SWTOR 4.0 Saboteur Gunslinger PvE Guide by Thrax.[toc]
Hello I’m Thrax/Thraxara/Agent_Thrax and I’ve been playing SWTOR at a Nightmare progression level for about 2 years now as a Sniper. I have had the privilage of raiding with some of the best players to ever grace this game and hope my experience and expetise can help you become the the best you can! I’ve raided with such guilds as Drop It Like it’s Hoth, Phantøms, Ufrog, Reckoning, Titans and Zorz at a Nightmare level. As of 5/11/2015 I have cleared all 4.0 Content with Phantøm’s playing all Sniper specs and keeping up with those Broken PT’s and hopefully you will too after reading this. I sometimes stream our raids on twitch if anyone’s interested, Can expect dank tunes and Nightmare bosses www.twitch.tv/agent_thrax🙂
With the release of 4.0 Bioware have finally vastly improved and reworked the Saboteur Spec to make it, to be blunt viable. I know many people didn’t bother to learn it in 3.0 including myself because Marksman and 3 Cull Virulence were so strong it made the spec pointless and the boss encounters leaned away for the spec and more towards the others anyway. With the resurrection of the old operations in conjunction with the reworking of the spec it’s now viable and if played correctly optimal on most bosses. In this guide I will aim to give you short, efficient advice on how to play Saboteur Gunslinger. This guide will be oriented towards PvE.
I will cover 4 areas: DPS, Survivability, Spec Viability in Raids and Rotation Difficulty. Scores are rated from 1-10 followed by a short explanation (1 being the worst & 10 being the best. For Rotation, 1 is the easiest and 10 is hardest).
4.0 Saboteur is “Single Target AoE” damage which in it’s self is a weird term and makes actually playing it fun and enjoyable but still gives you a challenge to make you stop and think rather than going on auto pilot. At the moment Saboteur is the highest parsing spec on the Parsely (http://parsely.io/parser/leaderboard) Leaderboards and to be honest it should be because it’s a hard spec to play in an actual raiding environment with movement because Plasma Probe/Incendiary Grenade being a grounded ability it gives it depth.
To quote the 3.0 Virulence guide writen by Yolo/Snickerr “To live a Gunslinger must remain in cover. We have a wide variety of defensive cooldowns to work with such as Shield Probe, Evasion, Covered Escape, Entrench, & Diversion. Shield Probe is used to mitigate moderate damage while Evasion (while in cover) would mitigate massive spikes. One of my favorite things about this class is being able to use Covered Escape at the perfect second to mitigate a high damaging ability 100% (think NiM Dread Guards).” Thanks to 4.0 we have all this TIMES TWO!! Imperial Preparation/Bag of Tricks! Resets the active cooldown on Evasion/Dodge, Countermeasures/Surrender, Shield Probe/Defense Screen, Cover Pulse/Pulse Detonator, Entrench/Hunker Down, and Covered Escape/Hightail It. This ability has a base cooldown of 3 minutes and is off of the Global Cooldown. This makes Gunslingers basically gods, I’ll talk more about this down below.
Spec Viability in Raids: 7/10 – Class Viability as a whole though is 9/10.
Gunslingers have always had a reserved spot in most raid groups and with the revival of the “Old Content” this holds true once again with 4.0. The combination of high damage and utilities like Diversion, Covered Escape and especially Ballistic Shield, Gunslingers are the best ranged DPS to take in most raid encounters (Everyone else re rolled to AP PT anyway it seems #Kappa). Saboteur though relies unlike Marksmanship and Virulence on a somewhat static target which limits where this spec can be played but get creative! Throughout my raiding time I’ve played “less than optimal” specs. To give an example Marksman on Tyrans Nightmare 90% of people went Lethality but I chose Marksman because I could make it work and managed to do sick DPS with it after experimenting.
Rotation Difficulty: 6/10
The Saboteur rotation is not hard at all! It’s just implementation into certain fights which at times can get tricky and not destroying your energy in the process. I will explain this more at the rotation section down below.
Here is a list of all the Saboteur changes from the 4.0 update if you haven’t already read the patch notes.
- New Passive Skill: Field Command/Conflagration! Increases the critical chance of your Area of Effect abilities by 15%. -This is a nice general damage buff.
- Plasma Probe/Incendiary Grenade is now trained at level 42 (up from 41)
- EMP Discharge/Sabotage is now trained level 58 (up from 57)
- Energy Overrides/Seize the Moment is now trained at level 60 (up from 59)
- Imperial Auto Loader/Jury-Rigged Mods is now trained at level 36 (down from 56)
- Electrified Railgun/Blazing Speed is now trained at level 40 (up from 36)
- Electrified Blast/Hot Shot is now trained at level 44 (up from 40)
- Efficient Engineering/Dealer’s Discount is now trained at level 48 (up from 44)
- Sector Ranger/Spacer is now trained at level 52 (up from 48)
- Scatter Bombs is now trained at level 56 (up from 52)
- Explosive Engineering/Independent Anarchy is now trained at level 24 (up from 16)
- Cluster Bombs/Contingency Charges is now trained at level 16 (down from 20)
- Imperial Methodology/Insurrection is now trained at level 20 (down from 24)
Abilities and Passives
Crowd Control and Raid Utility
Spec Specific Abilities
I shall only highlight useful ones.
- Ballistic Dampers: Entering cover grants 3 charges of Ballistic Dampers. Each charge absorbs 30% of the damage dealt by an incoming attack. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds. Ballistic Dampers can only be gained once every 6 seconds. This utility has the best use in PvE by adding another layer of defensives in Hold Position. You will have the most use of it in many fights, and some moderate use in PvP.
- Snap Shot: Entering cover makes the next Snipe or Lethal Shot activate instantly. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds This utility is pretty situational. Every six seconds, you have the opportunity to gain an instant Snipe/Lethal Shot which is pretty great if you need to kill of an add or boss quicker in burn phases or If your relics proc and are running out instead of hardcasting and the damaging being at the end of the gcd it starts at the beginning but the gcd still remains the same time which is a common misconception because “it shoots quicker”.
- Cool Under Pressure: While in cover, you heal for 1% of your total health every 3 seconds.Only use this if Bioware brake the relics again and make Damage and Healing proc different relics.
- Efficient Ammo: Increases the damage dealt by Suppressive Fire by 25%.For any boss encounter with cleave potential aka additions targets, this is the utility to go for.
- Pulse Screen: Cover Pulse/Pulse Detonator increases your chance to resist Force and tech attacks by 20% for 6 seconds.This is an extremely solid cooldown only down side is it’s RNG based but 6 seconds is long enough and if for some reason it’s not it can also be activated again via Imperial Preparation/Bag of Tricks making this ability even more amazing.
- Heads Up: When Entrench ends or you leave cover while Entrench in active, you gain Seek Cover, which increases your movement speed by 50% and grants immunity to movement impairing effects. Lasts 6 seconds.I’ve listed Seek Cover because it has the potential to be useful. For example if you don’t have a marauder or juggernaut tanks for the transition tentacle phase on Brontes Nightmare this ability is great to dodge the beams.
- Hotwired Defenses: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Shield Probe by 30%.I take this in conjunction with Lay Low 95% of the time because they are both a must for basically every boss encounter.
- Lay Low: Reduces the cooldown of Entrench by 15 seconds and Cover Pulse knocks targets back an additional 4 meters.I take this in conjunction with Hotwired Defenses 95% of the time because they are both a must for basically every boss encounter.
- Holed Up: Reduces all area effect damage taken by 60% while Entrench is active.I mean not much more I can add to the description of that, It’s just an extremely solid defensive buff and is a must for basically all fights. This is one of the trademark Sniper utilities.
- Riot Screen: Reduces all damage taken while in cover by 6% and reduces the cooldown of Ballistic Shield by 30 seconds.This a great defensive passive that allows our Utility to shine again. -30s on the cooldown of Ballistic Shield is great for certain strat’s involving raid damage mitigation.
There is 2 Common Builds you can use.
Build A.) This is generally for single target based encounters.
Build B.) This is for more AoE oriented encounters.
With 4.0 Crit and Alacrity are extremely valuable stats and this is no different with this spec. If you are unfamiliar with the changes you can read them here http://dulfy.net/2014/02/10/swtor-mechanics-basics-understanding-critical-chance/
I’m currently using this gearing set up (224 Gear):
- 5372 Mastery
- 2931 Power
- 1236 (2xAug) (2xCrystals) Critical
- 869 (5xAug) Alacrity
- 679 (7xAug & 1 Enhancement) Accuracy (99.95%)
- 6/6 Field Tech’s Set Bonus (Now the only Gunslinger Set Bonus, only negative 4.0 Gunslinger change :s)
In my personal opinion 99.95% is more DPS but you can remove a Crit/Alacrity piece and add 1 more Accuracy enhancement and take out 2-3 Augments to be at 100% if you prefer it.
The new rotation for Saboteur with 4.0 is a lot of fun and rewarding when executed correctly. The rotation is pretty simple and nothing too fancy, Just a set rotation and making sure you use the right priority on 2 gcd’s when energy or the situation calls for it. There is only really 2 parts to this rotation; The Opener and and the default rotation.
But there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Incendiary Grenade, Sabotage Charge, Speed Shots, Sabotage and Flyby are used on cooldown.
- You can only use Sabotage on targets that are being affected by Shock Charge.
- Activating Sabotage makes your next Thermal Grenade free.
For maximum dps use this as an opener. Not much to say on this just follow this and you will be golden. I would agro/threat drop on Adrenal to give tanks a fighting chance 🙂
“The Main Rotation”
Once you have completed the opener you now move on to this rotation that doesn’t change until <30% which at that point Quickdraw replaces Vital Shot only if the target still has the Marked Target debuff, marked targets take 5% more damage from ranged attacks Vital Shot applies the debuff for 45s. I would only roll on a target for a parse 99% of the time in actual Operations Basic Attack is more viable and A LOT more safe. I would use energy cooldowns such as Cool Head at 40-50/60-50, Illegal Mods on GCD 9 and10 aka the Flyby and Vital Shot gcd’s to try to squeeze more DPS if you are using the max DPS rotation or saving things for a burst DPS phase.
On picture/GCD 9 and 10 priority is from top to bottom.
Continuing from the Opener
Just the same rotation as above but you start on the 5th picture/gcd it’s super simple.
Higher DPS Rotation
At points in the rotation you will have high energy or if you are entering a burn phase on a boss encounter and need maximum DPS, I would 100% encourage you to replace basic attacks and roll with:
A.) XS Freighter > Vital Shot if they aren’t already on the target (debuff included)or on cooldown.
B.) Quickdraw > Vital Shot if the target has the “Marked Target” debuff.
Of course, you’re going to want to use your high energy abilities when you have illegal mods and Cool Head up, but be conservative when they are on CD as it can be very tricky to not burn through your energy, again try not to push too hard until energy cooldowns re available.
This looks more like:
On picture/GCD 9 and 10 priority is from top to bottom.
Here you can get a general idea of what your highest damaging abilities will be on a stationary target over 1.5million HP and decent crit. (Don’t have a Republic Version of this yet soon tm*)
Video Example of Rotation
A general parse not going for anything advanced just a simple rotation. Description of the video explains this more.
Don’t have a Slinger at 65 sadly but it’s the same buttons 🙁
Playing Saboteur in a Raid Environment
As a general rule only play Saboteur on either; A.) A 65% Static target or B.) An AoE Intensive fight. This yields the greatest DPS. I would encourage you to experiment with what bosses this spec can be played on, with planning, knowledge and communication it can be a great spec to play on 70% of boss fights.
Use defensive cooldowns efficiently and effectively, Research certain fights/encounters and look for where damage is coming from and use your cooldowns accordingly.
Talk to the raid leader/tanks about when and where the boss/adds will be for maximum DPS it’s essential to always precast when ever you can and a greater under standing of the fight as a whole is always nice to have.
Don’t needlessly dps meter pad (Inflating your DPS by cleaving adds when you should be hitting boss…ect). I see people do this all the time and it annoys me because it mostly results in a wipe or them getting agro and dying. Don’t be that guy “pls m8, pls”.
Also don’t be afraid to save abilities such as Flyby for say a mechanic that releases adds in like 20s such as Draxxus or Grob’Thok as it will yield more dps and we all love DPS!
This is a general Slinger rule but use your Raid Shield as much as you can as it’s free damage reduction to EVERYONE. Obviously there is some phases where you need to save it for example final burn on Brontes Nightmare but on this fight you can use it to reduce damage on the raid (This helps the healers heal the tank more as he gets rekt) at the 100-50 Kephass phase.
Bosses You can safely play this spec on.
(Where this spec out performs the others)
- EV HM; All.
- KP HM; All.
- EC NiM; Zorz and Toth and Firebrand and Stormcaller.
- TFB NiM; Writhing Horror and Operator XI.
- S&V NiM; Da’Rude Sandstorm, Titan-6, Thrasher, Ops Chief and Olok.
- DF NiM; All apart from Brontes.
- DP NiM; Bestia and Tyrans (if you play smart).
- Rav HM ; Sparky, Bulo and Master and Blaster.
- ToS HM; Red Kephass, Sword Squadron, Underlurker and Revan.
Here you can see me playing Engineering/Saboteur on Firebrand and Stormcaller Nightmare. Things you might notice about what I do;
Pre-cast Flyby as much as possible, always do this when you can more DPS!,
Modify the rotation slightly by using Flyby before Incendiary Grenade to have all the orbital ticks be able to hit the Tank before the “Defensive Systems” cast ends,
I use Charged Burst and other low prioirty abilities on the adds in the shield to save my high damaging abilities for the Tanks to help beat the DPS check. A good rule for all DPS is you might not be top on the meters like I was because I couldn’t execute my rotation on the adds but I save my damage for the ACTUAL target that needs to die. I would call it “eDPS”, Effective Damage Per Second”.
(For the record I still could of had higher DPS, there is always room for improvement!)
I would like to thank;
Dulfy for hosting my guide and being helpful in setting it up :),
Would like to thank all “my m9s and m10s” that I’ve had the pleasure to talk and to play with over the last 2 years via Twitch and Ingame Phantøms, Zorz, Severity, Death and Taxes,Hates You, Drop it Like It’s Hoth <3, RIP, NGE, and Failure,
Special Thanks to Yolo/Snickerr and Shulk who had some of the ability names and descriptions already written out.
Only thing I can really add more is:
1.) don’t stand in red
2.) press 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
3.) $£$ Profit $£$
If you have any questions I’ll try to answer them below but I’m quite busy, I’ll try my best <3