Star Wars: The Old Republic - Lightning Sorcerer Guide (6.2.1)


Every class in Star Wars: The Old Republic, except the Imperial Agent, has a direct analogue character in the movies it is based on. The Sith Inquisitor draws primarily from Darth Sidious/Palpatine, and in no spec is this more apparent than the Lightning Sorcerer. This discipline mirrors the Telekinesis Sage. If shocking your problems is your go-to solution, this is the perfect spec.

Lighting and Madness are the two DPS specs available to Sith Sorcerers, one of the subclasses of the Sith Inquisitor, with Corruption being the healing specialization. While Lightning won't perform as well in area of effect damage as Madness, it is one of the best burst damage DPS specs in the game right now thanks to heavy hitting procced skills like Chain Lighting. Lightning Sorcerers are also surprisingly survivable compared to the other cast-based "glass cannon" classes. Here's how to get the most out of your zap-happy Sith.

Introduction

The Lighting Sorcerer has gone through some changes over the course of SWTOR's history, but has consistently remained the most popular Sorcerer spec. Dedicated players like it for the nearly unrivalled burst damage potential and survivability, while more casual players like it because it's one of the most visually cool classes to play.

If you're not a player particularly hung up on maximum combat effectiveness or decide your character specs based on the current meta, and rather based on fun factor and the rule of cool, Lightning is definitely something that would be up your alley. Don't get us wrong - Lightning is totally viable in both PvP and PvE (though mostly the latter) as of 6.2.1, but it has to be said that this is one of the most fun specs in the game and sports some of the best looking combat animations.

After spending most of your leveling journey as a Sorcerer spamming Force Storm, you might be surprised to hear that AoE damage isn't the strong suit of the Lightning Sorcerer. While Force Storm itself still has a place in endgame play, the Madness spec takes the AoE cake among these three disciplines, with Lightning instead delivering immense quantities of burst damage rivalled by few classes, such as the Carnage Marauder.

This is also one of the more survivable specs among the 'squishy' classes, coming out at the top of the pile in terms of Damage Reduction skills - with the right build, some abilities will jack it up to 84% for a duration of 6 seconds, giving you ample situation to get out of hairy situations, be it in an Operation or a Warzone.

Between survivability, high mobility and the fact that you pretty much don't ever need to worry about your resource pool, Lightning is one of the easier specs out there to play. You'll have to distribute your utilities with care and keep your rotations in mind to proc the right abilities, but this can be a good choice for a less experienced player who still wants to be a formidable ranged DPS. Of course, the Lightning Sorcerer can be a tool of utter destruction in the hands of  a veteran as well.

Gearing

First things first - there is no point in getting what is the best gear for the Lightning Sorcerer spec until you've capped out your Item Rating at 306. That is all that matters before you care about set bonuses and stats. Once you're up there, you can start optimizing your gear for peak performance, which in this case will focus greatly on squeezing as much alacrity out of your build as possible, albeit in a roundabout way.

Items

Gathering Storm set

The reason we're muscling in on alacrity is to reduce your global cooldown as much as possible. Currently, the best builds in SWTOR will squeeze it down to 1.3 seconds under normal circumstances and 1.1 seconds when you activate Polarity Shift, allowing you to trigger your abilities much faster. This build doesn't wring out every last point of alacrity from your gear but bolsters it with Focal Alacrity - diminishing returns would mean that maxed out gear alacrity and Focal Alacrity would give you a 1.3 GCD with 1.2 on Polarity Shift, but if you follow this build you'll still have a 1.3 GCD with 1.1 on Polarity Shift. That 0.1 second difference can be all the world in a close battle.

When it comes to the Set Bonus you're gunning for, the optimal choice is combining 6 pieces of Gathering Storm (yes, despite the nerf) with one piece of Amplified Champion. Amplified Champion will give you an extra Combat Amplifier slot, while six pieces of Gathering Storm will reduce the cooldown of; and increase the duration of Polarity Shift by 5 seconds (down from 10). The 4 piece bonus isn't bad either, buffing damage by 20% whenever you use Force Speed or Polarity Shift. Any combination of slots will get you the 6 piece set bonus, so use whichever slot for your one Amplified Champion piece as you want.

Your relics won't come as much of a surprise, and should be easy enough to roll from the Spoils of War vendor on the fleet. What you need is Sha’Tek Relic of Focused Retribution MK-19 and Sha’Tek Relic of Serendipitous Assault MK-19. There isn't need to switch them out for a second set unlike in the case of some other specs.

Your item modifications will consist of 8 pieces of Superior Versatile Armoring 80 and 1 Superior Versatile Hilt 80 propping up Mastery and Endurance and Superior Lethal Mod 80 in every available slot boosting Power and Mastery. With Enhancements, initially you'll fill things up with unlettered Superior Lethal Enhancement 80 where the highest stat is tertiary followed by power, and once you're at your tertiary threshold switch lanes focusing on Superior Lethal Enhancement 80-R which prioritizes power.

As a Lightning Sorcerer, far and away the best Tactical you can use is Stormwatch. Blowing every other tactical item out of the water to a degree of practically making them unviable for endgame builds, Stormwatch boosts your burst DPS immensely. Essentially, what this does in practice is apply an effect to your target when you use Lightning Flash that, when the same target is subsequently hit by Affliction, Thundering Blast, or Crushing Darkness, slams them with an extra lightning bolt dealing 1764 energy damage.

Compared to the overall DPS increase you'll see when using Stormwatch, the increases provided by the other tacticals pale. That said, it's useful to keep an Elemental Convection (Chain lightning applies AoE effect to Volt Rush; Volt Rush activates Lightning Storm) in your inventory - even though the Lightning Sorcerer is outclassed in AoE damage by Madness, having an AoE tactical can be useful when you're just doing daily heroics with a lot of trash mobs or other low-risk content you'd rather just blaze through. Make sure you remember to switch them out when starting difficult content, though!

Amplifiers

All of your combat amplifier slots - increased by 1 thanks to that piece of Amplified Champion - should be dedicated to Force Sensitivity, since all Lightning Sorcerer damage is Force damage. Whatever you choose to do with the other amplifiers is up to you!

Luckily, thanks to changes to the amplifier system introduced in 6.2.1, rolling for those Force Sensitivity amps will be easier now than it was before, and you can lock them in too.

Utilities

The Lightning Sorcerer occupies a sort of middle ground when it comes to Utility flexibility. While there are some Utilities that are totally pointless, there is no single rigid "best" allotment either, giving you some wiggle room to tailor the selection to your playstyle. We'll offer a recommended Utility build below that works well in most situations as a jumping off point - you can stick to it, or adjust it to your taste without having to worry about messing things up too much!

Lightning Sorcerer Utilities
  • Skillful: Sith Defiance, Empty Body, Corrupted Flesh
  • Masterful: Suppression, Surging Speed, Lightning Barrier
  • Heroic: Shapeless Spirit, Force Mobility, Unnatural Vigor

This is where the Lightning Sorcerer's outstanding survivability comes into play, with several of these utilities serving to increase both your passive and active damage reduction. There is also a Force Speed cooldown reducer in there, which is a key element of this build that relies on the Gathering Storm set bonus.

Much like in the case of Tacticals, when you are doing low-risk world content it might be worth switching one slot in the Skillful tier out for Tempest Masters - this boosts the damage of Force Storm by 25%. Since, again, Lightning isn't a good AoE spec, this isn't something you should pick for endgame content but it can help you tidy up the trash when running dailies.

Rotations

The Lightning Sorcerer has a fairly complex opener as far as rotations go, with an easier single-target main rotation and no finisher, since no relevant abilities only become available after the target hits 30% health or less. You'll be juggling attacks with some buffs to keep that GCD as consistently low as possible allowing you to release an unending barrage of attacks in quick succession.

Opener

While some lucky classes (looking at you, Vigilance Guardian) have a simple opener possibly even consisting of just 2 abilities, the Lightning Sorcerer goes through a pretty long ritual before switching to the main rotation. You should probably write this down on a post-it and stick it to the bezel of your screen during the learning period.

  1. Chain Lightning
  2. Polarity Shift
  3. Lightning Flash
  4. Affliction
  5. Recklessness
  6. Unlimited Power
  7. Force Speed
  8. Adrenal
  9. Thundering Blast
  10. Crushing Darkness
  11. Shock
  12. Chain Lightning
  13. Lightning Bolt
  14. Lightning Bolt
  15. Lightning Bolt
  16. Thundering Blast
  17. Lightning Flash
  18. Chain Lightning
  19. Lightning Bolt
  20. Lightning Bolt
  21. Crushing Darkness
  22. Shock
  23. Force Speed
  24. Thundering Blast
  25. Switch to Main

Notes: When applicable (e.g. Operation bosses) you should pre-cast your first Chain Lightning, since at this point it definitely won't be procced. The pair of Lightning Bolts at position 19 and 20 are fillers since usually nothing else will be off cooldown at this point, but if yes, use something else.

Main

This one is much easier to remember, and you'll quickly get into the muscle-memory repetition. The glowing borders of procced abilities help, too.

Force Speed - Used nearly on cooldown to buff major abilities such as Thundering Blast, Lightning Flash or Chain Lightning, can delay 1-2 GCDs to avoid using the buff on Lightning Bolt

Polarity Shift - With the Gathering Storm set bonus, this ability has significantly higher uptime and grants a 20% damage buff for its duration in addition to its significant alacrity buff. This should be utilized strictly on cooldown.

  1. Affliction
  2. Thundering Blast
  3. Lightning Flash
  4. Crushing Darkness
  5. Shock
  6. Chain Lightning
  7. Lightning Bolt
  8. Repeat

By following this guide, you'll be electrifying all the galaxy to your evil heart's content in no time!

Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. When not writing or playing, you can find Aron on Facebook.