Assassin Arena PvP in Update 2.4
Arenas. Whether you love them or hate them, there's a place for ranked PvP in MMOs. SWTOR's not-so-successful 8v8 matches are being replaced (possibly temporarily) by 4v4 games in a new "last team standing" game type. The best of three games wins the match.
You can either solo queue or run with a full 4-man group. There is no in-between, and queues between the two are separate. In solo queue, the matchmaker will try to place you with (and against) similarly ranked players.
If at all possible, both teams will have the same roles. For example, if your group is 3 dps and a healer, the other team will also have 3 dps and a healer. Group queues are not role-matched in this fashion.
Assassin Arena PvP
Currently on PTS, the only changes to Sith Assassins involve a quality of life improvement for Phase Walk. The skill will not go on cooldown if you unsuccessfully teleport. You can also click off the buff and not trigger the teleport. Note: In the build I'm currently playing, Phase Walk is broken entirely - at best it does nothing; at worst it acts like you're stuck in a wall.
With the lack of class balance changes, I'm sure you can make a good guess about how the specs are performing.
Guard is incredibly strong in the 4v4 format, particularly on an Operative - the strongest PvP healer.
You can succeed at being annoying as Darkness and peel off of healers or DPS that get into trouble. That said, Juggernauts appear to be the most viable tanks. I've only played against Juggernaut tanks and they are flat out more sturdy with similar mobility.
In arenas, stealth and controlled burst are our key to taking down an enemy. Deception is probably our strongest 4v4 spec with improved stealth, on-demand burst with Recklessness into Discharge, and a variety of stuns.
Other stealthers are good targets to take out and remove their burst potential. Mind you, with Operative healers in abundance, many teams will have group stealth.
In round 1, it may pay off to hang back until you see what the enemy is doing. So far, teams don't seem to vary strategy much and you can make an educated guess about where to position yourself to Mind Trap and avoid stealth detection in later rounds.
If a defensive cooldown-dependant stealther isn't around, you'll probably be chasing a healer throughout the match. Focus fire on Mercenaries will usually take them out before anyone on your team dies.
Against a Sorcerer, you can force them to Barrier but save your Voltage and Cloak into Recklessness reset for a quick swap when they do. The Sorc will need to break early to heal the DPS swap.
Operatives will roll around kiting you while healing on the run. After stunning them, expect one in return and Shroud to avoid it. Make smart use of Deflection when the enemy swaps to stop your healer harassment.
Sadly, without any changes to the Madness tree, the spec is simply not competitive in arenas. The damage you'll put out before you die doesn't provide enough pressure to be worthwhile. In most cases I was able to toss out one round of DoTs before needing to try and retreat from the beating I took. When Deception can take half a healer's health in that amount of time, you can see how Madness falls short of the mark.
In testing, where rating doesn't even matter, I was ridiculed and had groups leave on me when I was trying out Madness.
I'd love for my favorite spec to be an arena contender, but if I'm completely honest, other games have specs that do or do not work in PvP and their developers leave it that way. I'm not holding my breath on this changing anytime soon.
Given the choice, I'd like to have an Operative healer, Rage Marauder, and a Sniper or Jugg Tank with me. This gives us mobile healing, group stealth, and the AoE I'm lacking. These also happen to be the most prominent advanced classes I've seen in testing.
I've had success alongside another Deception player focusing down a single target as well.
Groups you'll likely run into include:
Op Healer, 2x Sniper, Jugg Tank can stall against melee until you're out of defensive cooldowns.
Operative, 2x Marauders, and just about anything else - AoE burst and stuns, can force you to pile up and eat it on the Orbital Station map's upper level.
Seeing a pattern? It's obvious more class balancing needs done when the same few classes are best at everything in the game. Here's hoping for more frequent class tweaks.