SWTOR 4.0 Mercenary DPS PvE Guide by Marisi. This guide covers both Arsenal and Innovative Ordnance.[toc]
Intro to 4.0 Mercenary DPS
As is the case with most classes, Mercenary DPS has remained fundamentally the same during the transition from 3.X to 4.0 in terms of rotations and priorities, but while Arsenal has remained as a stable and reliable mid-range DPS discipline, Innovative Ordnance has suffered greatly in terms of its DPS potential and has dropped from amongst the highest parsing disciplines to barely outputting more than its burst counterpart.
For the two 3.0 tier operations; The Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice, this discipline was optimal for the majority of the boss fights during progression and more than adequate for the remainder once your group was sufficiently geared and comfortable with the fights.
Innovative Ordnance, however, received a large number of nerfs for the 4.0 launch; the removal of the crit buff from Relentless Ordnance, the reduction of the elemental damage buff from Flaming Wound from 5% to 3%, Superheated Gas now increases damage dealt by your Combustible Gas Cylinder by only 10% instead of 30% and reduces its chance to trigger from 10% to 5%, Supercharged Gas only lasts for 8 seconds instead of 10 and Supercharged Burn’s duration is down from 5 seconds to 4, all of which mean that there are very few instances, if any at all, where this discipline is optimal for any boss fight.
The only positive change for this discipline is the new level 64 talent called Surging Shots which causes your periodic damage to give you a stacking buff (up to 10) which increases the damage done by your next Power Shot or Sweeping Blasters by the number of stacks you have but this in no way offsets the vast loss of DPS by the aforementioned nerfs.
Arsenal provides the same benefits as it has previously had over Innovative Ordnance; better AoE, easier resource management, easier target swapping and more reliable burst but now with the nerfs Innovative Ordnance received, it is now almost equal in sustained DPS and with these benefits it has even become the preferred DPS discipline in virtually every boss fight.
Arsenal received very little changes with 4.0’s launch, both of which are passive and don’t change how it plays at all; Supercharged Gas’s duration is down from 10 seconds to 8 and Tracer Lock now not only increases the damage done by your next Rail Shot but it also increases its critical chance by 3% per stack.
Fight Specific Roles
Unlike previous iterations of content where it was beneficial to swap between disciplines depending on the fight, Innovative Ordnance’s nerfs have reduced its DPS capabilities to the point where even though it retains a slight edge over Arsenal, it is in no way enough for it to be a recommended DPS discipline in operations. Arsenal has better AoE, it has easier resource management and mistakes are easier to recover from, it has better target swapping and it has better burst and as both disciplines currently stand, it is recommended for all operation fights.
The bolded utilities have an important use in Operations; 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; Boresights is great for fights with multiple targets for the increased damage on Sweeping Blasters, particularly for Arsenal, for example.
- 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%.
- 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.
- Boresights – Increases the damage dealt by Sweeping Blasters by 25%.
- Adhesive Supplements (NEW) – Power Shot and Tracer Missile reduce the movement speed of targets they damage by 40% for 6 seconds. In addition, the slowing effect applied by Kolto Residue lasts an additional 3 seconds.
- Torque Boosters – Increases the duration of Hydraulic Overrides by 4 seconds.
- 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.
- Infrared Sensors – Increases stealth detection level by 2, melee and ranged defense by 2%, and reduces the cooldown of Stealth Scan by 5 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.
- Heat Damping – Eliminates the heat generated by Jet Boost, Concussion Missile, Cure, and Electro Dart.
- Supercharged Defense (NEW) – Activating Supercharged Gas increases your defense chance by 15% and grants immunity to interrupts for 8 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.
- 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.
- Stabilized Armor – Reduces damage taken from area effects by 30%. Additionally, while stunned, you take 30% less damage from all sources.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Smoke Screen (NEW) – Rocket Out generates a Smoke Screen when used, keeping you from being leapt to or pulled and making you immune to interrupts and ability activation pushbacks for the the next 4 seconds.
- Accuracy: The amount of accuracy required to reach 110% has dropped to 684 which can be reasonably obtained with 1 224 enhancement and 7 accuracy augments (this gives 679 or 109.95%), 2 220 enhancements and 5 accuracy augments (this gives 685 or 110.01%) or 4 216 enhancements and 1 accuracy augment (this gives 681 or 109.97%). 2 of these combinations leads to the potential for some rare misses but they are the closest to the cap without wasting points.
- Alacrity: 850 – 900
- Crit: 1200 – 1250
- Augments: Up to 7 accuracy depending on the level of your gear and the rest split across alacrity and crit
- Crystals: Crit
With the reduction in potential DPS from mainstat and that power no longer competes with other stats such as alacrity and crit, these have become a lot more beneficial to maximising your potential DPS. Accuracy from gear is far less useful than it once was as the bulk of your accuracy now comes from augments meaning you just need a single piece of gear that contains accuracy. Unfortunately, 3 of the 7 set piece / MH / OH tokens contain accuracy whereas only one is required.
Conversely, alacrity is only available in the Headpiece so it is recommended to get Earpiece and Implants with alacrity and then supplement the remainder of the target with alacrity augments.
Despite the set bonuses mostly remaining the same, the 192/198 and 216+ sets do not count as a single set so it is recommended to keep your old set bonus armorings until you get the full 6 before swapping over.
- Single Target DPS: 7
- AoE Damage: 6
- Group Utility: 3
- Rotation Difficulty: 5
- RNG Dependent: No
- Burst: 8
- Sub 30% Talents or Buffs: No
Arsenal plays identically to how it did during 3.X with a few passive differences:
- Supercharged Gas now lasts 8 seconds instead of 10
- Tracer Lock increases the crit chance of your next Rail Shot by 3% per stack
Key Discipline Talents
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 to 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.
- Single Target DPS: 7
- AoE Damage: 4
- Group Utility: 3
- Rotation Difficulty: 10
- RNG Dependent: No
- Burst: 6
- Sub 30% Talents or Buffs: Yes (Missile Blast execute, increase in dot ticks)
Innovative Ordnance has undergone a number of changes including:
- Relentless Ordnance no longer passively increases crit chance
- Flaming Wound buffs elemental damage by 3% instead of 5%
- Supercharged Gas lasts for 8 seconds instead of 10
- Supercharged Burn lasts for 4 seconds instead of 5
- Superheated Gas increases damage done by Combustible Gas Cylinder by 10% instead of 30% and its chance to trigger by 5% instead of 10%
- Unload now has a 15 second cooldown instead of 12
- Periodic damage now gives a stacking buff (up to 10) that increases the damage done by your next Power Shot or Sweeping Blasters
Key Discipline Talents
(pre-cast) SS, IM, Adrenal + MS (proc STB), UL, SCG + EN, TD, MS, PS (use STB), MS, IM, SS, PS, PS, MS (proc STB)
TSO + UL, 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 SCG to maximize its usage but you should not delay SCG 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 SCG 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.
The new level 64 talent, Surging Shots, gives a stacking buff from each tick of periodic damage up to a maximum of 10. Each stack gives a 1% damage increase to your next PS or Sweeping Blasters. In a single target situation, IM and SS each tick 5 times over 15 seconds and CGC ticks a minimum of 4 times per application which means over 15 seconds you’ll have a minimum of 18 stacks which requires 2 PS every 15 seconds in order to circumvent wastage. When using this buff on Sweeping Blasters, it is consumed at the end of the channel and it is applied to every tick on every target and with the potential for multiple dots on multiple targets reaching 10 stacks is incredibly quick.
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 SCG 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 SCG 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 60k HP left on the target per as under this substituting a PS in their place is more effective. This can be extrapolated to 60k 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 30k.
About the Author
The original guide was written by Fascinate and Marisi of <Zorz> and was updated and revised by Marisi, now of <Provectus> and <Four of Five>, to reflect the most recent 4.0 changes.
Any comments, questions or concerns you may have about the content of this guide can be asked here.