SWTOR Arena Guide
Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) released arenas during October 2013 (patch 2.4). Since then, I’ve played nearly every class in solo/four man ranked with my highest rated character being my Vanguard (currently at 1681 – Deltiz). As I write this guide, SWTOR will be releasing patch 2.6 with class balancing updates and I figured this would be a great time to share basic information on how to succeed in arenas. As with all my guides and/or information, it’s meant to evolve and grow with the community. Please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this guide.
Table of Contents
- Arena Basic
- User Interface
- Attitude is Everything
- Focus Targeting
- Initiate Combat First
- Early & Often
- Time on Target and Global Cool Downs (GCD)
SWTOR’s Player vs. Player (PvP) content is divided into two sections; unranked and ranked (“ground” PvP). Unranked PvP randomly selects either objective based maps or arenas. However, all ranked queues are automatically arenas. You can either queue by yourself or with a four man team. No queuing with two or three players, only solo and a full four man team. By default, arenas are the only PvP format with leader boards.
The first part of the guide includes suggestions players can do before even stepping foot into an arena. I’ve also made a video you can reference below that shows a walk through of this portion. The second portion are universal hints.
I recommend visiting two sites prior to getting arena ready:
Tor Assistant – This is a simple and light program that uses your combat log to make audible sounds when abilities or procs are available for use. This program is allowed by SWTOR.
SWTORUI –Great site for finding UI’s that are more user friendly than the default SWTOR UI.
The next step is to check your settings by pressing the escape key and selecting preferences. Here are the preferences I check.
- Check enable focus target (video guide below).
- Set camera distance to 100% for better viewing.
- I keep ability action queue at .5 for personal preference.
Combat Logging –
- Make sure the combat log file is enabled if you plan on using Tor Assistant or something similar.
User Interface –
- Detailed item tool tip for additional information on gear.
- Operations frames as group frames for better viewing.
- Show cool down text for those who like to see numerically one’s cool down time remaining.
- Suppress crew member rewards in a warzone to eliminate gathering mission returns during combat.
- Always show resolve to see other people’s resolve gauge.
- Class symbol on because many players use different gear sets.
- Guild names turned off because I don’t like judging people based on their guild.
- Make sure you have set focus target and acquire focus target enabled.
Stim – Always use a stim. I repeat, always use a stim. At end game, you’re adding roughly 250 additional stats. This alone could win or lose a match. If you’re truly dedicated to winning, bring extra stims of every kind. You’ll encounter many players who aren’t prepared or don’t really take it seriously, so hand them out free of charge to increase your chances of winning.
Grenades – These are a item that provides a area stun (mez) with a 180 seconds cool down. Only Cybertech can use the resuable version, so naturally I pick this up as my crafting skill. Plan on having extras non-reusable grenades for hand outs.
Warzone Medpac – A non-reusable item which self-heals for 35% of your max health. You must have these regardless of your class or role. You can use all sorts of tricks to get the most out of these. For instance, Juggernaut’s have an ability called Endure Pain which temporarily increases health by 30%. Use this combined with a medpac for extra self-heals.
Warzone Adrenal – Another non-reusable item providing 15% damage reduction (only in PvP). If I’m jumping into the fray as a melee class, I almost always use these to start a match. Combine this with one or more defensive cool downs for extra protection.
Alternate Gear Set (If applicable) – If you’re playing a class that can fulfill two roles regardless of your talent tree, make sure to have an extra set of gear. An example of this is a Juggernaut tank who is fully geared DPS in Shien form, but changes stance and gear to Soresu for extra protection. I’ve won matches because I threw on a tank set and used a fortitude stim to achieve 40,000 health just to outlast the enemy.
Attitude is Everything
Prior to firing up that queue button, make sure you check your attitude. You will lose. Your mistakes will cost the team a victory at some point. So eliminate the preconceived notion that it’s your inherit right to win and that you are perfect. I’ve screwed up a lot of games, but I sat right back down and queued up again. You will get better over time by understanding class balance, gearing, and strategies on specific maps. Just relax and keep at it.
Also, don’t bash other players before the match gets started. 9 times out of 10, I turn off chat because it’s just offensive nonsense directed at one player or another. Help each other out even if you can’t stand the other player. You’re all on the same team so you might as well work together to achieve a goal.
Focus targeting is one of the most important aspects of PvP. Focus targeting allows you to set one player (friendly or enemy) as the focus and click a button to see who they’re targeting. Offensively you can use this to pressure the same target. Defensively you can use this to swap guards to different players.
I’ve seen many solo ranked matches where our team comes up with some elaborate plan which immediately crumbles upon the first engagement. So, I turn chat off, set someone to focus and attack their target. If this doesn’t come natural, it’s okay because it takes a lot of time, practice, and patience to develop an innate ability to follow someone’s target.
Initiate Combat First
I can’t stress how important getting off the first attack can be. Typically, I play melee classes that have strong cool downs such as a Vanguard. Generally I’m the player who intends on attacking first. My goal is to initiate combat, use as many defensive cool downs as needed to limit players burst DPS, then open up with an offensive flurry after my resolve is full. Something like this will happen if I’m playing a Vanguard.
- I move into middle and pull (Harpoon) a target
- Their team panics because they’re separated and come rushing in
- I stun the player which was pulled (really panicking now)
- That player breaks the stun
- I stun them again (they hate me at this point)
- Now their team is peeling for that poor guy/gal and it’s my turn to be attacked
- I use one or more defensive cool downs and a warzone adrenal
- Example would be Reactive shield 15% damage reduction, adrenal another 15%, if someone else taunts the group an additional 30%, if I’m stunned an additional 30% damage reduction, at this point I’m literally taking 90% less damage and that’s why I want to start combat and get them tunneling me
- After this initial altercation the first target is dead, it’s 3 v 4 and mostly mop up duty
This is just an example with a near endless amount of possibilities. Know your class and if you should initiate combat or not. Two great class choices are the Vanguard (PowerTech) and Sentinel (Marauder). Both have strong defensive cool downs that really hinder the other teams DPS if they target you. Keep in mind I’ve lost plenty of matches trying to initiate combat because I didn’t execute properly. It just takes practice.
Early & Often
Someone once told me “use trinkets early and often.” I didn’t know what trinkets meant, but it’s a World of Warcraft term essentially meaning use your big cool downs (defensive or offensive) at the start of battle. I learned this the hard way after I was absolutely demolished in a duel. After that embarrassment, I learned to not hold anything back as if it were a 12 minute match.
An example of this is taking the example above with my Vanguard and adding some pieces to it. I haven’t talked about resolve yet because it’s a complex topic with many varying ideas, opinions, and facts. Essentially it’s a meter that fills up once you’ve been stunned for a period of time giving one cc immunity for a period. I made a complete guide on this for TORWARS podcast which can be found HERE.
I try to time a full resolve bar (or white bar) with a big offensive rotation. I go in as the bait and initiate combat saving my big offensive abilities until my bar is full. Once full, I immediately break my cc and start using my main offensive DPS abilities and rotation. For a Vanguard it would be the critical hit buff and my AoE damage abilities. This will increase your chances of getting at least one major burst cycle.
Time on Target and Global Cool Downs (GCD)
SWTOR uses a GCD system which is basically a universal cool down period of 1.5 seconds each time an ability is activated. This time can vary depending on many factors such as talent tree, alacrity stat, etc. There are also abilities “off the GCD,” but for the most part it limits you from spamming abilities. Time on target is just how often you’re attacking or healing a specific target(s). Sounds simple right? Well simply staying on a target is a great way to improve ones performance.
Basically what you want to do as a DPS is to always be attacking something (unless it’s mezed). I show some examples of this in the focus targeting video, but even when you’re moving to a new target, try to hit something on the way. Anything really as long as you’re not breaking a stun or preparing it for something else. You don’t have to use a certain rotation just be doing actions over and over. Keep this up and you’ll see your performance increase.
In summary, I’d like to say arenas are hard and challenging. Sometimes there are things out of your control such as win trading, people leaving matches, being unprepared, or whatever. You can only control yourself. Bring you A game, get prepared, practice, and focus with a positive attitude before you enter. You may not win all of your games, but you will stand a better chance.
I hope you enjoyed this guide, let me know if you have any special tips and tricks.
NOTE: I will be creating a separate guides on classes and arena maps.
- Resolve guide on TORWARS http://torwars.com/swtor-pvp-resolve/
- TOR Assistant Link – http://froyosoft.com/torassistant.php
- TOR Head for finding items – http://www.torhead.com
- Area of Effect (Aoe) – An area based damage or healing ability.
- Buffs –Abilities that apply a bonus for a duration.
- Cleave – Another way to say AoE.
- Cooldowns – A ability with a waiting period after use. These can be used offensively or defensively.
- Crowd Control (CC) – Something that hinders your movements or stuns you.
- Damage Per Second (DPS) Class – Class focused solely on damage.
- Diminishing Returns (DR) – The point at which the stat takes more and more if it to get the same result or the more points you put into a stat, the fewer bonuses you get per point.
- Expertise – PvP only gear stat that determines your effectiveness in a PvP setting.
- Full Healer – Generally a healer that has 31 points or more into main healing talent tree.
- Full speced – 46 talent points or more into one specific talent tree.
- Global Cool Down (GCD) – A universal cool down of 1.5 seconds before another ability can be triggered.
- Globaled – Only using one ability per person to wipe out an enemy.
- Hit Box – The position you have to face in order to hit someone.
- Hybrid – Class that isn’t fully speced into one tree, e.g. a PowerTech playing 10/30/6.
- Kite – To limit the opponents damage because you move behind an object or Line of Sight (LOS)
- Knockback – Temporarily punts or knocks back player a certain distance, instant effect with no stun, generates 400 resolve. Example: Sith Inquisitor ability Overload, which knockbacks enemies with eight meters.
- Line of Sight (LOS) – Avoiding damage because you use an object as cover.
- Mez – Completely disables player for certain period, can be broken on stun, and gives 100 resolve per second. Example: Imperial Agent ability Flash Bang, which disables opponents for eight seconds and can be broken on damage.
- Mid/Max – Finding every possible way to extract the exact stats one wants.
- Peel – Stopping what you’re doing and helping a friendly player.
- Pillar Hump – Simply circling an object to limit players DPS.
- Proc – a “procedure” – triggered under particular circumstances
- Pocket Heal – Single target heals provided by DPS not full spec’d.
- Pull – Interrupts targets current action and pulls them to the caster. Example: Sith Assassin ability Force Pull, pulls target towards the caster.
- Punt – Same as knockback
- Rambo/Rambo’ing – A play style that has complete disregard for team goals and objectives.
- Resolve – Statistic relating to cc immunity
- Rotation – Series of abilities used in sequential order for maximum effectiveness.
- Spam – Pressing a botton rapidly.
- Stack – Put as many points as possible into one stat.
- Stun – Completely disables player for certain period, cannot be broken on stun, and gives 200 resolve per second of stun. Example: Sith Inquisitor ability Jolt, this disables opponent for four seconds.
- Tank – Class that use form that allows for guard.
- Tunneling – Only attack one target even if it’s not wise.
1.0 – Complete initial guide – on January 29, 2014