The SWTOR 7.0 PTS build from end of October introduces quite a few new changes to Vanguard and Powertech Combat Styles! Let’s check them out!

When Vanguardch  and Powertech were released to the PTS a few weeks ago, they were missing most of their discipline choices, so we didn’t have a clear idea of what the changes actually were.

With the most recent PTS update that brought us our first look at Legendary Items, 7.0 Gearing, and a new character customization UI, we also now know what all of the choices will be for Vanguard and Powertech, which I will be going over in this article. It seems that most of the other changes remain the same, so if you want to know more about VG / PT changes, I suggest you check out my previous article. 

Tactics and Advanced Prototype

Power Yield

This ability now functions a bit differently for each discipline. The core effect of +40% armor and +2% damage dealt per stack is still there, but there are now additional effects associated with each discipline. 

For Tactics, the ability is called Balmorran Advanced Weaponry and has the following effects. Upon activation, you instantly build 5 stacks of Power Yield and 4 stacks of Energy Lodes, lasts 10 seconds. In addition, Cell / Energy Burst’s critical hit chance is increased by 100% and getting critically hit while under Power Yield builds an Energy Lode. Basically, the Powerlode tactical item is built in now and you get all 5 stacks of Power Yield immediately, but you don’t get the 30 second duration from the Power Focus / Combustion Chamber utility. 

Currently, the autocrit on Cell / Energy Burst seems to be active all the time, as is the case with the Powerlode tactical, though it seems a bit odd to have that effect connected to Power Yield if it’s active all the time. It would make more sense if that ability was only an autocrit while Power Yield is active or Power Yield just made your next Cell / Energy Burst an autocrit. Otherwise, that component should be moved to the base ability or perhaps only autocrit against targets affected by Gut / Retractable Blade, similar to how Turbulence / Thundering Blast works.

Cell Burst and Energy Burst

  • High-Yield Explosives – Cell / Energy Burst grants you High Yield Explosives, increasing the damage dealt by Assault Plastique / Thermal Detonator and Ion Pulse / Flame Burst (not Tactical Surge / Magnetic Blast?) by 5% per Energy Lode.
  • Superheated Cells – Cell / Energy Burst applies a burn, dealing elemental damage over 12 seconds.
  • Kill Zone – When Cell / Energy Burst deals damage to a target, it hits up to 3 additional targets within 5m of the target.  

This set of choices needs more refinement. With High-Yield Explosives the boost gets consumed upon dealing damage, and since there’s a delay before the damage hits from Assault Plastique / Thermal Detonator, you can’t use your strong filler until it goes off. I guess this is a way of creating a tradeoff to get the extra burst, but I think a better way of handling that would be to have that choice increase the cooldown of Assault Plastique / Thermal Detonator or make it only usable with the proc. Your average player probably isn’t going to understand how the tradeoff works.

Superheated Cells is just weird because Cell / Energy Burst already applies a very short DoT and this doesn’t fit well with the back-to-back usage of Cell / Energy Burst when activating Power Yield. I could see this working though if it were properly integrated with the existing DoT and made it so it was impossible to clip when using Power Yield. Perhaps something like this: “Cell / Energy Burn now deals more damage, lasts 12 seconds, and can stack up to 8 times.”

Kill Zone seems busted at first glance, but Cell / Energy Burst has an effective 24 second cooldown and you do miss out on single-target DPS to take this. It will make solo mode trash mobs pretty trivial though, all you have to do is heal up, leap in, and use Cell / Energy Burst and they’re all dead.

Gut and Retractable Blade

  • Tactical Knife – When Gut ticks, you gain a stack of Tactical Draw. Each stack increases the damage done by your next initial hit with Gut by 25%. Stacks up to 4 times and can only occur once every 3 seconds. 
  • Serrated Blade – When the bleed effect from Gut is refreshed, the target takes bonus kinetic damage. 
  • Ricochet Rounds – When the bleed effect from Gut / Retractable Blade is refreshed, you deal additional damage to 4 targets within 5m. 

Ricochet Rounds and Serrated Blade feel too similar to each other. Serrated Blade deals a lot more single-target more damage, as it should, though I’d like to see Ricochet Rounds tweaked a bit to be more different. Perhaps it could have the following effect instead: “Whenever the bleed effect of Gut / Retractable Blade is refreshed, you gain a stack of Ricochet Rounds, which increases the damage dealt by your next Flak Shell / Shatter Slug by X%, stacks up to Y times.” Also, Serrated Blade should be more descriptive in how that damage is happening, I’d think it would be some sort of hemorrhage, in which case the damage dealt should be internal.

Tactical Knife is just too weak and slow next to Serrated Blade. I like the idea of making target swapping less costly, but you don’t gain damage over Serrated Blade so long as you manage to refresh the DoT a single time. It also takes way too long to build the stacks. You’d want Tactical Knife when swapping frequently, which means you typically aren’t spending 12 seconds on a single target. I’m not exactly sure how to tweak the effect without having a bunch of complicated consequences though. Perhaps Serrated Blade is what needs to be changed instead. 

Level 35 Choice

  • Storm / Jet Charge Ability with Battering Blitz / Ram utility effect
  • Pull and Pummel / Reel and Rattle utility effect
  • Harpoon / Grapple gets 2 charges and finishes the cooldown of Stockstrike / Rocket Punch

Even without the Battering Blitz / Ram utility effect, I can’t think of a situation where either of the buffs to Harpoon / Grapple would be better than the gap closer. It might be more competitive in PvP if the two Harpoon / Grapple effects were combined and then it was just a choice between those two options or come up with an actually competitive third option. Also, I’d simplify Battering Blitz / Ram to just have the base ability deal 25% more damage, have 2 charges, and always provide the 30% movement speed boost. There’s no need to have a complicated proc. 

Level 47 Choice

The levels of the choices have been moved around slightly as you can see in the ability tree pictures. There are still the same number of overall choices.

  • Select Materiel – Increases the range of all your 10m range abilities to 15m. In addition, Gut / Retractable Blade ticks decrease the cooldown of Power Yield by 1 second. This can only occur once every 5 seconds.
  • War Machine – When activating Reactive / Energy Shield, you gain War Machine, making your next Adrenaline Rush / Kolto Overload heal up to 45% health or your next Power Yield lasts for 15 seconds.
  • Stealth Scan ability with the Strategic Supremacy / Adaptable Assailant utility effects

Select Materiel seems nice, but not essential. Basically, you only need to go into melee range to apply Gut / Retractable Blade and use Stockstrike and otherwise, you can kite completely out of any other mDPS’ range. The cooldown reduction on Power Yield is pretty small, but a nice extra benefit. 

War Machine is just weird. I think it would be better to make it so Select Materiel gives the extra 10% healing to Adrenaline Rush / Kolto Overload while the cooldown reduction on Power Yield should go to War Machine and then get rid of the Reactive / Energy Shield proc altogether so you either get the extra range and a slight buff to Kolto Overload or higher uptime on Power Yield.

I’m not sure that I’d ever take Stealth Scan next to one of those options. I’d definitely consider taking it if I could benefit from the movement speed boost component of Strategic Supremacy / Adaptable Assailant alongside my allies and the buff also granted some stealth detection while active. 

Tactics

Plasmatech and Pyrotech

Power Yield

In Plasmatech / Pyrotech, the ability is called Durasteel Armor / Thermal Yield. It is basically the same Power Yield that DPS are used to right now since it has the Power Focus / Combustion Chamber utility effect built in so it can last up to 30 seconds. This emphasizes Plasma / Pyro being more oriented towards sustained DPS while Tactics / AP is oriented towards burst damage.

Shockstrike and Flaming Fist

  • Suppressive Heat – Shockstrike / Flaming Fist builds a stack of Suppressive Heat, increasing the damage of your Plasma Cell by 10% per stack. Can stack up to 4 times and lasts 15 seconds.
  • Heavy Plasma Round – Shockstrike / Flaming Fist leaves a shock charge on the target, causing your next Plasma Flare / Immolate or Ion Pulse / Flame Burst to set off the charge, dealing 30% more damage. Can only occur once every 30 seconds.
  • Tactical Strike – Shockstrike / Flaming Fist deals damage to up to 4 enemies within 10m of the primary target. 

This is a pretty well-rounded set of options with a clear choice for burst, sustained, and AoE damage. I’m not sure if the damage increase on Suppressive Heat will be enough to surpass the damage increase on Heavy Plasma Round. Yes, there are a lot of restrictions on Heavy Plasma Round and the percent increase on Suppressive Heat is larger, but Plasma Cell / Gas Cylinder is pretty weak and 40% of a small number is still a small number. It might be better to have a smaller bonus apply to all of your burning effects instead.

Tactical Strike may look pretty bland, but I’m super excited to see the animation. Lots of lighting (or fire for Pyro)! 

Incendiary Round and Incendiary Missile

  • Primed Det Packs – Incendiary Round / Missile deals damage to up to 4 targets and applies a detonator to each target it hits. When the targets are hit by Ion / Searing Wave, the detonator explodes, dealing damage to each target. 
  • Heated Bolt – When you deal damage with Incendiary Round / Missile, your next High Impact Bolt / Rail Shot applies Burning Bolt / Shot, dealing damage over 12 seconds. Can only occur once every 10 seconds. 
  • Armor Piercing Round – Replaces Incendiary Round / Missile. Fires a missile that explodes on contact. Deals the same damage as Incendiary Round / Missile. 15s cooldown. Also applies the internal / elemental damage debuff instead of the AoE debuff.

These options also seem pretty well-rounded. There’s a clear choice for burst, sustained, and AoE damage and the numbers seem balanced. 

Level 35 Choice

  • Storm / Jet Charge Ability with Battering Blitz / Ram utility effect
  • Harpoon / Grapple is engulfed in fire and places Blazing Harpoon / Grapple on the target, which deals elemental damage and slows the target over 6 seconds.
  • Harpoon / Grapple gets 2 charges and finishes the cooldown of Stockstrike / Rocket Punch

This choice is super similar to the one for Tactics / AP, only one of the options is flat out much worse! The DoT seems to do a similar amount of damage to what Pull and Pummel / Reel and Rattle does up front, but doesn’t boost the damage of Shockstrike and trades in the stun for a 30% slow. What is BioWare thinking?

Level 47 Choice

  • Elite Vanguard – When activating Reactive / Energy Shield, you gain 25% movement speed and immunity from incapacitating effects for 6 seconds. In addition, when taking direct damage, your cooldown on Neural Surge / Carbonize is reduced by 2 seconds. This can occur once every 3 seconds.
  • Reactive Plating – When activating Adrenaline Rush / Kolto Overload, you gain Reactive Plating, which allows your next Power Yield to gain an additional stack and return damage to your attackers or your next Sonic Round / Missile will heal allies and grant you 10% damage reduction.
  • Stealth Scan ability with the Strategic Supremacy / Adaptable Assailant utility effect

I strongly dislike Reactive Plating. This game needs far less reactive damage, not more. I also don’t like how the effect on teammates vs you are different for both the Sonic Round / Missile heal and Strategic Supremacy / Adaptable Assailant. You should receive all benefits you grant to teammates. That’s how almost all other group utilities work. I’m also not a fan of the proc thing with Adrenaline Rush / Kolto Overload. That needs to be done away with entirely, and the same goes with War Machine as I already mentioned. Try again, BioWare.

Elite Vanguard seems fine, though I think that utility effect would fit better with Tactics / AP since that discipline has the more frequent Reactive / Energy Shield while Plasma / Pyro has the stronger Kolto Overload. Maybe BioWare is trying to make them both more equally strong though. 

Plasmatech

Shield Specialist and Shield Tech

Power Yield

For Shield Specialists, this ability is called Infused Kolto Packs and is probably the most different compared to the current version of Power Yield. Here is its effect: “Applies a stack of Tactical Armor to you, increasing your armor by 40% and your damage done by 2% for 15 seconds. Whenever you take damage, an additional stack of Tactical Armor is applied, up to 5 times. In addition, you gain a stack of Infused Kolto Packs. Each stack heals you for 6% of your max health (when the ability ends).”

For tanks, the ability is overall more effective for them than it currently is since it lasts longer and has a healing effect. I am concerned about that healing being ineffective though and would prefer if instead the effect automatically loaded a Shoulder Cannon missile that healed for the same amount so you could use them as needed. It would pair nicely with Shield Cannon and the Veteran Ranger Legendary Item as well.

Ion Storm and Firestorm

  • Pulse Cannon Ability – Replaces Ion Storm / Firestorm with a 3s channeled version of the ability.
  • Pointman – Ion Storm / Firestorm grants you a stack of Point Man, increasing your tech and elemental damage by 3% per stack. Lasts for 10 seconds and stacks up to a max of 8 stacks. 
  • Defensive Armor – Shielding an attack grants Defensive Armor, increasing the damage of your next High Impact Bolt / Rail Shot by 10%. Can only occur once every 10 seconds.

Hey look! An off-tank choice! I’d like to see it also increase your Energy Cell regeneration / Heat dissipation rate and decrease threat generation as well, but this is far better than nothing! This set of choices still seems pretty unfinished though. Pulse Cannon does the exact same damage as Ion Storm / Firestorm, but over 2 GCDs as a channel, so why would you pick it? Defensive Armor also seems strictly worse than Pointman and I’m not sure why they bothered to put a rate limit on it. 

Since this choice is still clearly unfinished, it seems pointless to analyze it further. 

Energy Blast and Heat Blast

  • Disruptor Rifle – Replaces Energy / Heat Blast with a more damaging, single-target version of the ability. It also grants 3% shield rating (sic?) and reduces the cooldown of the single taunt by 3 seconds.
  • Frontline Soldier – Firing Energy / Heat Blast, Ion Pulse / Firestorm, and Explosive Surge / Flame Sweep grant you a stack of Frontline Soldier, which increases your shield chance by 1% per stack, stacks up to 5 times.
  • High Impact Shot – Grants a stack of Impact for every target hit by Energy / Heat blast. Each stack increases your Shield Rating by 1%. Stacks up to 4 times and lasts up to 10 seconds. In addition, targets are slowed by 20% for 6 seconds. 

These options also seem quite unfinished. Two of these options mention Shield Rating as opposed to Shield Chance. Discipline passives don’t usually rely on gear and just give you a flat percentage increase of whatever number the stat affects, so both should probably say Shield Chance. Also, Frontline Soldier seems to be clearly better than High Impact Shot. I’m going to withhold analysis until these effects seem more complete. Hopefully, we’ll see a good off-tank option here as well.

Level 35 Choice

  • Harpoon / Grapple can be used to pull allies.
  • Transpose / Translocate ability
  • Harpoon / Grapple has 2 charges and finishes the cooldown of Stockstrike.

This is an interesting choice, much more balanced than the options for the DPS disciplines. Transpose / Translocate tends to be less helpful than a pull, especially in PvE, but taking it means you can still use Harpoon / Grapple offensively while otherwise you have to choose. Alternatively, you can just go full offense and get to pull enemies twice. 

Level 47 Choice

  • Reactive Round – When receiving redirected damage from Guard, the cooldown on your AoE taunt is decreased by 2 seconds. Can only occur once every 3 seconds.
  • Cortosis Weave Armor – Taking damage during Battle Focus / Explosive Fuel reduces the cooldown on Power Yield by 2 seconds. In addition, taking direct damage builds a stack of Cortosis, increasing your damage reduction by 1%, stacks up to 3 times. Can only occur once every 1.2 seconds. 
  • Stealth Scan ability with Strategic Supremacy / Adaptable Assailant utility effect

I really like Reactive Round. It creates a strong incentive in PvP for the tank to keep guarding the right player. The rate limit and cooldown reduction should both be halved though so the effect is more noticeable. 

I’m a bit confused about Cortosis Weave Armor. While Battle Focus / Explosive Fuel is active, your defense chance is increased, so you’re less likely to take damage while it’s active. It would make more sense to have it trigger on defending an attack. The 1.2s rate limit is random too. Why not 1.5s like everything else?

Both of these options seem way better than Stealth Scan, even if it were to get buffed like I suggested. 

Shield Specialist

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, it still seems a bit early to make any final conclusions about the state of VGs / PTs for 7.0. We definitely have a clearer idea of what the changes are than we did when the Combat Style was first released to the PTS, but they still seem pretty unfinished, with a lot of balance issues present between different choices. 

If you want to learn more about this class and its disciplines, check out the in-depth class 6.0 guides. They will get updated when 7.0 releases.

It’s been a while since BioWare opened up the PTS for the Legacy of the Sith expansion and here you can follow along all news and updates to stay in the loop about all things SWTOR 7.0!

Author Lokzmir
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