Recently I’ve been playing SWTOR, and having played through the PVE campaign, decided to level a character through PVP – specifically, a healing sorcerer. Now that I’ve reached level 50, I’m retiring, and I thought I’d share some notes.
Before I get started though, I guess you might want to know, am I any good? I wondered the same thing, so from about level 20 I kept track of wins and losses. I reckoned that if I were completely average, over time I’d win as many as I lost and that over a large enough sample, any other outcome could therefore be reasonably put down to my skill (or lack thereof). I set myself a few rules: I only counted matches that I started and finished, and leaving a match voluntarily was always counted as a loss. (I only left one, which was when I decided on that rule.)
So how did I do? Some figures:
- Won: 156 (57%)
- Lost: 116
- Won: 41 (59%)
- Lost: 28
- Won: 25 (51%)
- Lost: 24
- Won: 22 (52%)
- Lost: 20
- Won: 45 (66%)
- Lost: 23
(The numbers don’t add up because I started logging individual warzones after I started logging wins/losses.)
I’m not a statistician so I don’t really know whether the numbers mean I’m above average, but I like to think so. Arguably they’d be different if I’d started logging from the start, since at lower levels you have fewer skills and worse gear, and so probably lose a bit more. Maybe just being a healer in those key matches where the other team has none is enough to skew the results, who knows. Or maybe class talents give you enough of an edge in one warzone (Huttball in this case) to skew the numbers. In any case, I had a blast!
I’ll go into details about individual warzones later, but for now, here’s some stuff about playing as a healing sorcerer, and some general PVP tips.
- The main PVP stat is expertise, but you won’t get much of that in the 1-49 bracket. I found it best to gear for endurance. I tried to keep my gear at around 15K health (in warzones). Once I realised this, my survivability improved dramatically. Apart from willpower obviously, I didn’t fuss much about secondary stats; at various times I had some defensive stats, crit, alacrity etc.
- You can use your PVP currency rewards to buy level 20/40 PVP gear from the class vendors in the combat training bit of the fleet, but don’t miss the two vendors next to the mission terminal, who’ll sell items at the in-between levels. Even if there’s no piece that’s an upgrade, don’t forget that you can buy a weapon and move the mods to another piece of gear. For that reason, it’s worth buying/crafting pieces with slots in them at lower levels.
- Your PVP currency is capped at 2000 so spend it before you hit the cap. Use it to buy comp gear if there’s no upgrade for you. To be honest, you’ll run out of things to buy; when that happened to me, I’d buy Baradium Flux (crafting material for level 50 PVP crystals), although I’ve not done anything with it yet.
- You can steal mods from your comp’s gear if it’s an upgrade, although only Ashara uses willpower. Still, you can nab enhancements.
- If you’ve got a 50 alt, you can do dailies for purple level 49 mod rewards. These will only last you one level, but will still be useful if you carry on with your char at 50.
Biochem is the way to go, for the purple items: Reusable Fortitude Stims and Reusable Medpacs. (I’m not good enough to remember when to use an adrenal, so I just ignored them.) Not only are they great, but they’re not bound, so you can sell them or pass them on to another biochem alt when you outgrow them.
I had a pile of mats leftover from a previous char, so levelling wasn’t too painful. I also gathered as I pottered about doing the class mission. You’ll still end up spending some of your PVP reward money on Bioanalysis missions. Try to have your stuff crafted and ready before you hit the item level, to get maximum benefit.
I went up through the healing tree, then picked a few talents from the other trees. Most talents are pretty obvious but here are a few that might not be:
- Haunting Presence – if you did 150K healing in a match, 2% would be 3K, which is a single big heal. Doesn’t really seem worth two points.
- Force Surge – it was pretty rare for me to survive long enough to run out of Force, so Consumption was something I only used once in a blue moon, and not often after an innervate. Seems like more of a PVE mana-management talent.
I slightly regret not taking Sith Purity; it would probably have been useful in Huttball, but at the time I felt I had enough skills to think about on my action bar.
- Don’t forget to pick up the PVP daily from the mission terminal. If you have forgotten, ask in the warzone if anyone can share it. Conversely, if you have it, you can be cool and share it without being asked. If you’d rather level more slowly (so as to stay in the 1-49 bracket longer) then skip the daily, although you’ll be missing out on warzone medpacs from the reward.
- If you want to level faster, you can blow some cash on the character legacy warzone experience perks. Frankly though if you’re not enjoying the PVP, just switch to PVE, you’ll level much faster that way.
- I enabled Ops frames for easier group healing.
- I increased my camera distance so as to better see what was going on around me. (I didn’t do this specifically for PVP, but it probably helps.)
- These are the skills on my main action bars:
- Lightning Strike
- Force Lightning
- Static Barrier
- Unbreakable Will
- Dark Infusion
- Dark Heal
- Throw the Huttball
- Force Speed
- Force Slow
- Crushing Darkness
- Force Storm
- Unnatural Preservation
To be honest, I’m rubbish at warzone healing; I didn’t often do more than 200K healing, which other healers seemed to manage easily. (Partly that’s because I’d often end up doing tactical stuff like defending a turret, rather than trying to keep the kamikaze mob alive.) So I wouldn’t pay much attention to this advice if you want to top the charts, but…
- If someone’s dying, bubble them first (Static Barrier). Probably best to use a quick heal after that (Dark Heal), rather than a HoT (Resurgence) as it’ll buy you more time to apply bigger heals.
- Of all the healing classes, your heals are the least visible – no giant clouds of green gas or bright “I’m over here!” laser beams. Even Innervate is semi-transparent, but be aware that if you’re trying to go unnoticed, it might give you away.
- When you get it (level 40 or so), Revivification is great for giant clusterf*ck fights, or even just to heal yourself.
- Use Unnatural Preservation to heal yourself before using your medpac; it’s on a shorter cooldown.
- I can’t kill anything unless it’s 20 levels below me, there’s no one else around, they suck, and I’m lucky. This doesn’t happen very often. Your best bet if you want to try it seems to be to DoT and kite, rather than stand still, but frankly, if anyone attacks you, run away; there’s not much point wasting time trying to heal through it unless your attacker is totally underpowered. Find a teammate to fight for you.
- You’ve wandered into battle in your pyjamas; Warriors in particular will cut you to ribbons in no time flat (they hit for 4K+), as will most Assassins, so if your face is full of light sabers, stun/slow them and bail. Use line of sight to your advantage – run behind pillars etc. Snipers also do massive damage; either LoS them or try to get up close to annoy them before you die.
- You can’t kill anything, but you can cc with Whirlwind. This is a pretty good way to deal with healers in particular, since the good ones might not be noticed by your rampaging dps friends. One of my favourite moves is to Electrocute a player to tempt him into using his CC escape, then Whirlwind him, which should then last the full duration.
- You’ve got Jolt for interrupts, but don’t forget Overload works too in a pinch.
General PVP tips
- Don’t be negative in chat. If you slag off players and whinge, you’ll sap morale, which means you’ll lose more often than you would otherwise. If you have some advice, deliver it in a brief, positive way. By the same token, make sure you add any whiners to your ignore list; it’ll prevent you grouping with them again, which should increase your win rate.
- If you’re defending something, as soon as you see attackers call it, with the number of enemies, e.g. “East 3”. Don’t wait until you’re dead, and call even if you think you can handle it. Your teammates can look at the map, see there are already enough people there to deal, and carry on. Try not to use ambiguous words like left and right (which depend on how other players interpret the map).
- If you’re the last man defending something, don’t leave. Yes, as a healer you’re wasted standing around on your own, but at least you can call if anyone attacks, and can hold them off long enough with stuns, slows, self-heals and sprinting arround, for help to arrive.
- If you’re in a scrum, be aware of how many of you are fighting how many of them. If there’re 6 of you running around killing two of them, the rest of their team will be overwhelming you somewhere else on the map. Bail and sprint over to help. Generally speaking, try to think ahead and anticipate their next move. Usually it’s the same move you’d make in their position – they’re as dull and predictable as you are, but you can be faster.
- If you’re defending something, try to face it, and make sure the whole of it is in your line of vision, so that you can spot an enemy trying to sneak in an capture it. Do not get lured away by combat – if a teammate goes out of range, let him die, stick close to what you’re defending.
- If a teammate is capturing something, don’t stand around, and don’t run up and click too. Your job at that point is to block the enemy (prevent them from interrupting your teammate). Position yourself where you think they will appear, and then push/slow/stun/distract them as much as you can.
- If you’re attacking something, and you have a stealthed teammate, there’s a very small chance he’s on the same wavelength as you. If you can distract the defenders, he can sneak in to capture. Most players will always attack whatever is nearest to them, so make yourself very visible and annoying, and try to keep them facing away from the objective. (Sadly, I generally find my stealthed compadres will at this point dive in and start attacking rather than capping, but it’s worth a shot.)
- Similarly, if a group of you are attacking something, try to fight beyond the objective so that someone else can capture behind you. If you fight at the objective, or on your side, it’ll be hard to click without being interrupted.
- Don’t attack one by one, wait a bit for some backup then go as a group. Pretend for a moment that you only have one life…
My least favourite warzone… Not much to say about this one.
- If either team has double the score of the other, then it’s pretty much over, the losing team would need to get all three turrets to win. If you’re on the losing side, use the rest of the match as a training exercise.
- The most successful strategy seems to be something like 1/¾, so long as your Mid attackers can hold out long enough for you to capture the sides. However, the normal strategy is 1/7/0, so go with the main pack to heal. I usually hang back a bit at first before jumping down, to see if their team is sending some people to Snow.
- If you’re trying to take Grass, don’t just drop down to Mid and go right, as their Mid players will probably engage you immediately. Go left and under Mid through the tunnel.
- When you die, make sure you use the side speeders which’ll get you to Snow/Grass directly. Note that the fact that you can travel directly means that it doesn’t really matter which two turrets you hold (unlike Novare, where getting to West takes forever, making it harder to defend).
- The Electrocute/Whirlwind trick is just enough time to capture a turret, so you might be able to solo-capture something if there’s only one defender.
- A trick to retake Mid that worked for me a couple of times was to sneak around the back, i.e. when you land, go left towards Snow as though you were going to the tunnel, but then just carry on round to the back of mid. If you’re lucky, their defenders will be facing away to where others from your team are attacking. If your camera is zoomed out far enough you can spy on them without revealing yourself by facing the wall.
- It’s easy to not see the whole turret when defending. E.g. some people like to stand on top of the turret, because it camouflages them. But if you can’t see the whole turret, then you’re open to a sneaky scoundrel capping while you’re gazing off into the distance.
Again, I found this warzone a bit tedious, but it’s better than Civil War. My record for Novare was almost exactly 50-50, so I guess take my tips with a pinch of salt.
- Do not ever give up. My most epic warzone ever was being down like 78% to 2%, and winning. Unlike Civil War, as long as you can hold two positions, you can win.
- You can click the panels from quite far away, you don’t need to be right up close to them. Your teammates will usually be berserking, so if the battle’s raging around you, go for the click.
- There’s plenty of stuff here to use for line-of-sighting your attackers. Even just sprinting around the hut saved me from death many times. Also pushing melee types off the rocks behind the hut.
- The Electrocute/Whirlwind trick won’t give you enough to time to cap anything, so you may as well give up on any Rambo fantasies and stick with the crowd and heal, or defend if need be. Being the one guy that remember to click the panel can turn the battle too. Of course, if you can see that their solo defender is asleep…
I do like this warzone, it’s generally pretty frantic. However, there’s not much opportunity to turn things around if you’re losing; I don’t know if it’s a bug or what, but it always seems to end randomly. Maybe this explains why I was pretty much 50-50 for this warzone; because of the way the scoring works, it’s the skill of the whole team that seems to matter rather than individual brilliance. Not much to say in the way of tips… it’s bog standard general PVP.
- It doesn’t take long to defuse the bomb. If the enemy plants it, you might be able to run up to it and spam click it to defuse it, especially if a cunning team mate uses Flash Bomb to incapacitate the defenders.
- By the same token, when your team plants the bomb, move away from it (so you don’t get stunned by Flash Bomb) and be ready to use Force Storm to interrupt cappers.
- You can bump peopple off the bridge, which is quite satisfying.
- In the first room, as a defender, don’t drop all the way down until you see which way the enemy’s going. That way you don’t have to run the long way round to get to the action. Watch out for decoy moves.
I freakin’ love Huttball. So much so, I bought the t-shirt!
Ok, Huttball is where you really have a massive box of tricks as a Sorcerer, as listed below. A general tip though is to try to save your cooldowns so you have them when you need them.
- Force Speed. You can use this to sprint through the fire if you’re at full health. With talents, it also removes some snares, so you can often use it to sprint out of trouble, or to the finish line.
- Overload. Bump a whole crowd of enemies off the ledge, or bump them into the fire/poison (follow up with Electrocute for maximum effect!) You can also use it to separate the ball handler from his team.
- Force Slow, Affliction (talented) and Electrocute. Use these on the enemy ball handler (or their healer) to stop them from getting away.
- Extrication. If you’re following your team’s ball handler, there’s a good chance they’ll get knocked into the pit. Try to be in a position to just pull ‘em back up. You can also get ahead of them and then pull them out of trouble if they get stunned.
- Unbreakable Will. Save it for when you’re going over a fire trap, and be ready to click it then.
- Static Barrier and heals in general. Follow the ball handler (at a bit of distance if possible, to avoid getting caught up in their attempts to kill him) and keep him alive.
- Revivification and Force Storm. Great for the scrum in the middle of the map.
Ok, general Huttball tips:
- Make sure the pass ability is keybound. Shift+1 for me.
- Always look for who you can pass the ball to. When you get the ball, either look around or glance at the minimap to see if there’s anyone ahead of you. You can run with the ball — Sorcerers make pretty good ball handlers — but always plan for the pass.
- Pass before you die. Chances are you’ll get focus-spammed when you have the ball. Even when incapacitated you can position the pass and then spam so in the hopes it goes off before you croak.
- You can’t pass to a stealthed teammate.
- Always try to be in a position to receive the ball. For example, at the start, I always go down the right of the map rather than down the middle. That means I pop up on the side ready for a pass, and also with a good overview of the scrum in the middle for healing. In general, try to give the ball handler options by staying in range but not necessarily on the same path.
- If you receive the ball near your goal line, and there are enemies about, it might be a good idea to throw away the ball (to empty space) to reset it to the middle and avoid them getting it. (Even better, if a teammate is near the middle to pick up, it’s like a really long pass!)
- If an enemy with lightsabers has the ball, do not stand around near your goal line. Chances are he’ll Force Charge you and score. Remember also that you are his potential escape, so try to either stay out of range, or be right next to him.
Well, that’s about all I have to say my fellow Rotworms. Hope there were some insights in there that are of use to you in your campaigns. Me, I’ve started an Operative to try some stealth PVP, so if you’re on Red Eclipse (EU) and see Khmer or Rumsfeld, gimme a /wave!