peal's heals – a swtor blog


from the searchbox
April 20, 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: for fun, pvp, strategy | Tags: , , ,

Here’s some search terms people used recently and stumbled across my blog.

1. Best crew skills for operative medic? I personally like Cybertech. Once you get 50 and have 400, you can make reusable bombs. Having a third stun is really nice even if it’s a short one. Otherwise, BioChem gives you a perma-stim, Armstech gives you… Umm… Let’s just say I was really disappointed with Armstech. So, um, how about that Cybertech? Yeah!

2. Operatives are overpowered healing. What? Okay, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I’ve pretty sure I’ve made mine abundantly clear: Nerf Bounty Hunters, and nerf them now! Sorcs, too. *grumble grumble* Though, in fairness I don’t know if this searcher was looking for PVP or PVE information. With no meters in PVE I’ve healed alongside Mercs, Sorcs, and other Operatives. I could always tell when the person behind the character was good, regardless of class played. I’d say a good player makes any class look overpowered.

3. SWTOR instants interrupted. I’m pretty sure this is impossible, though I imagine that when things get really laggy it can look like you either interrupted someone’s instant (though really the game registered it as the spell coming after/before??) Or someone interrupts you while casting an instant but again, the game registers it as the spell before it.

4. Kolto Probe two tanks. The neat thing about Kolto Probe is that even though it only stacks to two, you can stack it to two on any number of players. As long as you can find a way to remain in range of both tanks, you can Probe both of them to your heart’s content. I wrote about how much I loved Probe a few weeks ago, but here’s the quote to explain how to roll:

…after experimenting I realized I was wrong. It does roll. So long as you cast 2 before the first Probe wears out, and continue to cast 1 Probe before all Probes fade, the hot will continue ticking at 2-Probe strength. The duration on the tooltip represents the timer of the most-recently-cast Probe.

5. Mercenary or Sorcerer. I have little experience with Mercenaries. And while I’m inclined to say “sorcerer, duh!”, my real answer should be: why not make both and play around with them to get a feel for which you like better? Your playstyle might heavily favor one or the other. Or maybe you’ll just like the Merc’s attitude better. I know I do!

6. Killing Operative healers 1.2. Oh, boy. See, when I’m the one getting killed I think “wow, this guy has it so easy. I’m squishy and seriously, Force Lightning took 90% of my life and how is that not broken??” but once in a blue moon I’ve been able to survive and seem very hard to kill. Like against some melee and sometimes against snipers (when there’s a playground for me to LoS in). Pretty much, interrupt and stun as you can, don’t let them get away. And seriously (this is totally inflammatory but hey, this is a healing blog) if you can’t kill an operative healer, you’re not trying hard enough.



the operative healer’s warzone survival guide
April 17, 2012, 5:26 pm
Filed under: gameplay, pvp, strategy | Tags: , , ,

I’m totally unqualified to write this article! Hurray!

1. Gear does help, some. Having 13k HP is infinitely better than 9 or 10k. Crits are amazing. So if you’re leveling, keep your orange gear modded with recent stuff to make sure you have comparable HP to the guys you’re playing against. I’ve seen -some- Operative DPS prioritize Endurance over Cunning (Patron Mod over Skill Mod, basically) and they still can wreck the charts. BUT. Said DPS also don’t worry about the ball or the ball handler. They go for easy kills. But if you’re frustrated with being an easy kill, why not switch around your gear a bit? Credits are cheap.

2. Stealth is awesome but it has weaknesses. One of my favorite things about Operative healing is that I get to choose where to fight. That’s powerful and awesome. But. Sometimes enemies can see you – some can spec for it but even those without talents for stealth-seeing can notice you, and sometimes even from max range. I’ve been popped out of stealth at 30 yards by a Merc after using Super-Sneak. I don’t understand and I was certainly frustrated, but the lesson I’ve learned is that Stealth isn’t perfect. Don’t try to sneak through a group of 5 enemies unless you’re actually going to fight them. When I notice someone stealthing near me, I can’t help but pop them out, just because. It’s irresistable and fun, so don’t tempt your enemy.

3. There are two games you can play in Warzones. One of them is heal all the players, the other is Huttball. Or Defend the turrets. Or Guard the bunker. As Operatives, we’re terrible ball carriers. And by ourselves, we’re not assaulting blast doors. But. We’re pretty great at sneaking up with another player. One of my favorite things to do is attack a turret guarded by one enemy and stay stealthed until my partner absolutely needs a heal. By the time the enemy realizes he’s outnumbered, it’s too late. And same with guarding. I know, being stealthed and staying at a node that doesn’t get attacked is boring and sometimes I hear healers qqing that they shouldn’t be guarding, they should be healing. Um, no. You just want the most healing done so you get more MVP votes. But now we get plenty of points for defending and what do you care more about – winning the match or winning the meters?

4. Currently (and let’s hope this gets fixed) you only get points and valor IF AND ONLY IF you get five or more awards in a match (update: It’s three. Thanks, Shintar!). When you win, this is easy. When you’re losing, not so much. You may need to do a mix of guarding your sole turret and attacking other turrets to get enough awards to win commendations. Otherwise, it’s a double-whammy of losing loseyness: no points and no win.

5. Speaking of winning and losing, you can have a good team, do everything right… and still lose. Sometimes some asshole on the other team will put a mark on your head and it will be the personal mission of four of their players to kill you the moment you pop out of stealth. Other times the enemy will just seem ten times faster than you and be one step ahead of your brilliant plans. Still others, you’ll raise your fist in the sky and say “how can that bounty hunter heal for so much even though we killed him 12 times?!”. I don’t have answers for that, friend.

6. As operative healers, we have a mite less utility than our sorcerer and merc counterparts. But don’t let that dishearten you. Sure, they can stun/interrupt/cc at range and have a full arsenal of spells they can cast (at range) and we don’t. At heart, Operative is a melee class so our utility only shines in close quarters, which many times we don’t want to be. But then when that sorc get focused down and you decide the other bunker is the place to be, well, Vanish gets the job done. It’s faster than running back from the graveyard.

Situational Awareness: So important it gets its own list

SA1: Your place in the world. Obviously, don’t stand in shit. But there’s more, so much more! Where are you in relation to the other team, your teammates? Fight near turrets/bunkers but be aware of LoS obstacles keeping you from healing. What does the field look like? Where will you be the most likely to heal in peace? I like to keep a pillar handy and/or stand at a far edge so that the other team’s ranged DPS approaching from their graveyard won’t be in range unless they specifically gun for me.

SA2: Not just who’s in range, but who isn’t. Because if 6 of your team are fighting 2 enemies here, that means you’re about to lose something big somewhere else. And sometimes, it’s just gotta be you who gives up all that juicy potential healing to haul ass and help out elsewhere.

SA3: Typing and healing at the same time is a pain but it’s a necessary evil. If no one else is communicating, get the ball rolling. How’s mid? NW is clear. They’re going East. INC OMFG HELP S NOW I’M A HEALER SQUISHY. Splat. Players are more likely to help people who lead. Though, in all fairness I’m terrible at calling doors in Voidstar. I can’t remember which is which, and saying “help other door” isn’t terribly effective.

SA4: Who’s your enemy focusing? That friendly needs a lot of heals. The sniper in the back at half-health who they’re ignoring to focus your other healer? Slap a hot on the sniper and spam heals on your partner-in-healing like there’s no tomorrow. They’re gonna need it.

SA5: What are your enemies? I hate to be all “this and this are overpowered now” but different enemies call for different strategies. A sniper sniping you from max range is easy to avoid by either stepping back a few yards or sliding behind a rock. And sometimes you get lucky-a ranged DPS will switch targets rather than chase you. If you’ve got a melee on ya, well, you probably don’t want to just stand there and take it. You want to kite and kite some more and when they do catch up, dole out stuns as needed to buy space and hot-ticking time. Oh, and once you know there are two stealthies on the other team, you may as well pretend they’re about to gank you at any moment. Because they are.

SA6: What are your teammates? A tank-specced assassin takes much less damage than a sorcerer. Healing next to another healer also changes the dynamics, the kinds of spells you can use, and how you manage your energy. And sometimes you have to make hard choices: if I have to heal one person at the risk of losing another, who do I keep? It takes a lot of PvP to learn intuitively how to make these kinds of decisions, and many times the answer isn’t ever clear.

SA7: Some areas in warzones are prime targets for AOE-fests. The blast doors in Voidstar. Turrets and bunkers. If you aren’t trying to claim something right away, stay near but not in those areas and avoid some damage. Likewise, don’t get buddy-buddy with your teammates. One AoE stun on both healers can hurt the team, and when you both try to move out of the Orbital Strike, you’re both doing less healing.

SA8: How much time is left in the match? Sometimes it’s better to waste 30 seconds than it is to try to go for one last score. When there’s less than a minute left in Huttball and we’re winning, my team often will drag the ball into our pit. Why? Because at that point, controlling the ball is more important than another score. Same with the final countdown in Voidstar – with 20 or 15 seconds left on the clock, it doesn’t matter if you’re the only person going against 5 players. All you need to do is keep all of them from arming a bomb and then they don’t get the door at all. And is it really worth stressing if the enemy takes a turret when they have 10 defense left and you have 240? Enjoy your win.

SA9: Cooldowns. What do you have left in the fight to use? What will be coming up again and about how soon will it be ready? Proper cooldown management can be difference between OOE and “haha, sucker, you can’t stop me!”. Don’t just think about healing cooldowns, either. Explosive Probe is great burst damage and our stuns can turn the tide in a fight. Oh, and relics! I’m a relic-noob and I would probably heal more if I remembered to use them, like, ever. Same with stims and medpacs, though I only use them when I see it making a clear difference in the fight.

How do you survive in warzones?



do operatives get better?
February 17, 2012, 10:05 pm
Filed under: gameplay, strategy | Tags: , , , ,

The wordpress stats page has got to be my worst timesink outside of TOR. I’m always so amused at some of the search terms that bring players to my blog. Some probably don’t find what they were looking–sorry, my Twilek Sorcerer is light side so my screenshots won’t show Sith corruption.

But the question “do operatives get better?” and “healing and leveling operative solo” came up and I figure, hey, I can answer that.

Do Operatives get better?

Leveling Operatives is a strange experience. I was confused early on by the importance of cover (it’s a bigger deal for Snipers) and in the early stages of leveling, our core abilities are split between range and melee. With the Energy system, we have free things we can do as “filler” and cost-things we can do that if spammed will drain us dry. Early on, it’s tricky to balance. Oh, and not having a movement help – closer/leap/grapple – sucks.

And are we ranged or are we melee? Both DPS trees offer perks to both ranged and melee abilities. Cover helps mitigate damage if we stay ranged, but then we lose out on some really great abilities. And interrupts. I made the leveling process harder on myself; I knew I wanted to heal so I focused mostly on ranged abilities. You can learn from my mistakes.

Energy gets easier to manage. It does. As a healer, there’s a sweet spot in the low 30’s where you get Tactical Advantage procs like crazy and life gets better. Having played mana-style healers for more than a decade it took me a long time to train myself not to panic when I ran out of Energy. The bar fills up pretty quickly, especially if you constantly roll Stim Boost (which you should).

Short answer? Yes, it gets better. I don’t even need to know what level you are, I’m sure it does.

Landmarks for Operative Awesomeness:

  • Adrenaline Probe (14). Energy every 2 minutes. BTW, 2 minutes is faster than you might expect in-game. Use early. Use often.
  • Sleep Dart (level 20). Amazing utility for sneaking around and even CCing pre-pull.
  • Cloaking Screen (22). Vanish. Poof. In combat no more. A bit buggy in caves or story areas if you’re in a group… but what a time saver. Ever had some meanie try to steal your gathernode/quest clickie while you’re fighting? Screen, they pull aggro, then you get the node. Not that I’ve ever done this, of course! (The more honorable use for Screen is nabbing a quest-clickie–you can disable/attack some things in combat–then dropping Screen).
  • Sneak (22). Makes you sneakier to get through tight hallways. Great if you finished your quest and don’t want to fight your way out. And for droid hallways, because droids can’t be Slept.
  • Evasion (24). Less damage taken, hurray!
  • Orbital Strike (48). Words cannot do this ability justice. Why yes, I did just use my walkie-talkie to order an orbital strike. That tremor shaking the ground? My power.

Leveling as a Solo Operative Healer

I have to admit, I only did a handful of levels solo post-30. I spent much more time running around alone on my Sorcerer. My initial thoughts are: it may be a bit easier to level solo as a healer as Sorc, but only because they have spammable AoE and the bubble is just so freaking good.

That being said, I don’t see why an Operative can’t do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants to do it.

Kaliyo is an alright tank and if you focus on keeping her geared up (if you spend most of your time solo, you’ll probably use her exclusively). If you do swap companions, go through her quickslot and make sure all the things you want her to use are still selected. Perhaps they’ve fixed that bug, but her tanking abilities got turned off each time if I summoned Kaliyo after I’d been running with Vector. When she isn’t guarding, she’s quite squishy.

You can either send in Kaliyo to tank everything or you can send her to one side of a pull while you yank aggro on the other side so you split the damage and (in theory) need to heal less in-combat. What I did was send her after the toughest guy in the group (the strong/silver) and I choose weak/standard target(s) to finish off as quickly as possible.

Sleep Dart lasts for a long time. This is a very good thing, since mitigating damage means you spend more time dealing damage and less time healing you and your companion. Sleeping the guy furthest away from pack where you plan on sending your companion will ensure Kaliyo doesn’t break it (well, sometimes at least).

As a healer, your AoE options are pretty limited. But snipe is decent damage and Operative heals are quite strong to keep Kaliyo up through whatever you send her into. A word of caution: it’s hard to go full-tilt damage mode then switch on the fly to spam heal. As a healer, you get efficiency for healing but not for your damage spells. I try to weave the free stuff in to my rotation and use Rifle Shot to pick off targets once their health is low.

Kolto Probe is pretty awesome. 2-stacks on your companion, rolled well, will do a brickload of healing.

Be prepared to sneak around a lot. If it doesn’t need to be killed for a bonus, a drop, or a count on your mission, it doesn’t need to be killed. Period.

Quest rewards often give you a couple of choices in gear: an item with more cunning and less endurance, or one with more endurance and less cunning. I chose “more cunning” all the way through but if you’re having trouble taking too much damage, a healthy mix couldn’t hurt. Be willing to experiment till you find both a gear style and a playstyle that keeps you questing. What works for me might not work for you. Heck, I’m known for missing obvious things so you may already be playing so much smarter than me.

And for elites, if you can’t keep a companion alive, you can often kite. Only group events have enrage timers and in story areas, the surrounding mobs don’t respawn. It’s a long fight, that way, but when that mob dies, it’s a good feeling.

How do you survive as a healer?



catch me if you can: sorcerer kiting rehash
January 11, 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: gameplay, strategy | Tags: , ,

I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers, here. But I have to be honest, for fighting a lot of the big bad guys in my Inquisitor class missions I ended up kiting. I’m sure I’ll still get pwned the first time I try PvP, but one thing at a time.

1. Can not stress this enough: know the world around you. There may or may not be catwalks specifically designed for you to Overload people off of. IE, you hit the button and the “congrats you killed this dude” cutscene is loading before the body hits the ground. The developers have given us a world to play in, and I mean the word play in the most traditional (and enjoyable) sense. Play in the whole world. We’re supposed to.

While I’m annoyed that line of sight is so finicky out in the world when I’m trying to hit that droid behind the thing, it’s sure handy when you’re on the receiving end. Pillars and corners and nooks and ramps! My new title should be Peal The Pillar-Humper. Forcewalking is so passe.

2. Interrupting: socially acceptable once you’re Sith. Most elites have one or two abilities you wanna interrupt. We have three ways to frustrate the big bad dudes: Jolt, Overload, and Electrocute. I’ve found that if the big bad dude tries to heal, that healing should be interrupted first. But occasionally they’ll have an attack that just hurts too much if they can finish casting.

Even with three interrupts there may not be full coverage. But I’ve found leading with Jolt and using Electrocute second (long cooldown, using it early in the fight to squeeze in a second or third use) will make sure Jolt is up for the third. And the fourth? Overload. Once you get a feel for the timing of the big bad dude’s cooldowns, you’ll know when to either let him get close to you or when to run in.

That is, if you’re not using Overload to throw people off stairs and around corners. Some planning may be in order. Overload can be finicky as an interrupt. If you cast it too late the big bad dude will finish the cast before he goes flying and sometimes he won’t get interrupted.

3. Kiting: It’s not just for healers who can’t nuke. Sometimes you just need a second to let that hot heal you back up, an ability to come off cooldown, or the Static Barrier debuff to wear off. You don’t need to kite the whole fight to make use of the breathing space afforded by making the environment your slave. You can kite/use LoS at the pull to avoid the patrol (though keep your minion in check). Or kite to get enough Force to finish the mob off. Or duck behind a corner to get all the mobs into one neat little pack so you can Force Storm them to pieces.

Am I the only one who gets a kick out of the way weak targets writhe while caught in my wrath? This Light Side thing is a ruse.



sorcerer kiting
January 3, 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions, strategy | Tags: , , , ,

I had the opportunity to, ahem, teach myself how to kite.

Normally Khem’s a pretty good bodyguard but once in a while there’s a melee-class elite that roflstomps him. Completely. In situations like this no amount of healing can save him. He falls over like a big dumb rock, crying “Heal me little sith!” while I’m spamming him.

Andronikos is even less sturdy, though I appreciate his attempts at humor in the face of death.

After way too many attempts to keep these companions alive and barely burning the elite to 75% or so, I considering waiting and begging someone for help but that isn’t very sith-like. And I was sick of dying, so when Andy fell, I refreshed my dot on the elite and ran like hell for the instance. The craziest thing happened…

I lived.

The spark of an idea was born.

I decided to let my poor pirate go without any help. He died quickly and I kited the elite. A long fight, very long, yes, but I did it.

Then further down the quest chain I had a surprise elite jump me. I managed to kite him from 80% without any problems at all. I felt liberated; sometimes leveling healer-spec can be thankless and suicidal, but if I can kite, then new worlds (or is it galaxies?) are opened up to me.

And upon further reflection, I’m a complete and total n00b. I forgot to utilize two abilities… ya know, ‘minor’ things like Force Slow and Electrocute. *sigh* But that’s okay! Learn from my mistakes.

Kiting As A Sorcerer Healer – The Path to Awesome

  • Clear the area. Extra pulls will kill you dead, so give yourself plenty of space. CC the elite and wipe out his bodyguards. If you get a few seconds remaining on Whirlwind to top up your health and Force, use it.
  • Get to know the room. Look for line-of-sight nooks, corners, ramps to jump off of, and straightaways to maximize your Force Speed.
  • Instant casts are your friend. Affliction can be cast while facing away from a mob. To cast Shock, however, you’ll need to be facing him. With Overload, you will want to get the hang of when to best use the knockback. If you’re too close to a wall, you won’t get its full range. If you’re running in the same direction, you won’t put as much space between you and the elite. I had the best luck putting the elite behind me and then knocking him away.
  • Did I mention instant casts are your friend? Static Barrier and Resurgence should be about all the healing you need (though I am trigger-happy with the med packs. When else am I gonna need ’em?).
  • Force Lightning is great because you can clip it and still get a couple of ticks of damage. Though I found myself relying more on Affliction and Shock. I’m sure the same holds true with stealing ticks of Innervate, but again, you’ll probably want to keep moving and allow Resurgence to tick instead of taking damage.
  • Kiting an elite as a healer takes a long time compared to many other fights you’ll encounter while questing. Think more about survival, avoiding damage, and refreshing Affliction. Keeping abilities up and knowing what you want to use next and where is more important than nuking.
  • You’ll be running your ass off. Stay moving.

And there you have it. Have you tried kiting yet as a solo healer? How’s it working out for you?