Author: Illian Amerond
Greetings all the TOR fans, and welcome to Illian's Musing as I explore the art of Theory Crafting. Here we will take a look at the core sets of each character class, the advanced roles and each respective tree. In this I hope to share understanding and ideas regarding building a character to best suit the needs of players in and out of Raid environments, PvE and PvP.
In this first edition we will explore the Republic Smuggler. We have seen a great deal of characters using this class in and out of PvP, PvE and Raids; and I personally found the class to be very fun to play. The unique class ability to take cover allows the class to avoid a good deal of abilities such as force leap and the grab skills of the bounty hunter. In later levels the Imperial Agent and Smuggler both gain the ability to put down a screen to provide cover in open spaces. This ability will be key in Raid situations where you need to set up shop and drop your DPS on the move, or in PvP when you want to avoid the grab, push and pull type of effects that are not effective against players in cover.
Lets take a look at the basic skill sets for the class. This discussion will focus on the active skills that will be used in the Theory Crafting later in this discussion. I am aware that the class gains a number of other skills like Recuperate and Switching Instances, yet these are not needed for our discussion here.
Smuggler's active ability set:
- Charged Burst (Charged)
- Flurry of Bolts (Channeled)
- Sabotage Charge (Instant)
- *Lucky Shots (Instant)
- Blaster Whip (Instant)
- Thermal Grenade (Instant)
- Dirty Kick (Instant)
- Vital Shot (Instant)
- Flash Grenade (Instant)
- Quick Shot (Instant)
- Cool Head (Instant)
- All In (Instant)
- Distraction (Instant)
- Dodge (Instant)
- Cheap Shot (Instant)
- Surrender (Instant)
- Defense Screen (Instant)
- Headshot (Instant)
- XS Freighter Flyby (Charged)
*These are the buff skills. If one would target another member of the team it effects the whole team with one cast. Duration for these skills is always one hour or 60 minutes.
Taking a look there are 19 core skills. A nice thing to note with this class is that the skill Take Cover and Crouch are not the same skill, as Crouch allows you to simply crouch were you stand and roll into nearby cover if it is available. Where as Take Cover is only effective if cover is available. An instance where Crouch would be beneficial is if the cover is already used by another member of the same class then one could simply Crouch behind them to gain the benefits of the cover as well. Any time one can break LoS (Line of Sight) to the target one can gain an advantage.
The class has a simple combination that under certain conditions allows them to have a high chance at landing a huge critical against a defenseless foe. Remember these are just the basics and can be the foundation for future combinations any one can create. This is not what one would refer to as a rotation, that is the sequence of skills used in Raid situations that maximizes the DPS output and is usually many sills long.
Smuggler Simple Combo: Dirty Kicl + Cheap Shot/Headshot
As one can see the basic combination incapacitates the enemy for a period of 4 seconds with moderate damage and unlocks the following skills for use in conjunction with the others. When one enters the advanced skill tree discussion I will revisit this simple combination and demonstrate how any one can use it to control the enemy and ultimately defeat them with ease.
Digging in. Here I will take a look at the core offensive, defensive and CC/Support abilities of the class. Understanding the core elements will help one see the far reaching aspects of each advanced tree once one tackles those obstacles.
Smuggler Core Offensive Abilities
- Charged Burst - Channeled ability and can only be used from cover, good for prolonged attacks or used when crouching but not the best for quick actions.
- Flurry of Bolts - Instant and great for shooting on the run.
- Sabotage Charge - Instant yet can only be used from cover, so not very effective opener unless one starts from crouch or cover. Also it should be noted that the blast only happens when they take damage, so this only draws aggro when it detonates not when it is placed.
- Blaster Whip - Instant and another great run and gun ability for quick DPS.
- Thermal Grenade - Instant grenade AoE damage with knockdown to the primary target, great for run and gun fast damage to groups in PvP or burning down multiple mobs in PvE.
- Vital Shot - Instant and a primary bleed DoT effect that lasts 15 seconds, so it is best to keep this button close for refreshing the bleed if needed.
- Quick Shot - Instant and another great run and gun ability.
- Cheap Shot - Instant and only effective against incapacitated characters; a great way to help finish off people in PvP.
- Headshot - Instant, like Cheap Shot, this only effects incapacitated characters. It is only useful in combination or in PvP where incapacitating abilities are spammed constantly.
- XS Freighter Flyby - Charged over 3 seconds and does AoE damage to everything in 8 meters of the marked area. Good for prolonged fights and getting the heat off someone in PvP but not a realistic skill for quick use.
Smuggler Core Defensive Abilities
- Crouch - Great for any situation, breaks LoS in most cases when your behind any obstacle and like Take Cover this will also allow rolling into cover.
- Take Cover - Rolls your character into cover.
- Dirty Kick - Stuns the target at melee range for 4 seconds.
- Dodge - Increases the chance to dodge rate to 100% over 4 seconds, and does not break stealth (great for avoiding AoE type damage when trying to sneak past or behind others).
- Defense Screen - A field that absorbs 100% of all incoming damage over 15 seconds, a clutch skill for Huttball.
Smuggler Core CC/Support
- Lucky Shots - A group buff that increases critical chance.
- Flash Grenade - AoE blind that effectively blinds the targets preventing offensive actions.
- Slice Droid - This can be used from stealth and immobilizes a droid for 60 seconds, not effective against other races and subspecies.
- Surrender - This helps to drop off the aggro one builds in combat (spam it so the tank and healers will thank you!).
Now that I have established a shared understanding of the abilities and their basic functions let us start exploring builds and how this will effect play. Please remember not all builds will be the same play style yet they are all none the less effective.
Smuggler has 2 Advanced classes Gunslinger and Scoundrel. Each Advanced class shares a tree called Dirty Fighting and comprises of elements that enhance the core abilities already possessed by the Smuggler. For all intensive purposes the shared tree is a great starting point for discussion.
Whether one rolls a Gunslinger or Scoundrel Dirty Fighting will be available. Depending on how one wants to play their Smuggler they can choose basic elements of other trees to enhance how the character’s effectiveness changes. Currently a maxed Dirty Fightning tree is 39 points leaving one a miserable 2 points to spend outside the tree. This is not an effective method of building ones tree as it incorporates both PvP and PvE elements that are not interchangeable... or at least not effectively useful in every situation.
When choosing which Advanced class one will mainly be deciding whether or not you want to be able to heal, do AoE/DoT, attack from stealth or dual wield. A bare Dirty Fighting tree would look like this. Here one can see all the basic elements of the tree are utilized, and it is clear what one is going for with this build. Dirty Fighting focuses on bleed and DoT damage with a hefty accuracy debuff for Flash Grenade.
Dirty Fighting Gunslinger
The Dirty Fighting Gunslinger build would look something like this. This example is to highlight that one can support the main tree for a solid PvE and PvP build and increase the over all DPS by a solid 6% since Speed Shot, Charged Burst and Wounding Shots are key damaging abilities to be used in any rotation from this class. Someone focusing purely on pvp might drop the 2 points into Hold Your Ground(1) and Dirty Trickster(1); or simply maximizing one for the full effects of either.
Gunslinger adds the following skills to our core set:
- Wounding Shots (Channeled)
- Sharp Bomb (Instant)
- Hemorrhaging Blast (Instant)
- Aimed Shot (Charged over 2.5 seconds)
- Leg Shot (Instant)
- Pulse Detonator (Instant)
- Quickdraw (Instant)
- Sweeping Gunfire (Channeled)
- Flourish Shot (instant)
- Speed Shot (Channeled and must have cover)
The additional instants and grenades add wonderful tools to any PvP situation and useful elements for support in PvE and Raid situations. The channeled abilities offer sustainability over time for DPS maintenance where one could effectively set their rotation to be all channeled abilities intermixing the various bleed and wounding skills to maximize DPS/time ratio.
When I built this up for beta I had this giddy feeling that this would be a havoc style build for mass PvP. The sheer amount of AoE and DoT style of damage would allow this build to hang out in the back and harass many players on the field as possible. A Gunslinger Saboteur build would look something like this. The biggest gains are Shock Charge, Sabotage, Contingency Charges and Blazing Speed. I do not need to go into detail about how devastating this build can get in a 2 man team with a full cc/tackler class with this one.
Here we see some great old school wild west style action going on here. Fast and furious pure DPS coupled with the Vital Shot standard and you have yourself a great killer. A Gunslinger Sharpshooter build would look something like this. Here one maintains a high level of sustainable DPS both in and out of cover. I chose to take a small hit on Cunning to grab the full Vital Shot buffers which will more then make up for the 3% gains. For those who want, they can always drop Rapid Fire and grab that last 3% Cunning gain, which just about averages out across the board. I say this because Rapid Fire has a GCD of 90 seconds so a 3% Cunning gain over 90 seconds equals or exceeds the damage gain of one full refresh of Speed Shot combo... now if it allowed 3 Speed Shots at no CD, then one should go the other way.
Dirty Fighting Scoundrel
The Dirty Fighting Scoundrel build would look some thing like this. Again one supports the main tree and add elements that are solid in PvP and PvE. One can move points out of Keep Cool into Scar Tissue to increase survivability in PvP, yet I will leave them there for this discussion.
Keeping in line with the previous bonuses one will notice I dropped the Quick Getaway points to pick up Rough and Tumble while still being able to get in to Sawbones. Here I pick up a full 18% damage increase to Vital Shot and 9% to Flechette Round. This increases one of the basic combinations from the core set by 27% not to mention a Cunning boost of 9% to stats (dex, evasion, crit, ect.). So when one is in stealth and hits someone with Back Blast/Shoot First they can expect it will not feel good to the target.
Scoundrel adds the following skills to our core set:
- Wounding Shots (Channeled)
- Sucker Punch (Instant + requires Upper Hand)
- Sharp Bomb (Instant)
- Hemorrhaging Blast (Instant)
- Back Blast (Instant)
- Blaster Volley (Channeled + requires Upper Hand)
- Tranquilizer (Instant - does not affect droids)
- Tendon Blast (Instant)
- Shoot First (Instant + requires stealth, behind target)
- And a hand full of batman exploits, evasions and healing buffs
Truly a Scoundrel is more of a jack of all trades and able to slip most problems by the skin of their teeth. I also love the Smuggle ability that cloaks all party members within 10 meters of the Scoundrel for 15 seconds... that is just epic! This ability does not affect members in other teams with regards to an Operational group as far as I know, so no cloaking your entire raid party for PvP.
The addition of Tranquilizer also lets the Scoundrel effectively have 2 targets locked for 60 seconds, one Droid and one non-Droid; which in some raid instances this is a good thing. The high level of survivability is noted in this build as one not only picks up heals and HoT’s but one also gains Stealth, Disappearing Act, Lucky Dodge and Pugnacity. Hitting someone with Shoot First from stealth now can be compounded further. The basic Shoot First, Dirty Kick, Cheap Shot/Head Shot, Disappearing Act, and Pugnacity just became our new massive PvP combo! Of course this is more PvP esq so do not forget to grab those 2 points in Keep Cool and drop them in Element of Surprise. Now all one has to do is find the artifact that resets the CD on Disappearing Act and they may just have a really strong open world PvP Ninja!
Moving on to other flavors of builds we find the following Scoundrel builds, this one being a primary DPS, hit from hiding and return to hiding style of fighter. More suited for PvP yet just as effective in PvE if used right. A Smuggler Scrapper build would look something like this. The scrapper has a heavy reliance on gaining Upper Hand and single point DPS, yet still holds the sustainable DPS as well when his Disappearing act is on CD.
Last we come to a very unique healing tree. I say unique as the heals are mostly HoT and AoE style of heals. Not as powerful overall single point healing as other classes yet significant enough to maintain a party over time. A Smuggler Sawbones build would look like this. Here we have all the basics plus a whole arsenal of healing to keep the party up and moving. Psych Meds allows our Triage to remove status effects as it heals the target; Periodic healing (HoT) has a 10% buff across the board and Emergency Medpack gets an additional 6% boost to boot. Also we net the Alacrity and crit enhancements from Dirty Fighting along with the DoT boost from Mortal Wounds.
In contrast to all the information that I have visited, I would like to say one thing. There is no real Max/Min build out there that will please everyone all of the time. In this understand what I can achieve in my suggested builds one can achieve the same thing plus and minus elements we hold differing values in.
One can not say that either build is better than the other, yet speculate as to the value of ones play style and personal taste. This being said, feel free to experiment and go with what you feel is right for you. In the end the many hours of game time you will be paying for is your own money not any one elses. So spend your money how you enjoy the game!
Good luck with your class building and always remember to have fun.