadow Stride to grant Stalker’s Swiftness, allowing your next Spinning Strike to be used on any target, regardless of remaining health. This makes Shadow Stride a big DPS increase for extra uses of Force Breach and Spinning Strike.
Shadow Stride's 30 second cooldown pretty naturally lines up with uses of Force Potency for Infiltration Shadow. There is a 30 second delay between uses of Force Potency when Force Cloak is available to reset its cooldown, which naturally lines up both times to use Force Potency and a buffed Force Breach, then immediately Shadow Stride and get a second buffed Force Breach.
After the two uses of Force Potency, you then have 75 seconds until Force Potency comes off its full cooldown. That may sound like it is clunky for using Shadow Stride given its 30 second cooldown, but is usually works pretty smoothly since Shadow Stride should not be used exactly on cooldown. Since Shadow Stride grants 3 charges of Breaching Shadows, we should only ever use Shadow Stride immediately after a buffed and glowing Force Breach. This typically delays Shadow Stride as much as 10 seconds or so, which leads to using Shadow Stride lining up nicely in the following pattern:
Force Potency / Force Breach / Shadow Stride / Force Breach
(30 seconds later) Force Potency / Force Breach / Shadow Stride / Force Breach
(30-40 seconds later) Force Breach / Shadow Stride / Force Breach
After another 30-40 seconds after #3, Force Potency and Force Cloak should both be off cooldown and you can repeat the #1-3 pattern. This leads to 2 out of 3 Shadow Strides enabling Force Breach buffed by Force Potency and then 1 outside the buff window.
Battle Readiness & Force Breach
Battle Readiness is a neat cooldown that provides both offensive and defensive benefits. Its defensive benefits are discussed below.
As an offensive cooldown, Battle Readiness increases the damage of all techniques by 50% and increases the chance to trigger techniques by 25%. Battle Readiness has a 15 second duration and a 2 minute cooldown.
Infiltration Shadows utilize Shadow Technique, giving your melee attacks a 50% chance to deal internal damage and build 1 charge of Breaching Shadows. Shadow Technique can trigger once every six seconds. Some attacks deal damage more than once per activation so have an effective chance above 50% to trigger Shadow Technique (e.g., Clairvoyant Strike has a 75% chance to trigger since it deals damage twice per activation). Shadow Technique can also be triggered by Psychokinetic Blast and ignores the 6 second cooldown.
Battle Readiness provides a DPS increase in your opener by buffing the damage of Shadow Technique procs and making it essentially a guaranteed proc every 6 seconds normally.
The key to using Battle Readiness effectively in the opener is delaying it until after the two consecutive Force Breaches and before the Psychokinetic Blast that follows Force Breach. Force Breach cannot trigger Shadow Technique so Battle Readiness does not provide any DPS increase during those 2 GCDs, and Psychokinetic Blast is a guaranteed proc of Shadow Technique if you have 2 stacks of the Clairvoyance buff active.
After the opener, I typically do not use Battle Readiness 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 Battle Readiness in the opener entirely and use it solely as a defensive. I find Battle Readiness is more useful defensively than offensively, so be thoughtful about when to use it.
1. Resilience (Force/Tech damage) - 1 minute cooldown. Resilience 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). Resilience 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 Shadow’s combat stealth. It is notable as taking the Cloak of Resilience utility will also grant 2 seconds of Resilience 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 One with the Shadows 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 Celerity and Mind Over Matter utilities. In fights with large burst damage abilities, Force Speed should be used whenever Resilience (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. Battle Readiness (all damage) - 2 minute cooldown and 15s duration. Battle Readiness does a little of everything, providing 25% damage reduction, immediate healing of 15%, increasing damage of Shadow Technique 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 Resilience 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.