SWTOR 3.0 Mercenary DPS Guide by Marisi and Fascinate
SWTOR 3.0 Arsenal and Innovative Ordnance DPS guide written by Fascinate and Marisi.
- 1 Introduction to 3.0 Mercenary DPS
- 2 Arsenal
- 3 Innovative Ordnance
- 4 Fight Specific Roles
- 5 About the Authors
Introduction to 3.0 Mercenary DPS
Mercenary DPS has undergone some changes with the transition to 3.0 but fundamentally the two disciplines function the same as before; Arsenal is suitable for multiple targets and/or frequent target switching whereas Innovative Ordnance is suitable for sustained single target.
This discipline is optimal for fights where target switching is prevalent and/or there are periods where high burst is needed in a short amount of time. The basics of this discipline has not changed with its newest iteration; Barrage (proc for Blazing Bolts, which replaces Unload in this discipline) still procs every 8 seconds and because heat management is extremely light, it makes this discipline very forgiving. A couple of changes have been made that is of importance, Barrage now ONLY procs off of Tracer Missile, whereas before it procced off both Power Shot and Tracer Missile. Another change that is worth noting is the inclusion of Supercharged Gas into the rotation, where the usage of it may either accelerate or hamper your rotation due to the alacrity bonuses you gain from it. A new ability, Priming Shot, which was added into the newest iteration also plays a vital role, as it deals a good amount of damage, and makes the next Tracer Missile activate instantly.
For the most part when you want to use this discipline in operations content has not changed; if there is considerable sustained single target focus or there are multiple targets with relatively high HP pools then this is probably the more optimal spec. This discipline is currently the highest parsing discipline in the game and is thus capable of putting out very high sustained numbers.
The basics of this discipline have not changed too much with its newest iteration; the overall goal still is to proc Innovative Particle Accelerator (IPA) every 7.5 seconds (up from 6) and because the heat management is still quite tight, deviating from your rotation can lead to overheating quite quickly, and unlike Arsenal, this is still quite punishing. One of the larger quality of life changes received is that now IPA has a guaranteed proc with Unload, Power Shot and Sweeping Blasters instead of a pseudo guaranteed chance which frees up the rotational blocks for additional abilities and allows your periodic effects to remain on the target much more than was previously possible.
While Innovative Ordnance is optimal for pure single target fights, two AOE combos have been added which spread your two primary dots to all affected targets; Explosive Dart spreads Serrated Shot and Fusion Missile spreads Incendiary Missile, which means that in fights where there are lots of high hp targets in can be beneficial to focus on AOE instead of single target.
The bolded utilities we feel have an important use in an Operation; with Improved Vents, Power Barrier, Custom Enviro Suit, Torque Boosters, Thrill of the Hunt and Stabilized Armor being taken on almost all fights, if not all, with the seventh one changing depending on the fight; Afterburners is useful in more reliably dealing with blades in Revan and Boresights is great for fights with multiple targets for the increased damage on Sweeping Blasters, particularly for Arsenal, for example.
- Gyroscopic Alignment Jets – You vent 10 heat when stunned, immobilized, knocked down or otherwise incapacitated.
- Improved Vents – Vent Heat now immediately vents an additional 15 hear and grants 10% alacrity for 6 seconds.
- Power Barrier – Power Shot, Tracer Missile, and Rapid Scan generate a Power Barrier that increased damage reduction by 1% for 15 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.
- Jet Escape – Reduces the cooldown of Jet Boost by 5 seconds and Determination by 30 seconds.
- Afterburners – Rocket Punch immobilizes the target for 4 seconds. Direct damage caused after 2 seconds ends the effect. In addition, Jet Boost’s knockback effect is stronger and pushes enemies 4 metres further away.
- Custom Enviro Suit – Increases Endurance by 3% and all healing received by 3%.
- Boresights – Increases the damage dealt by Sweeping Blasters by 25%.
- Torque Boosters – Increases the duration of Hydraulic Overrides by 4 seconds.
- Suit FOE – When you activate Cure on yourself, a Foreign Object Excisor reduces all periodic damage taken by 30% for 12 seconds.
- Protective Field – Increases all healing received by 20% while Energy Shield is active.
- Power Shield – Energy Shield now further decreases ability activation pushback by 30% and makes you immune to interrupts.
- Pyro Shield – When activated, your Energy Shield ignites in a blaze, lashing attackers for X elemental damage when it remains active. This effect cannot occur more than once each second.
- Heat Damping – Eliminates the heat generated by Jet Boost, Concussion Missile, Cure, and Electro Dart.
- Infrared Sensors – Increases stealth detection level by 2, melee and ranged defense by 2%, and reduces the cooldown of Stealth Scan by 5 seconds.
- Energy Rebounder – When you take damage, the active cooldown of Energy Shield is reduced by 3 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds. In addition, when taking damage, you have a 20% chance to emit an Energy Redoubt, which absorbs a low amount of damage and lasts 6 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
- Jet Rebounder – Increases the damage dealt by Jet Boost by 30%. In addition, taking damage reduces the active cooldown of Jet Boost by 1 second. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds.
- Kolto Jets – Jet Boost heals you and up to 7 other allies within range for X – Y.
- Thrill of the Hunt – Allows Unload, Blazing Bolts and Progressive Scan to be activated while moving.
- Stabilized Armor – Reduces damage taken from area effects by 30%. Additionally, while stunned, you take 30% less damage from all sources.
- Supercharged Reserves – Reduces the cooldowns of Cure and Disabling Shot by 3 seconds. In addition, you build up to 10 stacks of Supercharge over the course of using Recharge and Reload. This effect cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds.
- Power Overrides – Reduces the cooldowns of Concussion Missile and Power Surge by 15 second charge, making your next two abilities with an activation time activate instantly.
- Accuracy: As close to 100/110 as possible; ~750 with companion bonus which equals 7 186 pieces + 1 augment, 7 192 pieces or 6 198 pieces + 1 augment. These combinations take you slightly above 100 so you can take off an augment if you wish.
- Surge: With the high number of periodic effects in Innovative Ordnance keeping the 10% surge bonus from the Advanced Targeting passive is almost a guarantee. Arsenal, however, has a chance of this effect dropping off but it still enjoys this the vast majority of the time, so maintaining pre 3.0 levels can be done with as little as 2 pieces in either discipline.
- Alacrity: While alacrity can be useful now, no significant difference can be noticed between 0 to 2 pieces
- Crit: Both Arsenal and Innovative Ordnance have always benefitted from above-average crit levels so 400+ is recommended
- Augments: Aim, with up to 1 accuracy depending on the number of accuracy pieces
While Accuracy used to be obtainable in several pieces of Mercenary DPS gear prior to 3.0 it now can only be found in the Chest and the Powertech Main Hand which makes your Implants and Earpiece the primary sources of Accuracy. The accuracy Implants, however, come with crit instead of power which means you only need either a single mod or enhancement to supplement the crit from both Implants to reach the crit target.
In regards to set bonuses, the old 4 piece no longer has much benefit with Innovative Ordnance as Power Shot is no longer used as often as it used to be and Rail Shot is not used at all which makes replacing the old armorings a high priority particularly as you can replace several of them with non-set piece armorings, losing the old 4 piece set bonus in the process of doing so, and gain DPS from the increased Aim you get from the newer ones.
On the other hand, Arsenal still uses both Tracer Missile and Rail Shot frequently in the rotation which means that both set bonuses are still quite useful in increasing damage which puts a higher priority in obtaining the new belt and bracer set piece armorings before replacing the old set bonus.
- Single Target DPS: 7
- AoE Damage: 6
- Group Utility: 3
- Rotation Difficulty: 5
- RNG Dependent: No
- Burst: 9
- Sub 30% Talents or Buffs: No
For the most part Arsenal plays the same now as it did previously but there still are a few changes to how it plays:
- A new ability to replace Unload – Blazing Bolts
- A new ability – Priming Shot
- Terminal Velocity now vents 2 heat every 1.5 seconds instead of 8 every 6 seconds
- The addition of Supercharged Gas as an offensive cooldown
- Rail Shot now costs 5 heat instead of 10
- Tracer Missile and Heatseeker Missile now cost 15 heat instead of 16
Key Discipline Talents
- Tracer Lock: TM grants Tracer Lock which increases RS damage by 6% per stack with a maximum of 5. RS should be used with 5 stacks wherever possible. Received at level 12
- Blazing Barrels: Increases the critical chance of Sweeping Blasters by 15% and its critical bonus damage by 30%. Very useful for AoE heavy situations particularly when paired with the Boresights utility. Received at Level 16.
- Light ‘Em Up: TM applies an additional stack of both Tracer Lock and the Power Barrier utility if relevant. Received at Level 28.
- Barrage: The Arsenal rotation revolves around proccing this talent as close to every 8 seconds as possible as it not only finishes the cooldown on BB but also increases its damage dealt by 10%.
- Burst Mode: Supercharged’s armor penetration is increased by 5%, damage dealt provides a 2% alacrity bonus and the maximum bonus is increased to 6%. Received at Level 44.
- Ironsights: Increases damage dealt by PS and dart and missile attacks by 10% and places a debuff on the target which increases ranged damage dealt by 5% for 45 seconds. Received at Level 48.
- Decoy: Grants your chaff flare a 100% chance of completely absorbing the next direct force or tech attack within the next 10 seconds. Received at Level 52.
The rotation for Arsenal does not have a static rotation compared to Innovative Ordnance. However, it follows a simple priority system that should be followed for the highest possible dps. Additionally, the bonus alacrity that is given when Supercharged Gas is procced plays into the rotation and alters the timing of Barrage, depending on where you popped Supercharged Gas. Depending on the timing of when you used Supercharged Gas, either before or after Barrage was procced, the bonus alacrity may omit the usage of 1 additional GCD to proc Barrage, circumventing the non-integer 8 sec proc timer. Below is the opener where you can see that popping Supercharged Gas right after Barrage is procced gives you enough alacrity with the following skills so that the proc timer is as close to 8 seconds as possible, instead of 9 seconds. Additionally, since heat management is extremely light, the priority list can be followed for quite some time before Vent Heat is required.
(pre-cast) TM, SCG + Adrenal + HSM, EN, PS, BB, TM, BB, TM, RS, HSM, TM, BB….
From there it follows this priority list:
- Blazing Bolts (proccing Barrage every 8 seconds)
- Heatseeker Missiles
- Electro Net
- Rail Shot (5 stacks)
- Priming Shot
- Tracer Missile
- Rapid Shot
Maximizing Your Damage
The key to maximizing your damage in Arsenal is following the priority system. If you have to delay the usage of such abilities like Heatseeker Missiles or Rail Shot to proc Blazing Bolts, do so, and just use those abilities the gcd after Barrage is procced. The usage of Rapid Shots is EXTREMELY light, and the only time you will be using Rapid Shots is when the two next subsequent gcds will put you over 40 heat while maintaining the rotation, this would only truly apply for a Tracer Missile to a Heatseeker Missiles because it builds the most heat within 2 gcds in this discipline. However, with low heat costs to most abilities and the amount of talents and skills that benefit heat management, the amount of Rapid Shots you will have is minimal.
One thing to note about Priming Shot is that since it makes the next Tracer Missile cast instantly, if that Tracer Missile procs Barrage, you must keep in mind that the proc occurred at the START of the gcd, not at the end of it. In other words, hard casting Tracer Missile to proc Barrage will be at the end of that gcd, while an instant Tracer Missile, either instant by Priming Shot or by using Power Surge, will be at the start of the gcd.
Another important thing to note is that, while highly unlikely, Advanced Targeting (10% surge bonus) may fall off due to bad crits. While Innovative Ordnance does not suffer from this due to constant dot uptime, the single tick damage of many abilities in Arsenal may cause Advanced Targeting to not be up, or cause it fall off due to bad rng.
The last important thing is the usage of Vent Heat in the rotation. Ideally, Vent Heat should be popped one gcd before Barrage is procced, and/or used in conjunction with Supercharged Gas. This way, even if you cap on heat, using both Vent Heat and Supercharged Gas while channeling Blazing Bolts would vent nearly all your heat.
Sample Parse Analysis & Video
For this part, two parses will be analyzed due to certain inconsistencies. The main differences in these two parses is the APM for both of them. There is a difference of about 1.6 APM between both parses and it highly impacts the results of the parse. The parse that should have been higher is the one with higher APM, but due to crits, the lower APM parse was higher.
As you can see though, both parses follow the priority system for maximum damage, and minimal heat management. These numbers were achieved with a mix of 192/198 gear, and 2 186 acc/pow enhancements.
- Single Target DPS: 10
- AoE Damage: 4
- Group Utility: 3
- Rotation Difficulty: 10
- RNG Dependent: No
- Burst: 7
- Sub 30% Talents or Buffs: Yes (Missile Blast execute, increase in dot ticks)
Innovative Ordnance has undergone a number of changes including:
- A new ability to replace Rail Shot – Mag Shot
- A new dot – Serrated Shot
- Decrease in Incendiary Missile’s dot time from 18 to 15 seconds
- Removal of the dot attached to Thermal Detonator
- Mag Shot can be used on any target instead of one suffering from periodic damage
- Increase in IPA’s internal cooldown from 6 to 7.5 seconds
- Decrease in Superheated Shot’s heat refund from 8 to 5
- An added execute – Missile Blast
- The addition of Supercharged Gas as an offensive cooldown
- Power Shot, Thermal Detonator and Incendiary Missile now costs 15 heat instead of 16
- Unload costs 24 heat instead of 16
Key Discipline Talents
- Collateral Damage: Increases Explosive Dart and Fusion Missile damage but more importantly spreads your SS and IM dots respectively to all affected targets as long as one of the affected targets has it already applied. This skill isn’t particularly useful in most encounters but is incredibly useful when there are lots of grouped targets with high HP pools. Received at Level 16.
- Superheated Shot: Increases armor penetration on MS and grants it a 100% chance of applying CGC and venting 5 heat. Received at Level 20.
- Sweltering Heat: Makes IM applying a debuff on the target which increases internal and elemental damage dealt by 7% for 45s. Received at Level 24.
- Innovative Particle Accelerator: The cornerstone of your rotation. Using UL, PS or Sweeping Blasters makes your next MS free and should be procced every 7.5s. Received at Level 28.
- Volatile Warhead: Periodic damage below 30% makes your next MB cost 10 less heat and deal 75% more damage. Received at Level 40.
- Ordnance Expert: Increases crit damage of the bulk of your rotation and applies a debuff on the target which increases ranged damage dealt by 5% for 45s. Received at Level 44.
- Degauss: Increases defense chance by 25% for 6s; not particularly reliable for single large hits but can be very useful to resist numerous smaller hits. Received at Level 52.
- Speed to Burn (STB): MS makes your next SS or PS activate instantly. As it’s on a 15s CD like your rotation it should be kept on the same ability at all times where possible for overall consistency. Received at Level 56.
(pre-cast) SS, IM, Adrenal + MS (proc STB), UL, SCG + EN, TD, MS, PS (use STB), MS, IM, SS, PS, PS, MS (proc STB)
UL + TSO, TD, PS (use STB), MS, IM, SS, PS, PS, MS (proc STB), UL, TD, PS (use STB), MS, IM, SS + VH, PS, PS, MS (proc STB)
UL, EN/TD/MB/RS, PS (use STB), MS, IM, SS, PS, PS/RS, MS (proc STB)
Essentially the rotation can be outlined as:
- Heat Ramping
- Cycle through the General rotation until TSO is off CD at which point it moves back into the Heat Ramping variation.
It is possible to use Sweeping Blasters on a non-target prior to entering combat to proc IPA and make your first MS free and vent heat but while this makes your starting heat lower, it makes no overall difference to your rotation.
Maximizing Your Damage
The key to maximizing damage potential in IO is making the most of your available heat through not just knowing what you can and can not use at any given moment but also knowing how long until your heat management abilities are available again and planning around that.
If Supercharged is or will be available after the next PS then you can use an additional TD or MB in place of an RS without worrying about overheating and if TSO is coming off cooldown then you can ignore RS entirely in place of your higher priority abilities as the way the rotation is structured both TSO and VH come off cooldown right when they are needed.
The downside to this approach is that if something goes awry such as using an ability when you don’t have the heat to afford it, it can severely hamper your output as you will need to replace several abilities with RS in order to get your heat in a manageable enough state to continue with your rotation.
You can delay EN to combine it with SGC to maximize its usage but you should not delay SGC unless you know there will be a change in the fight which will cause you to stop DPSing within the 10s window, i.e. Revan phase transitions, Blaster shielding. During these downtimes you should build or maintain your stacks by using Kolto Shot, which comes with the added benefit of healing your target. When SGC becomes available or can be used may differ depending on how many PS / RS you did as well as any external factors in the fight such as the previously mentioned downtimes.
Speed to Burn should be kept on the PS in the UL block wherever possible but it is also possible that it can shift to the 1st half of the rotation because of things like messing up the rotation, getting stunned, interrupted, LoS’d etc., in which case it should be used on Serrated Shot and then you can simply move the 4th GCD filler to anywhere from 1 to 3 and have PS as the 4th to proc IPA and then continuing the UL block as normal.
Care must be taken with VH usage to ensure it is used directly before the ability you are going to use to proc IPA because of the way alacrity works in that it does not adjust cooldowns retroactively and if you use it too soon the combined length of the regular rotational abilities will fall under the remaining time of your IPA cooldown and you will need to use another ability to proc IPA which will affect your overall heat position as well as pushing everything in the rotation by an additional GCD.
Your rotation during the final 10% of the fight can vary considerably depending on your heat going into it. If you have heat available or if you have TSO or VH coming off CD soon, but you won’t be getting 10 stacks of SGC before the target dies, you can swap out the PS from the first block with a MB to maximise both it and TD’s usages during the final portion of the fight. If SGC is nearing 10 you are better continuing to use that space for an additional PS until you reach the 10 stacks.
In order to maximise their damage, your primary dots shouldn’t be reapplied when there is less than 50k HP left on the target per as under this substituting a PS in their place is more effective. This can be extrapolated to 50k per target in an Operation’s fight although this number will vary depending on the composition of your group. EN is slightly different in that it ticks once every second instead of every three like the other two applied dots and therefore should not be applied below 25k.
Sample Parse Analysis & Video
This parse was done with the exact same gear as Arsenal, mix of 192/198, and 2 186 pow/acc enhancements. As you can see, the three biggest damaging abilities are all your main weapon damaging abilities, where the next three biggest damaging abilities are all your dots. The priority for the parse is to have constant dot uptime, while proccing IPA every 7.5 seconds, and remaining under 40 heat while VH is on cooldown.
Fight Specific Roles
Like the previous iteration of Operations content, no one Discipline is ideal for all fights and both have their places.
- Sparky: IO; most of your focus should be on him and can use UL/PS/AoEs on adds where needed
- Quartermaster Bulo: IO; your entire damage output should be on the boss as killing adds is the tank’s duty
- Torque: IO if you are focusing on him and Arsenal if you are tasked with cleaning up adds
- Blaster: IO; fight revolves around two targets with no frequent swapping between them
- Coratanni: IO; see above
Temple of Sacrifice
- Malaphar: IO; most of your focus should be on him and can use UL/PS/AoEs on adds where needed
- Storm Squadron: IO; #1 is up long enough between shields for your dot applications to get their full effect
- Underlurker: Arsenal; easier to burst down the adds between Collapses although they do have a large enough HP pool for IO to work also
- Revanite Commanders: Arsenal; a large portion of this fight involves killing adds and none of them have enough HP to warrant the usage of IO’s dot spreading
- Revan: IO; with long sustained damage phases there is no reason to run anything else
About the Authors
We are Fascinate and Marisi, both members of <Zorz>, an endgame progression guild that has claimed multiple world-firsts since its creation, including Nightmare Dread Fortress speed title, Nightmare Dread Palace clear and speed title, and most recently, Hard More clears of the two newest Operations: The Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice.
We both created Mercenaries during early access and have used them as our main progression character through every tier of content and and are always looking to expand on our knowledge of the class and to find new ways of pushing its capabilities as far as they can go through experimentation.
Any comments, questions or concerns you may have about the content of this guide can be asked either here or addressed to our SWTOR forum users, BreakingNews and Kinslayer, respectively.
Thank you for reading our guide!