SWTOR 4.0 Marksmanship Sniper PvE Guide by Thrax.[toc]
Intro to Marksmanship Sniper
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 privilege of raiding with some of the best players to ever grace this game and hope my experience and expertise can help you become the best you can! I’ve raided with such guilds as Drop It Like it’s Hoth, Phantøms, Reckoning, Ufrog and Zorz at a Nightmare level. As of 5/11/2015 I have cleared all 4.0 Content with <Phantøms> 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 Marksmanship has gotten a small buff and this only changes 2 abilities in the priority so it is 90% the same rotation. 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 Marksmanship is “Single Target Burst” damage and is the most flexible spec in game. You can target swap from “Target A” to “Target B” instantaneously and flawlessly. This makes this spec great for bursting down adds fast then swapping back on to the boss in an instant. Only downside to this spec is that it is quite crit dependent.
To quote the 3.0 Virulence guide writen by Yolo/Snickerr “To live a Sniper 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 Snipers basically gods, I’ll talk more about this down below.
Spec Viability in Raids: 9/10 – Class Viability as a whole though is 9/10.
Snipers 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, Snipers are the best ranged DPS to take in most raid encounters (Everyone else re rolled to AP PT anyway it seems #Kappa). This spec is the best for instant, flawless and effective multi target swapping burst. Making it viable (might not always be optimal) for every single Boss Encounter.
Rotation Difficulty: 5/10
The Marksmanship rotation is not complex, it works on a simple priority system and only really gets hard when you start to push energy to the limit to maximize DPS.
Here is a list of all the Marksmanship changes from the 4.0 update if you haven’t already read the patch notes.
- New Passive Skill: Marksman’s Finesse; Snipe grants Marksman’s Finesse, increasing the armour penetration and damage dealt by your next Followthrough by 10%. Stacks up to 2 times.
- Followthrough is now trained at level 42 (up from 41).
- Sniper Volley is now trained at level 58 (up from 57).
- Honed Shots is now trained at level 60 (up from 59).
Abilities and Passives
Crowd Control and Raid Utilities
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.
- 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”.
- Vital Regulators: 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.
- Imperial Efficiency: 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.
- Seek Cover: 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.
- Augmented Shields: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Shield Probe by 30%.I take this in conjunction with Pillbox Sniper 95% of the time because they are both a must for basically every boss encounter.
- Pillbox Sniper: Reduces the cooldown of Entrench by 15 seconds and Cover Pulse knocks targets back an additional 4 meters. I take this in conjunction with Augmented Shields 95% of the time because they are both a must for basically every boss encounter.
- Siege Bunker: 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.
- Deployed Shields: 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 damage mitigation.
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 Sniper Set Bonus, only negative 4.0 Sniper change)
- Relics: Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution.
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 100.10%-ish if you prefer it.
Marksmanship in 4.0 is similar to its 3.0 rotation apart from 2 slight changes in the rotation. This being Laze Target Ambush > all, and Snipe > Snipe > 20% buffed Followthrough.
But there are a couple of things to keep in mind;
- Ambush, Penetrating Blasts and Takedown should be used on cooldown, priority permitting of course.
- Ambush should 100% be used with 2 stacks of Zeroing Shots, this is given once Snipe hits the target. The only time this does not apply is pre-casting Ambush on a target. Which is really mandatory for this spec as your main strength is burst.
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.
Sometimes you don’t get the chance to open perfectly on a Boss at the start of the pull or even if you are mid fight and due to mechanics you have to start again on a fresh target or need to swap targets this is what I would use. (FOR THIS EXAMPLE IM ASSUMING IT’S MID PULL AND LAZE TARGET, ADRENAL AND TARGET AQUIRED ARE ON COOLDOWN)
“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 Takedown replaces unbuffed Followthrough. I would use energy cooldowns such as Adrenaline Probe 40-50, Target Acquired on the filler 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 7 priority is from top to bottom.
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 Followthrough and Basic Attacks with;
A.) Takedown > Corrosive Dart if they aren’t already on cooldown or the target (Including “Marked Target” debuff).
B.) Snipe if there is nothing else to fill and things are on CD, Triple or even Quad Snipe is 100% viable.
Of course, you’re going to want to use your high energy abilities when you have Target Acquired and Adrenaline Probe 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 are available.
You can use Laze Target if you spam it Midcast of an Ambush and the auto crit still takes effect because the small travel time window is large enough to consume Laze Target making this a DPS increase as you don’t need to wait until the next Ambush to get auto crit.
Marksmanship is all about using your hardest hitting abilities in the right order to have optimal DPS output. The Priority system is as follows (Top being the highest priority):
- “Laze Target + Ambush > Followthrough”
- Suppressive Fire on 3+ targets > Corrosive Dart (The target does not the “Marked Target” debuff) > Ambush
- “Penetrating Blasts > Followthrough”
- “Snipe > Snipe > Followthrough (20% Damage Increased)”
- Corrosive Dart (The target does have the “Marked Target” debuff)
- Snipe > Corrosive Dart (Dart should only be applied to targets that don’t have the “Marked Target” debuff or targets that have over 200k HP for burst scenarios. It is generally better to precast this and just hope you get an 8k+ Snipe which with 3 stacks of Honed Shots is like 2/3 chance.
- Rifle Shot
Here you can get a general idea of what your highest damaging abilities will be on a stationary target with 1.5million HP and decent good crit.
Video Example of Rotation
A general parse not going for anything advanced just a simple rotation. Description of the video explains this more.
Playing Marksmanship in a Raiding Environment
Marksmanship is one of the few specs that can be played on ANY boss fight, though it may not always be optimal it’s always an option. The fact that target swapping is instantaneously seamless adds an invaluable quality to Marksmanship where on some fights it’s simply perfect. Take Brontes Nightmare as an example, this fight is constant target swapping with an emphasis on bursting down things as quickly as possible (Fingers, Tentacles, the b0ss, Kephass and the Hands) Marksmanship with the exception of AP PT’s is the spec for single to fights with a similar philosophy.
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 whenever you can and a greater understanding 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”.
Suppressive Fire is great but don’t go overboard with it. I myself have done this on many a boss and completely shrekt my energy and had to rifle shot for 10s to get it back up. You can get away with 1 fully casted Supressive First without much of an energy hit but if you want to use multiple you need an energy cooldown such as Adrenaline Probe or Target Aquired.
This is a general Sniper 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; Zorn and Toth (If you don’t want to Engi because of the reflect), Firebrand and Stormcaller (If you don’t want to Engi or adds are taking too long), Minefield Boss and Kephass.
- TFB NiM; Dread Guards (Virulence is strong here too), Operator XI (If your group lacks burst), Kephass and the TFB.
- S&V NiM; Thrasher, Ops Chief, Olok, Warlords and Styrak.
- DF NiM; (Can be played on every fight) Brontes most importantly.
- DP NiM; Bestia (If you don’t want to Engi), Calphayus and Raptus.
- Rav HM ; Torque.
- ToS HM; Underlurker and Revanite Commanders.
Here you can see me playing Marksmanship on Brontes Nightmare. Things you might notice about what I do;
Pre-cast Orbital and Ambush as much as possible, always do this when you can more DPS!,
Swap fast and efficiently; Good positioning and raid awareness,
Use defensive cooldowns wisely,
Save my offensive cooldowns for phases that matter since I already know we are going to make it to last phase. No point in trying to top the meters on 100%-50% Phase and we wipe to the Explosive Droids because I didn’t have Laze Target or Sniper Volley off cooldown.
To pre cast maximum DPS to Brontes as the shield goes down on final phase use this (Make sure she has the trauma debuff to reduce her healing as this lowers her total HP via reduced healing):
@ 6 seconds on the cast
OS > Pyro Grenade > Corrosive Dart > Ambush + Laze Target + Adrenal
At final burn phase when we push the first hand you can see me precast on the boss but it’s what I do after it you should really watch is always, ALWAYS roll out the shield because Covered Escape (Roll) gets a buff in the Marksmanship tree to give you a 3s Entrench. It means you A.) Don’t get thrown to Africa B.) More uptime on actual Entrench and C.) Damage mitigation without wasting your more powerful ones that you should really keep for <20% burn. Plus it looks dank AF.
(For the record I still could of had higher DPS, Didn’t really want to go overboard because I knew we would be hitting final phase every pull. But 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. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Special Thanks to Yolo/Snickerr and Shulk who had some of the ability names and descriptions already written out and for being quality memers.
Special thanks to Winkso because I made him reroll to play MM and he actually was close on meters so he made me play good, he was a solid Lad #neva4ghettiRestInSpaghetti.
Only thing I can really add more is:
1.) don’t stand in red
2.) press 1-2-3-4-5
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
Note: I uninstalled as of 06/12/2015 so not up to date on changes.