SWTOR 4.0 Advanced Prototype Powertech PvP Guide by Pre.
Intro to AP Powertech
AP PT retains significant burst potential with moderate raw damage mitigation DCD’s in 4.0. This guide is intended to help players to gain greater understanding of how to play/gear AP PT correctly in a dynamic PvP environment. I’ve tried to cater for new players while also adding in information relevant to those more seasoned with the game. As such, consideration is given to both ranked (solo and teams) and regular game-play (including playing objectively). I will continue to add further information, particularly on play-style and ranked considerations. I’m also working on ‘Countering Classes’ section focusing on identifying and appropriately responding to CD’s, DCD’s and anticipated strategies likely to be observed when playing against other Advanced Classes. This will probably be a fairly large section, so make sure you check back soon! If you have any questions or would like to see something specific added, I’m always open to feedback.
|CD: Cooldown||GCD: Global Cooldown||AoE: Area of Effect|
|DoT: Damage over Time||MS: Main Stat||DPS: Damage Per Second|
|FS: Flame Sweep||RS: Rail Shot||TD: Thermal Detonator|
|RP: Rocket Punch||MB: Magnetic Blast||SC: Shoulder Canon|
|EB: Energy Blast||ED: Explosive Dart||DfA: Death From Above|
|RPS: Rapid Shots||RB:Retractable Blade||VH: Vent Heat|
|EF: Explosive Fuel||TSO: Thermal Sensor Override||HO: Hydraulic Overrides|
|KO:Kolto Overload||EL: Energy Lode|
Gearing & Stat Builds
The Combat Tech set bonus is the only applicable to AP.
Information pertaining to stats in the next section assumes Exemplar Adept Ear Piece and Implants (High Power/Critical Rating) are used in addition to the following enhancements and mods in all slots (with the exception of the final build option, High Alacrity/Critical Rating, which uses x1 Alacrity Advanced Quick Savant Enhancement).
Note: All Combat Tech Exemplar gear pieces come with Advanced Lethal 40X Mods (Item Rating: 208). A total of 4 Accuracy Enhancements will initially need to be replaced (3200 commendations in total).
The above gearing set-up preferences power and critical rating as a baseline from which to swap to other stat builds (Note: I prefer to keep Exemplar Adept Ear Piece and Implants so I can easily swap back to a high power & critical rating build if desired). Assuming you do the same, enhancements or augments can then be swapped out to for high critical rating, alacrity or blended stat builds (depending on whether you have more credits or commendations!). Do not use accuracy in your gear. At this point, people commonly want to get straight to the point of determining what is ‘best in slot’ for PvP purposes? Objective testing is required to definitively address this question. Although we can look to Parse programs, diminishing return curves and theory crafting as a guide, fluctuating PvP dynamics make it almost impossible objectively determine which stat totals yield the best results. Ultimately, your stat build should reflect your personal preferences and what you’re trying to achieve. Quite simply, if you want to see crits more frequently, opt for the critical rating build. Likewise, if you enjoy faster GCD’s, lower CD times and speedy game play, opt for the alacrity build. The next question, of course, is how much of each stat should be used? Again, this is personal preference. I’ve experimented with the following builds outlined below with good success. Please note that if you gear yourself exactly as I have for any given build below, your stat totals may still be slightly out to those provided due differences in ascertained Datacrons. Prior to 4.0, I had acquired all relevant Datacrons for PT but have not sought any of the other Mastery Datacrons since Patch 4.0 which saw old class specific Main Stat Datacrons converted to Mastery. This is worth doing however.
High Power Build
- X9 Advanced Lethal Mod 40X
- X7 Advanced Adept Enhancement 40X
- X14 Advanced Overkill Augment 40X
A solid and safe bet for regs, solo or team ranked. I’ve seen some really good AP players pull high DPS in team ranked situations with this build. However, there is some evidence to suggest that Power augs result in a DPS loss over Critical or Alacrity augs.
Power / Alacrity Build
- X9 Advanced Lethal Mod 40X
- X7 Advanced Adept Enhancement 40X
- X7 Advanced Overkill Augment 40X
- X7 Advanced Alacrity Augment 40X
Consider the effects of alacrity carefully before deciding on any related build. Alacrity reduces almost every metric related to time. This includes durations related to the GCD, CD, debuff, and internal CD’s on certain passive abilities. I’ve seen some argue that alacrity is the only stat that is still ‘working for you’ when stunned because of these effects related to time. Others have argued that high ability executions are needed per minute to gain a DPS advantage from the stat. Food for thought. However, I’d probably advise against alacrity in 4v4 DPS solo ranked situations given that AP is often focused first and may go down early so the effects of alacrity may be underutilised vs. a high power or a critical rating build.
High Power / Critical Rating Build
- X9 Advanced Lethal Mod 40X
- X7 Advanced Adept Enhancement 40X
- X7 Advanced Overkill Augment 40X
- X7 Advanced Critical Augment 40X
Suitable for regs, solo ranked or team ranked. If you enjoy seeing crits hit more frequently and harder, this would be the suitable option. This is especially the case since Surge was rolled into Critical Rating in 4.0.
High Alacrity / Critical Rating Build
My personal stat preference for group ranked is as follows:
- X9 Advanced Lethal Mod 40X
- x6 Advanced Adept Enhancement 40X
- x1 Alacrity Advanced Quick Savant Enhancement 40X
- x7 Advanced Critical Augment 40X
- x7 Advanced Alacrity Augment 40X
I haven’t tested this build since the 20% nerf to the passive surge bonus in the 4.03 patch. Prior to this, I saw extremely good results with this in sustained fights without breaks, especially team ranked. It may still be viable, but I certainly enjoyed this build for fast paced pressure with moderate but frequent crits.
Again, consider these builds as guides. Tinkering with these to suite your own objectives is encouraged. But I wouldn’t go too extreme (e.g. x14 Alacrity).
Exemplar Relic of Serendipitous Assault is a must. But you can opt for either Focus Retribution or Devastating Vengeance. The choice is yours. However, there is some evidence to suggest that both Power and Mastery relics are a better choice over Crit.
Different utility configurations are justified for varying situations and to suite particular play-styles – there is no single ‘golden bullet’ utility set-up. Nonetheless, some utilities are undoubtedly better overall options than others. Taking on feedback from my last guide, I’ve outlined small annotations elaborating on the usefulness of each possibility for your own consideration. Use this information to think about what you want to achieve and configure your utility set-up as you see fit. However, if you’re just looking for something to get up and play with, then I’ve provided a my personal utility set-up for team ranked at the end of this section. I’ve also provided ‘quick and nasty’ subjective ratings out of 10 (higher is better) for each utility based for frequency of use and overall significance of impact.These values are subjective and strictly a quick reference.
Bracer Propellant – Frequency 7/10, Significance 6.5/10
AP PT is inherently a mid-ranged AC with 8 of its 10 regular DPS abilities executable from 10 meter range. This utility is mildly complementary to this end.Best combined with Suppressive Tools, giving MB a 30% slow debuff, together these are useful for kiting melee, especially when HO is on CD. To really take advantage of this utility, excellent positional awareness is needed (i.e. there isn’t much point in taking this if you don’t utilise maximum range to your advantage). For example, in 4v4 DPS solo ranked situations, I always try to maintain as much distance as possible while putting out pressure so as to make myself harder to close on.
Gyroscopic Alignment Jets – Frequency 9/10, Significance 8/10
This utility is not about saving you from overheating; rather, it allows you to chain high DPS abilities in succession without overheating. For example, you might a ‘lose’ a couple of GCD’s due to a stun, pushback etc. With this utility, coming out of an incapacitating effect basically means you’re able add an extra couple high DPS abilities in succession without resorting to your auto-attack or relying on PPA to procRS in order to manage heat. Remember that AP is foremost a burst pressure spec and so being able to chain abilities in this manner is important. With the number of stuns, knock backs and other incapacitating effects this utility is of frequent benefit. I basically see this as mandatory regardless of ability level.
Iron Will – Frequency 7.5/10, Significance 8/10
Because AP does not benefit from any significant resist/deflection orientated DCD’s, positioning is that much more critical to survivability. HO is frequently the first DCD used to create time/space from sustaining damage. This will take HO’s CD from 45 down to 35 seconds. Coupled with Torque Boosters, it’s possible to have a total HO up-time of 10 seconds, meaning it essentially has a 25 second downtime.
Suppressive Tools – Frequency 7.5/10, Significance 8/10
There are already a lot of slows in the game, many originating from regular rotational abilities. However, because AP is often a desirable first target, this utility can be of enormous benefit to assist in kiting. This is especially the case if you don’t take Iron Will or Torque Boosters. A worthwhile option for reg or ranked game-play, especially involving melee opponents.
Pneumatic Boots – Frequency 8/10, Significance 2/10
Pneumatic Boots does not work out of combat. To put the benefit of this utility in context, you will only gain a 2 meter advantage on your opponent across 30 meters if both moved in a straight line. For kiting purposes, Suppressive Tools is more valuable. If you’re a regs orientated player, this utility might be useful for moving between nodes that little bit faster (again, keep in mind though, this does not work out of combat) or possibly carrying a Huttball (I haven’t tested if it stacks with HO but I get the feeling it doesn’t).
Reflective Armor – Frequency 3/10, Significance 2/10
The important thing to note here Close and Personal is a Passive that can only be triggered by AoE attacks on a rate-limit of 3 seconds. When I’ve checked back over game logs after team ranked games, I’ve seen some players have taken this to maximise their damage output. I feel there are better utility options worth taking.
Neural Delay – Frequency 2/10, Significance 1/10
It’s really hard to justify this utility,let alone compare it to Suppressive Tools which causes MB to do exactly the same thing. The only difference is Neural Dart has a 30 meter range with a 15 second CD. The only situation I can think this may be of benefit is assisting an ally being chased at 10-30 meter range from your own position. Or possibly to slow a single target coming towards you just as they come within 30m range. But again, I feel Suppressive Tools is more valuable to this end because its slow effect on MB is not bound by a CD as Neural Dart is.
Engulfing Flames – Frequency 1/10, Significance 1/10
I never use Flame Sweep in my rotation nor do I recommend it to anyone for AP. Running a high power gear build (see Gearing), FS is capable of doing a measly 1870-2085 without this utility. However, I’ve seen some AP’s use FS in groups of players. Because AP is squishy in the sense that it doesn’t really have a big escape DCD (i.e. combat stealth, phase walk, bubble etc.), I try to avoid stacking like the plague. For this reason (and others!), I can’t justify this utility selection in any circumstance.
Torque Boosters – Frequency 6/10, Significance 7/10
Without this utility, HO only lasts for 6 seconds or 3 GCD’s. If you don’t take Torque Boosters, but do take Overdrive, 6 seconds of HO is more than enough to evade an opponent when white barred. But if your resolve bar isn’t filled,and you decide to popHO without this utility, don’t be surprised if you get stunned out of its benefit. My point is your personal use of HO partly dictates whether or not this utility will benefit you. If you’re someone who pops HO almost on CD without really considering your resolve bar, you’ll find this utility useful. From another perspective, if you enjoy playing objectively in regs games, this selection is also great for moving quickly between nodes when coupled with Overdrive or great for carrying the Huttball. Although 4 seconds may not seem like much, I certainly feel a difference in playstyle between a 6 and 10 second HO.
No Escape – Frequency 3.5/10, Significance 4/10
If you enjoy peeling/assisting teammates, the grapple immobilize is suited to that end. Catching people in Stealth Scanis rare, but even if you did, immobilising for 3 seconds at that point of reveal seems invaluable and kind of random. I don’t take this utility.
Pyro Shield – Frequency 3/10, Significance 2/10
In 1v1 situations, if someone tunnels you for entire duration of energy shield that’s potentially 13040 (x10 GCD’s = 15 seconds); possibly useful for duelling. However, smart players will often try to CC / mezz you out while your ES is running. Other than that, I feel other utilities present stronger cases for inclusion.
Accelerated Reel – Frequency 3/10, Significance 3/10
This selection takes Grapple from 45 down to 30 seconds (Note: Grapple fills 20% of resolve). Pulling someone out of position at the right time can be a massive blow to your opposition in reg or ranged situations allowing your team to collapse for an easy kill. In team ranked situations, running a reduced CD on Grapple is beneficial on two fronts. The first is for a Carbonize & Cleave set-up (running with at least one other PT, tank or AP). That is, pulling in targets together, Carbonizing and then cleaving with DfA. Keep in mind however that Carbonize has a 45 second CD so running the reduced Grapple CD for a double PT cleave comp may be pointless for the purpose described.
Sonic Rebounder – Frequency 4/10, Significance 6.5/10
I don’t mind this utility in team-ranked situations where burst windows or abilities are somewhat foreseeable. For example, it’s possible to reflect an Ambush (Marksman Sniper) because it’s casted or TD (AP PT or Innovative Ordinance Merc) due to delayed explosion. If you feel confident in your awareness to foresee large burst windows fairly frequently, opting for this selection may leave your teammates better off rather than hitting Sonic Missile taunt on CD.
Prototype Electro Surge – Frequency 4/10, Significance 6/10
Taking Electro Dart’s CD from 1 minute down to 50 seconds, bringing it closer in line with Carbonize’s CD of 45 seconds. Personally, I like to stun lock people out with overlapping CD’s, especially in solo and team ranked situations so having AP’s two stuns closer in line with each other is useful for burst windows.
Hitman – Frequency 3/10, Significance 3/10
This takes your interrupt, Quell, from 12 down to 10 seconds. Without this utility, I do seem to notice instances fairly often where I was <2 seconds away from a possible interrupt window. (Note: Quell has a 4 meter range). However, keep in mind this only equates to one extra interrupt every minute providing you’re interrupting on CD.
Explored Area – Frequency 5/10, Significance 7.5/10
Stealth Scan has an AoE of ~12 meters. This is really useful for peeling for a team mate in reg or solo ranked situations or helping your teammates to move between reg nodes faster. This provides no personal direct benefit however and keep in mind that AP tends to be a first target of choice so there may be other utilities worth considering for solo ranked in particular.
Enhanced Paralytics – Frequency 8/10, Significance 8.5/10
A must for team-ranked in order lock out opposition for longer burst window opportunities. Without this utility, stun durations are 2.5 seconds for Carbonize and 4 seconds for Electro Dart. Keep in mind that a 5 Electro Dart will completely fill resolve whereas the baseline 4 seconds fills 80% of the bar. A 2.5 second carbonise fills 50% of the resolve bar and 3.5 seconds fills 70%. With or without this utility, it’s worth noting that if your goal is chain CC for a burst window, it’s almost always better to start with Carbonise and then Electro Dart to manage this resolve effect appropriately. Also, starting with Carbonize may bait and early CC break thus allowing you to potentially lock your target out for 5 seconds with Electro Dart in order to drop them.
Overdrive – Frequency 8/10, Significance 9/10
Among DPS classes, AP is one of squishiest without doubt. Although HO only lasts for 6-10 seconds (depending on your utility selection) 45% movement speed allows you to kite significant distances very quickly.
Automated Suit – Frequency 2.5/10, Significance 8.5/10
Two stuns are generally enough to fill resolve and as such, having two stuns breakers may seem nice for 4v4 solo ranked DPS matches. However, keep in mind that AP benefits from 30% damage reduction from all sources when stunned.I don’t take this for team ranked situations. When KO is activated, it remains on your bar for 1 minute after which point it goes on CD for 3 minutes. I prefer not to break unless a) My resolve has just been filled b) I believe I can mitigate more than 30% damage after breaking.
Liquid Cooling– Frequency 3/10, Significance 3.5/10
Thermal Sensor Override allows your next ability to cost no heat. To put the benefit of this utility into context, AP PT abilities range from 13-20 heat, with most being around 15 heat (RB, TD, MB, RP, ED). I don’t feel this treated as an answer to accidently overheating, rather as I’ve mentioned for Gyroscopic Alignment Jets, it’s a means to chain together one extra DPS ability in succession for burst purposes rather than resorting to Rapid Shots to manage heat.
Shield Cannon– Frequency 3/10, Significance 7/10
This utility is particularly good for solo ranked in 4v4 DPS games. With the ability to pre-load 7 Shoulder Cannon Missiles, this basically equates to a second med-pack with each missile healing you for 5% of your health. Note however that a debuff called ‘Trauma’ is applied in PVP whereby your healing and damage is reduced by a certain percentage. I’ve tested it and it seems that each Shoulder Cannon missile will heal for XX health. Still very decent and worth consideration for solo ranked in particular.
Fuel Additives– Frequency 2.5/10, Significance 3.5/10
EF has a 15 second duration. Probably the best use of this utility comes for 4v4 DPS solo ranked situations. However, taking this utility should not change the ultimate purpose of when you use EF (i.e. as an offensive CD for greater burst). Think of it as more of an incidental dmg reduction bonus. If you’re inexperienced in solo ranked and find yourself getting dropped fast and regularly, I think this utility could be somewhat helpful to learn the intricacies of this spec (especially if you’re finding it hard to land your stuns at the correct time to prolong your life). I don’t recommend this for experienced players however.
Jet Speed– Frequency 3.5/10, Significance 4/10
A nice little utility for reg games, especially in Huttball. Nothing too special about this though.
Efficient Suit – Frequency 2.5/10, Significance 4/10
Electro Dart and Carbonize both cost 5 heat. Most single target DPS abilities for AP cost 15 heat. To gain the most out of the stun component of this utility, you’d be aiming to overlap stuns for a burst window whereby you may be able to chain an extra regular rotation DPS by saving on 10 heat from the stuns. The extra range on pull is nice but really not essential.
PvP dynamics make adherence to any set rotation highly difficult. Adaptation is required depending on fluctuating circumstances. In no order of importance, I’ve outlined three simple rules for successfully executing AP’s rotation in a PvP environment.
Rule 1: Prioritise DPS abilities.
Assuming Retractable Blade has been applied to the target (discussed further under Rule 2); the following priority system rotation is intended for maximum DPS potential based on a sustained single target engagement (AoE abilities are discussed later in this section). DPS abilities are therefore prioritised according to damage output from highest to lowest.
(Retractable Blade) Energy Blast* > Thermal Detonator > Rail Shot > Rocket Punch > Magnetic Blast
*Only use when Energy Blast is fully proc’d via x4 stacks of Energy Lode (granted by x4 Rail Shot). EB can be fully proc’d by x4 stacks of EL (granted by x4 RS). It also benefits from an auto-crit every 1 minute via the 6-piece set Combat Tech set bonus. Although you don’t need to wait for the auto-crit to use it, it should ONLY be used when fully proc’d with x4 EL stacks.
Rule 2: Proc Prototype Particle Accelerator (Passive) on CD
This is the key managing heat in the AP rotation. There are two main points here
- To achieve maximum DPS potential by managing heat optimally, it’s important that this proc is activated on CD. This basically means that every 4th DPS ability should be Rocket Punch, Magnetic Blast or Explosive Dart. This is actually hard to mess up unless you use Thermal Detonator, Energy Blast, or Death from Above the same GCD that would have proc’d PPA.
- Although it’s important to proc PPA on CD, Rail Shot should not always be executed in the next GCD. Thermal Detonator & Rocket Punch should be prioritized, if the PvP situation allows, ahead of Rail Shot. This is because these both have static CD’s, do more damage than MB and they have debuffs attached to them. This is linked to Rule 3 and explained further there.
Note: A proc’d Rail Shot on target with Retractable Blade bleed reduces heat. A proc’d Rail Shot on a target without Retractable Blade bleed has no effect on heat. An unproc’d Rail Shot increases heat. The heat reduction from RB’s bleed effect is very handy; it is not absolutely necessary in reg games, but is vital in group ranked.
Rule 3: Rapid Shots need to be used to keep heat under 40%.
Taking advantage of Prototype Particle Accelerator passive correctly is half the story to managing AP’s resource pool.The other half is using Rapid Shots at the appropriate moment. This is probably the hardest aspect of the AP rotation as the best time to use Rapid Shots to manage heat occurs on an irregular basis; the best time is when both TD and RP are on CD AND your next GCD isn’t one that procs RS. Rapid Shotting when TD and RP are available for use is a DPS loss. As explained under Rule 2, this is because these both have static CD’s, do more damage than MB and they have debuffs attached to them. As such, you can understand that using Rapid Shots at the appropriate moment is not only relevant to managing heat, but also maximising DPS/avoiding DPS losses. Using Rapid Shots at this moment sometimes means that it will occur when you’re nowhere near diminishing returns on heat (> 40%).
The whole point of this is so that you can delay RSin the scenario that TD and RP are off CD at roughly the same time and so via this conservative heat managing method, you can continue to keep TD and RP CD 100% of the time or as best you can/the situation allows.
Note: You’ll know you’ve entered diminishing returns on heat when you lose one of the 4 small errors on your heat scale. The image below depicts heat balance just prior to entering diminishing returns. I often scan my eyes towards this bar to keep track of my heat visually. Never enter diminishing returns (>40 heat) unless using a high burst rotation with VH available.
Maximum Surprise Burst Considerations (Explosive Fuel Rotation):
Before outlining burst rotation information, it’s important to be aware of debuffs associated with AP’s DPS abilities.
1. Sundered: 20% armour debuff applied by RP. 45 second duration.
2. Susceptible: 5% increased tech damage debuff applied by TD. 45 second duration.
3. Bleeding: 3% increased damage debuff applied from RB. 20 second duration. Refreshed by RS and ED. Either direct or splash damage.
Preferably, it’s better to apply the three debuffsbefore going into a maximum surprise burst rotation. Sometimes this may not always be possible or appropriate to apply all debuffs however. For example, in team ranked or solo ranked games involving tanks and healers, I know I’ll most likely be alive long enough to apply all debuffs before firing off my EF rotation. In 4v4 DPS situations, depending on whether or not I’ll be targeted first, I may not live long enough apply the debuff from TD and wait for TD to come back up again to use EF. Hence, the use of the EF rotation is entirely situational. The following rotation assumes RB has been applied.
TD>(EF) >RP>EB>SC (x7)>RS>MB>RS> MB.
*Proc’d from x4 stacks of EL and, if available, the auto crit. from the 6-piece Combat Tech set bonus.Note: Using this combination is resource costly, so be prepared to use VH or at least TSO for EB.
With this rotation, TD will explode within the same GCD that EB is unleashed within – potentially hitting for ~35k, if both abilities crit.RS can replace EB when it’s not fully proc’d with x4 EL stacks.
EB is the preferred option however for 3 reasons:
- It hits far harder!
- Unlike RS, it is a tech attack. As such, it benefits from the Susceptible debuff (in addition to others).
- You get an auto crit. every minute via the 6 piece set bonus.
Note that SC does not respect the GCD. This means you can use other abilities as SC is firing off. I’ve arranged my key binds so that I can easily spamSC while simultaneously hittingMB and RS keys. If you’re fast enough, you should be able to get off x2 RS’s and x2 MB’s just as SC finishes unloading. Also note that SC needs to be preloaded. Initial activation grants 4 missiles, with an additional 3 missiles loading gradually over 18 seconds. Preloaded missiles last 5 minutes on your bar.Only when all 7 missiles have been depleted will SC go on CD.
You can break from the single target rotation to use AoE abilities in the following situations:
1. Explosive Dart:
Use ED if its explosion will hit at least 3 targets (excluding tanks). It’s a 4 second timed explosion and the radius is ~4 meters, so you have to pre-empt opponents remaining within that radius. For example, if you see melee players focusing one teammate this could be a solid opportunity, as they are likely to remain clumped until it explodes.
2. Death from Above:
Use DfA if you’re able to catch at least 2 targets for its entire 3 second channel. It has 6 ticks, so even catching 2 targets for 2 seconds can deal a significant amount of damage. Heat cost now occurs over gradually over cast duration, so don’t freak out if you’re interrupted/need to cancel out of this ability early.
DON’T USEUNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE as AP. It does minimal damage, has no slow effect, andi s resource hungry.
4. Flame Sweep:
I’ve seen people playing AP use this in solo ranked and reg arenas in grouped situations. However, I never do this. My view is that AP is foremost a single target DPS burst class and should therefore be played as such. I see this as ‘fluff’ damage because it’s not sustained/significant AoE pressure.
AP is largely a mid-ranged ranged spec and should be played as such! Of AP’s 10 attacks, 8 can be used from 10m range! Good AP PT’s take advantage of this. The closest I’ll get to a target is 4m when applying RB or RP. At all other times, I’llmaintain a 10m range from which all other abilities are executable. This provides space and therefore time between me and sustaining melee attacks in particular. Keeping distance may also make you an undesirable target to swap to. I’ve unbound my back-pedal key, and for good reason! It’s much faster to strafe in, out and around your target, rather than back-pedal away. If you want to maximise damage mitigation, get used to strafing!
Good players cycle CDs! This means using defensive abilities conditionally, thus minimising the time you’re left without any mitigation options. Generally, defensives can be prioritised according CD length and duration. But as with anything in PvP, fluctuating game dynamics will ultimately dictate the best method of use.
1. Kiting/Hydraulic Overrides:
This should be your most frequently used CD, and your first priority in most situations. As HO is often up, it can be easy to pop it on CD, especially with the amount of time you may spend rooted/slowed in this game. Try to avoid doing this, as 35-45 seconds (depending on your utility selections) can be a long time to go without a much-needed increase to movement speed in certain situations. HO should therefore only be used when your movement speed becomes so inhibited that your damage potential/mitigation becomes compromised.
2. Sonic Missile:
This doubles as a taunt, but is not generally acknowledged forits personal defensive capability (30% defensive chance for 6 seconds). It’s ‘best’ use is ultimately situational. In group ranked, I try to keep it on CD to mitigate damage to my teammates. Solo ranked and regs are a different story – if I see TD, Ambush or even Cull coming my way, it offers a decent chance to resist considerable damage. Not many people realise this, but it also offers the chance to resist stuns. Note that taunts don’t require a GCD so there is no reason not to use them! To take complete advantage of this fact, consider keybinding your taunts in a physical location on your mouse/keyboard that does not interfere with you missing a GCD in your regular DPS rotation.
3. Energy Shield:
The same applies here as it did in 3.0. With a 180 second cool down and only 15 seconds duration, you’d want to pop it just as you begin to take significant sustained damage.Don’t save it when you’re getting tunneled – pop it! Sustained damage reduces its CD by 3 seconds on 1.5 second a rate limit,so it can be used effectively every 50 seconds in heated games.
4. Electro Dart and Carbonise (stuns):
For new players in particular, try not to use your stuns on CD for the sake of it. Although stuns can obviously be used offensively, keep in mind that AP is a relatively squishy class and therefore do not use your stuns defensively while you have raw mitigation CD’s running. For example, in a 1v1 situation you pop ES or Adrenal and then decide to stun your target! This is an unnecessary overlap of CD’s from a defensive perspective.
5. Kolto Overload:
Sometime before 3.0, KO benefited from 30% increased damage reduction while active. This was almost God mode, I almost never died through Kolto. Now, it’s possible to get taken down from some unlucky crits from two decent opponents. Although I’ve mentioned the importance of cycling DCD’s, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to stack Adrenal with your KO window under extreme burst situations. I’ve found a single player can almost burn though KO, rendering it almost useless. As such, running Warzone Adrenal with KO isn’t a terrible idea.
Note: KO does not have its cooldown reduced through taking damage for AP.
6. Determination (CC breaker):
Stuns are often used in conjunction with burst to prevent damage mitigation via DCDs/kiting. AP has a nifty 30% damage reduction while stunned, which is greater damage mitigation than Energy Shield! While a good offense is often the best defence, it’s not entirely the case at times for this class.Try not to break hard stuns unless you can mitigate more than 30% damage via other means and/or the burst is too great(i.e. you need to pop medpack/Kolto or you’ll die). Breaking to gain time or space via an AoE stun or HO (but NEVER both at the same time) can be worth it,depending on how much damage you’re taking (i.e. if you would otherwise die without using further defensives). This requires careful attention to the situation. For example, you might take a heavy 14k Raging Burst while stunned from a Fury Marauder. In situations like these, it can be easy to get rattled and instinctively break +medpack. However, it’s unlikely that any follow up attacks from the Fury tree will drop you while stunned. Thus, although it might be scary for a second, riding out the stun and eating 30% mitigated damage may be the better option rather than breaking. Remember that even exceptional players can unlucky in these situations! Accept that you’ll sometimes die when it would have been better to break. But if you follow this logic, you’ll win most, lose some.
Having a good UI set-up can assist your performance immensely. Everyone has their own preferences which may work well for them. I’ve listed some changes I’ve made over the seasons which I found help to improve my performance.
Target of Target set-up
Enabled via the UI Editor.As the name suggests, enables you to see who your target is targeting. For example, a solo ranked match has just commenced, you’ve left the gates and your opposition is rushing your team. In this situation, quickly tabbing to each of your opponents will reveal you who they have targeted. This can provide you with valuable information to either begin kiting before they come into range or start to set-up peels for another target.
Enabled via the UI editor. You’ll also need to go into Preferences > Controls > and ensure ‘Enable Focus Target’ is checked under the General heading. You’ll also need to setup a Focus Target key-bind. I normally put Healers on Focus Target for solo or team ranked games. Thisallows me to more easily see when an opposition healer is stunned or casting a heal as resolve and cast bars are located at this area. Depending on the situation, I can hold down a Focus Target Modifier key-bind (I use S key) to target the healer and then hit my leap or pull to interrupt at a critical moment (i.e. a target is low/out of DCD’s).
Ability groupings for efficient reference
I’ve grouped frequently used DPS abilities together on my bar. I feel this helps me to spend more time focusing on reading the fight as my eyes only need to quickly can this area of my UI, perceive several CD timers located in close proximity to one another, and then focus back on the engagement. Locating these left of screen means that I only need to use my peripheral vision to do this. I do the same for defensive CD’s, deliberately located just beneath my health bar. I locate all abilities that do not have a CD on bars hidden in the background. I find this removes unnecessary clutter, further assisting me to more quickly perceive CD timers.
Solo ranked considerations
Positioning at the start of a match.
Note: This Solo Ranked Considerations section is unfinished. I’ll continue to update and add further information. Presently, I’ve only covered positioning at the start of solo ranked matches. If you want to see something specific added here, please leave a comment. Also, I’ll add in a team ranked section so make sure you check back soon!
AP PT is one of the squishier Advanced Classes in the game. This is because it lacks a big escape DCD (e.g. combat stealth or port) and does not benefit from any major resit/deflect/dodge DCD’s (e.g. deflection, shroud, saber ward) besides a 30% increase to defence chance from the Sonic Defence passive for SM. Keep in mind that most DPS set-bonuses have an auto-crit on a significant ability which is activated in the regular rotation. Also, remember that relic procs are triggered by DPS/healing abilities and confer significant stat boosts. Because of this, the start of any solo ranked match is the most dangerous/critical.As such, careful consideration must be given to positioning at the start of a match to confer an advantage (or at least not put you at a disadvantage) off the bat! The following sub sections outline recommendations for positioning at the start of DPS, healer and tank games.
4V4 DPS matches
You cannot charge into a 4v4 DPS situation and expect to survive long regardless of skill level. Because AP PT is almost always targeted first, I’ll almost always let my teammates engage ahead of me by a good 30 meters. Target of Target can be useful by providing some indication of who will be targeted first. Keep in mind that teammates in any given game may not always be keen to rush ahead of you and don’t rely on asking anyone to do so, as a general rule. As the opposition begin to close space, I’ll normally hang back a bit and try to stay near a LoS pillar. If you have a strong idea that you’ll be focused first, don’t feel the need to rush in and begin applying pressure immediately. In the scenario that my team engages in combat ahead of me, I’ll monitor health pools to see if any focus is occurring. If not, I know the opposition either haven’t decided on a target or are potentially waiting for me. If there is focus occurring and one teammate is being tunneled, I’ll move immediately from my LoS position and begin doing as much as I can from 30 meters before closing to melee range. This means firing off TD, ED, RS, & DfA prior to moving in. If I can, I’ll normally Grapple someone (preferably the focus target) and apply pressure. In the scenario that you’ve pulled someone and it’s basically a 1v1 away from the main group, be mindful that smart players may try to CC you out once you’ve popped ES and return to the main group, basically rendering your major CD useless. This doesn’t happen too often though. Normally, I’ll use SM as a personal DCD 4v4 DPS matches – because this offers the chance to resist incoming attacks, never overlap with ES.
On Harbinger, tunneling healers in solo ranked matches doesn’t occur to often unless it’s a merc or operative target (by in large, sorc healers are most common). Assuming a healer is decent, the more common and ideal strategy is to CC them out and focus a squishy DPS. This normally means AP! In healer games, it goes without saying that you must be mindful of your healer’s positioning so as to not LoS. As I’ve mentioned previously, the start of any solo ranked match is one of the more dangerous moments in the game due to auto-crits and relic procs. In healer games, it’s also the moment your healer has empty resolve! If I’m almost 100% sure that I’ll be focused first, I’ll typically try to position myself to keep my own healer between myself and the opposition at the start of the match. My aim is to bait the opposition into white barring my healer early before they reach me. This gives me a little more confidence that I can engage without concern over receiving heals. It also means that if my healer is competent, I might be able to hold back on ES until their full resolve ends, prolonging my life.
Tank matches (with and without healers).
Prior to getting into positioning at the start of tank matches, it’s critical to be aware of the Guard mechanic conferred by tanks. Guard is can be placed on ally, enabling 50% all incoming damage to that target to be redirected to tank. The image below depicts the visual animation for guard, a faint blue circle shimmering around Lana Beniko in the first image below. Guard has a maximum 15 meter range – once you become separated from your tank by more than 15 meters, the guard mechanic will no longer redirect any damage to your tank. You’ll know you’re out of guard range when the debuff shown second image below appears on your bar.
Your positioning at the start of these matches really does rely on how your tank will play the game. In tank games without healers, there are two ways you can position yourself at the start of the game. The first is very similar to that provided under the 4v4 DPS subsection above. A potential pitfall of this strategy in letting your teammates engage ahead of you however, is that if you chose to keep ~30 meter range, you may potentially leave yourself opened to being focused without the guard mechanic from your tank being in range (maximum 15 meters). Your tank may get stunned or mezzed out of moving back to guard/peel for you with this strategy. The second strategy is stay within 15 meters of your tank right from the start of the match. This is usually a safe option if you have guard at the start or are somewhat confident that guard will switch to you fast if required. Deciding on which strategy is a judgement call in the moment as the best strategy is often dependent on where your tank moves and how the opposition engage you.
Using ES & exploiting full resolve.
If you happen to get opened on first by multiple players ahead of your teammates, popping ES straight away to negate auto-crits and relics procs is critical. More often than not, I’ll be stunned early on in any game (4v4 DPS, tanks, or healers involved). If you pop ES prior to getting stunned, you’ll negate 55% damage! Ride this damage out and don’t stun break unless you can mitigate more than 55% damage otherwise (basically never). You can typically count on inexperienced players stunning you and sometimes filling resolve early on. In an ideal scenario, your resolve will be filled while ES is active. Then, after ES ends, popping HO with full resolve is a free license to do anything you want. I normally use this to continue kiting as much damage as I can while using ranged abilities. Try not to overlap HO with ES either.It’s counterintuitive to pop a mitigation CD only to kite away from sustaining damage.
About the Author
Some may know me better as Bangers from Seasons 1-3 on Bastion or maybe my Operative Pre’med which I played regularly last season (S6). I moved to Harbinger at the end of S3 and began playing other classes more regularly and renamed all of my characters to some variation beginning with ‘Pre’. I’ve achieved Tier 1 on PT in every season, in addition to T1 playing healing, tanking and other DPS classes across the seasons. My hardest achievement on PT came in placing 6th World playing the unfavorable old school Flamethrower Spec (now acknowledged as Pyro) in an era with a much healthier PvP population than exists presently. I was defiant to make it work in a season dominated by AP PT’s as is the case today.