Pulled the trigger. Pow. It's dead, Jim.

NSTK-ites can confirm I haven't been in-game lately - pretty much since dinging 50 and finishing my Jedi Knight's story, in fact. I also haven't said much about the game at all, as the 3 of you still reading this blog can attest to. So after posting it in the officer forums to let them know first, I can in fact confirm that I canceled my SWTOR subscription (and exactly 1 day before it was set to auto-renew, too). Rather than re-explain it all, I'll just repost here the relevant portions what I posted there.

Surprising absolutely no one, since I haven't been on in how long? I pulled the trigger and canceled my subscription today. No single big reasons, just a lot of small ones rolled into one.

  • I dinged 50 on my JK, but can't make the times for the PvE endgame groups and have no desire to do the PvP endgame, so after finishing his story, he's basically done

  • No interest in leveling another Republic character - doing 90% of the same exact quests doesn't appeal to me, even with the different story

  • Just not really that invested into the Imperial side, either; no desire to level there

So basically with nothing to do on my one endgame-level character, and no desire to level any further alts, there was no point to keeping my subscription around because nothing sounds fun in-game anymore. So I canceled.

And that's that.

Level 50? Check. Done.

Now to do everything else.

Ding! 50.

The character shown there is Fortress (or as I say when I'm saying it out loud, THE INDOMITABLE FORTRESS EPSILON), and he, along with Doc, leveled by finishing up a bonus quest on Corellia. I promptly finished up in that area then Fleet Passed back to buy craptons of new ranks of skills, a new speeder, and to gear up T7 for the inevitable story quest in which I am stuck with T7 for some reason. (That's literally all I know about it thus far.)

So, Onward

I'm tempted to just skip the rest of the non-Jedi-Knight-story parts of Corellia, but I know 1.2 is bringing new Corellia dailies, and I'd wager those would just require the planet to be completed, so I'll end up doing these quests eventually.

Also need to take a look at the Belsavis dailies, now that I can do them, and start gearing up, even though I likely won't be able to run Ops with my guild until early June due to schedule shenanigans - right now the weekday Op group, which would normally be ideal for me, runs on the same nights that I play L5R, while the weekend Op group is out of the picture because weekends are the only time I get to spend time with my girlfriend (at least for a couple months until we move in together).

Fort also has some crew skill work to do; slicing is (of course) maxed and bioanalysis is a mere 4 points from cap, but biochem is sitting at 280, mostly due to a lack of ... some specific part, I don't remember what one.

But beyond that?

Alts, Alts, Alts, Alts

Lots of alts. I may not be as much of an altoholic as Psynister, but thanks to the measly 8 character slots per server, like him, I'm feeling a need to actually plan my Legacy. At this point, there's only two things set in stone: Fortress, who's level 50, and Jentra, my zabrak Jedi Shadow, who is 46 and right behind him. That leaves me six slots, which right now are being used for:

  • Vormav, chiss bounty hunter, probably my first "serious" Empire alt - need to talk to the dudes in Mongbat about getting him joined up.

  • Shepard, human trooper, but probably not for long - though I will keep him around to squat on that name forever before I get around to playing a trooper because it is GLORIOUS.

  • Kyzur, my very first character, who I don't have a real urge to play but I haven't had the balls to delete yet.

  • Rolento, a cyborg gunslinger - again, mostly sitting on the name at this point, as I plan to reroll him once I unlock some further legacy stuff.

  • Two empty slots.

I feel cramped already. I really hope that Bioware determines the requirements for further slots because I pretty much want to unlock all the things.

Here's hoping.

Sixth screenshot meme (contains slight Jedi Knight spoiler)

Psynister left his tags open for the Sixth Meme which has been floating around the WoW blogosphere (and now is somewhat making inroads into the SWTOR blogosphere). That's good enough for me - I fall into "everyone who hasn't been tagged yet."

The basic premise is easy…

  • Go into your image folder

  • Open the sixth sub-folder and choose the sixth image.

  • Publish the image! (and a few words wouldn’t hurt, though I dare say I couln’t stop a blogger from adding a few words of their own).

  • Challenge six new bloggers.

  • Link to them.

The problem lies in the fact that I apparently have the most disorganized approach to screenshots ever: one big folder, ordered by timestamps and game (which happens automatically thanks to Fraps). However, my Fraps folder is the sixth one in my general images folder, so I guess it kinda counts! So, let's see what we get:

Dinging in space. Well, that was boring. Let's try sixth from the bottom.

Lord Scourge, talking about... well, who IS he talking about? Spoilers! Okay, let's try something else - I enlarged my Fraps folder until the icons are in rows of six, and picked the sixth screenshot of the sixth row.

One of the walkers on Hoth, seemingly wearing sunglasses - this one's stationed outside Aurek Base.

Well, that could've gone better. Ah well. I'll redo Psynister's tagging: if you haven't been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged now.

On Legacies: a little wishing, a little speculating

So let's talk Legacies. We've been accumulating that Legacy XP, dinging those Legacy Levels, but what are we going to get for our time invested?

First up, a little video review of what we've been told is upcoming (details, as always, are subject to change, but this is straight from the horse's mouth, where in this case "horse" means "James Ohlen"):

The textual portion:

The Legacy System actually allows each one of your new characters to join a family tree, and all the characters within that family tree gain benefits. It's going to unlock abilities and powers that you normally wouldn't have access to.

The video itself isn't a big revelation, per se; there's really only a few things to actually see:

  1. An almost-certainly-not-final graphic depicting a family tree being formed (specifically the Vizla Legacy, which seems to be missing its namesake).

  2. A character fighting two droids, who was confirmed later by Daniel Erickson to be a Miraluka Sith Warrior.

What I find most interesting about that latter part is that it shows up while James Ohlen is talking about "abilities and powers you normally wouldn't have access to." Well, yeah, I suppose a miraluka (the blind, Force-using Republic-only race) having access to the Sith Warrior (an Empire-only class) would be different, sure.

But enough rehashing. Let's talk things I'd like to see. My blog, my wishlist - after the jump.

I don't have a huge list, but they're all things that would make the replay experience valuable for me - and since BioWare is betting heavily on story, I'd say you'll see more things that encourage replay and the level-up game rather than things that impact endgame.

But First, Groundless Speculation

First, a question of implementation. It's been mentioned before that you'll have a "family tree" setup (including relations like "family friend"), but how does that tie into the system of legacy levels? My guess is we're going to see something like skill trees. Each Legacy Level will probably give you a choice of Legacy Perk, and the implementation of Legacy Perks will require certain relationships in the tree.

The other alternative is that each level adds a new "slot" on the family tree, but in that case, why would you continue to gain levels about 8? Legacy is server-constrained and capped at 50, and you can only have 8 alts on one server. Clearly there's some reason BW's concerned about the rapid growth of Legacy Levels, since they recently nerfed the amount of Legacy XP needed past 50.

This "Legacy Perk" idea forms the basis of a lot of my wishlist, and if the final Legacy System is nothing like it then you can probably throw a lot of my ideas out the window, but I have a feeling this is going to be close to the final implementation.

Cross-Faction (or Same-Faction) Race Swapping

It's all but confirmed by the Miraluka Sith Warrior, but since race is so cosmetic anyway, adding this would be trivial. Even for some of the choices we don't have it makes sense - how many twi'lek trooper NPCs are there? Answer: on the Republic side, a heck of a lot. Using the speculated perk system above, perhaps you get things like the following:

  • Blue Bloods: If you have a Chiss in your family tree, you can choose Chiss as a race when creating a Smuggler or Trooper.

  • Peace is a Lie: If you have a Miraluka in your family tree, you can choose Miraluka as a race when creating a Sith Warrior or Sith Inquisitor.

  • I'm Not Bald, I'm Aerodynamic: If you have a Rattataki in your family tree, you can choose Rattataki as a race when creating a Smuggler, Trooper, or Jedi Consular.

  • Sweet Ink: Your Republic Zabrak characters can use Imperial Zabrak tattoos and coloration, and vice-versa.

  • Just What We Needed, More Aliens: If you have a Mirialan in your family tree, you can choose Mirialan as a race when creating any Imperial character.

  • Redeemed by the Light: If you have a Sith Pureblood in your family tree, you can choose Sith Pureblood as a race when creating a Jedi Knight or Jedi Consular

  • Taking Up Arms: You can choose Twi'lek as a race when creating a Trooper or Bounty Hunter.

New Races Altogether

Probably the biggest shot in the dark, and also cosmetic, but how about new races? We know the animations transfer to non-player races - look at the Rodian smuggler trainer outside Fort Garnik, or Ashara Zavros doing anything. Their two biggest concerns seem to be that playable races need to (1) be humanoid in shape, and (2) speak Basic. That unfortunately does rule out Wookiees and Rodians - no Rodian in the game speaks Basic outside of rare oddities like the Jedi Knight trainer on Tython, and Wookiees are physically unable to do so - and some others, like Ithorians - my goodness, that head. They also seem to need to allow some degree of customization; it's a running joke between Xindrola and I that every Kel Dor in the game is played by the same Kel Dor, because their models are identical. but it does open up some other possibilities.

  • Snips - You may choose Togruta as a race when creating a character of any Force-sensitive class.

  • You're a @#$#ing Cat - You may choose Cathar as a race when creating a character of any Republic class.

  • Heart of Steel - You may choose Droid as a race when creating a character of any non-Force-sensitive class. (This is highly unlikely for many, many reasons.)

  • Sullustans - You may choose Sullustan as a race when creating a character of any class. (This is incredibly unexciting.)

And that's just the beginning. There's also the Sarkhai (Nadia Grell's race), Mon Cals (VICTORY OR NOTHING), and more. I've actually heard this brought up in guild chat, and there's one race everyone can agree they'd roll an alt of: Ugnaughts Voss.

Ability Swapping

You know what would make the Consular more interesting? Not throwing balls of dandelion fluff at people. I kid, I kid. But let's face it - Telekinetic Throw, Telekinetic Wave, and Disturbance really lack the oomph of Force Lightning, Chain Lightning, and Lightning Strike.

And while Mortar Strike and Death From Above are both really cool, you know there's bound to be someone who'd rather have the other faction's version, even though Mortar Strike would look super-ridiculous coming from a blaster pistol (more than it does from a blaster rifle, even).

How about some tradeoffs? Obviously the few abilities that are functionally different would probably be exempt from this (Unity and Sacrifice come to mind), but many abilities are simply rebranded. This could complete the image from the "race-swapping" perks - if your Sith Pureblood was redeemed and is serving as a Consular, perhaps he still can't help but throw lightning. Or perhaps a Miraluka Sith Warrior still uses some of his Jedi-learned abilities, despite serving the cause of the Empire. You could swap abilities one-for-one, or you could swap abilities in packs.

If you really wanted to get ballsy, you could allow access to your mirror class' proficiencies. After all, they certainly drop even for the opposite faction - I get sniper rifles all the time, even though only companions can use them, and I'm sure the Empire is just as inundated with blaster cannons. This seems unlikely - weapons are a large part of class identity - but I'm just throwing it out there.


  • Lightning Does Strike Twice (Consular):Your telekinetic powers use the animation of the corresponding lightning power. (The inquisitor version: Pushing You Around)

  • Rocket Boots (Trooper):Your Mortar Strike uses Death From Above's animation. (The bounty hunter version: Heavy Ordinance).

  • Shout, Shout, Let It All Out (Knight): Your Blade Storm uses Force Scream's animation. (The Sith warrior version: Speak Softly And Carry A Big Lightsaber)

New Abilities Altogether

I'm really racking my brain trying to figure out what brand new abilities you could get access to from the Legacy System - after all, the exact wording was "abilities and powers you normally wouldn't have access to," but that doesn't rule out new things altogether. The only idea I had:

  • Distress Beacon: You can summon one of your family members as a secondary companion. They are not controllable, scaled to your level, and will assist you in combat automatically based on their class, advanced class, and specialization. Lasts one minute.

There are lots of times I've wished I could have two companions, even just for one fight - maybe calling in Kyzur to heal Fortress & Kira while tackling a tough foe. What if you could briefly summon a family member to assist? Obviously, they've got their own stuff to do, so they won't be able to hang around to permanently replace your companion, but I think it could be a fun combat cooldown.

An Heirloom-Style XP Gain Feature

As much as I like the story, the actual leveling process in SWTOR is a bit of a slog sometimes. That's just MMOs for you. To speed up the process, World of Warcraft implemented heirloom gear - bound-to-account gear that you could mail to your characters which gave them scaling stats and a stacking XP bonus for each piece worn.

This is not the way I'd like to see this go in SWTOR. While an XP-boosting feature would be nice, I don't want it to take the form of mail-able gear. This creates several problems - having to mail gear around to alts of the same type, having to have multiple sets of gear when (at least in this game) very few classes share each type of gear (specifically: 2 per faction), cross faction mail would have to be implemented, and it encourages not taking upgrades. No thank you!

Let's just have stacking XP bonuses. Maybe investing 1 perk in XP Boost gets you a 5% gain on all XP, 2 gets you 10%, 3 gets you 15%, and so on. It doesn't need to be anywhere near the mindboggling leveling speed of WoW's heirlooms, but a way to boost XP gain would be a nice mechanical benefit for altoholics.

And That's Just The Beginning

I'm sure, if I really thought about it, I could come up with some off-the-wall stuff I'd like to see in the Legacy System. (A crafting perk that lets you access your family member's craft skills! The ability to link family trees between players (though that could create its own tensions in real life)! Shared family vaults!) The above is just some things I think are more realistic than some of the crazier ideas... although the Droid idea is pretty wacky.

So, go nuts: what would you like to see in the Legacy System when it debuts next month?

Focus, Padawan

Form I: Shii-Cho Form(Disclaimer: All of the article below is based on my experience leveling a Sentinel. YMMV, as always.)

The Jedi Sentinel can be an interesting class to level, especially when it comes to picking a skill spec. The three skill trees all say "Damage," which doesn't tell you a whole lot, but after reviewing the talents, you can get the gist of them:

  • *Watchman *does its work in Juyo Formlights things on fire, has Force Leap with a shorter cooldown and minimum range of 0, and is capped off with a 5(!) Focus ability that hits like a train. It also has some minor self-heals from its talents and from Zen. Watchman seems to be the "traditional" leveling tree, mostly because of these self-heals and ease of play (at least until 40, when you're trying to figure out how to shoehorn Merciless Slash into your priority list, but that's another topic entirely).

  • Combat focuses on hitting more often thanks to Ataru Form (both in the sense of bonus accuracy, and in terms of Ataru Form hits), contains an attack that lets you momentarily pierce all armor and is capped off with a Slash replacement that... causes you to do more Ataru Form hits. Really, the entire thing's built around maximizing Ataru Form. Even its Zen ability is based around Blade Rushing more (or Slashing more, prior to 40). Combat also, notably, has exactly zero survival tools outside of a way to avoid some AOE damage - it is the "glass cannon" spec. Unless you're towing around Doc or using one of the tanks, or wearing some extremely good armor, it can be a mite tricky to level as Combat.

  • And then there's Focus, the shared tree - although there are minor differences between the Guardian and Sentinel version of these. Focus seems like a real oddball at first - its work is done in Shii-Cho Form, which (thanks to talents) lowers a number of cooldowns, it has multiple talent boosts to Master Strike and Force Stasis, and it picks up some bizarre talents in the form of Zealous Leap (basically Slash on steroids with a 10-meter range) and Force Exhaustion (a DoT + progressive slow that ends with a big hit). When in Shii-Cho Form, Zen is similar to Combat's Ataru Form Zen, but with a slight difference: Slash is completely free, and also cleaves a nearby enemy. Its survivability comes from the inherent damage reduction of Shii-Cho Form (which increases from 3% to 7% when talented) as well as reducing the cooldown of Guarded By the Force to 1 minute.

Focus is easily one of the odder trees - it discards some abilities you gain from being a Sentinel (like Juyo Form) and focuses on things present for JKs from early levels, while also adding strange new abilities like a second leap and a DoT. So what's the big deal? You might want to think about leveling as a Focus Sentinel. Why? More after the jump.

Now, keep in mind this only applies to Sentinels (and, I suppose, their Marauder cross-faction ilk). The Guardian version of Focus lacks Blade Focus, and has somewhat less need for innate damage reduction due to wearing heavy armor. For the most part, however, this advice should be transferable - just remember that I really don't know anything about Jedi Guardians because I haven't leveled one. (Yet.)

So what are the pros and cons of leveling Focus? Pros first:

  • Innate damage reduction. Watchman offers 1% heals when your burns tick, and an extra 1% for you for the six ticks of Zen. Combat... hopes and prays it can kill everything quickly. Focus starts with 3% damage reduction, jumps to 5% somewhere in the 40s, and ends up with 7% damage reduction by level 50. It's at least as hardy a spec as Watchman (or more so, in my personal experience) - handy if you want to level with a companion whose name isn't Doc.

  • Highly suited for AOE. Mobs rarely come alone in SWTOR. Yes, Watchman has 2 talent points at the bottom that make Force Sweep and Cyclone Slash cheap and dirty. We'll be taking those first as Focus. They pair nicely with talents like Felling Blow and Singularity, which turns your Force Sweep into such a monster that you'll be hitting it in single-target combat too. There's also Shii-Cho Form's Zen effect, which gives you six free Slashes that also cleave a second target for 100% damage (and, once properly talented , turns Slash + Zen into a focus-generating machine - yes, you are refunded a Focus per Slash, despite not spending any!)

  • Simple and satisfying. Simply put, if you like simply killing the shit out of things, Focus will be nearly as good a tree for you as Combat or post-40 Watchman. Everything in Focus' PvE arsenal is based around two simple concepts: hitting like a truck, and making other things in your ability list hit like a truck. Additionally, it's not a complex tree to play - only Combat is simpler, within the same class, and there aren't really any timers to monitor or random events to watch for - the procs such as Felling Blow and Singularity are predictable as they come, so you really just need to focus on hitting the big-damage buttons until everything is dead.

  • More Master Strike, more often. I dunno, it's just a personal favorite of mine. It might not be worth using on bosses (it's seemingly not for Combat, and Watchman only uses it under specific circumstances), but it's just fun.

And the cons:

  • Lack of endgame/party play preparation. Granted, this may not matter to you. Right now, Watchman - as DoT-based specs tend to do - is mathing out as the top DPS spec for Sentinels. The argument could be made that leveling as Watchman would be the best way to get used to Watchman to perform better in operations. The truth of the matter is, though, that without a combat log it's still not 100% certain who's on top - hell, the Watchman/Annihilation community is even split over whether their top-level talent is worth a point - or whether that matters to you.

  • No self-heals. Focus' survival ability is very passive - Shii-Cho damage reduction - and doesn't have the self-heals of Watchman in Juyo Form. Its only other real boost is a cooldown reduction on Guarded By the Force. Of course, on the flip side, that damage reduction is always there, while Watchman is dependent on crits for its healing--and while you're able to guarantee six critical ticks with Zen, you have to have the Centering available to do so, and you need to have six ticks of burn damage ready to apply. It's probably six of one, half-dozen of the other.

  • Not a lot of cool visuals. Watchman lights people on fire regularly, leaps like a bunny, and their top-tier talent looks like you're whacking someone with two bolts of lightning. Combat is simply a flurry of blows - you are the fastest thing with two blades. By contrast, Focus seems almost methodical, and a lot of time is spent using a lot of the same abilities you're used to before you ever turn 10 - Slash, Blade Storm, Force Sweep, and so on. Zealous Leap looks neat, but it's very similar to Force Leap in terms of appearance. If you're one for consistency, this might be okay, but if you need some visual variety in your attacks, this might not be the tree for you.

  • The Singularity/Felling Blow combo is probably due for a nerf. I understand it's supposed to hit hard, but seriously, this is the hardest hitting thing in my arsenal, and I can pull it off every 18 seconds. Call me cynical if you wish, but it seems too good to be true.

Enough With the Bullet-Point Shenanigans, Show Us Some Skill Specs

Alrighty then, insistent reader, you asked for it! I'll start with the first talent point, then jump a few levels at a time. This is, as with most things I write, solely for PvE - a talent spec suitable for leveling by questing and running Flashpoints.

Levels 10-11: Oh no, where do I put my first talent points

In Watchman, interestingly enough. 2/2 Quick Recovery is simply too good to pass up, at this point or any point, giving you a cheap and easy tool to use on groups. At 12 you'll get Cauterize, and you can also use it if you like because at this point in your career, you really don't have anything else to spend the focus on.

Levels 12-22: In which very few things are put onto bars

Now we've got skill points in Focus. You'll get a few important things during these levels that you will promptly ignore as PvPe Focus: Juyo Form, Leg Slash, and Crippling Throw. You'll also get the occasionally-useful "oh shit" button of Call on the Force (which you will actually find in your abilities under "Heroic Moment: Call on the Force") and your very important interrupt. Additionally, if you're following this build, at 22 you will also pick up Zealous Leap. Here's a guide to using Zealous Leap: use it whenever you'd use Slash, then resume Slashing. ZL costs the same thing as Slash, but hits harder (although it doesn't have an increased crit chance). Starting next level, the advantage of this is that you'll also proc Felling Blow, increasing your chance to crit with Force Sweep by 100%.

Levels 23-31: The why-can't-I-Force-Sweep-more-often blues

Just kidding. If you could Force Sweep more often with our current talent build, it might be all you ever did. In terms of talents, this is one of those periods of time where you're just making things better - Slash and ZL hit harder, Force Stasis can't be pushed back, Master Strike is uninterruptible, and you now have both Felling Blow and Singularity. Unfortunately, the only thing you have to activate Singularity is Force Stasis, but it's really, really nice when you do - Force Leap into a group, Force Stasis one of them, then Force Sweep to do  major damage to anyone around you. Proceed to beat in the faces of everyone who challenges you. As for abilities, a few important ones come in this range.

I mentioned Force Stasis; that's at 24. Speeder piloting follows right behind it at 25! Not combat-related, but a cause for celebration on every character. You also get Pacify at 26. There's very little not to like about Pacify - one-minute cooldown, 1-focus cost, and the target has a 90% drop in melee and ranged accuracy for 6 seconds. It'll save your ass against elites, and while it no longer works on Operation bosses, I'm happy to report it at least still applies itself onto Flashpoint bosses. PACIFY ALL THE THINGS

**Pommel Strike at 28 is the perfect follow-up to a Blade Storm or a superpowered Force Sweep. Disable Droid, also at 28, the only thing we get as far as long-term CC. Sorry.

You get Force Camouflage at 30, which gives you 5-seconds of near-perfect stealth and 30% increased movespeed. It also drops some of your aggro in combat, but it won't remove you from an aggro table like a Shadow's Force Cloak, so don't expect to reset that pack of mobs you just aggroed.

Levels 32-42: Planning for the future, then getting there

Here's our build at 42 - Force Exhaustion, finally. Force Exhaustion can be used to build stacks of Singularity, just like Force Stasis, but without that pesky need to be channeled. You'll want to be using it whenever you are able to ZL or Force Leap, so as to maximize your Force Sweep damage.

By now the number of new abilities has slowed down, but all the ones you get are at least kind of important. Cyclone Slash, your other AOE, comes along at 32 and (thanks to those initial two talent points) it also costs 1 focus. Still, Force Sweeping, then spamming Cyclone Slash rarely ever seems more efficient than just single-target-attacking everything after a Sweep. It does, however, look pretty cool.

Opportune Strike is available at 34, which is sort of like a weaker Pommel Strike that you can only use on slowed or immobilized targets. Given that many of a Sentinel's abilities don't actually do this, you probably won't find a use for it until 42, when you can use it on Force Exhausted opponents. Free damage is free damage.

Guarded By the Force is another fantastic ability you get at 38, but it comes with two caveats:

  1. Don't put it somewhere where you'll accidentally hit it all the time and get your fool self killed, not that I know anything about that, and

  2. You have five seconds to kill whatever it was that made you hit this button, so do not waste them.

Finally, you get Awe at 42, in which you look so awesome that you confound everything around you for 6 seconds. Once per minute.

Levels 43-50: The home stretch

Here's the build as you round the corner into 50. I personally suggest hitting up Defensive Forms first, for that additional 2% damage resistance, then filling out either Dual Wield Mastery or Focused Slash based on preference. Remember, once you have Focused Slash, your Shii-Cho Zen will cause your Slashes to give you 1 free Focus per Slash. You also get your last 3 abilities during these levels, and each one is fantastic.

The first, at 44, is Inspiration. This is, basically, Bloodlust. It requires 30 Centering, much like Zen. If you're in an Ops group, save this until your op leader calls for it.

The second, at 46, is Dispatch. I'd have to check, but I think Jedi Knights take longer to get their "execute" ability than anyone else. At any rate, enjoy using this - it's got a focus cost of 3, cooldown of six seconds, and a range of 10 meters, and is the only way Sentinels will ever throw a lightsaber besides Crippling Throw.

The last, at 50, is Valorous Call. Instant 30 stacks of Centering, usable every 3 minutes. Not a whole lot more to say about it.

And that's that

Now you're level 50! Go respec into something else, or keep being Focus if you like. Maybe you'd like to light things on fire, or pummel everything into submission. Or maybe you just like being ... Focused.


In which case, that's okay too.

Shard-hunting on Belsavis

What you see above is someone taking a circuitous route through Belsavis to get Rakata Energy Cubes. You'll need 4 of these (among your group, that is, or 4 by yourself if you're solo) to hunt down the Green Matrix Shard on Belsavis. I didn't particularly need them on my Jedi Shadow, but my Jedi Knight needed it... and now he has all three green shards for his level 50 Matrix Cube, at level 35.

Why yes, I do believe in preparedness.

Anyway, to get a general idea of the process afterwards, check out SWTOR Spy's article on the Belsavis datacrons - and use the above video to take a route. It took me about two hours, all told, spread across two attempts (the second was much shorter than the first, and was the route I was taking AFTER watching that vid).

(Bonus points: if you have slicing 250+, there are usually tons of slicing nodes around here - varying, of course, by server population - but especially around the wrecked spaceship along the route. You'll know it because it's the only part with droids.)

Welcome to Hoth, it's cold

Deal with it.

Hoth: it's cold. It's once again full of pirates. Jentra's level 43. And it's cold. It'll probably be another week or two before 50 is a realistic possibility due to circumstances, but there it is. Even then I might wait until my JK hits 50 as well before committing to any kind of single character for endgame (Fortress is, in fact, level 32 - on the last few quest chains of Alderaan - proving that no matter the class, I evidently level at exactly the same pace every time when solo).

Oh, and Jentra is also nearly Social IV. Too bad there's... not really any social gear I want at Social IV.

The guild did a couple test run operations and the results were good, as you can see from the operation progress tracker on the side of the guild website. Grats all! We haven't tried Karagga's Palace yet, apparently; I'm kind of hoping to eventually get to see that, as I am way more excited about "Hutt mounted on a giant robot" than "powerful imprisoned guy with glitchy platforms."

On the table

No, I'm still not level 50. I'm level 42 and just finished the first quest hub on Hoth. I'm the overlord of overlevelling. I needed an excuse to share this screenshot, though. (You'll want to click through to see the dialogue.)

With that out of the way, here's a combination of "posts you can expect in the future" and "a public to-do list so Stop has to write these things." In no particular order:

  • Shadow specs, esp. for leveling - Balance, hybrid Balance, full-on Deception, Kinetic Combat.

  • A look at the Focus tree for Jedi Sentinels. Holy crap, I have fallen in love with this tree.

  • Legacy system wishlist.

  • A guest post from my leveling partner on morality/choice in SWTOR. As soon as he quits having to GRADE ALL THE THINGS, anyway.

  • Speaking of which, if you'd like to write a guest post, let's talk turkey. My list of available post topics is pretty much wide-open.

A leveling tip, courtesy of @Asros

Or as I told someone earlier - don't be Blender. Our guildmate ended up at 49 with half a level to go, with absolutely no source of XP outside of space missions, flashpoints, PVP, or dailies - all because he chose to skip almost all bonus series and probably a lot of bonus quests, as well.

There and back again

The hills are alive, with the sound of--no, no, stop that, NO SINGING The hills are alive, with the sound of–no, no, stop that, NO SINGING

Over on the Inquisitor's Roadhouse, Anexxia asks: "why the rush to 50?" Well, let me tell you who's not rushing. There's a story here.

Oh, how I love looking at Alderaan. I'm pretty well ready to go, though. It starts with Kyzur, a rotund miraluka Jedi Sage with a problem where his head clips through hoods. It took me 30-odd levels to realize I'd made a huge mistake. (Pardon the pun.) I just wasn't having fun with the Sage playstyle at all. I loved the story, but evidently I am still primarily a melee player. Yet I still wanted to get my legacy. (Silly things are important to me.) So between levels 30 and 32, I tackled the first three quest hubs on Alderaan, then said "oh screw this" and did my story quest there, my end of act 1, picked my legacy out, and left Kyzur Epsilon Barsen'thor to take a well-earned rest on the Republic fleet.

Enter Jentra. Rolling out the door from day 1 as the action-oriented Shadow to Kyzur's "let's talk it out" Sage, I remembered why the Shadow/Assassin playstyle was the first one I played in beta. Fluid, fast, stealthy, loved it. I blew through Tython and Coruscant, slogged through Taris - which I am happy to say takes nowhere near as long the second time, mostly because you know where everything is - and was rolling through Nar Shaddaa's first quest set when friend and NSTK guildmate Xindrola caught up to me. Somehow. Despite spending way too long on Taris. (Xin's argument is that he was saving for a speeder because he'd blown a bunch of cash on investigation and armstech; upon being told that Nar Shaddaa was not the spread-out hot mess that is Taris, he hopped planet immediately.) I helped him catch up to me in the Kintan Kings quarter, then we duo'd the rest of Nar Shaddaa. All of it. To give you an idea how grossly overleveled we were at this point, we were able to immediately accept the Nar Shaddaa Bonus Series. (Level 28, I believe, is the minimum for that.)

We actually tried it at first, but it was slow going. "C'mon," I said, "let's just go to Tatooine." And so we did. Everything fell before the combined might of a Shadow, a Commando, M1-4X, and Tharan Cedrax. Alderaan as well, which is where we left off last night - we still have the Glarus Valley quests, but he's now completed his end of Act 1 and I'm doing mine tonight (again). But it was slow going at times. Xin's still a bit new to MMOs (he played a little WoW, and I think someone talked him into FFXI because they were sadistic), so keeping him oriented in the right direction can be a challenge - I'm eager to kill Sand People for their rifles, while he's busy trolling the wildlife by punting it into canyons with Concussion Charge, for instance. He still lives with family, so he (understandably) gets called away from the computer for minutes at a time - pretty frequently sometimes. Getting lost also happens occasionally. I want a leash sometimes.

We're also still grossly overleveled. When we got to Alderaan, I was one level ahead, and every quest outside of my story content was grey. All of them. 5 XP apiece. Woohoo? (Even now, still at the last quest hub of Alderaan, I'm level 36. I'm pretty sure I'm at the high end of the level range for Balmorra.)

But on the upside, it's a lot less boring than doing the same content again would be by myself. I get to see two stories for the price of one - 90% of the trooper stuff is available to me in Spectator Mode, and likewise for consular stuff for him. We have two crafters' worth of crew skills available to us (granted, Armstech is really only useful for Tharan, but he is our healer). We can usually roll Heroic 4s with a combination of smart CC and, in one case, me kiting a boss around LIKE A BOSS.

And Social points? I am rolling in Social points. I'm 200 or so away from Social III. My Social points abruptly jumped during Tatooine; I was barely in Social I when I got there, but was at Social II and then some by the time we left - even before the bonus series.

Still, I wouldn't characterize myself as being in a rush to 50. Pretty much the exact opposite. I am, however, in a rush to see something I haven't seen before - I've been here before, and now I'm back again. Luckily, I'm on the verge of doing just that: every quest left on Alderaan is one I haven't seen, as is every planet after Act I.