Combat | Carnage
Combat is the Sentinels "Direct Damage" discipline. The discipline feels fast and furious as you tear into your enemies with your dual sabers. The discipline can be a bit challenging to master, but can be fun to play. Combat, I think, is a player favorite. I, for one, started swtor as a combat sentinel at launch. I play this one mostly in PvP and do not put it at the top of my choices for operations. It has some utility, but works best in the glass cannon role of go slash at this until it dies.
Gearing up for Combat
Below are the gear selections, legendary implants, tactical and skill point choices I recommend for this class.
Sentinels require prefight prework to start at their maximum potential. They require at least two tacticals, one for prefight and one for the actual fight, making them have a somewhat higher barrier to entry to perform well. Be sure to get a feel for how your raid team is doing its pulls to react to when you need to prep. The worst thing that can happen is to have the wrong tactical in from someone accidentally pulling the boss or not giving a countdown/ready check. Get to know your group and if you find they are face pulling everything, play it safe and keep your primary tactical in.
Step 1: Build 30 stacks of Centering. Activate your out of combat health regen and build 30 stacks of centering.
Step 2: Swap out your tactical to Hidden power and activate force camo. This will begin to build your focus, be sure to swap back to shard of Mortis (you can do this immediately after hitting force camo) to be sure you are ready for pull. Note that you can put your tacticals on your Quick bars for ease of swapping.
Leaping in is optional for the combat sentinel, but as we typically need to gap close on pull it's here.
This ability is a staple of the sentinel, but it behaves differently in each of the three disciplines. For the Combat Sentinel, Zen provides us a 30% increase to our alacrity over the duration of the 6 charges it gives us. Each time we use an attack, 1 charge is consumed. If we have precision up when we activate Zen, we gain a bonus stack of precision as well.
With shard of Mortis we gain an additional buff to track, hyper stacks. They will build and take care of themselves through the rotation below. The main idea behind the rotation is to build the maximum possible hyper stacks without blowing focus/rage and to have Zen/Berserk back by the time we need to restart the rotation.
With shard of Mortis tactical.
With shard of Mortis tactical.
The Sentinel is a bit unique as it has 2 "Raid Buffs" Inspiration to the left is the traditional raid buff giving 10% damage for 10". It requires 30 stacks of centering, making it a choice between Zen or Inspiration off the break.
This unique raid buff is on a 30-second cool down and requires selection from the skill tree. Transcendence gives the raid an 80% speed increase, 10% damage reduction and cleanses movement impairing effects. I use this on cool down even if I am not moving for most fights. Save for movement in movement heavy fights.
Quick Reference Cards
Combat's Defensive Abilities
Last for 12", this ability gives us a 50% chance to dodge Melee/Ranged damage and a 25% Damage reduction to Force/Tech attacks. It is on a 3-minute cooldown. It's a strong defensive, but its long cooldown means you will most likely only get to use it once in a fight. I save it for emergencies, mostly.
This is our self-cleanse, threat drop and a 50% DR all wrapped up into one ability. Note that dealing damage ends the effects of Force Camo Early.
This is a staple of the Sentinel. Rebuke reduces the damage you take by 20%, so it fits in as a defensive cool down. However, it also reflects damage back to the attacker. A common strategy for sentinels is to "stand in stupid" as long as the healers can handle it. Say we stand in a spit puddle on Writhing Horror, for instance. Pop rebuke and reflect that damage back to the boss. As we take damage, we extend the duration of rebuke up to 30". With our selections from the skill tree, rebuke becomes a very short fused cool down. Matching its use (assuming we can continuously take a light amount of damage consistently in a fight) with our choice for a permanent 30% AoE DR and the concentration sentinel quickly becomes able to soak an impressive amount of damage while reflecting a notable amount back at the boss. It's a good practice to get into using rebuke not just on cooldown, but when you know you can take light - moderate amounts of damage without stressing the fight.
A short cool down (35") defensive or movement ability. Blade Blitz can take some practice to know where you are going to end up. You can use this to completely ignore (100% defense chance) high hitting damage types (doom on Dread Guards). It has a lot of utility once you master it.
This is our other choice (if not taking blade blitz). A 99% Damage Reduction for 6" has the potential to soak an impressive amount of damage. Keep in mind that a 99% DR still lets 1% through, so a mechanic like Doom listed above that hits for 136 million damage will kill you through, guarded by the Force.
Legendary Implants and Tactical
This tactical for Combat is a game changer for how the spec plays. Blade Rush/Massacre, our spam filler now becomes a buff for us. Each time we use it we gain a stack of hyper, making our next non blade rush ability have a higher critical chance. It also gives us focus/rage back as we use that stack of hyper.
Here is the caveat, we want to try to get to the max 3 stack, but each time we are using blade rush/massacre it cost more and more focus/rage to do so. The rotation above takes advantage of this increased critical percentage as much as focus will allow us to do so.
Playing Combat with a different tactical will drastically change the rotation.