Complete SWTOR Marksman 6.0+ Sniper Guide (Damage, PvE only), suitable for both beginner players and more advanced and experienced veterans, who seek to improve their performance! Written for VULKK.com by Endonae (Satele Shan server)
UP TO DATE FOR PATCH 6.1.4
Table of contents
Welcome to my 6.0 guide as for Marksman Sniper! Marksman is quite unique among the DPS specs since it’s kind of a mix between being priority and rotation-based thanks to the Followthrough ability, though in my opinion, the spec is one of the easiest to play in the whole game. This doesn’t mean that the spec is completely without challenges; it’s very difficult for Snipers to deal damage on the move thanks to the cover mechanic, so if you want high numbers, you need to be efficient with your movement. I do want to be clear that this challenge is not shared by Sorc and Merc. Sniper does have a lot of ways to quickly move across the battlefield just like the other ranged specs, the problem is that they can’t do very much damage while moving, especially if they have to move for an extended period of time.
In terms of single-target DPS, Marksman is definitely on the low end. It’s difficult to pull as high of numbers in fights as you can on the dummy without AoE and you don’t have any sort of reactive damage like a reflect that will help to mitigate this either. Marksman is also a bit weaker than the other two Sniper specs, Virulence and Engineering, though this doesn’t mean that the spec isn’t viable. In addition, Marksman also offers incredibly high on-demand AoE damage, though they can’t sustain it forever and they have almost no AoE damage that comes from their rotation without a tactical item. That said, their dedicated AoE is much stronger than what most specs have access to without tactical items, so when you can get by without AoE tacticals but rotational AoE doesn’t cut it, Marksman excels.
Defensively, Marksman is very capable thanks to their high uptime on Entrench, though they will sometimes need to leverage this to avoid having to move and they are considerably weaker when Entrench isn’t active, though thanks to Imperial Preparation, they can make sure that they always have something to help mitigate the damage.
Marksman (and Sniper in general) offers exceptional group utility. Marksman specifically provides the armor debuff, which is the strongest of the group debuffs in the game. As a Sniper, you provide Ballistic Shield, which is the only raid buff in the game that is focused entirely on defense. In addition, you have Diversion, which has more niche applications since it doesn’t work on every fight, but it is incredibly helpful when there are a lot of adds that need to be dealt with.
How can I do as much damage as possible each GCD (global cooldown, 1.5 second duration before you can activate another ability) given the constraints of the fight? Which ability do I use right now that will provide me the most DPS? How can I maximize my uptime? If I’m not activating an ability right now, why not? Can I finish this cast before I need to move? What happens if I don’t have time to finish a cast before moving? Can the healers deal with it without too much stress?
Check out the SWTOR Damage Types and Damage Mitigation guide by Endonae.
Gearing and Stats Priorities
I’m not going to get into which specific versions of enhancements and such to use. The tiny stat variations from using something like an R-3 versus an R-4 aren’t worth the trouble and a single extra random crit, lag spike, or mid-fight sneeze will completely overshadow any difference in DPS you could possibly observe from an extra few points of power. Generally, the unlettered stuff is pretty close to optimal if it isn’t outright followed by R and AR mods. If you want to be fully BiS, you can start swapping out some of the unlettered enhancements for R variants in order to not waste a single point when going past a threshold, though I wouldn’t waste too much time doing this if I were you.
- Armorings/Hilt – Superior Versatile Armoring/Hilt 80 (should have 471 Mastery, 409 Endurance)
- Mods – Superior Lethal Mod 80R-2, R-3, and R-5 are the best, though you’ll get a lot more of the unlettered version, which is only ever slightly worse. As long as the sum of Mastery and Power is above 725 with Endurance being the lowest stat of the 3, you have a good mod that you should keep.
- Enhancements – The best enhancements are the ones where Endurance is the lowest stat of the three and the sum of the other two (Power and Tertiary) is 744 or higher. The unlettered +285 Endurance, +313 Power, +431 tertiary stat are a great base and once you surpass your stat targets, you can start swapping them out for the R-variants that have more Power than tertiary stat. The best word corresponding to BiS for each tertiary stat is:
- Accuracy = Initiative
- Alacrity = Nimble or Quick Savant (must include Quick, regular Savant is bad)
- DPS Mods = Lethal
- DPS Armoring/Hilt = Versatile
- Critical = Adept
- Implant/Ear – Sha’Tek brand MK-19
- Relics – Sha’Tek brand MK-19
- Level 75 content: Sha’Tek Relic of Focused Retribution and Sha’Tek Relic of Serendipitous Assault
- Sub-level 75 content: Sha’Tek Relic of Primeval Fatesealer (it’s a clicky so put it on your bar) and Sha’Tek Relic of Devastating Vengeance
- Stim – Advanced Kyrprax Proficient Stim
- Medpac – Advanced Kyrprax Medpac
- Level 75 content: Advanced Kyrprax Attack Adrenal
- Sub-level 75 content: Advanced Kyrprax Critical Adrenal
- The critical adrenal is less consistent, but performs very similarly, so if you don’t want to keep switching between the two, it’s fine to use the Advanced Kyrprax Critical Adrenal in level 75 content as well. Consistency is a bit more important here though than it is for the relic since you’ll often be using the Adrenal for DPS checks where you really can’t afford to be unlucky.
- Amplifiers – +1.20% Weapon Expertise (only applies to armorings and hilts/barrels). This amplifier will provide the greatest increase to your DPS if you only play MM, though it is considerably weaker than some of the other amps are for Virulence and Engineering. If you plan on playing Virulence and Engineering more than Marksman, you should go for Periodic Intensity instead. Otherwise, it’s fine to have a mix of both. Armor Penetration also isn’t terrible if you manage to get one and you’re short on credits, though Weapon Expertise and Periodic Intensity are better.
- Crystals – Eviscerating. This is a little more important now than it’s been in the past because the War Hero and Hawkeye crystals don’t do anything in sub-75 content.
- Augments – As of 6.1.4, we now have a whopping 4 tiers of augments to deal with. Unlike past expansions, augments are now about how much you want to spend. Almost everyone should buy the blue 276 augments because they provide the greatest bang for the buck. If you have a ton of credits and are doing MM Dxun or Ranked PvP, you may consider going for the purple 286 augments instead, but they are completely unnecessary for anything less.
- Gold 300 augments (Superior [type] Augment 77 + Augmentation Kit 11). These are the brand new augments that were released in 6.1.4. They are overall best-in-slot and will provide a noticeable DPS increase, but they are even more ridiculously expensive than the purple 286 augments. You do not need them. All content in the game can be cleared without them, so you’re basically just buying jewelry. They are not worth the credits and in my personal opinion, BioWare should not have released them at all.
- Purple 286 augments (Advanced [type] Augment 74 + Augmentation Kit MK-11) are one step lower, however they are incredibly expensive, so I would only recommend getting them for your main and only if you have a bunch of extra credits burning a hole in your pocket.
- Blue 276 augments ([Type] Augment 73 + Augmentation Kit Mk-11) provide about 88% of the benefit for about 6% of the cost of the purple 286 augments. They do still require the MK-11 kits, but it’s really hard to justify using the 286 augments unless you or your group really needs that small stat increase to slightly boost your numbers. Since those MK-11 kits are still a bit expensive, I recommend only augmenting the final pieces of your gear, so 306 left side, MH/OH, and set bonus pieces. Almost everyone should get this tier of augments.
- Purple 228 augments (Advanced [type] Augment 45 + Augmentation Kit MK-10) from 5.0 are still valuable, more than even the old 236 or 240s! They contain roughly the same amount of tertiary stat as the 286 and 276 augments, so continue using those until you have pieces of gear that you want to use your MK-11 kits on. These old 228 augments are also all you’ll need for any of the gear you’ll be using for level 70 content because Power and Endurance are capped, so the 2 really don’t provide any noticeable benefit in non level 75 content.
- Accuracy to 110.00% – I reach this with 3 accuracy enhancements/implants/ear + 1 augment + Advanced Kyrprax Proficient Stim, resulting in 1652 accuracy, equivalent to 110.29%. This is the most important stat to reach its threshold because attacks that miss deal 0 damage and no other stats matter if that happens. You need 110% accuracy and not just 100% because bosses have a 10% chance to dodge/resist player attacks and any percentage over 100% reduces this chance. Because my accuracy is on my implants/ear, I am unable to optimize it to get closer to 110.00%.
- Alacrity to 7.15% – I reach this with 1 enhancement and 9 augments, resulting in 1286 alacrity, equivalent to 7.52%. This threshold enables you to have a 1.4 second global cooldown (GCD). This stat has the second priority because you do not get the full benefit of the stat unless you are at one of the thresholds, though it’s still less important than accuracy because your attacks still need to hit.
- Critical gets the rest – I currently have 42.03% critical chance from 3157 crit from 2 crystals, 6 enhancements/earpiece/implants and 4 augments. This stat is the lowest priority because it does not have a threshold associated with it like the other two tertiary stats. Since you always want as much crit as you can get and you never need to optimize it down like you do with Accuracy and Alacrity, it is best to have your implants/ear be critical since they provide the same stat ratio as unlettered enhancements.
(2) +2% Mastery
(4) The cooldown of Entrench is reduced by 10 seconds. You gain 2 energy per second while Entrench is active.
(6) While Entrenched, you build stacks of Entrenched Offense, increasing your damage by 3% per stack while you remain Entrenched. Stacks up to 5 times. Breaking cover or Entrench being removed removes this.
This is the only set you should use for MM. It increases your DPS by the greatest amount compared to all the other sets while also making your rotation a bit easier since you no longer have to worry about managing your Energy at all. In addition, this set bonus also helps to reduce your damage taken by giving you Entrench more often.
Corrosive Dart deals more damage and dealing damage with Followthrough and Penetrating Blasts refreshes its bleed effect on its target and ticks its damage.
This is your default tactical item. It provides the greatest single-target DPS increase compared to the other MM tacticals and gives you a bit more burst when using Sniper
Penetrating Blasts does splash damage to targets around the primary target and causes your next Followthrough to deal splash damage as well.
This is your AoE tactical item. It’s pretty straightforward, it just allows you to deal AoE damage rotationally and spreads your armor debuff. It is best used when you have a primary target with higher health alongside enemies with lower health, like on Dash’roode in S&V. That said, anytime you are using Suppressive Fire frequently during a fight, you should consider taking this. Viru and Engi do both provide rotational AoE though without having to use a tactical, so if the adds can be handled by other players, keep your single target tactical on or switch to Viru or Engi if you know them.
- Description: Entering cover grants 3 charges of Ballistic Dampers. Each charge absorbs 30% of the damage dealt by an incoming attack. This effect cannot occur more than once every 1.5 seconds and Ballistic Dampers can only be gained once every 6 seconds.
- Recommendation: Always take this. Snipers are one of the classes that derive the vast majority of their defensive capabilities from their utilities, rather than from their discipline passives and 30% damage absorption is quite strong. If you’re about to take a big hit, make sure you have at least 1 charge of this available and if you don’t, make sure you exit and reenter cover so you can have it. In general, it’s a good practice to have Ballistic Dampers up as often as possible by getting in and out of cover to refresh them when you run out, though don’t let this get in the way of doing DPS.
- Description: Entering cover makes the next Snipe or Lethal Shot activate instantly. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
- Recommendation: Never take this. Since Snipe already costs a GCD to use and you can’t move while in cover, making Snipe instant does not provide a DPS increase on its own. All you’re doing is moving the damage from the end of the GCD to the beginning. The only possible way to increase your DPS with this utility is if you manage to get an extra ability into some sort of damage boost window like one of your relic procs or if Target Acquired is about to fall off. The DPS increase from something like that is quite small and very unreliable since you still have a priority to follow. There will always be more valuable utilities to take.
- Description: Reduces the cooldown of Leg Shot by 3 seconds.
- Recommendation: Never take this. Almost everything you’d want to slow is immune to being slowed and it certainly isn’t worth a GCD to slow something anyway.
- Description: While in cover, you heal for 2% of your total health every 3 seconds.
- Recommendation: Always take this. Like Ballistic Dampers, this utility is a key part of your defensive capabilities as a Sniper. While the healing may seem small, it does add up over time. Every 2 mins and 30 seconds, you’ll have done enough healing to heal yourself completely to full. In addition, since your relics can proc off of healing as well as damage, this will help to keep your relics proccing as often as possible.
- Description: Increases the damage dealt by Suppressive Fire by 25%.
- Recommendation: Almost always take this. If you ever use Suppressive Fire during a given fight, make sure to take it.
- Description: You gain 4 charges of Calculated Pursuit upon exiting cover, which allows Snipe to be activated while moving. Each use of Snipe consumes 1 charge and consumption of the first charge triggers a 20 second rate-limit on regaining this effect. Lasts up to 15 seconds, but reentering cover removes the effect prematurely.
- Recommendation: Take this on specific fights only. Unfortunately, if you find yourself in a fight where you would benefit from this utility, your DPS will likely suffer greatly. Calculated Pursuit just allows you to use your weakest rotational ability while moving, but since your pushback protection only exists while in cover, you will receive a ton of pushback if you’re taking frequent damage. This utility should only be taken on fights with very frequent movement where Frag Grenade and the Stroke of Genius utility are insufficient. I’ll cover movement for Snipers in greater detail later on.
- Description: Diversion slows all targets by 50% for as long as they remain in the area.
- Recommendation: Take this on specific fights only. I could see this utility being useful if you want to use Diversion as an AoE slow on a bunch of adds if you’re running from them, like maybe the second and third bosses in Dxun, though this generally won’t be necessary if the intent is to kill the adds since tanks can usually keep a set of adds in a designated location. You’d also have to give up some other, potentially more valuable utility in order to take this, so I’d only take it if there was a significant benefit to having a slow.
- Description: Shatter Shot reduces the movement speed of the target by 50% for 10 seconds. In addition, when Flash Bang ends, it leaves behind Flash Powder that reduces the target’s accuracy by 20% for 8 seconds.
- Recommendation: Never take this. The potentially beneficial part could be the accuracy reduction on Flash Bang, but the fact that Flash Bang breaks on damage, only lasts 8 seconds, and costs a GCD make this a tough sell. Generally it would be better to hard stun that add or use a longer lasting mez like the Sorc and Merc have.
- Description: When Entrench ends or you leave cover while Entrench is active, you gain Seek Cover, which increases your movement speed by 50% and grants immunity to movement impairing effects for 6 seconds.
- Recommendation: Always take this. Since you gain Entrench for 3 seconds after rolling, you’ll get Seek Cover whenever you roll. In addition, whenever Entrench is already up and you have to move, since it increases your DPS, you want to get back into Entrench ASAP.
Stroke of Genius
- Description: Activating Cover Pulse makes the next Snipe activate instantly and increases your chance to resist Force and tech attacks by 20% for 6 seconds.
- Recommendation: Almost always take this. Whenever you exit cover, activate Cover Pulse first (it won’t be a DPS loss since it’s off the GCD) so that you can use Snipe once while moving. Stroke of Genius also allows Cover Pulse to work as a DCD. It will work best against attacks ticking damage. Against single hits, it probably won’t work, but if you luck out, you end up taking no damage. The only time you wouldn’t take this utility is if you’re able to stay stationary for the whole fight and there isn’t any real damage you can mitigate.
- Description: Countermeasures purges all movement-impairing effects when activated and grants Reestablish Range, increasing your movement speed by 75% for 6 seconds. Additionally, the final shot of Penetrating Blasts knocks the target back if they are within 10 meters.
- Recommendation: Almost always take this. If the only effect on this utility were that it had the movement speed boost, you would always take this, but unfortunately the knockback effect is often a frustrating drawback. If the fight has adds that can be knocked back, you need to be extra careful to be more than 10m away from them or just not take this utility because you will infuriate your teammates and may hurt your chances of actually killing the boss. If only BioWare would move the knockback effect to the next utility, Series of Snares…
Series of Snares
- Description: Each shot of Penetrating Blasts slows the target by 20% for 3 seconds. This effect can stack up to 4 times.
- Recommendation: Never take this. Most enemies you’d want to slow can’t be slowed. There will always be better utilities to take.
- Description: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Shield Probe by 30%.
- Recommendation: Take this on specific fights only. If you’re already taking Hold Your Ground and still have a spare point, take this utility, which is usually only if both Reestablish Range and Stroke of Genius are both useless.
- Description: Increases the duration of any effects applied by Shatter Shot by 5 seconds. In addition, when Leg Shot’s immobilize effect wears off, the target’s movement is slowed by 75% for 3 seconds.
- Recommendation: Never take this. Shatter Shot and Leg Shot are practically useless in PvE because there are only a handful of enemies that heal or can be slowed.
Hold Your Ground
- Description: Reduces the cooldowns of Shield Probe and Cover Pulse by 5 seconds and Escape by 30 seconds. In addition, when you exit cover, you gain a Cover Screen that increases your ranged defense by 20% for 6 seconds.
- Recommendation: Sometimes take this. The effects are nice, though your other utilities are generally better. If you’re unable to use Stroke of Genius or Reestablish Range, this is a good first alternative. Augmented Shields will technically provide more mitigation if all you’re using this utility for is the cooldown reduction, but this utility keeps the cooldown more in sync with the duration of Entrench, allowing you to easily activate Shield Probe whenever Entrench wears off. Hold Your Ground is also better than Augmented Shields if you can use Stroke of Genius since they synergize by reducing the cooldown of Cover Pulse.
- Description: Reduces the cooldown of Maim and Flashbang by 15 seconds.
- Recommendation: Take this on specific fights only. Only take this utility if you find yourself wanting to use one of those abilities but it was still on cooldown but it would have been off cooldown if you had taken this utility. Since this is in the Masterful tier, you’ll have to give up some sort of defensive or movement bonus, so you have to make sure it’s worth it.
- Description: Flash Bang and Maim grant Executioner, allowing your next Takedown within 10 seconds to be used regardless of the target’s remaining health and deal 15% additional damage.
- Recommendation: Never take this. If you find yourself using Flash Bang or Maim during a fight, it is a nice bonus, but the other utilities in this tier are far stronger.
- Description: For every target initially affected beyond the first, Diversion grants a charge of Controlled Chaos, increasing armor penetration by 10% per charge. This effect lasts 8 seconds.
- Recommendation: Never take this. If you find yourself frequently needing to AoE a large number of targets and aren’t taking a whole lot of damage, this utility might almost be worth taking over Deployed Shields, but there’s so much AoE damage that all classes have access to, I think it will always just end up being fluff damage.
- Description: Reduces the cooldown of Entrench by 15 seconds and Cover Pulse knocks targets back an additional 5 meters.
- Recommendation: Always take this. The Entrench cooldown reduction is a direct DPS increase thanks to your set bonus, which makes this utility mandatory on all fights.
- Description: When Ballistic Shield is activated, you gain a charge of Defensive Safeguards for each enemy inside your Ballistic Shield, up to 4. This effect lasts 20 seconds and each charge increases your damage reduction by 5%. In addition, while inside of your Ballistic Shield, you heal for 1% of your maximum health every second and you are immune to being pulled or knocked back.
- Recommendation: Take this on specific fights only. The only time you would take this is if there’s a really challenging heal check or if you’re able to use the entirety of the effect like you can on Brontes NiM and Revan HM. Make sure you can manage the damage for the rest of the fight though since you’ll have to give up Deployed Shields.
- Description: Covered Escape heals you for 10% of your maximum health. Additionally, the duration of Evasion is increased by 2 seconds.
- Recommendation: Never take this. The effects are nice, but they aren’t quite strong enough to compete with your other defensive options in this tier.
- Description: Reduces all AoE damage taken by 60% while Entrench is active.
- Recommendation: Always take this. The vast majority of damage taken in PvE is AoE damage, even if the attacks themselves don’t always look like it. This utility also lets you sit in some circles that other specs would have to move out of. Siege Bunker also synergizes well with your set bonus and the Pillbox Sniper utility.
- Description: Reduces all damage taken while in cover by 5% and reduces the cooldown of Ballistic Shield by 30 seconds.
- Recommendation: Almost always take this. Deployed Shields is quite strong, but it should be the first and only utility you give up if you need to take something else in this tier. Since you are almost always in cover, you have to weigh that 5% reduced damage taken (RDT) you get for the whole fight and possibly additional Ballistic Shields against more specialized protection. If you’re unsure about which to take for a given fight, ask your healers if which they’d prefer you to have.
- Description: Reduces the cooldown of Imperial Preparation by 45 seconds and increases your damage reduction (DR) by 15% for 15 seconds after activating Imperial Preparation.
- Recommendation: Take this on specific fights only. The cooldown reduction will almost never result in additional uses of Imperial Preparation. You’ll only ever benefit from it on the longest fights in the game if you’re using it on cooldown, which you generally don’t have to on those fights. Only take this utility for the DR it provides and since Defensive Safeguards and Deployed Shields exist, there are very few fights, if any, where it will be better than those. If you can get 3 or 4 enemies inside Ballistic Shield, Defensive Safeguards is much stronger than Over-Prepared. Take this utility over Defensive Safeguards if you have a tough heal check and can’t get more than 2 enemies inside Ballistic Shield and won’t benefit from the push/pull protection.
Default Utilities Setup
Abilities, Priorities and Rotations
Single Target Rotational Abilities, Attributes and Important Procs
Please have the game open while reading the remainder of this guide. I will not be writing out tooltip descriptions for abilities and I will only be writing out the components of discipline passives that directly relate to the ability and rotation. This forces you to read through what everything does so that you can understand what all of your passives and abilities do as well as locate these abilities in-game. Make sure you place all of these abilities on your bar in an order that makes sense to you.
Followthrough (Ranged/Energy/Direct/Single Target/Instant)
This ability accounts for about 24% of your overall damage output, though it is one of your weaker abilities, so the reason it accounts for more of your damage than any of your other abilities is because it’s the one you’re using the most often. The existence of Followthrough is what makes Marksman so different from all the other specs in the game because you’re able to use it immediately after every single Penetrating Blasts, Ambush, or Takedown, or after 2 Snipes in a row. You’re able to do this because the ability is only usable within 5 seconds after using each of those abilities. While it may not be immediately obvious, the entire spec is set up around doing this. Followthrough has 2 procs that are relevant to your rotation:
- Recoil Control – Firing Snipe twice in a row, firing Takedown or Ambush once, or completing a Penetrating Blasts channel now finishes the cooldown on Followthrough. Without this proc, Followthrough has a longer cooldown and would not be usable in the way that you’re supposed to use it. This proc also helps to reinforce that Followthrough is only supposed to be used once per every 2 Snipes. Please note that you can still activate non-damaging abilities in between the 2 Snipes and still get the cooldown reset on Followthrough, including Diversion.
- Muzzle Fluting – Followthrough reduces the Energy cost of your next 2 Snipes by 5. This is important because without this passive, Snipe is too expensive to use as often as we will be using it.
Snipe (Ranged/Energy/Direct/Single Target/Casted)
Overall, this is the weakest of your abilities, though since you’ll be using it more than twice as often as your true heavy hitters, it still accounts for about 18% of your total damage output. It also has some fairly strong procs that help to compensate for its low damage and there isn’t really anything else you can use instead that isn’t weaker. Snipe will typically be used twice in a row or when the gap in your rotation comes, you’ll use it once. In addition, it can also be used while moving if you’re taking either Calculated Pursuit or Stroke of Genius. Snipe has has 3 procs associated with it that are relevant to your rotation that I haven’t already mentioned:
- Zeroing Shots – Dealing damage with Snipe reduces the activation time of your next Ambush by 0.25 seconds. Stacks up to 2 times. This proc further reinforces that Snipe is supposed to be used twice and turns Ambush from a 2 second cast into a 1.5 second cast, meaning it is a GCD.
- Honed Shots – Snipe grants Honed Shots, increasing the critical hit chance and damage done by Snipe by 3% for 20 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times. I only mention this proc because you’ll see it show up on your bar. Unless there’s very significant downtime, this will only need to be built up at the start of the fight and then you’ll have it. If you do constantly have to rebuild it because the fight has a lot of downtime, you will have slightly less DPS overall.
- Marksman’s Finesse – Snipe grants Marksman’s Finesse, increase the armor penetration and damage dealt by your next Followthrough by 10%. Stacks up to 2 times. This proc further reinforces that Snipe is supposed to be used twice per Followthrough. In addition, when you arrive at the gap in your rotation where you only have time to use a single Snipe, you’ll still get one stack of this proc to increase the damage dealt by your next Followthrough, which will typically be the one after using Ambush or Penetrating Blasts, which helps with your burst in some cases.
Ambush (Ranged/Energy/Direct/Single Target/Casted)
This is your hardest hitting ability by far that you’ll be using continuously in your rotation (so ignoring Corrosive Dart), though it accounts for only about 16% of your total damage output thanks to its relatively long cooldown. I do want to point out that this ability can hit for upwards of 70k damage in a single hit if you have all of your cooldowns available! Since it does so much damage, it is your highest priority ability when everything is off cooldown and is one of the abilities you pre-cast even if you don’t have the Zeroing Shots proc. Ambush has 1 proc associated with it that is relevant to your rotation.
- Finish the Job – Dealing damage with Ambush to a target with less than 30% health grants Finish the Job, increasing the damage of your next Takedown by 20%. This proc is pretty straightforward, it just makes it so that Takedown is buffed when below 30%. Please note that the cooldown of Ambush is the same as the duration of the proc and since Takedown has a fairly long travel time, it is possible for the proc to fall off before the damage goes out, especially if you’re standing further away from the boss.
Takedown (Ranged/Energy/Direct/Single Target/Instant)
This ability is only usable on targets that have less than 30% of their max health, and for this reason, it only accounts for about 3% of your total damage output despite being one of your stronger abilities. There is usually already a gap for a single extra ability every cycle, so it’s rather easy to insert Takedown into your rotation when sub-30, and above 30%, you’ve been using Snipe in this spot, though it is actually a small DPS increase to use an extra Followthrough as well since Takedown allows it to be used. Using both Takedown and its Followthrough will cause you to delay Penetrating Blasts and Ambush, though since those abilities have such long cooldowns, it takes a little while for you to delay them long enough for it to result in you missing out on an extra use of each of them and you aren’t actually losing DPS until this happens.
The cutoff is 9 uses of Takedown, which takes a little over 90 seconds, so if the boss has enough health to where you’re using more than 9 Takedowns, then you should skip using the Followthrough procced by Takedown and just use Takedown exclusively in the gap slot until there are 90 seconds left since Followthrough + a Corrosive Dart tick is less than the damage dealt by Ambush or Penetrating Blasts. Really, you won’t lose much DPS either way and if you’d rather not have to worry about this sort of thing at all, it’s okay to just never use Followthrough if it’s procced by Takedown. That said, you do need to use Followthrough as I have recommended if you ever see the boss enrage or wipe when the boss has very little health since this can be enough to prevent it. Takedown does not have any additional procs or discipline passives associated with it that are relevant to your rotation that I haven’t already mentioned.
Corrosive Dart (Tech/Internal/Periodic/Single Target/Instant)
Thanks to the Agitating Energies tactical, this ability accounts for a whopping 20% of your total damage output despite only having to apply it once. In actual raids, you’ll probably need to apply it more often. Whenever there’s downtime, make sure to check if it’s still applied and if it isn’t, make sure you reapply it before your next Followthrough. If you’re switching targets temporarily, like to an add that needs to be focused down, only apply Corrosive Dart if you’ll get more than 5 ticks out of it, otherwise using Snipe instead will deal more damage. I would also like to point out that without the Agitating Energies tactical and prior to 6.0, the purpose of the gap in your rotation is partly so that you can apply this ability every 18 seconds without delaying anything else.
Corrosive Dart also helps to diversify the damage output of Marksman which would otherwise be entirely direct weapon damage (besides the very occasional Orbital Strike). Since we’re on the topic, it is worth mentioning that there is still a huge bug in the game where weapon damage does not scale as well in sub-75 content compared to Force/Tech damage, meaning Marksman will perform substantially worse than they should in level 75 content while classes that deal more force/tech damage will do about the same. Thankfully, Corrosive Dart helps to mitigate this a little bit, though Marksman is still one of the classes that is most affected by this bug. Corrosive Dart has 1 advanced class passive associated with it that is relevant to your rotation that I haven’t already mentioned:
- Imperial Targeting – Increases the range of Flash Bang, Distraction, and Overload Shot (an ability you don’t even have anymore) to 30m and increases the range of all rifle, probe, and dart attacks by 5m and Corrosive Dart marks its target for 45 seconds. Marked targets take 5% more damage from ranged weapon attacks. This advanced class passive is responsible for giving Snipers their 35m range on damaging abilities and 30m range on CC, as well as giving them one of their DPS debuffs (the individual specs only provide 1 debuff as opposed to 2). I don’t know why they decided it would make sense from a lore perspective for a tech attack to apply a ranged debuff. The only reason I can see is that it’s a debuff that gets used by all 3 specs. Unfortunately, the ranged debuff is arguably the worst DPS debuff in the game because all the specs that already deal a significant amount of their damage as ranged damage already provide it themselves. Only a tiny portion of the other specs’ total damage output is considered ranged damage. It’s still a noticeable DPS increase for the specs that provide it, but as a DPS debuff and piece of raid utility it doesn’t matter.
Penetrating Blasts (Ranged/Energy/Direct/Single Target/Channeled)
This ability deals about as much damage directly as Ambush, though it does so over a longer channel. In addition, it also ticks your Corrosive Dart 5 times if you have the Agitating Energies tactical equipped, so it is responsible for about 20% of your damage output directly and another 11% from the Corrosive Dart ticks that it triggers, so with that tactical, it is responsible for about 31% of your total damage output. In addition, since your Sniper Volley utility resets the cooldown on Penetrating Blasts, you end up getting to use it back to back. This makes Marksman pretty capable in burst checks even though it does have to apply Corrosive Dart. In case you needed another reason to want to use Penetrating Blasts on cooldown, it also applies the strongest of the DPS debuffs in the game, the armor debuff. Penetrating Blasts does not have any additional procs or discipline passives associated with it that are relevant to your rotation.
Other Semi-Rotational Abilities
Orbital Strike (Tech/Elemental/Periodic/AoE/Casted)
This ability technically deals about the same amount of DPS as Snipe, though thanks to its longer cast time, higher Energy cost, and the fact that it gets placed on the ground, it isn’t typically used rotationally. Despite all that, it is still used in single target situations when you get to pre-cast, like prior to pulling or right before downtime ends, particularly if that downtime is right before a burst DPS check. This ability can also be used in the gap slot for some rotational AoE, though make sure at least one target gets hit by the entire thing. You will ever so slightly delay Ambush and Penetrating Blasts if you do this, but you’d only miss out on a single use of each of those abilities if you were using Orbital Strike on cooldown in a fight that lasts over 15 minutes.
Frag Grenade (Tech/Kinetic/Direct/AoE/Instant)
If you’ve already used your instant Snipe from the Stroke of Genius utility or if Cover Pulse is on cooldown, this is the next ability you should use while moving provided that none of your rotational instant abilities are available. The reason to use Frag Grenade for this purpose is because it is your strongest instant ability. Please note that Frag Grenade only deals AoE damage to standard and weak enemies, which you usually don’t see at all in raids.
Rifle Shot (Ranged/Energy/Direct/Single Target/Instant)
Since managing your Energy is nonexistent thanks to the Established Foothold set bonus, you won’t ever really have to use this ability rotationally. The only time you should consider using this ability is if you’re moving and you’ve already used your instant Snipe and Frag Grenade is on cooldown, though if that happens, it’s time to take Calculated Pursuit unless the pushback from constant damage is too much to use.
This is your knockback ability. Unlike other classes’ knockbacks, this one is off the GCD, likely because it deals no damage. This helps to keep your DPS up when you need to use Cover Pulse for a mechanic, though it also grants you the effects of the Stroke of Genius utility. Whenever you take that utility, make sure to use Cover Pulse right before you’re about to exit cover (though make sure you aren’t knocking anything back that isn’t supposed to get knocked). Cover Pulse can also be used defensively with this utility, though I’ll cover that in greater detail in a later section.
Crouch and Take Cover
It might not still be the case, but many years ago when I leveled my Sniper and Gunslinger, the ability that was put on my bar was called Take Cover. If there’s a cover position in range (denoted by a little green silhouette), you would quickly roll to that location and if you weren’t in range, you would deploy your portable cover shield where you stand. That inconsistent behavior can cause problems in raiding, which is why you should just remove the Take Cover ability from your bar entirely. Thankfully, there is another ability called Crouch, which just always deploys your portable cover shield wherever you are currently standing. This is the only ability you should ever use when entering cover.
While it used to be the case that you couldn’t use most of your abilities unless you were in cover, nowadays the only abilities you have to be in cover for are Suppressive Fire, Cover Pulse, and Entrench. This means that the cover bar isn’t really useful anymore, so feel free to turn it off in the settings (User Interface > General > uncheck Enable Cover Bar). That said, there is still 1 discipline passive, 1 advanced class proc, and 1 advanced class passive that provide significant benefits to you while in cover:
- Sniper’s Nest – Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 1 per second while in cover. Technically this doesn’t matter anymore. So long as you are in cover for the full duration of Entrench, you will have enough Energy to do your full rotation, though you will have to use Adrenaline Probe occasionally. You will still want to be in cover as much as possible though.
- Hold Position – While in cover, ranged defense is increased by 20%, you cannot be leapt to or pulled, and you are immune to interrupts and ability activation pushback. In addition, Evasion reduces your damage taken from force/tech attacks by 75% while it is active, in addition to its other effects. I do want to note that you do not need to be in cover for the Evasion RDT effect to work. The most important component of this passive is the pushback protection and in general, this is the most important reason to be in cover at all. You will lose a massive amount of DPS if you can’t be in cover because your APM will be much lower because all of your casts will take much longer to complete. In case you aren’t familiar, pushback is when the progress of your cast is pushed back as a result of taking damage. In-universe, this is supposed to represent that casting things requires more focus; for a Sniper, you’re going to have trouble lining up your shot if you’re taking a bunch of damage, so it will take longer. If you want to see it in action, just try to do your rotation on enemies out of cover. This used to be more prevalent back before 3.0 when you had to actually spec into pushback protection, but now every class gets a reduction on it as part of some passive.
- Spotter – Upon entering cover, your stealth detection level begins to increase gradually, reaching up to 30 additional levels of stealth detection over the following 30 seconds. This effect ends when you leave cover. The only reason I mention this proc is because it will show up on your bar. Stealth detection capabilities generally don’t work correctly in PvE, so don’t rely on the fact that your stealth detection is higher to conclude that there aren’t any enemies in stealth. It would be kind of neat if they put more effort into having this work though since Snipers aren’t the only class that have something like this.
Single Target Opener and Rotation
- Laze Target
- Orbital Strike (pre-cast)
- Enter Cover
- Primeval Fatesealer Relic (if applicable)
- Adrenal + Entrench + Target Acquired
- Imperial Preparation (if applicable)
- Ambush (pre-cast)
- Corrosive Dart
- Penetrating Blasts
- Sniper Volley
- Penetrating Blasts
- Countermeasures (threat drop)
- Normal Rotation
Laze Target is used before everything else because the buff lasts for 20 seconds and only affects the very next use of Ambush, so the earlier to activate Laze target, the earlier you’ll get it next in combat, just be sure to not pop it too early that it falls off before you get to actually use Ambush.
Orbital Strike is used as your first pre-cast ability because it has a 3 second delay before it actually deals its first tick of damage, enabling you to precast another ability before pulling. Most tanks are already familiar with timing the countdown with Orbital Strike, but if yours isn’t, just tell them to wait to do the countdown until after your Orbital cast has completed.
Next up you have to enter cover. This needs to be done prior to activating your other cooldowns because Entrench requires you to be in cover. You should wait to enter cover until after you cast Orbital Strike though because you don’t want to proc your relics from the passive healing from your Vital Regulators utility before you actually enter combat.
Adrenal, Entrench, and Target acquired are all up next, it doesn’t matter which order these get activated in, but you just want them to all be active for Ambush since it’s such a big hit.
Imperial Preparation is used after your other cooldowns only to reset the cooldown on Entrench, allowing you to use it back to back rather than having 12 seconds without it. Since you’re really only getting back 12 seconds of cooldown time, it isn’t worth using such a powerful defensive cooldown for just a small DPS increase. Only use it in your opener if you feel very confident that you won’t need it for defensive purposes.
Corrosive Dart is applied prior to your first Followthrough because you only need to use Followthrough before your next ability that procs it and Corrosive Dart does not proc Followthrough. This means you can cause your very first Followthrough to tick Corrosive Dart with the Agitating Energies tactical.
Unlike most other DoTs, it does not appear that you’ll get more ticks of Corrosive Dart if you apply it during a period of increased alacrity like you’d get during Sniper Volley. I’m not sure why this is.
It really doesn’t matter when exactly Sniper Volley gets used in relation to Followthrough and the next Penetrating Blasts, though it will probably help your sanity if you keep things consistent. Personally, I wait to activate Sniper Volley until after I’ve used Followthrough.
Countermeasures is used at this point because the tank’s AoE Taunt will likely be wearing off soon, so this is when you will cause your threat drop to reduce your threat by the greatest amount.
Now we’re basically transitioning into the normal rotation once we start doing Snipe. Since Corrosive Dart has to be applied and Sniper Volley was activated, the gap in your rotation has already been used and then some, so Ambush will likely be coming off cooldown partway through your Snipe x2 grouping, which is fine.
Marksman’s rotation is basically to just cycle through 3 main groupings of abilities, all of which include a single use of Followthrough, and then there’s a single GCD gap before Ambush tends to come off cooldown. Once the boss’s health goes below 30%, a 4th grouping will emerge to overfill the gap in the rotation, causing your other abilities to get delayed. Here are the groupings:
- Ambush w/ 1.5s Cast > Followthrough
- Penetrating Blasts > Followthrough
- Snipe > Snipe > Followthrough
- (sub-30%) Takedown > Followthrough
Using the Ambush and Penetrating Blasts groupings on cooldown always take priority, and then you use the Snipe x2 grouping and then you’ll have about a 1 GCD gap before Ambush comes off cooldown. The typical rotation will look like this:
- Penetrating Blasts
Sometimes you have Sniper Volley available, so the first cycle will look like this:
- Penetrating Blasts
- Sniper Volley
- Penetrating Blasts
- Sniper Volley > Penetrating Blasts > Followthrough
- Orbital Strike (only if 2+ enemies will get hit)
- Snipe x1
Here are a few comments about the gap priority:
Snipe will almost always be used in the gaps despite its low priority
When Sniper Volley is available, you will not see a gap in that cycle since you’ll be using Sniper Volley before you would observe it. The increased alacrity makes it so you can fit the channel and an additional Followthrough into a similarly sized window of time, even though the gap is normally only a GCD. You will probably still see Ambush get delayed slightly and this is fine.
Orbital Strike should only be used if at least 2 enemies will get hit by at least one tick and at least one enemy gets hit by every single tick. This needs to happen or you will deal less DPS than if you just casted one Snipe.
Much like what has to happen with Sniper Volley, you can leverage the existence of the gap to not delay your high priority abilities by using a non-rotational ability earlier than you would observe the gap. You can use a non-rotational ability as soon as you finish channeling Penetrating Blasts even before using that accompanying Followthrough since you have a 5 second window to use Followthrough. You can also use any non-damaging ability between the 2 Snipes, including ones on the GCD like Diversion.
You can still use non-rotational abilities that are on the GCD even before it’s time for the Snipe grouping, though it’s less ideal since the gap will get moved for the next cycle to before Penetrating Blasts instead. This will be fixed the next time you use Sniper Volley though.
Sub-30% and the Sub 90 Seconds grouping Rotation
Once the boss’ health goes below 30%, Takedown will become available. Takedown also allows you to use Followthrough, but we only have a 1 GCD gap in the rotation, how do we not delay things while still getting to use 2 GCDs? The answer is that we just have to delay things, though since it’s the end of the fight, delaying things incrementally doesn’t matter as much because there isn’t as much time to use these abilities multiple times again, so while you will be faced with Ambush and Penetrating Blasts coming off cooldown at the same time, unless final 30% lasts longer than 90 seconds, you wouldn’t have ended up getting an additional use out of Ambush and Penetrating Blasts anyway.
What this means is that until there are less than 90 seconds or less left in the fight, once the boss goes sub-30%, start using Takedown only in the gap. Once there are less than 90 seconds left in the fight, it’s time to start using Followthrough as well and break out the grouping rotation. Here is the grouping rotation:
- Penetrating Blasts > Followthrough
- Ambush > Followthrough
- Takedown > Followthrough
- Snipe x2 > Followthrough
Really, paying attention to this stuff is not super important, the difference is only maybe a couple hundred DPS, if that. If you don’t want to worry about it, just do the grouping rotation when sub 30% or just don’t even bother and just use Takedown only in the gap.
All offensive cooldowns should be used as frequently as possible under the conditions stated here or if it needs to be saved for a DPS check/burst window, but don’t start delaying it for that until you see that you have to. Some of these abilities have defensive properties as well. I will cover those in a later section.
It’s a bit generous to call Entrench an offensive cooldown because it has such a high uptime, but we’re still going to go over it because it can be saved for burst DPS checks. This ability is solely an offensive cooldown because of the Established Foothold set bonus. It makes it so that you gain more energy while Entrench is active and your damage dealt is increased. The damage dealt builds over time up to 5 stacks, gaining 1 stack per second, resulting in a 15% damage increase when at 5 stacks. Whenever you exit cover, you lose the stacks and have to rebuild them, so it is very important that you try to refrain from exiting cover while Entrench is active and if you have to exit cover because of a mechanic, make sure you minimize the amount of time spent out of cover so that you can enter cover again as soon as possible. If you’re using Imperial Prep to have 2 Entrenches back to back, make sure to overlap them ever so slightly so that you don’t lose the 5 stacks of the damage increase. Marksman specifically also has 1 discipline passive that affects Entrench:
- Portable Bunker – Increases the duration of Entrench by 3 seconds. In addition, when you enter cover after using Covered Escape, you gain Entrench for the first 3 seconds. This passive is a bit buggy. The increased duration of Entrench does mean that you get 3 extra seconds of increased damage, but the animation still ends after 20 seconds even though the effect lasts 23. The Entrench effect provided at the end of Covered Escape also does disappear correctly and does not provide any damage increase. It should give you 3 stacks of Entrenched Offense over those 3 seconds.
This ability makes your next Ambush an autocrit. It affects different abilities for Engi and Viru. As I previously mentioned, Laze Target lasts 20 seconds, but only affects the very next use of a single ability, and that specific ability has a cooldown that is less than 20 seconds. This means you should literally be activating it on cooldown unless there’s about to be downtime or you’re saving it for a burst DPS check. The earlier you activate it, the earlier you’ll be able to activate it again. If you want to go the extra mile, you can try to activate it 15 ish seconds before pre-casting Orbital Strike before a pull so you will just barely have enough time left on the proc for when you cast Ambush, but I really don’t think it’s worth it because if you mess up, you end up having to wait and the most you’ll get is maybe an extra use at the very end of the fight.
The only real effect of this cooldown is the 15% increased armor penetration for 10 seconds. It’s not a super powerful damage increase, especially for how long the cooldown is, but it’s still a damage increase. It’s also worth noting that this does not increase the damage dealt by Corrosive Dart at all since Corrosive Dart deals internal damage, which already completely ignores armor. The best time to activate this is right after your 2 Snipes but before that Followthrough since it will be stronger thanks to the Marksman’s Finesse proc. Then you’ll be able to do both Ambush and Penetrating Blasts within that window. Try to save it for when the damage boost from Entrench is in full effect as well and pair it with Laze Target and your Adrenal for even more burst.
The accuracy increase is not applicable in PvE because bosses don’t have additional defense chance like that. You gear for the 10% defense/resist chance they have and then if there is some additional effect that messes with accuracy, like the cloud of dust on Foreman Crusher in KP, it’s generally much stronger so 30% wouldn’t do enough.
In case you were curious, the accuracy increase helps Snipers do better against some classes in PvP since accuracy over 100% reduces your opponents defense chance, though it’s still not a perfect counter. The highest defense chance that DPS and healer classes have is 10%, though most classes have 5% so you gear for the majority and can use Target Acquired on the others. To get the full benefit, you’d use Target Acquired anytime on a tank or another role that’s using a DCD that increases their defense chance, like Deflection for Assassins, Saber Ward for Warriors, or Chaff Flare/Sonic Missile for IO Merc/AP PT. It would still be imperfect though since the worst of these DCDs still grant 35% defense chance while the others grant 50%. It still significantly reduces the effectiveness of their DCD, but not all the way.
This cooldown is unique to Marksman Snipers. It’s pretty straightforward, it increases your alacrity by more than enough to get you from the 1.4s GCD to the 1.3s GCD and lasts long enough to allow you to get an extra ability in the same amount of time, which means you can fit Penetrating Blasts alongside the additional Followthrough into the gap in your rotation. Your Energy regeneration is increased indirectly thanks to the alacrity increase in excess of the 1.3s GCD as well as through a direct increase in your Energy regeneration rate.
The final effect is that it finishes the cooldown on Penetrating Blasts and there are two ways you can utilize this. You can either use Sniper Volley on cooldown whenever you have enough time to do a full Penetrating Blasts grouping , which generally means you won’t get the full benefit of the cooldown reduction, though you may get an additional use out of Sniper Volley over the course of the fight; or you can save Sniper Volley until right after you finish the Penetrating Blasts grouping to use that grouping twice in a row. From the perspective of highest burst, the second option is best, though from my limited testing, I didn’t see a noticeable difference between the two from the perspective of sustained DPS. It does not matter if you use it on cooldown or only immediately after a Penetrating Blasts grouping . You can use whichever feels more comfortable to you. Before 6.0, it was mandatory to use it on cooldown since you would run out of Energy if you didn’t get the increased Energy regeneration rate as often as possible, but now with the Established Foothold set bonus, you can afford to delay it.
The Adrenal is a really simple cooldown. There isn’t really anything to say about it. Just like everything else, make sure to have it available for DPS checks and otherwise use it on cooldown. Try to use it when Entrench is up when possible. Remember, you should use the Advanced Kyrprax Attack Adrenal in level 75 content and Advanced Kyrprax Critical Adrenal in non-level 75 content.
Sha’Tek Relic of Primeval Fatesealer
This relic is unfortunately the only viable alternative for use in sub-level 75 content alongside the Sha’Tek Relic of Devastating Vengeance because the standard Focused Retribution and Serendipitous Assault relics are useless because Mastery and Power are capped. It should be used on cooldown because it is not affected by Alacrity like some of your other offensive cooldowns are. It should also be saved for burst phases and DPS checks if they exist in a given fight.
The formula for determining how much damage an AoE ability does per GCD such that it can be compared to single target abilities is: (Damage Dealt/Number of GCDs) x Number of Enemies. An AoE ability’s place in the priority is as high as it can be until it reaches a single target ability that deals more damage than the AoE will deal to all enemies in the GCD. AoE damage is considered fluff if the adds do not need to die or if you are otherwise shirking your main responsibilities to deal more damage to adds. It’s pretty easy to tell what is and isn’t fluff, don’t be greedy and don’t hurt your group’s chances of beating the boss.
Sniper has some of the most potent AoE abilities in the entire game. Marksman specifically is a bit weaker than Engi and Viru because it doesn’t have much in the way of rotational AoE outside of being able to use Orbital Strike every so often. This makes Marksman well suited to fights with a ton of enemies to spend dedicated time AoEing, like Kephess in EC or Writhing Horror in TFB, but makes it not so great when rotational AoE and DoT spreading are sufficient.
Suppressive Fire (Ranged/Energy/Direct/AoE/Channeled)
This is your spammable AoE. It’s easily one of the strongest spammable AoE abilities in the entire game. Unfortunately, you can’t really use this rotationally, so unless there’s a phase where the entire group is only AoEing, it’s best to hold off on using it and see if your Orbital Strike as well as other classes’ rotational AoE and DoT spread can take care of it or switch to Viru or Engi if you know them so that you can do rotational AoE. Now, this isn’t always the case, sometimes dedicated AoE is needed. You can also just do a single GCD of the channel in your gap, though sometimes you really do need to channel it for a while. Here is how many targets it takes for Suppressive Fire to surpass each of your rotational abilities in terms of damage per GCD, so if at least X number of targets are present, you can keep channeling Suppressive Fire instead of one going into one of these groupings:
- 2 targets: Snipe grouping
- 3 targets: Takedown and Ambush groupings
- 4 targets: Penetrating Blasts grouping w/ Agitating Energies tactical
If you ever use this ability in a boss fight, make sure you’re taking the Imperial Efficiency utility. Suppressive Fire benefits from 1 discipline passive in Marksman:
- Accurized Rifle – Increases the critical chance of Suppressive Fire by 15% and its critical damage dealt by 30%. Almost all of the burst specs in the game have a passive very similar to this one where their spammable AoE has increased critical chance and damage to compensate for not having a DoT spread.
Orbital Strike (Tech/Elemental/Periodic/AoE/Casted)
This ability is quite powerful, though it’s not the easiest thing to use since it takes almost 5 seconds from the start of the cast to when damage actually starts going out and then it keeps going out for another 6 seconds. A lot of the time, AoE just doesn’t last that long. Don’t bother using this ability if the enemies will die before Orbital Strike really does anything. Definitely still try to use it and be as preemptive as possible, but this ability really only works when you can predict the when and where AoE will be needed well in advance, so this ability is better suited to fights with constant adds. Otherwise, you’re better off just using Suppressive fire or letting the other players in your group handle it entirely. Due to all this and the fact that the cast fits in the gap in your rotation, you don’t have to worry about this taking priority over your other abilities. Just use it during the gap if you can reliably hit something that actually needs to take damage with every single tick.
Refraction Point Tactical Item
Marksman’s AoE tactical just lets them do actual rotational AoE, so just keep doing your rotation and adhering to the priority I listed for when to use Suppressive Fire over your other abilities and you’ll be fine. The only difference is to always use Penetrating Blasts and its Followthrough on cooldown. If you’re having to use Suppressive Fire consistently during the fight and there isn’t a huge single-target DPS check, definitely use this tactical, but single target DPS checks almost always take priority over AoE DPS checks. Refraction Point also has a very nice bonus, since it causes Penetrating Blasts to deal damage to multiple enemies and Penetrating Blasts applies the armor debuff, this tactical allows you to provide the armor debuff to multiple enemies at the same time, which is super rare. The only other specs that can do this are Vengeance and Rage Juggernaut.
I am choosing to talk about this ability here because this is the only time you’ll ever really need it anymore. Thanks to the Established Foothold set bonus, this ability is no longer needed to facilitate you doing as much DPS as possible during your single-target rotation because you have more than enough energy to use all of your single-target abilities in an optimal manner.
AoE damage on the other hand can still get somewhat costly. You can sustain Suppressive Fire for the entire duration of Entrench and be completely fine in terms of Energy, but as soon as the effect falls off, your Energy level will drop like a rock, so Adrenaline Probe allows you to spam it for longer, though there aren’t too many situations in the game where that’s necessary.
This ability technically does not do any AoE damage, but it will only ever be used in AoE situations so I am going to talk about it here. Diversion works wonders against adds. It’s about as strong as Saber Ward, Deflection, and Explosive Fuel, which are the strongest DCDs tanks have against adds, though it doesn’t last quite as long. Usually the raid lead will tell you when they want it or a tank will ask for it, but if you see someone getting hit by a bunch of enemies, chuck this at them.
Defensive Capabilities and Mobility
Snipers have defensive cooldowns that are easily just as strong, if not stronger than what is offered by the other two ranged DPS specs. Almost all of the defensive capabilities of Snipers are relegated to the utilities and built into their shared abilities; Virulence is the only Sniper spec that gains anything major defensively from their discipline.
Entrench and the Siege Bunker Utility
The CC immunity is nice, but it really doesn’t come up all that often in PvE. The big thing that Entrench provides is 60% AoE DR (it’s actually reduced damage taken). Thanks to the Pillbox Sniper utility, Portable Bunker Discipline Passive, and the Established Foothold set bonus, you have upwards of 70% uptime on this AoE DR. While it isn’t as consistent as the 30% AoE DR (actually RDT) that most other classes have access to, your average AoE DR is significantly higher, meaning you’ll take less AoE damage overall than any other class and thanks to Imperial Preparation, you can have it whenever you need it most. Since it is ultimately given in doses of 60%, you can sometimes leverage that mitigation so that you don’t have to move out of certain circles when other classes would. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth trying to figure out which circles will kill you and which you can survive completely, or at least survive long enough that you can get to a point in your rotation where you won’t lose as much DPS to move during.
I would also like to explain that the vast majority of damage that bosses deal in raids is considered AoE damage. Even if the attack looks like a single target attack, there’s a good chance that it’s still considered AoE damage. This is why there’s always so much emphasis on the AoE DR utility that every class has access to and why Sniper should generally have very low DTPS.
Unless you know that a big hit is coming up and you don’t have anything else available, this ability is best used if you can time it for when Entrench is not active, or on cooldown if there’s just a bunch of damage going out. Since it has such a short cooldown and is relatively weak, this ability won’t really protect you from a whole lot on its own and it’s much better served just keeping your health high and mitigating minor spikes so that your health will be higher when the actual damage comes.
This ability is quite strong for Snipers since it reduces damage taken by 75% against force/tech attacks and allows you to completely dodge melee/ranged attacks. Unfortunately, it only lasts 3 seconds, so it’s mainly used for mitigating a single big hit. You do need to be mindful of what type of damage you’re mitigating because it changes what other defensives you’re allowed to use at the same time. If it’s melee/ranged damage, this will be the only DCD you’ll need because this will always mitigate 100% of it (provided you aren’t stunned). It’s usually pretty obvious, if the attack is coming directly from a lightsaber swing or blaster, it’s a melee/ranged attack and if it’s anything else, it’s probably force/tech. Melee/ranged attacks also tend to be more frequent and individually weaker attacks, though you can look at your damage taken in StarParse if you want to be sure.
If the damage is force/tech, you’re okay to activate your other DCDs and since it’s RDT, not DR that’s being provided, the 75% feels like it isn’t doing as much. I do want to point out again as well that the advanced class passive that provides this RDT is unclear, though the force/tech mitigation does apply when out of cover.
Cover Pulse and the Stroke of Genius Utility
Just so we’re clear, the knockback function is not usually something at your disposal in group content. A lot of the time things are immune to being knocked back and when they aren’t immune, it’s better that they’re all grouped up to be killed. Technically it’s okay to use this if you genuinely think you will die if you don’t knock the enemies back right now, but honestly I think the better play is to just let yourself die and then throw a tantrum about why the tanks didn’t keep the adds off of you and why you didn’t get enough heals, though make sure you’ve used your threat drop and all your DCDs already.
The real defensive use of this ability comes from the Stroke of Genius utility, which provides a 20% resist chance against force/tech attacks for 6 seconds. Since it’s a resist chance, it’s not guaranteed to work, though against ticking damage, it’s not statistically different against damage reduction since completely mitigating 20% of the ticks will average out to taking the same amount of damage as having each tick’s damage being reduced by 20%. For bigger single hits, this is generally only valuable as a cherry on top for your healers when you have another DCD ready or as a Hail Mary if you’re completely out of absolutely everything else. To be clear though, against ticking force/tech damage, it is a fully legitimate option as a standalone DCD and should probably be your first choice for that kind of damage since it frees up your other cooldowns for other attacks.
Stroke of Genius also makes your next Snipe instant, meaning it can be used while moving, so use Cover Pulse before you exit cover to make it so you don’t lose (as much) DPS while moving.
Imperial Preparation and the Over-Prepared Utility
This ability resets the cooldowns of all the abilities I have mentioned in this section thus far. If you’re out of DCDs and about to take a hit that you’d rather have a DCD for, do not hesitate to activate this ability. This takes priority over using it offensively just to give you Entrench back sooner because if you’re dead, you’re doing 0 DPS.
Not every fight requires Imperial Prep though and if you think there’s a high chance that you won’t need Imperial Prep until its cooldown is done, it’s fine to use it for the sake of getting to use Entrench back to back. The benefit isn’t quite as huge as it might seem though since Entrench is active for such a large portion of its cooldown duration, the effective cooldown of the ability is only 12 seconds, though you are saving 5 additional seconds of buildup time by using them back to back. This also means that you can technically wait to use Imperial Prep for this purpose until there are 13-14 seconds left on Entrench’s cooldown since you have to wait to use Entrench again until there’s that long left on its cooldown anyway.
The Over-Prepared utility will typically only be taken if there’s a particularly tough heal, short heal check where there’s only 1 or 2 enemies since otherwise the Defensive Safeguards utility or Deployed Shields are a better option. Furthermore, once you activate Imperial Prep, you’ll have all of your DCDs again, so why do you need 15% DR right now? Just pop one of your freshly available DCDs instead.
This is not a personal defensive cooldown. It is a raid buff. Use it when the entire raid is taking a lot of damage or may wipe because one of the tanks just died and now the boss is running around like crazy. Since damage intake management is primarily a tank and healer job, this ability is primarily to make their lives easier. If a tank is out of defensive cooldowns and needs another it’s okay to use. Tell them you have it available for them to ask for. Healers are also a lot more focused on the raid frame than you will be as a DPS, so they are far better equipped to know when it will be useful for the raid than you will. Tell them to call out if and when they want it and be ready to activate it. Here are some times when it’s generally a good idea to use Ballistic Shield:
- During a burn phase.
- When one of the tanks or healers just died, pop it instantly, especially if a tank just died, because there’s a good chance that the boss is about to hit someone else or the group really hard.
- If healers call out for players to use their medpacs or if you find yourself having to use yours and see that the rest of the group could also probably benefit from their medpac.
- If everyone’s health is below 40-50%. Get in the habit of taking a quick glance at the raid frame to see people’s health level.
Don’t save it for a rainy day because today is that rainy day! Unless you get hit by a one-shot mechanic (which you shouldn’t), you should never let yourself die while your Medpac is still available. If everyone’s health is getting low or there’s a heal check in the current phase, do not hesitate to use your Medpac if you can take full benefit of the health provided or need to be above a certain health level to survive an imminent mechanic. If you think Medpacs are too expensive, it’s time to get Biochem on one of your alts or even better, your raiding toon so that you can make your own or get reusables.
I just wanted to point out that Snipers are one of the two classes that do not have any sort of cleanse ability, the other is Powertech. A long time ago, they could cleanse with Evasion, just like Operatives could, but that was taken away from them.
This ability is both a defensive cooldown and movement ability. As a defensive cooldown, it’s your cheese ability. It gives you 100% defense/resist chance for the duration of the roll, meaning you’re completely immune to taking damage during your roll, provided that it’s damage that is mitigatable, so it won’t work against things like 0 damage kills and typeless damage. Since the mitigation is so short, it can be fairly difficult to time it, so you may need to practice it a little bit and don’t be afraid to completely stop DPSing for a moment if there’s something that will kill you if you don’t do the cheese correctly.
As a movement ability, Covered Escape does help you cover a fair bit of distance, but it does cost a GCD to use, so it is best used when you’re out of range of the boss so you couldn’t deal damage anyway or after your other movement abilities have been used. It’s not the end of the world to use this ability for movement though since there isn’t a lot of damage you can do when out of cover anyway, so sometimes you just have to give up the GCD. Thanks to the Portable Bunker passive that makes it so you get Entrench for 3 seconds after using Covered Escape, you always get the Seek Cover speed boost after using your roll as well.
In 6.0, they gave Snipers Phase Walk as their new ability. While they seem pretty identical on the surface, there are several key differences:
- Hololocate’s cooldown is twice as long as Phase Walk’s.
- The teleporting animation is significantly longer for Hololocate because there’s an actual teleportation animation you have to do prior to teleporting but after pressing the button rather than Phase Walk where you just wave your hand and pop up somewhere else instantaneously. This makes it more difficult to escape at the very last second.
- The act of teleporting with Hololocate breaks your channel after teleporting, even if you’re still in range while Phase Walk does not break your channels (provided you’re still in range).
- In general, Hololocate’s animations are much smoother and happen more sequentially while Phase Walk’s animations just kind of happen on top of everything else.
Luckily, the ability is still off the GCD, even though it has a castbar, so you can still use it while the GCD is active for another ability. In addition, you can still teleport while stunned, so even if the button is grayed out, it will still work.
Hololocate isn’t always useful as a movement ability, but it’s incredible when you can use it. The best time to use Hololocate is when you know of a specific location that you are certain you will want to return to at some point later in the fight that will be generally safe to return to. It can also just be nice to have on the ground even if the fight doesn’t have a whole lot of movement, just as something that can help you to get out of a circle or maybe help you get back in position if you end up in a weird spot, maybe because you panicked because you accidentally got aggro of the boss and tried to run away.
Countermeasures and the Reestablish Range Utility
Countermeasures is your threat drop, but with the Reestablish Range utility, it becomes a very strong movement speed boost. Unless it’s clear that one of your other movement speed boosts is better, like if you have already placed Hololocate or you’re out of range of the boss, this should be your default movement speed boost ability since it’s the most versatile. Please note that speed boosts do not get added together, only the fastest speed boost is applied, so Reestablish Range it will take effect over Seek Cover, so if you already have that effect active, be sure to wait until it’s over to activate Countermeasures.
The Reestablish Range utility causes the final tick of Penetrating Blasts to knock back its target if they are within 10m of you. I have yet to encounter a situation in PvE where this is a good thing, so you either need to be mindful of when that can happen and prevent it. Either don’t take the utility at all when it can happen (and your raid lead may ask you to stop taking it if it continues to be a problem) or make sure that you’re greater than 10m away from those enemies, which isn’t always possible. It isn’t the end of the world though if you can’t take the utility since Seek Cover is still pretty strong.
Crowd Control and Other Notable Abilities
There are only a handful of instances in operations where CC is required, so I will briefly go over what the Sniper has at their disposal.
This is your hard stun, meaning it does not break on damage. In PvE, this will generally only be used for specific mechanics since most things you’d care about stunning are immune. Be sure to pay attention when something is stunnable though, because that often means you’re intended to stun it.
This is your interrupt. Ranged DPS in general tend to have longer cooldowns on their interrupts, than melee, so if there’s something specific that needs repeated interrupting, a melee DPS or tank will be assigned to it, though this doesn’t mean you can’t interrupt things as well. If you really want to be a clicker, I highly recommend you at least keybind this ability or you will have trouble with some of the shorter casts that need to be interrupted.
This is your mez, a CC ability that breaks on damage. Usually if you’re using this in-combat, you will want to use it very soon after the enemy spawns, though usually healers are assigned this responsibility when possible. Unlike Sorc and Merc, Sniper does not have a minute long CC, though Sniper’s mez is instant without having to do anything extra which is nice. This ability will see very little use though in raids since either your hard stun or their minute CC will end up being used. This typically functions as an extra interrupt. You’ll get more use out of Diversion as your GCD that doesn’t do any damage.
This is your CC break. Use it when you get CC’d.
This ability applies a root, which is an ability that stops you from moving, but does not stop you from activating abilities directly, it also breaks on damage. It deals a little bit of damage, has a 35m range, and the actual root lasts for a fair bit of time, so I could see it getting some use in the same sort of situation that you might use a slow or a stun on a melee add. It would also work as an alternative to stunning one of the Chained Manifestations on Styrak NiM. Overall, it’s good to know you have it at your disposal, though I don’t think you’ll get much use out of it since Flash Bang is basically an objectively better version, at least in PvE.
Honestly I almost forgot this ability existed since I don’t keep it on my bar. I could probably count the number of bosses in this game that can heal on one hand. Technically this is useful in those situations, but it’s just so rare and typically the tanks can also provide it, so you don’t have to worry about it yourself. The one situation you should be made aware of is when transitioning to the burn phase for Brontes. She heals up about 10% unless you apply trauma, so this one ability can effectively deal about 2% of her max health’s worth of damage.
About this Guide
I would like to note that my actual raiding experience is significantly less with this class than it is with my main class, Sith Sorcerer, so a lot of the knowledge contained within this guide comes from theory and dummy parses rather than from experience in actual raids. To be clear, I can still play this spec at a nightmare level and have cleared some NiM raids with it, but I don’t actively raid with this spec on any team.
Acknowledgements and Special Thanks
I want to thank my raid team, Time Turners.. I’ve had an amazing time over the years and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the years to come.
About the Author
Endonae began nightmare raiding in 4.0 and is an avid decorator. He also leads a raid team that has been around since late 1.0 and currently resides in <Lightning Masters> on Satele Shan. It has slowly worked its way up from getting lost in the lava caves on the way to Gharj in EV SM to completing timed runs in nightmare. If you have a question, feel free to message me on Discord, my name is Endonae#3332.