Via Bioware from the SWTOR Official Forums:
Here are your top 3 issues and the answers provided by the combat team. I want to thank all of you, especially KBN for the work you put in to get these issues gathered. Hopefully helps in addressing some of your concerns.
I will try to keep an eye on the thread and pass along to the combat guys anything that requires followup. All skills are referenced as Sentinel/Marauder skill names for easier readability for everyone!
Question #1 (PvP):
Watchman/Annihilation currently suffers from a very long ramp-up time and is severely punished for any downtime due to the Merciless/Annihilate stacking buff. This ramp-up makes the spec nearly unconscionable in competitive PvP, and the downtime penalties cause severe issues in both PvP and certain PvE encounters (such as Titan 6 or Dread Guard). Would it be possible to improve the ramp-up and downtime penalties in this area? Perhaps by talenting Valorous Call/Frenzy to build Merciless/Annihilate stacks. Another idea would be to decrement Merciless/Annihilate stacks upon expiry rather than removing them entirely.
The stacking Annihilator/Merciless buff and the stacking buff from Juyo Form are both too short at their current 15 second durations. We will increase the duration of these buffs to give Marauders/Sentinels more time to get back into action before needing to start back up on their long entry ramp. As for a faster way to ramp up, we plan to give you something to help in this regard, but it will not be coming anytime soon. We may also experiment with decrementing the stacks on expiration, rather than removing all of them at once, but we cannot make any promises at this time that you will ever see it decrement stacks in the Live game.
Question #2 (PvE):
While Focus/Rage has excellent AoE DPS and on-demand burst, it falls significantly behind in terms of single-target DPS. In fact, dummy parses in the hands of skilled and geared players show a roughly 9% disparity between Focus/Rage and the other two specs on a single-target fight. This represents an unacceptable liability for most serious progression groups, as the majority of DPS pressure in current content comes in the form of hard enrage timers in single-target encounters. Despite this, the community is concerned that an increase to single-target DPS might make Focus/Rage the “go to” spec for sentinels/marauders. What are the design goals for Focus/Rage in PvE? Is the spec currently meeting those goals? If low single-target DPS is indeed the balancing factor for this spec, how is this justified with the current PvE design focus on single-target bosses?
If Rage/Focus had the best burst damage, the best AoE damage, and the best sustained damage; then there would be very little to no incentive for a Marauder/Sentinel to ever spec anything else. Rage/Focus is the top burst spec for a Marauder/Sentinel, and that is by design. Right now, it is also the top AoE damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels (by design) – but that is something we would like to get away from in the future. Ideally, any damage spec should be able to deal formidable AoE damage when necessary (and should prefer to leave most AoE attacks out of their rotation in a single-target fight). It will take some time to right this ship, as it has already sailed and must come back to port for repairs (so don’t expect Annihilation/Watchman and Carnage/Combat to be pumping out massive AoE DPS or for Rage/Focus to get a huge AoE DPS nerf next patch).
Annihilation/Watchman is intended to be the top sustained damage spec for Marauders/Sentinels, while Carnage/Combat is meant to be better sustained damage than Rage/Focus (but worse than Annihilation/Watchman) and better burst damage than Annihilation/Watchman (but worse than Rage/Focus). As a result, the top damage over an extended period should go to Annihilation/Watchman. The top damage in a short fight should go to Rage/Focus. Carnage/Combat should hold its own in both situations, while not being the best at either – think of its strength as versatility.
Right now, the goal for Rage/Focus in PvE is to be good burst damage and good AoE damage, and it already does very well in these respects. In the future, when the other specs have improved ways to do AoE damage, then you can expect the sustained damage gap between Rage/Focus and Carnage/Combat to shrink a little bit. In summary, yes we know that Rage/Focus is the worst Marauder spec for single-target sustained damage because that is exactly how we designed it. Unfortunately, because target dummies never drop in health you cannot use them as a 1:1 replacement for Operation boss encounters. Only certain specs (Rage/Focus is not one of them, but Carnage/Combat is) can use execute abilities on a target dummy. It is also unlikely that you are testing on a target dummy with your own personal armor-debuffer (which you should definitely have against a real raid boss). So that 9% gap you may be seeing on target dummies is closer to approximately 4% in reality.
Question #3 (Wildcard):
Centering/Fury does not build for the duration of Zen/Berserk, Inspiration/Bloodthirst or Transcendence/Predation. This is a somewhat odd design decision since sentinels/marauders are penalized significantly when these raid buffs are used. This is a noticeable DPS loss for Watchman/Annihilation and Combat/Carnage, but it is absolutely devastating for Focus/Rage as their rotation is actually dependent on consistently building Centering/Fury (due to the Singularity/Shockwave mechanic). As such, most Focus/Rage sentinels/marauders actually click off the Inspiration/Bloodthirst buff when another sentinel/marauder provides it. No other DPS class is handicapped in this fashion. What is the design rationale for suppressing Centering/Fury build up during these buffs? Could this restriction be removed (especially when *another* sentinel/marauder has supplied the raid buff)?
We agree that it seems an odd design decision was made here. While Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence are active, we see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to build Fury/Centering stacks. However, being allowed to build Fury/Centering during Berserk/Zen would be a substantial damage increase that would only serve to widen the gap between Marauders/Sentinels and the rest of the pack that they are already leading. We may change it in the future, but for now Berserk/Zen will continue to block Fury/Centering generation while we will make changes to allow the building of Fury/Centering during Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence.