06 Marksmanship

I consider Marksmanship to be a strong candidate for leveling and the most straightforward spec to play. It is viable in both PvP and PvE.

Edit: I just finished tooltip-linking this section to make reading a bit less tedious (and hopefully easier for players new to the class). Enjoy.

Marksmanship Basics

Damage:  High single-target burst and sustained damage (arguably some of the highest single-target burst in the game). Critical hits (both energy and kinetic) are vital to realizing damage potential.

Energy Usage: High to moderate at low levels. Moderate and predictable at high levels.

Mobility: Low with a high dependency on cover.

Survivability: Moderate to low. Marksmanship is better in group play. Kiting is possible but can be difficult.

Utility: Moderate, lots of short-term control abilities and some zone denial tools.

Rotation and Cooldown Management: There are a lot of situational cooldowns, but your basic ability priorities become intuitive and easy to use over time. You’ll always have something to do.

Conclusion: Marksmanship has high damage and moderate control potential but can suffer in the survivability and mobility department. I prefer it for “sustained” DPS in all situations because the ability priority is intuitive over time and you are more often punished for being poorly positioned than for misusing cooldowns. 

In PvP, you may suffer without a team. In PvE, you may suffer in “new” fights when you don’t yet know how to position yourself to avoid taking damage. 

The rewards are consistent damage and more predictable pacing during otherwise unpredictable fights.

Leveling Builds (tested)

I use Marksmanship to get myself to 35 in solo PvE. Level 35 is where most Sniper talent trees get their build-defining tools and where you can respec to other trees if you choose. Click on the "numbers" to open the builds in a new window (courtesy of torhead's talent calculator).

Marksmanship Leveling Build (to 35)


Rationale: I prioritize pure damage and defense talents over utility talents (i.e. Imperial Demarcation and Pillbox Sniper).

Suggested Build Order 

Marksmanship Leveling Build (to 50, no respec)

Rationale: This build has a mixture of offensive and defensive talents acquired as you level. It follows the build order above and then continues in a fairly logical fashion as you approach 50.

Suggested Build Order

Engineering Tree: Gearhead (3), Energy Tanks (2)
Lethality Tree: Lethality (3)
Engineering Tree: Vitality Serum (2)

Max Level Build Options (tested)

Basic Marksmanship Damage Spec (suitable for PvE and PvP)

Rationale: I take two points out of Cover Screen and put them into damage/offense talents, instead. This build is the baseline for most others. You always want the extra Cunning (Gearhead) in Engineering. The extra crit from Lethality in the Lethality tree is up to you, but I like to get that in pretty much every build I run.

Variations on other control and defensive abilities in the Marksmanship tree will be up to you, but at least 31 points total in Marksmanship are necessary. You can trade the points in Cover Screen and put them into Imperial Demarcation for the reduced Leg Shot CD, etc. You can also choose not to go for Heavy Shot (though I prefer it for PvP) and pick up something like Sector Ranger or part of the Pillbox Sniper talent. A pure PvE build based on this one might drop Heavy Shot and put a point into Cover Screen or Vital Regulators, instead.

Eventually it gets to be a matter of playstyle preference. I tend to prefer consistent alacrity procs (i.e. from full talents in Reactive Shot and Sniper Volley) to Vital Regulators (linked to the use of Adrenaline Probe) because Marksmanship does not have the ability to reset Adrenaline Probe the way that the Engineering tree can (using EMP Discharge).

Pros: Higher and more consistent damage, interrupt potential from Heavy Shot (mostly a PvP talent, though it has solo PvE applications), overall good damage and extra health/energy from the Engineering tree

Cons: Squishy, with longer CD on Entrench and few escape options

Marksmanship “Slip Away” Mobility Spec (PvP only)

Rationale: An example of an alternative spec that prioritizes the Slip Away Talent in Lethality to give Marksmanship a movement/escape buff that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access. This sacrifices the extra energy and endurance in the Engineering tree in order to get the extra mobility from the Lethality tree. I tend to take the same 31 points in Marksmanship because I like being able to count on the instant snipe from Snap Shot when rolling into cover, consistent stacks of Sniper Volley, and consistent access to Sniper Volley via Reactive Shot. Some people don’t mind if the “speed” talents don’t activate all the time.

Imperial Demarcation and Pillbox Sniper are both highly useful talents in their own right. The only thing I don’t take as often in PvP is the Cover Screen defensive talent. Once you get to a high enough level, you can elect to be a little more squishy in favor of doing more damage or increasing your control potential. Again, I tend to prioritize the talents higher in the Marksmanship tree when electing which to take overall (so, for Marksmanship, Sector Ranger and Pillbox Sniper over Imperial Demarcation). The talents that are lower in the Marksmanship tree tend to mesh better with other primary specs (i.e. Engineering and Lethality).

Pros: Higher mobility and escape potential.

Cons: Misses out on a larger health pool and energy pool. If you go for Imperial Demarcation and Cover Screen in Marksmanship rather than consistent alacrity procs from Reactive Shot and Sniper Volley, you’ll have more control that complements the Slip Away talent in Lethality but potentially sacrifice Marksmanship’s characteristic and consistent damage. This may be worthwhile if you’re planning to be solo in PvP and/or you don’t have a dependable healer. Preferences vary according to playstyle.

Marksmanship PvE Damage (Sustained or Burst; PvP viable)

Rationale: This spec assumes you have decent gear and can hedge not having the extra HP from the Engineering tree in favor of getting Pillbox Sniper and Sector Ranger. These talents complement each other well and can be useful in a group PvE setting when you need to be interrupted less (i.e. use Entrench a lot) and use Orbital Strike more as well. Because Orbital Strike can be set and then “forgotten,” you can set it up (huzzah, lower cast time from Sector Ranger!) and then move to another cover point to reset your cover buffs. Predictable procs give you the opportunity to get into cover and apply your damage, then move and reset if necessary.

Pros: More frequent Orbital Strike and Entrench, excels at sustained and predictable damage in a PvE setting

Note: The use of Sniper Volley in PvP is situational and takes practice. I happen to like it better than the alternatives. This spec or a variation of this spec can also work for people who want to experiment with both Sniper Volley and the reduced Entrench cooldown. I've been successful using either spec (though I tend to favor the extra Endurance from Vitality Serum, particularly as a "fresh" or "undergeared" 50!).

Cons: Sacrifices the higher health pool from Engineering and does not take Heavy Shot (one point in Cover Screen gives it slightly more survivability, but the point of the build is to make every “proc” talent predictable in both “Sustained” and “Burst” situations; a PvP build based on this spec will take Heavy Shot and ditch Cover Screen).

Key Marksmanship-Specific Abilities

Diversion: 40% accuracy debuff on your target. You can actually use it on an entrenched Sniper / Gunslinger to knock them out of cover (this worked in previous builds, I am not sure if this is going to be true for launch). The 40% debuff also applies to “caster” accuracy as well and can be good to use against Sages and other bosses that are trying to eat your face.

Followthrough: Highly efficient, unlocked after using Snipe and Ambush. Although it has inconsistent damage, it is very good when it crits and is most of the reason you covet crit/surge rating on your gear.

Rapid Fire: For anyone who likes to burst. Use this after you’ve fired Series of Shots, and it’ll reset the cooldown on that ability and allow you to use it again (the second Series of Shots will also not trigger a cooldown). Basically this gives you the opportunity to use Series of Shots three times in a row. Combine this with Target Acquired (20% alacrity self buff, obtained at level 50) and you are killing your target pretty darn fast.

Basic Ability Priority Breakdowns

IMPORTANT: Shatter Shot (20% armor reduction over 45 seconds) is most useful against Strong, Elite, and Boss targets. You may or may not need it on Strong targets (silver star), but I consider it required on Elites (gold star) and Bosses (complex silver/gold star).

Note: I won't be giving full explanations or providing a rationale for each step in my ability priorities. I am not claiming that my way is the best way (or that these represent "max damage"). My examples are for demonstration purposes only. You'll get an idea of what burst DPS looks like, what sustained DPS looks like, and the kind of combinations or effects that a max-level Sniper uses (or considers using) as a matter of routine. You may also start to see the places where "priority" breaks down and the situational uses of defensive and offensive cooldowns begin to occur.

It is my belief that examples of actual, organic ability usage will be more valuable to both new and experienced Snipers, alike.

At least until we have a combat log. Heh.

Solo PvE Priorities

Short fights and “Standard-Only” mob groups:
One hard-hitting ability per standard target (i.e. Explosive Probe one, Snipe/Followthrough, Ambush/Takedown); alternatively use several Fragmentation Grenades to clear out the whole pack (energy intensive) or one channel of Suppressive Fire (any group) / Orbital Strike (stationary or ranged groups) (this is all a matter of personal preference).

Strong-Standard (2 targets, before access to Followthrough):
Flash Bang the strong, kill the standard with anything convenient; On the strong: Laze Target / Explosive Probe / Snipe / Ambush / Snipe / Snipe / Takedown at 30%.

Strong-Standardx2 (3 targets, usually after access to Followthrough and Series of Shots):
Flash Bang on the Strong, kill the two standards (Explosive Probe/Snipe on one, Ambush/Takedown as applicable on the other).

The below assumes you have access to fully talented Sniper Volley and Reactive Shot. Otherwise, just use your burst priority of choice:

On the strong: Laze Target / Shatter Shot / Snipe, Followthrough / Ambush / Snipe / Snipe / Followthrough / Snipe / Series of Shots / Takedown (as CDs are available).

Strongx2 (access to all abilities, use of control and defensive CDs necessary, difficult fight):
Set your companion on one strong, Flash Bang the other.

Prepare to burn down the first:

Laze Target / Explosive Probe / Shatter Shot / Snipe / Followthrough / Ambush / Snipe (Followthrough when the CD is finished) / on the third stack of Sniper Volley hit Series of Shots; whenever the second strong wakes up hit it with Debilitate (getting you out of cover) then dive back into cover for another charge of Ballistic Dampers and finish off the first strong with Takedown and other abilities as needed (use of defensive CDs is situational, based on the type of strong and the amount of damage you’re taking).

At this point in the fight you should gauge your health and remaining energy to finish off the second strong.

IMPORTANT: Do not forget to apply Shatter Shot to the second strong target!

Use Rapid Fire if necessary and if your energy level permits (can be combined with Target Acquired and Adrenaline Probe if you need the energy for the second and third Series of Shots channels). 

If you decide to use your defensive CDs, I recommend stacking or applying them as a group (Entrench is only necessary if the mob can knock you out of cover), otherwise Evasion / Shield Probe / Ballistic Shield can combine well to give you the time you need to finish off whatever-it-is you’re fighting.

Be prepared to keep track of Debilitate, Distraction, and Flash Bang CDs. Those three are very good at preventing damage and buying you more time in a fight or giving you the opportunity to use full channels of Series of Shots in succession (via Rapid Fire).

Elite (access to all/most abilities, use of control and defensive CDs necessary, moderate to difficult fight):
These can be hard targets. Do not forget to use Shatter Shot. Using the "burst" priority that I recommend for killing strongs is advisable if you plan to burst / Adrenaline Probe / burst again.

Otherwise you can default to a more sustained priority that drains less energy and uses more defensive cooldowns (i.e. something like: Laze Target / Explosive Probe / Shatter Shot / Snipe / Followthrough / Ambush / Default / Default / Snipe / Followthrough / Shield Probe / Evasion / Snipe / Followthrough / Ambush / Default / Default / (Takedown and transition to burst at 30%).

Your "default" attack is Rifle Shot and is bound to the "1" key on your hotbar automatically. It is most commonly used as a way to pace energy usage or a fallback way to do damage if you've drained your bar and have no way to quickly regenerate your resources (i.e. while waiting to do something more useful).

Note: Make use of Series of Shots and 3-stack Sniper Volley as available. Knowing when to use burst and when to bide your time with sustained damage takes practice (especially when encountering elites with abilities you have not previously seen).

Flash Bang can be used to help line-of-sight kite something (you have eight seconds to find a pillar or crate to use as temporary cover) or give your healer companion time to top off your health bar. It can also buy you eight seconds of time in which to regenerate energy without taking damage. On long fights when you are solo, using Flash Bang and your other interrupts can be vital.

Fighting an elite at higher levels is a bit like fighting a more damaging strong with two or three times as many hitpoints that’s more likely to knock you out of cover. You can start to gauge your enemy’s cast bars and decide whether or not you need to interrupt something. You may also need to dodge out of AoE abilities or use some form of “natural” cover in order to counter ranged elites (which are the easiest type for you to defeat).

Melee and caster elites will provide the most challenge. If you’re using my leveling build, don’t forget that your Ambush also has a talented knockback effect from Heavy Shot that can be useful for interrupts and gaining distance on your enemy. Cover Pulse can be used in the same way.

Interrupts are covered in more specific detail a little later.

Group / Raid PvE Example Priorities

IMPORTANT: Your job is to keep your energy high until your target reaches 30% health and then begin using Takedown and burst damage as necessary. Keep an eye on the health of your tank and your group members. Do your best not to overkill targets and to relieve pressure on your tank when necessary. You may be called on to control enemies as well. Pay attention to your positioning and the timing of any special abilities that your boss or elite targets may be using. You have a 60second droid CC (Slice Droid) that can be useful in some Flashpoints and Operations (notably Directive 7).

Sustained Damage:

May pause half a second before ability usage or mix with default attacks. 

Use Explosive Probe, Followthrough, and Series of Shots as their cooldowns permit (and in roughly that order of priority).

Takedown becomes highest priority when your target reaches 30% health. Note that this is true no matter what ability priority you're using and no matter the situation! It hits hard, it crits hard, and it's brutally efficient damage.

Ambush has highest priority if Reactive Shot is active.

Snipe has highest priority on first and second stacks of Sniper Volley.

Series of Shots has highest priority on the third stack of Sniper Volley (though using Ambush is also acceptable, and if Followthrough is available and unlocked you can use that before sneaking in a charged/channeled ability on the third Sniper Volley stack, situational usage based on energy and available cooldowns).

Note: Corrosive Dart is useful on Elites and Bosses that live longer, as is Orbital Strike (put these on high-health targets, along with Shatter Shot, at the beginning of a fight).

Burst Damage (focus on procs and alacrity):
The below assumes you are at or near level 50, have 110 available energy from Energy Tanks, one point in Sniper’s Nest (+1 energy to all recovery levels), and full talents in Reactive Shot and Sniper Volley.

GCD = 1.5 seconds.

All numbers are rough estimates and should be taken as guidelines rather than gospel. A rotation more or less similar to this takes advantage of all Marksman’s primary damage buffs and cooldowns.

*Positive numbers represent the approximate amount of energy gained from regeneration during channels or GCDs, negative numbers represent energy usage. The "time" estimates at the end of each line represent semi-ideal cooldown usage.

Take Cover (Snap Shot Proc) / Laze Target (ensure Reactive Shot proc) / Shatter Shot (10 energy) (110-10+6 = 106) (1.5-2 seconds)

Explosive Probe (20 energy) (106-20+12=98) / Snipe (Reactive Shot Proc) (20 energy) (98-20+6=84) / Followthrough (6 energy) (84-6+12=90) (4.5-5 seconds)

Ambush (Sniper Volley Proc) (15 energy) (90-15+12=87) / Snipe (1 volley stack) (20 energy) (87-20+12=79) / Snipe (2 volley stacks) (20 energy) (79-20+12=71) (8-8.5 seconds)

Followthrough (6 energy) (71-6+6=71) / Snipe (3 volley stacks) (20 energy) (71-20+12=63) (4 seconds)

Series of Shots (20 energy, 2.5-3second channel) (63-20=43, 43+5=48, 48+5=53) / Rapid Fire (reset Series of Shots CD) / Target Acquired (20% alacrity buff) (53+5=58) / Series of Shots (20 energy) (53-20+3=36, 36+3=39) / Series of Shots (39-20+2=21, 21+2=24) (9-9.5 seconds)

Adrenaline Probe when/if needed (likely Reactive Shot proc from Series of Shots crits)

Ambush (can use before or after third Series of Shots, depending on energy and Adrenaline Probe availability) (15 energy) (24+2+2-15=13) (1.5 seconds)

Followthrough (6 energy) (13-6+2=9) (1.5 seconds)

Use Takedown as applicable or when your target hits 30% health.

When you're drained: Adrenaline Probe restores 50 energy over 3 seconds. During this time you can use Distraction, Diversion, and your default attack while your energy refills to full. 

The above is a “full burst” rotation from 110 damage to about as close to zero as you can comfortably get before using Adrenaline Probe. It takes approximately 33-35 seconds or so depending on how good you are at using cooldowns and represents quite a bit of damage. Explosive Probe will be off cooldown by the time your energy has finished regenerating and you can choose to go back to “sustained” damage mode.


If you’ve been following along so far, you have five potential interrupts or abilities that can act as interrupts: 

Distraction - adds a 5second CD to the ability interrupted

Flash Bang - 8 second stun that breaks on damage

Debilitate - 2 second stun and doesn’t break on damage, good to use Shiv in combination

Ambush - talented knockback via Heavy Shot to enemies within 10m range, can be used to interrupt and starts Sniper Volley procs

Cover Pulse - cover-only knockback, good to use after a Debilitate-Shiv combo if you need to interrupt again soon after returning to cover next to your target (particularly effective against melee and casters)

Creative use of these in solo and group PvE and PvP is essential to survival as a Sniper. They have many uses. Some more specific examples will be covered in the PvE and PvP tactics sections.

Using Adrenaline Probe

You can choose to front load your damage by blowing your cooldowns (Rapid Fire, Target Acquired, etc.) in order to get a jump on an enemy in fights where you may be outleveled or you risk getting hit with a high amount of damage (shorter fights and burst will be to your advantage in this situation).

In this case, burning your energy as fast as possible and using as many cooldowns as possible may keep you from getting damaged or interrupted later in the fight and give you more breathing room with your limited health pool. This involves draining your energy and then using Adrenaline Probe (and often Flash Bang) in order to get the full bar back and and let your cooldowns come back up.

This allows you to open up with a second round of burst damage (but it can take experience to know when to do this, it’s most effective on enemies with high damage but few interruptable abilities – melee elites, mostly).

Adrenaline Probe can also be useful if you’ve gotten surprised by enemy damage, have already blown your defensive cooldowns in the course of the fight, and then need an extra boost at the end to finish off your opponent (especially if you’ve been patiently interrupting an enemy and then missed one … or it’s a long fight and you’ve already used a medpack). This tends to happen more often on caster elites.

This more “reactive” use of Adrenaline Probe is also useful when you’ve been surprised by an additional “patrolling” enemy.

Keep in mind that Adrenaline Probe is on a 2min cooldown and use it accordingly. Your best energy management tool is the Sniper’s Nest talent. That, combined with the extra 10 energy from the Energy Tanks talent in the Engineering tree, will give you significant breathing room in both PvE and PvP.

Using Defensive Cooldowns

Defensive cooldowns are usually strongest when combined with each other. Because Marksmanship’s strength is in both predictable burst and sustained single-target damage, you have the option of either pacing yourself and being cautious (keeping your cooldowns in reserve) or strategically using your cooldowns for protection while you try to end a fight as quickly as possible.

You are less likely to need defensive cooldowns during normal questing and more likely to need defensive cooldowns when fighting high-level strong enemies and any level of elite enemy.

Defensive cooldowns are most useful in groups when there’s a large amount of unexpected aggro. If you get a bad pull, plop yourself down next to your tank and activate Ballistic Shield (I suggest combining Entrench with this particular ability).

If you’re alone, it’s advisable to use Shield Probe and Evasion in conjunction (Ballistic Shield is optional but recommended). Adding Diversion to your target on top of that is situational. Use it if you’re low on health, save it if you have more health to go and you’re roughly at the midpoint of a fight.

Note: Advanced Recon is a health regeneration ability (and it resets the CD on Adrenaline Probe!) that’s linked to you having your companion present. It has a 20min cooldown, but can be quite useful if fighting a tough class quest elite or an annoyingly strong elite in the open world. Usually I like to wipe to a fight once before deciding whether or not to use it. By all means use this ability if you think it’ll be enough to help you win the first time (death is one of the biggest time wasters). It takes judgment and practice to know when to use it.

I find that Advanced Recon is best used a short time after you've decided you need to use Adrenaline Probe again. The health regeneration effect lasts a full minute, though, so you'll get more health regeneration out of the full duration. It also makes challenging fights a bit less stressful. Keep it in mind as an option. It makes a great "I win" button in solo PvE.


Kaliyo is your tank for early and late game (useful in single-target elite fights). Keep her geared. Evaluate her use in fights with multiple targets, but lean toward Vector.

Vector is your melee DPS and has reasonable survivability. Keep him geared, use him in “normal” questing and sometimes against multiple targets.

Ensign Temple is your ranged DPS companion and tends to be squishy like you. She’s useful in “normal” questing if you focus her targets. She’s sometimes useful if you’re planning to burst down a single target as well (risky strategy, but effective against enemies that can heal themselves).

Doctor Lokin is your healer companion. He’s good all the way around, but at his best when your gear is up to par and you can take some hits (i.e. you’re good at using your defensive cooldowns to give him time to heal you). I consider him the “safe” choice for most lategame fights and an excellent companion for reducing questing downtime.


I realize this is a lot to take in at once. Some of it will only make sense once you’ve had a chance to play the class, but I hope you’ll consider the “ability priorities” as suggestions and evaluate each of your abilities on its individual merits as you level in TOR. That means experimenting on your own and learning how to operate or revise your priorities over time.

Although I have not yet published a specific example of keybinds or how to set up ability bars, I plan to cover that in a future post after I’ve finished the rest of the initial guide. I’m aware that individual preferences on keybinds and setup will vary.

Keep in mind that I am also primarily a PvE player!

Although I enjoy PvP play and will be playing on a PvP server with my guild, it is not my first priority and not what I consider my specialty or primary gameplay focus. With that in mind, I welcome keybinding suggestions and other submissions (including tested builds and tips/advice) to the blog from readers  who are exclusively dedicated to PvP in TOR.

What can I say? I like the PvE loot.

Permissions: This guide may be reproduced in whole or in part. If you do, please give me credit and link back to the original content either here on my blog (imperialsniper.com) or to my stream: http://twitch.tv./fentanyl213 Thanks!

Comments/Corrections: You're welcome to comment on the blog directly or email me at Fentanyl213@gmail.com. I answer email as time permits. (12.5) Erroneously reported Flash Bang as six seconds, it has an eight-second duration.


  1. Nice work Fen !!! I can't wait for the next parts !!!

  2. Agreed, thanks for a good walkthrough of what the Sniper is in SWTOR. Looking forward to the next installments, and to (finally) get to experiment with the class myself!

  3. Really nice!
    One thing I don't understand is the importance of Sniper Volley which seems a pretty sub-par talent. If I understand it correctly you have to do Ambush->Snipe->Snipe to get 9% increased cast speed for the next 6 seconds, so considering your suggested rotation it actually affects only one series of shots and maybe the next ambush or snipe. Considering this it translates into maybe 3-4% damage increase at maximum and this is also questionable because your sustained damage is much more affected by energy limitations than by casting speed.

  4. Hi thank you for the guide I am finding it very useful, really looking forward to the Engineering write up.

    Any chance you could add ability\talent tooltips from torhead to the write up?

    Details here: http://www.torhead.com/tooltips

  5. Thank you for taking your time and sharing this information! I have a question about the Sniper Volley talent, I've played the beta up to level 30 and I personally want to go PvP. I felt that Sniper Volley is not worth a 3 point talent because it takes time to build, there's no way to refresh it, and doesn't last long enough. It only last 6 seconds which allows me to get 2 snipes in at 1.4 second casts + GCD. In addition, I feel this talent isn't useful for conserving energy, by the time you snipe->ambush->snipe->snipe->snipe to take full advantage of the talent, you are almost out of energy. However, I do understand that I am thinking from a PvP perspective, I have not reached end game, and I have not been able to test this with Series of Shots. Do you have any extra thoughts on that talent? -The few, the proud, the Imperial Agent.

  6. It appears I need to write up something about the uses of Sniper Volley specifically (and what you gain or give up when you choose something else). I encourage you to give it a shot at 50 rather than deciding not to use it outright.

    While it's true that Marksman's sustained damage is dependent on energy conservation, your burst potential is dependent only on how often you crit and how fast you can do damage (aka: dump energy).

    There are times to use sustained damage and there are times to go for burst. Your mileage may vary if you want to rely only on Rapid Fire to grant you an Alacrity boost (or you decide to take the Alacrity talent in the Lethality tree).

    Embijai: Your wish is my command. Granted, that was a heck of a lot of links for me to add! Haha. I hope you find them useful.

  7. Wow thank you so much, much apreciated.

  8. Thanks Fentanyl! Reading your guide is refreshing and gives me idea about the class that I want to play.

    I really appreciate your work.

    Can't wait for Engineering section


  9. Fen, thank you very much for commenting on my question. Your insight is helpful. I will try Sniper Volley again at level 50 and see how it works out. I think from a PvP point of view, I theorycraft that it will be very difficult to apply 3 stacks because the enemy will either use "line of sight" against you or attempt to interrupt you before you can get 3 snipes in. If either of those happens, the Sniper Volley stack doesn't last long enough for you to try to rebuild it.

  10. I see you've very clearly laid out a leveling progression with the marksman build.

    Do you find engineering or another build quicker in solo leveling than marksman?

  11. I find Marksman to be the "safest" and most solo-friendly before level 35-36. After that, the builds are pretty much even and it depends on how you like to play the game and what you want to do.

    I'm pretty sure you'll level just fine as the other specs, but in my experience Ballistic Dampers is a very strong early-game defensive talent and will allow you to take more chances / make more mistakes than the other specs.

  12. Thanks for your reply. I am planning to play a sniper as my main so I am very thankful that someone like you has taken time to give such experienced advice.

    One other question if I may: as far as PvE content goes, do you foresee a preference for snipers to have a certain spec for endgame group PvE? Do you think certain specs for snipers will be considered significantly more valuable? (marksman, engineer, lethality).

  13. MrChase, each Sniper spec has situational value. I don't think one spec will be significantly preferred for "all raids" or all situations. I believe each spec will have a place.

    A good raid team (with a good raid leader) will consider all the possible options. That said, Engineering does have a powerful PvE talent in the form of Deployed Shields, which reduces the cooldown of Ballistic Shield.

  14. Great Guide.

    I still have to more closely read the whole thing, but one of the first things that I noticed was that you don't pick up Engineer's Tool Belt for leveling. This seems to be one of THE best leveling talents as it gives you a spammable AoE attack and most quest mobs come in groups of 2-5. That and Energy Tanks (which reduces downtime by keeping your energy above the 5/sec barrier often) are probably the 2 talents I would pick up first.

  15. Nyth,

    My leveling builds are designed to be used without the necessity of traveling back to the Imperial Fleet to respec (aka: for hardcore levelers, people who want a strong build without being inconvenienced, and people who want to save their free respec for later in the game).

    Taking Energy Tanks and Engineer's Tool Belt while you're leveling as a Marksmanship sniper only delays the level at which you obtain Followthrough. Delaying Followthrough makes no sense for someone who's going 31 points into Marksmanship as soon as possible. You are better off climbing straight to your 31-point talent than spreading your points in three different trees as you level. You're welcome to take those talents if you like, but I'd suggest respec'ing and dropping them as soon as you get enough talent points to unlock Followthrough (it's an amazing Marksmanship ability and is one of the major reasons to stay in the talent tree).

    In addition, I take Engineer's Tool Belt only when I want the reduced Flash Bang cooldown. I realize this is personal preference, but I do not like to depend on Fragmentation Grenade for damage at any point in the leveling process (it's so inefficient that I don't like to use it at all unless I have nothing else to do).

    I also don't find managing earlygame Marksmanship energy costs to be an issue. The practice can only be a good thing for players new to the class. The nice thing is that, when the spec starts to be energy-intensive, we get Sniper's Nest to compensate.

    Hope that helps.

  16. Fen,

    Thanks for commenting. It was indeed based on respeccing somewhere between level 20-30 where you lose the ability to clear packs with 2-3 nades easily. But I see how you want to save the respec (and trip back) and that's actually a pretty valid point, it might make me rethink it.

    Not sure how Frag Grenade scales though, but It didn't feel very inefficient at lower level (pre-20); for me it roughly did the damage of snipe to all targets. (One of my prefered early rotations was: Snipe 1 - Explosive Droid 2 - Nade 3 (which would often kill mob 1 and 2)).
    But that might not hold through later on.

    Thanks for the feedback though. I might start out with marksman after all, it's not like I felt dependent on the nades or anything. It just seemed like AoE for normal groups seemed most time efficient.

  17. Frag Grenade gets to be less of what you want to use in higher levels. Its place in your rotation (at the end) is good, but you hardly need the CD reduction from Engineer's Tool Belt to have it available in every fight, anyway! Haha.

    You'll also eventually prioritize Takedown as a finisher (level 18; it is nearly free in terms of energy cost and it hits HARD).

    There's a basic Engineering leveling build (I use Marksman to 35-36 and then respec to Engineering when it gets its strongest talents), so the "early game" leveling build is what I would do -- albeit untested -- while the 35-50 build is one I have actually used.

    I had a friend in beta who leveled as Engineering and he seemed to enjoy it.

    Hope that helps!

  18. There's a basic Engineering leveling build now posted here: http://swtorsniper.blogspot.com/2011/12/07-engineering.html

    Meh. The link didn't make it into my last comment.

  19. First off, many thanks for the guide. Very useful as I plan out my build (which at the moment is actually identical to your first build above, the 31/7/3).

    Alright, now for my somewhat random question: How often do you find yourself moving around between cover spots in combat (in PvE)? More specifically, I was looking at Snap Shot and I realized I wasn't sure how much it would actually help me.

    Obviously it's good to have the Snipe go off instantly, but you can't do anything afterwards because of the GCD (presumably), so I don't see what real benefits it gives you, unless you are able to do something with that extra time (like move around).

    My only playing experience was the Thanksgiving weekend beta, so I only got to level 25, and didn't get a chance to actually try out Snap Shot. Also, I was playing pretty casual solo-ing; I didn't do any flashpoints or PvP. With those caveats, my playstyle was such that I sat in one spot and shot for the most part, with very little in-combat motion. I might move around a bit if I need to refresh Ballistic Dampers or something, but I don't see Snap Shot as providing major benefits (for that particular playstyle).

    So, in other words: Is my "sit in one place for the whole fight and shoot them from range" method viable? Or will I be forced to move around a little more if/when I start doing flashpoints, operations, PvP, etc.? And if it is viable (or even if it isn't), does Snap Shot make sense for that playstyle, or are there alternatives (Pillbox Sniper or Imperial Demarcation or something) that would help me more?

    General context: I'm planning to do mostly PvE, though on a PvP server, and plan to do most of my quests with my brother (planning to be an Arsenal Merc).

    Thanks again for all your work.

  20. All right, here's the semi-short answer:

    1. Snap Shot is good for anyone playing Marksmanship Sniper, but it's especially good for PvP players. If you plan to play on a PvP server I consider this a high-priority talent.

    2. Snap Shot speeds up your rotation in many situations. I believe it has a six-second internal cooldown (not 30, as has been popularly posted). Even if I'm wrong and the internal CD is twice as long at 12 seconds, it still came up often enough in PvE and PvP to be a useful and dependable part of my Marksman rotation. The thing that people don't understand is that you don't have to use Snap Shot as soon as the buff pops up. You can Ambush first if Reactive Shot is up, then Snipe, or you can put on an Explosive Probe first and then get a nice heavy burst (basically killing most soft targets). The benefits are myriad and it's a quite flexible buff. Sometimes you just need stuff to die (like something comes up behind you -- player, elite, strong) and you have to get out of cover and reset your Ballistic Dampers and KILL THAT THING RIGHT THIS INSTANT. You don't have time for those 1.5 second charges anymore! Snap Shot helps you deal with those situations.

    3. Snap Shot resets about as often a full set of Ballistic Dampers, in my experience. If you're going to get one and move around a bit, why not get both and get more benefit from it?

    4. Sometimes you just get knocked around or a mob puts down a targeted AoE that you need to avoid. May as well get some benefit out of that, too. Reset your dampers and get an instant Snipe while avoiding the fire. No big deal.

    My question is: what are you going to take that's better, instead? A lot of times you just need to put points into something while you're leveling. Snap Shot also happens to be better than the alternatives at that level. Which are, respectively, Imperial Demarcation or two more points in Marksmanship.

    I only take one point in Marksmanship initially because Cover Screen and Steady Shots are the more valuable talents for lower-level players. The Marksmanship's accuracy is more helpful at high levels, but you won't notice the effect of 1-2% additional accuracy during the low levels. This is where Snap Shot comes into play.

    The other bright side: If you find out you don't like Snap Shot and do like Cover Screen, you'll know exactly where to swap points out in some of my other builds. Heh.

    Hope that helps!

  21. Hi,

    I got my IA to 10 last night (yay!) but can't play again until Sunday (boo!), hopefully you can answer my simple question regarding the rotation you suggest. If I have to wait until Sunday to check myself I'll go a bit mad I'm sure.

    Why do you you mix up using Sniper and Ambush? Why not just use the one that gives you the most DPS for your energy? I'm obviously missing something here.


  22. Pretty sure the one that gives you the most damage/energy is Ambush. There's only one problem with using Ambush exclusively: it has a 15-second cooldown.

    Snipe has no cooldown but can be a little energy intensive to use.

    Using both abilities in combination with Explosive Probe and Rifle Shot (by all means finish off standards with Fragmentation Grenade) will balance your resource usage with your damage output and cooldowns.

  23. Is a 23/16/2 build possibly of interest for marksman DPS?

    Imperial assasin and rapid fire dont seem as good as cluster bombs with imperial methodology.

    Crits in this game are only 150% untalented and 30% more of the critical damage makes for 165% crits, right?
    So a +crit damage talent on a few abilities seems overbudgeted.

    The 4 energy saving on exp probe plus the energy return procs from cluster bombs with imperial methodology would seem worth more, am I wrong?
    Interrogation probe seems fairly energy efficient too.
    You give up a lot of burst but you get more energy to play with and a seemingly efficient dot.

    All theory based on torheads wonky figures. Little game experience, only lvl 14 here :p

  24. I'll be more than happy to test the build when I hit 50, but you'd have to link me to your specific build for the full analysis. I can only guess what skills you're taking in the meantime.

    In my general experience, however, the burst from Imperial Assassin is more valuable and results in you doing more overall damage. The problem with upgrading Explosive Probe as a Marksmanship-based Sniper is that it's an ability on a 30second cooldown. In comparison: Series of Shots is 15s, Followthrough is 9s untalented and 6s talented, Takedown is 12s.

    I'm not sure about the math that goes into determining critical hits. The thing with Sniper is that you're firing at a near constant rate. The crit from Imperial Assassin may not make much of a difference on "individual" damage numbers (i.e. what you observe when you crit). But that small difference adds up in both PvP and in long fights in PvE. Upgrading bread-and-butter "Marksmanship" abilities (Series of Shots, Takedown, and Followthrough) tends to take priority.

    Still. I'm open to trying new things at 50.


Commenting? Thanks, I appreciate it! -Fen