the Grind: The Next 10

January 4, 2012 - 7:44 pm 1 Comment

Here we are, an eight-hour maintenance ticking off our hard-earned dollars. I’m missing the RIFT downtimes even more now! Hopefully these downtimes start dwindling down because eight hours down a week during my prime playtime hours is not awesome. But let’s talk something more constructive.

I was going to nitpick the game into tiny little pieces this post. You know, complain about all the things SWTOR is both missing and failing to implement properly, but I decided I’ll save that for later. For this post I will discuss the next 10 levels of my budding Sniper, from 31 to 40. There’s a magic number in this range – 36. This is a magic level for the Sniper as a new ability brings awesome firepower and very nearly reinvents the class. These 10 levels really start to define the Sniper, his abilities, and his future as a damage dealer. Read through the cut for a complete walk through of the Sniper’s 10 best levels yet.

More of the Same (31-35)

There’s not much to say about the first five levels in the 30s. You’ll pick up Countermeasures at 30, a threat dump which may or may not come in handy in groups, and Shield Probe at 32. Shield Probe will be valuable when fighting elites – you can pop it when Kaliyo goes down to keep yourself up long enough to finish the mob off. Headshot comes in at level 34. It is a high damage ability but can only be used against incapacitated targets. I have to admit, I don’t ever use it. The reason is that I simply don’t have enough keybinds to keep it in easy access and the failure here is because BioWare doesn’t provide us any macro support. Sniper would be soooo much more fun to play if we could set up some simple cast sequence macros, a la RIFT, but I won’t get into that in this post.

  • Shield ProbeThis probe absorbs a moderate amount of damage. It is vital to survival against elites and some packs with multiple strong enemies. It is great to use if you are pulling agro off of Kaliyo, after Kaliyo has died, or if you aren’t using Kaliyo at all. It’s also especially handy to pop if your interrupt is on cooldown and the mob is about to hit you with a burst damage attack.

The Magic Level (36)

The Sniper is one of those classes that have the privilege of getting an ability that changes the face of the class. This ability, Series of Shots, entirely changes the playing field for Sniper damage-per-second. Given that the Sniper regenerates energy when the pool is still relatively full, channeled abilities really ramp up DPS because they continually do damage at the same time as allowing energy to regenerate. Series of Shots is a class defining ability, measuring out an awesome amount of damage for a mere 20 energy. The energy cost is entirely recovered during the full channeled duration when talented and fired at high energy. It’s essentially a lot of free damage every 15 seconds (for now). It allows the Sniper to really settle into a solid damage rotation.

  • Series of ShotsQuickly fires three powerful shots at the enemy. Channeled time decreases with more Alacrity. Costs only 20 energy for all three shots. It also triggers many of the same proc-based abilities as Snipe. You want to use this ability… a lot!

Pushing to 40 (37-40)

You gain no new abilities again until 42 (not counting Speeder Piloting 2 at level 40), but remember to keep training new tiers of your existing abilities. From here on out, all the way to 50, your rotation will stay more or less the same. Settle in and get used to it. Use elites as practice for your “perfect rotation” so you’ll be ready for groups and raids. Of course, in your early 40s, messing your rotation against an elite is pretty much death – learn it now while things are still easy.

Single-target Damage Rotation

So what is your rotation? Without any combat log to parse, there’s not really a best method to determine the best rotation. But there is a priority based solely on tooltips. You’ll want to use Followthrough and Takedown whenever they are available. Followthrough gets used increasingly often as you level up due to the Recoil Control talent (which should max out at 39). Of course, Series of Shots should be used on cooldown as well, aside from the opening volley. Here is the basic rotation I am using against elites:

Cover → Ambush → Followthrough → Snipe → Explosive Probe → Series of Shots → Redo Cover → Snipe → Followthrough → Ambush → repeat (skipping the first Followthrough)

This rotation is fluid, of course. Add in Takedown once the enemy drops below 30%. Work in Headshot should you find the room in your keybinds. Also, keep your energy as high as possible. Chaining Snipes together is the fastest way to deplete your energy. When it does get around the 50% mark, consider squeezing in a few Rifle Shots to allow for some recovery, or pop Adrenaline Probe, if available.

Interrupt Your Enemy

You should also be aware of your potential interrupt abilities. At this point in the game, many enemies have heals and burst damage attacks. If the mob is weak or normal, a quick, targeted Fragmentation Grenade will knock the enemy down and interrupt it. Strongs and elites are immune to the Frag, but they can be interrupted through Flash Bang, Distraction, and Cover Pulse. As a last resort, you can use line-of-sight to interrupt long casts. So always keep one eye on that cast bar and the other on your cooldowns – and always know where you are and where you can possibly hide.

IA Sniper: Marksman Build at 40

Here’s the link you’re looking for:

Sniper (Imperial Agent)
24 Marksman / 5 Engineering / 2 Lethality

Your top goal in the 30s is to get Recoil Control maxed out. This should occur at level 39. Other highlights include Followthrough (level 38), Sniper Volley (levels 32-34), and Snap Shot 2 (level 31).

The Light in the Tunnel

From 41 on, it’s all about the grind. Master your rotation, learn your interrupts, maximize your situational awareness, and learn to abuse Kaliyo. I mean that with much love, of course! The Imperial Agent storyline is really starting to heat up and get into the most interesting bits. Prison breaks, double agents, mind-control – does it get any better?! Each level is consistently slower than the previous, and the mobs get harder and harder. Try to stay even level with your enemies as it will make your life much easier.

Above all, enjoy yourself. We are in a world where min-max is still up to interpretation and “the best” way to play is still in the eye of the beholder. It won’t be long before combat logs, parsing, and expectations bring out the cookie molds. Enjoy a life of freedom while you can.

The next post should bring about the close of my grind to 50. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll be posting about the pros and cons of what BioWare has done with SWTOR – from the interface to macros to bugs that have been around for months. Remember to follow the Blaster on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates!

One Response to “the Grind: The Next 10”

  1. Die by the Blaster » Blog Archive » the Grind: The Final 10 Says:

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