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04.27.2012 , 12:06 PM | #1
This guide is a collaboration of ideas, specs, and testing done by the varied members of the BH and Vanguard community. There is no hard and fast way to play, but we do have recommendations that will further your abilities to play this class. Pre-1.2 there were very few AP/Tactics players, but post 1.2 patch we will see a huge influx of Advanced Prototype/Tactics players due to some excellent pvp changes and a minor pve change. This guide is not mine, it is our guide, and I will edit and update it as time progresses and as we gather more data to further our goal to help both new and older players. I am not perfect nor is this guide. This guide will not make you a great player, but it will help you further understand the Advanced Prototype/Tactics Tree.

In this guide, we will use several abbreviations in order to make things expedient. For the Vanguards that are reading this I will do my best to add your terminology, but it may be best if someone just rewrites this using your names. Below is a list of the most common used words when dealing with the Advanced Prototype Tree and their Trooper counterparts.

AP/Tac = Advanced Prototype/Tactics
RS/HiB = Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt
RP/SS = Rocket Punch/Stockstrike
PFT/PG = Prototype Flame Cylinder/Pulse Generator
FT/PC = Flame Thrower/Pulse Cannon
Imm/FP = Immolate/Flame Pulse
FB/IP = Flame Burst/Ion Pulse
RP/Gut = Retractable Blade/Gut
HEGC/HEC = High Energy Gas Cylinder/High Energy Cell
CGC/PC = Combustible Gas Cylinder/Plasma Cell

The Advanced Prototype tree, despite its name, has one central focus the PFT/PG burst. Having stated this being our main goal our entire rotation, playstyle, and a majority of our abilities are based on and around PFT/PG. Essentially, we have a 12-second rule. Every defensive and offensive cooldown that we can utilize revolves around the 12-second rule. In order to best understand the play and talents of the AP/Tactics Tree you must change your minset to think of everything in terms of the 12 second rule. While the AP/Tac tree has a multitude of beautiful bells and whistles its main focus is PFT/PG, and because of that we live in the 12-second rule.

12-Second Rule

The AP/Tac rotation is built on using PFT/PG on Cooldown with 5 stacks. The cooldown of talented PFT/PG is 15 seconds and the cast time is 3 seconds which leaves us with 12-seconds until the next PFT/PG needs to be used. This means every attack and defensive cooldown must be used within those 12 seconds while getting to 5 stacks in order to maximize the usage of the AP/Tacs damage and burst cycle.

Because the Global Cooldown is 1.5 seconds, this leaves us with 8 instant attacks that we can use between PFT/PG uses. Since Imm/FP and FB/IP x4 are necessary in order to attain those 5 stacks that leaves us with 3 spots to use anything we need there. Your usage of those 3 spots is dependent on whether you are in pvp or pve, what relics/adrenals are ready, your spec, and Heat.

Important Note: Lag, stuns, knockbacks, and target switching will sometimes cause you to move or be off your rotation. The key here is knowing where you are, and what to do next. If you are at 5 stacks and have less than .5 seconds left on PFT CD, than it's best to wait for PFT to come off CD. If you have more than .5 seconds than simply weave in a Filler Ability (Filler noted on Rotations portion), and then release PFT once GCD is over.

A Better Understanding of Heat/Ammo (This was taken from Kray at mmo-mechanics)

Bounty Hunters and Troopers share a similar resource mechanic to the energy of Imperial Agents and Smugglers, with a few key differences. Heat, which is specific to Bounty Hunters, starts at 0 and ranges up to 100. Using abilities generates a certain amount of heat, which is then dissipated passively, with talented procs, or manually using certain abilities. In this sytem, you are unable to activate an ability that would push your heat above 100. Our main source of resource regeneration is passive dissipation, which works on a tiered system; the less heat you have the quicker youll dissipate, as noted in the chart below. Heat regenerates one tick every second.

Current Heat
  1. 0-40 5 Dissipation per second
  2. 40-80 3 Dissipation per second
  3. 80-100 2 Dissipation per second

Troopers, on the other hand, use Ammo. Ammo functions nearly identical to Heat, except its inverted. Instead of starting at 0 Ammo, Troopers start with 12 Ammo, which is then consumed by attacks. For all intents and purposes, 1 Ammo is equal to about 8 Heat, and regenerates at the same rates as Bounty Hunters. With this in mind, Trooper Ammo regeneration can be represented as:

Current Ammo
  1. 7.2-12 0.625 Regeneration per second
  2. 2.4-7.2 0.375 Regeneration per second
  3. 0-2.4 0.25 Regeneration per second

Resource regeneration for Powertechs and Vanguards follows these rates at all times, in and out of combat. The passive regeneration rates shown are not affected by any talents or skills, and cannot be slowed or stopped by any external force. Any additional Heat/Ammo regeneration seen in talent trees is added to these numbers.

Using this model for our resources means that we want to always maintain under 40 Heat or over 7.2 Ammo in order to maximize regeneration. This is best done by setting a Heat/Ammo Limit that, once crossed, means you will no longer use any attack that costs resources. The generally accepted Heat/Ammo Limit is 20-25 Heat/2.5-3 Ammo. If you cross this threshold, do not spend any more resources!
This is where we get a heat/ammo limit priority rotation. When you cross the Heat/Ammo Limit your rotation will change to allow you to manage your heat more effectively while maximizing damage.


There are two major avenues of play, PvP and PvE. Because they each value different talents in the tree differently, there are two major tree styles as well as several variations of each spec. We will cover each spec and the rotations dependent on each rotation. There may be some slight variance based on playstyle and desired needs, but we are only going to cover the basics.

Within the pvp/pve spectrum of game play, there are two major rotation/Builds within the AP/Tac tree. These specs are known as the RS/HiB AP/Tactics and the Norse AP/Tactics builds. With the changes made in 1.2, both trees are viable, and there is enough time in the rotation to run the RS rotation with no time lost between PFT/PG. The only major difference is where you spend your points and the importance of RP/SS. We will discuss both builds and their rotations.

Which Cylinder/Cell should I use?: High Energy Gas Cylinder (HEGC)/ High Energy Cell (HEC)

HEGC/HEC is the designed Cylinder/Cell for the AP/Tac tree. When talented this Cylinder/Cell gives you a 15 percent movement speed buff for closing gaps, a free vent every 6.5 seconds for heat management, and 8 percent additional damage to both Elemental (PFT/PG, FB/IP, Immolate/FP) and Internal (RB/Gut) damage. I am not sure if RP/SS benefits from this cylinder. Because of the vent and movement speed buff, the AP/Tac tree has a fairly easy heat management system, this allows you to focus more on dps output and awareness to best utilize the tree.

There are many who state the Tank Cylinder/Cell is better for pvp. While it will help you have a bit more survivability the amount of damage, mobility, and heat management given up is too great for me to state that it is a recommend way to spec.

It is true that Combustible Gas Cylinder/Plasma Cell is up to 100 dps better, and I have listed a build called the Tibetan Candle which is theoritcally the highest dps possible. However after testing it live and not on spreadsheets I have found it to be very heat intensive, and the management of that heat is micromanaging at it's best. It is ridiculously tough to keep heat controlled, however if you are able to do it than the damage is significantly more than AP with HEGC/HEC

Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt vs. No Rail Shot/No High Impact Bolt

The main theory behind the dropping Rail Shot/Hail Impact Bolt from the rotation is the spending of 7-9 points to buff a talent used once every 15 seconds only in PVE fights. In PVP, the usage even in RS/HiB builds is significantly longer. In pre-1.2 there was hardly any space to use RS/HiB and RB/Gut. In post 1.2 there is plenty of time to fit both into the rotation and not see a significant drop off in PFT/PG uptime. RS/HiB advocates state that by adding a crit RS you gain a varied rotation and it doesnt jus t become a FB/IP spam. No RS/HiB advocates state that the damage lost is insignificant because Immolate/Fire Pulse and Rocket Punch hit just as hard, No usage of Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt means more time to pop CDs and Adrenals without breaking the 12-sec rule, allows you a easer heat/ammo management cycle, and in a prolonged fight the time gained not trying to weave a crit RS/HiB in means more uptime on PFT/PG. Its your decision as to which fits your playstyle and desires more.

The No Rail Shot/HiB builds are more commonly referred to as NORSE Builds (NORSE = No Rail Shot)

(Bounty Hunter) RS Max Damage Build
(Vanguard) Tactics Max Damage Build

Optional Talents: Stabilized Armor/Shock Absorbers, Hitman/Frontline Defense, Hamstring, Prototype Electro Surge/Containment Tactics, and Power Armor are all interchangeable depending on preferences.

(Bounty Hunter) NORSE Build
(Vanguard) Norse Build

Optional Talents: The one point in Serrated Blades and Gut/RB can be put in Puncture/Focused Impact for a harder hitting Random Rail Shot/HiB, - Credit goes to DacRycar (His Version of Norse)

Tibetan Candle - AP with CGC
(Vanguard) Tibetan Candle - Tactics with PC

Optional Talents: The Points from Rail Loaders/Brutal Impact can be moved to Sweltering Heat for PVP purposes.


Remember all rotations are based on following the 12-sec rule. All specs follow a 2 priority system - Standard Priority and Heat Limit Priority. The standard Priority is followed when your heat/ammo is below the heat/ammo limit. The AP/Tactics tree plays a Priority rotation with several suggested methods. However rotations must be free to have some variance or one break of the rotation will cause a significant dps loss. There are several rules of thumb that you should remember in order to best utilize your talents best.

Rule 1: The 12 second Rule = All rotations in this thread are based around using PFT/PG every 12 seconds at 5 stacks. It is the most important rule and nothing should ever be except pft when at 5 stacks in a PVE rotation. (Obviously in pvp you may want to stun or save it for someone who isnt about to die).

Rule 2: Follow your Heat/Ammo Limiit Priority Rotaion whenever your heat/ammo hit the rotation. as it will maximize your damage during a fight. In a short fight you can ignore the Heat/Ammo limit priority.

Rule 3: Thermal Sensor Override/Reserve Power Cell should be used only for PFT/PG and used when the activation of PFT/PG will push your heat over 40. Vent heat should be used if Thermal/PowerCell is on CD and your next PFT/PG will push the heat over 40. Vent heat is then used AFTER PFT is used.

Rule 4: Never refresh a dot. Always let Retractable Blade/Guts dot fall off before reapplying it.

RS/HiB Build Priority Rotation: (This includes the Tibetan Candle)
  1. Prototype Flame Thrower/Pulse Generator (5 stacks)
  2. Rocket Punch/Stock Strike (when free cost)
  3. Immolate/Fire Pulse
  4. Rail Shot/HiB (on Crit proc)
  5. Retractable Blade/Gut (when dot drops off)
  6. Flame Burst/Ion Pulse

Flame Burst and Ion Pulse are last simply because it has no CD and so can be used on demand.

Heat Limit Priority - 20-25 heat or 7.5 ammo
  1. Rocket Punch/StockStrike (Free)
  2. Rapid Shots/Hammer Shots

Example of a Single Target Basic Rotation (thanks to Mapex):

Explosive Dart/Sticky Grenade Imm/FP RB/Gut RP/SS (free) RS (Proc) FB/IP x 4 PFT/PG

Only use ED/SG when advancing on the target other than that its useless. The Free RP can be pushed anywhere within the rotation to best utilize its Energy Savings. I prefer to use it between FBs.

Now lets look at this rotation using the 12 second rule:

Imm/FP = 1.5 sec RB/Gut = 3 sec RP/SS (free) = 4.5 sec RS/HiB(proc) = 6 sec FB/IPx4 = 12 sec PFT (5 stacks)

As you can see the rotation is perfectly fit within the 12 second rule, but it allows for no variance from that rotation. Outside of weaving RP/SS and RS/HiB usable only once within the rotation and this is where the Norse advocates get there say. There are no open spaces for CDs, venting, Rapid/Hammer shots, or any extra procs for RP/SS.

Positives = More Dynamic Rotation, Plus theoretically more damage if you are able to pull it off perfectly.

Negatives = Tight restrictive rotation preventing the weaving of relics and cooldowns without pushing off PFT/PG, more likely to overheat.

Example of a Single Target Tibetan Candle Rotation :
Immolate/Fire Pulse - RB/Gut - Flame Burst/Ion Pulse - (Free) RP/SS - FB/IPx2 - Rapid Shots/Hammer Shots - (Crit)Rail Shot/HiB - FB/IP - PFT/PG - (Free) RP/SS

Free Rocket Punch/Stockstrike should be used when your heat exceeds 20, and Rapid Shots/Hammer shots should be used whenever your Free RP/SS is on CD and your heat exceeds 30. No 25 heat ability should be used when heat is at 30 or higher at this point Rapid Shots/Hammer Shots or (free)RP/SS should be used to reduce heat and then the ability used. This goes for PFT/PG, Rail Shot/HiB, and FB/IP all of them should be used after the free attack.

Positives: Maximum damage output and consistent dots

Negatives: Serious heat micro-management required.

This rotation does not follow the 12 second rule at all.

NORSE Build Priority Rotation
  1. Prototype Flame Thrower/Pulse Generator (5 Stacks)
  2. Rocket Punch/StockStrike (Free Proc)
  3. Immolate/Fire Pulse
  4. Retractable Blade/Gut
  5. Flame Burst/Ion Pulse

Heat Limit Priority - 20-25 heat or 7.5 ammo
  1. Rocket Punch/StockStrike (Free)
  2. Rapid Shots/Hammer Shots

Example of a NORSE build Basic Rotation:

ED/SG Immolate/Fire Pulse Retractable Blade/Gut - Flame Burst/Ion Pulse x 2 - Rocket Punch/Stockstrike (free Proc) Flame Burst/Ion Pulse x2 Prototype Flame Thrower/Pulse Generator

Only use ED/SG when advancing on the target other than that its useless. The Free RP/RS can be pushed anywhere within the rotation to best utilize its Energy Savings. I prefer to use it between FBs.

Note: The use of Retractable Blade/Gut is highly recommend as even with 1 point it's a 40 dps increase over ignoring it completely. In a pvp environment,it's advisable to use on anyone where the full 15 sec tick of RB/Gut can be used.

Now lets look at it within the 12 second rule:

Imm/FP = 1.5 sec RB/Gut = 3 sec - FB/IP x2 = 6 sec RP/SS (Free) = 7.5 sec FB/IP x2 = 10.5 sec 1st PFT/PG

As you can see, there is only 10.5 seconds of usage within the framework of the 12 second rule, This means you have 2 moves or 2.5 seconds of time before launching your second PFT. This means that all things being perfect the NORSE would get exactly one PFT/PG more than the RS/HiB build would. So what do you use those 2.5 seconds? You have defensive shields, Hydraulic Override/Hold The Line, Electro Dart/Cryo Grenade, Relics, Adrenals, Thermal Sensor Override/Reserve Power Cell, and Rapid/Hammer Shots.

Positives: A simpler, basic rotation allowing more freedom, and easier heat management. More uptime on PFT/PG, great survivability, and more utility.

Negatives: All things being perfect (theoretically less damage about 40-50 dps), less burst (RS/HiB (Crit) - RP/SS (Free) - Immolate/Fire Pulse - PFT/PG is major damage), possible dead time or sitting on 5 stacks waiting for PFT/PG to come off CD.

As you can see, there are varying ways to play and use the abilities given to us. I will update as I can adding various ideas and theories as we come across them. Once enough testing has been performed we can state more clearly which build and rotation gives the greatest amount of pure dps.

Reminder: All rotations are fluid in pvp. Having a rotation in pvp is a good way to say come kill me now! That being said, its still advisable to stick to the basic priority. The 12 second rule is much tougher in pvp where the dynamic fluidity of the fight is different than in the static pve realm where you are more likely to be able to adhere to the rule. However, it still applies in that to maximize damage you should use PFT/PG on CD.

Note: As far as I am concerned, IGC/IC builds are completely a waste in deep AP/Tactics builds. The amount of damage reduction gained is offset by the amount of damage, heat, and movement lost. If you wish to use IGC/IC, there are several Hybrids that better use that talent. I understand that there are many proponents of Deep AP/Tacics with IGC/IC builds, but those are strictly pvp builds and in general defeat the design and purpose of the tree. They see a significant damage decrease (the smallest decrease in damage is 8 percent on every ability and as high as 15 percent on specific abilities)

Update 6/29: Removed Vangaurd Bug information and reposted builds. Removed Max Survival builds.
The Bounty Hunter AP Guide: Always Learning -Vanguard Tactics Guide: Where is my PG Slow?
Anam Ithieor- 50 AP Powertech
Anbas Ithieor- 20 Operative (lethality/healer)