Written by Sion, Edited by Xam Xam

For Republic players, here’s the Telekinetics Sage PvE Guide by Sion.

For a more basic Lightning Sorcerer Guide, check out Swtorista and Sion’s Guide here – https://swtorista.com/articles/lightning-sorcerer-sith-inquisitor-guide/

Last Updated – 25th November 2019.


Introduction

Introduction to Lightning Sorcerer

The Lightning Sorcerer is a ranged burst DPS class that offers good raid utility, is quite tanky for a DPS, and is currently one of the top damage specs in the game. Lightning is rather easy to get into, but still requires thorough class and game knowledge to excel.


Ratings

Single Target Damage: 8/10

With 6.0, Lightning has been buffed quite extensively, and has extremely good single target damage. This is due, in large part, to the Stormwatch tactical and the Gathering Storm set bonus, both of which provide very large sustain damage, while also amplifying Lightning’s natural burst. Lightning is now likely one of the more preferred ranged DPS specs for groups.

AoE Damage: 5/10

AoE in Lightning this patch is in a weird place. Our AoE tactical, Elemental Convection, requires us to use Volt Rush, which is a terrible ability. Add on to that, that not using Stormwatch is a large DPS loss, it is generally better to play Madness for AoE heavy fights.

Burst Damage: 8/10 

Lightning’s burst isn’t quite at the old school levels when Thundering Blast hit insanely hard and Chain Lightning was also very strong, but it is still very good. Our burst window has not effectively changed much, but the damage is just much higher now, and it is much more satisfying. Keep in mind that because of this, and changes to tanks that mean they don’t have taunt up as much, you may pull threat more in your opener, and I would recommend using Cloud Mind as soon as you use your first Chain Lightning.

Raid Utility: 8/10

Sorcs bring excellent raid utility with them into any group.  We bring with us a copious amount of abilities including our pull (though used almost exclusively for trolling raid members it does have its niche uses), battle rez, cleanse, raid buff, force and AoE debuffs, self and off heals, bubble, and the ability to completely mitigate some mechanics via our Force Bubble.

Survivability: 8/10

Even though Sorcerers have Light Armor, we are not as squishy as one would think.  We have a bubble that lasts for 30s that is refreshable every 20s, being deionized from that shield gives us 10% damage reduction, a passive that allows us to have 15% additional damage reduction rotationally, and we have another shield that gives us invulnerability for 8s.  Additionally, we have utilities that make our threat dump and large self-heal grant damage reduction. All of this combined with our ability to heal ourselves in a pinch, allows us to survive well in fights.


Gearing and Stats

6.0 has made optimizing gear both easier and harder due to the large amount of options for mods and enhancements as well as most content being level synced to 70. As a result of this, here are some things that need to be understood.

  • Level synced content caps your endurance, mastery, and power. 
  • Changes to stat formulas means you have less crit percentage than at the end of the last expansion, forcing you to get crit from other sources
  • Certain relics that used to be standard are no longer desirable as their procs will provide no real benefit

With all of this in mind, here are the stat values and gear pieces that I recommend for Lightning in full 306 gear and advanced 74 augments*:

  • Alacrity – 10.5%, 1901 rating, 2x Sha’tek Quick Savant MK-19 implants, Sha’tek Quick Savant MK-19 earpiece, 1 Nimble 80 R-19 enhancement, 2x alacrity augments
  • Accuracy – 110%, 1590 rating, 1 Initiative R-18 enhancement, 1 Initiative R-19 enhancement, accuracy stim, 5x accuracy augments
  • Critical – 40.18%, 2671 rating, 4x Adept 80 enhancement, 7x critical augments, 2x critical crystals
  • Mods – 80-R2 (these trade 18 mastery for 20 power, and so have 2 more overall stat)
  • Relics – Sha’tek Relic of Devastating Vengeance, Sha’tek Relic of Primeval Fatesealer, Sha’tek Relic of Focused Retribution (only used in Dxun operation, replaces Primeval Fatesealer)
  • Implants and Earpiece – Sha’tek Quick Savant Mk-19
  • Amplifiers – 1% Force Sensitivity 
  • Adrenal – Advanced Kyrprax Critical Adrenal

*These gear suggestions are subject to change as I have not had sufficient time to do the level of testing necessary for me to have absolute confidence that these stats are BiS.


Set Bonus
Name 2 SET 4 SET 6 SET
Name of the Gathering Storm Mastery +2% Force Speed makes your next Force attack deal 20% more damage and Force attacks deal 20% more damage while Polarity Shift is active Activating Force Speed reduces the cooldown of Polarity Shift by 10 seconds. Using Polarity Shift immediately after adds 10 seconds to its duration

For set bonus, you want 6 pieces of the Gathering Storm set bonus, and 1 piece of Amplified Champion. Amplified Champion pieces are the only set bonuses that can have output amplifiers (more damage, healing, etc.) on the shell. Unlike the other amplifiers that can have up to 1% Force Sensitivity, the shell has a maximum roll of 0.4%. For those of you who intend to do Hateful Entity at any point, make sure your Amplified Champion is your head slot so that you can equip your mask/Crest and not lose your set bonus. 

You can get Amplified Champion from either a conquest crate or you can buy it from the vendor.


Tacticals
TACTICAL DESCRIPTION  SOURCE
Elemental Convention
Volt Rush triggers Lightning Storm when activated. Chain Lightning gives you Volt Flux, causing your Volt Rush to arc to multiole targets for the next 10 seconds.
Flashpoint Bosses
Eyrin’s Haste
Force Speed grants an additional Convection stack. 3 Convection stacks allow Thundering Blast to be activated instantly, consuming all stacks. Lighning Bolt and Thunderng Blast deal 10% more damage while Convection is active.
Operation Bosses
Stormwatch
Lightning Flash applies Stormwatch to it’s targets. For the next 10 seconds, whenever the target takes damage from Affliction, Crushing Darkness, or Thundering Blast a lightning bolt is called down upon the target dealing X energy damage.
Flashpoint Bosses
Ticking Force Bomb
Forked Darkness now has a greater chance to activate on Crushing Darkness and Crushing Darkness deals more damage each time it ticks
Daily/Weekly Mission Crates

Stormwatch is our go-to single target tactical. It provides a large DPS increase so long as you maximize the amount of ticks you get per activation. Swapping targets or applying Stormwatch to a target that is close to dying is a massive DPS loss and should never be done.

Elemental Convection is AoE tactical for Lightning, but it is pretty underwhelming. We lose huge amounts of damage by not taking Stormwatch from the start. Couple this with the fact this requires you to use Volt Rush, and this tactical is very unappealing. In fights that are pure AoE where there are always a lot of adds that will die fast, this is probably better, but there are very few of those fights, and for any sustained cleave scenario it is better to play Madness. Even for most fights with add cleave, Stormwatch is most likely better because you are focusing a main target while trying to cleave other targets down at the same time.

Eyrin’s Haste is very underwhelming. With our new set bonus, all Force Speeds should be used right before Thundering Blast. This means that all 3 stacks of Convection will always be consumed, providing a 20% damage buff only to Thundering Blast once every 15 seconds while also sacrificing the increased mobility of having multiple instant Lightning Bolts. Overall this tactical is too large a DPS and mobility loss and therefore should never be used. 

Ticking Force-Bomb is just an overall underwhelming tactical. There is just no comparison between the damage this provides and Stormwatch. This tactical needs a buff and/or rework for it to be useable. 


Utilities

Skillful

Masterful

Heroic

Abilities and Passives

Lightning Discipline Passives


Rotational Abilities


Non-Rotational Abilities


Offensive and Defensive Cooldowns


Rotations and Priorities

Opener

CD -> FS, PS, PF, Aff -> UP, Adrenal, Rck, TB -> LF, FB -> S-> CL -> LB -> LB -> LB -> FS, TB -> CL -> LB -> CD -> LF -> S -> TB -> CL -> Priority System

There is one thing I want to note here. That is that in the opener I use Polarity Shift and Primeval Fatesealer Relic before casting Affliction.  This is done because the increased alacrity increases the tick rate of the DoT. This carries over whenever Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning refresh Affliction as well. This allows us to squeeze extra damage out of Affliction. With the increased tick rate, Affliction can now tick right before a refresh from Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning, which will then cause it to tick again, thus gaining just a little bit more damage from Affliction. More Affliction ticks also means more Stormwatch ticks, so it is extremely important to maximize them.

As noted in the gearing section, this applies to old level synced content only. In Dxun, use Sha’tek MK-19 Relic of Focused Retribution.


Priority System

The nice thing about Lightning Sorcerer is that it is a priority system. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about where to pick up if you experience downtime due to boss mechanics. You simply use the ability with the highest priority and work from there.

There are really only 6 abilities that factor into the priority system, but the caveat to that is Affliction must be on your target. That being said, the priority is as follows:

  1. Thundering Blast
  2. Lightning Flash
  3. Crushing Darkness (with proc)
  4. Shock (only while Crushing Darkness is on the target)
  5. Chain Lightning (with proc)
  6. Lightning Bolt

Thundering Blast must always be used on cooldown. It is an autocrit every 9 seconds (with no alacrity) and therefore must take priority over everything else. Lightning Flash is next due to Stormwatch,  its decent damage, and because of the Force Flash proc. This leads us into Crushing Darkness, which should be used only with the Force Flash proc. You should try to maximise ticks under Stormwatch. Next comes Shock so long as Crushing Darkness is on the target. You have four GCDs to use Shock after you use Crushing Darkness. Although Chain Lightning hits rather hard, its proc’s 10s internal cooldown pushes it rather low on the priority provided the proc is not about to fall off, which it never should. Chain Lightning does refresh Affliction and force it to tick, so try to make sure these are always hitting when Stormwatch is on the target. When everything else is on cooldown, Lightning Bolt is your filler. 


AoE Rotation

There are a few ways of going about this depending on the priority of the group of adds that are being killed. However, regardless of the scenario, you want to prioritize Chain Lightning and Force Storm. If they will die pretty quickly this is all you want to do. If there is a higher health add in among lower health ones, then you can throw in Affliction and Thundering Blast and then continue with Chain Lightning and Force Storm. 

For Aoe where that are 2 targets that you are cleaving between, think Bestia Monsters and tentacle, maintain Affliction on both, maintain force damage debuff on both, use Lightning Flash on the target with crushing Darkness on it. If attempting to burn target evenly hard cast Chain Lightning into Thundering Blast and a procced Chain Lightning. You can swap targets every Thundering Blast to keep the damage even. If prioritizing one target and simply cleaving onto the other, focus all of your single target abilities onto the primary target. 

As far as hard casting Chain Lightning is concerned, if it will hit 2 or more targets, it is a DPS gain, so don’t hesitate to do it.


Multi Dotting

Part of the skill cap in Lightning is being able to maintain alacrity buffed Affliction on multiple targets throughout a fight. Traditionally this has been done by alternating Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning between targets to maintain the dot while not wasting GCDs manually reapplying Affliction.

This has become slightly more difficult with Stormwatch as you want to be using Crushing Darkness, Thundering Blast, and Chain Lightning on the target with Stormwatch on it. While you may be able to afford using that Chain Lightning to refresh the target without Stormwatch, doing so with Crushing Darkness would be too large a DPS loss. This requires more planning ahead to make sure that the target that needs to get Crushing Darkness to refresh Affliction before it falls is the target to which you apply Stormwatch.


Some Notes on Offensive Cooldowns

Polarity Shift is by far your best offensive cooldown. With the Gathering Storm set bonus, you must make sure you use Polarity Shift within 10 seconds of activating Force Speed as not having the extra 10 seconds of Polarity Shift from the set bonus is a massive DPS loss.  Use this ability on cooldown as long as you have the set bonus buff. This ability makes our rotation flow smoother, faster, and do more damage. Maintaining uptime on this is extremely important. While talking about Polarity Shift, it is also worth talking about ability usage during the time that it is active. Traditionally, it has been considered important to prioritize Lightning Bolt over Crushing Darkness during Polarity Shift because Chaos Nexus doubles Lightning Bolt’s chance to proc. I have found, however, that it is still not worth delaying Crushing Darkness.  If you look at how much damage is done by each ability, Lightning Bolt would be better, when it procs, as far as instant damage goes. However, when you consider how much additional damage Crushing Darkness does with its DoT and Stormwatch is so strong, CD comes out ahead in damage even if it doesn’t proc once and Lightning Bolt does. 

Next, we come to Recklessness.  I try to use Recklessness when under the effects of Polarity Shift as often as I can, partially because of the reduced cooldown the increased alacrity brings me, but also because with the increased chance to proc on abilities we are making an almost guaranteed crit. As far as ability usage goes, always Thundering Blast and Lightning Flash if possible. If not Lightning Flash then use it on Chain Lightning. Using Recklessness is always a little bit of weighing your options with what you will have available. Delaying it for a short time is okay, if you will get your hardest hitting abilities to align, but like all your offensives, too long of a delay will make you lose DPS. Each situation is different and it just comes down to knowing the fights and knowing your class in order to determine what to use and when.

Unlimited Power should not be used in the opener if you will need it later for a tight burn phase.  It is always important that you use your offensive CDs appropriately for the maximum potential DPS, instead of just when they are available. The time this ability is used will vary fight to fight and sometimes group to group.

One final note for Force Speed is that it provides a 20% damage boost to the next Force attack used after it. Ideally, this should always go on Thundering Blast as it does the most damage so, therefore, benefits the most from 20% more damage.  To go along with this, Force Barrier is used solely to reset the cooldown of Force Speed so we can get another use out of it in our opener. Channel this for as little time as possible. Use the ability and as soon as it goes off take a little step to the side. This will cancel it quickly, allowing you to continue your rotation. Additionally, we want to use Force Barrier after an instant ability, not a casted one. The reason for this is that after using and instant ability, there is still some time left during that GCD. By using Force Barrier in this time window, we can reset Force Speed’s cooldown without using up valuable DPS time to do so.


Parsing

Sample Parse                                                                                            .

Here is a link to a parse. This gear is not full BiS yet, as I was missing some of the better enhancements, and I still do not have all of the 80-R2 mods that I need. However, those are relatively minor and this parse should give you a good idea of the damage profile for Lightning in 6.0. Additionally, most dummy parsing nowadays occurs with guild alacrity perks, so keep in mind that if you don’t have them your damage and APM will be lower.

How to Analyze Your Parse

The most important part you should look at is if you are using Thundering Blast, Crushing Darkness, and Lightning Flash on cooldown.  The way to check this is to look at the ability usage section and then look at the Avg Time. At the very minimum, this should be the same as your abilities cooldown, heavily varying by alacrity. As a note, Thundering Blast’s cooldown only starts once the cast finishes.  This means with no alacrity, the average usage of Thundering Blast should be 10.5 seconds. While talking about Thundering Blast, the crit % should be 100% . If it is not you have messed up somewhere.


Acknowledgements

I want to thank Dongo, Mari, and Mac for all the feedback and ideas over the past couple of years. They have always been amazing to bounce ideas off of, and I have learned a lot from each of them. I also just want to thank everyone in Failure and Origin, for all the fun times, memes, and late-night raids. This game wouldn’t be fun without you all. Lastly, a shout out to Group Amethyst. You were the best team with which I have ever had the privilege to raid, and progging NiM Gods with you was some of the most fun I have ever had playing SWTOR.


Contact Information

If you have questions or comments about this or any of my guides, you can send a mail in-game to SionCognus (Imperial) or you can contact me on discord @Sion#7776. I only ask that you read the relevant guide in full first before contacting me. I am happy to answer questions, but these guides often take me hours to write, proofread, and edit. If you have specific questions about things you do not understand or ways to improve based off of your specific performance I will be happy to answer those if you cannot find them here.

About Xam Xam

Owner of MMO Bits, and formerly the owner of Xam Xam Says, Xam Xam is an Aussie who has been playing MMO's for over 5 years and can't get enough of them. She mainly plays Healing Classes but will also DPS and reluctantly Tank (if she has one). She prefers to PvP but doesn't mind doing all the other 'MMO bits' as well.

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