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Gunslinger PvE Hotbars and Rotations

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Updated: May 2012, following patch 1.2 and reaching level 50.

These rotations are by no means perfect or meant as my recommendations to anyone else, but they serve me very well in game, allowing me to maximise dps and respond to any unusual circumstances quickly.

I'll continue to tweak them as I find more efficient ways of playing. Hopefully they may be of use to someone, and if anyone has any advice on how I can improve things please let me know!

Hotbar Setup  ::  Rotations

Note: hovering over bright blue links will open a tooltip with a summary of the ability.

Let's start by looking at how my hotbars are set up. I have tried to set them up so that my rotations flow across the bars in order to make things a little easier to follow in the heat of combat.

Hotbar 1 - Primary Abilities
My primary non-cover combat abilities. Bound to the number row keys ("1" to "="). These are activated using the buttons on the side of my Naga mouse.
Click to enlarge

Cover Bar - Main DPS Abilities
This is the unique hotbar that pops up when my smuggler enters cover. The keys are bounds to the number row keys ("1" to "=") again, as it replaces Hotbar 1 when cover is entered. They are activated using the buttons on the side of my Naga mouse.
Click to enlarge

Hotbar 2 - Secondary Abilities
Bound to ALT modified number row keys ("ALT-1" to "ALT-="). These are activated using the buttons on the side my Naga mouse in conjunction with the ALT modifier key, or by pressing the ALT bound keys on my keyboard (as seen here).
Click to enlarge

Hotbar 3 -  Miscellaneous Combat Skills
These are items and skills that I may use occasionally in combat (grenades, med packs, relics, etc). They are bound to SHIFT modified number row keys ("SHIFT-1" to "SHIFT-=") and activated using the buttons on the side of my Naga mouse in conjunction with the SHIFT modifier key. The grenades are here so that I still have access to them on a hotkey ("SHIFT-7" and "SHIFT-8") whilst in cover.
Click to enlarge
Hotbar 4 - Miscellaneous Abilities
These are items and skills that have very long cool downs (long-term buffs) or are related to travel (fleet pass, speeder bike, etc). They are not hotkeyed as I generally don't need to use them in combat.
Click to enlarge

These are the rotations I commonly use in combat. I do not stick to them rigidly, but try to adapt to how the encounter is proceeding, using interrupts for example where required. I always try and keep my energy bar above 60% (it takes much longer to recharge if it falls below 60%) unless I am trying to burn an enemy down very quickly.

Rotation 1 - Start of combat
I try and attack mobs so that there is some natural cover to roll in to if possible. I will Take Cover (using a hotkey) at any point before I reach stage 4 of this rotation. Note that your companion will not start attacking until you reach stage 5 unless you manually instruct them to.
  1. XS Freighter Flyby - Optional. I open with this when I am targeting a group of ranged opponents who are stood closely together. If there is one melee opponent in the group I will often follow this up by using Leg Shot on that individual opponent to keep them in the area of effect.
  2. Flourish Shot - for armour reduction
  3. Vital Shot - 15 second duration dot (damage-over-time)
  4. Smuggler's Luck - ensures Charged Burst will critical
  5. Charged Burst - dps ability, will fire instantly if two points in Snap Shot on Sharpshooter tree
  6. Trickshot - dps ability
  7. Aimed Shot - should have reduced activation time if two points in Quick Aim on Sharpshooter tree due to critical Charged Burst
  8. Trickshot - if off cooldown; dps ability
  9. Speed Shot - channelled dps abilty
  10. Quickdraw - if mob is below 30% health, otherwise Flurry of Bolts if energy is below 60%, otherwise Sabotage Charge if other abilities on cooldown, otherwise begin standard dps rotation (see below) 
Rotation 2 - Standard dps (assuming already in cover)
Fill in with Flurry of Bolts if energy falls below 60%
  1. Flourish Shot - if off cooldown, for armour reduction
  2. Vital Shot - if the dot is no longer active on the enemy mob
  3. Smuggler's Luck - if off cooldown to ensure Charged Burst will critical
  4. Charged Burst - dps ability, will fire instantly if two points in Snap Shot on Sharpshooter tree
  5. Trickshot - dps ability
  6. Aimed Shot - if Quick Aim is up, i.e. if Charged Burst criticals
  7. Trickshot - if off cooldown
  8. Speed Shot - dps ability
  9. Sabotage Charge- dps ability with stun and dot for normal targets
  10. Quickdraw - if mob is below 30% health
  11. Begin rotation again
If I want to maximise DPS or to quickly burn down an opponent I will often change this rotation at stage 8, using the following.
  1. Speed Shot - channelled dps ability
  2. Rapid Fire - immediately ends cooldown on Speed Shot, and ensures next Speed Shot has no cooldown
  3. Speed Shot - channelled dps ability
  4. Speed Shot - channelled dps ability
  5. Back to standard rotation stage 9
This change to the rotation does a great deal of damage, but will burn a lot of energy. Additionally, as this part of the rotation uses channelled abilities it means you are "out of cover" for several seconds, increasing the potential damage you may take. If health is low then use the Dodge > Defense Screen > Cool Head > All In rotation if you have time (it's a very quick rotation to fire off - all instacasts).

It's a good time to use DPS Relics and Illegal Mods as well (reduces activation times). I sometimes also drop Smuggler's Luck > Charged Burst > Aimed Shot in at this point, if Smuggler's Luck is available. All of that builds a lot of dps at the cost of energy and damage taken.

Rotation 3 - Melee defence
When going up against a group of melee combatants a smuggler can get overwhelmed and it is difficult to keep them all at range. Here is a rotation I use when I'm forced into close-range combat.

If I am in melee combat with only a single mob:
  1. Dirty Kick - because it stuns the mob and it still makes me grin
  2. Cheap Shot - instant high dps ability with no energy cost, can be used when enemy is stunned from Dirty Kick
  3. Blaster Whip - dps ability
  4. then move on to group melee opponents rotation below
For group opponents:
  1. Take Cover - if not already in cover
  2. Pulse Detonator - blasts mobs back by several metres and stuns them
  3. Throw Cybertech grenades (Pyro/Firestorm grenades are the best AoE ones)
  4. Thermal Grenade
  5. Leg Shot - by this time the stun from Pulse Detonator will have ended, Leg Shot will immobilise target for a further 5 seconds
  6. Defense Screen - damage absorb
  7. Switch target to a different mob in the group
  8. Continue with normal dps rotation
Other Abilities
There are a couple of other small rotations I tend to use as the situation dictates.

For moments of panic when I'm up against a tough opponent and can't get any healing Dodge > dps ability > Defense Screen > Cool Head > All In gets used.

Also, I still use Flurry of Bolts quite a bit to fill in holes in the rotation when energy is below 60% or abilities are on cooldown.

Of course I use my medpacks, relics and interrupts as required (interrupts and relics tend to get used a lot on boss mobs).

Anyway, those are the rotations that work for me and I can put out a good load of damage. I tend to spend most of my time playing in small groups with my wife or guild members, but these rotations seem to work pretty well for soloing too.

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