Diplomatic Investigations: Sith Assassin Tanking – Men in Tights?

Welcome to our weekly column dedicated to everything Consular and Inquisitor. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like covered in this column, drop Tim a line!

I don’t know about you, but for me the concept of a tank in an MMO is traditionally a character with heavy armor, and outfitted to the max.

So it came as a surprise when I found out the Sith Assassin or Jedi Shadow can be quite viable tanks in light (yes light) armor.  Yes I had read about it, but when it came time to playing it, that was different altogether.

The Sith Assassin gets around the lack of armour by having stances (well they are called Charges) like Dark Charge which increases the strength of the armor.

Below is a summary of my experiences moving from a ranged class (Sith Sorcerer) to a melee based one (Sith Assassin).

Of course one of the big differences is melee vs ranged – the Sith Assassin is a melee class so you are a heck of a lot closer to the action.   This is of course directly opposite to what the sith sorcerer and jedi sage classes are, which I covered previously.

Added to the mix is stealth which I had some experience with when playing my Imperial Agent operative.  I found it hard to not want to fight through all mobs instead of sneaking around them, almost like I was choosing the easy way out by not defeating anything that moves, which I tended to do with my sorcerer.

At the time of writing this article my assassin is only at level 19 so I cannot comment on some of the more advanced abilities, but one of the challenges I am facing is healing – or rather the lack of it with a Sith Assassin.  This is where the Jedi Sage and Sith Sorcerer rocked.  Even if you did not choose the healing talent tree, you were able to heal yourself or your companion.  This is not the case with the melee class.  So you better be sure you can survive a fight with the mobs you are taking on.  You can use medpacs of course but I sort of feel naked in a fight knowing there is no healing to back me up.

To get around that to a degree I am using Whirlwind to trap a particular enemy before taking on the rest, and also tried to be careful to make sure I use the appropriate interrupts (Jolt, etc) to minimize the damage caused by enemy special attacks. Doing this has made a big difference in where I end up at the end of the fight (dead or alive!).

The other thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the amount of Force you have.  The Sith Assassin and Jedi Sage have 100 Force (certain talents in skill trees can increase this a little), and this goes down (but also replenishes) quickly. This is a BIG difference to the Sith Sorcerer. If you are not particularly careful you will run out and have no attacks available since pretty well everything requires at least some force to use.

Fortunately, there is one attack you should always have on hand and that is the very basic Saber attack. It requires no force and should be what you are using to inflict some damage while waiting for your force to regenerate.   So make sure you have that mapped as chances are it will get a workout in most encounters.  Some damage is better than none after all.

In a later article once I have my assassin to level 30 or so, I will go though the rotations.  For now it does not make sense to do it, since it is changing regularly as new abilities become available to me.

Overall, I have to say I am enjoying the Sith assassin – it’s not like you lose all your ranged attacks.  For example you still have Force Lighting which is a staple for the Sith Sorcerer if you are in situations where it’s appropriate to attack from non melee range. That, and unlike Imperial agents they have lightsabers, double bladed ones at that!

In terms of companions I am still using Khem Val at this stage. The plan in battle is for Khem to hold aggro on the strongest enemy while I am mopping up the lesser powered ones and then I come in to assist Khem.  Plus as outlined above to use Whirlwind where necessary.  This has proven to be quite effective to date.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with another article!  Until then keep on gaming.   And if you are on the public test server, and are on the Sith side look for my two characters Mee (Sith Assassin) and Sil (Sith Sorcerer).

Diplomatic Investigations: Patch 1.2 for Inquisitors and Consulars

Welcome to our weekly column dedicated to everything Consular and Inquisitor. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like covered in this column, drop Tim a line!

This week I want to talk a little about the changes coming in Patch 1.2 for SWTOR, and specifically how they apply to Jedi Consulars and Sith Inquisitors.  This patch is currently available to play on the Public Test Server (PTS), but it should be noted that the functionality for this patch is not yet finalised.  In other words, some features they have reported in the patch notes may not end up in the final 1.2 that is deployed to live servers.  So keep this in mind when reading below!

I expect it will be several weeks before the change is rolled out, so for the next few weeks I’ll focus on some of the benefits (and drawbacks) to the patch, with an emphasis on how it affects Sith Inquisitors and Jedi Consulars. Do you find it amusing like I do when people are getting upset about how nerfed “XYZ” class is with the 1.2 patch?   All I can say is at least wait until it has been finalized!

Not possessing much patience, I decided I would try out the new changes now, and connected back to the PTS (Public Test Server) and gave the patch (in its current state) a run. If you decide to use the PTS, you have to start your character from scratch again, and due to time constraints I ran out of time to get my newly created Sith Inquisitor off Korriban and to their advanced training, so I’ll report more on that next week.  At this stage I am thinking it’s time for an assassin as I’ve played the Inquisitor and its Jedi equivalent quite a bit.

As an aside, if you are considering using the public test servers, note that characters are NOT deleted, but rather remain.  They will have things happen to them (like reseting of advanced skills when required, etc) but the point is, you don’t have to continually start from level 1 with every patch version.  Yes, it’s relatively safe to create a character and leave it there, and just login and try out new patches from time to time.   Famous last words I know – I’ll probably login and find my characters gone!

Interestingly enough, I actually joined a guild on the test server, and saw a level 37 guy running around. There were a surprisingly high number of people online actually and I was in heaven because there was no trolling in general chat !    If it wasn’t for the aussie swtor lag issue, I’d consider making this my main server!

I did notice some a cool new interface editor for SWTOR where you can now customize your interface (see picture below), a nice target of target option, and some nice animation sequence fixed.  The more I played it, the more I liked it, quite honestly it almost felt like a new game again.

My frame rate seemed to be notably quicker as well.  So this is quite a major patch that Bioware have put together.

On the down side, there was a lot of problems with sound chopping in and out, and I had a bugged quest when I had to defeat someone and I couldn’t due to faulty line of sight indications. But it is a test server after all, so you have to expect that, and they will no doubt fix it before it goes mainstream.

Moving on, lets talk about some useful features for light saber wielding classes in 1.2. Color Crystals are being revamped in this update – Bioware’s thinking was to allow players to not have to be stressed by the numbers (stats) when choosing.  As a result all colour crystals will have top end crystals which eliminates a big problem. The ability to create Magenta crystal is also being added as is an entire activity chain which is cool.

The “mandatory crew skill” award for Jedi Consulars and Sith Inquisitors goes to…..


*drumroll* …   🙂


Artifice.  At least I think so because of what they have changed in the 1.2 patch. You can now do dedicated PvP Crafting with Artifice.   You can earn crystal schematics of various colours in PvP, as well as the required materials, and with the 1.2 patch Artifice is the only crew skill that offers a permanent expertise bonus! This adds another cool element for those of you who only do PvP, but the benefits are also there if you, like me, only do PvP some of the time.

I’ve usually chosen Artifice as one of my three crew skills anyway, but with these changes I’d have to say for Inquisitors or Consulars this should be mandatory once the patch comes out. One other cool thing I’d like to add is that s an artificer you can make willpower-based shields for the Sith Assassin/Jedi Shadow tanks – a welcome addition.

Ok thats it for me for another week – I’ll be back next week and thanks for watching!


Diplomatic Investigations: Melee or Ranged – What’s Your Poison?

Welcome to our weekly column dedicated to everything Consular and Inquisitor. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like covered in this column, drop Tim a line!

Both the Sith Inquisitor and Jedi Consular offer you the choice of a melee character or a ranged one. The melee classes are close up action where you are fighting alongside your companion or other players in a group, whereas the ranged characters fight from a distance.

The Sith Assassin is the Melee character, and the Sith Sorcerer is the ranged class.  For the Republic side the Jedi Shadow is the Melee class and the Jedi Sage the ranged one. The classes on opposing sides are very similar in their abilities (albeit it with different names) so after a period of familiarisation either should feel comfortable to you.

So how do you make the decision on which way to go?

Firstly from a faction viewpoint, you will likely have an opinion on which side you will want to start playing – I rushed to create a Sith Inquisitor for the “dark side” experience (although of course you can make “dark side decisions” as a republic player) and then moved to the Sith Sorcerer because I like the ranged attacks more than melee.

Another decision which can play a factor in melee vs ranged is server location. Aussie SWTOR players in general have until recently suffered a disadvantage compared to their overseas opponents, mostly due to our physical location. Most SWTOR servers reside in other countries and as the game has to send and receive information to and from the servers you can see that in theory the further away you are from the action the more you could suffer a disadvantage.   Even though the time is measured in milliseconds these differences count.

SWTOR does a good job generally of trying to even things up to a degree, but with PVP in particular things can get very hectic.  Play SWTOR for any period of time and you will hear about lag. This becomes an issue because every single key-press or mouse-click has to be transmitted.  And of course information on your surrounding areas (opposing players movements, NPCs, and anything else that moves or does something) has to be updated. The reality is if other players reside in the same country as the server, then it takes much less time for their key-press or mouse click to be sent and received as well as the other game state updates. We are still talking milliseconds here, but in a PVP situation milliseconds can count. Depending on the lag you might find the opposing player has time to issue several commands to your single one – And from their point of view, you seem to be very “slow” and  easy to defeat as a result and he/she seems almost invulnerable because every time you go to attack he/she beats you to the punch.

The reason the melee vs ranged decision is a problem on overseas servers is how the classes operate.  The up- close melee classes can suffer more with lag in my experience than ranged classes.  One example is a “from behind” attack (Jedi Shadow and Sith Assassin).  If you have lag issues it’s going to be harder as a rule to position yourself quickly as it’s more about co-ordinating movements and attacks at the right time versus just issuing attacks as a ranged class.

So yes we Aussies and New Zealanders have a good excuse of why we are not good at PVP.  Well maybe not!  While there is not doubt lag plays a part a good player can work within these limits. In any event, the good news is that all of this has changed with the recent introduction of local servers in Australia.

So when it’s available, make sure you move your characters to the Australian servers to eliminate this lag problem, because most of the players on these servers will be Aussies meaning that lag should generally be a non-event.  And if we find some overseas players on the servers then it’s our chance to use their lag to our advantage.  I’ve already had some interesting discussions with some overseas players complaining about the lag on Aussie servers  🙂

Out of interest you can hover your mouse in game over the latency button to get a general idea of your speed.  Also known as your ping.  As you can see in the two pictures, I have shown you my ping on an American server and an Aussie server . As you can see with the exact same Internet connection the American server has about four or fives times high latency than the Aussie server.  This can make a big difference.


Nasty, evil overseas lag

Ahh, that's more like it











In case you are wondering, I am with Bigpond Cable on their Ultimate package and loving the 33 ms latency. I moved there because it is the fastest possible Internet access in my area.  Add local servers to the mix and I am in heaven!

With lag being taken out of the equation, other factors in deciding which advanced class apart from the melee or ranged questions are, whether you wish to focus on healing, whether you like the benefits of invisibility, if you want to be a tank in game, to name three common ones.

Make sure you choose carefully though because once you choose between melee and ranged, it can never be changed for that character.  That said, the thing to remember is that you only need to level up a character to around level 10 and leaving your first planet, to get access to the advanced classes. So there is nothing stopping you from leveling up a few characters and trying both sides before deciding where to put your focus in the long term.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week!


Diplomatic Investigations: Jedi Sage Attack Rotations (Level 1-25)

Welcome to our weekly column dedicated to everything Consular and Inquisitor. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like covered in this column, drop us a line!

This week I want to talk a little about attack rotations for the Jedi Sage, and some tips for you to keep in mind.

Note that these rotations are covering the earlier levels for the Jedi Sage (up to level 25). In a future article I will discuss the higher level ones.

Firstly it’s important to know which attacks are instant casts, and which ones take time to cast.

It’s vital to have a handle on this so you are not wasting time casting at the wrong times. They say time is money. Well in SWTOR time you can save optimising your rotations can be the difference between life and death.

Generally I would recommend you put up your Force Armor first, as it protects you from damage until the shield is destroyed. Once you have done that, send in your companion to attack, and then while he/she is on the way, cast Mind Crush which has a 2 second timeframe to cast (before modifiers).

If you time this right, your Mind Crush will be hitting your enemy around the time your companion makes their first attack. Ideally you want the Mind crush to hit a fraction of a second after the companion hits to ensure the enemies first attack is at the companion and not you.

Mind crush does a moderate amount of damage but then more damage over 6 seconds (which is a long time in battle). What’s best is its casting range is 30m, allowing you to keep well away from the action. The cooldown of 9 seconds means you can often get to re-cast it during a battle for the more powerful foes you face. All Jedi Consulars get this ability at level 14 and I think it’s a very important one to add to your rotation.

Weaken Mind is a good one to cast next because it’s instant, does damage over time, has the same range as Mind crush but only requires half the force.

Another useful ability is Force Potency, which increases the force critical chance of your direct attacks (and heals!!) by 60% as well as increasing the range of Telekinetic Throw to 30 meters. This is a good ability to have up when you can (it lasts for 20 seconds and grants 2 charges, each time you critically hit or cast Telekinetic Throw you lose a charge), but it has 90 second cool down so you will probably only get to cast it once in a typical fight.

Project can be used as it’s an instant cast and you do not have to stand still while casting it. But relatively speaking the damage is low and the force cost high. In my rotations I typically use Project when the enemy is down to about 10% health and I am on my way to begin looting their corpse – yes I like to plan ahead!

If you are being attacked from multiple enemies (you or your companion), Force Wave is excellent since it’s a knock-back. It does a reasonable amount of damage and knocks back all enemies within 8 meters. Standard/weak enemies actually get knocked down for 3 seconds. This is useful if you or your companion are close to death and you want to either heal up or run away (get a bit of a head start).

Disturbance is a good ability as it has no cooldown and expends a moderate amount of Force. It does however have a cast time of 1.5 seconds. I typically use this after many of the other attacks have been used at least once.

The priority should be to keep your dots (damage over time) abilities up at all time. This requires a keen eye on screen to check when they are available to be re-cast.

This is one area that that nameless game starting with W had nailed – being able to create custom addons to easily see this information on screen – I hope Bioware allow us to create addons for the game at some point by releasing the necessary API information and tools.

I haven’t talked directly about healing this week, as I went into some detail about that last week. Suffice to say make sure you heal your companion and yourself (in that order) as needed.

The final ability I want to mention is Whirlwind as from what I can see many people overlook or do not use it at all.

This allows you to trap an enemy for about 60 seconds. Note that they heal rapidly while in the whirlwind, so it’s best use is at a start of a fight to take one enemy out of the fight until another (or many) enemies are eliminated. Otherwise you are effectively healing an enemy which may not be your intention!

Make sure the enemy you are proposing to use this ability on, is sufficiently out of range of any attacks on other players (area of effect, etc) because damage causes the effect to end immediately.

This is particularly important in Flashpoints and group fights, so make sure you make it clear to every party member which enemy is not to be attacked – you can use the tag ability to put a skill or other marker on the enemy in this situation. Normally I indicate at the start of the Flashpoint that a particular identifier (skull or whatever) is a do not attack, or a star is the enemy to be taken out first, etc.

I’ve even done this to players in PVP – it’s funny how long a player can stay stuck in a whirlwind in PVP – likely because everyone playing on the other side knows not to attack and while that player is caught in the whirlwind they are effectively outnumbering the opposition.

The image below shows the whirlwind in action. The guy on the right hand side is powerless while my companion and I attack the other two:

Well that’s me done for another week – let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be back same time, some bat-channel (website) next week!

Diplomatic Investigations: Jedi Sage and Sith Sorcerer Tactics

It’s with a great deal of pleasure we introduce Tim Buchalka to the TOROZ team. You can find out lots more about Tim here – but suffice it to say he’s a rather dedicated connoisseur of the Inquisitor and Consular classes, which will be the focus of this column. We’ve called it Diplomatic Investigations as both words are synonyms (sort-of) for the Consular and Inquisitor. Nerdy grammar humour indeed.  Anyway, please make Tim welcome and post your comments below!


Today I am going to focus on the Jedi Sage/Sith Sorcerer, which are the “other” lightsaber wielding classes in SWTOR. In case you are unaware, when you create a Jedi Consular or Sith Inquisitor character in SWTOR, at or around level 10 when you do your advanced training, you get the choice of  becoming a Jedi Sage/Sith Sorcerer or Jedi Shadow/Sith Assassin.

The Sage/Sorcerer classes are almost identical other than the fact one is Jedi and the other Sith – their skills and abilities are very similar (albeit it with different names) and the damage they do is also similar.

I’ll focus on the Shadow/Assassin in future articles but for now lets talk tactics for the Sage/Sorcerer.

Basic Attack Strategies

One of the biggest things to remember is that despite how cool the lightsaber looks, it does very little damage – I recommend you don’t use it.  Don’t worry, you will get to at least see it in your hand, you just don’t get to fight with it  🙂

It’s important to remember that these guys are not tanks, have light armour only, and are not melee characters.   Typically you will get best results sending your companion in to do all the “dirty work” with your enemies i.e. melee attacks;  leaving you to stand back (usually a long way back) and attack from a position of relative safety.

Incidentally, don’t be afraid to turn and run if your companion gets defeated.    You can always come back for another shot later – a Sage/Sorcerer hero fighting to the death without a companion usually becomes a dead hero very quickly!

My first character on SWTOR was an imperial agent Operative, which is very much a melee character.  After playing that for some time, when I swapped over to my Sage and Sorcerer (I am levelling both at present) it took a while for it to sink in that I should not be trying to get involved in melee. In fact, when I played my first Flashpoint (Black talon) I was asked why I was using my lightsaber in combat. After being asked, I actually took a look at the damage it was doing and it was very minimal compared to my other ranged attacks. I suggest you do the same, do away with the lightsaber in fights.


One other important tactic is the use of stuns/interrupts and slow attacks during fights, especially with bosses. I’m talking here about the Mind Snap, Force Stun and Force Slow if you are a Jedi Sage or Jolt, Electrocute or Shock attacks if you are a Sith Sorcerer.

You may not have noticed but the harder to kill elite characters and bosses often have special attacks that usually do significantly more damage than their regular ones. If you can prevent these attacks altogether (or interrupt them if they have already started) it can spare you or your companion a significant amount of damage. This is even more important in flashpoints when every enemy is that much harder to defeat.

Watch for the blue bar on screen (below the red health indicator on your enemy).  If you see a blue bar moving from left to right it means a special attack is being charged – now is the time to issue a Mind Snap or a Jolt. Do that before the blue bar gets to the right hand side and it means you have prevented the attack from starting (also stopping the enemy from using that attack for 4 seconds). If it has already been cast you may see a blue bar moving from right to left (if it’s a damage over time attack).  Your interrupt will stop it dead in its tracks, meaning the rest of the damage is not inflicted.

See the image below of my Sage attacking a Betterlife Security Chief where he has already used his special attack (you can see the blue bar just above my companions).  It also serves as a reference of how far I suggest you stand away from the main fight.  No need to be any closer than absolutely necessary.

Likewise, stuns and slows do what they suggest they will – they can stun an enemy (preventing them from moving or attacking) or slow their speed down, allowing you (and your companion) to get some extra attacks in while it is in force. Most of these attacks have a cooldown before they can be reissued (for example Jolt/Mind Snap is 12 seconds) so in a big fight be sure to check when you can re-issue it. I’ve used this tactic in big battles with good effect.


I used to think this was a given but I have done a lot of flashpoints and teamed up with other Sage or Sorcerer players and I see them often not healing their companions. They just let their companion fight to the death and don’t attempt to heal them.  As a result they cannot handle the bigger fights easily or they can get overwhelmed if larger numbers of the enemy are involved.

The thing to remember with the Sage and the Sorcerer is that it’s the companion taking all the damage (Qyzen Fess if you’re a Sage or Khem Val if you are a Sorcerer).  These companions are good at holding aggro, ensuring the enemies keep attacking them rather than you. As a result it makes sense to heal them when their health is starting to get low, because if they are defeated guess who is going to be attacked next? I typically monitor the health of my companion during fights and when his health has dropped to around 25 percent or less, I stop attacking and focus on healing him.

With a boss fight I usually start healing when the health has dropped 40-50 percent since Bosses tend to do more damage and the more powerful healing spells take a while to cast.  The last thing you want to do is stop attacking to heal your character but find you have left it too late and he is defeated while you are still casting.  Not only have you lost the companion, but you have also not been inflicting any damage while you have been trying to heal. It can be a little unnerving focusing on healing when your companion is in a fight with 2-3 enemies and your natural instincts are to fight, but the thing to remember is, if your companion is alive its likely you are too! It can take a while to get the timing right but it’s an important skill to learn and will really help you in the tougher fights.


And as mentioned early, because you are a long way from the action (well out of melee range) – if it appears you cannot save your companion and looks unlikely that you are going to win, turn around, cast Force Speed and get out of there fast!

Companions Weapons and Armour

You should be continually upgrading your companion’s armour and weapons.  This ensures that they can inflict and absorb a lot of damage.  It also increases the threat level of your companion making it more likely he will be attacked and not you. It’s not uncommon in a big fight to find an enemy who is attacking you suddenly turn and race to attack your companion.  Some of this is because they have good armour and weapons, but also Qyzen and Khem Val both have good AOE (Area of Effect taunts) which they will use to ensure enemies attack them and not you. As a worse case scenario you can cast something like a Cloud Mind, which reduces your threat level, but I almost never need to use this.

Remember the Force Armor/ Static Barrier

A cool defence against damage is Force Armor (Jedi Sage) and Static Barrier (Sith Sorcerer).  This protects you from a high amount of damage for 20 seconds but also has a 20 second cool down. My rotation before attacking usually consists of casting this first, then instructing my companion to begin an attack, followed by casting a ranged attack with a long activation time like the Jedi Sage’s Mind Crush. That way, in most fights my companion has reached the enemy as my first ranged attack hits them, my shields (Force Armor or Static Barrier) are up, and I am in the position to start my attack with instant ranged attacks.


So there you go.   These are pretty basic tips I know, but I have found them to be quite valuable and they collectively helped me get out of some tricky situations, sometimes when the odds are stacked against me.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  I’ll be back next week with more Consular and Inquisitor tips.  If there is anything specific you would like me to cover, or have any comments feel free to leave your thoughts below, I would love to hear from you!