07 Engineering

Summary: I consider Engineering to be the most durable and cooldown-dependent Sniper spec. Read more for details.

Engineering Basics

Damage:  Contrary to popular belief, Engineering is still a single-target damage spec. The most significant AoE abilities are Orbital Strike and Plasma Probe. Although Engineering damage is comparable to Marksmanship's output, you'll be waiting more often on significant cooldowns. As a result, I consider Engineering to be more of a "bursty" spec than Marksmanship.

Energy Usage: High to moderate at all levels. Engineering uses resources in chunks. Its saving grace is that the most demanding abilities are also on longer cooldowns.

Mobility: Moderate with a moderate dependence on cover. Engineering is more mobile than Marksmanship and less mobile than Lethality. Some of its key abilities can be used out of cover.

Survivability: Low-to-moderate at low levels, high (for a DPS spec) in the lategame. This is actually one of the most compelling reasons to spec Engineering. Combine the spec's native defensive talents with a few buffs from Marksmanship, and you'll be able to consistently survive being focused by either PvP opponents or a particularly persistent raid boss.

Utility: High, even for Sniper. Engineering gets some of the best defensive and situational control / zone denial abilities of any Sniper spec. They can also talent a cooldown reduction to Ballistic Shield (a high-level talent with significant PvP and endgame PvE applications).

Rotation and Cooldown Management: Moderate at low levels to frequent micromanaging at endgame. Engineering does not have a stable rotation. Its energy pool is among the most variable and dependent on cooldown usage. You'll do fine if you use offensive abilities whenever they're available, but your performance will improve as you learn to choose your targets.

Conclusion: Engineering has high survivability and unique ways to counter focus fire. I prefer it for “burst” single-target DPS and in Warzones where zone denial is important. Although it uses many tech abilities and a few of them have AoE effects, you should still be trying to focus one target at a time in most situations.

In PvP you excel at punishing melee characters and supporting your team and guarding capture points, though you may find energy management unintuitive at first. In PvE, you are good at preventing damage to yourself and your teammates. You may find yourself waiting on cooldowns more often than you'd like. Engineering has a more "deliberate" combat pace.

The rewards are high survivability and utility potential, as well as the ability to act as a fearsome 1v1 killer less vulnerable to focus fire than any other Sniper spec.

Leveling Builds (suggested)

I don't level as an Engineering-spec'd Sniper. This is born of old habit in beta. I also don't see any reason to avoid leveling as this spec. Although I have not personally tested an Engineering leveling build, this is the build I would use (based on my perceptions of Engineering Sniper performance at level 50). I have, however, personally tested the 35-50 leveling build.

Engineering Leveling Build (to 35)

Rationale: I prefer talents that improve "primary" Engineering abilities and increase energy efficiency. Taking Energy Tanks first makes a big difference at lower levels when you may want to use Overload Shot (energy intensive) to pad your damage out of cover. Gearhead is a talent that gets better and better as you level. I skip Engineer's Tool Belt because I don't like to lean on the inefficient and relatively light-hitting Fragmentation Grenade for my damage. I find the value in this talent comes largely from the reduced CD on Flash Bang. Explosive Engineering is a necessary talent to improve Explosive Probe, another of the spec's key abilities.

I avoid Vital Regulators and Calculated Pursuit. Although the regulators make a good talent, I don't find the health regeneration predictable enough not to bring medpacks with me. I also tend to play Engineering with a Marksmanship slant toward using cover, so it's hard for me to justify taking any talent that would allow me to use Snipe out of cover (unlikely, given my preferred playstyle).

I also choose to split acquiring Energy Overrides because, although it is an important talent, Augmented Shields has excellent talent synergy with EMP Discharge. The more often you take advantage of the pair, the better.

This build should allow you to perform well in both PvE and PvP while you level. For example, I have found the unique slow from the Inventive Interrogation Techniques talent to be a more valuable addition to the build than the other available options at that level.

Suggested Build Order:

Engineering Leveling Build (to 50, no respec, tested)

Rationale: This build moves in a logical progression from the 1-35 Leveling Spec. The only point of division is whether or not you decide to put two points into Cover Screen and one into Marksmanship or commit all three points of that remaining tier to Marksmanship. Although Cover Screen can be useful, I get more consistent results from Ballistic Dampers and tend to find the increased accuracy from Marksmanship a bit more valuable.

I provide "from 35 to 50" specs because I like to level as Marksmanship to 35 before a respec into another tree.

NB: Suitable for both PvE and PvP. This is a flexible "base" build that can be altered to fit a variety of playstyles at 50.

Suggested Build Order:

Marksmanship Tree: Steady Shots (2), Marksmanship (3) (NB: Two points in Cover Screen is a viable alternative, with one point in Marksmanship)
Marksmanship Tree: Ballistic Dampers (2)
Lethality Tree: Lethality (3)

Aggressive PvE Raid Build (not suggested for PvP)

Rationale: This build focuses on PvE raid damage without sacrificing too much of Engineering's native utility.

Pros: Drops the talented slow on Inventive Interrogation Techniques for the passive healing on Vital Regulators. Ambush gains 20% armorpen from Precision Ambush.

Cons: Passes up on key PvP talents and some survivability from Ballistic Dampers in exchange for increased damage and a passive heal.

Alternative PvP Mobility Build

Rationale: This build takes Engineer's Tool Belt and Flash Powder as a complementary talent duo, then adds Slip Away for the reduced CD on Debilitate and a little extra utility. I most often don't use Vital Regulators in my builds because I prefer the Augmented Shields talent. Both Augmented Shields and Vital Regulators enjoy synergy with EMP Discharge, so which to use (or both, sacrificing some other points in say, Marksmanship accuracy or Steady Shots damage) is a matter of personal preference.

Pros: More mobile, additional accuracy debuff when Flash Bang wears off.

Cons: Trades some defensive and offensive talents for the mobility. You could put the extra point I have in Marksmanship into Vital Regulators if you wanted.

Additionally: This is just one example of a way to configure a viable Engineering PvP build. Many Sniper talents have two or more "complements" in their respective trees. There are also some lower-tier talents that provide good dovetailed benefits. I'll be covering the basics of PvP complementary talents as part of the PvP tactics section later in the guide. Taking too many defensive/control skills will tend to reduce your damage. Personal preference and playstyle is one of the most important considerations for choosing your "extra" skills (i.e. Do you more frequently use Flash Bang? Do you mind getting up close and personal to use Debilitate?)

Key Engineering-Specific Abilities

Interrogation Probe: It provides DoT damage and, if talented, a 30% slow on targets. It's an instant ability with a relatively long cooldown and is typically the first debuff applied to a strong/elite target. You must have an active Interrogation Probe on a target in order to use EMP Discharge (so choose your target wisely!).

EMP Discharge: In addition to providing a moderate amount of damage, EMP Discharge is the Engineering tree's primary energy regeneration talent. It resets the cooldown of both Adrenaline Probe and Shield Probe. EMP Discharge also has a one-minute cooldown that makes it suitable to use almost every other fight. Managing this cooldown becomes a key part of Engineering gameplay.

Plasma Probe: This is a stationary area of affect (AoE) ability. Unlike Orbital Strike (channeled), it's instant. The 18-second CD and 18-second duration means that you'll have to place it carefully, but you also shouldn't hesitate to use it while leveling. My favorite applications of Plasma Probe are area denial, capture point guarding, and melee focus-countering in PvP (combine it with Orbital Strike on your position to make killing you incredibly inconvenient for melee DPS classes). Don't underestimate the efficacy of this ability in PvE Flashpoints and raids, either. The nice thing about bosses is that they often stand still.

Basic Ability Priority Breakdowns

This won't be as detailed or as variable as the related Marksmanship section. If you want an idea of full breakdowns or you'd like to look at a spec with more easily explained priorities, I suggest checking there first. Engineering uses similar abilities and priorities with a few important differences that I'll outline here.

Target Choice
This is more important to Engineering than any other spec. In order to use your ability cooldowns effectively, you'll need to put Interrogation Probe on the enemy with the most health. You may not even need to use Interrogation Probe in normal questing, though. Choosing the right target can also just mean focusing targets with your Companion's help, as well.

2xStandard + Strong Ability Priority
Flash Bang the strong, kill the two standards with Snipe/Ambush, then target the strong again (use Evasion/Shield Probe if the Strong recovers before the second standard is dead; preventing damage early in the fight can save you headaches later in the fight, particularly if you're in danger of additional aggro).

Typical Strong "burst" rotation:
Interrogation Probe / Explosive Probe / Snipe / Series of Shots (Detonate two Cluster Bombs) / Rifle Shot (detonate the third) / Ambush (if necessary, if not proceed directly to -) / Takedown (unlocks when a target reaches less than 30% health).

Regular Cooldown Usage
You'll put out more damage if you spend time getting comfortable with Interrogation Probe, EMP Discharge, Shield Probe, and Adrenaline Probe. These abilities are often used in coordinated conjunction. For example, when fighting an Elite:

Elite Ability Priority (burst)
Interrogation Probe / Corrosive Dart / Shatter Shot (optional for most targets, useful on Strong/Elite targets and in PvP) / Explosive Probe / Snipe / Series of Shots (Detonate two Cluster Bombs ) / Rifle Shot (detonate third Cluster Bomb) / Ambush / Adrenaline Probe / Shield Probe (Both defensive cooldowns at your discretion, but afterward drain energy again) / Snipe / Snipe / Ambush / (use damage abilities as they come off cooldown) / EMP Discharge (as needed, in preparation for using Adrenaline Probe or Shield Probe again) / Adrenaline Probe (as required) / Transition into a "sustained" rotation and/or use Takedown as your target moves into 30% health.

You can move your sustained damage phase around in the above burst rotation, choosing to begin as sustained damage and then delaying the transition into burst (to save EMP Discharge for the midpoint or later in a fight, or to judge whether or not burst is necessary against your target).

Sustained Engineering Damage

Use "major" offensive cooldowns (any ability with a cooldown greater than or equal to 15seconds) as they come up, keep DoTs on a target, and make use of Rifle Shot balanced with Snipe and Ambush.

Timing and Damage Potential
Engineering's front-loaded burst gives the spec an advantage in short- to moderate-length single-target fights (i.e. those when they can expect to be able to recover soon afterward). Assuming you choose to use all of your major cooldowns on a single target (with access to all major defensive cooldowns), you will be hitting harder than a pure Marksmanship spec sniper in the same timeframe.

Your damage is just lower in the "intervals" between your major cooldowns. Your DoTs and your strong defensive abilities and talents make up the difference over time, so with similar gear you'll come out roughly equal.

To recap:
Engineering's signature abilities are on 15-30-second cooldowns, which can make a real "rotation" difficult to either define or use. Engineering can burst targets down faster than a Marksman ... for the first six or seven GCDs. Marksman makes up the difference in Engineering's "resting" interval.

Don't think of the intervals in Engineering's damage as a weakness, though! Marksmanship snipers need to sit undisturbed in cover to get the most out of their abilities. If they don't kill a target quickly, they're pretty much dead. Engineering can take more hits and doesn't suffer as much when repositioning to avoid AoE or the special abilities of elites. Series of Shots (the lowest-CD major damage ability) also gets a DoT buff (Electrified Railgun) unique to the spec.

Group / Raid PvE Priorities

This will be a true situational priority section. Engineering does not lend itself to clearcut rotations. This is an unordered list to help you think about relevant tasks in a PvE raid setting.

Trash pulls (i.e. non-boss fights):
  • In general you are better off prioritizing your DoTs on targets that are likely to be living for a while, but also using your major direct-damage cooldowns on the targets your teammates are focusing. Your DoT targets and your focus targets should not be the same until near the end of a fight. Use Shatter Shot on every elite target.
  • Prioritize killing targets below 30% health. Lean on Takedown.
  • You are pretty good at clearing groups of trash with Plasma Probe and Orbital Strike.
  • Control wandering enemies with Flash Bang and Leg Shot. Push them away with Cover Pulse.
  • Relieve pressure on your tank and healer, if necessary, by taking cover in the middle of the group and using Ballistic Shield.
Raid Boss Priorities
  • Damage: Shatter Shot / DoT abilities / Plasma Probe / Orbital Strike; Explosive Probe / Series of Shots as you find safe places to stand.
  • Move to "safe" locations as necessary and counter boss abilities with either interrupts (Distraction when applicable; more on "Boss Immunity" in the upcoming chapter on PvE tactics) or defensive cooldowns (to relieve pressure on healers)
  • Ballistic Shield: 20% reduced incoming damage from all sources in a 10m radius around your position; use Entrench in conjunction to ensure you get the full duration. You can use this to protect key members of your group (i.e. tanks and healers) when they're in trouble, or preemptively when your raid knows a damaging ability or phase change is imminent.
Interrupts and Defensive Cooldowns

Engineering is in a unique position. Its defensive abilities are so strong that, combined with interrupts, you'll be very difficult to kill while in cover. The Deployed Shields talent high in the tree is a straight 6% reduction to damage taken from all sources while in cover. Certain defensive cooldowns are also linked with other abilities and should be used strategically.

Important: Many of Engineering's key defensive talents are unlocked late-midgame (35+) and lategame. It can be a more delicate spec in the early levels, but it grows significantly in strength as you approach level 50.

Potential Interrupts: Distraction, Flash Bang, Debilitate, Cover Pulse.
Any ability that uses a "cast bar" (appears below your target's health bar) is a strong candidate for interruption. Over time you'll begin to recognize those that need to be interrupted and those that don't. This becomes key in high-level PvE.

Defensive Cooldowns: Evasion, Shield Probe (linked to EMP Discharge), Entrench (for anyone or anything trying to knock you out of cover), Ballistic Shield (ends on exiting cover, good to combine with Entrench).

Defensive cooldowns are usually strongest when combined with each other. 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.

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 post-Alderaan.

Ensign Temple is your ranged DPS companion and tends to go down fast. She’s useful in “normal” questing if you focus her targets. She’s sometimes useful if you’re planning to burst down a single elite 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. He is a particularly good complement for an Engineering sniper.


Engineering is the most damage-resistant ("tanky") of the Sniper specs in the lategame thanks to the strong defensive talents toward the top of its tree. It has excellent front-loaded burst damage but then must wait on cooldowns before it can use its signature damage abilities. Bear in mind that Engineering's "base" Sniper abilities still hit pretty hard. Using Interrogation Probe, Corrosive Dart, and Plasma Probe wisely is another contributing factor in Engineering damage.

Engineering benefits from strong defensive abilities and, with EMP Discharge, can reset the cooldown on both Shield Probe and Adrenaline Probe.

In PvP, Engineering is uniquely suited to guard control points and resists focus-targeting. In PvE, Engineering's Plasma Probe dovetails well with other stationary area abilities like Orbital Strike and abilities with DoTs like Interrogation Probe and Corrosive Dart.

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.


  1. hi fen
    thanks for your great blog. i'm reading it since the very beginning and it already helped me out in the beta playing the sniper.
    i'm curious about the builds you have tested... especially the engineering and lethality builds and if they're any good in pvp. can't wait to find it out by myself. ;)
    btw... the links to torhead's calculator seem to be broken (i.e. alternative pvp mobility build - 3/31/7).

  2. TORhead links go in and out. If they're still not working this morning (they are for me; I just checked), clear your browser's cache and try again after that.

    Engineering is one of my favorite specs for PvP and there are quite a few viable build options. Lethality shines in Huttball.

    To be honest, I prefer playing Sniper as a cover-dependent class. I really like Marksman. That doesn't make Lethality bad, that just means a "non-cover" Sniper isn't my preferred way to play.

    As a result, my Lethality build is the least tested and I have the least precise rotations where that talent tree is concerned. I can still give you an idea of what it's like to use at 50, though.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. I love love love this post. It had everything I was hoping for and then some. It is very much appreciated that you took the time to put this together. I check for new posts everyday! I'm sold on engineering.

    I imagine this build working really nicely for a multiphase fight like cthun with strong adds or for someone who levels up doing the daily instance/pvp quests.

    Keep up the good work. There isn't anything as good as your guide for snipers out there.

  4. Thanks for sharing. It's been a great read. In beta, I was a Scrapper Scoundrel and Shield PowerTech, so I decided to round out my characters with an Engineer Sniper.

    Only question I have is, what are "talents"? Are you referring to the Skills from the Skill Trees? If you are, why not just call them Skills?

  5. Fen,

    I just try Engineering at 36 after getting the speedshot. Sabotage Charge + speedshot = omg dmg!

    After sabo charge usually I just throw in flurry of shots and charge burst, vital shot etc waiting for the cooldown.

    Btw When I throw in Shock Charge and I use Detonate. Would I get full amount of damage from the shock charge dot duration + Detonate dmg?

    Thanks for the guide

  6. Stephen, as far as I know you are literally detonating the Shock Charge (i.e. cancelling the DoT potential of that ability) when you use Detonate.

  7. Corrosive dart seems to do really poor dmg that I dont even have it on my bars at low level. How do you use it best?

  8. It's a good ability to use on targets with lots of health (i.e. elites) that will live long enough to maximize the benefit you get from Corrosive Dart. For example, I like to combine Corrosive Dart and Interrogation Probe DoTs. They both have relatively long durations (15s and 18s, respectively).

    At higher levels you can add the DoT from Electrified Railgun on top of that. Stacking DoTs produces a larger chunk of ticking damage and makes it more difficult for healers to cleanse your target in PvP. Three smallish DoTs on a target = magnified general DoT damage/tick on top of your direct damage abilities like Explosive Probe.

    At lower levels, I'd only use Corrosive Dart on challenging high-health targets (i.e. elites) when the extra damage might mean the difference between life and death. It acts as a small amount of insurance rather than a primary damage ability, so to speak.

  9. Thanks for the excellent info: I've been spec'd to MM until 43, now re-specing to Eng for the remaining levels. Well thought-out rationales for your choices; much appreciated.

  10. Would you recommend getting power or crit rating for a PvE Raiding build? Or would you suggest a mix of both? I'm not really sure which will benefit me more for doing high dps.

    1. I suggest a mixture of power/accuracy and crit/surge. Most of the Sniper gear "sets" provided by BWA are a good baseline. Power was surprisingly effective for me once I started to fill out my raid gear.

  11. General rule of thumb is: accuracy (to 100%) > cunning > power > crit > surge

  12. Don't use plasma probe on mono target ?

    1. Plasma Probe is like a longer version of Orbital Strike. It's great on single targets that don't move much (some bosses). It's harder to use if your single target is moving around a lot. In that situation, you can wait to deploy the probe until the beginning of a stationary phase (if a boss) or just take your best guess about where the enemy will most frequently move or stop.

      A lot of Plasma Probe's effectiveness will depend on your judgment and ability to place it.


Commenting? Thanks, I appreciate it! -Fen