Class guides Healer SWTOR

SWTOR Bodyguard Mercenary Healer Class Guide

A guide to SWTOR Bodyguard Mercenary Healing for PvE. Written and edited by Invinc and Vindrik of Harbinger. Updated for patch 2.6


The Bodyguard Mercenary is by far the hardest healing class to play, and the only one that has access to a little bit of everything, but doesn’t excel at anything. Having heavy armor and by far the best defensive CDs as a healer makes them really tough against heavy hitting mechanics, and if used right they have a great dps rotation, but it’s also far more complicated to deliver. Their healing doesn’t rely on anything specific like shields or hots, but instead is entirely based around giving passive bonuses to their allies, making them more of a support healer than the other two classes. They have both quick and heavy heals as well as some AoE healing capability, but their rotation is entirely based around building stacks in order to increase their healing efficiency. They have the worst resource management of all the healers by far, but due to the buffs they provide are also considered the best support. Because of this, they are far more useful in 16 man operations, as their detriments are not as obvious in a larger group, however a good Mercenary healer is still capable of excellent healing output in any situation.

Offensive Cooldowns:

  1. Thermal Sensor Override: Makes your next ability cost no Heat.
  2. Power Surge: Causes your next ability with a cast timer to activate instantly.

Defensive Cooldowns:

  1. Kolto Overload: 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. Energy Shield: Significantly increase your base damage reduction for a short while.

Tricks of the Trade:

  1. Onboard AED: Battle rez
  2. Kolto Missile: AoE healing within a small radius
  3. Jet Boost: AoE knockback with a healing component
  4. Hydraulic Overrides: Increases movement speed and gives immunity to knockbacks, snares and physics effects for a few seconds
  5. Vent Heat: Instant Heat regeneration


Bodyguard (36/8/2):


Note: This spec is highly variable based on your play style. If you don’t utilise the AoE healing component of Jet Boost given by Kolto Jets, you can instead put these points into Protective Field or Powered Insulators depending on the fight. The points from System Calibrations in the Pyrotech tree can also be repurposed into these talents or Heat Damping. Where you apply these talent points should be based on the fights you are encountering in conjunction with your preferred play style.

If you do plan on using Jet Boost frequently for AoE heals, you may take a point from Upgraded Arsenal and put it into Heat Damping. This will make your Jet Boost cost no heat. Also, given there are currently no mental effects in operations, the point in Cure Mind can be moved to Heat Dampening.

1.1 Rates (1-10):

  • Single Target Healing: 9
  • AoE Healing: 8
  • Group Utility: 10
  • Rotation Difficulty: 10
  • RNG Dependant: No
  • Burst Heals: 10
  • Dps Capability: 9
  • Signature Ability: Kolto missile

1.2 Gearing & Stats Priority:

Note: Thanks to the Warden talent’s 15% boost to your critical multiplier, there are two ways that Mercenary healers can gear themselves:

  • **Must Have** Accuracy: 101% Force – 91% melee (1% from companion + 0% from talent = 0% from Gear)
  • **Must Have** Above 5% Alacrity
  • 68-74% Surge (+15% more from Warden)
  • 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 Combat Medic’s PVE
  • Combat Support Cylinder


  • **Must Have** Accuracy: 101% Force – 91% melee (1% from companion + 0% from talent = 0% from Gear)
  • *Must Have** All other secondary stats in Alacrity
  • 60-65% Surge (+15% more from Warden)
  • 0-100 Critical Rating
  • All other secondary stats in Power (Alacrity and Power goes hand in hand so you can stack both)
  • **Must Have** Augments: Aim (Reflex)
  • Relics: Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution
  • Alternate Relic: Boundless Ages
  • Set Bonus: 4 piece Combat Medic’s PVE
  • Combat Support Cylinder

1.3 Gearing Overview:

  • Accuracy as a healer is a wasted stat, as your heals themselves will never miss. As such, you should always be taking other stats instead, with no exceptions
  • Alacrity gives the greatest benefit to the healer role, and is generally taken once you reach the soft cap for Surge, once the benefit per point becomes less incentive for Surge and more appealing for Alacrity. This generally occurs around 73%, but doing some quick personal number crunching based on your play style should give you a better understanding
  • Taking a small amount of Critical rating as a healer is a good idea, as the benefit of Critical rating is decent for the first few hundred points of rating. However, stacking it is generally a bad idea, as the high diminishing returns leave Critical rating granting a smaller benefit than Power
  • 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 healing efficiency 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 Priority:

  1. Supercharged Gas
  2. Kolto Shell
  3. Kolto Missile
  4. Emergency Scan
  5. Healing Scan
  6. Rapid Scan
  7. Jet Boost
  8. Rapid Shots
  9. Death From Above
  10. Electro Net
  11. Rail Shot
  12. Unload
  13. Power Shot

1.5 Healing Strategy:

Besides regular Heat management, Bodyguard Mercenaries also have an extra resource that’s tied into their Combat Support Cylinder, known as Supercharge. These charges can be gained by using Rapid Shots on a friendly target as a small heal or an enemy target for damage (3 charges), or from Rapid Scan thanks to the Empowered Scans talent (6 charges). All of a Mercenary’s healing abilities are rather expensive, with no real way to get consistent Heat dissipation, and they’re not hugely powerful. Because of this, playing a Mercenary healer is greatly reliant on skill to try and maximise on the healing that you can do without overheating. The Bodyguard talent tree provides the Mercenary with the most powerful applied buffs in the game; with the Proactive Medicine and Reactive Armor talents your Healing Scans gain a hot component as well as applying a +10% armor rating buff for your target, and Kolto Residue and Kolto Pods cause your Kolto Missile to grant a +3% healing taken buff as well as dropping a small hot on the floor, which has no maximum player limit, as well as the inherent personal buffs of up to +5% Alacrity, +15% Healing Surge and up to +6% Critical chance. In addition to this, Kolto Shell provides 13 charges of healing upon damage taken, while having a reasonable cost and only taking a single GCD.

  • Supercharged Gas is the most important ability in your repertoire, and is activatable once you have 30 charges of Supercharged. While you stay maintain 30 charges you get a passive +3% to healing and damage dealt, however once used you will immediately vent 8 Heat and increase your healing and damage done by 5% for 10 seconds, and granting the following bonuses for the duration:
    1. Power Shot and Unload Heat cost reduced by 100%
    2. Healing Scan CD reduced by 100%
    3. Kolto Missile additionally reduces all damage taken by 5% for 15 seconds
  • Supercharged Gas should be used as often as possible on a fight (unless you know a hard healing phase is coming up in the next 5-10s, then you may want to save it), as it gives you a huge benefit in buffing your abilities, as well as venting some Heat. Kolto Missile is a must use during Supercharged, especially on tanks, but its benefit will be equally helpful on anyone who is taking damage. Healing Scan’s reduced CD is also very useful, as it is your cheaper heal, with a decent Hot and passive armor rating buff, in addition to reducing the cost of your next Rapid Scan. Power Shot and Unload also function as excellent burn phase dps abilities for the duration of this buff.
  • Kolto Shell is one of the most useful healing abilities in the game, after 2.6 patch it became probably the best overall heal available. It can be deployed on everyone without limits. It has 9 charges that will proc by themselves to heal the target and has its heat reduced to 10 to become really easy to place on multiple targets such as both tanks and other group members.
  • Kolto Missile is the most interesting healing ability and should be used regularly, not only because it’s a good instant group heal with a short CD, but also because of its healing buff, which provides a +3% healing taken buff for 15 seconds, giving you enough time to keep this buff up on the entire group at all times for most fights. If you have a group of 8-16 people stacked in the same place, it’s worth noting that Kolto Missile will only heal 4, while the residue will provide a small hot as well as the +3% healing buff to all 16.
  • Emergency Scan is a self-explanatory ability. It’s a free of cost, instant and powerful healing ability with a relatively short CD, and as such should be used as regularly as possible. Try not to waste it on easy phases in a fight however, as it’s an excellent instant heal whenever a large amount of damage is taken. In difficult fights or a particularly hard-hitting phase, it’s good to use on CD either to quickly top off a tank or another player.
  • Healing Scan is a fast healing ability which will do decent healing and provide a very useful HoT as well as buffing the target’s armor rating for the hot’s duration. The Critical Efficiency talent also causes your next Rapid Scan after a Healing Scan to cost 8 less Heat, so it’s ideal to follow a Healing Scan up directly with a Rapid Scan. Due to the armor buff that it provides, it is ideal to try and maintain a Healing Scan up on the tanks as much as possible, though note that this buff does not stack with the same effect that is provided by a Sorcerer’s Resurgence.
  • Rapid Scan is your longer cast filler heal, as it has no cooldown and provides a substantial heal, but at a substantial cost. It costs less when following a Healing Scan, and also provides 6 stacks of Supercharge on use, which is a hugely beneficial effect to maximise your Supercharge uptime.
  • Jet Boost is a less efficient copy of the Sorcerer’s Overload, as it has longer CD, costs Heat if not specced into it, and its circular radius instead of frontal cone can make more difficult to use, however it is still a relatively decent unlimited target AoE heal, so although it’s not necessarily something you would always work into your regular rotation depending on your spec, it still has its uses, and it’s not a complete waste.
  • Rapid Shots is your only real resource management ability since it’s free, but it also doesn’t dissipate any Heat and only heals by a small amount. It does, however, give you stacks of Supercharged, which is incredibly useful, and as such makes Rapid Shots a great filler to use between heals to build stacks, or to dps enemies should that be more pressing. After patch 2.6 you can heal yourself with your Rapid Shots

1.6 DPS Strategy:

Mercenaries have an excellent skill set for dps, especially in tight burn phases that are conducive to using Supercharged Gas. Death From Above is a fantastic burst AoE ability that will vent most of its Heat cost throughout the channel, Electro Net’s minimal cost and high damage output make it an excellent ability to use on cooldown, and Rail Shot is an all around high damage ability, in addition to being able to use Unload and Power Shot free of cost while Supercharged Gas is active.

  • Death From Above is not as powerful as Orbital Strike, but even so is a relatively low-cost, high damage AoE ability that is always beneficial for general raid dps, especially during burn phases or when there are multiple targets in close proximity.
  • Electro Net has a really long CD and can only be used a few times in a fight, but should be used as often as possible due to its low cost, instant cast and high damage output.
  • Rail Shot has a short CD and higher cost than Electro Net, but is also packs quite a punch. Especially for fast burst, Rail Shot is an excellent addition to your rotation.
  • Unload is an excellent ability to use for regular dps. It’s better than Power Shot in just about every manner, so while dpsing should be used on cooldown. While Supercharged Gas is active, using Unload on cooldown is a must to maximise damage at no Heat cost.
  • Power Shot is your designated dps filler ability, and should be used last in your priority list. It deals moderate damage, and in conjunction with Supercharged Gas will help to provide excellent burst damage against a boss. You should use Power Shot instead of Rapid Shots for as long as this effect is active, as it has no cost and you cannot continue building stacks of Supercharged until the Supercharged Gas effect wears off.

1.7 Tips and Tricks:

  • Vent Heat, just like other rapid resource gain abilities like Adrenaline Probe, can be a little confusing as to how it functions due to the ability text. A 50 Heat dissipation plus a GCD’s worth of recovery means you are essentially removing 55-60 Heat. Considering the fact that anywhere between 0-15 Heat is the ‘comfort’ zone for healers, this means Vent Heat should always be used at around 65-75 Heat to exploit its full potential. Keep in mind, however, that Bodyguards should be specced into a buffed Vent Heat, so in this spec you basically want to have around 90 Heat and it will drop you down to under 20 without a problem.
  • Although Kolto Missile itself will only heal up to 4 targets, the residue left behind will heal and buff all players without a limit, making it an excellent ability to use on large packs during 16 man operations to maximise on its potential.
  • Kolto Overload as a healer can be a much better cooldown than for a dps, as you can use it to keep yourself alive while prioritising healing others in order to buy yourself some extra time.
  • Remember that using Power Surge can give you an incredible burst of healing to top off a player, as you can cast a heal, immediately followed by Power Surge, another heal and Emergency Scan, providing the most powerful short burst of healing in the game
  • Supercharged Gas will always refresh the CD of your Healing Scan, so never wait for it to come off cooldown to pop it in order to exploit its 100% CD reduction.
  • Try incorporate Rapid Shots into your healing rotation rather than waiting until your heat gets too high and spam Rapid Shots. By simply adding a Rapid Shot between each scan (excluding Emergency Scan) your heat will remain manageable indefinitely, while increasing the rate at which Supercharged Gas is gained and increasing you attacks per minute (APM) (contributed by Kakuzzu of Death and Taxes)
  • Before you use Jet Boost for AoE heals, make sure you have used Kolto Missile on your raid in the last 15s as this will give you 3% bump on your healing.

1.8 UI Setup:

The default UI setup is fairly horrible so I always make sure to adjust the following to suit my playstyle. Use ESC to open your options menu and go through the Preferences and Interface Editor.


  • Under Controls, make sure Enable Focus Target is checked. This allow you to use alt + f to keep a boss on a focus target so you can see its health and abilities that are casted out. Also make sure Camera Max Distance is turned up to 100% as this allow you to zoom out much further.
  • Under User Interface, pick Use Operations Frame as Group Frames. This will help you out in flashpoints as the default 4 player group interface is not very healer friendly.


Interface Editor

  • Selecting the Operation Frame will allow you to adjust the width, height of the red bars and also display health information. You can also adjust the size of the buffs/debuffs icons to suit your needs.


  • Click on Focus target, make sure Show Information is checked as this will display boss health % and other info. Also make sure Focus Target Castbar is enabled as this will allow you to see the boss abilities.


1.9 Videos

All of these videos are just videos of typical operation fights.


1.10 Healing Parses

Healing as a role is not very well represented numerically, as it has nothing to do with how much overall healing you’re doing, but moreso that you’re healing the right people at the right time. As such, both hps and dps numbers for healers aren’t necessarily representative, as the two healers may have a system whereby one heals as much as possible, topping up everyone as the fight continues, while the other deals as much damage as possible, stopping to heal when people are taking large amounts of damage that the first healer can’t heal alone. Being at the top of the healing parses is actually something that can only be done by gaming the system, and having these enormous numbers actually means that you’re not being efficient, and were not benefiting the group to the best of your ability. Having high hps in a parse may mean:

  • Your healing partner is either a poor healer or is allowing you to heal while dpsing themselves.
  • The group is taking significantly more dmg than it should, so there is more health being lost that you can heal.
  • You are gaming the system, being less effective but parsing higher numbers (e.g. Sorcerer | Sage not shielding but AoE healing at every opportunity despite the fight not requiring it, Operative | Scoundrel rolling hots when completely unnecessary).
  • The group is collaborating with you to get higher numbers (e.g. Fight requires the group to be spread out, but instead stacks together to take significantly increased damage that is then AoE healed over time).

While dps can be judged at least partially based on their number parsing, as healers there is no numerical representation that properly demonstrates how effective you are being. As long as the group is surviving and you kill the boss, you have done your job, and the overall hps for the fight means absolutely nothing. The only real way to judge a healer’s efficiency and ability is through feeling, which sounds out of place, but if they aren’t healing when they’re needed to, or they’re healing the wrong people at the wrong time, you’ll be able to feel the difference when compared with someone who is on the ball and always doing exactly what is required.

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. 

By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

29 replies on “SWTOR Bodyguard Mercenary Healer Class Guide”

Brilliant guide Dulfy! As my main is a Bodyguard healer, this has helped a little as there are little things that I didn’t know of which will prove useful in the long run!

I totally agree with you on the fact that the mercenary is a support healer, as I class the Sorceror/Sage as the best healer in game, but I’ve managed to get much better heals then the two classes I’ve named above because I know my class.

Awesome guide!

Invinc mentioned he was ‘putting together some updated guides’, but… wow. Just one more reasons to direct people to!

I agree with the assessment that heat management is a mercs main weakpoint. Even healing with one of the best merc healers I’ve ever seen I tend to keep an eye on his heat during prolonged pressure on the healers and try to help him in getting it down again by taking over some of his healing duties untill it has dropped again.

I do not agree with the 5 for aoe healing though, I would sooner class it around a 7. A merc is particularly good at taking care of small raidwide damages with a quick drop of his kolto missile and a 5 simply doesn’t do that justice. As a sorc healer my aoe heals only really help when there is massive raidwide damage, when there is small damage that goes out often the kolto missile just drops before my revivication cast is even over.

Woah, amazingly well done guide! I learned a LOT about how to use my shiny new merc. Also somehow I had never known you could set the camera to pull back farther. This has completely changed my game! I can’t wait for more guides like this!

How sure are you of the stats you consider to be a must have? Am asking this because on my Merc I am full power and surge and only have one enhancement with alacrity and so far I never seen my self needing the alacrity. At least I’ve never had problems healing this way… Maybe I could be better if I get my stats just like you are saying?

there are two option, both works, the most obvious is high crit with usual surge, regardless of this having 72% surge which is the estimated, you should get 2-4 alacrity pieces depending on your gear lvl, having 1 only seems like you could change 1 alacrity for surge at least, as far as the alternative gearing, is jsut something i cam up, considering the fact that you get 15% base surge, getting up to 65+15 should be enough to be equal to average healer, having Low crit with High power and rest on alacrity, would give you room for faster and heavier heals with more resource recovery… either way the surge / high crit often works better and is good, the other is just a hybrid build to test.

Similar to the Sage healing guide, you need to mention stuns. Preventing damage from adds is better than having to heal it afterwards. Electro dart and Concussion Missile are the two major stuns, and Explosive Dart and Unload both stun Standard enemies. (Missile Blast stuns shortly too, but costs too much energy.) Most of my non-Boss fights start with Explosive Dart + Rail Shot or Unload + Rail Shot.

Your saying a Merc healer has the worst resource management from all the healing classes, yet your suggesting that people look to itemise with alacrity and you wonder why its going to have terrible resource management when you itemise that way? Alacrity is the best secondary stat for pure output as a Bodyguard but its the worst secondary stat for heat management and you will find itemising that way, your heat bar will explode as soon as any decent damage gets taken. Its far more efficient and manageable to just go for pure power with 0 crit and alacrity as the crit and alacrity you can pick up through talents is more than ample to raid or tank heal. There was a comprehensive theory crafting guide to back this up on MMO Mechanics if you take the time to look for it.

The resource gain from alacrity isnt worth it at all i’m afraid. I’ve got about 1200 bonus healing, 25% crit and 76% surge and manage perfectly well in 8 or 16 mans personally.

Alacrity only benefits 2 of your healing abilities where as surge and maybe crit will vastly benefit them all.

You say that Rapid Shots only heals a small amount. I would think that an instant cast heal that heals for 1200-2400 health on every GCD is a little more than a small amount. I use my Rapid Shots almost constantly with a Kolto Missile every 3rd Rapid Shot. I keep Kolto Shell up on the tank constantly and use Emergency Scan on who ever needs it on every CD. And I use my Healing Scan and Rapid Scan when someone gets below 50%-70% health or lower to get them of danger. With this “rotation” I never have any heat problems at all unless people are just being stupid and standing in those NPC provided DPS buff circles. And yes, I only stack Aim, Power, and Surge and have 1169 bonus healing.

Build wise I would say no. This isn’t a strong PVP build. Statswise, of course you’re looking for PVP gear, and that means getting to 2018 expertise. But otherwise, stats are extremely similar. Rotations in high pressure PVP are very different. There is a preferred order of things…. however having two carnage marauders goring you and interrupting you in turn changes everything. 😉

Is this guide going to be updated for 2.6? Since there’s been major tree changes and the changes on kolto shell.

Not to be annoying or anything but the skill tree is still outdated, some skills were moved to a different position.

Not to be annoying or anything but the skill tree is still outdated, some skills were moved to a different position. lol j/k it’s not that hard to use a brain and figure out what went where when transfering this guide to the game, the great work you guys do is more than adequate excuse to leave this stale for a couple months xD. ps marry me LOL

I was going to mention that Rapid Shots should be incorporated into the rotation between heals, but I noticed you mention that in the tips and tricks sectoin. But I find for purposes of heat management, that using Kolto Shell, Kolto Missle, Emergency Scan, and Healing Scan with Rapid Shots weaved the right way (and consistent use of Supercharged Gas) you should never have too much heat, or really even touch Rapid Scan for that matter. Maybe only use it during a Supercharged Gas, after you spam a Healing Scan. Rapid Shots actually provide a Alacrity buff, so it most definitely is beneficial to spam when you don’t have any of the other ones to use at the time. Always keep your Kolto Shells up, as much as possible, and use that Missle on CD.

Just asking : is there anyway to get Kolto Shell’s buff visible on the operation health bars? I tried to boost buff’s size but it makes class’s buff appear and there is no room left on the health bar for Kolto Shell.

just a question. now that peascekeeper not is a must for bodyguard, is it still worth the 2 skill points or can you use them better some where else?

Better used somewhere else. Considering that the number of times that you as a healer attack with Rapid Shots, it is fairly useless.

I’m really surprised that the author did not pick up Powered Insulators. It is a useful skill so that you do not need to heal yourself as much when you take damage. (As a healer, you will take some damage.)

is this going to be updated any time soon? Keen to see if I’ve figured 3.0. Especially since healing scan and rapid scan have basically been reversed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.