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Gunslinger Builds: Saboteur

April 24, 2013

geldarion current PvP gear


Welcome to the Gunslinger Builds Guide. This guide is focused on the Saboteur tree, and contains all Saboteur builds I have used or will at some point use. This means that the other build guides on my site for the Saboteur tree may not be kept up-to-date, but this one will always be kept current. Also be sure to check out the other guides on the other two trees, Sharpshooter and Dirty Fighting!

This build guide will be in three parts. The first part is a brief description of the tree and its uses. The second part is what I consider to be “core” talents in the tree, i.e. talents I would never go without. The third part contains all of the variations that I use, have tried, or have thought about trying.

Also be sure to check out the Gunslinger/Sniper Advanced Class Guide!

The Saboteur Tree

This tree is heavily AoE based, with decent burst and sustained DPS, good maneuverability, and good defenses. This is the best spec for holding a point, as the area control skills and defense make for a good holdout playstyle. The trick to Saboteur is being able to aim Incendiary Grenade, learning how to use your cooldowns, and being able to keep track of your energy usage.

This spec has many uses in PvP, including the following strategies.

  • Huttball: Mid control and defense
  • Voidstar: AoE damage on chokepoints, door control
  • Alderaan Civil War: Node defense, soloing/1v1s
  • Novare Coast: Node defense, lane interruption (with slows, long-range stun, etc.)
  • Ancient Hypergates: Node defense, healer harassment

Four of a Gunslinger’s normal skills in particular get multiple buffs.

  • Thermal Grenade: Critical damage buff, reduced cooldown, reduced energy cost, damage boost
  • Quick Shot: Reduced energy cost, inflicts DoT
  • Speed Shot: Inflicts DoT, reduced cooldown, reduced energy cost
  • Sabotage Charge: Damage boost, drops Contingency Charges which deal damage and return energy, reduced cooldown, reduced energy cost

Gunslingers gain three new skills.

  • Shock Charge: a DoT with no cooldown, but only one can be active. Can slow enemies.
  • Sabotage: Resets the cooldowns on Cool Head, Defense Screen, Hunker Down, and Hightail It. Can also heal for 5% total health.
  • Incendiary Grenade: Ground-targeted AoE DoT that slows enemies inside it and stuns anyone with Shock Charge on them with the initial hit. This skill has an 18-second duration with an 18-second cooldown, making it possible to keep it on a node indefinitely.

Hightail It, the new level 51 skill, gets a buff with the talent Scatter Bombs. Hightail It drops five bombs along the way as you roll. If rolling in one place, such as into a wall, it can drop all five bombs on one target.


  • Shock Charge, then Flourish Shot to debuff.
  • Incendiary Grenade on top of them, Sabotage Charge -> Speed Shot to destroy all the Contingency Charges.
  • Thermal Grenade as energy allows.
  • When DoT is about to expire, move from cover and hit them with the now-free Quick Shot.

Strategies for Defending Against Players

  • Stay in cover if possible for damage reduction and healing from cover
  • Use Hunker Down to avoid CC.
  • Cast Incendiary Grenade on yourself against melee characters, as well as XS Freighter Flyby if they are stunned.
  • Use Defense Screen early.
  • Sabotage if needed for health return and to reset Defense Screen’s and Hunker Down’s cooldowns
  • Don’t forget Scrambling Field! It has a cooldown reduction in this spec.

Now let’s talk about the core talents I will pretty much always take.

Core Talents

Saboteur has a lot of good synergies, roughly based around AoE damage, defense skills, and the Blazing Speed DoT. There are a total of 30 points that I basically cannot live without in my builds. I am so very attached to some of the talents in Saboteur, that it is very difficult for me to pick.

Tier I (5)

I. Cool Under Pressure (2/2) – Regens 1% of your health while in cover. This is nice between waves of enemies or in the middle of a 1v1.

I. Streetwise (3/3) – Increases Cunning by 9%. This is a major damage boost, especially at endgame.

Tier II (5)

II. Independent Anarchy (3/3) – AoE damage and Sabotage Charge damage boost, what isn’t to love?

II. Saboteur’s Utility Belt (2/2) – Reduces the cooldown on Thermal Grenade and Flash Grenade, the former of which is a great AoE DPS boost.

Tier III (5)

III. Contingency Charges (2/2) – Grants Contingency Charges to your Sabotage Charge, which amounts for the largest portion of your burst damage. This tiny charges can only be blown up every half second, which is just perfectly how often Speed Shot does damage! What a coincidence!

III. Shock Charge (1/1) – DoT that has a stun feature when used in conjunction with Incendiary Grenade. Great skill.

III. Dealer’s Discount (2/2) – Reduces energy costs of Sabotage Charge, Shock Charge, and Incendiary Grenade, a.k.a. my three favorite skills in this spec.

Tier IV (3)

IV. Insurrection (1/1) – Increases the number of Contingency Charges, plus it adds the feature that they now return energy when consumed.

IV. Arsonist (2/2) – Increases the critical damage of all (that’s right, ALL) AoE skills by 30%. This includes Thermal Grenade and Incendiary Grenade.

Tier V (3)

V. Sabotage (1/1) – This skill makes this tree’s defenses, as it returns health (with the Press the Advantage talent) and resets Defense Screen and Hunker Down, which are major defensive cooldowns.

V. Press the Advantage (2/2) – Makes Sabotage heal for 5% of your total health, plus it reduces the cooldown by 15 seconds.

Tier VI (3)

VI. Riot Screen (2/2) – Reduces damage taken in cover by 6% and lowers the cooldown on Scrambling Field by 30 seconds. Major defensive boost.

VI. Blazing Speed (1/1) – Adds a potent DoT to Speed Shot. You will be using it anyway to blow up Contingency Charges, so you might as well add a DoT to it.

Tier VII (5)

VII. Scatter Bombs (2/2) – Reduces the energy cost of Thermal Grenade by 4, making it easier to spam. Also gives Hightail It the special bombs that drop when you roll.

VII. Jury-rigged Mods (3/3) – Lowers the cooldown of BOTH Speed Shot and Sabotage Charge by 4.5, effectively raising your burst potential quite a bit. It also reduces their energy costs.

Tier VIII (1)

VII. Incendiary Grenade (1/1) – This beautiful, wonderful skill is simultaneously a perma-AoE (18-second duration with an 18-second cooldown), a ground-targeted area slow, and the longest-range stun in the game when you use it on someone with Shock Charge on them. This beauty of a skill makes defense of nodes a breeze, and it allows you to get the advantage on someone by starting off a 1v1 by stunning them with a DoT on them while they are standing in an AoE that will slow them when they get out of the stun. Possibly my favorite skill in the entire game.

What I Left Out and Why

The other talents in the tree are good, but not good enough to be considered my “core” talents.

  • I. Bravado – While extra energy is often a good thing, if you aren’t running through your energy all the time, you might not need this.
  • II. Pandemonium – This makes Charged Burst instant after a Pulse Detonator, which might be good in some situations, and it does capitalize on the fact that after Pulse Detonator, the target is rooted and the root won’t break in the first 2 seconds, so the Charged Burst won’t break the root. Unfortunately, this is situational.
  • II. Underworld Hardships – Increases your Endurance by 4%. This can be good in defensive situations, and that can be 800 health at level 55. That isn’t a lot when looking at pure number comparison (there are a lot of skills that do a lot more than 800 damage). That can, however, push you over the limit on health to get the 3k heal medal when you use Sabotage, so that can be useful.
  • III. Sapping Charge – This skill adds a slow to Shock Charge, which I do love for PvP. It isn’t necessary for PvP though.
  • IV. Hot Pursuit – This makes Quick Shot free when it is used in the 6 seconds after leaving cover. This can only occur every 20 seconds though. This is great when combined with Hot Shot, but it is situational.
  • V. Seize the Moment – I really don’t like this skill. It eliminates the energy cost of the next Sabotage Charge orIncendiary Grenade after using Sabotage. I don’t really notice the difference in what I can do in PvP with this skill, though it might be good in PvE with controlled rotations.
  • VI. Hot Shot – Makes Charged Burst and Quick Shot inflict the same buff that Speed Shot does, making it possible to keep it up 100% of the time. I like this because of that feature. It may not make a huge difference, but in PvE, it can really help DPS.

Specific Builds



Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This spec is characterized by the choice of every energy-saving talent. This helps the burst of this stay consistent. During long fights, too many Thermal Grenades can make for an empty energy pool, so there are several talents here that help with that. In addition to the core talents, I specifically take Seize The Moment, even though I typically hate that talent. The reason is to make Sabotage Charge an actual source of energy return by making it free, which then makes the energy return on Contingency Charges worth even more. Also on the list of require talents is Hot Pursuit, which enables free Quick Shots, which will help with maintenance of the Blazing Speed DoT with the talent Hot Shot.

From Sharpshooter, I take all three points in the namesake talent Sharpshooter. I also take Steady Shots like in pretty much every build I ever make. The boost to Speed Shot is an obvious help, but Charged Burst can also be boosted when it is used in place of Quick Shot to keep the Blazing Speed DoT up. Finally, I take Sharp Aim, because 20% armor penetration on a large attack like that is worth it!

Last, but not least, from Dirty Fighting I take No Holds Barred, since I typically need the crit in this build. I don’t build for crit as much on my gear, so this is always nice to take when I can.

“Don’t Trust The Healer” Build

Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This build is what I run when I PUG anything in PvE, simply because I don’t know if I will get enough healing for the aggro I might pull off of the crappy tank. It is basically the Sustained DPS build, but it forgoes Seize the Moment and Hot Pursuit, and instead plans for the worst by taking Cool Under Pressure for the healing and Underworld Hardships for the extra health.

From Sharpshooter, it takes Steady Shots and Sharpshooter like the Sustained DPS build, but it swaps Sharp Aim for Ballistic Dampers for the 30% damage reducing shield. That stacks on top of the 6% damage reduction from cover from Riot Screen and the 20% damage reduction from Scrambling Field for a comfortable 56% damage-mitigation shield when the crap hits the fan and the healer is too distracted to worry about the DPS.

We keep the No Holds Barred from Dirty Fighting as well.


Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

Saboteur is my preferred spec for leveling. The massive AoE damage and defense is extra good here. Here is my list in order of what I would take, complete with respecs.

Cool Under Pressure, Bravado, 1 point of Streetwise
Independent Anarchy, Saboteur’s Utility Belt
Contingency Charges, Shock Charge, Dealer’s Discount
Insurrection, Arsonist, Hot Pursuit
Sabotage, Press the Advantage
Go back down and pick up Pandemonium for a little utility
Blazing Speed, Riot Screen, Hot Shot
Jury-Rigged Mods, Scatter Bombs
Incendiary Grenade

After this, head over to the Sharpshooter tree for Ballistic Dampers, Steady Shots, 1 point in the Sharpshooter talent, Sharp Aim
At this point, it might be beneficial to respec and get rid of Pandemonium and take the rest of Streetwise
Then top off with No Holds Barred from Dirty Fighting

The main idea behind this is to not take too many talents that boost direct stats, as while leveling, you aren’t really trying to min-max. Also, AoE buffs, survivability buffs, and practical utility skills are all good things to pick up.


Survival Build

Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This is my favorite PvP Saboteur spec. This build has all the defense Saboteur can muster, and it contains a few select skills from other trees to help out.

From Saboteur, we specifically go for the Underworld Hardships and Cool Under Pressure skills to help with health and regen. Bravado helps bring the pain because more energy equals more potential burst DPS. At level-cap, the Streetwise talent is very useful, so we take that as well.

From Sharpshooter, we take Ballistic Dampers for the 30% damage-reduction shield (see the note in the “Don’t Trust The Healer” build above). We also go all the way up to Sharp Aim to help burst people down.

From Dirty Fighting, instead of No Holds Barred like on most of the other builds, I go for 1 point in Holdout Defense. This allows me to have a 25% speed boost if people get too close.

Blazing Speed Build

Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This build goes for a slightly more mobile theme, and tries to pull off a DoT spec while remaining fully in Saboteur. While not as potent as Dirty Fighting builds, it does help to have multiple options. This is a more sturdy DoTs build, I guess.

The Blazing Speed DoT is able to be inflicted with Speed Shot, Quick Shot, and Charged Burst because of the talents Hot Shot and Blazing Speed. Anything that buffs any of these skills is something we want in this spec. Specifically, we take Pandemonium for an instant Charged Burst and Hot Pursuit for free Quick Shots while on the run. I am also attempting to buff all DoTs in this spec, so I get Sapping Charge to add a slow to Shock Charge.

From Dirty Fighting, we pull Black Market Mods so we can boost our Alacrity (and thus, especially if we have the gear, we stay in cover less when using channeled skills). We also take the No Holds Barred talent for extra crit and Holdout Defense for a 50% speed boost. Continuing up the tree, we finish with Mortal Wound and Open Wound, of which the former makes Vital Shot have a 25% chance to tick twice, and the latter increases Vital Shot’s duration by 3 seconds. Again, buffing DoTs as much as possible.

Hybrid Builds

“More DoTs!” Build

Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This 0/28/18 build capitalizes on several bonuses simultaneously. Primarily, we see that Blazing Speed gets all of its buffs, and we get major buffs from Dirty Fighting as well.

From Saboteur, we go up the tree taking the main talents with the addition of Pandemonium and Hot Pursuit. We stop at Tier 6 with Blazing Speed and Hot Shot.

Over in Dirty Fighting, we take Holdout Defense, No Holds Barred for the crit chance, Dirty Escape for a lower cooldown on Dirty Kick, and Mortal Wound and Open Wound for their buffs to Vital Shot (mentioned above in the Blazing Speed build). Then things start getting juicy with Shrap Bomb, Bombastic (which adds damage to Shrap Bomb), and Cheap Shots (which buffs Charged Burst and Speed Shot which we are using anyway. Then finally, we take Black Market Equipment for a 12% increase in DoT crit chance and Fighting Spirit which returns energy on DoT crits.

Overall, this will be an interesting build because of the four (count ’em, 4!) DoTs that we can have on people at once.

“Bombs Away” Build

Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This hybrid build focuses on getting the most out of cover and Thermal Grenade. We take all of the good skills in Saboteur up through Scatter Bombs in Tier 7, and we borrow from Dirty Fighting to get a little more “oomph” from our Thermal Grenades.

From Saboteur, we take the usual Blazing Speed buffs and the Cool Under Pressure talent for health regen. We stop at Scatter Bombs.

From Dirty Fighting, we take the same talents for the first two tiers as we typically have in the past few builds, and we stop at Bombastic.

In Sharpshooter, we place the last two points into Ballistic Dampers.

Now that we have Bombastic, we have a 8% damage boost on Thermal Grenade, on top of the 15% damage boost from Independent Anarchy, on top of the 30% crit damage boost from Arsonist, on top of the reduced energy cost from Scatter Bombs. That gives us a high damage, high crit damage, spammable AoE attack. Pretty nice!

Speed Shot Build

Gunslinger Version || Sniper Version

This hybrid build takes as many buffs to Speed Shot as it can. It is more for the novelty, as I have not tested it.

From Saboteur, we go all the way up to Jury-Rigged Mods, and stop at 2 points for a lowered cooldown and energy cost for Speed Shot. We then go up Dirty Fighting all the way to Cheap Shots for a 6% damage boost. We also grab Steady Shots from Sharpshooter for yet another 6% boost in damage to Speed Shot.

Update Log

Guide written and published on 4/24/13 for Update 2.0.0

Other Links

For a complete look at the Gunslinger, check out my Gunslinger/Sniper Advanced Class Guide.

For past (and definitely outdated) builds, see the following links:


Survival Gunslinger


Leveling Sharpshooter/Saboteur

Sustained Gunslinger

Focused Sharpshooter

On-the-run Sharpshooter

Dirty Fighting

DoTs and Bleeds Gunslinger

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  1. April 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm
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