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Gunslinger/Sniper Advanced Class Guide

March 14, 2012

Welcome to the Gunslinger/Sniper Advanced Class Guide! This is the go-to compendium of knowledge for The Fanatical Swordsman on the Gunslinger and Sniper advanced classes.

LAST UPDATE: Update 2.0.0


Note from Geldarion: The Gunslinger is my main, and I find it an extremely fun playstyle, especially if you like ranged DPS. While difficult to play well in PvP, the Gunslinger/Sniper can be a potent force if played correctly. For readability sake, since it is my main, I will use the term Gunslinger as the overall descriptor of this class-type, especially for things that are true of both classes, such as discussions of general tactics. However, I will refer to the specializations by both their names, and I will show builds for both the Smuggler and the Agent, and I will refer to skills in a manner as such: Smuggler skill name/Agent skill name.

Roles and Overview

The Gunslinger is a DPS class, pure and untainted. The class is primarily focused around using the Cover mechanic and is somewhat dependent on it. When a Smuggler chooses the Gunslinger as its advanced class, it gains some important upgrades, the greatest of which is increased range on most, if not all, blaster attacks. This range is the largest in the game, at 35 meters. Another bonus is Portable Cover (the energy shield on the ground). This grants 20% ranged defense even when in the open, and it makes attacks uninterruptable by damage.

Cover

For a Gunslinger/Sniper, cover comes in two varieties. Use of actual cover (the kind you “roll” into, like rocks, crates, etc.) grants the ability for ranged attacks against you from enemies standing in the cone of cover to actually be completely mitigated, at least while you aren’t firing shots of your own (which is when you will get the 20% ranged defense). Portable Cover simply gives you 20% ranged defense. However, rolling into actual cover can lose some positional advantage. Use each wisely.

Portable cover in use, plus Hunker Down/Entrench

Energy

The Gunslinger/Sniper’s resource is called Energy. Starting out, without any additional talents, Gunslingers and Snipers only have 100 Energy. Taking the Saboteur/Engineering Tier 1 ability Bravado/Energy Tanks gives 10 extra energy with all 2 points in it. Several level 50 sets (both PvP and PvE) have an additional 5 Energy as a set bonus. The Energy regeneration rates decrease as Energy levels go down. The Energy regeneration rates are as follows:

0%-19% 2 energy per second
20%-39% 3 energy per second
40%-59% 4 energy per second
60%-100% 5 energy per second

Level 51 Special Skill

The Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion brought a new skill at level 51 called Hightail It/Covered Escape. This skill is a 18m roll in the direction of your camera that deposits you in Cover at the end. While rolling, you have 100% chance to dodge incoming attacks. Each of the three specs buffs this skill differently.

Sharpshooter/Marksmanship: With the talent Stay Low/Portable Bunker, after landing in Cover at the end of Hightail It/Covered Escape, you get 3 seconds on Hunker Down/Entrench, which can grant a speed buff if you immediately run if you have the talent Heads Up/Seek Cover.

Saboteur/Engineering: With the talent Scatter Bombs (same name for both classes), Hightail It/Covered Escape drops five bombs behind you as you roll. If you time a jump right or roll into a wall next to your enemy, you can drop all of them on one target, as you will not roll away. Also, the Sabotage/EMP Discharge resets the cooldown on Hightail It/Covered Escape.

Dirty Fighting/Lethality: With the talent Incendiary Mine/Corrosive Mine, Hightail It/Covered Escape will drop an AoE DoT in the place you were before you used the skill. This DoT will also slow the targets affected. It is not confirmed yet whether this DoT counts towards Wounding Shots’/Cull’s damage boost.

The 3 Specializations

There is a talent in the Sharpshooter/Marksmanship tree that increases Energy regen by 1 while in cover. This is certainly a talent one would want for PvE, and perhaps even in PvP, if you are generally good about staying in cover for extended periods of time, which the mobility demands of PvP don’t usually allow.

There are three options when it comes to the way Gunslingers and Snipers do DPS.

Sharpshooter/Marksmanship

The first specialization, Sharpshooter/Marksmanship, is heavily cover-based with high burst and sustained DPS. This has been deemed by the community a more PvE-based spec, but it can be used in PvP. The key is making the most of movement and using terrain efficiently so as to minimize the movement required.

This specialization has three active skills available that come from speccing into the tree.

The first, available at level 20, is called Diversion (both the Smuggler’s skill and the Agent’s skill have this name). It is an anti-cover skill to use against other cover-users, as it knocks the target out of cover and prevents them from re-entering cover for 6 seconds. It also reduces the accuracy of the target by 45% for 9 seconds, which is useful against all enemies except Operation Bosses, which are immune.

The second active skill is available at level 30, and it is called Trickshot/Followthrough. This skill becomes a regular part of the Gunslinger’s rotation, costing very little energy, doing a lot of damage, and on a relatively short cooldown. It can only be used within 5 seconds of a Charged Burst/Snipe, Aimed Shot/Ambush, Quickdraw/Takedown, or a complete Speed Shot/Series of Shots, but it can be used on the run even out of cover.

The third active skill and final, Tier 8 ability in the tree is available at level 45. It is called Burst Volley/Sniper Volley. This skill immediately ends the cooldown on Speed Shot/Series of Shots, and grants 50% extra energy regeneration as well as 10% bonus Alacrity. On a 45-second cooldown, this is a great skill for use in high-demand scenarios, especially when paired with Illegal Mods/Target Acquired.

Builds

Gunslinger Builds: Sharpshooter

Outdated Builds

PvE Specs:

Sustained Gunslinger/Sniper (Updated for 1.3.2)

PvP Specs:

Focused Gunslinger/Sniper (Updated for 1.3.2)

On-the-run Gunslinger/Sniper

Saboteur/Engineering

The second spec is the Saboteur/Engineering tree. This is a more mobile playstyle that relies on DoTs and AoEs to do damage. The combo of both make it an extremely powerful PvP tool for preventing the taking of objectives. There are also defensive bonuses available in this spec.

This specialization has three active skills available that come from speccing into the tree.

The first skill, available at level 20, is called Shock Charge/Interrogation Probe (SC/IP). This is a large DoT, single target, that has an 18 second cooldown and 18 second duration. It really becomes a useful stun when paired with Incendiary Grenade/Plasma Probe.

The second skill is available no earlier than level 30 and is called Sabotage/EMP Discharge. Sabotage resets the cooldowns on Cool Head/Adrenaline Probe, Defense Screen/Shield Probe, Hunker Down/Entrench, and Hightail It/Covered Escape. It also heals you for 5% of your total health with a talent. Its cooldown is 1 minute and 15 seconds, but with a talent it becomes 1 minute.

The third skill, which is the Tier 8 ability, is available at level 45 and is called Incendiary Grenade/Plasma Probe. This skill has an 18 second cooldown and duration, and it is an AoE DoT over a certain area for up to 5 enemies. This is great for preventing captures of objectives. It also stuns a target if they have SC/IP on them, which essentially gives you the longest-ranged stun in the game. Very handy skill.

Builds

Gunslinger Builds: Saboteur

Outdated Builds

PvP Specs:

Survival Gunslinger/Sniper (Updated for 1.3.2)

Dirty Fighting/Lethality

This is the shared tree with the other advanced class. The Dirty Fighting (DF)/Lethality tree focuses on CC, single-target and AoE bleeds, and mobility, making it a powerful spec in PvP, as well as when soloing. It was arguably the highest DPS spec before Rise of the Hutt Cartel, though more testing will be needed to see if it keeps that title.

This specialization has three active skills available that come from speccing into the tree. They work well together, with a lot of synergy.

The first skill is available at level 20 and is called Shrap Bomb/Corrosive Grenade. This skill is an AoE bleed for 21 seconds, making it a sustainable way to keep the damage flowing. Other abilities in the tree modify this to have a 30% slow as well. With no cooldown, it is easy to spread out a lot of damage on multiple targets with this skill.

The second skill, available at level 30, is called Wounding Shots/Cull. This skill is ideal to use after bleeding up targets, as it increases in damage the more bleeds that are present on the target. The only downside is that it is channeled over 3 seconds, but a high amount of Alacrity could reduce it to at most 2.7 seconds, perhaps even down to 2.5 seconds. In PvP, be in Cover while using this; even though this is a more mobile spec, you don’t want to get interrupted while using this skill.

The third skill, which is the Tier 8 ability, is available at level 45 and is called Hemorrhaging Blast/Weakening Blast. This is also an ideal skill to use right after bleeding up a target, because in increases the damage of the next 10 bleed effects. It is also free to use as of Update 1.2.

Builds

Gunslinger Builds: Dirty Fighting

Outdated Builds

PvP Specs:

DoTs and Bleeds Gunslinger/Sniper (Updated for 1.2)

Author’s Favorite PvP Spec: Saboteur/Engineering

Saboteur/Engineering offers a great deal of survivability. While your numbers in Warzones might be lower than in a Sharpshooter spec when it comes to pure damage, in 1v1 combat on Ilum or in a Warzone, Saboteur has the longest staying power. Sabotage (which heals for 5% total health) and Defense Screen become usable every minute, damage taken in Cover is reduced by 6%, Scrambling Field has a lower cooldown, energy regeneration is really good, and AoE abilities are really buffed.

When attacking, use Shock Charge then Vital Shot to get the bleeds ticking, then Flourish Shot to debuff them for the coming burst damage. Hit them with Incendiary Grenade to stun them, then toss Sabotage Charge followed with Speed Shot to get some nice burst damage. Use a lot of Thermal Grenade, especially in chokepoints, etc. You can keep the DoT from Speed Shot up between cooldowns with uses of Charged Burst or Quick Shot.

When needing some defensive options, Cover is a 6% damage shield in this spec essentially and Hunker Down/Entrench gains 20 seconds (potentially 40 seconds) of anti-CC. Use Defense Screen, Hunker Down, and Sabotage and  as soon as damage starts rolling in. Against range attacks and lightsabers, use Dodge/Evasion, as it gives 3 seconds of 100% dodge to ranged and melee attacks. Use it on their hard hitting stuff if you can (i.e. early, since they will try to hit you hard first).

My personal spec for use in Warzones is the Survival Saboteur. It also incorporates the Ballistic Dampers talent from the Sharpshooter/Marksmanship tree for extra survivability.

Author’s Favorite PvE Spec: Sharpshooter/Marksmanship

In my personal opinion, Cover is a powerful tool that when used correctly can make a huge difference in your game. While there are definite benefits to the other two trees, I like that Sharpshooter has a great number of tools that can be used in many situations. It is obviously good for PvE, as the channeled shots and induction skills lend themselves to stationary play. It has very high DPS, especially when taking the extra abilities like Tier 4 skill Foxhole, which increases the energy regeneration rate while in Cover, and Burst Volley, which increases Alacrity and energy regen for a short time, which increases DPS.

The Ballistic Dampers skill (same name for both classes) is incredibly useful for getting that extra defense just for going into Cover. Diversion (same name for both classes) is a great tool for staying alive because it reduces your target’s accuracy by a significant amount.

Here is one of my favorite builds: Survival Gunslinger. This has an emphasis on health regeneration and damage mitigation in long fights and sustained DPS.

PvE Strategies

  • Cover placement should be in range of all the mobs you are going to need to kill, because you don’t want to have to move.
  • Ideally, use Scrambling Field/Ballistic Shield when your group is about to take a ton of damage. Strategic use of this skill can save the group from a wipe.
  • Diversion is useful to debuff accuracy on all mobs in PvE except for Operation Bosses, as of Patch 1.1.2.
  • Flourish Shot/Shatter Shot debuffs armor by 20% and should be kept up on the main DPS target at all times. It is on a very short cooldown, and does not have a prohibitive energy cost.
  • Quickdraw/Takedown has a low energy cost and is very damaging. As soon as a mob gets below 30% health, it should always be kept on cooldown.
  • Remember that your energy regenerates more slowly at lower levels. Keep it above 50%, and you probably won’t run out.
  • Every PvE build should consider having the following abilities, as they are all Tier 1:
    • Dirty Fighting/Lethality
      • No Holds Barred/Lethality (3 points) – Increases crit on ranged and tech abilities by 3%. This is ALL of your skills.
    • Saboteur/Engineering
      • Streetwise/Gearhead (3 points) – Increases Cunning by 9%. Main stat increase, /heckyes
      • Bravado/Energy Tanks (2 points) – Increases total energy by 10. Now you can use more skills before running empty.
    • Sharpshooter/Marksmanship
      • Steady Shots (2 points) – Increases damage done by Charged Burst/Snipe, Speed Shot/Series of Shots, and Wounding Shots/Cull by 6%. These are all skills we use frequently, and this is useful regardless of spec.
      • Sharpshooter/Marksmanship (3 points) – The namesake skill in this tree increases accuracy by 3%, which doesn’t matter much in PvP, but in PvE it is extremely useful. A straight-up way to increase damage across the board is to hit more often.

PvP Strategies

  • Hunker Down/Entrench should be used immediately after going into Cover when in the middle of a firefight, and especially when going 1v1. The first thing people like to do is take you out of the fight by using a CC skill. Hopefully, they blow its cooldown and can’t use it when you aren’t actually CC-immune anymore.
  • Watch the Resolve meter above your opponent’s head. When it is all white (i.e. full), the target can no longer be CC’d, and that includes knockbacks. Leg Shot can still go through, but is subject to shielding.
  • Use Defense Screen/Shield Probe when you are out of CC skills and knockbacks, or when your opponent has a full Resolve bar. You want that mitigating as many attacks as possible, so the sooner you pop it after starting to take consistent damage, the better. If you are dead and you still have the little probe guy around you, you waited too long to pop it, because it could have been protecting you longer.
  • In Huttball, save your roots for when the ball carrier is crossing the fire. Also, having your knockback ready is a good way to give your team more time by knocking the carrier off of the higher ramps into the pit.
  • Remember that when you are in cover, Warriors and Knights cannot Force Jump to you and Troopers and Bounty Hunters cannot grapple pull you.
  • Remember that you have no auto-attack, so be spamming that Flurry of Bolts/Rifle Shot when running around. Be tabbing around for enemies under 30% health to make use of Quickdraw/Takedown, which is a great skill to use on the move for a high amount of damage.
  • Every PvP build should consider having the following abilities, as they are all Tier 1:
    • Dirty Fighting/Lethality
      • No Holds Barred/Lethality (3 points) – Increases crit on ranged and tech abilities by 3%. This is ALL of your skills.
    • Saboteur/Engineering
      • Cool Under Pressure/ Vital Regulators (2 points) – Regens 1% of your health per second while in Cover. Great for a little boost during 1v1s and while not being focused.
    • Sharpshooter/Marksmanship
      • Steady Shots (2 points) – Increases damage done by Charged Burst/Snipe, Speed Shot/Series of Shots, and Wounding Shots/Cull by 6%. These are all skills we use frequently, and this is useful regardless of spec.
      • Ballistic Dampers (2 points) – Grants three stacks of a 30% damage-mitigating shield when you pop into Cover. Great for surviving the large hits.

Crew Skill Selection

Crew skill selection can be important to a class’ progression. Only one crafting skill may be trained at a time, and the options that are really useful for a Gunslinger/Sniper are Armstech, Cybertech, Armormech, and Biochem. Artifice and Synthweaving are mostly useless, though Artifice can make Enhancements and Color Crystals and Synthweaving can make medium armor Custom armor pieces that a Gunslinger/Sniper could mod with Cunning mods. You will find that Armormech has more class-specific equipment, though. For a Smuggler, the best two options are Armstech and Cybertech, as their companions have the best bonuses in the game for those two. Agents are best suited for Armormech and Slicing, due to their companion bonuses.

Update Log

04/23/12 – Updated for 2.0.0, added Update Log

Related Articles on The Fanatical Swordsman

Gunslinger Builds: Dirty Fighting

Gunslinger Builds: Saboteur

Gunslinger Builds: Sharpshooter

Gunslinger Rotation Thoughts

PvE Talent Build: Leveling Gunslinger 23/18/0

Patch 1.2 – What it will mean for Gunslingers

PvP Talent Build: DoTs and Bleeds Gunslinger 0/10/31

PvE Talent Build: Sustained Gunslinger 31/5/5

PvP Talent Build: Survival Gunslinger 7/31/3

PvP Talent Build: Focused Sharpshooter Gunslinger 30/2/9

Quest Advice: The Lightspring

PvP Strategy: Gunslinger’s Dampers Defense

Expect Excellence

PvP Talent Build: On-The-Run Hybrid Gunslinger 29/5/7

Beginner’s Guide: The MMO Trinity – DPS

SWTOR Beta Top 4: The Smuggler Class

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