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The Watchman Sentinel

52 replies
Seijin a
1199 posts
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The Watchman Sentinel

A properly played Watchman Sentinel is capable of excellent damage output and in conjunction with a large number of defensive cooldowns and small, but non-trivial, group heals, provides a welcome addition to any Operations group.
In this post, I will discuss some of the basics of the class, as well as describe keys for optimizing viability in an operations scenario.

The Spec

http://swtor.askmrrobot.com/skills/sentinel#102132322122212203320-3230-2

Above is a link to the spec that I use.


Gearing and Stats

Both the 2-piece and the 4-piece set bonus are useful and worth getting, especially now that the 4-piece includes a damage increase after Zen usage.

The following are generic guidelines and the "best" upgrade for you will always depend on your current gear and overall stats.

You want to aim for ~400 Accuracy Rating (395), ~400 Surge (395), 0 Critical Rating and as much Power as you can stack. The idea is to get your Accuracy up to a level that you have 110% acuracy on Force Attacks (100% Melee). Beyond this, there is almost no benenit to your DPS as you will never miss (other than occasionally with off-hand attacks, but that cannot really be helped) and stacking Surge should be a focus. Despite what BioWare intended with their stat re-balancing, Alacrity is a complete waste for Knights.

For Relics, the current BiS are Underworld Relic of Serendipitous Assault and Underworld Relic of Boundless Ages . The Underworld relics only drop from Ops bosses.

Until you have these tokens, Arkanian Boundless Ages and Dread Guard Relic of Elemental Transcendence are best. Yes, that Dread Guard relic is not a typo. It has a higher base power than the Arkanian version!

Also, if for whatever reason, you can't get a Serendipitous Assault relic and would prefer a proc damage relic, at the Arkanian/Underworld tier, you need to go with Dark Radiance. For whatever reason, BioWare switched the force/tech designation between tier 1 and tier 2.

Every piece of gear should be augmented with Advanced Might Augment 28 . Any piece of gear that is not augmented is effective 2 tiers behind stats wise. There is very little difference between main stat and power augments for Sentinels with math showing that the main stat have a very, very, very slight edge when you factor in the crit coming from the Strength.

Rotation and Abilities

The key to Watchman DPS is constant uptime. A huge amount of our DPS comes from two stacking buffs: Juyo Form and Merciless.

Juyo form stacks up to 6 and is refreshed with each melee attack. With 6 stacks, it gives us 12% extra damage.

Merciless stacks up to 4 times and is refreshed with each Merciless Slash. It is extremely important that this buff be maintained at 4 stacks, as it reduces the cooldown on our highest damaging attack to only 6 seconds. More Merciless Slashes = More DPS. It is that simple.

Overload Saber + Force Leap: You pretty much always want to use these abilities in conjunction with each other. They have the same CD length. Once is focus generator, the other is a focus spender. Keeping Overload Saber on CD is essential for maximum DPS.

Opener: Force Leap + Overload Saber -> Zealous Strike -> Cauterize -> Merciless Slash -> Master Strike -> Force Camo (but only if needed)

Note: Twin Saber Throw might appear ideal as an opener, but it is not. Maximizing your burn uptime is one of the keys to Watchman and thus getting into melee range ASAP is key. That being said, in cases where you need to wait for a boss to be positioned or whatever, by all means, open with TST.

After this opener, you go straight into a priority system of focus spenders:


Merciless Slash if Merciless CD is about to expire
Overload Saber
Dispatch
Cauterize
Merciless Slash (if CD on Merciless buff > 6 seconds)
Master Strike (as long as channel will not cause Merciless buff to expire and you have >2 sec on CD of higher priority abilities)
Twin Saber Throw
Slash
Strike

You also want to use a priority system for focus gainers:
Force Leap with every Overload Saber (which you hit first depends on how close to Focus Cap you are)
Zealous Strike if <6 focus
Strike if <8 focus

If you have 8 or more focus, you should not be using a focus gainer. By doing so, you are giving up DPS.

Note: Dispatch can only be used once a target is under 30% health. Once a target is under 30% health, the only thing more important than Dispatch are keeping your buffs and burns up.

When it comes to optimizing Watchman DPS, resource management is paramount. You will know when you are doing it correctly when you almost never have maximum focus but always have enough focus to use Merciless Slash on cooldown. With the reduction to Merciless Slash CD with the 4th stack of Merciless and the introduction of Twin Saber Throw, there should be even fewer Strike and Slash attacks occuring as part of your normal rotation relative to pre 2.0.

Centering and Zen: Another critical component of Watchman DPS is Zen uptime. Zen can be popped by converting 30 stacks of centering. While Zen is active, every burn has a 100% crit chance... this is huge damage!

Valorous Call can be used to instantly generate 30 stacks of centering. Its best use will depend on the fight. In same cases, you will want to use it for a super burst, i.e. Inspiration into Valorous Call into Zen or for raid utility purposes such as Inspiration or Transcendence at a specific time.

Inspiration: This ability will increase damage and healing for everyone in your party by 10% for 15 seconds. This is huge! It has a 5 minute cooldown, which means that when to use it depends on the fight. For short fights (i.e. less than 5 minutes) it is generally best to hold inspiration until you have 30 stacks of centering and then initiate a super burst. In longer fights, you will most likely want to use Inspiration early so that it can come off cooldown and be used again in the fight.

More Power! / How Not to Die... Using Cooldowns!

Effective cooldown use is one of the things that I think really helps people get to the next level. Any time that you are missing out on clicking a CD, you are missing out on an opportunity to help the team!

When uses CDs, it is important to note that they will interrupt channeled abilities, so don't hit your relic/adrenal during Master Strike!

Relics and Adrenals (especially if Biochem) should be used as often as possible. You will get the most out of your relic/adrenal if you hit it in conjucntion with Zen and OS (i.e. maximize your burns). In some cases, you will want to save your relic usage for a particular burn phase. Another thing to keep in mind with offensive CD use is that you need to keep in mind where you are in a fight. There is no use in hitting a cooldown just before or during a phase where a boss is invulnerable, can't be attacked, just jumped to other side of the room and you need to move to him. You want to use your offensive CDs when they will do the most benefit for you!

Just as best use of offensive CDs requires knowledge of a fight, so does best use of defensive CDs. There are many times when you will take unavoidable damage and you should ALWAYS have a CD available for these times.

Rebuke has a short recharge time and mitigates 10% of incoming damage. Note: With changes in 2.0, this damage reduction only occurs for direct damage attacks, making this CD less effective than it was in the past. This is a great one to use in cases where you need to keep attacking while taking damage. I frequently use Saber Ward in conjunction with rebuke, as it will mitigate 25% of force/tech damage, which encompasses most unavoidable damage thrown out by operations bosses.

Force Camo is both a threat dump and a defensive CD. At the start of a fight, you will generally need/want to dump after your opener. After that, you should hopefully not have aggro issues, especially in fights involving tank taunt swaps. This means that you can save Force Camo for mitigation of damage and the slight speed buff. Note that Force Camo breaks / dissipates when you deal damage, meaning that the ideal situations to mitigate damage via Force Camo are when you need to move and aren't necessarily doing damage, such as running through green circles to clear Doom in the HCK fight.

Finally, we have Guarded by the Force. This ability will essentially make you invulnerable to damage for 6 seconds at the cost of 50% of your current health. It is only useful in 2 situations 1) where you know you are going to take damage >50% of your current health or 2) when you hit an enrage and are trying to whittle off the last 2% of boss health with both tanks down and the Boss headed straight for you!
Posted Dec 27, 12 · OP · Last edited Jun 25, 13
464 posts
Here's my current spec. I personally built a slightly more defensive build for instances when I'm soloing and for "Oh crap" moments in Ops. This build drops the points Seijin spent in Swift Slash and Insight and puts them into Defensive Forms and Defense Roll. As Seijin said, this does drop your damage potential a bit, but makes you a bit tougher. The other place a large part of Watchman damage comes from is DoTs. Overload Saber is the primary source for these DoTs as it grants the next three melee strikes to burn the target over the next 6 seconds and stacks up to three times. The other primary DoT for the Watchman is Cauterize; nice upfront damage and the burning for 6 seconds. Otherwise I agree with everything Seijin has posted thus far.
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Posted Dec 27, 12
Seijin a
1199 posts
Admins
Davith is 100% correct. Burns should make up about 40+% of your overall damage and crit 60-70% of the time due to Zen., which is why Overload Saber and Cauterize are so high up in the priority list. In a typical fight, burns and direct damage from Cauterize make up about 45% of my damage, 25% comes from Merciless Slahs, about 12% from Master strike, 9% from Slash and the remaining 9% a mix of Slash, Force Leap and Dispatch.
Posted Dec 27, 12 · OP
I would add a third to guarded by the force... 10% or less health and have not used your medpac, pop it dps like your life depended on it for 5 1/2 seconds and then pop the medpac. :) I know I have used that Guarded by the Force a couple times in section X when I have force leaped to the wrong target.

Thanks for the information and the help last night. I am really happy with my pink death Watchwoman so far, largely thanks to all or yours and Mav's help (oh and everyone else that helps me with dailies, fun runs and HMFP). I love playing Brem and the healer role, but this is really a welcomed diversion and change of pace. She may never go though the higher level raids, but I want to make her the best I can make her and a viable alt for a substitute when needed and healing is covered.

Guess I also know what to do with those 200 daily comms...Another relic will be coming my way. Should have known the matrix cube wasn't BIS.
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Posted Dec 28, 12
464 posts
So this is a question I've had for a while and I've not been able to figure it out on my own. Pretty much every watchman opener I've found online says it should go like this Force Leap + Overload Saber -> Zealous Strike -> Cauterize -> Merciless Slash -> Master Strike -> Force Camo, however mine is a little different. Mine goes like this, Force Leap + Overload Saber -> Zealous Strike -> Merciless Slash -> Cauterize -> Master Strike -> Force Camo. Personaly I've never noticed a big difference between the output on my opener vs the standard. Is there a reason why everyone else seems to put Cauterize first or is it just a preference that most everyone 'cept me has adopted?
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Posted Jan 4, 13
Seijin a
1199 posts
Admins
@ Davith

There is a reason and it is 2-fold:

1) Burn damage is the biggest contributor to Watchman DPS, so getting your burns up ASAP is a big priority and
2) Mind Sear - It is a passive skill in the Watchman tree that gives Slash and Merciless Slash a chance to end the CD on Cauterize, meaning that by using Merciless after Cauterize, you get a change to reset the CD on Cauterize and get better uptime on your DOTs.
Posted Jan 4, 13 · OP
464 posts
So all of that makes sense and answers my question about why people are saying that that is the way to do it, but I do also want to point out a few things I've noticed running BH while using the recommended opener. If Merciless slash resets the CD on Cauterize, the DoT from the first Cauterize isn't even a third complete, so it seems to me like you're basically wasting 3-4 seconds of viable DoT damage resetting the DoT, which doesn't make sense (I freely admit that my thinking about this might be askew, but that's how it looks to me). As for getting the burns up asap, I totally agree with that, but by popping Overload Sabers while in the air, Merciless Slash also lays on a stack of that when it hits, so I'm still putting a DoT out. I'll keep running with the recomended one while I finish up BH, but then I'm gonna go hit a dummy for a while with a parser and see what numbers I throw up with each one.
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Posted Jan 4, 13
464 posts
Okay, having hit on a dummy for a while, with both versions of the opener while running a parser, getting to use Cauterize again does seem to up the burst damage of the opener by 200-300 points, sometimes as much as 400 if it crits. That alone for me overrides what I said before about refreshing the DoT so soon. I'm sold.
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Posted Jan 4, 13
109 posts
Untagged users
awesome guide. i have been thiking about trying watchmen and focus just for the heck of it.. but i like combat so much and know it quite well.. it's hard to convince myself to switch. here's my build StarStryderz PvE gear
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Posted Jan 23, 13
464 posts
So I think there are a few changes in order for this guide since 2.0 went live; Some new talents and a new ability. The core of the watchman is still pretty much unchanged, focus on DoT uptime, keep overload sabers on CD and use Merciless Slash when ever possible and the defensive cool downs are almost exactly the same.

This is the spec that I've been using since 2.0 went live and I find that it works really well. About the only points that I find movable are the ones in Zealous Ward; I've seen a few people with the points in Force Fade instead. I suppose it depends a little on which CD you end up using more. This build gives us the best use of the DoT potential from the Watchman, and bumps two major things for us; out juyo stacks and our merciless stacks. Taking Inexhaustible Zeal lets us stack Juyo form 6 times instead of 5, giving us more direct damage, and more crits on our burns, and lets us stack Merciless 4 times, cutting the CD on Merciless Slash in half.

Sentinels got a new ability when 2. went live and that was Twin Saber Throw. It's focus free and hits for a chunk of damage. It has a 30m range and damages all targets it hits; this is both blessing and curse. We get another tool to deal with things at range, a little more aoe, and a hard hitting ability that doesn't cost focus; but it hits everything in it's path, even if you don't want it too. So you can accidentally pull mobs you don't want to pull, hit things you aren't supposed to hit, or break CC if you're not careful. I'm going to refer to this ability as TST from now on in this post, because it's a lot shorter that way. :d

The new ability, I think changes the opener and the priority list just a little bit. Here's what I've been using.
Opener

1. TST (if you know you can do it safely)
2. Force Leap
3. Overload Sabers in the air before you reach your target
4. Zealous Strike
5. Cauterize
6. Force Camo
7. Merciless Slash
8. Master Strike/ Priority List

My reasoning behind throwing in Force Camo before Merciless Slash is to drop threat before unleashing my biggest attack so I don't pull aggro from the tank. I've done it a few times already in PuGs by putting it after Merciless Slash like I'm used to. After Merciless Slash you can either use Master Strike if you know you can get the full channel off before you have to do anything else or move right into you priority list if you can't.
Priority List

1. Merciless Slash
2. Overload Sabers
3. Cauterize
4. Dispatch
5. TST (if you can do it safely)
6. Master Strike (if you can get the full channel and if Merciless isn't going to expire)
7. Fillers

I put TST ahead of Master Strike because while it hits for slightly less damage, it doesn't root you for 3 seconds while you channel and there are a few abilities you can fire off while the sabers are flying around (Overload Sabers, Force Stasis, defensive CDs, Force leap, etc). Fillers are things that you can use while these main abilities are on CD. For me they include, Zealous Strike (if I need Focus), Strike, Slash, Force Sweep (in aoe situations) and Force Stasis (again, if I need focus and if I can get the full channel).

This is just what I've found works well. I'm sure in a few days Seijin will have a small list of corrections for me to make. :p
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Posted Apr 29, 13
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