Guide to SWTOR Powertech / Vanguard Mechanics and PVP


This Guide provides in-depth information on the Bounty Hunter Powertech and Trooper Vanguard advanced classes (AC) in Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). This Guide has been updated for Patch 1.3.

The Powertech and Vanguard ACs are mirrors of one another: the ability tooltips and talent trees are identical. As such, I am covering both ACs together in one Guide.

For ease of reading, whenever mentioning a Powertech ability or talent I will also provide the Vanguard mirror in parentheses.

Please post your feedback, tips, and questions!

Revision History

The first version of this Guide was posted on January 4, 2012. Here is the change log for recent revisions:

  • July 01, 2012: updated for patch 1.3. Removed “Iron Fist” from the list of recommended builds
  • April 27, 2012: fix spec links for PVE tank
  • April 26, 2012: added links for 31/10/0 tank spec
  • April 23, 2012: fixed typo about pull and root effects and Resolve
  • Apr 18, 2012: added links to TheOpf’s post on Advanced Prototype (Tactics). Fixed typos. Updated gear tiers

Table of Contents

  1. Advanced Class Overview and Playstyle
  2. Talent Tree and Stance Overview
  3. Talent Tree Analysis
  4. Heat (Ammo) Mechanics
  5. Damage Mechanics
  6. Defense Mechanics
  7. Crowd Control and Debuff Mechanics
  8. Mobility and CC Counter Mechanics
  9. DPS Rotation
  10. Recommended Specs
  11. Stat Prioritization
  12. Gear Recommendations
  13. Narrated Gameplay Videos
  14. About the Author

1. Advanced Class Overview and Playstyle

Powertech (Vanguard) is the “can-tank” AC for the Bounty Hunter (Trooper) base class.

Players often ask which they should play: Powertech (Vanguard) or Mercenary (Commando).

You should roll Powertech (Vanguard) if:

  • You are comfortable engaging in near-quarters (0-10m) combat
  • You want to maximize your ability to control casters and healers with interrupts
  • You want to have tools to close gaps to opponents and to increase your in-combat movement speed
  • You want to tank in PVE and in PVP. By tanking in PVP, I mean that you want to be able to Guard a friendly target, which redirects 50% of the incoming damage from them to you, and be able to Taunt opponents to debuff their damage on your friendlies. With the changes in 1.3, please note that tank damage is down significantly in PVP

You should roll Mercenary (Commando) if:

  • You want to be able to meaningfully heal yourself and your friendlies
  • You want to beef up your 30m RDPS capability
  • You want the option of playing a cast-time nuking spec, Arsenal (Gunnery)
  • You prefer to have abilities that keep opponents at range (e.g. knockbacks)

I’m a huge fan of melee strafing, i.e. running circles around stationary targets to break their Line of Sight (LoS) to lower their offensive and defensive capability, and kite-strafing MDPS while I burn them down, so Powertech (Vanguard) fits my preferred playstyle.

2. Talent Tree and Stance Overview

The AC has 3 talent trees from left-to-right, 1 for tanking and 2 for DPS:

  • Shield Tech (Shield Specialist): this is the tanking tree. As you’d expect, this is the tree to spec into for PVE tanking; there are talents that boost durability via Armor-based mitigation, flat mitigation, increased Shield Chance / Shield Absorption, etc. This tree provides utility in PVP including an in-combat charge, debuffs, a proc-snare effect, and buffs to our melee attack. The main downside to this tree is that your burst and sustained damage is significantly lower compared to the other 2 trees
  • Advanced Prototype (Tactics): this DPS tree provides a passive movement buff, an on-demand movement buff that provides movement-related CC immunity, excellent short-range (0-10m) capability, increased Elemental and Internal damage, crit mechanics, passive Heat venting (Ammo regen), strong CC capability, and 2 snares. This tree lacks the durability of the tank tree and the ranged capability of the Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) tree
  • Pyrotech (Assault Specialist): this DPS tree provides mechanics that revolve around a proc-reset for the cooldown of Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) and strong Elemental Damage Over Time (DoT) damage and related damage buffs. This tree provides the strongest > 10m ranged capability of the trees, a spammable snare effect, high sustained damage, and excellent burst via the talent to reset the cooldown of Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt). The main downside to this tree is the lack of a charge / sprint

Before discussing the trees further, it’s important to understand the 3 “stances” that the AC can choose from. Each stances provide benefits that synergize with a particular talent tree:

  • Ion Gas Cylinder (Ion Cell): this tanking stance provides increased threat, mitigation, and shield chance and a damage proc for ranged attacks. You must be using this stance to activate the Guard ability
  • Energy Gas Cylinder (High Energy Cell): this DPS stance increases your Elemental and Internal damage, which are not mitigated by armor
  • Combustible Gas Cylinder (Plasma Cell): this DPS stance provides a chance for ranged attacks to proc a 6-sec Elemental DoT

Note that unlike the other “can-tank” ACs, switching stances for Powertech (Vanguard) requires a 1.5 sec cast time. For the most part, you’ll spec for and use a particular stance.

3. Talent Tree Analysis

Instead of breaking down every talent, let me short-circuit that by explaining the talents you can pass or should pass on.

Shield Tech (Shield Specialist)

  • Combust (Static Field) is must-have for PVE tanking. While the debuff is nice for PVP, this talent should be skipped for DPS specs
  • Rebraced Armor is must-have for PVE tanking. For PVP, you can skip this talent as it buffs Armor, which only works for 2 of the 4 damage types
  • Shield Vents (Shield Cycler) is must-have for PVE but for PVP 1/2 is fine given the internal cooldown and because Shield is a weak mechanic in PVP. See the Defense Mechanics section for the limitations of Shield
  • Ablative Upgrades (Ceramic Plating) is should-have for PVE but should be skipped for PVP
  • No Escape (Defensive Measures) can be skipped for PVE but is must-have for PVP
  • Supercharged Ion Gas (Supercharged Ion Cell) is must-have for PVE (AOE threat), but can be skipped for PVP
  • Ion Screen (Ion Shield) is must-have for PVE. Given the weakness of the Shield mechanic in PVP, this is a solid choice for PVP as well
  • Jet Speed (Charge!) is must-have for PVP
  • Empowered Tech (Counterattack) and Power Screen (Heat Screen) are must-have for PVE. For PVP tanks, only take these talents if you are trying to reach the 31-pt ability Energy Blast (Heat Blast)

Advanced Prototype (Tactics)

  • Prototype Electric Surge (Containment Tactics) is not needed for PVE, but it’s solid for PVP prior to getting the AOE stun at 46. At 46+ for PVP, take your pick of this talent or Power Armor in the next tier
  • Prototype Cylinders (Blaster Augs) is an excellent talent when running Energy Gas Cylinder (High Energy Cell) or Combustible Gas Cylinder (Plasma Cell) but is optional if you’re using Ion Gas Cylinder (Ion Cell)
  • Power Armor is very good for PVE tanking. For PVP it’s a solid choice, as it provides 2% mitigation against all damage types
  • If you are running Energy Gas Cylinder (High Energy Cell): the Pneumatic Boots (Battlefield Training) is must-have for PVP, and for PVE and PVP, Prototype Cylinder Ventilation (Cell Generator) is must-have
  • Serrated Blades + Charged Gauntlets (Combat Tactics): this is a controversial choice for PVP. Serrated Blades only buffs the DoT portion of Retractable Blade (Gut) by 15%, so that’s a poor ROI for 3 talent points. Charged Gauntlets (Combat Tactics) is a good talent, but keep in mind that unless you spec 18 points into Pyrotech (Assault Specialist), you’re only going to be able to use Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) at most once every 15 seconds. For this reason for a heavy Advanced Prototype (Tactics) build (i.e. > 23 points) I recommend skipping these talents
  • Prototype Flame Thrower (Pulse Generator) is a must-have for PVP due to the 70% snare. As of patch 1.3, the snare effect is now working correctly for Vanguard
  • Hamstring is worth the point if you invested up through Charged Gauntlets (Combat Tactics)
  • Hydraulic Overrides (Hold the Line) is must-have for PVP but can be skipped for PVE
  • Stabilized Armor (Shock Absorbers) is a decent talent for PVP but should be skipped for PVE

Pyrotech (Assault Specialist)

  • Integrated Cardio Package (Soldier’s Endurance) is a good talent for PVE tanking. For PVP, if you are investing 18 points in the tree to get Prototype Particle Accelerator (Ionic Accelerator) talent but are not using Combustible Gas Cylinder (Plasma Cell), this talent makes sense to take so that you don’t waste talent points in Bursting Flame (Ionized Ignition)
  • Gyroscopic Alignment Jets (Parallactic Combat Stims) should be skipped for PVE DPS. For PVP, it is a useful talent for managing Heat (Ammo)
  • Infrared Sensors (Nightvision Scope) should be skipped for PVE. For PVP, this provides not only better Stealth San capability but also increased avoidance against Melee and Ranged attacks (but not against Force or Tech attacks)
  • Degauss should be skipped for PVE. For PVP, Degauss adds a root/snare-breaking effect to Energy Shield (Reactive Shield) which is situationally useful. That being said, my experience is that Infrared Sensors (Nightvision Scope) provides better utility in PVP, so I take that talent over Degauss to open up the 4th tier of the tree
  • Rapid Venting (Rapid Recharge) is valuable in PVE for sustained DPS in long boss fights. It is also a very good choice for PVP
  • Energy Rebounder (Reflexive Shield) should be skipped for PVE but is useful for PVP. Given the internal cooldown, you get the most bang for your buck at 1 talent point. In a premade context with a pocket healer, you can pass on this talent
  • You can skip Automated Defenses (Adrenaline Fueled)
  • Thermal Detonator (Assault Plastique) should be taken for full 31+ builds. Keep in mind that this ability replaces the base Explosive Dart (Sticky Grenade) and they share the 15-sec cooldown

4. Heat (Ammo) Mechanics

The “mana” bar for the AC goes different directions depending on your faction but they are functionally equivalent:

  • For Powertech, Heat builds up as you use abilities
  • For Vanguard, Ammo cells are consumed as you use abilities

The most important thing to understand about our “mana” bar is that it depletes (regens) at a non-linear rate, where the less mana you have the slower it regenerates. This is a rather unique mechanic, and the implication is that if you spam mana-heavy abilities, you will bury yourself in a resource deficit. Therefore, you want to manage your ability use carefully.

To see the rates of heat venting (ammo regen), mouse over the >>>> mini-bar to the right of your resource bar while using abilities.

We have an on-demand ability on a base 2 min cooldown called Vent Heat (Recharge Cells) that will lower your heat (regen ammo).

At level 42, we get the ability Thermal Sensor Override (Reserve Powercell) that causes the next ability to not generate Heat (not consume Ammo). For maximum mana efficiency, activate TSO (RP) before a 25 Heat (3 Ammo) ability.

There are talents that boost your ability to vent Heat (regen Ammo) or reduce the cost of specific abilities:

  • Shield Tech (Shield Specialist): Shield Vents (Shield Cycler) provides a chance to vent 8 Heat (regens 1 Ammo) when you shield an attack. The 31-pt ability is off the global cooldown and vents 8 Heat (regens 1 Ammo)
  • Advanced Prototype (Tactics): Prototype Cylinder Ventilation (Cell Generator) vents 8 Heat (regens  1 Ammo) every 6 seconds and is awesome. Battering Ram (Flame Barrage) can make your next Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) free
  • Pyrotech (Assault Specialist): this tree has two excellent mana tools that revolve around Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt). Superheated Rails (High Friction Bolts) halves the cost of Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt). Prototype Particle Accelerator (Ionic Accelerator) makes the next Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) free. Gyroscopic Alignment Jets (Parallactic Combat Stims) vents 8 Heat (regens 1 Ammo) every time you are stunned, rooted, knocked down, or incapacitated

Post-Patch 1.2 Note for Pyrotech (Assault Specialist)

Prior to 1.2, to apply a burn effect on a target within 10 meters, it made sense to use Ion Pulse (Flame Burst) instead of Incendiary Round (Incendiary Missile), because Ion Pulse delivered more damage in a shorter timeframe, cost less mana, applied a snare effect, and could trigger the Accelerator talent to make the subsequent High Impact Bolt (Rail Shot) free.

However, in Patch 1.2, an internal 6-sec cooldown was added to the Accelerator talent, so you want to trigger the proc only when your High Impact Bolt (Rail Shot) has been used and is on cooldown. Remember, even if your High Impact Bolt (Rail Shot) is not on cooldown, by using Ion Pulse (Flame Burst) or Stockstrike (Rocket Punch), you can trigger the Accelerator talent.

Therefore, in some cases you may want to open on a target with Incendiary Round (Incendiary Missile) on your target instead of Ion Pulse (Flame Burst), despite the higher mana cost.

5. Damage Mechanics

The AC delivers a combination of the following damage types:

  • Elemental damage
  • Kinetic damage
  • Weapon damage (always Energy AFAIK)

Elemental damage rocks because it is not mitigated by armor, and as our Elemental attacks are Tech-based, they are not Dodgeable nor Shieldable. If you’ve read my PVP Guides across games (e.g. WoW Prot Pally, WAR Swordmaster), I prefer “non-physical” damage types because they make targets feel equally squishy in terms of your damage output.

At level 10, the AC gets the core 10m ranged Elemental attack Flame Burst (Ion Pulse). Many of the talents in the non-tanking trees revolve around this ability, so we tend to deal our best single-target damage when within 10m of a target. The Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) tree provides strong Elemental DoT capability via Combustible Gas Cylinder (Plasma Cell) procs and Incendiary Missile (Incendiary Round).

As a Bounty Hunter (Trooper), we have two channeled AoE abilities: Death From Above (Mortar Volley) and Flame Thrower (Pulse Cannon). Flame Thrower (Pulse Cannon) is a 10m conal AoE which deals solid single-target damage, and you can rotate your character while channeling the ability the change the direction of the cone. FT (PC) is very effective against targets that are on a stationary object (e.g. a node) or are not moving. In Patch 1.2 FT (PC) when talented and stacked to 5 buffs also applies a 70% snare effect during the channel.

We have an excellent 30m ranged burst ability in Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt). This ability has a 15 sec cooldown, which can be reset via the Prototype Particle Accelerator (Ionic Accelerator) talent. The most important talents for buffing the damage on a RS (HIB) cast are the 60% armor penetration in the middle tree and the 30% armor penetration 12-pt talent in the right tree – and these armor penetration talents stack additively.

There is a delay before the damage from Explosive Dart (Sticky Grenade) triggers, but in PVP this is awesome as you’ll generate spike damage from the damage trigger plus other abilities.

At level 50 we get an on-demand buff ability called Explosive Fuel (Battle Focus) that boosts Ranged Crit Chance and Tech Crit Chance by 25% for 15 sec. EF (BF) and the on-demand buffs from Relics are off the GCD, and they stack together, so you can pop EF (BF) and a Relic to maximize your DPS and burst. Relics do share an internal cooldown so you can’t activate them together or chain them.

Per the class mechanics, there are a few abilities that you should be careful about using:

  • Flame Sweep (Explosive Surge): this PBAoE ability has high “mana” cost and low damage output without talents in the tanking tree. For AoE damage situations, DFA (MV) and FT (PC) are typically better options in terms of damage. The use cases for this ability are for tank-spec’d players to debuff the damage of multiple opponents, to damage opponents trying to cap a flag, or to build up to 5 stacks of Prototype Flame Thrower (Pulse Generator). Also note that the range of the PBAoE is 5m, so your targets need to be near-melee range
  • Missile Blast (Explosive Round): this instant-cast ranged AoE ability deals low damage relative to the high “mana” cost so don’t spam it. It is an effective tool for preventing a node cap, especially when you are closing the distance to multiple opponents capping a node.
  • Unload (Full Auto): this is a channeled 3-sec ability. As discussed above, this is a highly-mobile spec that tends to be most effective when within 10m of your target. This ability is a long self-root and it can be interrupted. There is only 1 talent across all 3 trees that buffs this ability, and that’s in the Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) tree. The main use case where this ability makes sense is when you are at long-range from a target who will remain in your field-of-fire for 3 seconds and your Explosive Dart (Sticky Grenade) and Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) are on cooldown

6. Defense Mechanics

Avoidance and Mitigation

This section is a sub-set of the information that I provided in a separate article, so check that article out for more detail than what is provided below.

Here are the terms defined:

  • Avoidance: not being hit
  • Mitigation: reducing damage taken when hit

SWTOR leverages a 2-roll system for determining the outcome of an opponent’s attack as explained by BioWare’s Georg Zoeller (references: 1 2), bold emphasis mine:

First is a hit roll, accuracy versus defense, and if the attacker misses then no damage occurs. If the attacker rolled poorly enough to miss even discounting the target’s defense then a “Miss” result occurs. If he misses because of the defense then the result varies based on the attack type, the cover state of the target, and the target’s equipped weapons. All the possible results – Dodge, Parry, Deflect, Resist, Cover – are mathematically the same, but they can trigger different effects and are visualized in different ways.

If the attacker hits, then a second roll is made with the crit chance of the attacker versus the shield chance of the target. If a Crit or a Shield occurs then the damage is adjusted up or down (based on Surge/Absorb), and then it goes through to the armor and damage resistance. A critical can never be shielded, and an attacker with a high enough crit chance can push the target’s shield chance off the table. It shouldn’t be possible to get your passive crit chance high enough to start pushing off the target’s shield chance, but there are short-duration buffs that push these chances high enough to come into conflict.

There are 3 categories of Avoidance as captured in the Defence Chance tooltip:

  1. Melee Dodge: base of 5%, boosted by Defense, talents, and buffs
  2. Ranged Dodge: base of 5%, boosted by Defense, talents, and buffs
  3. Resistance: base of 0%, boosted by talents and buffs. This is against spells

There are several categories of Mitigation:

  1. Damage Reduction: provided by Armor against Energy and Kinetic damage, flat damage reduction via talents, Expertise, and the tanking stance, and a bubble in Energy Shield (Reactive Shield)
  2. Shield Chance / Shield Absorption: provided when you have a Shield offhand equipped and successfully Shield an attack that hit. The amount of damage mitigated (absorbed) is based on the offhand (e.g. 20%) and talents in the tanking tree

SWTOR’s Shield functions similarly to WoW’s Block or RIFT’s Block mechanic. The main difference is that in SWTOR you don’t have to keep oppponents in your frontal facing to Shield.

The important thing to understand are which types of attacks are Avoidable and Shieldable and which are not. There are 4 types of attacks: Force, Melee, Ranged, and Tech. Melee and Ranged types are Avoidable and Shieldable, whereas Force and Tech attacks are not. This is consistent with other games such as WoW and RIFT, where “spell” attacks are not dodgeable / parryable and not blockable. That being said, the main consideration for SWTOR is that all classes have either Force or Tech attacks. Therefore, you may not get as much mileage out of your Avoidance and Shield-related talents as you might expect. E.g. the melee stun and melee attack for the Imperial Agent (Smuggler) class are Tech and therefore given sufficient accuracy will always hit.

The AC has an on-demand mitigation bubble in Energy Shield (Reactive Shield), and the ability is off the GCD. This ability provides 25% mitigation against all damage types for 12 sec, so it’s important to activate it as soon as you start taking focus fire or you may die before the bubble expires.

Protection Mechanics

You can reduce damage to friendlies, that is Protect them, by using Taunts and by Guarding them.

Taunts reduce the damage on debuffed opponents by 30% against anyone except you. The single-target Taunt is called Neural Dart (Neural Jolt) and the AOE Taunt is Sonic Missile (Sonic Round). Taunts are off the GCD so use them liberally.

SWTOR has thankfully implemented the Guard mechanic from WAR :)

Guard is a buff you can put on a friendly player when you’re in the tanking stance. Guard provides a flat 5% mitigation for the guarded friendly, and 50% of the incoming damage is redirected to you. This is an excellent tool for keeping your guarded target (e.g. a healer, flag carrier, etc) alive under focus fire.

The main catch with Guard is that you have to be in the tanking stance, and keep in mind the following:

  • Unlike the other 2 tank AC mirrors, we can not switch stances instantly. We have a 1.5-sec cast time. As this AC relies heavily on a mobile playstyle and staying within 10m of your target in most situations, stopping to switch stances may not always be ideal
  • If you invested talent points in the non-tanking stances, those talent points are not leveraged when you are in the tanking stance

Stealth Detection

Stealth detection is provided by the Stealth Scan ability, and it’s a terrific counter against an opponent who uses an in-combat stealth.

Self-Healing

At level 32, we gain a mild Heal-over-Time (HoT) in Kolto Overload (Adrenaline Rush), which heals for 15% of the character’s maximum health. This ability is off the GCD.

For a detailed writeup on tanking, check out Gankstah’s excellent Tanking: A Primer thread on the SWTOR tanking forum.

7. Crowd Control and Debuff Mechanics

I recommend that you read my article, Understanding SWTOR’s Resolve Mechanic, so that you understand how Resolve works.

The AC as a variety of CC’s to work with regardless of spec:

  • 30m range 4-sec stun in Electro Dart (Cryo Grenade) which has a 60 sec cooldown, 50 sec with Prototype Electro Surge (Containment Tactics)
  • 30m range pull in Grapple (Harpoon) which has a 45 sec cooldown, 35 sec with Advanced Tools (Tactical Tools). You can add a 3-sec root effect with the tanking tree talent No Escape (Defensive Measures). Keep in mind the root effect does not build Resolve, but the pull builds 400 Resolve
  • 4m range interrupt in Quell (Riot Strike) which has an 8-sec cooldown, 6 sec with Hitman (Frontline Defense). The interrupt locks the target out of using the interrupted spell for 4 sec. The interrupt is fantastic for shutting down healers and interrupting dangerous channeled abilities, and it’s off the GCD
  • PBAoE 2.5-sec stun in Carbonize (Neural Surge) which has a 45-sec cooldown

In addition, there are tree-specific CC effects:

  • 3-sec root effect and a ranged interrupt from the charge ability Jet Charge (Storm) in the tank tree
  • 50% snare for 2 sec from the Neural Overload talent in the tank tree
  • 30% snare for 6 sec from the Hamstring talent in the Advanced Prototype (Tactics) tree
  • 70% snare on affected targets during the channel of Flame Thrower (Pulse Cannon) if you have the Prototype Flame Thrower (Pulse Generator) buff stacked to 5
  • 50% snare for 2 sec from the Sweltering Heat talent in the Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) tree

The tank tree provides the following debuffs:

  • a PBAoE debuff in Oil Slick (Smoke Grenade) that lowers Ranged and Melee Accuracy by 20% for 18 sec
  • Flame Burst (Ion Pulse) and Flame Sweep (Explosive Surge) debuff the target’s damage by 4% for 15 sec

8. Mobility and CC Counter Mechanics

Mobility is king in PVP, even moreso given our 10m single-target mechanics and the design of the warzones, which have an emphasis on covering ground quickly.

There are talents that improve your mobility:

  • Shield Tech (Shield Specialist) provides an in-combat charge called Jet Charge (Storm), which can be further talented to provide a 30% movement buff for 4 sec
  • Advanced Prototype (Tactics) provides a passive 15% movement buff in Pneumatic Boots (Battlefield Training) and a 30% movement buff for 8 sec in Hydraulic Overrides (Hold the Line) that provides full immunity to movement-related CCs and knockbacks. You can use HO (HtL) as a CC breaker, and it has a relatively short 30-sec cooldown

When CC’d, we have the same base ability to break all CC effects in Tenacity (Determination) on a base 2-min cooldown that all classes get.

Aside from Tenacity, you can counter the following CC effects:

  • Roots / snares / knockbacks with HO (HtL) and Jet Charge (Storm)
  • Roots / snares with the Degauss talent for Energy Shield (Reactive Shield). The extent to which you can use this as a CC breaker depends on how many procs you get from Energy Rebounder (Reflexive Shield)

9. DPS Rotation

General

  • Weave in Rapid Shots (Hammer Shot) as needed to keep your Heat low (Ammo high)
  • Use Explosive Fuel (Battle Focus) as needed for the huge buff to Ranged and Tech Crit Chance
  • Remember that we deliver our highest sustained single-target damage when <= 10m of our target, based on our class mechanics, so manage your distance to your target accordingly

AOE Considerations

In PVE against standard and weak mobs, Explosive Dart (Sticky Grenade) is a good damage + AOE knockdown, but remember that the AOE knockdown will disperse your targets.

If you are spec’d into Shield Tech (Shield Specialist), your Flame Sweep (Explosive Surge) is a good choice for PBAoE damage and debuffing your targets’ damage. The changes in 1.3 for the Flame Surge (Static Surge) talent now enable two mana-free casts of FS (ES) after using Jet Charge (Storm). In addition, Supercharged Ion Gas (Supercharged Ion Cylinder) provides AOE damage when using Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt).

Single-Target Rotation for 18+ in Pyrotech (Assault Specialist)

The #1 tip for maximizing your sustained and burst damage is using Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) as often as possible. Therefore, when you are <= 10m to your target and Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) is on cooldown, your priority is to proc a reset of its cooldown via Flame Burst (Ion Pulse) and Rocket Punch (Stockstrike).

  1. Apply a ranged DoT on your target. Due to the changes to the Prototype Particle Accelerator (Ionic Accelerator) talent in 1.2, you should use Flame Burst (Ion Pulse) to apply the DoT only if the Prototype Particle Accelerator (Ionic Accelerator) talent is on cooldown. Otherwise, apply the more expensive Incendiary Missile (Incendiary Round)
  2. Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) – this will only cost a net of 8 Heat (1 Ammo) when the target is burning
  3. If you are > 10m from the target, Explosive Dart (Sticky Grenade) or the 31-pt replacement Thermal Detonator (Assault Plastique), otherwise use Flame Burst (Ion Pulse)
  4. Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) and Flame Burst (Ion Pulse) to try to proc the cooldown reset for Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt)
  5. If you get a cooldown reset for Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt), use it
  6. Rinse and repeat 4-6

Be very careful about spamming Incendiary Missile (Incendiary Round), as it is very expensive to cast.

I have played with 31-pt Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) specs, and while Thermal Detonator (Assault Plastique) is a good tool, after extensive testing in PVP and duels, I have come to the conclusion that TD (AP) should *not* be used in favor of FB (IP) or RP (SS) when Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) is on cooldown, because RS (HIB) is king.

Single-Target Rotation for 31-pt Shield Tech (Shield Specialist)

Aside from Rocket Punch (Stockstrike), you want to use Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) ASAP to get the 15-sec cooldown ticking.

Make sure to use Heat Blast (Energy Blast) for managing your mana, and as of 1.2 that ability is off the GCD so you can use it to provide some additional instant burst damage.

Aside from those abilities, here is the rotation:

  1. From range, Explosive Dart (Sticky Grenade)
  2. While closing to melee range, Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) if possible, Rapid Shots (Hammer Shot) if not
  3. As soon as you close to melee range, Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) and when that’s on cooldown, Flame Burst (Ion Pulse) until you can Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) again
  4. Rinse and repeat

Single-Target Rotation for Advanced Prototype (Tactics) with < 18 points in Pyrotech (Assault Specialist)

Please see TheOpf’s post.

10. Recommended Specs

I intentionally put this section after all of the previous ones, to make sure you understand the mechanics of your class before copying someone else’s spec. Too often on the forums people ask for specs but don’t understand the mechanics and therefore how to play them correctly.

PVP

I cover several specs below in my narrated Spec Guide video, so check that out for more information.

Here is a list of some of the viable PVP specs from “left-to-right”:

  • Tank: 31/10/0 Powertech (Vanguard) provides charge, Guard, solid melee capability, and excellent durability via passive mitigation. Limited ranged capability. In 1.2, Heat Blast (Energy Blast) was removed from the GCD. Empowered Tech (Counterattack) increases the chance to proc Shield Vents (Shield Cycler) and Flame Shield (Static Shield) to improve DPS
  • TheOpf’s “NORS” (No Rail Shot): 8/31/2 Powertech (Vanguard): provides mobility, an emphasis on damage that ignores Armor, excellent CC capability, and passive mana management. For a comprehensive look at viable 8/31/2 specs, check out TheOpf’s thread on the BH forum.
  • Run-and-Gun: 1/22/18 Powertech (Vanguard): blends the cooldown reset proc for Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) with the in-combat sprint and short CC cooldowns of the middle tree. Oozo has created a series of videos on his blog for an almost identical 0/23/18 spec
  • Controlled Burst DPS: 4/12/25 Powertech (Vanguard): blends high burst and sustained damage with max interrupt capability. This spec passes on Thermal Detonator (Assault Plastique), because within 10m TD (AP) competes with Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) and Flame Burst (Ion Pulse) for the GCD, and the latter abilities take priority due to their ability to reset the cooldown of Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt). Credit for this spec goes to Omegix, a kick-ass Vanguard on Ajunta Pall
  • Full DPS: 4/6/31 Powertech (Vanguard): delivers the highest burst and sustained DPS for the AC at the cost of limited mobility. Fore more information, check out the blog article. There are many variants to this spec, e.g. 4/12/25, 5/5/31, 8/6/27, 8/8/25, etc.

PVE

Here is a list of some of the viable PVE specs from “left-to-right”:

  • Main Tank: 31/7/3 Powertech (Vanguard): provides every Armor, Shield Chance, Shield Absorption, and 2% mitigation talent. Also delivers solid damage from Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) and Elemental attacks to boost threat generation
  • DPS: 7/6/28 Powertech (Vanguard): delivers high sustained and burst damage with tools for managing your Heat (Ammo). The points in the 1st tier of the tree that boost Endurance are filler, as the other 3 options are talents more suited to PVP

11. Stat Prioritization

Diminishing Returns

The “secondary” stats, with the exception of Power, have diminishing returns.

Check out tuskake’s post on the official forums for a chart and numbers. Here are the approximate “soft caps” for some of the secondary stats:

Alacrity is similar to WoW’s Haste mechanic, and as the vast majority of your GCDs will be spent on instant-cast abilities, this stat is mostly wasted. Alacrity does shorten channeled ability cast times but all of our meaningful channeled abilities have significant cooldowns.

PVP

  • Primary stats: Aim = Endurance, favor one over the other for damage vs time-to-live
  • Secondary stats:
    • DPS builds: Expertise > Power = Crit Rating > Surge Rating = Accuracy Rating
    • Tank: Expertise > Defense Rating = Shield Rating > Power = Crit Rating > Surge Rating > Accuracy Rating

For specs with 18+ points in Pyrotech (Assault Spec), please note that Accuracy Rating is an important stat, and you should not replace what comes on PVP gear. You need that Accuracy to make sure your Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) hits.

PVE

Expertise is useless in PVE.

  • Tanking
    • Primary stats: Endurance > Aim
    • Secondary stats: Accuracy Rating (under Hit cap) > Shield Rating > Absorption Rating > Defense Rating > Power > Crit Rating > Surge Rating > Accuracy Rating (at/above Hit cap)
  • DPS
    • Primary stats: Aim > Endurance
    • Secondary stats: Accuracy Rating* (under Hit cap) > Power = Crit Rating > Surge Rating > Accuracy Rating (at/above Hit cap)

* Note: I have not tested yet to see whether Accuracy is worth stacking over the Hit cap to reduce your target’s defenses.

12. Gear Recommendations

PVP Sets

There are 3 “tiers” of PVP gear

  1. Recruit: full set of purchasable blue gear for fresh 50 characters for ~320k credits
  2. Battlemaster: purchasable via normal Warzone commendations
  3. War Hero: purchaseable via Ranked Warzone commendations. The armor and weapon slots require that you trade-in the corresponding Battlemaster piece

There are 3 sets to consider for this AC (in alphabetical order) and their set bonuses:

  1. Combat Tech

    • 2-pc: +0.5 seconds to duration of PBAoE stun, reduces CC breaker cooldown by 15 sec
    • 4-pc: +15% Crit Chance to Rocket Punch (Stockstrike)
  2. Eliminator

    • 2-pc: N/A
    • 4-pc: +15% Crit Chance to Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt)
  3. Supercommando

    • 2-pc: -1.5 second to cooldown for Heat Blast (Energy Blast) and Jet Charge (Storm)
    • 4-pc: +5% damage while Guarding

Which 4-pc set bonus do you pursue? With Patch 1.3, the decision is simple and based on your primary tree:

  • Shield Tech (Shield Specialist): Supercommando. Pre-1.3, I used to recommend swapping out the tank mods for DPS ones, but in 1.3, the style of play that makes sense for tanks is durable meatshield
  • Advanced Prototype (Tactics): Combat Tech
  • Pyrotech (Assault Specialist): Eliminator

Aside from the 4-pc set bonus, for a given slot take pieces based on the stat prioritization.

Offhand

  • If you are running the tanking stance, you can not Shield unless you have a Shield offhand equipped, so use a Shield offhand
  • If you are not using the tanking stance, use a Generator offhand

13. Narrated Gameplay Videos

Writing Guides like this is part of what I contribute to the community. The other 2 major pieces of content that I provide are:

  1. Streaming live gameplay with commentary: http://twitch.tv/taugrim
  2. Narrated videos on YouTube: http://youtube.com/taugrimtaugrim

My narrated videos for this AC are included below in reverse-chronological order:

Avoiding False Accelerator Procs for Vanguard (Powertech) in SWTOR 1.2

In this video, I explain for Patch 1.2 how to avoid “false” procs for the Accelerator talent in the Assault Specialist (Pyrotech) tree for the Vanguard (Powertech) class.


4/6/31 All-Out DPS PVP Spec

This spec synergizes around the strong offensive capabilities of the Pyrotech (Assault Specialist) tree, in particular the mechanics for Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) and Elemental damage.


Taugrim’s “Iron Fist” PVP Tank Spec (25/14/2)

I designed this spec after discerning the limitations of the Defense (avoidance) and Shield (block) mechanics for tanks in PVP. Mitigation is king in SWTOR; therefore the spec provides a significant amount of flat mitigation against all damage types.

The 4-pc Tech set bonus, Flame Shield (Static Shield) talent, and Flame Surge (Static Surge) talent synergize to generate a high frequency of high-damage Rocket Punch (Stockstrike) crits.

<3 this spec, it rocks :)


50 PVP Spec Guide

I discuss four PVP specs at level 50 in terms of their key talents, tradeoff decisions, and pros and cons.


Tips for Using the Ranged Pull Ability Grapple (Harpoon)

One of the best abilities of the AC is the ranged pull, which can be used to wreck enemy players and peel for friendlies.


Powertech PVP @ 20 as Advanced Prototype Spec in Huttball

In this PUG match I led all players with 273k damage, 51 kills, 23 killing blows, and 2 solo kills while using the tanking stance. Not that stats are the most important thing, but this gives you an idea of the offensive capability of the AC.


Vanguard PVP @ 14 as Tactics Spec in Alderaan

PUG match where I discuss the core class mechanics, match tactics, and combat tips.

14. About the Author

I’ve written Guides across multiple MMORPGs, including:

Follow Me

Twitter: @taugrim
Stream: http://twitch.tv/taugrim
YouTube: http://youtube.com/taugrimtaugrim
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Posted in Guide, PVP, SWTOR, Vanguard / Powertech, Video
270 comments on “Guide to SWTOR Powertech / Vanguard Mechanics and PVP
  1. Razik says:

    I have been having a hard time finding the abilities that scale off our weapon damage and thanks to http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=123306 I finally was.

    Weapon damage scales off Rapid Shots, Unload, and rail shot. If you feel this is applicable to add to your post please do, and credit goes to “MorningMusume” although it is technically common knowledge.

  2. nutz says:

    I am thinking of playing SWTOR in pvp what class do u recommend? And are there macros?

  3. Rodopos says:

    Thank you for the amazing guide! Waiting for your Taugrim’s “Iron Fist”: 25/14/2 update for 1.2

  4. Chuddox says:

    I prefer http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#301hMhZMsMZfhbbdGhM.1
    Pyromaniac build. 8/8/25. It focuses on solid fire dps from flame burst, powerful rocket punches, and nail driving rail shots. It is superb up close, and has adequate mid to long range capability.

  5. Cris says:

    Hi Taugrim, first of all thanks for this priceless awesome guide, you’re the best!!
    I wanted to ask you if you noticed the new relics that can be bought for 200 daily commendation: which one do you think suits best with iron fists spec, the one with + elemental dmg procs or another with + abs dmg procs?
    Thx for the reply :) (and sorry for my english)

    PS: Waiting for 1.2 spec updates ^^

  6. Dasde Thwar says:

    After flip-flopping between Oozo’s build and the Controlled Burst build here, I went back to the Ironfist spec post-1.2 and love it…..again.

  7. tigaub says:

    Neeeeeed an update

  8. taugrim says:

    Updated the Guide for 1.2:
    – Updated comments on talents
    – Updated Heat (Ammo) Mechanics with detailed note about the Accelerator talent.
    – Removed Carolina Parakeet spec

    RIP Carolina Parakeet :(
    Carolina Parakeet: 21/2/18 Powertech (Vanguard): combines the capability to charge and Guard with the excellent cooldown reset proc for Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt) and the heavy ranged DoT. Popular spec on the Powertech forum

    • Thanks

      Btw, “I do not recommend investing in the upper 6 points in the tanking tree. The 31-pt talent is good but the 5 points to buff Shield aren’t worth it as Tech and Force attacks are not Shieldable.” needs updating re 1.2 talent tree.

      • taugrim says:

        Jan Andrew Bloxham :

        Thanks

        Btw, “I do not recommend investing in the upper 6 points in the tanking tree. The 31-pt talent is good but the 5 points to buff Shield aren’t worth it as Tech and Force attacks are not Shieldable.” needs updating re 1.2 talent tree.

        The talent was split into two, but I still think those are 5 talent points better spent elsewhere.

  9. moliin says:

    Hi Taugrim. Thanks for a great guide and update for 1.2. I was wondering what spec you are planning on running on your BH in 1.2 with the PVP changes, especially the TTK?

    • taugrim says:

      moliin :

      Hi Taugrim. Thanks for a great guide and update for 1.2. I was wondering what spec you are planning on running on your BH in 1.2 with the PVP changes, especially the TTK?

      I’ve been running these:
      25/14/2
      8/31/2
      2/14/25

      The 8/31/2 “NORS” build has been a fun change of pace. The mana management and speed boosts are awesome, and most of the damage dealt is Elemental or Internal.

  10. Ozmosis says:

    Small typo:

    Eliminator
    2-pc: N/A
    4-pc: +15% Crit Chance to Rail Shot (Eliminator)

    Should read “Crit Chance to Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt)”

    Also you could update the PVP gear section as Centurion and Champion gear are no longer available.

    • taugrim says:

      Ozmosis :

      Small typo:

      Eliminator
      4-pc: +15% Crit Chance to Rail Shot (Eliminator)

      Should read “Crit Chance to Rail Shot (High Impact Bolt)”

      Also you could update the PVP gear section as Centurion and Champion gear are no longer available.

      Thanks for catching that. Changes made accordingly.

  11. icolino says:

    Hey, first I want to thank you for this very detailed guide, it helped me a lot during my first steps in PvP (and still today as I’m no “pro” in PvP ;) )
    When doing PvP I use the Iron Fist spec, but after 1.2 I feel kind of useless in PvP – I seem to bear nothing anymore, at the same time my damage output is way to low as I can hardly win over even a single target any more. Before 1.2 I pretty much enjoyed the Iron Fist spec, but with 1.2 I seem to be the first one falling without having any noticeable impact on my opponents hitpoints.
    I don’t know if its because I don’t have the battlemaster gear yet, but I hope this is the reason as these things occured all of a sudden with patch 1.2 running. Seems like I have to wait till I’m BM-equipped. ;)

    • Doubledown says:

      icolino :

      Hey, first I want to thank you for this very detailed guide, it helped me a lot during my first steps in PvP (and still today as I’m no “pro” in PvP )
      When doing PvP I use the Iron Fist spec, but after 1.2 I feel kind of useless in PvP – I seem to bear nothing anymore, at the same time my damage output is way to low as I can hardly win over even a single target any more. Before 1.2 I pretty much enjoyed the Iron Fist spec, but with 1.2 I seem to be the first one falling without having any noticeable impact on my opponents hitpoints.
      I don’t know if its because I don’t have the battlemaster gear yet, but I hope this is the reason as these things occured all of a sudden with patch 1.2 running. Seems like I have to wait till I’m BM-equipped.

      I play a different character in a tank assassin but I felt the same way. They provided recruit gear but I would drop pretty quick in 1.2. Now I have 6 BM pieces and it feels totally different. You need to get more gear.

      I guarantee the game will feel totally different after you get at least half BM gear.

      • taugrim says:

        Doubledown :

        icolino :

        Hey, first I want to thank you for this very detailed guide, it helped me a lot during my first steps in PvP (and still today as I’m no “pro” in PvP )
        When doing PvP I use the Iron Fist spec, but after 1.2 I feel kind of useless in PvP – I seem to bear nothing anymore, at the same time my damage output is way to low as I can hardly win over even a single target any more. Before 1.2 I pretty much enjoyed the Iron Fist spec, but with 1.2 I seem to be the first one falling without having any noticeable impact on my opponents hitpoints.
        I don’t know if its because I don’t have the battlemaster gear yet, but I hope this is the reason as these things occured all of a sudden with patch 1.2 running. Seems like I have to wait till I’m BM-equipped.

        I play a different character in a tank assassin but I felt the same way. They provided recruit gear but I would drop pretty quick in 1.2. Now I have 6 BM pieces and it feels totally different. You need to get more gear.

        I guarantee the game will feel totally different after you get at least half BM gear.

        Agree.

        With the change to make Expertise scale in 1.2, having PVP gear in every slot is very important. And the BM gear is noticeably better than the Recruit gear.

  12. Zharot says:

    Some out-of-date info in the guide:

    In the gear recommendations, 2pc Combat Tech doesn’t break Carbonize any more, that was fixed. Also, Centurion and Champion are now obsolete; there’s really no reason to run those over Recruit gear.

    In stat prioritization, mixing Rakata with Battlemaster is now a lousy idea because Expertise is so much better now.

  13. TheOpf says:

    Taugrim,

    It’s me, theopf, thanks for the review of the Norse build. Personally, I find it to be the simplest and least amount hassle in terms of pvp usage out there. It’s unfortunate that you can’t fully utilize the spec yet because of the broken PG. I really wish you had the slow. It goes from being fun to being pretty freaking amazing. The 70 percent slow at least for the BH can affect someone even if they are just barely touched with it. 1 tick grants them 2 seconds of slow even if they get out of range on the next one. They can then be harvested by someone.

    I have noticed that if Consular/Inq pop their sprint after the slow is up they can get out of it, but if it’s popped before than the Slow affects them through the sprint. Not sure if it’s a bug but it’s a nice note.

    Hopefully, I will be able to run into you in one of the WZ’s. I am on Ajunta Pall as well. Level 50 BH – Anam. If you are ever free to do some testing on the AP/Tactis tree, I am trying to find a Vanguard to meet up and test the different abilities to see if they are mirroring damage wise correctly.

    Thanks for the mention in the video and the thread.

    The Opf

    • taugrim says:

      TheOpf :

      Taugrim,

      It’s me, theopf, thanks for the review of the Norse build. Personally, I find it to be the simplest and least amount hassle in terms of pvp usage out there. It’s unfortunate that you can’t fully utilize the spec yet because of the broken PG. I really wish you had the slow. It goes from being fun to being pretty freaking amazing. The 70 percent slow at least for the BH can affect someone even if they are just barely touched with it. 1 tick grants them 2 seconds of slow even if they get out of range on the next one. They can then be harvested by someone.

      I have noticed that if Consular/Inq pop their sprint after the slow is up they can get out of it, but if it’s popped before than the Slow affects them through the sprint. Not sure if it’s a bug but it’s a nice note.

      Hopefully, I will be able to run into you in one of the WZ’s. I am on Ajunta Pall as well. Level 50 BH – Anam. If you are ever free to do some testing on the AP/Tactis tree, I am trying to find a Vanguard to meet up and test the different abilities to see if they are mirroring damage wise correctly.

      Thanks for the mention in the video and the thread.

      The Opf

      Hey theopf,

      Thanks for your work in putting together that in-depth thread on the forums – it’s a terrific resource.

      It is a shame that the 70% slow effect for 5 stacks of Pulse Generator is not working. The upfront tick usually lands for Pulse Cannon, but opponents can move out of range for some of the latter 3 ticks.

      Glad to hear you are on Ajunta Pall – the server has a great community and both sides have good players.

      • TheOpf says:

        It is a great server. You might want to update your PVE Builds with the 31 pt Pyro build, the standard AP 31 point build and the Norse build. All of them are completely viable in Ops.

        • taugrim says:

          TheOpf :

          It is a great server. You might want to update your PVE Builds with the 31 pt Pyro build, the standard AP 31 point build and the Norse build. All of them are completely viable in Ops.

          There seem to be a number of talents that you can either make a case for or skip for PVE:
          – Frontline Defense: although having the faster interrupt is helpful in PVE when your group has limited interrupt capability
          – Power Armor: ideally the tank is taking most of the damage
          – Containment Tactics: the reduced stun time can be helpful on adds but isn’t really needed
          – Hamstring: the snare is helpful only in PVP
          – Shock Absorbers: same comment as Power Armor

          Here is one version:

          http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#801hMhZMsRrRrfk0sZb.1

          Haven’t testing against a PVE dummy but I wonder if NORS offers better DPS.

          • TheOpf says:

            The biggest complaints of the AP/Tactics tree are the following.

            1. Really odd setup of the tree. You have to pick up talents that don’t make sense in a pve environment in order to get to ones that do. It’s like they changed their mind halfway through as to which direction they wanted to go with the tree.

            2. The lack of a decent pvp slow (this was fixed in 1.2 for BH)

            3. The fact that Gut/RB and HiB/RS can be removed and it makes the rotation and playstyle better than with Gut/RB and HiB/RS. Gut without the full ticks is a significant loss of dps. HiB takes 10 points to get a crit that actually makes my rotation longer and less dynamic.

            Every single attack that they give us – RS/RB/RP/FB/Immolate/PFT can be used and give us the 5 stack bonus, but it comes out to exactly 12 seconds leaving no time to do anything else. Using math, we can figure out that from the very beginning a actual full AP build ends up 1 PFT cycle behind.

            A full AP/Tac cycle though is not very heat friendly. Try to use all the abilities within a 12 sec cycle and watch your heat/ammo issues abound. This means that in the Full Cycle you have to use RP everytime it’s on CD with the proc. This means every 9 seconds you have to use RP regardless of where you are in the rotation.

            From what we figured in a five minute fight if you stick with a perfect static rotation on a training dummy the dps is actually really close. Because the extra damage from Gut/RB and RS/HiB equal out to the same amount of damage gained by the extra PFTs. However, the main issue with the Full Rotation is when you have to start weaving or popping CD’s and/or move than the full rotation begins to fall farther and farther behind in PFT usage. I ran some numbers and you end up being behind by 3 PFT’s if you weave Rapid Shots and RP during Ammo/Heat issues.

            This is where the Norse build leads. You have 3 seconds after the first rotation to do whatever needs to be done or weave in an extra attack or two. So you can weave in an extra free RP/SS and Rapid shots and not lose uptime on PFT.

    • Heartman says:

      nothing on this thread is up to date :-(

  14. Helgan says:

    icolino :

    Hey, first I want to thank you for this very detailed guide, it helped me a lot during my first steps in PvP (and still today as I’m no “pro” in PvP )
    When doing PvP I use the Iron Fist spec, but after 1.2 I feel kind of useless in PvP – I seem to bear nothing anymore, at the same time my damage output is way to low as I can hardly win over even a single target any more. Before 1.2 I pretty much enjoyed the Iron Fist spec, but with 1.2 I seem to be the first one falling without having any noticeable impact on my opponents hitpoints.
    I don’t know if its because I don’t have the battlemaster gear yet, but I hope this is the reason as these things occured all of a sudden with patch 1.2 running. Seems like I have to wait till I’m BM-equipped.

    i can tell you .. Iron Fist ROCKS with BM or even better -War Hero- Gear.
    By now i´ve got 3 pieces of WH (crafted) gear with full BM set and i have the feeling i´m burning through my opponents like a hot knife (in most cases).

    I´m a good DMG Dealer AND running tanking stance. That´s awesome!

    BTW @Taugrim
    Thanks for your great Blog and your excellent Streams!
    My best wishes for your corporate future!
    Plz stay with us as long as possible!

    • icolino says:

      OK, thanks for all your quick replies – so my first goal now is to die my way for BM gear, also called “not beeing cannon fodder any more” ^^
      While doing this I came across another question: For Iron Fist you recommend to opt for the 4-pc Combat Tech Set Bonus which I did with Champion/Centurion gear. But what about the “non-set-pieces”? Did you also go for Combat Tech, or would it make any sense to take the supercommando Items?
      When buying my Centurion/Champion gear I kind of tried to experiment a bit because I thought this would be the best opportunity as it is only “transitional” gear. So I took the 4 Combat Tech Items for the boni and the supercommando greaves (because they were the only set-item with “Defense” as defensive stat, which I understood to be the most useful defense pvp stat concerning the disadvantages with shield etc. you described in your guide). Sadly this was only a few days before 1.2 so right now I can’t decide if this was useful in any way… ;)
      Would it make any sense to take the non-set items (like relics, earpieces, implants and so on) from the supercommando set to increase endurance and stress the “hybrid” stance between tank and dd (I don’t care that much about beeing first one concerning the damage because I like the supporting role I can take in PvP, but of course I would like to make some “good” damage and not only be the guy with guard ;) )?

      Again, thanks for your guide and the help!
      (and please excuse my english if there are any mistakes)

  15. Matt Taylor says:

    Just a heads up, when you click the link for your main tank spec (31/7/3) the skill calculator shows up as (29/7/3), easy enough to fill in the 2 missing points but thought you’d like to know. Other than that great guides man, been following you since Rift and defiantly has improved my game play. For the most part on my powertech tank for pvp i’ve been running your PvE main tank build and do fine(but that’s cause of my healer) and think I may check out your Iron Fist build. As with the post above, what would you recommend for for gear pieces outside of the 4set Combat Tech..stick with Super Commando for survivability or go for more dps oriented gear?

    • taugrim says:

      Matt Taylor :

      Just a heads up, when you click the link for your main tank spec (31/7/3) the skill calculator shows up as (29/7/3), easy enough to fill in the 2 missing points but thought you’d like to know. Other than that great guides man, been following you since Rift and defiantly has improved my game play. For the most part on my powertech tank for pvp i’ve been running your PvE main tank build and do fine(but that’s cause of my healer) and think I may check out your Iron Fist build. As with the post above, what would you recommend for for gear pieces outside of the 4set Combat Tech..stick with Super Commando for survivability or go for more dps oriented gear?

      Thanks for the bug. The talents changed in 1.2 for the tier just below the 31-pt talent.

      For PVP, even as tank, for the non-set pieces go with Eliminator’s. And use a Shield offhand.

      • Matt Taylor says:

        Thanks !~ Now the fun of getting combat tech and eliminator gear after spending the time to get full supercommando BM gear lol. But will be nice to try something a little different after being pure tank on my powertech since i’ve made it

  16. TheOpf says:

    taugrim :

    TheOpf :
    It is a great server. You might want to update your PVE Builds with the 31 pt Pyro build, the standard AP 31 point build and the Norse build. All of them are completely viable in Ops.

    There seem to be a number of talents that you can either make a case for or skip for PVE:
    – Frontline Defense: although having the faster interrupt is helpful in PVE when your group has limited interrupt capability
    – Power Armor: ideally the tank is taking most of the damage
    – Containment Tactics: the reduced stun time can be helpful on adds but isn’t really needed
    – Hamstring: the snare is helpful only in PVP
    – Shock Absorbers: same comment as Power Armor
    Here is one version:
    http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#801hMhZMsRrRrfk0sZb.1
    Haven’t testing against a PVE dummy but I wonder if NORS offers better DPS.

    I ran some simulations, and the Norse build is about 50-70 dps behind a 31pt AP build. AP is currently behind Pyro by about 4.7 percent in terms of dps. However based on playstyle, many of the AP users find they are generally about 2 percent higher with AP than Pyro simply because it fits their play style.

    The Norse build actually ends up about 7 percent behind 31pt AP in perfect numbers and about 11 percent behind Pyro in a static pve dummy test. In the end it’s viable but 100 dps is quite a large drop off. Norse is more of a pvp/questing build, while 31 pt AP/Tac is definitely viable in both pvp and pve.

  17. Psychrome says:

    he taugrim thought id stop by here and see how you been lately, i also have a question regarding damage types: Ranged vs Tech does anyone havea breakdown on what attacks are considered which type

    • taugrim says:

      Psychrome :

      he taugrim thought id stop by here and see how you been lately, i also have a question regarding damage types: Ranged vs Tech does anyone havea breakdown on what attacks are considered which type

      Bring up the Abilities panel in-game. The attack types are listed for each ability.

      • Psychrome says:

        LOL yeah epic fail on my part i just never bothered to look at the abilities once they were on my bar. its unfortunate that information isnt in the mouse over tool tip…derp moment on my part!

  18. for PVE tanking, you have a typo under secondary stats. you have accuracy listed as the most important stat, that should be absorption

  19. Astoros says:

    What a high quality guide ! Really.man, you’re the best ! I was upping a full tank PT, but i think i’m going for your Iron fist + combat Tech set proc ^_^ it really roxx in terms of damages, gonna be a tank with good dps ! That aside… The fact that the shield mitigation can’t block force and tech abilities is sad… I got many sorcerers and agents friends, so i’m maybe going to loose in fights wich i usually won with my juggernaut tank… Hem, so this my boring life and THANK YOU REALLY MUCH FOR THIS GUIDE, see ya in game :p

  20. Valmus says:

    Hello Taugrim. I would like first to thank you for this guide, helped me a lot with my Vanguard. With a guildie, we’re currently arguing over stats prioritization. Your guide actually puts expertise above everything else, aim and endurance roughly the same…

    “Expertise > Power = Crit Rating > Surge Rating = Accuracy Rating”

    On FR forums, somebody wrote a guide for Powertech PvP, and that’s his stats prioritization :

    Surge rating > Power > Aim = Crit Rating > Endurance > Accuracy Rating

    The author also said that you should get as much Aim as you can, 75% surge, 25% crit… And also he said 90% accuracy is fine.

    My guildie also thinks that Aim > everything else, so his augments are Endurance/Aim ones and he equipped a matrix cube.

    So I have 2 questions :
    1) Do I have to equip a matrix cube or should I run with two +expertise relics ?
    2) Shoud I use Aim/Endurance augments in every slot or mix wth Endurance/Power or Endurance/Surge ?

    • Valmus says:

      I forgot to link the post on FR forums : http://www.swtor.com/fr/community/showthread.php?t=416457
      I’m also using the “Run and Gun” spec described in your guide.

    • taugrim says:

      Valmus :

      On FR forums, somebody wrote a guide for Powertech PvP, and that’s his stats prioritization :

      Surge rating > Power > Aim = Crit Rating > Endurance > Accuracy Rating

      Surge Rating suffers from DR pretty quickly around 200 or so. That’s been the issue since 1.1.3.

      I generally try to get to 70% Crit Bonus Damage, which is ~190 Surge Rating or so.

      Power AFAIK provides a linear benefit, which is why you hear people talking about Power stats on gear on forums.

      Valmus :

      The author also said that you should get as much Aim as you can, 75% surge, 25% crit… And also he said 90% accuracy is fine.

      My guildie also thinks that Aim > everything else, so his augments are Endurance/Aim ones and he equipped a matrix cube.

      Yes, Aim rocks, it provides AFAIK a fairly linear benefit in damage and also crit.

      How much Accuracy depends on spec. Assault Spec VG / Pyrotech PT rely on Accuracy more because of high use of High Impact Bolt. Less so for tank and middle-tree specs.

      Valmus :

      So I have 2 questions :
      1) Do I have to equip a matrix cube or should I run with two +expertise relics ?
      2) Shoud I use Aim/Endurance augments in every slot or mix wth Endurance/Power or Endurance/Surge ?

      1) I’d get 2 WH relics
      2) Aim > Power. Surge I already mentioned.

      Aim gives +damage and +crit.
      Power gives +damage only.

  21. Adastra says:

    Hi Taugrim, think this blog is probably the best on the internet when it comes to help with Character setup’s, although for an old head like mine, it’s all a bit confusing, so I really need help, I currently run a level 50 Powertech and play varied PVE and PVP, I’ve currently got your Iron Fist skill tree setup and have the 5 piece BM Supercommando armour, Don’t have the BM Supercommando shield or affiliated mods yet, I have the BM supercommando Ear module, I have The BM supercommando pistol, 268.0.4970 rating 140, I have two relics, the Champion relic of the shrouded crusader and the champion relic of the primeval fatesealer.
    Problem is I seem to suck in PVP, don’t know if it’s because other folk in the team are poor players on their toons and die quickly leaving me open to mass attack, or if it’s me, I seem to get triple teamed and die within seconds, I usually run the guard stance protecting a sith sorcerer or other DPS toon depending on whose in, I don’t seem to do a lot of damage either, so somewhere along the line of setting this toon up, I’ve gone a bit of track, or I’m fine, I just need to fine tinker/adjust, I believe you can help me get better at playing this game and enjoy it rather than get annoyed and occasionally hate it, below are my stats,
    57 strength, 337 presence, 1162 aim, 111 cunning, 1617 endurance, 63 willpower, 1050 expertise.
    Wep dmg pri 490 – 719, bonus – 222.1, acc = 102.98%, Crit = 31.87% Crit Mult= 50%
    Health = 18670 with hunters boon buff, 7647 armour rating, 50.45 DMG red, 13.57% Def chance, 21.00% Shield chance, 36.32% Shield absorption

    Please help, it would be much appreciated, thanks in advance.

    • theopf says:

      Adastra,

      Replace your tank gear with two piece combat tech and two piece medice and keep only tank stuff in your wrist belt and off hand. Thats the best advice anyone can give you. You will die faster because you are getting hit by your guarded guy and the guy on you. Use stuns, oilslick, and tauntsrepeatedly

  22. John says:

    Taugrim, why don’t you try running tactics with ion cell? I noticed when you use your iron fist spec you tend to not use storm very often. Perhaps tactics would be a better fit. Something like 8/31/2. http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#801G0hZMsrrobfkdsZb.1
    You really don’t need any points in ion cell because it’s very lack luster for dps. It’s also bugged where the first hit which should do around 700 damage only does around 200 (armor should not prevent 70% of the damage) . So best to just skip putting points into ion cell all together.

    You will need to put points into gut to be able to get combat tactics as that will help with ammo since you won’t be running HEC. Sticky grenade -> fire pulse -> Stockstrike -> gut-> HIB is what I use to start off the rotation.

    Another thing, I always read about how you stack crit past 400. I can’t begin to emphasize the loss of dps in doing that. Stacking crit is not going to give you more burst than stacking power. Playing as assault spec and stacking crit will give you maybe around 6% more crit than a player that stacks power. The player that stack power is going to be able to get 5K+ crits with HIB on low armor targets. The person that stacks crit is going to be getting high 3K crits. You won’t even notice the extra percentage to crit. All of the vanguards/power techs that have posted getting more than 800K+ damage in a warzone did it with stacking power. All the spreadsheets that have been made also show this. Best to keep crit at 200 or lower. This applies to just about all the specs with Vanguard. I guarantee you’re not doing more burst with 400+ crit than someone that stacks power and has around 200 crit. Again difference in crit % for someone that has 200 vs someone that has 400 is 6%.

    • theopf says:

      John,

      I cant believe you are suggesting Ion Cell with Tactics and then commenting on dps loss due to stacking. I cant begin to tell you how much more ineffective and huge a dps loss you suffer by not using HEC. The amount of times your guard may help you will completely be wiped out by the amount of damage you gave up. The best way to help a healer while dps is killing the guys on him. I can kill people three times faster without ion cell.

      Your dps loss is huge your lack of venting and 15% run speed makes you less useful than a 31 point or iron fist tank. You will die faster do less dps but hey you make get 20 k more protection by sacrificing around 100 to 200k damage.

      • John says:

        Well, of course I’m going to be losing a lot of dps because I’m playing a tank. You’re looking at it the wrong way. The spec that I put will still do more damage than Iron fist. The only thing is your switching out storm for hold the line. Stock strike has less chance to crit but, your ion pulse will crit for a lot more and you will have a much stronger aoe.

      • John says:

        Also Iron fist doesn’t have any good ammo regen. With the spec I listed fire pulse will still give you a free stock strike. I never play with shield so ammo management for this spec is the same for when I play your iron fist.

  23. Adastra says:

    Theopf,

    Thanks for the suggestion, however this isn’t specific enough, which combination do you suggest?, also, if I want a decent DPS/TANK hybrid outlook, shouldn’t Eliminator be in there somewhere, either a mix of supercommando(tank) and Eliminator Hybrid, I don’t guard I tend to use the high energy gas cylinder, as I wanted to increase some of my damage, I tend to stop guarding now and back up my team mates in pvp, usually using some oilslick to slow the foe, electric and carbon to interupt them and taunt to redirect the damage etc to get them to come to me instead, seems to work, I just want to take more damage, but also deal some, I am collecting many of the parts, i.e. combat tech gear, eliminator gear, etc as I want to test out various cominations and see what happens, but my old head doesn’t get some of the mechanics, so it’s a trial and error thing I’ve got going. if anyone’s got a decent tank/dps hybrid powertech that deals decent damage but also takes some/absorbs it,I’d be interested to see what you have setup gear wise, your tree would also be interesting, as I said previously I’m running Taugrim’s iron fist at the mo.
    cheers and thanks for any assistance you can provide in advance.

  24. Gerret says:

    Hi taugrim,
    first I want to thank you for your guide, I’ve been running Iron Fist for a few weeks now and although I won’t do as much damage as I thought I could when I first read about this spec (most time it’s below 200.000) I like this spec because of its usability for the team. I try to guard healers as often as possible and I use my taunts on CD, and since a few weeks ago, harpoon seems to be less buggy than before (before it was buggy in more than 50% when I used it in huttball, and not because of resolve, but because of “invisible walls” where the target would get stuck in free air instead of beeing pulled to my position and so on). With a mixture of BM and WH gear I’m also confident with my survivability, even with combat tech gear.
    I reached valor rank 70 last week, so now I’m wondering which augments I should use for my crafted WH gear. Somewhere I read that you should first reach 1600 Aim and then switch to power augments, others claim that crit autments are the best one can do. Any suggestions on that? (I am fully equipped in combat tech items)

    I also wanted to ask if you are going to update this guide concerning the balancing changes in 1.3? Of course its too early now as the changes aren’t final yet, but when I read the patch notes for the PTR, my first thought was that the Iron Fist spec would distinctly suffer from this changes due to the massive nerf of Stockstrike and I don’t see where the changes to the other abilities can make up for this.
    But to be honest I’m not that much into theorycrafting and I won’t be able to test this myself on the PTR, so I’m looking for some “experts” thoughts about this balancing changes and its influences on the Iron Fist spec when 1.3 is live.

    I’m sorry if my english is confusing, it’s not my native tongue.

    • taugrim says:

      Gerret :

      I also wanted to ask if you are going to update this guide concerning the balancing changes in 1.3? Of course its too early now as the changes aren’t final yet, but when I read the patch notes for the PTR, my first thought was that the Iron Fist spec would distinctly suffer from this changes due to the massive nerf of Stockstrike and I don’t see where the changes to the other abilities can make up for this.

      After 1.3 is live, yes, I plan to update this Guide.

    • Marty says:

      I’d also like to know which augments to use with the Iron Fist specc. On my server there are a few really good vanguards, some of them running IF. But each of them claims another stat to be the one-and-only for the additional augment slots so I’m just as confused as the one above ;)

  25. TheOpf says:

    Adastra :
    Theopf,
    Thanks for the suggestion, however this isn’t specific enough, which combination do you suggest?, also, if I want a decent DPS/TANK hybrid outlook, shouldn’t Eliminator be in there somewhere, either a mix of supercommando(tank) and Eliminator Hybrid, I don’t guard I tend to use the high energy gas cylinder, as I wanted to increase some of my damage, I tend to stop guarding now and back up my team mates in pvp, usually using some oilslick to slow the foe, electric and carbon to interupt them and taunt to redirect the damage etc to get them to come to me instead, seems to work, I just want to take more damage, but also deal some, I am collecting many of the parts, i.e. combat tech gear, eliminator gear, etc as I want to test out various cominations and see what happens, but my old head doesn’t get some of the mechanics, so it’s a trial and error thing I’ve got going. if anyone’s got a decent tank/dps hybrid powertech that deals decent damage but also takes some/absorbs it,I’d be interested to see what you have setup gear wise, your tree would also be interesting, as I said previously I’m running Taugrim’s iron fist at the mo.
    cheers and thanks for any assistance you can provide in advance.

    I use 2 pc Combat Medic and 2pc Combat Tech. The 4 pc benefits are negligible for AP builds. The extra 3 seconds on the shield is pretty sweet. If you want to see my build check the Norse build. That’s the one I currently use.

  26. Nathan says:

    Any chance you could fix the build links? They seem to have been screwed up since 1.3 went live. Thanks!

  27. Heartman says:

    Nothing on this thread is up to date

  28. doctor says:

    hello there.
    can U tell me what U think about these 2 buils,

    http://db.darthhater.com/skill_calc/bounty_hunter/powertech/#::e2f2efe3f2e3f3ef17df5e4f2e2f5ef2e:

    http://db.darthhater.com/skill_calc/bounty_hunter/powertech/#::f13ef6e4f2ef2e2fefe2fef3e4f2e2f5ef2e:

    Thanx.

  29. doctor says:

    doctor :
    hello there.
    can U tell me what U think about these 2 buils,
    http://db.darthhater.com/skill_calc/bounty_hunter/powertech/#::e2f2efe3f2e3f3ef17df5e4f2e2f5ef2e:
    http://db.darthhater.com/skill_calc/bounty_hunter/powertech/#::f13ef6e4f2ef2e2fefe2fef3e4f2e2f5ef2e:
    Thanx.

    crap, links dont work. sorry.
    nvm, ill try to contact U some other way.

  30. Salmuth says:

    I’d like to see the 31-10-0 tank pvp spec but since the 1.3 update, the torhead page doesn’t show it properly, it’s now stucked at lower levels. Could you update it ?

    I wonder what to take in the early levels/lines, like the 15% speed boost that could be usefull to avoid kiting, but maybe the grapple and jump to foe are enough ? If so, the 10 seconds cooldown of the grapple could be a must instead of Hot Iron (+6% damage on flame burst and retractable blade) ?

    I’ve got many other questions but I gess an update on the torhead sheet would solve it all and understand what you think is the best combination.
    I’m very tempted to take like 35 points in the tank spec because it seems all usefull compare to the early points in the other trees (especially in the pyrotech tree that relies on the combustible gas…)

  31. djdee says:

    First off, huge thanks for the guide. Its gonna help me a lot when I progress on my Powertech.

    I also wanted to mention that you can use Ask Mr. Robot’s skill calculator for your build links. It has the trees in the correct order: http://swtor.askmrrobot.com/skills/powertech

    I understand though, that you may not have time to do so. Maybe your readers can help with updating the links somehow?

    • taugrim says:

      djdee :

      I understand though, that you may not have time to do so. Maybe your readers can help with updating the links somehow?

      If people can post the calculator links from a site that works, have at it. I’ll update the guide with them.

  32. leesolo says:

    Hey just want to let u know im using Pyro at the mo, and recently hit 1453.56 DPS in a voidstar, would like to know if anyone else has beat that

  33. oz'borne says:

    hey, great guide but had a question. Now that the iron fist spec has been scrubed with the 1.3 patch have you come up with another tank hybrid for PvP? I like the tank spec for the survivability but wanted to crank out more dps. I was thinking of using shield spec till the storm ability then working toward gut. Your thoughts?

  34. Salmuth says:

    Your links to the Torhead calculator seem to work now.

    I would like to have someone advice on the 32/9/0 PvP tank spec I would like tu use : http://www.torhead.com/skill-calc#301GRGbzRroGRZbcbM.2 compared to
    your 31/10/0
    I then have Oil Slick that I like (is the 18 sec 20% accu debuff worthless => everyone over 100% accu, so It will not feel any different ?), and I’d rather have the cooldown reducer on electro dart for more CC and use the 2nd 1% damage reduction.

    Not using the damage/crit chance boosts is kinda annoying but I’d rather control and debuff than DD.

  35. For a PVP Vanguard/Assault spec what War Hero relic or relics would you suggest I use?

  36. Whaculous says:

    Here is my latest dps build. I think it has some promise. Please review and advise.

    http://db.darthhater.com/skill_calc/bounty_hunter/powertech/#::fef5df5ef7efef11ef4e6fef2efefefe2:

    PS torhead is fixed now…

  37. Novakin says:

    I know Iron Fist is “dead”, but most of it’s skills are still there and I can still use it with success.

  38. Felipe says:

    You guys will update this site with the new update?
    Range with AS(Vanguard) is crapy.

  39. Asking questions are genuinely pleasant thing if you are not understanding anything completely,
    but this piece of writing offers pleasant understanding yet.

  40. Zero says:

    I recently found the iron fist spec for my power tech. Is it still viable in 1.5 and if so what war hero set should I be using.

  41. Max Denby says:

    Just getting back into swtor. As always these are the best guides around :)

  42. adastra says:

    Looking for guidance on my current load out, running a full tank setup in pve, currently on my skill tree I have gone full tank (shield tech) for 38 points, 1 in advanced prototype burn enhances and 2 points in pyrotech iron fist, currently running mainly endurance and aim mods at 1861 and 1630 respectively, health points at 21106 buffed, armour rating at 8234, accuracy standing at 98.84, crit multiplier at 50% and chance at 22.52, bonus damage at 358.3, helmet has 3x 61 mods, everything else at 56 currently, looking at this basic info, how am I doing, been a while since my last chat here, damage on my w is 601 – 809, which seems a little low to some builds, perhaps cos of my skill tree setup, still running a battlemaster super commando blaster for pvp, not upgraded it yet, are there any improvements I should make to my kit for my job role, anything would be appreciated, thanks in advance.

    • Ad'astra says:

      Updated my skill tree to your 31/7/3 model, working on my mods as I write, want to ensure I have the best combination, currently have adaptive armour but noticed I loose the set bonus which is disappointing. Would you recommend going back to full columi and look to increase to rekata, black hole or dread guard, or keep with adaptive but update my mods to level 63’s as soon as I can, ensuring they are predominantly aim and endurance, let me know, appreciated.

  43. Dallas says:

    Any chance of a SWTOR Powertech guide post 1.6?

  44. Ad'astra says:

    Anyone know if Taugrim or The Opf will be doing anything with these builds from 2.0 onward, really need their input on builds and gear aspects, please guy’s give us a clue!

  45. ThatGuyToo says:

    This guild is outdated and minimally applies to the AC since several updates and strong changes with 2.0 have occurred. I am sure it was a good guide when it was current.

    • FiApO says:

      I agreed. We need update. This was the best guide for AC when I started. I wish taugrim updated. Thanks

  46. Marcus says:

    Yes, very sad that Ed stopped playing SWTOR as this was a fantastic guide. I used the iron fist build initially and had a blast.

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