This article will give you a preview of the Powertech and Vanguard DPS Combat Styles proposed changes coming with SWTOR Update 7.1.1. I’ve also got a detailed analysis of how they will affect the disciplines; I also shared some personal thoughts and suggestions for further changes that BioWare should implement.

Current State of Powertech and Vanguard DPS

As part of the changes in 7.0, BioWare opted to segregate and enhance the unique capabilities of burst and DoT specs.

Burst specs now offer far more significant spikes with their hardest-hitting attacks compared to DoT specs, with the strongest burst attacks dealing upwards of twice as much damage as the most powerful direct damage that DoT specs can dish out.

In real terms, DoT spec heavy-hitters tend to top out at 40-50k damage while that’s the very low end for burst specs that often reach into the 60-80k+ range. Offensive cooldowns also tend to be more potent and available more frequently for burst specs.

In return, DoT specs offer vastly superior AoE damage thanks to their DoT spread while burst specs have to sacrifice a decent chunk of single-target DPS in order to be able to do any rotational AoE damage by swapping to an AoE ability tree buff.

Burst and DoT specs are entirely balanced around the paradigm that burst specs are in a league of their own when it comes to burst damage while the same is true of DoT specs in terms of AoE damage.

Understanding this segregation is important because PT / VG DPS didn’t get the memo and are both outliers in this new paradigm each in their own way.

Pyrotech / Plasmatech is a DoT spec, so their AoE is fairly strong, but their BiS tactical, Superheated Fuel, allows them to compete with the strongest burst specs in burst checks by giving them 15s of pure autocrits every 2 mins. The only other discipline that offers both AoE and burst is Engineering Sniper / Saboteur Gunslinger, but that discipline requires 4+ GCDs of setup for burst and has viability issues in some fights.

Advanced Prototype / Tactics, on the other hand, is a burst spec and for many expansions was considered the strongest thanks to having the most potent burst window in the game while still being able to offer exceptional group utility and often the best sustained DPS in the game.

As part of the 7.0 changes, AP / Tactics had basically all of its good tactical items rolled into the discipline or removed outright but still offers capable sustained numbers because the incorporation of those new effects wasn’t counterbalanced by nerfs. In essence, they don’t need a tactical right now, but don’t have access to a good one either.

AP / Tactics has also fallen behind a bit in terms of burst. Don’t get me wrong, Explosive Fuel + 7 Shoulder Cannons is still powerful, but it isn’t in as much of a league of its own anymore, and the 2 min cooldown prevents it from being used for every burst check in a lot of fights now. Rotational burst is also a lot less substantial than it is for specs because it only gets an (average) autocrit every 24s and has to sacrifice a DCD to duplicate it.

7.1.1 Announced Powertech and Vanguard DPS Changes

Advanced Prototype / Tactics

  • Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge damage reduced by 14%.
  • Power Burst / High Yield Explosives mod stacks damage bonus reduced to 4% per stack down from 5% per stack. (total of 16% damage bonus to Thermal Detonator / Assault Plastique down from 20%).
  • Serrated Blades damage reduced to 5% down from 15%. (combined into Prototype Rail / High Friction Bolts)
  • Blood Tracker / Triumph damage increase to bleeding targets is reduced to 3% down from 5%.
  • Lingering Heat / Superheated Cells damage reduced by 50%.
  • New Tactical: Powered Detonator (Burst) – Thermal Detonator / Assault Plastique remains dormant on the target for 12 seconds, and can be detonated by Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge, Energy Burst / Cell Burst, or Rail Shot / High Impact Bolt. Depending on which is used, a different effect is applied:
    • Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge: Slows the target by 50% for 10 seconds.
    • Energy Burst / Cell Burst: The cooldown of Rocket Punch / Stockstrike is reset and its next activation costs no Heat / Energy Cells.
    • Rail Shot / High Impact Bolt: Your next Shoulder Cannon missile deals 20% more damage.

Pyrotech / Plasmatech

  • Charged Gauntlet’s / Hyper Assault Cell’s critical damage bonus for Searing Wave / Ion Wave, Flaming Fist / Shockstrike, Scorch / Plasmatize, and Immolate / Plasma Flare is now 10% down from 15%.
  • Reduced the damage bonus given from Burnout to Immolate / Plasma Flare from 40% to 30%.

Source: SWTOR Forums.

7.1.1 Powertech and Vanguard DPS Changes Analysis

Advanced Prototype / Tactics

Lingering Heat / Superheated Cell and Power Burst / High-Yield Explosives

Lingering Heat / Superheated Cell is getting nerfed by approximately 550 DPS, while the nerf to Power Burst / High-Yield Explosives will be smaller, only about 20% weaker than its current benefit. Given that both buffs are fairly comparable right now, Power Burst / High-Yield Explosives will likely be the superior option after 7.1.1 is released.

Damage Nerfs

The nerf to Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge will reduce DPS by about 650 while the nerf to Retractable Blade / Gut will reduce DPS by about 250. The Blood Tracker / Triumph nerf is basically just flat a 2% DPS nerf, which amounts to 550 DPS.

When all of these nerfs are combined, the total DPS loss will be about 1550. A nerf to this degree only makes sense to me if BioWare plans to release a stronger tactical item since AP / Tactics is effectively competing without one right now.

New Tactical Item

It’s unclear how much of a DPS increase the new Powered Detonator tactical will provide, but it’s definitely not enough to justify the nerfs. Using an idealized scenario where we magically turn an equal number of Rapid Shots / Hammer Shot GCDs into additional Rocket Punches / Stockstrikes matching the number of Thermal Detonators, we end up with a DPS increase of, at most, 1050.

Of course, in the real world, the cooldowns of Rocket Punch / Stockstrike and Thermal Detonator / Assault Plastique don’t line up perfectly, so one would have to be delayed, reducing overall DPS. Of course, if you mess up and Rocket Punch / Stockstrike is on cooldown when you throw Thermal Detonator / Assault Plastique, you could be left with 0 if you use Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge, or, at most, 200 DPS from the Shoulder Cannon boost.

It seems likely that these nerfs are meant to create room for DPS new tacticals, since AP / Tactics really doesn’t have any good ones. BioWare is gonna have a tough time making interesting effects that actually feel consequential with a budget of only 1550 DPS (assuming all the nerfs were just to create room for new tactical effects). It’s way too low compared to what other tacticals tend to provide. Here are a few examples of the DPS provided by other tactical items:

  • Primed Ignition – 3900
  • Stormwatch – 2100
  • Tempest of Rho – 4800
  • Two Time Trouble – 3500
  • Awakened Flame – 2700

Note: These tacticals were chosen because they were easy to measure, not because they are necessarily representative of an average.

It’s completely fine to nerf DPS to make room for new tacticals, but BioWare should wait until they actually have something good to show. Otherwise, AP / VG will be in a bad spot in the meantime.

Pyrotech / Plasmatech

The nerf to critical damage will result in a sustained DPS loss of about 400, though it will have a more significant effect on burst and the BiS tactical item, Superheated Fuel. The abilities affected by Charged Gauntlet / Hyper Assault Cell account for about 55% of your damage dealt during each Explosive Fuel / Battle Focus, meaning Superheated Fuel tactical is effectively getting nerfed by about 2.75%.

The nerf to Burnout is effectively just a 10% nerf to Immolate / Plasma Flare since every single ability activation should benefit from the proc, resulting in a DPS loss of about 300 for a combined 700 DPS nerf to Pyrotech / Plasmatech from these changes.

Pyrotech / Plasmatech will likely be about exactly as strong as Virulence Sniper / Dirty Fighting Gunslinger after these nerfs, but will be able to surpass it in fights where players can have high uptime on Thermal Yield / Durasteel Armor or trigger Reflective Armor.

Recommended Changes for Powertech and Vanguard DPS


Sonic Rebounder Needs a Nerf

The Sonic Rebounder ability tree buff is way too strong and way too easy to abuse because it can block the damage of an entire hit and then send that damage back, easily enabling the group to wrack up hundreds of thousands of damage per activation. In some fights, it can fully enable you to skip DPS checks, creating a massive incentive to bring (multiple) PTs / VGs to those fights.

The damage-blocking component is plenty powerful on its own. I advocate for the reflect component to be completely removed from the effect so it only absorbs the damage of a hit and for the max duration of the rebounder to be shortened to 10s so that it requires a bit more coordination to use.

Advanced Prototype / Tactics

Improve Heat / Energy Cell Management and Smooth Out Rough Edges

Heat / Energy Cell management for AP / Tactics has become destabilized in 7.0 because Vent Heat and Thermal Sensor Override / Recharge Cells and Reserve Power Cell were combined into a single ability. The discipline relied on having 2 resource cooldowns in 6.0 with the Powerlode tactical so that something was always available for both back-to-back Energy Bursts / Cell Bursts and Explosive Fuel / Battle Focus.

Right now, you have to take Iron Will and use Vent Heat / Recharge Cells on cooldown, but the ability never properly syncs up with either heavy resource consumption moment. I propose the following changes:

  • Power Loaders / Charged Loaders no longer reduces the cooldown of Vent Heat / Recharge Cells.
  • The Heat / Energy Cell cost of Energy Burst / Cell Burst is reduced by 5 with each stack of Energy Load, but the ability no longer always automatically critically hits.
  • Swap the levels when Blood Tracker / Triumph and Prototype Rail / High Fricton Bolts discipline passives are granted and add the following effect to Blood Tracker / Triumph: The critical chance of Energy Burst / Cell Burst is increased by 25% per Energy Lode against bleeding targets.
  • Each Shoulder Cannon missile fired by Autocannon (from the Mandalorian Armaments legendary implant) now also vents 5 Heat / regenerates 5 Energy Cells.

The changes to resource management would require testing to get precise information but should enable a more fluid rotation by removing extreme Heat generation / Energy Cell consumption spikes from doing Energy Burst / Cell Burst back to back and enabling Vent Heat / Recharge Cells to remain fully synchronized with Explosive Fuel / Battle Focus.

Since these changes were messing around with Energy Burst / Cell Burst, I also opted to properly integrate the autocrit into the discipline so it isn’t granted as a passive on an ability anymore while reinforcing the importance of having Retractable Blade / Gut on the target and discouraging the use Energy Burst / Cell Burst before you have 4 Energy Lodes.

Resonance Trigger: Redesigning the New Tactical

Call it Resonance Trigger and give it the following effect:

Thermal Detonator now lays dormant for 6s and can only be detonated by Magnetic Blast. The magnetic resonance from the detonation causes both attacks automatically critically hit. In addition, you and the affected target become harmonized for up to 10s, increasing your movement speed by 25% and decreasing their movement speed by 25%. Both effects end if either one is removed or the players become separated by more than 15m.

Assault Plastique now lays dormant for 6s and can only be detonated by Tactical Surge. The magnetic resonance from the detonation causes both attacks to automatically critically hit. In addition, you and the affected target become harmonized for up to 10s, increasing your movement speed by 25% and decreasing their movement speed by 25%. Both effects end if either one is removed or the players become separated by more than 15m.

Would this be busted in PvP? At first glance, some of you may say yes, but most burst specs are capable of dealing 70k+ damage in a single GCD these days, often more frequently than once every 15s as this would be. Concealment Operative / Scrapper Scoundrel is actually capable of doing considerably more damage with an extremely similar maneuver thanks to the Volatile Strike tactical.

This tactical would add about 1700 DPS from Thermal Detonator / Assault Plastique and 1200 DPS from Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge for a combined 2900 DPS, which is a far more reasonable amount of DPS for a tactical to provide. It does enable them to do about 97k damage in an instant (in 330 gear + mostly gold augs), though that is right in line with what other burst DPS specs can do these days too.

Tweak Lingering Heat / Superheated Cells

“Let’s make the burst ability apply another DoT!” The Lingering Heat ability tree buff for Energy Burst / Cell Burst is about as bland and unoriginal as you can get. The effect literally already exists as part of the ability and is called Energy Burn / Cell Burn. The long duration of the DoT from the ability tree buff also makes it impossible to get the full benefit when you do a second Energy Burst / Cell Burst thanks to Power Yield / Balmorran Advanced Weaponry.

In order to remedy this, I recommend that Lingering Heat / Superheated Cells just directly double the damage dealt by Energy Burn / Cell Burn instead of applying an additional DoT.

Tweak Easy Prey / Tactical Knife

The Easy Prey / Tactical Knife ability tree buff for Retractable Blade / Gut is clearly meant to improve target swapping, which is great, but it doesn’t do a good enough job at it because it takes far too long for the effect to build into anything useful.

It also complicates the rotation by giving you another GCD that can’t finish the cooldown on Rail Shot / High-Impact Bolt. I propose Easy Prey / Tactical Knife effect be tweaked to the following:

When the bleed effect from Retractable Blade / Gut is refreshed, you gain Easy Prey / Tactical Draw for 6s, which doubles the damage dealt by the next initial hit of Retractable Blade / Gut and allows it to trigger Prototype Particle Accelerator / Tactical Accelerator.

This version of the effect would fix the issues I raised earlier and make it fit better as a Retractable Blade / Gut buff because it also triggers off of refreshing the bleed DoT.

Prototype Armor / Tactical Armor Should Work in PvE Too

The Prototype Armor / Tactical Armor proc currently grants 2% DR upon taking critical damage and stacks up to 3 times for 6% total. Critical damage has only ever been a thing in PvP. It’s possible that this was originally deliberate to exclusively boost PvP survivability, but given that Power Yield / Balmorran Advanced Weaponry now has a max duration of 10-15s down from the 30s max that is now exclusive to Thermal Yield / Durasteel Armor, I think it’s appropriate that AP / Tactics gets a little something to help close the survivability gap between it and Pyrotech / Plasmatech.

Prototype Armor / Tactical Armor only needs to be tweaked to trigger off of taking AoE damage instead of (or in addition to) critical damage. This would fit better with Close and Personal / Into the Frey as well.

Redesign the VFX for Energy Burst / Cell Burst and Magentic Blast / Tactical Surge

In my opinion, the visual effects (VFX) for Energy Burst / Cell Burst and Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge have always looked really lame and out of place in Star Wars. It’s unacceptable for a burst ability with the longest “cooldown” in the game that the entire rotation is built around to have anything less than an exceptional visual effect. Likewise, an upgraded version of a filler ability also shouldn’t look worse. I do want to distinguish that the projectile is the main concern here; the gauntlet component looks pretty great.

For Energy Burst / Cell Burst, I would make a projectile that looks like an intensely bright, white-hot torrent of energy that creates some distortion and heavy chromatic aberration around the edges. The sound effect also needs to be amped up, I’d highly recommend taking inspiration from the sound accompanying the “light boom” that occurs when nuclear reactors are powered up.

The PT version should look more unstable with random sparks on the gauntlet and a less uniform shape for the projectile since it’s part of the Advanced Prototype discipline. If it’s fired with anything less than 4 Energy Lodes, it should be a much weaker-looking “on the fritz” version to fit with the prototype theme.

In contrast, the VG version should maybe be portrayed as if it were shot from a grenade launcher attached to the blaster rifle and have a more uniform shape. When it’s fired with less than 4 Energy Lodes, it should just have a smaller blast radius.

For Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge, I think the ability should return to its roots and just be a more clearly upgraded version of Flame Burst / Ion Burst just like how the PT / VG tank disciplines have an enhanced version of Searing Wave / Ion Wave. It’s tough to improve on fire, especially in Star Wars where you have to compete with things like Force Lightning.

Searing Wave Base
Firestorm Upgrade

The on-hit VFX magnetic field for Magnetic Blast / Tactical Surge could also be added to Innovative Ordnance’s Mag Shot / Assault Specialist’s Mag Bolt ability to give it a bit of extra flair, though perhaps with a slightly larger and more gray color to match the attack.

This animation, at least for PT, would need to incorporate a magnetic field of some sort in order to make sense next to the new tactical effect I recommend, but that could be done by making the fire, or at least the embers, flow in a magnetic way.

Pyrotech / Plasmatech

Redesign the Flame Dissipation Tactical

If you’re not familiar, the Flame Dissipation tactical has the following effect:

When Superheated Flamethrower / Pulse Generator reaches or refreshes to 2 stacks, it applies Flame Dissipation / Ion Dissipation to you, lowering the cost of Searing Wave / Ion Wave by 3 Heat / Energy Cells. Stacks up to 5 times and is consumed by Searing Wave / Ion Wave at 5 stacks. When consumed, Flame Dissipation / Ion Dissipation increases your flame / plasma attack damage by 10% for 20s.

Pyrotech Powertech
When Superheated Flamethrower reaches or refreshes to 2 stacks, it applies Flame Dissipation to you, lowering the cost of Searing Wave by 3 Heat. Stacks up to 5 times and is consumed by Searing Wave at 5 stacks. When consumed, Flame Dissipation increases your flame attack damage by 10% for 20s.

Plasmatech Vanguard
When Pulse Generator reaches or refreshes to 2 stacks, it applies Ion Dissipation to you, lowering the cost of Ion Wave by 3 Energy Cells. Stacks up to 5 times and is consumed by Ion Wave at 5 stacks. When consumed, Ion Dissipation increases your plasma attack damage by 10% for 20s.

It’s really not terrible and only offers about 700 less DPS than Superheated Fuel, and that gap will likely close significantly once these nerfs take place. Unfortunately, it has the following issues:

  • In order to have 100% uptime on the buff, you’d need to do 1 more Flame Burst / Ion Pulse than is possible in a single rotation cycle.
  • The Heat / Energy Cell cost reduction barely doesn’t let you exclusively use Flame Burst / Ion Pulse as your filler.
  • It has a bug where Searing Wave / Ion Wave grants a stack of Flame Dissipation, and sometimes this happens before the proc is consumed while sometimes it’s granted after.
  • Involving the Superheated Flamethrower / Pulse Generator proc unnecessarily overcomplicates the effect.

In order to remedy these issues, I recommend it be redesigned to have the following effect:

Each stack of Superheated Flamethrower now also reduces the Heat cost of Searing Wave by 10 and when consumed, grants a stack of Flame Dissipation, which increases the damage dealt by your flame attacks by 5% per stack for 15s. In addition, Immolate now grants a second charge of Flame Barrage.

In addition, each stack of Pulse Generator now also reduces the Energy Cell cost of Ion Wave by 10 and when consumed, grants Ion Dissipation, which increases the damage dealt by your plasma attacks by 5% per stack for 15s. In addition, Plasma Flare now grants a second charge of Plasma Barrage.

Together, these changes should allow you to exclusively spam Flame Burst / Ion Burst as your filler in single-target situations while maintaining 100% uptime on the Flame Dissipation / Ion Dissipation buff.

This version also continues to link it specifically to Pyrotech / Plasmatech since all components of the effect require the presence of either the Superheated Flamethrower / Pulse Generator and Flame Barrage / Plasma Barrage procs, so it won’t be usable by any other PT / VG disciplines.

Give the Burnout Passive Earlier

It’s been annoying to level with Pyro / Plasma in the past several expansions because Burnout keeps getting moved up to be the max-level passive, so it gets taken away during the leveling process.

All of the Pyro / Plasma passives are pretty strong, but I’d prefer if it got swapped with Automated Defenses / Adrenaline Fueled, which is given at level 68 because DCDs are less important during leveling and Kolto Overload / Adrenaline Rush is definitely already strong enough without the buffs for that content.

Author Lokzmir
Categories SWTOR News
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