Last Updated: 5/29/21
Table of Contents
About the Class
Combat Sentinel is the Sentinel’s burst DPS class. It used to be among the most challenging specs in the game until 5.6 when the discipline was reworked to be more user friendly. Now it is a very straight forward discipline and intended to be the introductory discipline for newer players and for leveling, and its DPS output reflects that classification as it is typically the lowest parsing Sentinel discipline. Despite that, Combat can output strong DPS and is a valuable contribution to any operations team.
Role in Operations
Combat DPS do not have any DoTs or ramp-up time for maximum DPS, so they can freely target swap as needed. As such, they are ideal for any DPS situation.
Utility and Mobility
Sentinels bring a lot to the table in these areas. The Sentinel offers Inspiration as arguably the best group buff increasing damage and healing by 10% for 10 seconds. For mobility, the Sentinel can use Transcendence to increase team movement speed by 40% (can be buffed higher with a Utility) for 10 seconds. In addition, Sentinels can use Force Camouflage as a semi-stealth ability. Sentinels can also use Force Leap and Blade Blitz to quickly move around.
Sentinels gain benefits to direct and AoE damage reduction through skills and Utilities, wear medium armor, and have several strong defensive cool-downs (Saber Ward, Force Camouflage, Guarded by the Force).
6.0 Impact on Discipline
Combat DPS was the weakest of the Sentinel DPS disciplines in 5.X and that appears likely to continue in 6.0. The discipline remains capable of good sustained DPS and very strong burst DPS, making it viable in all content.
The discipline got access to a great set bonus in Descent of the Fearless that provides some strong overall and ability-specific DPS buffs. The discipline also got access to an interesting mix of tactical items to let it flex in various ways to meet specific content challenges whether that is through higher sustained DPS or additional AoE capability.
Unfortunately, the developers short-changed Combat in comparison to the other Sentinel disciplines. Both other disciplines get a bigger benefit from the set bonus due to having DoTs tick that increase the chance of generating charges of Force Clarity to buff an individual ability’s damage by 25% and apply a 10% overall damage buff for 10 seconds. They also received stronger tacticals for both sustained single target, burst and AoE DPS.
The BIS tactical as of 6.1 appears to be Fanged God Form, which shakes up the rotation significantly though in a way that greatly simplifies the rotation through introducing LOTS of Blade Rush spam.
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.
Increases your damage reduction by 2%, and you build 2 Centering when attacked. This Centering building effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.
Stoic should always be taken as it provides a permanent damage reduction and increased Centering generation, which leads to more frequent Zen use. Always take.
Increases the damage dealt by Rebuke by 15% and increases its duration by 4 seconds.
This utility provides a sizable buff to Rebuke damage and should be taken in any fights where it is useful.
While Rebuke is active, it generates 1 Focus whenever you are attacked. This effect cannot occur more than once every 2 seconds.
A useful utility on fights where Rebuke will trigger frequently to further buff Focus generation.
You generate 4 Focus when stunned, immobilized, put to sleep, or knocked around. Also, the cooldown of Resolute is reduced by 30 seconds.
Situational utility for fights with lots of physics effects (e.g., Underlurker) can lead to effectively unlimited Focus. Only take in those situations.
Cyclone Slash deals 25% more damage.
Usually not taken due to better benefits from other Skillful utilities. However, any situations with sustained AoE (e.g., Hive Queen Veteran Mode) could greatly benefit from this utility due to Cyclone Slash replacing Slash in the rotation and being used twice every 12 GCDs.
Reduces damage taken from area effects by 30% and increases internal and elemental damage reduction by 3%.
Another great mitigation utility that should always be taken. AoE damage is present in nearly every fight and I/E damage is unable to be mitigated except through utilities like these.
You must take 6 between Heroic and Masterful.
Transcendence no longer requires or consumes Centering, but will go on cooldown for 30 seconds when activated.
This should always be taken for any fights where movement is relevant or where the 10% defense buff is helpful. Having to use Centering stacks to trigger Transcendence is a notable DPS loss by being unable to use Zen instead. I pretty much always take this utility, though in some circumstances I might trade for a Skillful utility.
Force Camouflage removes all cleanseable effects when activated.
This utility provides Sentinels a relatively short cooldown (45s) self-cleanse and should be taken for any fights with heavy hitting DoTs (e.g., Dread Council fight to self-cleanse Death Mark).
Each use of Strike, Zealous Strike, and Leg Slash reduces the active cooldown of Rebuke by 3 seconds.
Another utility that buffs Rebuke, this utility significantly reduces the cooldown of Rebuke. In fights where Sentinels take damage that procs Rebuke, this utility can significantly increase DPS.
Increases the duration of Guarded by the Force by 2 seconds and reduces its cooldown by 30 seconds.
The default duration for Guarded by the Force is 4 seconds, so this utility provides a 50% increase in duration. For any fights where those extra 2 seconds are meaningful for non-instant short duration high damage mechanics, it should be taken. However, most high damage mechanics are nearly instant, in which case the default 4 seconds is plenty. An example of a useful situation is in Master & Blaster encounter in Ravagers operation, if helping take stacks of Ion Cutter from Master the extra duration could be useful. Given the long cooldown I rarely take this utility.
A maximum of 3 utilities
When Transcendence is applied or refreshed, it purges movement-impairing effects. Also, the movement speed bonus of Transcendence is increased by 30%.
This utility synergizes with Ardor to make Transcendence a very powerful movement utility. It isn’t beneficial on every fight and can be swapped for other utilities when not useful.
Reduces the cooldown of Awe by 15 seconds. Also, you build up to 30 Centering over the course of using Introspection. This effect cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds.
Contemplation is frequently taken for QoL purposes despite having no benefit after a fight starts. The optimal setup is to take it, use energy regen to get 30 stacks of Centering, then respec utilities to take another choice.
Force Leap grants Intercessor, allowing you to activate Force Leap a second time. Intercessor lasts up to 7.5 seconds and is removed if Force Leap is reused. If Intercessor is not utilized by the end of its duration, Force Leap is placed on a 7.5 second cooldown. Also, Force Leap now builds 2 Centering.
This utility is very situational utility for fights with lots of movement between adds (e.g., Draxus fight in Dread Fortress). Otherwise should not be taken.
Blade Blitz can be used while immobilized, purges movement-impairing effects when activated, and deal 50% more damage. Also, the cooldown of Blade Blitz is reduced by 10 seconds.
This utility is highly situational where roots are common and Blade Blitz can be used. Blade Blitz also has great potential to cheese high damage mechanics, so a lower cooldown could be helpful. Again, highly situational.
Dispatch refunds 2 Focus when used on any targeted affected by your Pacify, regardless of remaining health. Also, activating Pacify grants Zealous Judgment, reducing the damage you take from Force and Tech attacks by 75% for 6 seconds.
I do not usually take this utility but it has some potential as a defensive cooldown in any instances where it can trigger.
Inspiration generates 12 Focus when activated, and you heal for 1% of your maximum health whenever you activate an ability that consumes Focus.
It can be very useful for early energy generation if you can hit your raid buff on pull. If so, you can skip your leap and Zealous Strike and move more quickly into damaging abilities.
Example Utility Build
Here is what I run for most encounters, though I frequently take other situational utilities for specific fights.
Utilize an acrobatic lightsaber form, increasing alacrity by 3%. Also, your successful melee attacks have a 20% to trigger a second strike that deals low weapon damage. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.
Ataru Form provides the 3% alacrity buff that makes Combat gearing a little different than most other specs, and is in keeping with Combat as a fast-playing discipline. It also provides for Ataru Form proccing to deal incremental damage. Maximizing procs of Ataru Form is important as most higher level passive abilities relate to how Ataru Form triggering buffs other abilities.
Cyclone Slash triggers an Ataru Form strike on each enemy target it damages.
This passive provides the only guaranteed way to proc Ataru Form.
Lance sunders the target for 45 seconds. Sundered targets have their armor rating reduced by 20%.
This passive provides a powerful debuff that is typical to most melee DPS disciplines. Due to its long duration, this buff should have full uptime on the target.
Dealing damage with an Ataru Form strike grants Opportune Attack, making your next Blade Storm or Clashing Blast deal 5% more damage.
This passive buffs Clashing Blast slightly. Since Clashing Blast should nearly always be used within a Precision window, this buff is further magnified due to Precision’s effects.
When Opportunity is consumed by Clashing Blast or Blade Storm, you build 1 Focus.
This passive causes Clashing Blast to require 3 Focus to activate but then it immediately refunds 1 Focus.
Opportune Attack now additionally increases the critical chance of Blade Storm and Clashing Blast by 100%.
This passive along with Hand of Justice are the two most important procs provided by Ataru Form procs by guaranteeing the next Clashing Blast is a crit.
Dealing damage with an Ataru Form strike increases your damage reduction and melee and ranged defense chance by 2%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 10 seconds.
This passive provides up to a 6% damage reduction buff by Ataru Form procs, which is helpful to make Combat a little tankier than other Sentinel Disciplines.
Hand of Justice
Dealing damage with an Ataru Form strike triggers Hand of Justice, which finishes the cooldown on Dispatch and makes your next Dispatch usable on a target at any health level without consuming any Focus. This effect cannot occur more than once every 20 seconds.
This passive is really helpful to make Dispatch usable during the pre-execute rotation. It has a lengthy cooldown on the proc so there is no rush to use it. As such, this leads to Dispatch being saved for Precision windows until reaching 30% boss health where Dispatch becomes usable on a regular cooldown.
While Zen is active, Blade Rush and Cyclone Slash consume 1 less Focus.
This passive makes Blade Rush extremely efficient as a spammable filler during Zen. It normally costs 3 Focus, but refunds 1 Focus per the Focused Slash passive and then costs 1 less Focus during Zen. Thus Blade Rush costs 1 Focus during Zen. As such, this leads to the rotation emphasizing Blade Rush spam during Zen GCDs that do not overlap with Precision.
Activating an attack that spends focus and defeating opponents builds Centering. When 30 stacks of Centering are built, you become Centered, enabling the use of Zen, Transcendence and Inspiration.
Centering is the unique Sentinel resource that powers Zen and Inspiration. The Ardor utility should always be taken whenever Transcendence is needed to ensure it does not consume Centering.
Slash, Cyclone Slash, Dispatch, Blade Rush, Merciless Slash, and Concentrated Slice refund 1 Focus when used. Also, Zealous Strike beats down its target for 45 seconds. Beat Down targets take 5% more damage from melee attacks.
This passive causes a disconnect between the Focus required to activate the ability versus the Focus consumed by the ability. For example, Slash requires 3 Focus to be able to activate the ability but it will only use 2 Focus.
Increases the amount of Centering built by 2 when activating abilities that consume Focus, and reduces the cooldown of Valorous Call by 30 seconds.
This passive is helpful in that it effectively doubles the rate of generating Centering and the frequency of Zen being available.
Gearing in 6.0
Gearing Stat Allocation
For Combat Sentinel, I gear as follows:
Set Bonus: Descent of the Fearless
Tactical: Fanged God Form
Amplifiers: Armor Penetration (sub-optimal but for use with other disciplines)
Mods: Unlettered Lethal Mods
Relics: Devastating Vengeance & Primeval Fatesealer (Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution for Dxun/PVP)
Adrenal: Critical (Attack for Dxun only)
For Combat Sentinel, 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 2,500 for a 1.3s GCD or another option is around 950 for a 1.4s GCD (if running the Zeal guild perk, around 1,500 for a 1.3s GCD)
Critical: all remaining tertiary points go into Critical
Descent of the Fearless
Increased drop rate from daily missions.
(2) +2% Mastery
(4) Whenever you gain or use a Force Clarity ability charge while in combat, your damage is increased by 10% for 10 seconds.
(6) Dealing damage has a 10% chance to build a Force Clarity ability charge. Can only occur once every 5 seconds.
Analysis: The only set bonus that is BIS across multiple advanced classes, Descent of the Fearless is BIS for all Guardian and Sentinel DPS disciplines. The set bonus should provide fairly high uptime on a straight 10% damage buff.
The major downside to this set bonus for Combat versus other Sentinel disciplines (and both Guardian DPS disciplines) is that it does not have any DoTs. Those extra ticks of damage significantly increase the chances of proccing additional charges of Force Clarity. The slower rate of proccing results in fewer attacks buffed by 25% and less than full uptime of the 10% overall damage buff.
Impact on Rotation: Only use Force Clarity charges to buff Lance or Dispatch and only during Precision windows. Clashing Blast is the highest damaging ability but is a force-based attack so is not eligible to be buffed except with The Prosecution tactical item. Lance and Dispatch are the new highest damage per activation so benefit from the buff the most.
When to Take: All situations. Descent of the Fearless is easily the BIS set bonus for all Jedi Sentinel disciplines.
Fanged God Form
Increased drop rate from flashpoints.
Using Blade Rush adds Hyper stacks to you, increasing your critical chance by 10% and reducing the cost of your next Blade Rush by 1 Focus per stack. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 10 seconds or until an ability other than Blade Rush is used.
Analysis: Blade Rush is by far the most commonly used ability in the typical Combat rotation. As such, having a consistent increase to critical chance of 10-30% is very helpful. The energy cost reduction for any consecutive uses should also enable a skilled player to avoid any use of a basic attack. In fact, once the Hyper stacks have reduced the ability cost to zero, the Focused Slash passive ability (refunds 1 Focus) makes Blade Rush generate energy. Early testing of the updated rotation reflects that this additional energy generation can easily support use of unprocced Dispatch in the execute phase, which is a further DPS increase.
Another easily overlooked aspect of this tactical is that the critical chance buff from Hyper stacks is removed after using an ability other than Blade Rush, but this means that the first non-Blade Rush ability still receives the +10-30% critical chance buff! Ensuring that the rotation always uses this feature to buff Clashing Blast with +30% critical chance (and a comparable buff to critical hit damage) is a huge benefit.
When originally released in 6.0, off-GCD abilities served to remove the Hyper stacks but thankfully that was fixed in update 6.1.
Impact on Rotation: If using Fanged God Form, it is critical to string together as many uninterrupted chains of Blade Rush as possible to maximize the benefit of Hyper stacks.
First, let me provide credit where it is due. My good friend and guildmate Zaroaster / KhazadSanci was a valuable resource to point out how certain elements of the Fanged God Form rotation should work in 6.1 after the Hyper stack bug was fixed. He passed along some theorycrafting from Dantiko, Reshari and Luna analyzing key elements of the rotation. My initial testing indicate it is spot-on so it is largely produced below though with my own thinking and analysis around why it is ideal.
Absent Fanged God Form, the rotation would utilize Twin Saber Throw and even Blade Barrage outside the Precision window. With Fanged God Form, the only ability used outside of Precision window is Zealous Strike. This leads usually to an alternating cycle of 3 Blade Rush (for rotation cycles where Precision is buffed by Zen to get a third charge and Zealous Strike is used to generate energy) and a cycle of 5 Blade Rush (Precision only has 2 charges without Zen and Zealous Strike is still on cooldown or not needed). There will be a LOT of spam of Blade Rush, which is the toughest thing to get used to with Fanged God Form. That said, to a large degree it does simplify the rotation so in the long run should be preferred for its impact on the rotation as much as its damage buff.
See below for a 6.x Fanged God Form added to coincide with the weapon damage scaling fix implemented in 6.2.
When to Take: Recommended in all single target DPS situations.
Increased drop rate from daily missions.
Clashing Blast is now affected by Force Clarity.
Analysis: Clashing Blast is the only force attack in the discipline’s kit of attack abilities, thus normally it is the only ability not eligible to be buffed by Force Clarity. Since Clashing Blast is the highest damaging ability in the rotation, being able to buff it is a welcome change.
Sadly, this tactical is lackluster compared to the optimal sustained DPS tacticals for other disciplines. It does provide a noticeable DPS increase but its increase is solely based on being able to apply the same buff to a different ability, rather than applying extra damage directly, applying a DoT, or having an additional auto-crit or similar effect.
Impact on Rotation: Only use Force Clarity to buff Clashing Blast, which itself should only ever be used during Precision.
When to Take: Only if not taking Fanged God Form. Andeddu’s Malevolence is a DPS loss overall and Tome of Unyielding Blades provides a very unimpressive AoE DPS increase, so neither are worth taking except for personal playstle reasons. The Prosecution could perhaps be preferable for PvP since it will make your Precision burst windows more powerful.
Increased drop rate from operations.
Precision is always active but only gives 50% armor penetration.
Analysis: This tactical greatly simplifies the Combat discipline though at the cost of removing what makes it unique via its low cooldown, low duration windows of massive DPS burst through 100% armor penetration. Applying a 50% buff all the time sounds like it should be a massive DPS increase, but sadly this is not the case.
Normally, nearly all uses of the discipline’s top damaging abilities are buffed by Precision to receive 100% armor penetration. Those abilities are Clashing Blast, Lance, Dispatch, and Blade Barrage. Only a few uses of those abilities are ever used without the 100% armor penetration buff. The attacks that are not normally buffed are typically some basic attacks, Twin Saber Throw and lots of Blade Rush spam.
Changing the armor penetration buff to 50% all the time instead of 100% some of the time is a DPS loss because of the mix of abilities and how they are changed. The heaviest hitting abilities go from 100% more of the time to 50% all the time, which is a strict DPS loss. The remaining abilities get a sizable increase in their damage and overall use up more GCDs than a Precision window, but since their damage is so much lower the armor penetration buff just does not do enough to fully outweigh the loss in DPS relative to big hitting abilities.
Impact on Rotation: The discipline becomes a priority system to use high damage attacks on cooldown rather than delaying their use for Precision. Overall ability priority should follow the Precision priority list. Zen should be utilized as soon as available.
When to Take: Recommended for players new to the discipline if they have difficulty properly managing abilities within Precision. If taking, it is highly recommended to try and stack armor penetration amplifiers on gear.
Tome of Unyielding Blades
Increased drop rate from flashpoints.
Force Sweep causes your next Blade Rush to do damage to up to 8 enemies near the primary target.
Analysis: Blade Rush is very important to the Combat discipline due to its maintenance of Juyo stacks and how it becomes an incredibly cheap filler during Zen windows. It is not important for its damage as it does relatively little. Making it an AoE attack is nice but just does not add that much damage.
Impact on Rotation: N/A not recommended.
When to Take: N/A not recommended.
Weapon Expertise (or Armor Penetration for cross-discipline sets)
The discipline’s abilities all deal energy damage. The attacks are all weapon type damage attacks except for Clashing Blast that is a Force type attack. The discipline has no DoT-based damage.
Since Weapon Expertise buffs weapon attacks and all but 1 ability qualify, it provides by far the best increase to DPS. Armor Penetration provides the next best buff as it buffs every attack due to their kinetic/energy damage. However, since armor penetration increases damage through reducing enemy armor, its impact is limited.
If attempting to synergize a Descent of the Fearless set of gear between Jedi Knight DPS disciplines, Weapon Expertise or Armor Penetration are both good choices. Weapon Expertise will provide a slightly larger DPS increase on Combat while Armor Penetration is stronger for most other Jedi Knight disciplines.
Consumes all ability charges and applies Force Clarity stacks to you. Each stack increases your next direct single target melee attack by 25% and is consumed whenever you deal damage with these attacks. Recharges 1 ability charge every 30 seconds.
A new offensive cooldown, it can be used in the opener to buff you heaviest hitting ability for +100% damage or used every ~30 seconds to buff an ability damage +25%. With the Descent of the Fearless set bonus, it also provides a +10% damage buff and can generate extra charges during combat.
Zen (costs 30 Centering, no cooldown)
Requires and converts 30 stacks of Centering to enter a Zen state, granting 30% alacrity. Lasts for 6 charges, with each attack consuming 1 charge. An additional stack of Precision is granted if Precision is used while Zen is active.
Zen is a unique off-GCD offensive cooldown to Sentinels that provides different effects for each Sentinel discipline. For Combat, the 30% alacrity boost is per charge, with each of 6 charges being consumed by an ability. The buff to Precision means that Zen should overlap with Precision as often as possible. See below for discussion on using Zen under rotation.
Precision (1 Focus, 12s cooldown)
Gain two stacks of Precision, lasting up to 10 seconds. Clashing Blast, Lance, Dispatch, Blade Barrage, Blade Rush, Force Sweep and Cyclone Slash all gain 100% armor penetration while Precision is active, and using any of these abilities consumes one stack of Precision.
Precision is the signature ability of Combat Sentinel. See more in depth discussion of Precision below. It should be used on cooldown except during down times.
Clashing Blast (3 Focus, 12s cooldown, range 10m)
Unleashes a powerful blast of Force energy at the target, dealing moderate energy damage. The blast stuns standard and weak enemies for 5 seconds.
A very powerful offensive ability, it can be buffed when Ataru Form procs to be a guaranteed critical hit. It’s cooldown is almost the same as Precision so should generally be used during Precision most of the time.
Lance (3 Focus, 15s cooldown, range 4m)
Spears the target with both lightsabers, dealing high weapon damage and hindering the target for 1.5 seconds, preventing the use of high mobility actions and escapes.
Lance is a recently added ability for Combat dealing the highest base damage before buffs. It should be used on cooldown.
Blade Rush (3 Focus, no cooldown, range 4m)
Strikes the target with both weapons for low damage and automatically triggering an Ataru Form strike, bypassing Ataru Form’s rate limit. For 6 seconds after using Blade Rush, your Ataru Form has an extra 30% chance to be triggered.
Blade Rush replaces Slash as a spammable filler. It is very important to the Combat rotation since it is the best method of proccing Ataru Form and gives a 6s / 4 GCD buff to Ataru Form’s chance. In addition, Blade Rush only costs 1 Focus during Zen so is very energy efficient. Blade Rush will be used frequently in the Combat rotation but should avoid using during Precision when stronger abilities are available, while still ensuring it is used every 4 GCDs to maintain the Blade Rush buff.
Blade Barrage (free, 18s cooldown, range 4m)
Performs a series of lightsaber attacks that deal moderate weapon damage.
Blade Barrage is a free filler ability that deals strong damage and should be used on cooldown and preferably within the Precision window if possible.
Dispatch (3 Focus, 10s cooldown, range 10m)
Throws the main-hand lightsaber at a target, dealing high energy damage. Only usable on targets at or below 30% max health.
Dispatch is a strong execute ability and can be utilized above 30% boss health via a utility or the Hand of Justice passive ability via an Ataru Form strike. Above 30%, the proc has a reasonably long duration so does not need to be used immediately. If possible, its use should be squeezed into a Precision window.
Twin Saber Throw (free, 18s cooldown, ranged 30m)
Throws both lightsabers in a straight line towards the target, dealing moderate weapon damage to up to 8 enemies directly in front of you up to 30 meters away. Affected enemies are slowed by 50% for 6 seconds.
This ability is another free filler and when procced deals strong filler damage. Any time multiple enemies are present, make sure to position yourself so that the conal attack hits as many enemies as possible.
Rebuke (free, 1 minute cooldown)
Reduces all damage taken by 20% and deals low energy damage to attackers. This effect cannot occur more than once every second. Lasts 10 seconds. Rebuke refreshes to its full duration when attacked, but this effect cannot last more than 30 seconds in total.
Rebuke is a unique ability for Sentinels that serves as both a defensive cooldown and provides a low level of reflect damage to attackers. It can be buffed in a variety of ways through utilities. Be aware of how it works and in which operations to use it (and when to do so), as skillful use of Rebuke is a big part of reaching elite levels of DPS as a Sentinel.
Force Leap (free, 15s cooldown, range 10-30m)
Jumps to a distant target, dealing low damage with the main-hand weapon, immobilizing the target for 2 seconds and interrupting the target’s current action. Builds 3 Focus.
Force Leap is the Jedi Knight (Guardian & Sentinel) gap closer and also serves to generate Focus. It also functions as an interrupt. Use any time needed to get into melee range and generate Focus. It does very little damage so is not generally worth stepping outside of melee range to leap, except when an additional interrupt is needed.
Zealous Strike (free, 15s cooldown, range 4m)
Strikes the target multiples times with both lightsabers, dealing low weapon damage and building 6 Focus.
Sentinel’s main Focus building ability. Combat uses on all its core abilities except Blade Barrage and the filler Twin Saber Throw. As such, Zealous Strike should generally be used on cooldown except when it will cap Focus. Zealous Strike does not consume a stack of Precision, so using it during a Precision window will not cause rotational issues.
Strike (free, no cooldown, range 4m)
Inflicts low weapon damage with a series of quick melee attacks. Generates 2 Focus.
Strike should not be used very often unless Focus is really low.
Basic Rotation Priority System
The Combat “rotation” can be divided into a couple of sections: opener, Precision window, and filler. After the opener, Combat alternates between Precision window and filler. Zen should be used on cooldown and only delayed in order to ensure Precision is affected by Zen and so gains a 3rd stack. It should be noted that while a rotation can begin to emerge after extended play with Combat , for practical purposes it is best to think of the discipline as a priority-based system.
6.0 NOTE - If you are using the Fanged God Form tactical as is recommended, please see the rotation below as it is a fixed opener and rotation. The priority theory is discussed below with modifications where applicable to the general discussion. I highly recommend reviewing it to understand WHY the rotation works as it does as outlined further below.
Twin Saber Throw is generally not used at all outside of the initial opener to pull the boss and Blade Barrage is utilized in the Precision window (if not taking FGF) until sub-30% where it can be replaced with an unprocced Dispatch.
1. Use Precision on cooldown. This is the most important overall priority. Per the discussion on Precision below, ability damage is buffed by around 50%. It must absolutely be used on cooldown.
2. Use Zen on cooldown except during Precision window. Zen provides a third charge to Precision, which is a substantial DPS increase. Zen provides 6 charges consumed by the next 6 abilities with an increased level of alacrity, during which time no Centering can be gained for the next Zen. Since Precision has a cooldown of 12 s / 8 GCDs, this leaves a wide window for using Zen well in advance of the next Precision. Delaying Zen 1-2 GCDs is optimal if doing so will clip the next Precision. Since Precision will always affect 2 GCDs if not during Zen , leaving 6 GCDs before the next Precision , this means so long as we never hit Zen during Precision that it should always affect Precision and give us that invaluable third Precision charge.
To illustrate the thinking, let’s provide an example. Let’s say that Zen becomes active after the 1st ability used during Precision. If we hit it then, we will use Zen on the 2nd through 7th abilities after Precision. That will leave one GCD before Precision is off CD, leaving Precision with only 2 instead of 3 charges.
So, instead I delay Zen 2 GCDs, using it immediately AFTER the first ability following Precision (probably Blade Rush). Then Zen charges are consumed by the next 5 abilities, I can hit Precision, and then the first ability in the next Precision window is buffed by Zen and we get three Precision charges!
3. Use Blade Rush every 4 GCDs. The Blade Rush buff is critical to maintain nearly 100% uptime since it provides free damage and triggers the two most important procs: Opportune Attack (which makes Clashing Blast a guaranteed crit) and Hand of Justice (makes Dispatch useable above 30% boss health). The only exception to this in my mind is that it is okay to delay Blade Rush 1 GCD to avoid using a Precision charge, as the difference in incremental DPS by using Clashing Blast < Dispatch < Lance < Blade Barrage under a Precision charge versus Blade Rush is a DPS loss even if we lose 1 GCD of Ataru Form triggering.
3a. (If taking Fanged God Form tactical) Use Blade Rush exclusively outside of Precision except for Zealous Strike for energy generation. The Fanged God Form's buffs to critical chance and energy cost when using Blade Rush applies Hyper stacks that are removed as soon as an active ability other than Blade Rush is used. This means it is very important to use Blade Rush nearly exclusively outside Precision to maximize its energy generation and critical benefits.
4. Use Clashing Blast in every Precision window. Clashing Blast should be buffed by Opportune Attack every time it comes off cooldown. Opportune Attack procs by Ataru Form (which should be happening nearly every GCD if Blade Rush is active) buff Clashing Blast damage by 5% and guarantee a critical hit. The combination of a guaranteed crit and the Precision buff makes it significantly better on average than every other ability.
As an example, in 5.10 Clashing Blast should regularly hit for ~25k during Precision while the next best abilities (either Dispatch or Lance, which are very similar in damage) did around half damage when not a critical hit and around 2-3k less damage even when they did crit.
This rule causes Clashing Blast to be delayed around 1 GCD to use during each Precision but I feel like this is a DPS gain versus ever using Clashing Blast outside of Precision. It also simplifies the thought process for other abilities since you only every need 1-2 more abilities saved for Precision since you know Clashing Blast will always take one slot.
5. Use nearly all Precision charges on abilities other than Blade Rush. Since Precision grants charges that have a 10 second duration (6 GCDs), there is never a good reason to use Blade Rush instead of Clashing Blast, Lance, Blade Barrage or Dispatch. Blade Rush does significantly less damage than the others so it is a DPS loss to use during Precision. If Precision is activated and the big hitters are on cooldown for a GCD, use Strike or Twin Saber Throw (they will not consume Precision) and then use the big hitters. Clashing Blast in particular has a shorter cooldown than Precision so it should be available during every Precision window.
(If taking Fanged God Form tactical) Blade Barrage was customarily used as a Precision-only ability prior to 6.0 and in some rotations even in 6.x. If you are running Fanged God Form, Blade Barrage can be excluded entirely from the rotation. Where Blade Barrage would ordinarily have a floating place in the Precision window under the old rotation, now you should use Blade Rush as the first ability in a Precision window. The rotation should ensure that Blade Rush has +30% critical chance due to the tactical buff and will be +2 Focus since it will be free due to the tactical buff but still refund 2 Focus. See the Precision Priority discussion below for more details.
6. (Without Fanged God Form tactical) Use Zealous Strike on CD, preferably the GCD before Precision. I have this rule since (1) it is important to have available Focus to use your Precision charges quickly; and (2) Zealous Strike has the same cooldown as Precision. Since Combat is so free-flowing, I think anything possible to make Combat feel more like a rotation than a priority system helps. I usually try to time my abilities so that I go Zealous Strike < Blade Rush < Precision every time, since that ensures Blade Rush buff is active during Precision and that I have enough Focus during Precision as well.
(With Fanged God Form tactical) Use Zealous Strike every other Precision. If running the Fanged God Form tactical, you can get away with using Zealous Strike less often for energy and can increase DPS by using Blade Rush in that GCD. A typical rotation will use Zealous Strike every other Precision. Since Zealous Strike is not being used on cooldown, its place in the rotation is a little more flexible as long as it does not interrupt Blade Rush spam windows. The most efficient place will be right after a Precision window before beginning Blade Rush spam.
7. (Advanced if not taking Fanged God Form) Use big hitting abilities outside Precision in certain circumstances. Per #5 above, we want to make sure every Precision charge (2-3 per Precision window) is used on Clashing Blast, Lance, Blade Barrage, and Dispatch. Since per #4, we typically will use Clashing Blast for 1 of those slots each time, that leaves 1-2 slots for the remaining three abilities. Sometimes it is optimal to use one of these outside of Precision if it means delaying the ability another 12s / 8 GCDs until the next Precision. This is only optimal if using it early will not force you to use Blade Rush on a Precision charge.
For example, if coming out of Precision you have Blade Barrage and Lance coming off cooldown prior to Precision and you will NOT have Zen up prior to Precision, I would use Blade Barrage during the filler phase. That gets Blade Barrage on cooldown so it will be up sooner and can be used more often during the fight. Clashing Blast will take up one Precision charge and Lance the other, so we are good until the next Precision window.
(If taking Fanged God Form) You should only spam Blade Rush outside Precision windows so this rule does not apply.
8. Use Force Clarity to buff abilities during Precision. We ideally want to use Force Clarity to maintain as high uptime as possible on the +10% overall damage buff from the Descent of the Fearless set bonus. Also, we want to apply the Force Clarity stacks to make sure the individual ability +25% damage is applied to abilities during Precision when they will already be hitting very hard.
Force Clarity applies to all Combat rotational abilities except Clashing Blast. As such it should be prioritized for Lance or Dispatch if possible but using it on Blade Rush during Precision is fine also. Any time multiple charges are available try to activate Force Clarity leading into Precision so as many are consumed during its armor penetration buff as possible.
Opener (Fanged God Form) (# of Focus)
(Pre-fight) Build 30 stacks of Concentration - Having Zen available in the opener is key to get a third charge of Precision as well as the alacrity buff to get as many attacks in the adrenal / raid buff / relic proc window.
Force Leap (3) - Gap closer and Focus generation
Zealous Strike (9) - Used to build Focus.
Zen OFF GCD
Force Clarity OFF GCD - Used here to apply the Descent of the Fearless +10% damage buff and start using charges on the next 4 abilities (Blade Rush x3 and Dispatch).
Blade Rush (8) - Used before opening the burst window to apply the Blade Rush buff and proc Opportune Attack and Hand of Justice passives.
Valorous Call OFF GCD
Inspiration OFF GCD
Adrenal OFF GCD
Precision (7) OFF GCD
Blade Rush (7) - Used here to get additional Hyper stacks and since it is free due to the energy cost savings from Hyper stacks and Zen.
Dispatch (8) - Dispatch should be procced via Hand of Justice at this point. It deals heavy damage, has a buffed critical chance due to the Hyper stacks and is net positive to energy.
Clashing Blast (6) - Opportune Attack should have been procced by earlier uses of Blade Rush, making Clashing Blast an automatic crit. Clashing Blast does significantly more damage during Precision and while procced than any other ability, so if at all possible it should be used during the opening Precision and early enough that it will be off CD in the second Precision window.
Blade Rush (5) - Now that the Precision window is ended, we begin Blade Rush spam to take full advantage of Fanged God Form. This use is still buffed by Zen and has 0 Hyper stacks.
Blade Rush (5) - Blade Rush spam, buffed by Zen and 1 Hyper stack
Blade Rush (5) - Blade Rush spam, 2 Hyper stacks
Blade Rush (6) - Blade Rush spam, 3 Hyper stacks
Blade Rush (7) - Blade Rush spam, 3 Hyper stacks
Precision (6) - Used on cooldown
Lance (3) - High priority ability during Precision
Clashing Blast (1) - Highest damage ability and should be an auto-crit so used during each Precision window
Zealous Strike (7) - Focus generation
(continue rotation beginning with Blade Rush x5 leading into Zen / Precision window)
Note on Force Clarity in Opener
It can be tough to predict exactly how often Force Clarity stacks will be generated from Descent of the Fearless. I have intentionally omitted Force Clarity from the opener except its initial application. Ideally Force Clarity should be used immediately prior to Precision. See additional discussion on Force Clarity below.
Note on Focus in Opener
This opener assumes no Focus generation through utility selection, which either require taking damage (Jedi Crusader), stunned, immobilized, put to sleep, or knocked around (Adamant), or using Inspiration (Inspired Focus). It also assumes you begin at 0 Focus.
If the player has extra Focus entering the opener or can count on extra Focus from these utilities, it is a DPS increase to swap Lance and Dispatch in the opener so Lance is used during the first Precision window. It is difficult to use Lance in the first Precision window but is preferable due to dealing higher damage, applying an armor debuff, getting it on cooldown earlier and a slight chance that Dispatch may not proc.
Rotation (Fanged God Form) (# of Focus)
The normal rotation with Fanged God Form is fairly simple and only has 5 activated abilities and 2 off-GCD abilities prior to things like raid buffs, defensives, etc. The rotation is designed around the use of Precision on cooldown every 8 GCDs or 12 seconds prior to alacrity. In the first Zen-Precision block, we get 3 abilities under Precision then 5 fillers, then the next non-Zen Precision block we get 2 abilities under Precision then 6 fillers.
We want to use Clashing Blast as the last ability in each Precision window, alternate Dispatch and Lance for the second Precision window, and for every other Precision buffed by Zen we use an extra Blade Rush.
Outside Precision we primarily spam Blade Rush five times. This repetition is critical due to how Fanged God Form works. Normally Blade Rush costs 2 Focus or 1 Focus when buffed by Zen, so 5 uses of Blade Rush would cost between 5 and 10 Focus. Under Fanged God Form, using Blade Rush five consecutive times will cost 2 Focus normally and will generate 3 Focus if coming out of a Zen-buffed Precision window.
For the Precision window without Zen, we only have 7 abilities (2 under Precision + 5 Blade Rush spam) so using Zealous Strike naturally fits in for Focus generation. We need that anyway since the non-Zen rotation is net negative for Focus due to Lance and the Blade Rush spam.
We use Blade Rush as the extra ability during Zen-buffed Precision and the first one in order since that makes it net positive for Focus and lets us carry over the +30% critical buff to Dispatch.
Lastly, we use Zealous Strike coming out of the non-Zen Precision window so that we have Focus for the Blade Rush spam. Also, that lets us line up 6 consecutive Blade Rushes (5 then we hit Zen + Precision and Blade Rush one more time) so the buffs line up to make the Precision window even stronger.
Zen OFF GCD (6) Used prior to every other Precision window
Precision OFF GCD (5) Used on cooldown
Blade Rush (6) Uses the third Precision charge during Zen, this use carries over the Hyper stacks from a previous rotation's Blade Rush spam, so it has +30% critical and generates Focus
Dispatch (7) The rotation alternates between Dispatch and Lance in successive Precision windows. Dispatch deals heavy damage and generates Focus with the Hand of Justice passive proc
Clashing Blast (5) Highest damaging ability that should be an auto-crit due to the Opportune Attack passive proc and is used as the last ability in each Precision window. It is used last so that the +30% critical buff from Blade Rush spam Hyper stacks is applied to either Dispatch or Lance (which are not auto-crits) instead of Clashing Blast that should be an auto-crit
Blade Rush (4) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (4) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (5) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (6) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (7) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Precision OFF GCD (6) Used on cooldown
Lance (3) The rotation alternates between Dispatch and Lance in successive Precision windows. Lance deals heavy damage but uses 3 Focus so is much more expensive than Dispatch that generates 1 Focus
Clashing Blast (1) Biggest hitter, see above, using on cooldown
Zealous Strike (7) We use here prior to Blade Rush spam for Focus generation. Since we used Lance instead of Dispatch during Precision and do not have Zen partially applying to the the upcoming Blade Rush spam, we need the Focus generation here to avoid running dry
Blade Rush (5) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (4) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (5) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
Blade Rush (6) Outside Precision windows and use of Zealous Strike for Focus generation, we only use Blade Rush
I want to briefly discuss the importance of Ataru Form and maintaining the Blade Rush buff. Ataru Form by default provides a 20% chance for each melee attack to trigger Ataru and deal additional weapon damage, and can potentially trigger every GCD. Blade Rush provides a buff of the same name that increases the chance of Ataru Form triggering by 30% (up to 50% total) for 6s / 4 GCDs.
Also worth noting is that every ability, with the exception of Clashing Blast and Dispatch, uses both lightsabers to hit the target (ranging from 2-5 attacks depending on the ability). This means the effective chance of Ataru Form triggering is significantly higher than 50% per GCD.
For most abilities that have 2 attacks per activation (hits with main lightsaber and off-hand lightsaber), that means without the Blade Rush buff the effective chance of triggering Ataru (and dealing extra damage) is 36% while having the Blade Rush buff increases the Ataru effective chance to 75%.
This discussion means it is highly important to maintain the Blade Rush buff with nearly 100% uptime. It deals a notable amount of free damage over the course of an encounter, and proccing Ataru nearly every GCD will help maximize the availability of Clashing Blast’s guaranteed critical chance via the Opportune Attack passive ability, as well as Dispatch via the Hand of Justice passive ability. Ataru also procs Saber Screen and can maintain a permanent 6% DR and defense buff if procced regularly.
Precision is the signature ability for Combat. It was also reworked in 5.6. Prior to 5.6, its buff had a fixed duration that was designed to allow 2 abilities to be used with its buff. Unfortunately, that penalized players with high latency. To achieve maximum DPS, players were forced to try and “clip” certain abilities like Twin Saber Throw and Dispatch where they were activated before Precision, which was used during the GCD after activation such that the damage still counted within the buff window. This enabled players with high skill (and low latency) to get a third ability to benefit from Precision.
That was all fixed in 5.6 such that Precision provides a fixed number of charges applying the 100% armor debuff. Precision grants TWO charges normally but THREE charges when under the effects of Zen.
How powerful is the 100% armor penetration buff from Precision? Many operation bosses have around 40% overall damage resistance through armor, so normally attacks deal 60% damage. It is important to note the tooltips damage listing already incorporates this reduction, thus why you never see it absent any abilities that buff armor penetration. Side note - This also explains why attacks that have armor penetration or bypass damage resistance (e.g., attacks that deal internal/elemental damage) will deal significantly more damage than stated.
Combat Sentinel, like every other melee DPS class, applies a 20% armor debuff (Combat applies it via Lance). Due to the diminishing returns on armor rating, a 20% reduction in armor rating doesn’t reduce the boss’s damage mitigation from 40% to 32% as one would expect, but only reduces it to about 35%. Thus, normal attacks (and damage listed on the tooltips) would ordinarily only be dealing 65% of the damage of which they are capable due to boss armor. Due to the armor penetration of Precision, attacks benefiting from the buff will deal 100% out of a normal 65%, which represents about a 54% damage increase. This represents an enormous damage increase and prioritizing the biggest hitting abilities in the Precision window is critical to maximizing DPS.
It is important to note that Zealous Strike, Twin Saber Throw and Strike do NOT consume a Precision charge. As such, it is acceptable to use Zealous Strike or Twin Saber Throw during Precision to keep them on CD without wasting the armor penetration buff on a lower damage ability. It’s also acceptable to spam Strike if you have insufficient Focus to use a heavy hitting ability, though try to avoid that at all times.
Use of Zen
Zen is really powerful for Combat and makes it play super fast when played optimally. Prior to 5.6, Zen provided an alacrity boost with a duration. After 5.6, Zen was changed to generate 6 charges that apply the alacrity buff. What does this mean? It means that you will get the 30% alacrity buff on 6 abilities even if you do not have high APMs. However, the Zen alacrity buff is only a DPS increase if you are clicking abilities as quickly as they come off CD under the alacrity buff. As such, it is important to keep clicking. For the most part, it is better to use sub-optimal abilities at high APMs rather than taking the time to use the “right” ability. That said, try to internalize the priority system so you can keep clicking and take advantage of Combat’s amazing speed.
Use of Force Clarity
Force Clarity is a powerful off GCD ability added in 6.0 to the Jedi Knight disciplines (all Guardian and Sentinel disciplines). The ability can naturally accumulate up to 4 charges and refreshes 1 charge every 30 seconds. Using the ability applies all available charges to stacks of Force Clarity that are consumed individually as eligible abilities are activated. Each eligible ability consumes 1 Force Clarity charge and its damage is increased by 25%. Force Clarity can only apply to weapon attacks so Force attacks cannot be buffed by Force Clarity.
Force Clarity is significantly buffed by the Descent of the Fearless set bonus. The full six-piece set bonus provides two huge benefits to each discipline's DPS potential. First, each time a charge of Force Clarity is generated or consumed the set bonus applies a buff that increases all damage by 10% for 10 seconds. Second, every time you deal damage you have a 10% chance to generate 1 charge of Force Clarity with a 5 second cooldown on this benefit.
So how does this impact Combat? We have two related but sometimes conflicting goals:
Keep as high uptime as possible on the overall +10% damage buff
Apply as many Force Clarity charges as possible to high damage abilities instead of fillers
The Combat discipline is designed around the Precision ability to provide high damage burst windows, so our strategy around Force Clarity is centered on how it interacts with Precision since that is when we do most of our overall damage. Our default strategy to keep it simple would seem to be to simply use Force Clarity together with Precision. Let's consider whether that makes sense as an optimal strategy, or at least close enough to optimal to make it preferable for its simplicity and ease to remember during a chaotic boss fight or PVP match.
Precision has a 12 second cooldown, so if we simply use Force Clarity along with Precision there is a risk of losing some uptime on the 10% buff if we do not generate any charges during that time.
What are the chances of generating an additional charge within 10 seconds? Most Sentinel abilities deal damage with the mainhand and off-hand so such attacks get two 10% rolls to proc the set bonus. In aggregate that means every attack that hits twice actually has a 19% chance to proc the set bonus. By my count each rotation block between uses of Precision will typically have around 14 separate instances of dealing damage so 14 rolls to proc the 10% set bonus. My rough math suggests that means we have nearly an 80% chance to proc a charge and refresh our 10 second timer on the +10% damage buff.
Keep in mind also that you will naturally get an additional charge every 30 seconds, meaning you will get up to 10 "bonus" seconds of +10% uptime as that timer ticks.
As for how to apply abilities to maximize the benefit of their +25% buff to individual abilities, using Force Clarity together with Precision makes logical sense. Clashing Blast is the only rotational ability not eligible to be buffed by Force Clarity but Dispatch, Lance and Blade Rush are all abilities used during Precision that can be buffed. We absolutely want to combine the 100% armor penetration of Precision with the +25% damage from Force Clarity.
To summarize, the general strategy for Combat Sentinels is to use Force Clarity with Precision whenever possible.
Here are a few more thoughts and tips around exceptions to the above rule:
During the opener we use Force Clarity after Zealous Strike but before Blade Rush and then Precision. We do that because we want to get the +10% buff applied almost immediately and since we have 4 charges of Force Clarity we can use one prior to Precision on Blade Rush, use two charges on Blade Rush during Precision and Dispatch (or maybe Lance if we have extra Focus and can afford the swap) and then another use of Blade Rush after Precision. The key here is all abilities are buffed during Precision.
If we have multiple charges of Force Clarity we may want to activate it a GCD prior to Precision. We can use 1 Force Clarity charge during a normal Precision window and 2 charges during a Zen-buffed Precision window. If we have an extra charge leading into that window, I would suggest activating Force Clarity prior to the use of Blade Rush leading into Precision. The pre-Precision Blade Rush will have +30% critical buff from Hyper stacks and will likely deal more damage from the Force Clarity buff than the post-Precision Blade Rush (or worse, Zealous Strike) that will not have any Hyper stack buffs.
If we do not have a Force Clarity charge available for Precision, wait to use Force Clarity until the next Precision. If we do not have a charge then we can not use it for Precision. When we do get a charge from either natural regeneration or the set bonus proccing, that will re-start the window on our 10% damage buff already. As such, there is no need to hit Force Clarity immediately and we can save it for the next Precision window. The RNG gods giveth and they taketh away.
Opener (as of 5.10 or without Fanged God Form)
(Pre-fight) Build 30 stacks of Centering - Having Zen available in the opener is key to get a third charge of Precision as well as the alacrity buff to get as many attacks in the adrenal / raid buff / relic proc window.
Force Leap - Gap closer
Blade Rush - Used before opening the burst window to apply the Blade Rush buff. We use it before Zealous Strike so that Zealous Strike’s multiple attacks are highly likely to proc Opportune Attack and Hand of Justice, making Clashing Blast an auto-crit and Dispatch useable.
Zealous Strike - Used to build Focus and to likely proc Opportune Attack and Clashing Blast.
Valorous Call OFF GCD
Inspiration + Adrenal OFF GCD
Precision OFF GCD
Clashing Blast - Used here assuming Opportune Attack procced (so ability is glowing) making Clashing Blast an automatic crit. If Clashing Blast is not glowing, let it slide down the next 2 GCDs and use as soon as it procs. Clashing Blast does significantly more damage during Precision and while procced than any other ability, so if at all possible it should be used during the opening Precision and early enough that it will be off CD in the second Precision window.
Lance - Next priority for Precision assuming Clashing Blast was used as an auto-crit in the previous GCD.
Blade Barrage - Next priority ability for Precision. It is likely that Dispatch would also be available by this slot due to previous abilities proccing Hand of Justice. Using Blade Barrage here gets it on cooldown so it will be available sooner, while Dispatch can be delayed until the next Precision window without delaying its uptime. Since Hand of Justice can only be procced every 20 seconds but Dispatch’s cooldown is only 10 seconds, that means we can safely delay a procced Dispatch 10 seconds (and in some cases slightly more) without any rotational issues or DPS loss.
Blade Rush - Now that the Precision window is ended, we immediately use Blade Rush to re-apply the Blade Rush buff. We may have lost the buff for 1 GCD during the Precision window. I view this as acceptable since using Blade Rush before Zealous Strike gets us a highly likely chance to us Clashing Blast first and buffed in Precision, or at worst delaying it 1 GCD. Using Zealous Strike -> Blade Rush -> Precision would maintain 100% uptime of Blade Rush but would likely delay Clashing Blast such that it will not be available in the next Precision window.
Twin Saber Throw - Blade Rush buff is active so we use Twin Saber Throw to generate Focus and deal damage.
Blade Rush - No open heavy hitters (we need to save Dispatch for Precision) so Blade Rush.
Zealous Strike - Zealous Strike should always be used 1-2 GCDs before Precision. It has an identical cooldown as Precision and using it shortly prior to Precision ensures you have Focus to immediately use heavy hitting abilities during Precision.
Precision - Used on cooldown.
Dispatch - We saved the Dispatch from the earlier Hand of Justice proc for this Precision window since Lance and Blade Barrage are still both on cooldown.
Clashing Blast - Assuming we got the highly likely proc and were able to use Clashing Blast during the 1st or 2nd GCDs of the first Precision, it should be usable to consume the second Precision charge here.
Blade Rush - Used here to reapply Blade Rush after 4 GCDs.
(continue priority rotation)
Precision Priority (as of 5.10 or without Fanged God Form)
Clashing Blast - Clashing Blast should be a guaranteed crit and using it during each Precision makes it by far the best damaging ability. If Lance and Dispatch crit they do around 90% of the damage, but if they do not crit they typically do around 50% or so of the damage.
Lance - Lance typically does around the same damage as Dispatch in my experience. I rank it above Dispatch because using it first will get it off cooldown faster and enable its more frequent use in a fight, whereas Dispatch can only be used once every 20 seconds due to its reliance on the Hand of Justice proc (>30% boss health).
Dispatch (procced during/prior to previous Precision) - Dispatch does more damage than Blade Barrage. If it procced during or prior to the previous Precision window (so at least 10 seconds ago) it needs to be prioritized to avoid delaying its use during the next Hand of Justice.
Blade Barrage - Blade Barrage does noticeably less damage then Clashing Blast, Lance or Dispatch. That said, it still does significantly more damage than Blade Rush so takes priority for Precision. Due to its long cooldown, delaying it for Precision is a DPS gain in most circumstances.
Dispatch (procced during or immediately before Precision) - If Dispatch is newly procced then it can be delayed for Blade Barrage even though it typically does more damage. That is because it is locked by Hand of Justice for 20 seconds, so its delay for 1 Precision window will not typically reduce its uptime in a fight.
Blade Rush - Blade Rush should almost never be used during Precision so takes the lowest priority of all abilities that consume a Precision charge.
(note Zealous Strike, Twin Saber Throw and Strike do not consume Precision charges)
Filler Priority (as of 5.10 or without Fanged God Form)
------ONLY if you have “extra” abilities for next Precision window------
------used if you need to save big hitters for next Precision window ------
Blade Rush (if needed to keep up Blade Rush buff)
Zealous Strike (if its use will not cap Focus)
Blade Rush (if Zen is active)
Twin Saber Throw
Strike (if low on Focus)
Filler Discussion (as of 5.10 or without Fanged God Form)
Along with balancing ability use in Precision and building sufficient Centering to ensure Zen can be used on cooldown while always buffing Precision, the overall hardest decision making process for Combat is what to use for filler abilities. Precision has a 12s / 8 GCD cooldown and will either grant 2 or 3 charges. Zealous Strike (with an identical cooldown to Precision) should always take up one filler slot to maximize Focus generation. Blade Rush also needs to be used twice per 8 GCD block (once every 4 GCDs) to ensure full uptime of the Blade Rush buff (which boosts Ataru form proc chance from 20% to 50%). That leaves between 2 and 3 filler slots available for choosing between high damage abilities and low damage fillers.
During the filler phase, a skilled player needs to be looking ahead to see which of the heavy hitting abilities (Clashing Blast, Lance, Blade Barrage, Dispatch) will be available for Precision and whether Zen will be available (it should be available every other Precision window). If you have more abilities than needed, then you should utilize the heavy hitters during filler slots. This gets them on cooldown so they will be available sooner, and as long as you have enough big hitters during Precision, then the increase in uptime of the abilities is optimal.
For example, if I exit a Precision window without Zen, I know that I *should* have Zen available before the next Precision. I need to ensure I have THREE big hitters available. If I look at the cooldowns and see that Clashing Blast, Lance, Blade Barrage and Dispatch will all be available, I will use one of them during the filler phase to get it on cooldown. I will still have three big hitters to use up my Precision stacks so will not lose DPS. In that scenario, I would use Blade Barrage during filler phase since (1) Dispatch’s Hand of Justice proc has a 20 second duration but Dispatch only has a 10s cooldown, so as long as the proc hasn’t been active prior to the previous Precision it is safe to delay; and (2) Blade Barrage does less overall damage than Clashing Blast and Lance so using another would be a DPS loss relative to the Precision damage buff.
Sentinels have a strong arsenal of defensive cooldowns and abilities. Compared to the other Jedi Knight advanced class, the Jedi Guardian, Sentinels require a bit more skill to take full advantage of their defensive abilities. Nevertheless, when played well Sentinels can mitigate significant damage and in many cases return damage to the enemy.
Rebuke (1 minute cooldown) - Reduces all damage taken by 20% and deals energy damage to attackers. This effect cannot occur more than once every second. Lasts 10 seconds. Rebuke refreshes to its full duration when attacked, but this effect cannot last more than 30 seconds in total.
Rebuke can also be buffed by a variety of utilities:
Rebuke is a great defensive ability that also contributes damage if used optimally. Reducing damage taken by 20% is not enough to mitigate massive damage at high health but is amazing for sustained high damage phases (e.g., burn phase in Dread Council, etc.). I usually take Jedi Enforcer and Jedi Crusader for operations. Watchguard is situationally useful for fights with stun mechanics (e.g., Dismantler swipe in Draxus encounter). I do not recommend Jedi Promulgator as its abilities are not used frequently enough to be that beneficial.
Saber Ward (3 minute cooldown) - Raises a lightsaber ward, increasing melee and ranged defenses by 50% and absorbing 25% of the damage taken from Force and Tech attacks. Lasts 12 seconds.
Saber Ward is the Sentinel’s long duration / long cooldown big defensive ability. Sentinels have a base defense chance of 5% assuming no gearing for Defense, so with Saber Ward active the defense chance is buffed to 55%. That level of defense chance is nice but is risky for mitigating high damage attacks if you fail to dodge. Fortunately, weapon attack mechanics tend to consist of multiple attacks so the defense buff is still helpful. The 25% reduction to Force/Tech damage taken is far more reliable to help mitigate damage mechanics in my opinion.
I rarely take the Zealous Ward utility. The immunity to various effects could be situationally helpful for a few specific mechanics but the heal is unlikely to be useful outside of PvP.
Force Camouflage (45 second cooldown) - Obscures yourself with the Force, becoming difficult to detect, reducing your threat towards all enemies, reducing all damage taken by 50%, granting immunity to controlling effects, and increasing movement speed by 30%. Lasts 4 seconds. Dealing direct damage ends the effect prematurely.
Force Camouflage is a really great defensive ability but requires skill to use effectively. The threat drop effect is the only way for Sentinels to drop aggro, which is nice. The self cleanse (with utility) is extremely useful for fights that require cleanses, especially if your team’s composition involves Vanguards or Gunslingers that cannot self cleanse.
The 50% reduction in damage taken for 4 seconds (6 with utility) is amazingly strong if used properly. The key to its use is timing Force Camouflage immediately prior to a predictable high damage mechanic and waiting to activate any attack abilities until after the damage goes out and is successfully mitigated.
I frequently take Expunging Camouflage for any fights where a self cleanse is useful. I may take Force Fade for fights with predictable high damage mechanics to give me a little more margin for error when using it to mitigate damage.
Hidden Advance is extremely situational and rarely useful as it changes Force Camouflage from a strong defensive ability and self-cleanse to a very specific offensive cooldown for downtime. The key to using Hidden Advance is activating Force Camouflage during downtime or transition phases where you have 6 seconds of downtime. This lets you build 12 charges and buffs your first ability when re-engaging the boss by 48%. This is also frequently used in parsing to add more damage in the opener. I do not recommend Hidden Advance as few fights have enough downtime to be useful and Force Camouflage is more useful as a self cleanse and defensive ability in my opinion.
Guarded by the Force (2:30 minute cooldown) - Reduces the damage you take by 99% for 6 seconds.
Guarded by the Force is a great ability to mitigate one hit kill mechanics. Unlike cheese abilities like Resilience or Saber Reflect (or Blade Blitz…), there are some abilities that Guarded by the Force will not mitigate since they deal so much damage that even taking 1% will still kill you. However, the majority of one hit kill mechanics can be mitigated with Guarded by the Force. It can also be really useful if a tank dies and you get aggro, since Guarded by the Force will give you just enough time taking no damage for a healer to get a battle rez out and a couple heals on the tank so they can grab the boss back.
I do not usually take Guarded by the Force but may take it if I think there is a decent chance I could end up with aggro on a boss due to a tank death or pulling aggro. Absent that situation, I feel that the extra duration is not helpful since most big hitting mechanics last less than 4 seconds, and the cooldown reduction is not that helpful on most fights either.
Blade Blitz (45 second cooldown) - Quickly rush forward 20 meters, dealing weapon damage to enemies in your path and increasing your defense chance by 100% while blitzing. Cannot be used while immobilized or hindered.
Blade Blitz is a great mobility and defensive ability. It can be used to move around the map together with Force Leap and Transcendence, but it really shines as a defensive ability. Most damage mechanics can be mitigated through good timing of Blade Blitz. However, timing it correctly can take some practice so be careful with it until you get comfortable with the timing for a given mechanic.
Pacify (1 minute cooldown, 4m range) - Pacifies the target, reducing its melee and ranged accuracy by 90% for 6 seconds. Cannot be used on Operation bosses. This ability does not respect the global cooldown.
Pacify can be buffed by various utilities:
Pacify is a neat defensive cooldown that is primarily PvP oriented but with the Zealous Judgment utility it becomes a really powerful defensive cooldown. The big downside to this option is that operations bosses cannot be targeted by Pacify to activate the damage resistance. However, it could be useful on fights with adds that can be targeted by Pacify.
The Sentinel can also take a variety of other utilities that help improve overall survivability:
I usually take both Stoic and Defensive Roll. Extra damage resistance is always helpful and internal/elemental damage resistance is particularly valuable since it is very uncommon.
The Sentinel also has several passive abilities that help improve overall survivability:
Saber Screen (passive skill) - Dealing damage with an Ataru Form strike increases your damage reduction and melee and ranged defense chance by 2%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 10 seconds.
These passives give Combat very high uptime on +8% damage reduction and +6% melee/ranged defense chance. The defense chance is not very powerful but the +8% DR is really nice.