SWTOR Gunnery and Assault Specialist Commando DPS class guide

A guide to SWTOR Commando Gunnery and Assault Specialist DPS specs for PvE. Written and edited by Invinc and Vindrik of Harbinger.

Guide is partially updated for Patch 2.7. Parse Analysis is from pre 2.7 and will be updated shortly.

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Overview

The Commando is the only ranged dps class that uses heavy armor, which greatly reduces their damage taken. This makes them a little bit more durable than most other classes, and they are a really easy class to play well. They are also one of the 3 dps classes that have access to healing abilities, as well as the only dps class that has access to a small AoE heal. Finally, the Commando can battle rez, which gives them extra utility in tight situations. As a Commando, you have access to two dps specs:

  1. Gunnery is the most common spec, but currently not the highest damage. It is a good team support spec due to the armor reduction applied by your regular rotation
  2. Assault Specialist is a spec that greatly depends on dot uptime and good resource management. It is capable of higher damage output.

Offensive Cooldowns:

  1. Reserve Powercell: Makes your next ability cost no Heat. Assault Specialist talents reduce the cooldown.
  2. Tech Override: Causes your next ability with a cast timer to activate instantly. Gunnery spec has 2 charges when Tech Override is activated.

Defensive Cooldowns:

  1. Adrenaline Rush: Gives you a buff for 1 minute, whereby if you fall under 35% HP, a fast-ticking self heal will trigger that will consistently heal you back up to a maximum of 35% HP for a few seconds.
  2. Reactive Shield: Significantly increase your base damage reduction for a short while.

Tricks of the Trade:

  1. Emergency Medical Probe: Battle rez
  2. Kolto Bomb: The only AoE heal available to a dps class
  3. Advanced Medical Probe & Medical Probe: Heals available if needed
  4. Concussion Charge: AoE knockback
  5. Hold the Line: Increases movement speed and gives immunity to knockbacks, snares and physics effects for a few seconds
  6. Recharge Cells: Instant Cell regeneration

Gunnery

Gunnery (6:/36/4): http://swtor.askmrrobot.com/skills/commando#1000302-1320231112210210232322-13

swtor-gunnery-commando-dps-class-guide-build

Note: Decoy, Soldier’s Endurance and Quick Thinking talents are useful utility skills depending on the style of fight you are engaging, and whether your group requires increased survivability rather than greater dps. The point in Weapon Calibrations can also be used as a second point in First Responder.

1.1 Rates (1-10):


  • Single Target Dps: 6
  • AoE Damage: 7
  • Group Utility: 8
  • Rotation Difficulty: 3
  • RNG Dependant: No
  • Burst: 3
  • Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: No

1.2 Gearing & Stats Priority:


  • *Must Have** Accuracy: 110% Tech & 100% ranged (1% from companion + 3% from talent = 6% required from gear)
  • **Must Have** 0 Alacrity
  • 68-74% Surge
  • 60-240 Critical Rating
  • All other secondary stats in Power
  • **Must Have** Augments: Aim (Reflex)
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
  • Alternate Relic: Boundless Ages
  • Set Bonus: 4 piece Eliminator’s
  • Armor Piercing Cell

1.3 Gearing Overview:


  • Reaching the Accuracy cap should be your highest priority
  • The dps bonus given by Alacrity rating is low enough that, even with the high amount of diminishing returns it will suffer, Surge rating will always be better
  • The difference in overall dps between 0 Critical rating and 250 Critical rating is minimal, so having a little bit is not an issue, though stacking it is never a good idea due to high diminishing returns
  • Choice of relics should be made on a fight-to-fight basis. Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution will give you a greater overall damage increase, while Boundless Ages will allow you to focus your burst into a short window for fights with tight burn phases
  • Getting your set bonus as quickly as possible is highly recommended. It will increase your dps substantially enough that having lower item level armorings with the set bonus is still a better option than higher item level armorings without it

1.4 Ability Explanation:


  • Full Auto is your hardest hitting ability and most reliable source of dps. It is a channeled 3 second cast (reduced by Alacrity), that should be used as often as possible. Full Auto is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Steadied Aim: Reduces pushback by 100%
    2. Deadly Cannon: Increases critical damage dealt by 30%
    3. Rotary Cannon: Increase damage dealt by 33%
    4. Curtain of Fire: Grav Round and Charged Bolts finish the CD of Full Auto and increase its damage by 25%, no more than every 8 seconds
    5. Target Lock: Increases armor penetration by 30% 
  • Demolition Round is the final ability in your talent tree, with an average Cell cost, instant cast and heavy damage output, it should be used on CD whenever available. Its damage is increased by 25% if the target is affected by your Gravity Vortex from Grav Round, and should never be used without this debuff active. Demolition Round is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Havoc Rounds: Increases the damage dealt by 6%
    2. Deadly Cannon: Increases critical damage dealt by 30%
    3. Charged Launcher: Increases damage dealt by 6%
  • Electro Net is an extremely cheap, high damage ability with a long CD. It is only usable a few times per fight, but should be used as often as possible. It is only affected by one talent:
    1. Charged Launcher: Increases damage dealt by 6%
  • High Impact Bolt is your filler ability. You will often have plenty of room to use this ability since there aren’t many more abilities to use when most of them are on CD, however you should always try to use it only with 5 stacks of Charged Barrel. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Charged Barrel / Gravity Surge: Each cast of Grav Round grants 2 stacks of Charged Barrel, increasing High Impact Bolt’s damage done by 6% per stack, up to a maximum of 5
    2. Charged Launcher: Increases damage dealt by 6%
    3. Target Lock: High Impact Bolt ignores 30% of the target’s armor.
  • Plasma Grenade is a hard hitting ability, with both AoE and dot components, but it has a high cost and should generally only be used with Reserve Powercell, and if it is available Tech Override as well.
  • Grav Round is your all-around filler ability, as it provides the basis for your rotation. It grants an armor reduction debuff, procs Curtain of Fire for Full Auto, Charged Barrel for High Impact Bolt, and Gravity Vortex for Demolition Round. You should never be using Grav Round as a higher priority than any of these abilities. It is affected by the following talents:
    1. Havoc Rounds: Increases the damage dealt by 6%
    2. Curtain of Fire: Finishes the CD of Full Auto and increases its damage by 25%, cannot occur more than every 8 seconds
    3. Charged Barrier: Reduces damage taken by 1% per stack, stacks up to 5 times
    4. Charged Barrel / Gravity Surge: Each cast of Grav Round grants 2 stacks of Charged Barrel, increasing High Impact Bolt’s damage done by 6% per stack, up to a maximum of 5
    5. Steadied Aim: Reduces pushback by 100%

1.5 Ability Nomenclature and Rotation Priority:


  1. Full Auto: FA
  2. Demolition Round: DR
  3. Electro Net: EN
  4. High Impact Bolt (5 stacks): HIB
  5. Plasma Grenade (With Reserver Powercell & Tech Override): PG
  6. Grav Round: GR
  7. Hammer Shot

Cooldowns:

  1. Reserve Powercell: RP
  2. Tech Override: TO
  3. Recharge Cells: RC

1.6 Opening Rotation:


When opening your rotation, you really have two options depending if you’re feeling lucky or not. The first is starting with Full Auto + Grav Round + Full Auto (proc), even if the first Full Auto is not buffed, the damage is higher than other abilities and just like the Assault Specialist opener, it’s a way to get as many Full Autos as possible. There is the also a standard opener with just Grav Round + Full Auto.

1. Relic/Adrenal FA + GR + FA + DR + EN + TO / RP / PG + GR + HIB + FA (proc) + Proceed to overheat yourself with the rotation + RC

swtor-gunnery-commando-dps-opening-rotation-1

2. Relic/Adrenal GR + FA + DR + EN + TO / RP / PG + GR + HIB + FA (proc) + Proceed to overheat yourself with the rotation + RC

swtor-gunnery-commando-dps-opening-rotation-2

1.7 Rotation Strategy:


The whole idea of the Gunnery spec is to get as many Full Autos as possible due to its high damage output when buffed. Full Auto always gets priority over everything when it procs, Demolition Round and Electro Net should be used on cooldown as much as possible, and High Impact Bolt should only be used once it reaches 5 stacks and your more powerful abilities are on cooldown. Plasma Grenade can be used during Reserve Powercell to maximise on the free of cost of what would otherwise be a very expensive, but powerful dot.

15 second rotation (10 GCDs, no opener).

FA + GR + FA + DR + GR + EN + HIB + FA + GR

swtor-gunnery-commando-dps-class-guide-rotation

1.8 AoE Rotation Priority:


  1. Mortar Volley
  2. Plasma Grenade
  3. Hail of Bolts
  4. Sticky Grenade

1.9 Sample Parse Analysis: (Need an update for patch 2.7)


swtor-gunnery-commando-dps-guide-parse-breakdown

Note that this is a Mercenary mirror parse modified with Commando ability names. There will be some minor differences but the general idea is the same. If you have a Commando Gunnery parse to share, please write in the comments below.

  • Full Auto will deal the most dps and overall damage, being your most important ability, and any top tier parse will always have Full Auto as the top ability
  • Grav Round should always be your second highest damage dealing ability. This isn’t thanks to its damage, but is instead thanks to how often it’s used throughout the rotation considering it doesn’t have a CD
  • Demolition Round is a heavy hitting ability but has a long CD, so it should be your third highest damaging ability
  • High Impact Bolt should be your fourth highest damaging ability, also due to its long intervals between use but high damage output per use.

A total of roughly 60% of your damage done should be accounted for by Full Auto and Grav Round in a proper Gunnery rotation, while a further 25% should be due to Demolition Round and High Impact Bolt. The remaining 15% or so of your damage is spread between multiple abilities depending on your style, the fight, and how the rotation goes. Electro Net should be used on CD so its damage should be stable, while Plasma Grenade is only used with Reserve Powercell, so just like Electro Net, its damage should be stable in most parse comparisons. The rest of the damage should be spread between Hammer Shot and Mortar Volley, if you use it.

Keep in mind that these numbers are all relative to each fight. These numbers are taken from a dummy parse on how an ideal boss fight would go. On heavy RNG specs things can change, as Full Auto can deal way more more or less dmg depending on this. Comparing ability percentages from top damage parses is a great way to know if you are doing your rotation efficiently, and knowing where each ability should be at is your first step to doing ideal dps for your gear, as these percentages are comparable between gear levels.

1.10 Tips And Tricks:


  • In theory, each Full Auto proc should happen roughly every 6 GCDs (9 seconds), however, with Alacrity buffs, you can bring this closer to its 8 second internal cooldown.
  • Recharge Cells, just like other rapid resource gain abilities like Cool Head, can be a little confusing as to how it functions due to the ability text. A 50 Cell regeneration plus a GCD’s worth of recovery means you are essentially regenerating 55-60 Cells. Considering the fact that anywhere between 5-100 Cells is the ‘comfort’ zone for dps, this means Recharge Cells should always be used at around 25-35 Cells to exploit its full potential. Keep in mind, however, that Gunnery should be specced into a buffed Recharge Cells, so in this spec you basically want to have around 10 Cells and it will drop you down to over 80 without a problem.
  • Recharge Cells is one of the most useful and under-used CD’s. Like any other cooldown, you should be using it as much as possible in a boss fight to maximise your damage output. Also considering the opening burst rotation with relics, adrenals, Inspiration, and your other offensive cooldowns, it helps you get back to balanced Cells after taking the most advantage possible from the damage boost. In other words, use as much Cells as you can during the opening burn phases and use Recharge Cells as early as feasible. As with other offensive cooldowns, you should be doing the same every time it’s available.

Assault Specialist

Assault Specialist full DPS (2/8/36): http://swtor.askmrrobot.com/skills/commando#200-30302-101231322102122203323

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-class-guide-build-1

Assault Specialist no pushback spec (0/10/36): http://swtor.askmrrobot.com/skills/commando#0-30322-101231322102122203323

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-class-guide-build-2

2.1 Rates (1-10):


  • Single Target Dps: 9
  • AoE Damage: 8
  • Group Utility: 5
  • Rotation Difficulty: 7
  • RNG Dependant: Yes, slightly
  • Burst: 7
  • Sub 30% Talent or Ability Buffs: Yes

2.2 Gearing & Stats Priority:


  • **Must Have** Accuracy: 110% Tech & 100% ranged (1% from companion + 3% from talent = 6% required from gear)
  • **Must Have** 0 Alacrity
  • 68-74% Surge
  • 200-400 Critical Rating
  • All other secondary stats in Power
  • **Must Have** Augments: Aim (Reflex)
  • Relics: Serendipitous assault & Focused Retribution
  • Alternate Relic: Boundless Ages
  • Set Bonus: 4 piece Eliminator’s
  • Combustible Gas Cylinder

2.3 Gearing Overview:


  • Reaching the Accuracy cap should be your highest priority
  • The dps bonus given by Alacrity rating is low enough that, even with the high amount of diminishing returns it will suffer, Surge rating will always be better
  • The difference in overall dps between 200 Critical rating and 400 Critical rating is minimal, so having a little bit is not an issue, though stacking it is never a good idea due to high diminishing returns
  • Choice of relics should be made on a fight-to-fight basis. Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution will give you a greater overall damage increase, while Boundless Ages will allow you to focus your burst into a short window for fights with tight burn phases
  • Getting your set bonus as quickly as possible is highly recommended. It will increase your dps substantially enough that having lower item level armorings with the set bonus is still a better option than higher item level armorings without it

2.4 Ability Explanation:


  • High Impact Bolt is your most important ability, as it is free of cost with its proc, recharges some Cells, hits particularly hard and can be used often due to a low cooldown. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Target Lock: Increases armor penetration by 30%
    2. High Friction Bolts: Increases armor penetration by 30% and recharges 8 Cells if it hits a burning target, refreshing the duration of the Cell dot if active
    3. Ionic Accelerator: Charged Bolts has a 45% chance and Full Auto a 75% chance to finish the CD on High Impact Bolt, and make the next High Impact Bolt free of cost, with an internal cooldown of 6 seconds
    4. Rain of Fire: Increases damage dealt to burning targets by 9%
    5. Assault Trooper: Increases critical damage dealt by 30%
    6. Hyper Barrels: Increase damage dealt by 6%
  • Assault Plastique is the final ability in your talent tree, as well as one of the most useful. It has a 3 second delay after activation before it detonates, and afterwards hits for high initial Tech damage, and leaving a dot on the target. It should always be used on CD, and although the CD will be refreshed before the dot effect has expired, the 3 second delay will give the dot enough room to finish before being refreshed. Assault Plastique is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Assault Trooper: Increases critical damage dealt by 30%
    2. Hyper Barrels: Increase damage dealt by 6%
    3. Burnout: Increases dot damage dealt by 30% to targets under 30% HP
  • Incendiary Round is the most important dot in your rotation, as many of your talents are affected by “burning” targets, and Incendiary Round and Assault Plastique do that job for you. It has an average cost, but high damage and should be maintained as much as possible. Keep in mind that it deals initial damage as well as its dot component. It is affected by a few talents:
    1. Assault Trooper: Increases critical damage dealt by 30%
    2. Burnout: Increases dot damage dealt by 30% to targets under 30% HP
  • Electro Net is an extremely cheap, high damage ability with a long CD. It is only usable a few times per fight, but should be used as often as possible.
  • Charged Bolts is your main filler ability, as it is affected by many talents as well as triggering the most important part of your rotation in Ionic Accelerator. It should be used to proc High Impact Bolt and to fill in between CDs. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Ionic Accelerator: Has a 45% chance of refreshing your High Impact Bolt CD, and making your next High Impact Bolt free of cost.
    2. Rain of Fire: Increases damage dealt to burning targets by 9%
    3. Assault Trooper: Increases critical damage dealt by 30%
    4. Hyper Barrels: Reduces cost by 3 Heat and increases damage dealt by 6%
    5. Havoc Rounds: Increases damage dealt by 6%
    6. Steadied Aim: Reduces pushback by 100%
  • Hammer Shot is your free filler. It does higher damage than other specs due to the dot applied by your Plasma Cell.
  • Full Auto is an interesting ability for the spec, but is not as useful as you might think. Although it deals high damage, and when used at maximum Cell regeneration it will always end up venting more Cells than it costs, it will also always vent less than just using Hammer Shot. It is useful for burst sections between High Impact Bolts, but usually using Charged Bolts more would give you greater power than spamming Full Auto. It is affected by a variety of talents:
    1. Target Lock: Increases armor penetration by 30%
    2. Ionic Accelerator: Has a 75% chance of refreshing your Rail Shot CD, and making your next Rail Shot free of cost.
    3. Rain of Fire: Increases damage dealt to burning targets by 9%
    4. Hyper Barrels: Reduces cooldown by 3 seconds and increases damage dealt by 6%
    5. Steadied Aim: Reduces pushback by 100%
  • Plasma Grenade is a hard hitting ability, with both AoE and dot components, but it has a high cost and should generally only be used with Reserve Powercell, and if it is available Tech Override as well.

2.5 Ability Nomenclature and Rotation Priority:


  1. High Impact Bolt: HIB
  2. Assault Plastique: AP
  3. Incendiary Round: IR
  4. Electro Net: EN
  5. Charged Bolts: CB
  6. Hammer Shot
  7. Full Auto (Burst): FA
  8. Plasma Grenade (Opening): PG

Cooldowns:

  1. Reserve Powercell: RP
  2. Tech Override: TO
  3. Recharge Cells: RC

2.6 Opening Rotation:


Starting the fight with Plasma Grenade is really personal choice, but it’s recommended to always open a boss fight with a pre-cast ability during the pull in order to maximise your opening damage without sacrificing too much resource management. The reason you don’t use Charged Bolts for that is because you want to get as many High Impact Bolt as possible, and since using Charged Bolts might trigger the High Impact Bolt proc, you may end up losing an extra High Impact Bolt cooldown for no reason.

Pre-cast PG + AP / Relic / Adrenal + IR + HIB + TO / CB + HIB + EN + CB + CB + HIB/RC + CB

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-guide-opening-rotation

2.7 Rotation Strategy:


The strategy behind the Assault Specialist spec is to get as many High Impact Bolt as possible, as it’s your primary damaging ability. The proc rate is reasonably reliable, more so than others such as the Gunnery spec. The difficulty of this spec comes from having to keep your dots up as well as keeping count of the internal timer for HIB procs. Charged Bolts should always be used to proc HIB, Full Auto is not recommended for regular use in this spec as it will delay the use of HIB during the channel, and Charged Bolts has more talent-based damage boosts. Because of this, Full Auto is only used as filler at some points.

The activation time on Assault Plastique makes up for the difference between its CD and duration, meaning you can use it on CD without overwriting the existing dot that will still be up once the ability has come off cooldown. Hammer Shot unlike any other spec in the game for any class, actually gives a substantial damage boost if used at the right time, thanks to the Cell dot. Since HIB will always trigger and refresh an existing Plasma Cell effect, and just like any other ranged ability has a chance to trigger it Itself too, using Hammer Shot to apply the Cell dot will not always mean a loss in dps. The longer you can keep the Cell dot on the target, the better.

15 – 20 second rotation (10 – 14 GCDs, no opener). Considering 3 possible cases:

Freshly applied dots, recently used High Impact Bolt:

CB + CB + CB + HIB + FA + CB + HIB + CB + AP + CB + HIB

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-guide-rotation-1

Incendiary Round running out, recently used High Impact Bolt:

CB + CB + CB + HIB + RP / IR + CB + CB + HIB + AP + Hammer Shot + CB + HIB

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-guide-rotation-2

Dots require reapplication, recently used High Impact Bolt:

CB + AP + CB + HIB + IR + Hammer Shot + CB + HIB + EN + CB + CB + HIB

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-guide-rotation-3

2.8 AoE Rotation Priority:


  1. Mortar Volley
  2. Plasma Grenade
  3. Hail of Bolts
  4. Sticky Grenade

2.9 Sample Parse Analysis:


 

swtor-assault-specialist-commando-dps-guide-parse-breakdown

  • Charged Bolts is not your hardest hitting ability, neither it is the most important in your priority, but being the only ability without a CD means that it’s used a lot more often than any other ability. A well executed Assault Specialist parse should have Charged Bolts on top of the list
  • High Impact Bolt is your biggest single hit, as well as the most important ability, however it is limited by its CD and the RNG of its proc. Your whole rotation hinges around this ability for its dps. High Impact Bolt should take the second spot for your damage dealt
  • The next section of your dps is spread between your dots, Assault Plastique and Full Auto. Your dots should be doing above 8% of your damage, roughly 5% and roughly 4% respectively depending on the number of mobs and boss fight mechanics. Your abilities should always keep your Cell dot up in third place, while keeping your Incendiary Round up on the target at all times should also give a similar result on different parses, but generally remain lower than your Cell. Assault Plastique and its associated dot should be measured by the number of uses, as delaying it to ensure proper Cell management is not necessarily a dps loss. This is the same with Full Auto, as it will depend on procs from your Charged Bolts and your Cell management as to how often you use this ability.

Charged Bolts and High Impact Bolt, being the staples of your rotation, should be dealing the vast majority of your total damage done, usually above 50%. Remember that these are ranged abilities, not Tech, so most of your damage in this spec is coming from ranged attacks. Assault Plastique and your many dots should be doing the second fragment of your damage dealt, doing roughly half as much as the Charged Bolts / High Impact Bolt combination. The remainder of your damage comes from Electro Net, since it is used on CD it should have a stable percentage of damage done across most of your parses, as well as Plasma Grenade, which hinges on your use of Reserve Powercell, while Incendiary Round and Hammer Shot will fill the last few percent.

Keep in mind that these numbers are all relative to each fight. These numbers are taken from a dummy parse on how an ideal boss fight would go. On heavy RNG specs things can change, altering how often you need to use certain abilities, meaning Charged Bolts can deal up to roughly 40% of your damage or as low as 25%, so these numbers are just an approximation of what you should be doing on a dummy parse for your rotation. Using the sample parse and comparing ability percentages and knowing where each ability should be at is your first step to doing ideal dps for your gear, as it is comparable between gear levels.

2.10 Tips And Tricks:


  • Each High Impact Bolt proc should happen after 4 GCDs (6 seconds), and they occur at a decent rate, so you have to keep a few things in mind; HIB counts as 1 GCD so it’s HIB + 3 abilities before your next possible HIB. Charged Bolts should always be your 4th GCD in order to proc HIB. If you want to keep the Cylinder dot up on the target, use Hammer Shot after the first ability following an HIB, followed by a Charged Bolts, in order to maximise your dps, HIB procs, and Heat management.
  • Keep in mind that High Impact Bolt will not only regenerate 8 Cells through the talent, but it’s also a GCD, so will regenerate another 5 Cells before you can use your next ability. As such, each HIB proc regenerates around 13 Cells, so you need to keep track of that in order to maximise your Cell management by being low enough so as not to waste extra possible Cell venting, while not running out of cells unnecessarily.
  • Reserve Powercell is always good to use before an Incendiary Round or Assault Plastique. The short CD on Assault Plastique fits more easily into the regular rotation and should be easy to manage the Heat it generates, but Incendiary Round is often a cause of overheating if not used well, due to its irregular schedule. It’s recommended to use Reserve Powercell on either of those abilities due to their high Cell output, but try to avoid using on any other ability, especially Charged Bolts. In addition, what you expect when using it on Charged Bolts, for example, may be Charged Bolts + Reserve Powecell /Charged Bolts, can instead become Charged Bolts + Reserve Powercell / High Impact Bolt, as the HIB proc may cause you to immediately hit HIB without thinking while Reserve Powercell is activated, wasting a CD to make HIB free when it already is.
  • Recharge Cells, just like other rapid resource gain abilities like Cool Head, can be a little confusing as to how it functions due to the ability text. A 50 Cell regeneration plus a GCD’s worth of recovery means you are essentially regenerating 55-60 Cells. Considering the fact that anywhere between 85-100 Cells is the ‘comfort’ zone for dps, this means Recharge Cells should always be used at around 25-35 Cells to exploit its full potential.
  • Recharge Cells is one of the most useful and under-used CD’s. Like any other cooldown, you should be using it as much as possible in a boss fight to maximise your damage output. Also considering the opening burst rotation with relics, adrenals, Inspiration, and your other offensive cooldowns, it helps you get back to balanced Cells after taking the most advantage possible from the damage boost. In other words, use as much Cells as you can during the opening burn phases and use Recharge Cells as early as feasible. As with other offensive cooldowns, you should be doing the same every time it’s available.

How Taunts and Threat Drops Function:


It is unfortunately common for decent dps to not have a proper grasp of how taunts and threat drops work, which leads to mistimed use of abilities and a far more difficult job for the tanks. Although tanks should be capable of holding threat against any dps regardless of their skill, in some fights where taunts need to be strategically held for other mechanics, the dps understanding the mechanics behind threat helps a great deal. There are 4 types of threat drops in the game, and knowing which you have access to and when to use them is key to a successful raiding career.

  • Single-Target Threat Drop (E.g. Cloud Mind): This type of threat drop specifically functions only for your threat against your current target. If you use your Cloud Mind on a target, your threat on all other enemies will remain the same. Each use will lower your threat by a percentage of your total.
  • AoE Threat Drop (E.g. Chaff Flare | Diversion): Unlike targeted threat drops, using these abilities will lower your threat on all enemies and not only your current target. Similarly to single-target threat drops, each use will lower your threat by a percentage of your total, but calculated individually based on each enemy’s threat meter.
  • “It Wasn’t Me” Threat Drop (Force Camouflage): Marauders | Sentinels don’t have access to a standard threat reduction ability. Instead, they have a more powerful threat drop that will essentially reset your threat, making it very difficult for you to steal aggro again. This mechanic, however, only works for enemies that have previously targeted you at some point of the fight. Because of this, using Force Camouflage as a conventional threat drop is not suggested, and it should instead be saved until you either pull aggro and require an immediate threat drop, or to utilise its damage reduction utility.
  • Removal From Combat (E.g. Force Cloak): This is the most powerful threat drop in the game, and is subsequently one of the reasons why classes with this kind of threat drop should never steal aggro, taking advantage of this ability’s strength as part of their opening rotation. Activating this type of ability will remove you from combat, resetting your current threat on all targets to 0.

All taunts function in the same way; any target affected by a taunt will cause the user’s threat level to become 10% higher than the target’s highest current threat, in addition to forcing them to attack the user for the next 6 seconds. It will always put the user of the taunt at the top of the threat meter, but gains significantly more power as threat levels improve due to the 10% extra threat generated. Although the target is forced to attack the taunter for the next 6 seconds, threat generation continues regularly, and should another person have the highest threat level when the debuff wears off, they will become the new target

Dps knowing when to drop threat is an important skill. Whenever a tank taunts, the taunt icon will appear as a debuff on the target (the icon is always the same, regardless of class), so you will always know when a taunt has been used. A well timed threat drop is not necessarily used immediately after your best CDs or at the end of your opening rotation. You should always wait to use your threat drop until after you see that the tank has taunted the boss, and not necessarily the first time that they do (remember that they often use 3 taunts in a row as part of their opening rotation), as this signifies that their threat gain has been maximised. If you use your aggro drop as soon as you pull aggro on the boss but before the tank can taunt, their taunt will therefore become less effective and you may put yourself, or another player, at risk of pulling aggro again immediately afterwards. Also keep in mind that the higher your own threat is when you use your threat drop, the more significant the amount of threat lost will be.

Combat removal abilities such as Force Cloak should of course be used according to their place in your opening rotation, and not when you pull aggro, for the same reason as above. For Marauders | Sentinels, while it is also not recommended that you use Force Camouflage once you steal aggro in your first rotation, you have a slightly different timing window. Your threat drop will only actually work if you are being targeted when you use it, so you should save it until such time as you are targeted a second time and the tank can no longer instantly taunt off of you. Doing so will still help to maximise the tank’s threat, and will also drop your threat significantly enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about pulling aggro for the remainder of the fight.

About the Authors


Invinc and Vindrik are both members of <Hatred> on Harbinger, an endgame progression guild with world 3rd clear of Nightmare S&V, World 2nd clear of Nightmare TFB, world 1st speed clear (under 2 hrs) of Nightmare S&V, and numerous server firsts at the 8m level.

Invinc is the guild leader of <Hatred> and mains an operative DPS but plays pretty much every and all classes for operations. He currently leads the parses on operative lethality DPS on multiple boss fights and dummy parses. Also known as Carlenux, Carlenix (sniper), Carlenx (Sorcerer), Pyrotec (Powertech)

Vindrik mains an operative healer and is the raid leader for group B in <Hatred> (World 5th speed clear of Nightmare S&V). He is the former raid leader of <Notorious Synergy> on Dalborra, one of the world top guilds pre-2.0 (World 4th).

While the information here are mostly written by these two players, numerous other Hatred raid members and guides were consulted. Questions, comments, concerns will be answered by Invinc, who goes by the name of Carlos Eduardo Mata in the comments section below.

  • Dragoon

    Wow a class guide, someone heard my wishes! Keep them coming please.
    I really enjoyed reading it and can confirm the usefully as my first char
    is a Gunnery Commando. I hope we will see more of this class guides
    especially for the difficult to play tank and healer classes. Maybe add
    later some trick&tips for an efficient GUI setup? I would love to
    share mine and see others.
    BTW thumps up for the layout. Often neglected and still important to transport the information.
    Going to donate 5$ bucks to show my appreciation for this work is real.

    • Yup, all of the class guides are written already and they will be coming out in the next few days as I format them. Some other stuff we are adding are aoe rotations, more talk about abilities and talent interactions, some parse analyse etc 🙂

      • Imber

        Are there really ALL class guides? *jaw drop* Even the little used DPS Vanguard, Marksmanship Sniper and the like? Well, even if there aren’t, you start the year off awesomely! Thank you, Dulfy and happy New Year!

        • André Maul

          I really appreciate your effort !!! Thank you very much. Looking forward to find Watchman and scoundrel guides here. Happy new year from Germany !!

          • Kanut

            Hm, in my opinion its not a good idea to make a merc guide and then mirror it to commando with copying and renaming all things, including the “modified” parser screenshots. Mercs have offhand weapon, so commando have completly different parser statistic.

            • Carlos Eduardo Mata

              unfortunately there are no good parses to compare from commandos in leaderboards, neither we have pub players to play and use on parses, all are merc parses, so even if what you say is right, regarding the miss on offhand Vs cannon, and lower dmg from commando, the actual numbers “should” be the same, commandos dont miss as much but hit lower, at the end of a parse the dmg % should be the same, thats why we say in the analysis that we are comparing Dmg done %, to avoid confusion with Gear, abilities, Crit chance… basically what you should do is just compare % dmg done not paying attention to other stuff (that we are not analyzing since they are different for each and every parse), and know Charged shot / Power shot = X %…. High impact bolt / rail shot = X % and so

              • Viccal

                Personally I think this guide is valid for both imp and pub classes. IF there is any difference, imho the difference would be far outweighed by the valuable material included here from some of the best raiders, For Assault spec, its probably one of the best guides if not the best that I’ve seen so far

              • Kanut

                The problem is that on my gunnery commando i have completly different abilities damage ratio. As example, if we trust my parser logs, then 2 HiBs(with 5 stacks) makes more damage as FA with proc. But same “cast time” (2*1,5 sec = 3 sec) and HiBs dont have pushbacks and can not be interrupted.
                That means for me that HiB with 5 stacks have higher rotation priority as FA. That measn command have a little bit different rotation as mercenary.
                Another difference is that my commando dont get alacrity proc all the time if i take only one point in First Responder(mby merc have it due to procs from merc offhand weapon). That means you must take 2 points in First Responder or ignore that ability and make a different build.
                Its not a big story, but if you making a guide, then do it right. Simple copy-pasting its not a good idea. At least not by classes like commando/mercenary and gunslinger/sniper.

              • Carlos Eduardo Mata

                unfortunately there are no good commando parses apparently, and commandos are not in the leaderboards, and we dont have gaered chars to back up the information, so if u have a 3.9-4k pyro parse or a 3.3k gunnery parse with your pub side ill be moer than happy to use your parse for the commando comparison,i might have to adjust the info on the parse too, maybe instead of analysing a parse would be analysing the top parse because there has been some number difference too in other parses that can happen due to RNG and rotation, so we will adjust that too soon, it is a work in process thanks to everyone feedback and information so be patient.

      • Pak

        Thanks to you and your crew Dulfy – these are really well written! I love that you even include recomendations for GUI layout!

        I’m curious if there are any plans to incorporate PVP builds, situational rotations, etc….?

        Also will these guides be kept up to date as class changes are made? I’ve always referenced Noxxic, but have typically found them to be ho-hum.

        You’re the best Dulfy!

        • These will be kept update as much as possible, no plans for PvP builds atm as none of us really PvP that much

  • fp

    instant donatiin for the huge effort made! great job as always dulfy!!

  • Luis Oliveira

    Amazing job as always Dulfy, are you planning on doing a Vanguard Assault Specialist class guide?

  • ODST_Parker

    Thank you very much! I’ve been trying to figure out a good build for my Commando. Gunnery just didn’t seem to be cutting it in PvP and I plan to start running Ops now that I have a subscription, so I’ll try this as soon as possible.

  • Daftvaduhh

    Just a quick note that for Gunnery the best 4-set is actually the old 4-set until you hit 78 gear.

    Preferably the DG (73) set, which is a synch to gather in current content. These are really good, super comprehensive and laid out in a similar fashion to what Icy Veins does for WoW, but perhaps a suggestion in line with that might be to break it apart somehow so it’s less wall of text and more of a perusable resource.

    Keep it up!

    • Hmm you right, it does look like a wall of text, especially when you scroll through really fast trying to find a specific info. Trying to think ways of better dividing up the content 🙂

      • Daftvaduhh

        Within the constraints of a blog platform, I would say spoiler tags on the explanations and non-critical info so people can thumb through then expand out the box for greater detail.

      • Daftvaduhh

        That way you get the initial first time read traffic, and the repeat business as a cheat sheet/rule book

        • I couldn’t get the spoiler boxes in since it messes up the formatting a bit but hopefully this format change will make it more readable 🙂

  • Averzaath

    just one little thing.
    1.6 opening rotation (of gunnery spec) mentions several times to “overheat”
    which commando’s obviously don’t do ^^

    • Carlos Eduardo Mata

      Lolol nice catch >_> but i guess that would be enough to understand it right? >_> damn commandos and theyr ammo lol

  • Xenyah

    Hi Dulfy

    WOW, that’s really impressive work you have done here!!

    Thank you very much for sharing this information about “perfect’ builds, probably
    straight from the developers?

    Your page is one of the few that really informs people about things, a bit like wikipedia.

    From this point of view your page is really good!

    Thank you and way to go.. Happy new year 🙂

    Xenyah

    PS no answer requested …

  • Viccal

    Dulfy,
    just some notes on the differences between the build shown here for Assault and the one I use. Both are 2/8/36 but there are some differences in the choices made in the Assault Specialist tree. None of these will impact the dps but some do increase defense/survivability:
    1 Point in Sweltering Heat and none in Parallactic Combat Stims
    0 Points in Nightvision Scope but 2 points in Suit FOE as this gives you some reduction against periodic damage when using Field Aid
    2 points in Degauss instead of 1

  • yellow-power ftw

    assault skills u add are more survival than OPs needs
    the plastic explosive are a bit higher dmg that the sticky nade and use same CD (can add an aim from shield tree, if still is available in 1st line), Dint see what the update will bring us to suggest more right now.

  • Macewindy

    I know you commented earlier about overheated mirror issues and that it was clear. You may want to make an exception for this mirroring error.

    Quote:
    so you need to keep track of that in order to maximise your Cell
    management by being high enough so as not to waste extra possible Cell
    venting, while not overheating unnecessarily.

    Shouldnt it be ‘low enough’ instead of ‘high enough’? This might not be to obvious for beginning players.

    • thanks, corrected 🙂

      • Omer

        There are many references to things like “Venting Cells” or “Overheating” which are not concepts that Troopers use. It’s obvious that the guide was written for Bounty Hunters and had all the Bounty Hunter words were replaced by Trooper words. This works fine for all the other classes, but the Heat vs Ammo mechanic requires more rewording to be clear.

        It’s not a huge problem, but like Macewindy said it will cause confusion to newer players.

  • sardokar

    If I’m reading the assault parse right, charged bolts has a higher average hit than assault plastique which includes a higher crit rate. Why is it that assault plastique is still considered a mandatory skill and part of the rotation? I would think going a more hybrid and deeper into gunnery (for say full auto +30% crit damage) would be superior overall damage.

    • Gothic90

      I think it’s because Assault Plastique has a dot component that shows up as burn (tech) that has 61 hits, which is the most hard hitting dot in the tree. If so, its damage for one GCD is even higher than (maintained) Incendiary round.

  • Rorkiy

    I just noticed something about the Gunnery/Arsenal’s “Ability Explanation” section, under Full Auto/Unload.

    It’s stated that they are affected by “e: Charged/Power Launcher: Increases Damage Dealt by 6%” but looking back at the skill tree, it only says it affects HiB/Rail Shot, Tracer Missile/Grav Round, Heatseeker Missiles/Demolition Round and Electro Net by 2/4/6%. I’m just wondering if this might be an error in the tooltip, ninja patch or just an accidental oversight.

    Nonetheless, cheers for this guide and if you’re reading this Vindrik, /eat. 😛

    *Ninja Edit: Missed out “affects” before HiB :P*

  • Galactov

    how do you get 1% accuracy from companions?

    • One of the companions if you reach close to max affection will give you 1% accuracy bonus

  • Maxdestruction

    First of all congrats for the job done by all of you.
    It’s amazing !
    I kindly ask for an explanation cause i am not sure to have understood.
    When dot from Incendiary Round has been applied (whose duration is 18s), HiB
    should refresh it as often as it hits the target if the talent High Friction Bolts is capped.
    This should mean that if no mistakes are done once applied the dot,
    Incendiary Round becomes almost useless, considering its high cell cost.

    Nonetheless, what’s a dps reference for an almost full 78 assault commando with no gear bonus (and no drops from DF/DP HM) ?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Azzrayel

    Like the others I first wanna say thank you for these amazing guides. Since I discovered them I always check in here first when I try a new spec or need some rotation advice.
    Anyway I specced into Assault specialist recently and came to look at your build and now I’m a bit confused:
    You put 2 points into “Hyper Assault Rounds”, which as I understand only affects “Explosive Round”. Yet “Explosive Round” is never used in the rotation, it’s not even listed in the AoE Rotation Priority, so putting 2 points into “Hyper Assault Rounds” seems like a total waste. Is this talent affecting other abilities I’m not aware of? Wouldn’t it be better to put them into “Suit FOE”?
    I realize it’s been a while since anyone postet here, I do hope for an answer though. 🙂

    Cheers.

    • Lalala

      I can only think of 1 reason of why you would use explosive round. I’ve come across situations in pvp when people are running around corners or just away from view where you have no time to activate anything because any such ability will get cancelled when they line of sight you and your sticky grenade and tech override are on cooldowns. An auto-attack would do best most of the times but, if you can spare the energy/ammo then an explosive round will do more damage than an auto-attack and activate instantly but its ammo cost is very high.

      As for pve, it has no place in end-game flashpoints and operations unless like I said you can spare the ammo for it and you can’t do anything else because of abilities being on cooldown and line of sight issues.

  • Lalala

    To my knowledge mercs have a better chance of proccing the plasma cell dot because of their offhand blaster, and this is the reason they parse higher than all commandos, or is that incorrect?

    Also, I just need to ask why you’ve put “hail of bolts” in the aoe/multi-target rotation for both dps specs? I don’t think I’ve met any commando or merc who uses hail of bolts/sweeping blasters. Surely a pulse cannon would be a better option, right? It has a lower cost and no restriction on how many targets it can hit.
    If there’s ever more than 5 adds that you can or need to take down pulse cannon is always going to take priority.
    I’m not entirely sure how hail of bolts measure up against pulse cannon pure damage wise if used the best way on 5 targets, I do know though that personally I can’t afford do waste the amount of energy it requires for no real difference in dps. The times I’ve used it I’ve only seen a decrease in dps so it’s bad on top of bad in my experience.

  • mallorea541

    It doesn’t seem as though the rotation section was updated for 2.7 yet either, since it mentions procs in the gunnery tree and I though curtain of fire was a 100% proc rather than a 45% now.

  • Kalamaris

    Is still (as of 2.8) the difference in Single Target DPS so big between the two specs? 9 vs 6 would render the Gunnery obsolete.

    • oiaksdjfopasdf

      On dummies it’s even worse, for general content a little bit better with the reliable and consistent full auto procs. But it is obsolete as far as single target sustained damage goes.

      As Hache-Moncour said, 4200 assault to 3700 in gunnery.

  • Bob Thresher

    I have some Advanced Overkill Augments instead of the Reflex. It seemed to be a bit better in DPS. Do you recommend the Reflex over them?

    • Xzelsius

      Overkill only affects your damage… Reflex also affects critical rating

  • TimmyG

    I don’t see why gunnery is listed as a 6 in Single Target. I’m just an up-and-coming gunnery in 62s and 68s, but I see way more gunnery mandos than assault specialists. And generally, they kill things faster, easier, and with a lesser margin for error that Assaults. Not to mention they do have a burst rotation, if not multiple, due to the Tech Ovaride boost. If gunnery was a 6 in comparison with a 9 for Assault, why would anyone play gunnery after hitting 55? Easier rotations maybe, but the dps would be so lacking you wouldn’t get accepted into higher level ops. I feel like there needs to be a rewrite of the gunnery section.

    • Top dps do about 4300 dps in Pyro (Assault) spec, and about 3700 dps in Arsenal (Gunnery) on a target dummy, which is an excellent measure of single target performance.
      There are a number of operation fights where Gunnery has the advantage, because you need to switch targets often, need a lot of aoe, or need to burst down particular targets very quickly. Generally, Draxus, Corruptor Zero, Brontes and perhaps Bestia are the fights where respeccing to Arsenal is worthwhile.
      One reason you might still see a lot of Gunnery is that it’s relatively tricky to master ammo management in Assault, and if you mess it up your dps will drop hard. And of course there are many who just don’t have a clue or don’t care.

      • oiaksdjfopasdf

        If your group does not need your burst, aoe or any other benefits arsenal/gunnery can contribute with, then speccing pyro/assault will always be better though for your overall dps if you can manage the aoe rotation to single target good enough.

  • Greg

    2.10 update soon?

  • SupRun

    Dulfy, are you going to do 3.0 DPS guides? I forgot how to DPS looking at all the shiny new animations on my Commando. I do realize it’ll be a lot of work to DPS and maximize all the classes, but pretty please?

    • Yes someone is doing them, should be up around the weekend

      • SupRun

        Yay! Thanks SO much for everything you do for the community! 🙂

      • Fazu

        any ETA on these?

  • Stàrfox

    Hey Guy’s and Girl’s I am playing 3.0.1 Assault Specialist Mando, Read My tips is you want to try this out. Key Note this is for PvP builds.
    Surge: 73-75% its ok to go a lil bit over 75%
    Power: Max it Including (Augmentations Overkill). Reason for power augments is Aim mainstat buff for 9% was removed from commando’s Power give more dmg in 3.0.1
    Accuracy 100% Tech maybe 102% Accuracy but anything over is not required in pvp.
    Crit rating: 400-415 no more or less this will put you at the correct % of crit for pvp.
    Alacrity: 1 Eliminators Implants with alacrity on it Min/max your moded gear with power and surge with some accuracy. So Slim to almost no Alacrity on gear.
    Now I was a religous Gunnery Mando in this new patch till i tried this out with a few friends and my damage and crits went way up my highest crit in pvp so far is a 16.4k crit with magbolt. Highest game in a war zone for damage was in void star full rounds between both teams making it to last doors is 2.6 million damage. not only is it high aoe dmg but you kill healers fast as hell single target.

    • Stàrfox

      Also to Note something i read on a lower forum about Gunnery being better then Assult. Try out that set up i linked up top and your mind frame on which spec is better.

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