Operation guidelines

To be able to participate in the guild's Operations runs you will need four basic things: the gear, the skill, the tactical knowledge, and some basic social skills. So, let me cover those one by one.

1 Gear
2 Skill
3 Tactics
4 Social Skills

1. Gear.

Getting your gear to be Ops-ready is really easy now, after the introduction of the Looking-For-Group (LFG) tool in patch 1.3. But let’s start from scratch: what should a fresh level 50 character do?

Where to get the gear?

Step 1: daily quests - all the fresh level 50 should start with that. Daily quests yield not only money, but they also get you Daily Commendations, a currency with which you can buy Rakata (grade 25) implants and earpieces, and Campaign (grade 26) relics. Additionally, for some small amounts of these you can buy Tionese (grade 23) armorings and Tionese barrel  or hilt for your main weapon. Granted, the Tionese gear will probably get obsolete soon (when you start doing Hard Mode Flashpoints and story-mode Operations), but these will really help at the beginning. Also, when it comes to dailies - some of the Heroic daily quests yield armorings/mods/enhancements directly. These are artifact quality only (grade 22), but still they're much better than what an average fresh lvl 50 brings from the leveling.

Step 2: GTN hunting - since you'll get some cash from daily quests, it is good to check the Galactic Trade Network auction booths and upgrade your gear this way. You can find some nice and cheap artifact-grade lvl 50 armors, and also the modifications for your gear. While there are usually tones of Rakata/Campaign (grade 25/26) item modifications on the GTN they're pretty expensive for a fresh level 50 character; luckily you can also find grade 22/23 ones that are pretty cheap. Buying those to upgrade your gear will make the next step(s) easier. Also, you can buy crafted Columi (grade 24) or even Rakata (grade 25) implants and earpieces.

Step 3: Hard Mode Flashpoints and Eternity Vault/Karaga's Palace Story Mode - these will be your main source of the gear upgrades for some time. Use and abuse the LFG tool as much as you can to get your full Columi Set, and other Columi grade pieces. The best source of these are probably the story-mode Operations, but you can do them only once per week. The rest of the gear you will get by grinding endless hard-mode flashpoints, which have imroved loot tables now. Also, don't forget to take the daily/weekly flashpoint quests, prior to embarking to a flashpoint run - these are great source of Columi commendations, and you'll need those to buy the set pieces that did not drop for you.

Using the LFG tool to run also yields 5 Black Hole commendations per day, and with those you can buy some of the best available gear in the game. Black Hole gear does not have set bonuses, but it can be stripped of modifications which you can then put into your Columi/Tionese gear and the Black Hole offhands, earpieces and implants are also usually the best.

When you gather a full Columi set, with at least Rakata grade implants and earpiece - you're ready to start facing more difficult challenges - namely Hard and Nightmare modes in Eternity Vault and Karaga's Palace, and Explosive Conflict (aka. Denova) story-mode. That's when you should turn your attention to the Guild Ops-Runs.

Step 4: Augmenting your gear - when you get the gear of your choice from the hard-mode flashpoints and story-mode operations - it's the best moment to start augmenting it. You can now augment every piece, and while those 18 points in your main stat in every piece does not sound like much, when you augment all 14 pieces - it really starts to make a difference. And frankly - if you want to run the more difficult operations to get better gear, and yet you're neglecting the advantage the augments give you - you will not be treated seriously by the other members of the operations group. Granted, the augmentation kits and the augments themselves are quite costly, and it will probably take a while to augment all your gear; we will never require you to be fully augmented to join for our Ops. But not doing it at all is considered foolish and negligent.

Why you'd want the gear drops from the Operations if you don't care about improving the gear you already have by other means? Improvement by getting a few lucky drops is of course much easier than improvement by investing your time and resources to get your gear augmented, but guess what - such approach won't get you the place in the Ops group. If you're not trying to improve your performance by using all available means you're only showing disrespect to other members of the group. We don't want to "carry" negligent players through the operations. If you want a place in the Ops - show that you care, and that you want to give your best to the team. Spending time to get money to be able to augment your gear, or at least spending some time to craft the augments yourself if you can - it's a way of showing others that you care, that you want to contribute as much as you possibly can - and that is always highly valued in the group.

Remark: PvP gear - generally it is not acceptable while doing the EV/KP hard and nightmare modes, nor any Explosive Conflict operations. Even the best PvP armor (War hero, level 61) is at best comparable with the Columi PvE gear, and even then you will lose a lot of your main stat, usually 20-30 points. And don't think that it’s "only 20 points",  but that it is 20 percent of what your gear gives you. Meaning - in full PvP gear your performance will be at least 10-20% worse than in PvE gear. And that could mean problems with beating the boss-enrage timers on some more difficult fights. So, if you want to do Operations in our guild - farm PvE gear, even if it's lower level. We will probably accept if someone has a few spare PvP pieces supplementing his gear, just because he was unlucky with flashpoint/operations drops, but that will only be for the easier Ops runs (EV/KP hard/nightmare, maybe Denova story); to tackle the hardest fights available in Explosive Conflict hard-mode you will be required to have PvE gear only.

There is however one exception to this rule: PvP relics. After the relic changes in patch 1.3, PvP relics are far superior to the PvE relics. For most of the advanced classes and builds, even the Champion relics (available at your PvP vendor for only 11k credits) are better than the PvE Campaign grade ones. So use them as the fastest and cheapest way to upgrade your overall performance!

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2. Skill

Not everyone is suited to do Operations. Do you have what it takes to collaborate with 7 or 15 other people to achieve a common goal - beating the boss? Do you know how to play your character, which skills to use and when? Your character won't play itself even in the best gear available. Do you have that something, that will make your character to fulfil its full potential? DO YOU HAVE SKILL?

"Skill" is the magic word everyone uses, but no one really understands. Either you have it, or you don't (but don't worry, skill can be trained). What really is that "skill", when it comes to the MMO games, like SWTOR? When you ask people you'll get various answers from different people. Some time ago I found a definition that I really like, one that summarizes almost all properties of a skilled player (from Kampret at MMO-Champion forums, some 2 years ago):

Skill is:
  • Being able to adapt to changing extremes quickly
  • Being able to prioritise actions accurately
  • Being able to manage resources available efficiently in time-constrained environment
  • Being able to predict incoming disastrous events, and react to it well
  • Good hand, eye, and brain coordination
  • Applying sound logic to actions
  • Able to do all of those things above on a subconscious level

How to improve your skill? basically - there are a few ways. The Internet is full of useful guides about every class/spec in the game, take some time to read them. Those guides often will tell you what stats you should be looking for in your gear, but also - what skills and in what order you should use to maximise your performance. Players often use term "rotation" to describe this sequence of skills that should be used, however in most specs there is no set rotation of skills, and more of a "priority list". So make sure you know what you should do.

Of course theory without practice will be useless. So practice, practice and practice! The best way is to do it in the easier operations or flash points. If you are a damage dealer you could also try to practice your rotation using Target Dummies (on your ship or on the fleet) - but remember that hitting a stationary target may have very little in common with attacking the real "living" boss - there is only a handful of fights (and almost exclusively in flashopints) where you'll be standing in place and doing your rotation. Fights in Operations will often require you to move to follow the boss or avoid damage - and only practice can teach you what to do in such situations to keep your performance at the maximal possible level.

And only through practice you may achieve the last point in the "Skill definition" cited above: "able to do all of those things on a subconscious level". If you're often catching yourself thinking about what skill to use next - you're not skilled yet. And that means you need more practice!

Also, a part of the skill is understanding how the boss fights in the operations work. You may be the best in the world when it comes to dealing damage, but still an entire team may die because of you! This is because dealing damage to the boss(es) is only a part of the encounter. The other part is SURVIVAL. And never ever think "there are healers in the ops, they will heal me". Well, they  may, but a few things may happen:

  • healer heals you but at the same time the tank receives massive damage, tank dies, everyone dies, it's a wipe.
  • healer heals you, draining his resources, soon he's out of  energy/force/ammo, soon the tank dies, everyone dies, a wipe.
  • healer does not heal you because he's busy with keeping the tank alive, you get some more damage, you die, with one damage dealer dead killing the boss takes much longer, boss enrages,  everyone dies: a wipe.

SURVIVALand minimalization of the incoming damage should be everyone's highest priority. Every class has some defensive skills - use them and use them at the right moment! And if you're required to move to avoid incoming damage - then move! "I will not move because it will lower my dee-pee-es" is probably the most stupid thing every ops/raid leader heard in his life over and over again. And I assure you - the people that said that do not usually get a place in the next ops (provided that they're not kicked right away in the first place!), unless they changed their priorities. And the reason is pretty simple - dead damage dealer does no damage at all! You should use your skills/placement to minimise damage received at all times, even if it means temporary stopping your other actions. You should make sure that healing you does not put so much strain on your healers resources. If you'll loose some "dps" because you have to worry about your survival - that's usually a problem only if you reach boss enrage timer. Until you reach that point however, you should always prioritise SURVIVAL AND THE INCOMING DAMAGE REDUCTION over your damage dealing.

A few useful tips for various character roles in the ops:

Tanks: use your defensive skills preemptively when possible. Hitting a very strong defensive cooldown after receiving damage is usually pointless - use those skills predicting the incoming damage. And keep your healers well informed - tell them you used your skills, and tell them when they're over - so they may come back to healing you more actively if necessary.

Healers: the most usual mistake done by inexperienced healers is to not heal themselves. Watch your own hit points as close as you're watching the tank's! If you die - it's a wipe in 90% of cases. Just like the damage dealers - try to avoid/reduce the damage incoming to you. Move if necessary (aka. "don't stand in the fire", or in case of SWTOR - red/purple/yellow circles on the ground). Let your tank know that you need to move, or heal the rest of the team, so he can use his skills to compensate the temporary lack of healing.

Damage dealers: make sure you know when to use your dps cooldowns. Nothing worse than using your big nuke buff, when you have to move and disengage the boss in just a few seconds. Also, I can't stress it enough: avoid the incoming damage. If you die it is in 99.9% of cases your own fault. Don't blame the healers. Use every means necessary to reduce/avoid damage, even if it means lowering your damage output (you can start to worry about that only of the boss enrages due to insufficient damage).

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3. Tactics

Boss tactics. Every member of the group should know them beforehand, so read up, watch some videos from the fights you're going to tackle during the ops. It really makes things easier for everyone. Some of the fights are relatively complicated, and explaining them to someone that didn't care to look up the tactics before the ops can take a long time. For the people that did their homework, or those that know the fights from first hand experience already - that time used for explanations necessary for the negligent and lazy individual, is considered a time wasted. So please - value other people's time!

Tactical briefing before the boss fight should only cover individual role assignments. So, make sure to actually listen to the Ops Leader to know what is your role in the tactics, and what are your special tasks. There is nothing worse than wiping because of one player that didn't know that he had to so something, just because he wasn't listening.

Fulfilling your role is of course the most important thing. Ops team is a bit like a military: you have your orders, you need to do as you're told. If you have questions, or doubts about the tactics - voice them beforehand, during the tactical briefing. Doing that during a fight is not a good idea. As well, as usually it's not a good idea to try to be too creative, especially if you don't know the fight very well. So, just like in the military - fulfil your orders, use your skills for the best performance; and if the fight doesn't go well - voice your questions and ideas after the wipe. There is nothing worse than to start arguing during the fight, as it draws people's attention away from the fight, and may cause a disaster due to oversight.

As to your performance during the fight, provided that you're fulfilling your assigned role - it comes with experience. Since you supposedly know the tactics, and the basic flow of the fight - you can probably predict what will be happening: when to expect the biggest incoming damage to be able to use your defences preemptively (using them after getting the damage is usually pointless), when to use your offensive cooldowns to burn/nuke the boss (as in longer phases of fights when the boss remains stationary and there is no immediate danger), or how to manage your resources (especially important for healers). You may be able to find some tips (in the Internet guides) for your class for every boss fight to help you with that, but the best source of knowledge is getting first-hand experience. So don't worry if you feel that you're under performing while doing the fight for the first time, you will get better with time.

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4. Social skills.

I won't be talking here about the most obvious stuff, like being polite, nice, helpful and friendly etc., since in our guild we value those values probably more that anything else anyway. But there are some not so obvious things you have to remember when trying to join the Operations group, things that consider other members of the group on a regular basis:

Be punctual: Ops times are set beforehand, and you'll be informed about the date and time either through a post in the forums, or individually, within the game. Do everything you can to be on time. If you don't - you may lose your spot in the Ops for that day, but that's probably not the worst scenario. The worst one is that there may be no ops at all until you arrive, and yet the other people will be waiting for you to show up. And never think like "it is only 15 minutes". It is for you, but there may be seven other people waiting for you. And seven times 15 minutes is one hour 45 minutes altogether! That's how much time other people will waste waiting for you! So, be mindful, VALUE OTHER PEOPLE'S TIME more than you value your own.

Be informative: if you know that you won't be able to attend the ops, or that you're going to be late a bit - inform your Ops leader as soon as you can, using any possible means: the forums, personally in-game, or by using in-game mail if you can. And the sooner the better, since it'll be easier to find a replacement, or inform other members of the group about the delay or change of ops-time. Really, informing everyone that you won't be coming just 5 minutes prior to the scheduled ops-time is probably not the best option - so if you know in advance that you may have trouble attending, inform others about it. Granted, of course, there might be some really unexpected and sudden cases, when you'll be forced to a change of plans at the very last minute, and no one will hold a grudge against you. Just remember, that if it will be happening too often, you will not be seen as a reliable member of the group, and you won't be treated as such. Ops/raid leaders and ops groups in general will always look for reliable people, the ones that you can always count on, and such people will have easier time getting into the ops, regardless of skill/gear. And that is because usually fixing the gear issues and training a skill is much easier than fixing someone's unreliability issues.

Also, it may happen that you can attend the ops, and you will be on time, but your gameplay time is limited. When we meet for ops, remember to reserve at least 3-4 hours of your life for the ops. If you can't, and you know that you'll have to log out of the game at a certain time - inform the Ops leader about it beforehand, so he can make a decision if to even take you for ops, or find a replacement for you when you will have to go, or to cut the Ops short this one time. Leaving the ops unexpectedly is not the best option, as it will force the ops leader to look for replacement all of a sudden. This is always an uncomfortable situation for the leader, and such things always take time, and other ops-members are waiting. So again: VALUE OTHER PEOPLE'S TIME Inform beforehand, so the whole ops-replacement may be conducted swiftly and smoothly.

And again, unexpected things may happen, that force you to just abandon the game and log out - we all have our lives and know that a sudden family visit or a phone call from boss may ruin everything. Just keep in mind, that if it keeps happening too often you will be seen as unreliable by other group members, and as a source of trouble by the Ops leader - and no one likes trouble; you may easily lose your place in the next Ops to someone that is considered to be more reliable.

Be consistent: this includes no unexplained/unexpected AFK's. If you got your place in the Ops it is expected that you'll be available for the entire duration of the ops. No 30-minute "dinner breaks", no going to a shop because beer/snacks run out. Multiply every minute you spent Away From Keyboard by seven, to see how much of the other group-members time you will waste. Make any necessary breaks as short as you can. If you need a longer break at some point - inform others, especially your Ops leader so he can plan accordingly. We're usually making at least one longer break in the ops, especially the longer ones - so try to adjust your needs to that. VALUE OTHER PEOPLE'S TIME!

Don't be greedy: in our guild we're doing Operations not for some nice loots, but to have fun, spent some nice time in the game, tackle difficult challenges together. Yet - there are loot drops from bosses, and when there are some spoils to share - trouble may arise. Don't be a "loot whore", don't need everything that drops, just because your class may use it. Make sure you really need it, as in: it will be a significant upgrade for you, not just a few points in a secondary stat. Be mindful of others - they are there for fun, but getting a piece of loot here and there is always nice, and moreover - NOT getting any loot for a long time is really bad thing for morale. Be especially mindful if you're a new one in the group - there may be people with  you that killed certain boss several times already, and just now basically carried you through the boss kill, but did not get their dream loot just because it did not drop before. Would you really want to snatch that item for yourself from before their very eyes? If that's the case - then just turn around, walk away, nice to be knowing you; there is no place for such people in our Ops.

Be sincere: and that does not only mean "always tell the truth". Be sincere to yourself and the others. If you're having connection problems, lag, or freezes during the Ops - inform others. If the situation is really bad -  you may be a liability for the entire group, and you may unintentionally cause trouble or even a wipe. It is better to resign than try to play at all costs, even if it means losing your chance for loot. No one enjoys wiping due to the same person over and over again. Also, if you don't understand some elements of tactics, or your role in it - say that beforehand. It is always better to spend a minute or two for additional explanation, than waste five or ten minutes for an unnecessary wipe.

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Nano is a Star Wars: The Old Republic guild on the server Tomb of Freedon Nadd. We're a friendly bunch of people, who focus on having a lot of fun while playing.
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