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The Balance Issue


Ritsugamesh

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I'm a Shadow main and long-time Balance diehard player. It's a spec that offered something unique to me, with a brilliant combination of melee and ranged gameplay that had great tactical appeal and a good toolset regardless of the situation.

 

2.0 has been a crushing blow to the whole spec on so many levels, starting from changing the playstyle itself (which should be a cardinal sin in an established MMO - unless the change is absolutely necessary). Here are a few of my thoughts on what has been done wrong, and what could be done right.

 

My first gripe is with the argument of skill cap. Balance wasn't the most complicated rubix cube of a spec that Bioware seem to believe; that being said, there were definitely a variety of sub-optimal ways to play the spec, even down to logic choices on the battlefield (this is more a PVP oriented concept but applies to PVE also). There are a lot of differing classes AND specs in the game that have a wide range of available skill caps, you shouldn't destroy them all to some base level to make people happy.

 

Second gripe is with force management. Why was that changed? Shadows are usually bottoming out on force anyway, but it was nice that a Balance Shadow could pro-actively manage his force in the heat of battle and be rewarded for doing so. It was a drop in the bucket compared to the flat afk 30% tanks got, but put us in a decent position with free Mind Crush and cheap SS attacks thrown in. If played perfectly on single target we got 20 force per 15 seconds bonus force regen from the 10 stacks of FiB. This was fine, it needed no change. Why add this stupid Rippling Force background ability that we can neither tangibly affect or really take stock of it's use. I parsed a 2 minute combat log and found that I hit 40 Force Tech procs, resulting in 40 Rippling Force procs. This translates at 80 force gained... in 120 seconds. We've had our force regen potential cut in HALF! 80 per 60, to 80 per 120. Granted there is a slight bit of wiggle room in there, but it's sad that Bioware felt it was a too demanding mechanic to handle (let's be real, any balance shadow that doesn't use FiB on c/d and keep SF and FB up at all times is just kidding themselves.) Please revert this, it isn't hard.

 

Thirdly the SS changes. We're supposed to be a hybrid dps class, but all I do now is double strike and saberstrike whilst I wait for my Mind Crush proc. FiB per 15 seconds, SF and FB every 18. Otherwise it's DS all day. Not only is it a clunky and bad animation that makes us look like we've never held a saber before, but it detracts from the feeling of being a true melee/ranged hybrid class. It's phenomenal how one extra proc and one melee move can change class feel so heavily, but it really does. I propose that we replace the Whirling Blow tooltip with a SS based ability of some origin. I understand the need to curb the burst in PVP, but don't curbstomp the spec please.

 

DPS is currently sup-optimal in raid environments and even with this so called 'execute god-phase' that we should obtain, it realistically only counts for about 60-70% of our dps getting a 15% buff for the last leg. It won't suddenly make us gods, it'll just close the gap that currently exists. I'm still spamming DS all day, whether I get another afk buff at the end or not.

 

These are just a few gripes, but I could go on to how Balance has been treated in comparison to other shadow specs. At that point though it just ges a bit silly, so I'll leave this as is for now and see what you guys all think.

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Thank you so much for writing this post. Reading it makes me doubt my own ability to wield words to get a point across. I was very vocal during the PTS, and I'm very saddened to see our once-fun spec taking such a god awful turn.

 

I agree with everything you've said, and I don't think the spec can be saved unless Bioware makes a complete reversion. We need Sharpened Mind back; it was the most unique thing about this spec. The way we actively managed our own force, and it was fun, too. Much more so than rippling force, and like you said, if a Balance Shadow did not use Force in Balance on CD, then they had no business playing the spec at all.

 

We need Shadow Strike back. I would recommend removing "Crush Spirit"... we don't need more damage at the 30% mark, gaining access to Spinning Strike is plenty. But we do need higher sustained damage, and we especially need that extra cheap burst for PvP. Right now, we can net some nice numbers for the scoreboard but our damage is far from lethal. A DPS that does not kill is not worth much having.

 

Finally, the CD on the Mind Crush proc needs to go. This spec was very much proc-based, and utilizing procs, in addition to consuming Force Suppression charges, that was the way we managed our force. It wasn't difficult, per se, but it was highly rewarding and fun. The new version of balance is very bland, generic and boring. I've put my Shadow on the shelf for the time being, and it pains me a lot to have done so.

Edited by Majspuffen
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Completely agree with all the points mentioned in this thread and in so many others regarding the balance spec. I haven't found any balance shadows who have approved of these changes (in forums or in game). I hope they take our feedback into account.

 

I would prefer to get sharpened mind back of course, with an SS proc and a reworked twin disciplines at the penultimate level of the tree. Lambaste and Rippling force are boring, and need to go.

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An update on the thread, regarding my latest experiences with the spec.

 

I can categorically confirm that the force management must change to even begin to support a resurgence of the spec to it's former (or even close) glory.

 

My raid group have been working on S&V Hard mode over the past week and finally made it to the final boss. That fight borders on futile for the Balance Shadow toolset. For those who have fought it, either story of hm, will know the amount of phase changes and targets switches necessary throughout the fight. This crippled my Balances ability to keep up on the dps chart to unfathomable levels. I was running on empty the whole time, which meant that if I got unlucky during a phase change I'd be left with one option - Saber Strike. The whole execute phase argument was null and void considering I was bursting either apparitions down, the central chain mob or a companion in my nightmares (now think about how little burst is available to a Balance Shadow and you get the idea...)

 

This got so bad I begun to consider using Inf for the final fight. It doesn't work out well purely due to mobs not allowing for shadow strikes, exacerbated by the amount of solo duels you have to perform, but it made me realize how hypocritical the devs have been regarding the 'burst potential' of the balance shadow. They've deemed it perfectly fine to fire off two fully stacked Force Breaches in a row (in Shadow Tech as Inf!) which can each hit for 7k internal, along with back to back shadow strikes in certain situations. It's arguable their flat 6% damage boost is a stronger execute than the Balance equivalent, and when you consider the cheap moves, the 45s blackout and 1min 30s force cloak, force conservation is miles ahead of the Balance Shadow right now. I understand that in PVP Balance Shadows burst was a bit above the curve, but the buffs to Inf alone were enough to set Balance back in the race.

 

It's frustrating to feel so helpless as your force bar depletes, when in reality you are doing very little to warrant it, bar the continued spamming of double strike. It also begins to beg questions in regards to the proc rates being totally out of whack. We have one true proc left to watch out for - 1 - Mind Crush. That is minimum 7.5 seconds.

 

To compare; Inf has Circling Shadows, Breaching Shadow stacks, Clairvoyance, multiple different rate limits on Shadow Technique and Shadow Strike in the background, Kinetic Field stacks (though nothing to really worry about) and the nice Shadow Respite mechanic to provide the player with direct control over their force when needed.

 

Now we look at Combat, which has Kinetic Wards, Particle Acceleration which has 0 internal cooldown, and has proven to proc more often than mind crush on that merit alone (4 gcd's in 7.5 seconds equals a lot of proc chances), which when combined with upheaval makes for a very mean move. (Side note - Let's keep in mind the devs comment about that low hanging fruit in the tree guys, they wanted to keep specs to themselves. So the put Upheaval down there for tanks, and give everyone Psychokinesis, which has further helped to make the other specs force worries a non-issue.) Kinetic also has Harnessed Shadows to consider, along with a Shadow Wrap on a 10 second rate limit. Now considering that by and large tanking is a generally tougher ordeal than dpsing I don't understand why all Balance has is making sure FiB stacks are on, dots are down and mind crush is pressed on queue? The spec feels clunky now because it is so thin on the ground.

 

That's all my thoughts after tonight, currently leveling up a Slinger as I can't handle pressing Double or Saber Strike one more time for a while.

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...

That's all my thoughts after tonight, currently leveling up a Slinger as I can't handle pressing Double or Saber Strike one more time for a while.

 

I feel the same way about my balance shadow which I enjoyed so much for the last year or so. It felt so good keeping up with everyone on one of the more complicated specs in the game, now its on par with complexity with some of the others but not keeping up dps wise :-( So I levelled up my slinger and now am enjoying the total domination that provides, CB-TS-AS-TS-SoS-TS-CB-CB-TS-AS-TS haha. Gotta love the new trickshot proc!

 

Actually now that I think about it, the gunslinger has a buff under 30% also now! I though that was meant to be the shadows saving grace! The slingers can go QD-TS-AS-TS-SoS-TS and by then QD should be back up, you can almost constantly skip double charged burst under 30%.

 

Point is, I used to have this much fun on my shadow until about 2 weeks ago. I have even started tanking with him now :-(

Edited by PPAlien
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I hope this new version of Balance proves to be less popular than the one before 2.0. It seems likely, seeing as the fun is gone and the spec performs worse in both PvE and PvP... especially PvP.

 

Bioware said that they will be taking feedback... and if they are and take our concerns to heart, then we still won't see any drastic changes for months. Which sucks, since we pay to play the game now. Even so, I very much doubt that Bioware will revert any changes. They might throw in a new proc here or there, and increase the effectiveness of rippling force... but the Balance we knew and loved is probably forever dead.

 

 

Personally I'm playing a Lethality Operative for the time being. It's a fun enough spec, but I'd choose 1.7 Balance over 2.0 Lethality any day.

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Heya guys, I've been really putting in time and effort into seeing what to do with the new balance spec and I'm a little more optimistic.

Here's what I run:

7/3/36, I put 2 points into expertise for the 12% more dmg on your technique.

My rotation is FiB> Sever Force > FB > Saber Strike > Project > Saber Strike > DS > DS > DS > Mind crush on proc then repeat.

My stats right now are:

Primary dmg : 1347-1602

Bonus dmg: 792

Crit: 20%

Surge: 64%

Accuracy: 100.2%

I'm running 66/69's, the only armorings I have that are 69 ( don't want to lose set bonus) is boots/bracers/belt. Oh my bracers have a 72 armoring. All other armorings are 61 campaign.

What I did was completely threw out the idea of surge. We don't need to be hitting big crits. we need our dots to be doing the MOST dmg possible. With the crap DR for crit. there's almost no point for us to put much into surge since power and our main stat benefitt our dot dmg more ( I'm working on if accuracy actually helps our dots as well). I'll post some numbers soon off of SWTORmonitor parser, but today I hit 2301. When I start the rotation I pop all CDs and I will hit 2500+ steadily for about a minute then it evens out between 2250-2300.

 

At first I wanted a higher crit and I was pissing myself off with the #'s I was getting, 1900-2000 in about the same gear. It was atrocious.

 

To put it into perspective, on TFB last boss with the tenticles, I parsed the highest dmg and our tenticle was dieing with a 30-50% gap. All my progression raid members are around the same gear lvl as I. We are clearing SM content to get the full arkanian set, so we haven't tried HM, but dps wise I am doing very well in the current gear.

 

Here's some #'s that I hit on skills:

DS > 2 stirkes for 2400 ~ these are crit hits for DS since I have the set bonus it rarely doesn't crit.

Sever Force initial hit: 1200~

Project> 3000-4000 initial, 200-3000 secondary if proced

Saber Strike > 700-900 ~ a hit.

FiB > 6000~ uncritted, 6900~ critted

Mind Crush: 2300!!!~

 

Also to note, I haven't had issues with force regen. There is a difference, but a small one. I used to ue saber strike once in my rotation in 1.7 now I use it twice. In SnV for SM, I didn't run itno that issue, HM will be different yes, but you still are bursting down enemies in SM and I was going just as fast as my raid group. When I need to burst something down, I will skip the DOTs, hit FiB, hit project and then a DS. Usually leaves the specific mob dead. It usually will drain my force, but by the time I'm back in melee range to kill the giant dude that spawns in the middle I'm able to pick my rotation back up without an issue.

 

I will have to see the #'s I nput out when I'm full 72 gear, but if it is like the PTS, all they would have to do is increase the dmg of saber strike imo. They made us use it more, so why not up the dmg? Silly form BW.

 

Edit: Currently only have 10 pieces augmented with blue 28 augments, all resolve. The others are still the purple 22s.

Edited by Levity
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Bioware said that they will be taking feedback... and if they are and take our concerns to heart, then we still won't see any drastic changes for months.

 

Hope they do it soon, because this is not just a DPS issue but also a playstyle one. I don't mind playing sub par specs DPS wise so long as they flow and play smoothly (have been playing a TK sage in PVP even before 2.0, even before bubblestun, just because I liked it). Most of us would be happy even if they would simply revert the changes (without any new powerful additions that most other trees got) to bring the flow back to where it was. Numbers should be easy to adjust after that.

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None of us who played Balance 1.7 or before were saying 'it's too complex, please simplify'. None of us. We liked the flow of the spec and the mix of melee (not just DS, SS as well) and Force.

 

The cost of the simplification was the loss of the playstyle we loved, arguably less predictable mana management, burst capability in PvP, control in PvP, armour rating in PvP ...

 

We didn't want it - we certainly don't want to be paying a huge cost for something we never wanted in the first place!

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Heya guys, I've been really putting in time and effort into seeing what to do with the new balance spec and I'm a little more optimistic.

Here's what I run:

7/3/36, I put 2 points into expertise for the 12% more dmg on your technique.

My rotation is FiB> Sever Force > FB > Saber Strike > Project > Saber Strike > DS > DS > DS > Mind crush on proc then repeat.

My stats right now are:

Primary dmg : 1347-1602

Bonus dmg: 792

Crit: 20%

Surge: 64%

Accuracy: 100.2%

I'm running 66/69's, the only armorings I have that are 69 ( don't want to lose set bonus) is boots/bracers/belt. Oh my bracers have a 72 armoring. All other armorings are 61 campaign.

What I did was completely threw out the idea of surge. We don't need to be hitting big crits. we need our dots to be doing the MOST dmg possible. With the crap DR for crit. there's almost no point for us to put much into surge since power and our main stat benefitt our dot dmg more ( I'm working on if accuracy actually helps our dots as well). I'll post some numbers soon off of SWTORmonitor parser, but today I hit 2301. When I start the rotation I pop all CDs and I will hit 2500+ steadily for about a minute then it evens out between 2250-2300.

 

At first I wanted a higher crit and I was pissing myself off with the #'s I was getting, 1900-2000 in about the same gear. It was atrocious.

 

To put it into perspective, on TFB last boss with the tenticles, I parsed the highest dmg and our tenticle was dieing with a 30-50% gap. All my progression raid members are around the same gear lvl as I. We are clearing SM content to get the full arkanian set, so we haven't tried HM, but dps wise I am doing very well in the current gear.

 

Here's some #'s that I hit on skills:

DS > 2 stirkes for 2400 ~ these are crit hits for DS since I have the set bonus it rarely doesn't crit.

Sever Force initial hit: 1200~

Project> 3000-4000 initial, 200-3000 secondary if proced

Saber Strike > 700-900 ~ a hit.

FiB > 6000~ uncritted, 6900~ critted

Mind Crush: 2300!!!~

 

Also to note, I haven't had issues with force regen. There is a difference, but a small one. I used to ue saber strike once in my rotation in 1.7 now I use it twice. In SnV for SM, I didn't run itno that issue, HM will be different yes, but you still are bursting down enemies in SM and I was going just as fast as my raid group. When I need to burst something down, I will skip the DOTs, hit FiB, hit project and then a DS. Usually leaves the specific mob dead. It usually will drain my force, but by the time I'm back in melee range to kill the giant dude that spawns in the middle I'm able to pick my rotation back up without an issue.

 

I will have to see the #'s I nput out when I'm full 72 gear, but if it is like the PTS, all they would have to do is increase the dmg of saber strike imo. They made us use it more, so why not up the dmg? Silly form BW.

 

Edit: Currently only have 10 pieces augmented with blue 28 augments, all resolve. The others are still the purple 22s.

 

Where did you stick the 3 points at in infiltration, Upheaval?

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Where did you stick the 3 points at in infiltration, Upheaval?

 

Yup! Project still puts off really good burst. I time everything on my rippling force. Once I see it there I unload project as much as I can as long as rippling force is active.

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Yup! Project still puts off really good burst. I time everything on my rippling force. Once I see it there I unload project as much as I can as long as rippling force is active.

 

Hmm...seems legit. I haven't tried using project with the new balance yet. I always just stuck 2 points into celerity for the lowered cool-down on interrupts and force speed, and maxed out expertise.

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Hmm...seems legit. I haven't tried using project with the new balance yet. I always just stuck 2 points into celerity for the lowered cool-down on interrupts and force speed, and maxed out expertise.

 

I thought of that too, until I asked myself "why use celerity?"

 

It's good for dailies and solo things, but in a raid setting when it comes to something involving interrupts, we always have an interrupt rotation between 3-4 people. By the time it's my turn to interrupt again my CD will be 100% done always. I figured we (we being balance shadows) could fit it in because I was having excessive amounts of force just doing the normal rotation which involved more DS's and it seemed really clunky. Project put in that "extra burst at the opportune moment" variable that I liked about the spec. Obviously we don't have everything, but it's a nice change of pace compared to what you do without project.

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Gotcha. So you don't put any kind of Alacrity in your gear at all?

 

Correct. Rippling force is ***ALMOST*** as good as the *input name of pre 2.0 skill that gave back force that I can never remember the name of.* Almost being like 2 force off. So with your set bonus (I could see people having issues with force if they don't have the 2 set bonus) the addition of one saber strike makes up the difference.

 

So since we have even force regen. (with the addition of one saber strike which doesn't really cut into dps all that much) and in 1.7 we never had issues with force regen. while doing our rotation, the buff for force regen. on alacrity is a moot point since we can fully perform our rotation and never be out of force anyway.

 

The GCD part to alacrity means nothing to us since all of our skills are insta cast. A lower GCD would only benefit FiB (your longest CD move) but what's the point? I cast FiB everytime sever force and FB are completely off the target which usually means every stack of FiB is eaten up. (That's preferable). FiB always has its CD done right as sever force and FB finish their ticks which is perfect timing, making the CD shorter for that... meh. Throws it off completely.

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Correct. Rippling force is ***ALMOST*** as good as the *input name of pre 2.0 skill that gave back force that I can never remember the name of.* Almost being like 2 force off. So with your set bonus (I could see people having issues with force if they don't have the 2 set bonus) the addition of one saber strike makes up the difference.

 

The math suggests it's equal, and theoretically it is providing force technique procced without fail every 1.5 seconds (probably the metrics Bioware used to quantify the change). Unfortunately real world parsing and application shows that the actual force regen is far below what we had before with Sharpened Mind (you can see the napkin math in my OP).

 

The Project discussion is interesting, but I honestly barely used Project even with the Twin Disciplines proc in the old tree. I'd rather not settle for a sub-par form of burst that empties our force bars. I actually like having Celerity for PvE, especially in HM content where 5 seconds shaves off your force speed means the difference between applying dps a gcd earlier then before. Even so, I'll have some tests with Project to see the results.

 

I think another alarm that is raised for me through all this is that people have now got Balance locked down into a pure rotation. I always felt like Balance played more on a priority list style of play, where keeping on top of everything and logically altering our actions to make sure things ran optimally was the key to succeeding. Unfortunately now the only aspect lift in that style is the Mind Crush proc. It's a personal opinion of course, Balance doesn't necessarily HAVE to be played in such a fashion, but now we're unable to even choose haha.

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http://img62.imageshack.us/img62/2107/balancepong.png

 

New Balance leaves little room for error and is simply not fun. It's like the OP says, it has a rotation now, whereas before it had a priority order. When it comes to DPS I've never really liked rotations. I much prefer having a priority order, because that makes gameplay more responsive.

Edited by Majspuffen
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I've been playing Balance essentially since I reached 50 after release. Up to the end of 1.7, I had a lot of issues trying to match dps parses. I was getting minimized and excluded from raids due to having two good sentinels filling in the melee damage. I knew in my heart I could do better than at least one of the sentinels. I got a lot of help on another thread as far as gear, rotation, watching and instantly putting up my procs and dots.

 

I saw a marked improvement in my DPS in actual operations and could match one of the sentinels on every boss fight for every operation. It was difficult and no room for error as you all well know. I was extremely concerned about the viability of shadow DPS in 2.0 (still am). The removal of shadow strike I felt was going to be devistating to us and I was more than likely going to cancel my sub.

 

So far, I've geared myself (mostly) with the straight 69's from the vendor (no set bonus) and a 66 MH. Still have the BH implants, DG relics and a Black Market ear, all resolve augments. So far, I'm topping the raid DPS parse meter on every single fight, bosses and trash. Yes, even against AOE fights with trash groups. Yes, vs. sentinels/dirty fighters, etc all of them. Currently, the force management is difficult without the set bonus, but the 2-set bonus will solve that issue.

 

I would suggest to some of the posters to do some research on these forums for improving DPS if that's your desire. The skills I picked up during 1.7 have helped make me the top DPS for our raids in 2.0. BTW, 8/0/38 currently.

 

Some tips I learned (take them or leave them)

1. Project is useless for balance.

2. Wait until your DOT drops then re-apply don't overlap.

3. Positioning is still important. This includes where you place FiB to get the most damage.

4. Use your clicky relic, FP and BR every single time it's available.

5. Adjust your user interface so you can clearly see DOTS and procs.

 

Hope it helps. May the Force be with you.

Edited by FynnMacCool
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To the poster above, DPS is fine (atleast in PVP, i don't PVE), I can still put out the top numbers in a match as a pure balance, or even a 0/23/23 hybrid. Its the versatility and flexibility that is gone (atleast in PVP, can't speak for PVE).
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I'd probably agree that DPS potential isn't a great deal lower than what we had pre 2.0, but the spec doesn't feel smooth at all with the current method of force management and DPS application (aka lack of control and mad double strike spam)

 

Hearing that you actually went and learnt to properly improve on your Balance skills during 1.7 is exactly the kind of behavior I feel should be promoted - effort and diligence is rewarded with a defined rise in skill and control of a spec. Balance performed in exactly this way and I myself remember when I went through my Rocky montage to truly come to grips with the spec.

 

Now I honestly believe that it's so shallow of a spec that anybody could pick it up and parse near equal numbers to myself. There are minute things to help streamline it all a little more, but realistically it's a bland re-imagining of the spec.

 

As for PVP, I will also agree that I still consistently top the scoreboard, but I provide very little in the way or anything truly meaningful to the team. All the Balance Shadow has left in the way of meaningful on-demand cc is a 10 meter force stun on a minute (50 seconds talented) cooldown. Sure we have spinning kick as an initiate, but part of the beauty of Balance was the kiting ability during DoT application, followed up by solid melee capabilities when desired. Now that Force Lift has an activation time, even a talented lift is worthless to have in the tree now. Sever Force and FiB are the two best things we have going for us now and is probably the only thing left keeping us as even close to viable in any organized team (though I would definitely just opt for another AoE slow, force pull, spinning kick out of stealth, force stun Shadow Tank in DPS gear or Inf Shadow with stun, kick and low slash on 12 seconds c/d and be done with it.)

 

Appreciate the thread responses and bumps so far, hopefully Bioware will take notice of these threads sooner rather than later.

Edited by Ritsugamesh
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I've been playing Balance essentially since I reached 50 after release. Up to the end of 1.7, I had a lot of issues trying to match dps parses. I was getting minimized and excluded from raids due to having two good sentinels filling in the melee damage. I knew in my heart I could do better than at least one of the sentinels. I got a lot of help on another thread as far as gear, rotation, watching and instantly putting up my procs and dots.

 

I saw a marked improvement in my DPS in actual operations and could match one of the sentinels on every boss fight for every operation. It was difficult and no room for error as you all well know. I was extremely concerned about the viability of shadow DPS in 2.0 (still am). The removal of shadow strike I felt was going to be devistating to us and I was more than likely going to cancel my sub.

 

So far, I've geared myself (mostly) with the straight 69's from the vendor (no set bonus) and a 66 MH. Still have the BH implants, DG relics and a Black Market ear, all resolve augments. So far, I'm topping the raid DPS parse meter on every single fight, bosses and trash. Yes, even against AOE fights with trash groups. Yes, vs. sentinels/dirty fighters, etc all of them. Currently, the force management is difficult without the set bonus, but the 2-set bonus will solve that issue.

 

I would suggest to some of the posters to do some research on these forums for improving DPS if that's your desire. The skills I picked up during 1.7 have helped make me the top DPS for our raids in 2.0. BTW, 8/0/38 currently.

 

Some tips I learned (take them or leave them)

1. Project is useless for balance.

2. Wait until your DOT drops then re-apply don't overlap.

3. Positioning is still important. This includes where you place FiB to get the most damage.

4. Use your clicky relic, FP and BR every single time it's available.

5. Adjust your user interface so you can clearly see DOTS and procs.

 

Hope it helps. May the Force be with you.

 

You actually can still use project in your rotation in 2.0. It doesn't add the buff, but it adds good burst for those situations where your force regen. is going strong. It's situational just like using it back in 1.7. It added 100 dps to my parse.

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