Basics of SWTOR

The Basics of Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR's combat mechanics work very similar to other MMOs.  As your character level's up, it gains new passive and active abilities.  At certain milestones, level 23 for example, your character will have a choice of three passive, or active abilities to choose from.  These choices can have HUGE effects on the play style or effectiveness of your chosen advanced class.

The guides on this site are written with the end game in mind (currently level 80).  Much of what is listed on each class guide will not work as intended until that class has all of its passives, or active abilities.  As your character levels up closer and closer to 80, more and more of the guides here will begin to line up with how that class performs at the end game.

I find snipers for example a struggle to play at lower levels.  I am constantly plagued by running out of energy and being forced to pew pew at something until I recharge.  I highly encourage you not to judge a class by its feel during the leveling experience.  If you want to play a sniper spec, and do not find it fun as you level, bite the bullet (so to say), get to 80, gear it out and give it a chance.  I find very few classes "fun to play" in the early levels.  Most can be quite "spam basic attack", but that is all you really need to get through story level content, where everything dies.

Once you hit max level, if you have any desire to hit the end game, whether it be PvP, or operations content, you will want to begin mastering the content collected on this site.

SWTOR's classes work together.  Tank's soak up damage that would kill damage and heal classes, Damage classes kill things before the tank is overwhelmed, and healers keep everyone alive while they do their job.

Damage classes can be further broken down into 3 damage subclasses.  Damage w/Taunts (more tanky damage classes) rely more heavily on use of their Defensive abilities to keep them out of trouble from unwanted damage, and can jump in as a short term tank, should the main tank fall.  Damage w/Heal classes have a few healing abilities that they can use to support the healers, when their primary role of damage is not needed, or in an emergency if a healer gets behind.  These classes all have cleanses they can use on themselves or their teammates as well, which can be just as critical as being able to taunt an enemy to support the tank.  Lastly, there are raw damage classes.  These classes (snipers and sentinels) have no ability to taunt, and no ability to self-heal.  Their defensive abilities are many and their utility in raiding vast.

Raids go well when everyone is doing their role as they have elected.  If a healer were to try to tank, things would go very wrong.  If a damage player tries to soak damage, it's unlikely that the healer will be able to save them under long bouts of punishment.  It is important to pick a class to suit your play style.

Raid teams often need damage class players more than other roles.  Story mode raids typically only need 1 tank and 1 healer.  If you want to only play tank spec, you may have a harder time fitting into a raid forming up.

I recommend players that wish to tank or heal, to also work on mastering a dps class as well, to increase their chances of joining a raid team.  Learning a fight as a damage class can help give you experience of how to move and position a boss, so that tanking later, a job that can wipe the team if done incorrectly, is less stressful.

Below are some common abilities to ALL classes in SWTOR that the game does not go into too much detail explaining.  Give it a review before you move on to learning more about your chosen class.

#1 - The Interrupt

Jedi Knight
Sith Warrior

Jedi Counselor
Sith Inquisitor


Power Tech

Imperial Agent

The utility of interrupting an enemy channeled attack cannot be overstated.  Most Operations bosses are immune to being interrupted, however there are exceptions.  When you are new to a boss fight, you should ask or check to see if they are immune.  Many boss mechanics are designed around interrupting a certain channeled attack to either prevent high damage or a group wipe.

The corruptors in the draxus encounter should have their channels of mass affliction interrupted, for example, to keep this nasty dot from going out on the entire raid team.

Tanks are typically the primary ones responsible for interrupting attacks, but all players can do it, but may want to coordinate who is interrupting what cast, or which baddie.  Interrupts are "off the GCD" meaning that you do not have to sacrifice dps or healing to do them.  It can be dangerous for everyone to just "wing" interrupting of something important.  In the above example, if the surrounding players do not know that I intend to interrupt mass affliction, everyone else may try to interrupt the same channel I am, leaving all of our interrupts on cool down for when the next cast is channeled.  I typically call out "I've got next" or otherwise attempt to coordinate with my team.

The 5 interrupts each have a different cool down, meaning that some classes can interrupt more frequently vs others.

Interrupts are typically the same for each class.  For instance, all 6 of the Jedi knight disciplines use force kick.  Troopers/Bounty hunters are the exception to the rule and have a different ability for their 2 subclasses.

#2 - The Stun Break

Jedi Knight
Sith Warrior

Jedi Counselor
Sith Inquisitor

Bounty Hunter

Imperial Agent

There are some mechanics in operations that will cause your character to become stunned, or rooted in place.  Your stun breaker can be used to break these incapacitating effects to get you back into the fight.  The stun breaker has a decent cool down on it, meaning that if you get stunned multiple times, you may not be able to break free from all of them.  Often, players can be cleansed by the healers to remove the effects of the stun.  The stun breaker will be greyed out, unless it can be used to break an incapacitating effect, so hitting it accidentally is a bit safeguarded.

Many a time not interrupting an enemy channel will lead to you becoming stunned.  This happens quite often in mobs leading up to bosses.  If you are getting stunned and find you do not have enough breaks to get back into the fight, it may be from not interrupting something.

As with the Interrupts, classes use the same ability for each of their 6 disciplines.

#3 - Stuns

Each class has a number of abilities that can stun targets.  There are in fact quite a number of stuns in the game.  Some disciplines get more than others, some have none unless they pick them from the skill tree.  Stuns usually have very little use in operations, as most bosses have stun immunity.  They are however very useful on most mob pulls between bosses and in some instances can be used on a boss.  Stuns generally come in 3 flavors:

Hard stuns - The Target is stunned for "x" seconds.

Soft stuns - The Target is stunned for "x" seconds, damage will break the stun.

Sleeps - Shadow/assassins and Scoundrel/Operatives can "Sleep" a target.  They must be out of combat to do so, and doing damage to that target will wake them.

Stuns, particularly sleeps, can make it an entirely different ops experience as raid teams with several stealth classes can sleep entire mobs and the group can sneak past them.

#4 - Knockbacks

Some classes have abilities that will knock enemies back.  Each class's is a little different.

The Guardian/Juggernaut can push back a single target.
The Counselor/Inquisitor's Force wave/Overload is a cleave-like conal pushing targets back and rooting them in a 90-degree arc in front of them.
The Commando/Mercenary is a 360 knock back, as is the gunslinger/sniper's cover pulse.

Knock backs can serve a purpose in operations.  Mobs in particular and sometimes adds in a boss fight can be knocked back.  A nearby cliff is always a good option, though sometimes the mobs will glitch out and come back.  In general, AVOID using knock backs.  These tend to do the opposite of what your tank is trying to do, group everything up for your DoT classes to be able to spread DoTs to them easily.  Knocking baddies out of the stack, while fun, is counterproductive to dps.

#5 Reading Boss Buffs

Bosses typically have one, or both of these buffs preventing players from stunning, pushing or interrupting them.  They can also have many more that play into the mechanics of the individual boss fight.  It is always a good idea to read the bosses buff bar to see what you are up against.

Boss Immunity - Immune to incapacitating and movement-impairing effects. 

Unshakable - Immune to interrupts

If you see one of these missing from a boss, it is open season for interrupts or stuns/pushes.  It can be a trap though!  The Omega Protocol Droid in the Scyva boss encounter in gods has no boss immunity and is not unshakable.  Interrupting it is great, but a pushback and really screw with the mechanics.  It is important to know these buffs and how they play into the mechanics of the fight.