My main character is Nakaya, an Arsenal-Specced Bounty Hunter on the Juyo server. I'm level 50. I have completed all of the class quests, and at the time of this writing am sitting at valor rank 31. While my build is focused on PvE, I will be adding in PvP commentary, as I tend to do quite well there.
I'm not a math genius. I might be wrong. There may be fellows out there that are far better and playing Arsenal than I. Take my opinions as you like.
Arsenal Mercenaries are high-damage, ranged dps. I use a term called "being a turret". While Arsenal has many abilities you can use on the move, you will do the most damage if you can remain stationary in order to spam some Tracer Missiles.
The following is the PvE spec which I consider the standard template for Arsenal PvE (there are 3 points unassigned, more on that in a sec.): |Spec|
You have a few options with the last 2 points, but you do NOT want to put them in Systems Calibrations. Alacrity is bad for us. Terminal Velociaty causes crits with Tracer Missile and Unload to vent 8 heat. However, this can only happen once every 3 seconds. The cast time for Tracer Missile is 1.5 seconds. Shortening it, even a little, can cause us to miss out on Terminal Velocity proccing and venting heat for us, which is extremely bad.
Suggestions for the last three points:
Jet Escape: Reduces the cooldown of Jet Boost by 10 seconds and Determination by 30 seconds. Great for PvE and PvP. Using Determination to remove an effect is useful on boss fights as well as PvPing, and Jet boost is amazing to get trash mobs off of a healer.
Med Tech: Useful if you need to toss some heals, which we do on occasion. Quickens their cast times.
Empowered Scans: Makes your heals hit for more. It's a toss up, between this and Med Tech. As someone who doesn't heal often, I honestly am guessing here. I'd say this would be better than Med Tech, but could be wrong.
Integrated Cardio Package: A small bonus to endurance, which doesn't amount to much gain at all. Do not suggest this talent.
Pinning Fire: Unload will slow a target's movement by 50% for 2 seconds. While it could be helpful, for sure, I personally don't care for this talent over Jet Escape.
Lower Level Playing (pre-30):
In the early game, you're not really going to have much in the way of a rotation. Before level 20, you'll be using a lot of Unload and Power Shot. Missile Blast tends to use too much heat to use often.
Once you hit 20, however, prepare to bend and squat. A lot. This is the level you get Tracer Missile if you talent correctly. This is the ability that you will use more than any other as an Arsenal Merc. Not only does it deal a high amount of damage, it applies a Heat Signature, which reduces the armor of the target by 4% for 15 seconds, stacking up to 5 times. Once you get this, you're free to take Power Shot off of your bars. It not only deals more damage than Power Shot (from where I sit, anyway), it's cast time is the same, and you'll be sure that your heat signatures never fall off.
You'll be wanting to get five stacks of Heat Signature on any Strong, Elite, or Champion NPC you face. This inclues players in PvP. That means a lot of Tracer Missile spam in the lower levels. Be sure to use Rail Shot when it's up, and as soon as you take Terminal Velocity, you'll only be using High Velocity Gas Cylinder to DPS with.
Higher Level Playing (post-30):
With the addition of talents like Tracer Lock, Riddle/Barrage, and Heatseeker Missiles, a steady rotation finally forms. It's quite simple, and this is of course for Single Targets.
Tracer Missile x3 > Heatseeker Missiles > Unload > Tracer Missile x2 > Rail Shot
The reason for that rotation is as followed: Heatseeker Missiles is a very hard-hitting ability WITH the application of 5 stacks of Heat Signature. With the talent Light Em Up, you only need to use Tracer 3 times to apply all 5 stacks.
Tracer Lock causes your Tracer Missile to give you stacks of Target Lock, which stacks up to 5 times (this is different from Heat Signature! Do not confuse the two!). For each stack of Target Lock, your Rail Shot damage is increased by 6%. That turns Rail Shot into a cheap, hard-hitting ability, so long as you don't fire it the instant it comes off cooldown, and wait for all five stacks of Target Lock (this is a buff to you, not a debuff to an enemy, like Heat Signature).
Why is Unload even in the rotation, you might ask? Riddle increases it's damage by 33%, and a Tracer Missile can proc Barrage, which increases the next Unload to do a further 25% damage, and instantly takes it off cooldown.
After the initial rotation, it becomes a Priority System, that follows a few simple rules.
1. If Heat Signature is about to fall off the target, use Tracer Missile.
2. If Heatseeker Missiles is up, and you have 5 stacks of Heat Signature on the target, use Heatseeker Missiles.
2a. If you do NOT have 5 stacks of Heat Signature on the target, use Tracer Missile.
3. If Rail Shot is up and you have 5 stacks of Target Lock on yourself, use Rail Shot.
3a. If Rail Shot is up and you do NOT have 5 stacks of Target Lock on yourself, use Tracer Missile.
4. If you have 5 Stacks of Heat Signature on the Target, Heetseeker Missile and Rail Shot are not off Cooldown, use Unload.
**Heat Buildup Rules**
1. Never go above 40%. Those 4 arrows next to your heat bar? You always want them in there, filled. If one of those arrows disappears, use Rapid Shots.
2. If a boss is near dead, near enrage, or you just have to do a TON of DPS, don't use Rapid Shots. Instead, use enough heat so that 2 of the small arrows disappear, and then immediately vent. Try to proactively plan your use of Vent Heat for the most DPS at the most critical times, rather than always saving it for an emergency that may not come.
Abilities that you should avoid and why:
Missile Blast - This ability costs a whopping 25 heat! It's damage is not worth the cost.
Power Shot - The Tooltip will tell you this does more damage than Tracer Missile. For me, that's not been the case. While it costs the same heat, it doesn't keep your Heat Signature on the target, nore does it build you stacks of Target Lock to make your Rail Shot hit like a ton of bricks. Also, since it uses both blasters, you can miss, even if your Accuracy is at 100%. (Check your character sheet, under accuracy. Your off-hand isn't even near at 100%, even if your main hand blaster is. I've seen Power Shots fly right by a mob. Maybe it's an animation glitch, though I don't think so.)
Sweeping Blasters - The heat cost on this ability is simply massive. However, it has it's uses. For example, in the Voidstar Warzone, when a lot of enemies are bunched up on a door, trying to cap. Otherwise, avoid this for other options when possible. It's really only worth it when you can catch at least 4 targets.
Shoulder Slam - It's free to use, and deals a huge amount of damage to weak targets (moderate to strong and higher/players), but it has two drawbacks. First, you have to get in melee range to use it. Second, the target must be incapacitated. Now, if you hit someone with Electro Dart as you run by, sure.. by all means, pop it. To me? There are better abilities on the bar, and this is very situational.
Flame Thrower - Alas, poor Flame Thrower, I hardly knew you! This awesome looking ability deals massive damage in a frontal cone, which is only massive IF it's hitting more than one target. Due to it's close range requirement and high-heat cost, I almost never use this ability unless I just want to look badass. It's a personal vice of mine, but really it isn't very good for Arsenal Mercs.
Area of Effect Rundown:
First off, you're always going to use Death from Above if it's active. Not only is this, hands down, the coolest looking ability of all time, it also packs a huge punch.
Explosive Dart - A decent-damage and fun ability, especially useful for dealing with packs.
Fusion Missile - A powerful, high-heat ability that can deal a massive amount of damage to a group of 4. The initial strike isn't amazing, but the DoT that Fusion Missile applies is quite nasty.
Abilities I haven't mentioned thus far:
Rapid Shots - Low-damage, no-heat spam ability that we can use between shots to manage our heat levels. I tend to use it after every 3rd or 4th ability, depending on how things are going.
Rocket Punch - There are more damaging abilities, but with my spec, Rocket Punch will also knock back a target. I use this liberally in PvP, and quite frankly.. it looks amazing!
Electro Dart - 4 second stun. Very useful, especially on Elites.
On The Trail - Refreshes Electro Dart in PvE with a companion out. Awesome for elites, as this gives you a total of 8 seconds in which they're standing there, doing nothing. Also gives a small heal.
Jet Boost - I use this constantly. It launches targets away from you, slowing them after. With the Afterburner talent (which gives Rocket Punch the knockback), it sends enemies even further away.
Chaff Flare - Threat Reduction. Use as needed, or when available on boss fights with lots of adds, if you've been AOEing.
Kolto Overload - 15% heal over time, over 10 seconds. Very useful, especially when paired with...
Energy Sheild - Reduces all damage taken by 25% for 12 seconds.
Thermal Sensor Override - This wonderous ability makes your next attack consume NO heat! I most often use this for Heatseeker Missile, but it has other uses I'll describe below.
Power Surge - This makes your next ability with a cast time fire instantly. That boils down to using it for one of three abilities: Tracer Missile, Fusion Missile or Rapid/Healing Scan.
Stealth Scan - Pretty self explanatory. It places some little droids in an area to scan for stealthers.
Vent Heat - One of our most important abilities. Unless you Rapid Shot relgiously, you're going to eventually get behind on building too much heat. With Kolto Vents and Improved Vents, Vent Heat is a godsend that may not only get you back into pouring on the damage, but may also help a healer top you off on heavy AOE fights.
Combustible Gas Cylinder - You'll use this until you get Tracer Missile, afterwhich you'll forever use High Velocity Gas Cylinder.
High Velocity Gas Cylinder - Increases your armor penetration by 35%. With Heat Signature from Tracer Missiles, this is a no-brainer.
Combat Support Cylinder - You'll ONLY use this while healing, which should be rare as an Arsenal Merc. It makes your Rapid Shots able to heal others for small amounts. There are talents to make this do more, but that's for another guide. :P
With my spec, my healing potential is very poor. That's not to say I can't throw emergency heals if needed. If a boss is at 10% and you have a healer down, it's in your best interest to swap to Combat Support Cylinder and heal!
Rapid Shots - Spam this, so that your heat doesn't get high. You can weave it between Healing Scan and Rapid Scan.
Rapid Scan - It has a longer cast time than healing scan (irony!) and uses more heat, but has no cooldown.
Healing Scan - Your "quick heal". I still can't get over that the faster heal isn't called Rapid Scan. Has a cooldown.
Cure - Not a healing spell, per say, but used to clear up to 2 debuffs.
My healing experiences have been rare, but I've had to do it a time or two. Having NO AoE heals, I focused solely on the tank. I used Healing Scan when it was up, and weaved Rapid Shots in amidst the Rapid Scans. The most important thing is to do ALL YOU CAN to not overheat, while keeping your target alive. If Vent Heat is off cooldown, it's acceptable to spam more Rapid Scans in the case of an emergency to top off your tank/group mates, before venting.
Cool Ability Combinations:
Thermal Sensor Override + Power Surge + Fusion Missile. Great for lighting up a group of bunched up Republic scum in a warzone, with no heat cost and no cast time.
Thermal Sensor Override + Power Surge + Rapid Scan. An instant, no-heat heal can save your life or that of a group mate's.
Thermal Sensor Override + Power Surge + Fusion Missile + Explosive Dart + Rail Shot. For 24 heat and 2 global cooldowns, you've just delivered a potential of nearly 5000 damage to your main target, and nearly 3500 damage to 3 nearby enemies. C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!
Some Bounty Hunters will disagree with me here, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I used Mako. All the time.
I REALLY wanted to use Blizz! He's so goddamn cute and awesome. Thing is, he just kept getting tore the hell up. Same with Skadge. Upgrading their gear did help, more so with Skadge than Blizz, but at the end of most fights, both were down to below half Hit Points.
Torian would jump into the fray and also end up dead, or near dead if there were Strong foes. Elites tore him to shreds before I could steal aggro from him, most times.
Gault was better than Torian, but worse than Mako. He helped me to kill things faster than using her, but then I would end up missing some HP at the end of most fights.
Mako, in her Med Watch stance, worked for me to 50 and beyond. My damage is already so damn high that I easily handled everything I went up against, while she was there keeping me topped off. With Mako, I had the lowest downtime of all NPCs. Your miles may vary, of course.
For Arsenal, it's all about critting right now. Aside from the obvious Aim stat, I tend to gear with Crit and Accuracy as priority. Crits with Missiles (Tracer Missile!) and Unload vent 8 heat, 100% (cannot happen more than once every 3 seconds) due to the Terminal Velocity talent, so stack that crit! Accuracy, as with everything, is always important. Every missed shot is a lot of missed DPS.
I tend to do a lot of damage in PvP when I can get some distance. Different terrains give different advantages. However, you will die often unless you have a pocket healer. Our turrety, glass-cannon nature leaves us open to getting smashed by lightsaber-weilding maniacs. Just use every respawn as an opportunity to inflict as much hell as possible before you're brought down. Rinse and repeat, until total victory.
(This is, of course, coming from a guy who's specced for and focuses mainly on PvE. Your miles may vary.)
-Heatseeker Missiles, Explosive Dart, Rail Shot, and Rapid Shots are great when you're on the move.
-Rocket Punch/Jet Boost people off of you. Preferably into hazards or over an edge to their deaths, for maximum mayhem!
-When you can, be a turrent and build Heat Signatures and Target Lock stacks with Tracer Missile. Even Jedi Guardians specced tank will quickly fall under the might of our missiles if we're allowed to use our full roation on them.
Huttball - Stick to the upper platforms. Rain down Tracer Missiles and follow your rotation, if possible. When those pesky Jedi Knights/Sith Warriors leap up at you, Rocket Punch/Jet Boost their asses right back down. You're not as good at running the ball as other classes. When you get it, pop energy shield if you have baddies nearby. Kolto Overload when you start getting hit. Use an instant heal to save your own ass. Most importantly? PASS THE BALL! Give it to a Juggernaut, Powertech, or Sith Assassin if possible, then support them all the way to the endzone. Bad guys will focus on them, leaving you able to rain down hell in the form of huge missiles!
Alderaan - If you're guarding mid, get up on the upper tier. Stand next to where the damage buff spawns and rain down hell. When you get people on you, jump off and run out of line of sight. Make them chase you, and kite people around. If you're out in the open, fighting on the road (bad!), or at one of the side points, just try and keep distance and kill your attackers before they can gank you.
Voidstar - There really isn't a lot to do here, aside from using obstacles to run around. Using Jet Boost or Rocket Punch to knock people to their deaths is jolly good fun, but if you travel alone here, you're going to die quite a bit. Your best bet is to stick with the group, and hope more than two people don't single you out and pound your face. AoE the doors, support team mates who are capping by using Electro Dart or Jet Boost to try and keep enemies at bay.
Feel free to add your comments. I'm always open to discussion and criticism, as I know I'm not the end-all, be-all of Arsenal Mercs. I hope the info here at least gives you an idea of how to better play your Merc. Have fun killing stuff with missiles!