Arena PvP in SWTOR is a very different game mode then Warzones, while both fall under the genre of PvP the way the game mode is played, tactics used and skill involved is very different than Huttball or Voidstar.
This guide aims to help inform you of the Fundamentals of Arena PvP in SWTOR as a player, to help you improve at Arenas while also teaching you the basics that Ranked PvPers have known and used to increase their win rates for years.
Arenas are a “Best of Three” Game Mode that prioritise Team Tactics and Skill over Objectives and large scale Combat.
Target Marking & Kill Order
If you’re new to Arenas, the first and immediate thing you may notice when entering the countdown time before the first round starts is that someone on your team may have begun establishing a Kill Order and marking down your enemies with Target Icons that float in the air above their heads. Be sure to know that the enemy team is establishing a Kill Order on your team as well.
Target Markers help identify where enemies are at a glance, this way you don’t have to Target enemies manually to see which one you should be paying attention to.
Kill Order’s are usually established by using the Target Marker system:
The most commonly used Target Markers: Target, Fire & Shield.
The other Target Markers
What do these Markings mean?
The Shield is the least common of the three, it is usually placed on the enemy team’s Tank in an Arena so you can see where the Tank is, allowing you to judge the distance from their teammates if they are Guarding.
The Target is the most common, it identifies the DPS or Healer enemy that you should be killed First in the Kill Order.
The Fire is the next in the Kill Order, it identifies the next enemy player that comes Second in the Kill Order.
You are also likely to see the Gun (orange) and Saber (green) used, Gun typically refers to the Third enemy in the Kill Order and the Saber usually refers to a Healer that should be stunned, separated or CC’d away from their team.
There are a few exceptions to the Kill Order of Target first, Fire second. The primary example is if the enemy team has a Tank. In the event the enemy team has a Tank and is guarding the Target or the Fire marked enemy, it is usually best to swap to the other Target and attack them instead. You only swap back to the first Target if the Tank has swapped their guard away from the enemy you ignored and on to the enemy you are now killing.
Likewise you must pay attention, it is acceptible to Kill a marked Target and ignore the enemy Tank’s Guard ONLY IF the enemy is playing a “squishy” class such as a Marauder or Sorcerer or is severely undergeared compared to their teammates.
If you see an opponent at Level 80 with an Item Rating of 324 or Lower, it is seen as ideal to Kill them through a Tank’s Guard unless the enemy team also has a strong Healer.
Identifying a Kill Order
There are many ways to quickly identify a good Kill Order. When you are in the Countdown before the First Round begins, you can click the names of players on Your Team and the Enemy Team in the Frogdog/Rotworm Scorecard at the top of your Screen. You can also see a tiny emblem representing their Class and Role.
Check the average Item Ratings of each member on the enemy team, as Arena PvP has no up-sync or up-bolster for those with lower gear ratings, it may be ideal to suggest placing a player in 324 Item Rating or lower as first or second in the Kill Order. However there are several exceptions to this rule.
There are many classes that are incredibly strong in Arenas and should absolutely be prioritised over an enemy with the lowest Item Rating on their team, this includes DPS Powertechs/Vanguards, Snipers/Gunslingers, Heal Sorcerers/Sages. Typically if a highly skilled player of these classes are left alone they have the ability to become incredibly powerful the longer they are left alone.
Likewise there are some easier to kill classes such as DPS Sorcerers/Sages, Marauders/Sentinels and Heal Operatives/Scoundrels. While these classes are much faster to kill due to their innate ‘squishiness’, a skilled player will most likely be able to waste time kiting and escaping your team, while their own team kills your team mates while you chase them.
These two conflicting arguments above essentially create an imbalance in thought, however there are some other General Rules for establishing a Kill Order which comes down to Team Composition such as prioritising killing a Healer over a DPS or ignoring everyone to tunnel a Tank.
Please note that none of these Kill Orders are Rules, every Arena match will be different and you can learn a lot more by playing and identifying names of other players you encounter both on your team and the enemy team, learning how you can best defeat them when they are matched against you later.
Guarding is when a Tank player uses their Guard Ability on another player. The player that is Guarded will take 50% LESS damage as long as they stay within a 30 meters distance of the Tank, this includes being on the other side of walls. It is best practice to not waste time by attacking a Player that is Guarded, especially a Healer, unless your team thinks it can be done.
You can identify a Player that has been Guarded by the transparent Blue hex-pattern orb that circles them, however this may look very similar to other Defensive Abilities. In which case clicking on the player, look at their Buff Tray for the Orange/Blue icon named GUARD, it looks like a small green outlined person inside of a larger, black silhouette of another person.
This Buff will only stay on the character while the Tank is Guarding them, even if they quickly leave Guard Range. It is important to watch your enemies carefully to see if the Tank swaps the Guard Buff to another teammate. If they do it may be ideal to swap your Target to a different enemy that is now no longer Guarded.
On the opposite side, as a Tank Player it is important to Guard and protect your Healer. If there is no Healer on your team then alternate your Guard Buff between either the squishiest class (Marauder, Sorcerer etc) or the teammate that is getting targeted/losing the most Health. You won’t ever be able to perfectly swap Guarding everyone so just do your best.
Surviving & Escaping Death
Arenas are an agile game mode, you will never not see people constantly running around to both attack and escape, this means that Survival is a massive factor in Arenas compared to Warzones. The longer everyone on your team lives, the better your chances are of winning the game. However many new players struggle to survive or live long enough to contribute to the outcome of a round, it can be hard to learn how to Survive and play Arena Matches if you always die first. There are three major methos to survival: Kiting, Utilities, Equipment.
Kiting is the act of escaping, retreating or evading your enemies in a meaningful way, to both draw out your possible death and give your team time to either rescue you OR kill an enemy while their friends chase you. Kiting is important on the Sniper/Gunslinger as they have to be able to stay away from Melee enemies constantly.
Kiting has to be learned by playing yourself, there is no one BEST method or ideal way to Kite, however different classes have different methods at their disposal:
Classes such as Sorcerer or Shadow can use Force Speed to put distance between themselves and other classes, especially when combined with constantly zig-zagging around obstacles or corners which further slows down your enemies.
Ranged Classes have the bias of already standing further away from their enemies, meaning that standing next to large poles or room corners is ideal as you can run away and be out of sight.
Melee Classes should also make use of obstacles in order to stay as close to their Target as possible while avoiding damage from Ranged enemy classes.
Each Arena Map has different ideal Kiting Locations that can include:
Corellia Square: Running in circles around the large debris piles, storage containers and staircases in the center of the map.
Rishi Cove: Running between poles and obstacles below the elevated wooden deck or looping the map’s staircases.
Makeb Mesa: Jumping down from the Bridge and using the side ramps, as well as the grass ledges near both teams spawn rooms.
Orbital Station: Running behind the red-laser walls and the small storage rooms near each teams spawn or around the phonebooths on the bottom center floor.
Tatooine Canyon: The four large Moisture Vaporators if fighting in the center pit, otherwise looping around the Homestead Houses and Tents on the sides of the pit.
Mandalorian Battle Ring: Dropping to the bottom floor and using either the Ramps or the Air Vents to push yourself back up, as well as the large pillars on top of the top floor of the center arena.
Onderon Ruins: Dropping down in to the cave from the center staircase, zig-zagging around the central marble pylons in the center of the map or the trees towards each sides Spawn Point.
There are many Skills and Utilities that you can use to increase your chances at Survival in a Warzone, the first of which should be abilities that come default to your class, these include Stuns, Roots such as Sorcerer’s Overload and Emergency Stealth Skills on Stealth Classes and Marauder/Sentinel.
There are also a number of Utility Tree Choices you should consider swapping to when playing Arenas:
Sage/Sorcerer: Phasewalk, a Teleport ability that returns you to a location if your choice, only stopped by Electro Net.
Sniper/Gunslinger: Hololocate OR Shield, this one depends on your experience, if you struggle Kiting then Hololocate is a better choice.
Mercenary/Commando: Responsive Safeguards, a free skill that Heals you as long as your enemies attack you while it is active.
Marauder/Sentinel: Undying Rage, essentailly a single use get out of jail free card from 99% of Damage for 6 seconds.
Powertech/Vanguard: Hydaulic Overrides, which allows you to run at a faster pace without being slowed down or rooted temporarily.
Operative/Scoundrel: Holotraverse OR Flashbang, like Sniper/Slinger, this one depends on your experience. Holotraverse is most ideal.
Guardian/Juggernaut: Saber Reflect is essential, the ability to trigger an enemies damage reflected back towards them is a must.
SWTOR offers a wide variety of Equipment to aid you in playing Arena PvP, you should always have Warzone Medpacs and Warzone Adrenals in your inventory as they benefit you much more then regular PvE Medpacs and Adrenals inside Arena matches.
You should also make sure you are using the appropriate Kyrprax Purple/Gold quality Stim when playing PvP for your class. Remember that as a DPS you should not need an Accuracy Stim at all.
There are also several Grenade Types available, Toxic, Seismic and Pyro. The best Grenade to stock up on is Seismic as it acts as an AOE stun, knocking over all enemies caught in it’s blast radius for a few seconds.
Another key piece of Equipment is the Life Warden Tactical Kit, which you can use as a one-time extra Medpac in a single round of Arena PvP. The Life Warden has a 10 minute cooldown once used, so make sure to swap back to your regular Tactical Kit as soon as you use it. It is best utilised in 4v4 DPS games if you’re playing a non-healing non-stealth class such as a Marauder or Powertech.
Remember, you want to use ALL defensive measures as sparingly as possible with as much time left inbetween using a different healing or defensive boost. The longer you can draw out using them the better your chances of survival will be when fighting an enemy with higher Health, especially if they have already used their heals and defensives.
Resolve Bar and Stuns
The Resolve Bar is a separate counter seen next to a players Portrait Icon, it fills up with a purple bar the more a player is stunned, sapped or otherwise CC’d. Large CC attacks like your classes 6 second stun fill the bar up a lot, using small slows/stuns like Assassins Low Slash fill it up less. Generally speaking a player can only be hit with 2 Heavy Stuns before their Resolve Bar turns white.
When the Resolve Bar turns White, it will slowly time out until it reaches Zero. While the White Bar is ticking down the Player cannot be stunned, rooted, CC’d or slowed by attacks or utilities.
There are many forms of Stuns, saps, CCs and other disabling abilities in Arenas. Sorcerer/Sage & Assassin/Shadow’s Overload is powerful as it not only throws enemies back but holds them in place for a few seconds. This can make a massive difference when used to throw enemies off an edge or platform as it furthery delays their time to come back.
Likewise the BEST ability to slow down a Force Using class is Mercenary/Commando’s Electro Net. This ability cannot be removed by the Sage/Sorcerer’s Cleanse ability and can only be removed by using the classes Stun Break. In this time classes such as Assassin/Shadow are unable to use Combat Stealth and Sorcerer/Sages cannot use Force Barrier OR Phase Walk, making this ability the ultimate Force User pacifier.
It is also important to make use of the Taunt ability as a DPS player if your class has one, as using Taunt reduces the damage output of the Taunted player if they continue to attack their Target instead of you. It can be a good idea to use this on an enemy player Tunneling your teams Healer or DPS as the lower rate of DPS, even temporarily, could prevent them from dying in that moment. Often times players ignore the fact they were taunted and continue to attack their Target, which you can use to your advantage.
Why Gear doesn’t & does Matter
Does gear matter in PvP Arenas? Well the answer is complicated, the best answer is both Yes and No. There is no Up-Sync for players with below 332 Item Rating Gear at level 80, meaning that if you enter with an item rating of 115, 250 or 320, that’s the stats youll be given. However Item Ratings above 332 have an artificial Down-Sync applied for both Colour and Quality. This means that someone wearing Purple 336 Gear will have their stats inside an Arena temporarily down-synced to that of Purple Thyrsian 332 PvP Gear.
While the Stat Difference between 320 and 330 isn’t that high, and nor is 330 and 340, Item Rating does represent one important factor in Arenas, player perception.
Players with an item rating of below 324 are probably going to either be left until last or killed first, as the stereotype in Arena PvP gives off “easy to kill noob” vibes, as the politest way of putting it. This means that players with below 326 gear have two disadvantages they must face, being typecast as a noob while simultaniously having no Bolster to give them competitive stats to players wearing BiS or Upgraded Gear.
That being said, SKILL has always mattered more in Arena PvP then GEAR, an experienced player in 320 gear can most likely defeat an unskilled player in 336 Gear somewhat easily, likewise an experienced player in 320 gear can most likely outmatch an above average player in 336 Gear playing a Squishy class.
For the average player, or new player entering Arena PvP, you will most likely be entering without the top Thyrsian or Rakata/Hazardous Gear, just remember to keep going and upgrade your gear using the Vendors and Boxes as you can. Eventually you’ll feel a performance difference but still not as much as the Experience and Gameplay Skill that you’ll pick up playing Arenas.
Like PvE, Tanks and Healers have the advantage of entering Arenas without needing accuracy, meaning that they can enter the game mode wearing the same gear they would for PvE. Unfortunately while PvE recommends 110% accuracy, PvP doesn’t. This means that you can play with 100% (aka NO accuracy) or if you wish to juice a little extra performance, some few classes can benefit from 105% Accuracy.
Keep in mind as a DPS you do NOT NEED 105% Accuracy even if it may be helpful. it is just something to consider when playing Arenas. Many players including highly experienced players sometimes prefer 100% Accuracy and placing the rest of their stats in Crit or Alacrity.
100% / No Accuracy Needed
Balance / Madness
Plasmatech / Pyrotech
Scrapper / Concealment
Telekinetics / Lightning
105% Accuracy Helpful
Assault Specialist / Innovative Ordinance
Combat / Carnage
Concentration / Fury
Dirty Fighting / Virulence
Focus / Rage
Gunnery / Arsenal
Infiltration / Deception
Ruffian / Lethality
Saboteur / Engineering
Serenity / Hatred
Sharpshooter / Marksmanship
Tactics / Advanced Prototype
Vigilance / Vengeance
Watchman / Annihilation
In order to best gain 105% Accuracy, with 330, 332, 336 OR 340 Gear, you simply need to equip 2 Pieces of Accuracy Gear OR 2 Accuracy Enhancements of Blue or Purple Quality to meet 105%. If you are using a Legenary Implant that gives Accuracy, you only need to equip ONE piece of Gear/Mod instead of two.
This means you can dedicate ALL other slots and Augments into focusing on Critical and Alacrity. This also means you do not need an Accuracy Stim when playing PvP.
Additionally, to optimize for PvP you should consider using 1 Passive Critical and 1 Passive Mastery Relic as a DPS player.
Lingo & PvP Phrases
There are many phrases and bits of SWTOR Lingo you can learn that are very important when playing Arenas, many of these will be used or referenced throughout this guide.
Target: The enemy player marked with the Crosshair Target Marker, prioritised to be killed first.
Fire: The enemy player marked with the Fire Target Marker, prioritised to be killed second.
Shield: The enemy player marked with the Blue Shield Target Marker, identifying the enemy Tank.
Guardswap: When a Tank swaps who they are Guarding, pay attention to Buffs for the Guard icon.
CC: ‘Crowd Control’, meaning to disable a player by Stunning, Rooting them or knocking them a far distance that disrupts combat.
Stealth CC/Sap: When a Stealth Player uses a Stealth-Exclusive Stun such as Sleep Dart or Mind Trap to stun an out-of-combat player.
Netted: Named after Electro Net, a Commando and Mercenary ability that slows and makes a Target vulnerable to extra Damage.
Bubbled: Named after Force Barrier, a Sorcerer and Sage ability that freezes the player in place making them immune to all Damage.
PW: Named after PhaseWalk, a Sorc/Sage or Sniper/Slinger ability that teleports the player to a Marked Location.
Stun: The act of stunning, rooting, slowing or otherwise impeding another players ability to PvP, see also CC.
Grenade: A helpful PvP utility that acts as an additional Stun but can hit any enemy caught in it’s AOE radius. Very powerful in Arenas.
Whitebarred: When a Player’s Resolve Bar turns white, they cannot be effected by CC effects until the bar turns empty again.
Kiting/Kited: The act of running away to evade death, usually in a manner that involves slipping around the map to avoid Line of Sight.
Global/Globaled: The act of being killed in “a global cooldown” or essentially so fast you couldn’t click an ability before dying.
Tunnel: The act of attacking a single player above all else in the hopes of killing them as fast as possible, usually regardless of safety.
Tank Tunnel: The act of Tunneling an enemy Tank to burn through their defensives quickly, so that they are unable to effectively survive.
Squishy: A class with light armor even if they have good defensives, meaning they can be ganged up on easy, such as Sorcerer or Marauder.
Contributors: Thanks to Swtorista, Swtor Theorycrafters Discord, LordofTransform, Catalithe & Emi’thiss for contributing class knowledge and Screenshots that have been reflected in this guide.
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