Update on PvE Marksmanship Raid Spec

Still using a variant of 31/7/3 pure Marksmanship. I recommend this particular build for people who already have a significant amount of gear. Although pure Lethality and Engineering builds are both viable in PvE raiding (and I have used both!), I must admit a certain amount of bias or personal preference for the Marksmanship playstyle.

How does this build differ from your leveling and early raiding builds?

During most of beta it was pretty difficult to gear up. I found Vitality Serum a particularly effective form of survivability insurance in my "early" raiding career.

Note that I still recommend taking this skill if you are not yet geared (i.e. wearing Centurion PvP armor in PvE and/or wearing Tionese and below -- anyone with gear that is mostly at or below a 126-128 rating will probably get more benefit out of the extra health from Vitality Serum). You don't want to be the guy in HM/NM Operations with only 14k health! At that point you become a liability for your healers (i.e. you are a free kill for some bosses).

I prefer to use Orbital Strike in PvE when possible, so that upgrade was a natural choice to support my stronger gear. Explosive Engineering also improves Explosive Probe, which is never a bad thing.

Although useful in its own right, I don't notice a large difference between having the skill and not having the skill. It's a preference thing, so don't feel bad if you go for something else. It's pretty common for me to take Sniper Volley one week and drop it in another week. I go back and forth on whether or not I want to have it around.

There are a surprising number of attacks in PvE that can be mitigated by Cover Screen. Surprising. Probably not as effective a PvP choice, but a pretty solid PvE choice.

Sure, I could have taken two in Pillbox Sniper -- but I like both the activation time in Sector Ranger and the built-in knockback from Heavy Shot. I do a lot of PvE raiding with some occasional PvP warzones, so this build serves both purposes for me. Another "personal choice" section where you might choose to lose Heavy Shot.

Why raid with a pure Marksmanship sniper?

Put simply: Marksmanship is my preferred playstyle. I have the most experience with this particular tree and I can dish out a lot of damage and manage my resources successfully without spending too much time thinking about my rotation or priorities.

I'm sure there are other viable possibilities. In fact, I've played most/all of them.

Without a combat log it's impossible to provide a truly objective measure of "what spec does the most DPS." Rest assured that your preferred playstyle is probably supported by some form or variant of Sniper gameplay.

Does this mean there aren't improvements that could be made to each tree? No. But, as of this writing, all three trees should be PvE-viable in some form or fashion. I've had success with all three pure specs in both HM and NM 16m Operations content.

As for hybrids: consider building them or using them after you've played a few of the pure specs. You'll have more success tweaking your individual build if you have experience with each of Sniper's three trees.

Note: Shortly after this was posted, I tried this additional variant and took a point out of accuracy in order to move it into Pillbox Sniper. The 1% reduction in accuracy doesn't have much impact on me with my level of gear. I've been enjoying it.


  1. If you want a PVP/PVE Hybrid do you recommend MM/ENG... since Pure MM is complete trash for PVP in the 50 bracket..

    and if yes do you mind writing an article about it

    1. I'd have to know more about your situation before I could recommend a solution. Higher levels of gear will give you a bit more flexibility. At this point, what I'm wearing is close to as good as it gets.

      Right now I use PvE gear in PvP (mostly because PvP isn't my focus). If PvP was my focus, I'd care more about Expertise.

      My pure Marksmanship builds still do plenty of damage. I frequently outdamage people in full PvP gear. Could I do more damage if I farmed valor ranks until I was getting Battlemaster bags? Yes. Do I care enough about PvP to do that? Not really. Heh.

      Personally, I don't notice any difference between using MM/ENG and pure Marksmanship. But take my opinion for what it is: I'm wearing pretty much the best possible Sniper gear and I've been playing the class for about a year now.

      I may write something about the relatively gear-dependent nature of Sniper and what I've noticed in the process.

  2. For pure raiding why do you still take heavy shot?

    I've personally found it more annoying for the raid to push mobs around - I drop it for the extra point somewhere else:


    1. HM/NM Operations enemies (outside of trash) are for the most part immune to Heavy Shot. See my note in the above blog post. I've found removing one point in Marksmanship and putting that into Pillbox Sniper works just fine as well.

      Heavy Shot is pretty powerful in most situations as a secondary knockback. If you are positioned properly it is rare for something to get knocked back unless it was singling you out for damage (and moved into the required 10m range).

    2. Yeah I found the same thing. Heavy shot can turn easily into more of a curse than a blessing.

      I haven't done operations yet so I don't know if mobs are immune in there but doing heroics and flashpoints, especially in tight place I've found I refrain from using Ambush for fear the mob will get pushed back into another group....

  3. It's exactly what i'm using :)

  4. Does internal dmg vs kinetic dmg still do better PvE raid wise? I mean do bosses usually have more kinetic reduction vs internal reduction still?

    I follow your blog closely, I'm only a lightly geared sniper 1500ish cunning with all other standard stats. so I'm wondering which is still the more effective PvE steup. I've been using the mm/leth cull build for the last few weeks, its been doing well.

    1. Here's the thing about Kinetic vs. Internal Damage:

      Kinetic is resisted more often but tends to have a higher "base" damage. Internal damage is resisted less often, but tends to have lower "base" damage.

      It's not that the boss has more or less resistance to one type of damage than the other, it's that you need to be more geared to support damage that tends to be resisted more often! Basically -- if you can pass the defense "checks" -- MM and full Lethality perform about the same. It's literally too close to call without a parser.

      My MM/Leth build is in fact designed for people who have trouble managing energy with a full Lethality build. Staying in cover with Sniper's Nest gives you a pretty much infinite source of energy and it can be a supremely forgiving (and high-damage!) build for people who are not yet geared and/or are still learning their rotations.

      I actually used that very build most often when myself and my guildmates were largely undergeared for the content we were fighting.

      Raiding with pure 31-pt Lethality requires a bit more experience to be effective because of the energy management challenges. Playing pure 31-pt Marksmanship requires a fair amount of gear to match the Cover and Cull build. Once you're geared, feel free to pick from any spec that you enjoy.

  5. Hi, Fentanyl,
    Having started with ur articles maintained by own experience i'm currently using this spec http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#400rcrbdRoRgzZbI.1, almost same but instead of heavy shot and sniper volley i have 3/3 explosive engineering (i don't do any wz atm). The thing i wanted to ask u is as follows: there r two types of rakata implants (medic & enforcer) one provides +51 power the other one +45 crit rait as far as i remember. Firstly i thought that + crit will provide more damage but in fact (imho, wtb dps counter) +power looks more effective (have 2x field medic & 2x enforcer). What is the + crit cap? i've noticed very slight difference between 45% and 37 % for example. While + power has a significant impact. I consider sniper the most crit dependable class and try to maintain my +crit rait, but this is how it looks like. Same thing is with adrenals + power provides more dps than + crit. May be i'm wrong and in fact i want to be wrong but that is how it looks like.
    Another question is about mixed sets. I'm pretty sure that everyone noticed that there is a difference in + cunning and + endurance in some pieces (like enforcer's and field tech's gloves). How do u think which one is better to use if u have full rakata gear (not augmented)? Despite the need in cunning endurance plays very significant role in pve content and noone wants to be a "glass cannon". dead don't shoot.
    One more opinion on gear: the most interesting thing i noticed when i was wearing columni/rakata. it's not that good as it appears. To be exact: sets differ with stats (i'm not meaning amount here). Both sets are oriented for + power + accuracy but there are several pieces that bring + crt + surge. columni's head has + crit, surge and rakata's head don't have it. It's not that influentual but anyway one should pay attention in order not to have gear +power, accuracy.
    And finally: i wonder did the Bioware try to implement "alt necessary system"? legacy is the first stage. The other stage is augmentation. If u want to be OP u have to craft all ur gear on ur own. Either switching crew skills or having alts (raiding!!!) with the necessary skills. cause augmentation improves ur gear very much. I don't think it is possible but who knows...
    P.S. Thx for reading
    P.S.S. sorry for my bad English

    1. For Rakata I suggest you get the Chest, Legs and Boots for Field Tech and then grab Field Tech for whichever you get first between gloves and helm and then get Enforcer for whatever token you get second. There is no need to get all 5 pieces as Field Tech, have either your helm or gloves as Enforcer.

      You should expect to swap out the enhancement mods on a lot of your Rakata gear with columi-level (136 rating, lvl 56) enhancements. Replace those with the level 58 versions if you can get them as random drops from your hard mode ops or if you can find it on the GTN. My personal preference is Power + Surge for my gear as I have plenty of crit and accuracy already.

      For the implants, that will depend on your stats. If your crit is over 40% you're probably better off with the power version (assuming all other stats on the implant are the same).

    2. Actually, I've been ripping the Enhancements out of Columi Combat Tech (BH) Helmets:


      You lose some Endurance but gain more crit than you would from either Field Tech or Enforcer mods. I wear my regular 4piece Rakata but have also been lucky enough to get a Rakata-level armoring that allowed me to "make my own helm," so to speak.

      Here it is: Advanced Skill Armoring

    3. We had that type of Armoring on GTN with the cost of 600000.
      Then another uesqtertgion about accuracy: what's the cap? 98%? or it would be better 100%? i currently have + 348 accuracy i.e. 10, 47%. +3% skills give me 103,47% total. Looks like it's a bit overcapped.

  6. my bad, in previous post i've mentioned incorrect build http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#400rcrbdRoRgzZbfZh.1 this one is correct and indeed it has 2/3 explosive engineering.

  7. Are you sure this is still the best build after the surge nerf?


Commenting? Thanks, I appreciate it! -Fen