This article will specifically be covering the changes to Operative and Scoundrel DPS, which were mainly to Concealment / Scrapper. All of the healer changes will be covered in a dedicated article.
Current State of Operative and Scoundrel DPS
Operative and Scoundrel DPS is a bit of a glass cannon in PvE. Both disciplines offer some of the highest single-target sustained DPS in the game but suffer from horrendous survivability in PvE, especially compared to other mDPS, because several of their DCDs are only consistently effective in PvP.
Concealment / Scrapper is particularly strong in terms of single-target sustained DPS and is second only to Fury / Concentration after factoring out dummy parse funny business.
Operative / Scoundrel mobility is also poor compared to most combat styles, again, especially compared to other mDPS, and this is partially due to BioWare opting to balance Operatives and Scoundrels around having to pick between incredibly potent mobility increases and some of the best CC in the game, but also because Operatives / Scoundrels have always been on the low end in this department.
7.1.1 Operative and Scoundrel DPS Announced Changes
- Evasion / Dodge now additionally lowers threat by a moderate amount baseline and lasts 1 second longer.
- Quick Countermeasures / Strategic Surrender and Sly Countermeasures / Sly Surrender now additionally grant 60% AoE damage reduction while Evasion / Dodge is active. (also works with the Evasive Screen / Skedaddle ability tree buff)
Concealment and Scrapper Only
- Reduced the bonus critical hit damage while Stim Boost / Pugnacity is active from 20% to 15%.
- The Tactical “Acid Lash” no longer improves the damage of Acid Blade / Flechette Round.
- Increased the duration of the Advanced Stealth mod effect from 4 to 6 seconds.
- Increased the duration of the Tactical Critical / Upper Critical mod effect from 4 to 6 seconds.
- Increased the damage reduction per stack from the Defensive Stance mod from 3% to 5%.
- The Best Defense mod now adds a life steal component to Crippling Slice / Shank Shot.
- Increased the movement speed bonus granted by Quick Countermeasures / Strategic Surrender (previously called Ghost / Fight or Flight) from 50% to 100%.
Source: SWTOR Forums.
7.1.1 Operative and Scoundrel DPS Changes Analysis
To start, I want to clarify that the AoE DR is only being given to Operative and Scoundrel DPS. Healers won’t get it, though I’ll have a more detailed explanation in my healer changes analysis article.
This addition of AoE DR should FINALLY be enough to catapult both DPS disciplines into full viability. Furthermore, each discipline will be able to cover for the survivability weaknesses of the other. Lethality / Ruffian will be far better at handling sustained periods of higher DTPS that often exist in burn phases while Concealment / Scrapper will be superior at mitigating massive spike damage thanks to its roll (of) cheese.
Compared to other combat styles, Operative / Scoundrel DPS AoE DR will have a shorter duration per activation but it will be available more frequently thanks to the Evasive Imperative / Scramble ability tree buff, likely resulting in similar overall uptime.
BioWare deserves to be commended here, this additional AoE DR is exactly what Operative / Scoundrel DPS needed to boost survivability in PvE without having too much of an impact on their PvP performance. This balance was really only possible in conjunction with the survivability nerfs that other combat styles received.
Concealment and Scrapper DPS Nerf
Concealment / Scrapper received 2 gigantic nerfs to damage output. The removal of the 60% damage boost to Acid Blade / Flechette Round on the Acid Lash tactical will reduce DPS by ~2900 while the 5% reduction to critical damage dealt from Stim Boost / Pugnacity will result in a further loss of ~550 DPS for a combined ~3450 DPS!
However, assuming that the buff to Tactical Critical / Upper Critical increases uptime to 100% from its current 92%, we’re looking at a 2.5% increase in DPS which should fully counteract the 2% nerf to DPS from reducing Stim Boost / Pugnacity’s effectiveness. I also didn’t bother to factor in the alacrity provided by Stim Boost / Pugnacity in my calculations which would make the nerf to Stim Boost / Pugnacity slightly more impactful, so I think they are likely meant to directly cancel each other out.
Given the other changes BioWare has been making to bring the overall spread down, I think Concealment / Scrapper was in need of a beefy nerf since it was one of the strongest actual DPS specs in the game, but 2900 is a bit too much. It’s gonna drop them from 30.5k to 27.6k DPS in 330 gear with mostly gold augs.
Furthermore, Laceration / Sucker Punch relies on the damage boost from Acid Lash in order to match the damage dealt by Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot. Without the 60% boost, Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot deals more damage and will need to be used as often as possible. To be clear, Acid Blade / Flechette Round needs that full 60% boost to make Laceration / Sucker Punch match Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot as a GCD.
Unfortunately, Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot is too expensive to have 100% uptime even when Adrenaline Probe / Cool Head is used on cooldown. It also robs Concealment / Scrapper of being able to use that as an occasional (30m) Laceration / Sucker Punch replacement.
Any nerf to Acid Blade / Flechette Round damage needs to be accompanied by a proportional nerf to Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot. As far as I can tell, the Potent Brew / Browbeater combat style passive is the only lever that BioWare can pull to slightly drop the damage dealt by Acid Blade / Flechette Round.
BioWare likely wanted to nerf the tactical in order to not harm their damage output outside of sustained DPS in PvE and potentially make the rotation a bit more forgiving, which I appreciate, but this approach just doesn’t work.
The mobility boost is nice for PvE, but given that players will be using Evasion / Dodge for damage mitigation, I don’t think it will matter all that much. In my opinion, Operative / Scoundrel in general could use a bit more mobility in PvE.
Survivability and PvP
The other changes are centered around survivability talents that will primarily have an impact on PvP. I haven’t played Concealment / Scrapper in PvP and haven’t heard much about its performance in 7.0, so I’m not sure if these changes are a good idea or not. It’s possible that these defensive options weren’t popular enough next to the DPS boost options, so BioWare could just be trying to balance out the choices.
Recommended Changes for Operative and Scoundrel DPS
Recommended Changes for Concealment and Scrapper
These are changes I recommend specifically for the Concealment / Scrapper discipline. They focus on addressing fixing issues with BioWare’s announced nerfs while also improving the fluidity and reliability of the rotation. I do not have a dedicated set of recommendations for Lethality / Ruffian because the AoE DR is really all they need.
Balancing Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot and Laceration / Sucker Punch
Given how challenging Concealment / Scrapper is, I think it deserves to remain on the top shelf with the DoT specs in terms of sustained DPS, though a substantial nerf is definitely still in order. That said, I don’t really see how to accomplish that without also nerfing non-sustained damage output or creating other problems.
The only real path forward that I can see is to nerf the base damage dealt by Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot such that it still matches Laceration / Sucker Punch in terms of overall GCD damage. Then, give Snipers / Gunslingers as well as Lethality / Ruffian a new effect to one of their (combat style) passives that boost the damage dealt by the amount required to nerf.
Improving the Reliability of the Acid Lash Tactical
The Acid Lash tactical should also increase the duration of the Acid Blade / Flechette Round DoT by 1.5-3s. Yes, it’s definitely possible to do the rotation with the existing 6s duration, but it requires practically 100% uptime, which is difficult with the 4m range on most of Concealment / Scrapper’s abilities and the discipline’s limited mobility.
This wouldn’t really impact maximum damage output at all, but would help to make the rotation a fair bit more approachable and forgiving.
Quality of Life Improvements for Concealment / Scrapper’s Rotation
Maintaining the Acid Blade / Flechette Round debuff is pretty essential to doing the Acid Lash rotation and dealing maximum damage and can only be applied by Backstab / Backblast. You can’t afford to maintain Corrosive Dart / Vital Shot full-time but need a poison / bleed effect to trigger Volatile Substance / Blood Boiler. In addition, the discipline passive Prey on the Weak / Pierce and Batter, makes Laceration / Sucker Punch deal 10% more damage to enemies affected by the Acid Blade / Flechette Round DoT.
This problem can be fixed by tweaking Prey on the Weak / Pierce and Batter to do 1 or more of the following:
- Add the following effect: Dealing damage with Laceration / Sucker Punch to a target that is not poisoned by your Acid Blade / bleeding by your Flechette Round consumes your Acid Blade / Flechette Round (proc) to apply Poisoned (Acid Blade) / (Bleeding) Flechette Round to that target.
- Add the following effect: Noxious Knives / Lacerating Blast applies Caustic Compound / Grazed ‘Em to enemies it damages for 3s causing your Laceration / Sucker Punch to also apply Poisoned (Acid Blade) / Bleeding (Flechette Round) to that target.
- Broaden the base effect: Laceration / Sucker Punch deals 10% more damage to targets affected by your poison / bleed effects. (not just Acid Blade / Flechette Round)
A single one of these would probably be enough, but 2-3 of them would be flat-out luxurious.
General Recommended Operative and Scoundrel Changes
These changes affect generic choices in the Operative / Scoundrel ability tree, so they would apply to all 3 disciplines. They focus on improving Operative / Scoundrel mobility.
Holotraverse / Trick Move Cooldown Reduction
Holotraverse / Trick Move should have a shorter cooldown. The rest of the instant leap gap closers are available far more frequently, with only Phantom Stride / Shadow Stride even being close with a 30s cooldown, and that cooldown can get reset indefinitely with Reaper’s Rush / Stalker’s Swiftness.
Exfiltrate / Scamper is available more frequently, but costs a GCD to use and only covers about half the distance while having an equivalent cooldown per meter traveled to the Sniper / Gunslinger version, Covered Escape / Hightail It.
Given that Operatives / Scoundrels now have to choose between mobility and CC in PvP, I think it would be completely fine for Holotraverse / Trick Move to have a 20-25s cooldown instead of the current 35s. This would also help to mitigate the fact that Cloaking Screen / Disappearing Act can no longer be used to generate a TA / UH in PvE group content.
Improving the Infiltrator / Sneaky Ability Tree Buff
The Infiltrator / Sneaky ability tree buff is too weak next to the other 2 defensive options and even with the buff to Holotraverse / Trick Move, it would be nice to get an occasional speed boost off Exflitrate / Scamper as well. I’d like to see it get an additional effect similar to : Activating Exfiltrate / Scamper increases your movement speed by 50% for 8s. Cannot occur more than once every 16s.
This effect is modeled after the Assassin / Shadow ability tree buff Obfuscating Speed / Kinetic Surge that already has the same +15% movement speed +2 stealth level component. I think it would make Infiltrator / Sneaky fully competitive next to the other 2 choices in all content, especially considering DPS will be able to get AoE DR off of the 2s of Evasion / Dodge from Cloaking Screen / Disappearing Act.