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04.11.2013 , 11:34 PM | #1
Last Update to Guide: 05/04/14
Last Update to Parses/Gear: 04/25/14

There are many ways to play the Mercenary Arsenal spec and Bioware doesn't endorse just "one way" to play any class or spec. The suggestions I have in this guide are strictly what I, with the help of many others, have found to be the most optimal. You’re encouraged to experiment and find what works best for you and contribute your own feedback for discussion.

***Mercenary DPS Guide***

(Updated for 2.7)

- Pizza’dah’hutt

Commandonese Translated Guide - Courtesy of Benaiah & leto_cleon

In addition to showing you some of the changes 2.0 has brought to the Merc Arsenal spec, the intention of this thread is to help Arsenal Mercs take their PVE game to another level. It’s easy to bash 4-5 buttons without putting much thought into it and be an alright Merc. Don’t settle for being good, be great!

First and foremost, don't be lazy. Go get your datacrons (Aim and Cunning for dps) and max out your companion's affection for a 1% boost to Acc/Crit/Surge.

Table of Contents:
  1. Skill Tree
  2. Gear & Stat Goals
  3. Arsenal Abilities & Priority System
  4. Arsenal Tips & Tricks
  5. Pyro Abilities & Priority System
  6. Credits & Achievements

I. Skill Tree
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Mercenary - Arsenal 6/36/4

*Decoy can be used in place of Energy Rebounders and Afterburners can be used in place of Jet Escape Depending on the fight

Mercenary - Pyrotech 0/10/36

*Hired Muscle can be used in place of Stabilizers if the encounter suffers little pushback from damage taken.

II. Gear & Stat Goals
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Dread Master BiS Chart (Theoretical)
Dread Forged BiS Chart
Kell Dragon BiS Chart (Archive)
Underworld BiS Chart (Archive)
Set Bonus: You will deck yourself out in Eliminator Set Bonus gear. The 2pc grants you 15% crit bonus to Power Shot & Tracer Missile, while the 4pc grants 8% damage increase to Rail Shot. Both a must have for either dps spec.

BiS Augments: Advanced Reflex Augment 28
BiS Relics: Dread Master Relic of Serendipitous Assault | Dread Master Relic of Focused Retribution.
BiS Stats In Full 81 Gear: Aim > Accuracy (100/110%) > Crit (~315 rating) > Power > Surge > Alacrity
Accuracy: Goal = 408 rating = 99.67/109.67%. Get this to at least 99/109% before worrying about Surge.
Surge: Goal = 612 rating = 75.60%
Power/Crit: Using Keren's Simulator as a base, it's seen there is a rather large sweet spot for crit in full 81 gear. You can fall anywhere between 150-375 crit and not see a noticeable difference in average dps output. I’m going to shoot for around 315 crit.

This is a small sample size of scatter plots, but done with several thousand iterations at various crit ratings: (Crit/DPS Simulation Scatter Graph), this could be gained a number of ways through mods/enhances/ear/implants...I’m planning to use a crit crystal and 4 enhancements, but if loot RNG presents other options I will adjust

III. Arsenal Abilities & Priority System
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Heat Control Is Key:

Mercs follow a priority system based on damage and heat cost. Our heat dissipation is greatest (5 heat/s) when we stay between 0-40 heat. Therefore, you should do your best to always stay below 40 heat (also be careful not to allow your heat to reach zero for more than an instant) unless the situation allows you to burn. This could be the end of a fight, or a time within the fight where you know a short break of dps is coming up where your heat will have time to dissipate. You should ALWAYS burn the target (ignore rapid shots) when your Vent Heat ability cd<~10s; this includes your opening sequence. The only exceptions are situational, usually the end of a boss fight when you'll need to be going all out. In these cases, wait on using vent heat if you'll need it before the two minute cd is over.


Single Target Priority:

*Power Surge, DFA and Fusion Missile are situational, i.e. you usually want to save Power Surge for using casted abilities on the move instead of wasting it in stand still position (but on a dummy use it to open and when your heat is going to hit 0)...or adds are prominent in the fight where DFA or TSO + Fusion Missile would be better used for AoE rather than single target.

Let's begin with a legend of abilities:

TM = Tracer Missile
HSM = Heat Seeker MissileIM = Incendiary Missile
RS = Rail Shot
UL = Unload
EN = Electro Net
TSO = Thermal Sensor Override
FM = Fusion Missile
RP = Rapid Shots
DFA = Death From Above
VH = Vent Heat

Opening Burst

There are a lot of quality openers you can use, I encourage you to experiment with them. This is the one I've found to work best for me, I’ve broken them down in combos that have a resemblance to Pyro combos, but centered around Barrage procs rather than PPA procs. This opener could get broken up early in many boss fights, but in a sustained fight and/or a dummy session, I’ve listed an opener that will get you to the Vent Heat stage:

1. Power Surge* + TM > Arenal + RS** > HSM > EN > UL > TM
2. UL > DFA*** > TM
3. RS > HSM > TSO + FM*** > UL > TM
4. UL > TM > TM > RS > TM
5. HSM > UL > TM > TM > TM
6. UL > RS > Vent Heat + TM > HSM > TM

*Power Surge is situational, most fights allow for it to be used in the opener as it only has a 45s cd and usually not needed again in that time frame. It allows you to front-load the heat from your first TM and dissipate 7.5 heat during the GCD of your first TM.

**With no more need for multiple Tracer Missiles to get the armor debuff and damage gain to HSM, there's no need to open with multiple Tracer Missiles. Some players will wait for 4 tracer locks to fire off their first Rail Shot. Perfectly acceptable, I choose to open with it sooner because it makes my flow easier going forward.

***I’ve thrown DFA and FM into the opener here for dummy sessions, these are situational in boss fights. You may want to save them for AoE if they won’t come off cd soon enough to use them when AoE damage will first be needed.

2.7 Priority System

In Arsenal Spec, we center our priority system/rotation around Barrage proc. This proc has an 8s internal CD, which means as soon as it’s proc’d, there will be a 6 GCD time frame (illustrated below) to squeeze in the proper abilities.

GCD1 > GCD 2 > GCD 3 > GCD 4 (use UL no later than here) > GCD 5 > TM (procs Barrage)

The 6th GCD should always be a TM. UL & DFA shouldn’t be used beyond the 4th GCD since they take up 2 GCDs. Keeping those two things in mind the priorities are similar to life before 2.7:

Heat > 24: RS > TSO + FM > RP
24 > Heat > 17: RS > HSM > EN > TSO + FM > UL > RP
Heat < 17: RS > HSM > EN > UL > Power Surge + TM (Power Surge situational)

The only thing changed from pre-2.7 priority system during these GCDs is that stated in the previous paragraph and I don't use TM in that middle heat window (24 > Heat > 17) I always use Rapid Shots instead to keep my heat low.

Now granted this is really becomes a rotation when it comes to dummy parsing because there's never any other factors, but I like to think of it in these terms because few bosses are like dummies

Note: You can use DFA in single target situations when AoE is not needed for at least the next 60s. For maximum dps it should be used right after a barrage proc'd UL when all other abilities are on cd and heat < 20. Also FM is situational in single target rotation for same reason.

Note: We aren't the most mobile class, we put out much more damage when we can turret down our target. But if HSM and Rail Shot are on cd when you need to move and your heat is sitting fine so you don't want to spam rapid shots. Consider using Explosive Dart>Missile Blast while on the move and your heat is low. I like to rotate between those and rapid shots in these situations. Also, you could throw in a PS+TM or PS+TSO+FM so they can be used on the run.

Multiple Target Priority:

Mercs have beastly AoE damage and the priority system is as follows:

1. Death from Above
2. Flame Thrower
3. *TSO+FM
4. Sweeping Blasters

*You don't necessarily have to use FM with TSO. It does produce higher DPS, but isn't as heat efficient, so if you're not worried about heat, use it without TSO if you like. But unless you're going to get some downtime after your burn, I would wait for TSO.

Also, while you're running up to the mob you want to annihilate or waitiing for them to position themselves in a nice pile for you, throw an Explosive Dart OR Fusion Missile (with or without TSO depending on asterick'd note above) in there for a bit extra delayed AoE damage.

IV. Arsenal Tips & Tricks
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Action Queue

Don't Delay Barrage Proc!


How To Analyze Your Parses

V. Pyro Abilities & Rotation
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As Barrage is to Arsenal, Prototype Particle Accelerator (PPA) is to Pyrotech. PPA resets the cooldown on Rail Shot (RS) and makes the next use free to use. RS is a powerful hit by itself, but because of another talent Super-Heated Rail, which buffs RS more AND causes it to vent 8 heat on use AND refreshes the Combustible Gas Cylinder’s burn if present, it’s even stronger. Since the number one rule for a mercenary is to maximize output while minimizing heat use, RS is divine in nature

The Pyrotech uses a sort of rotation/priority system hybrid. More or less, it is a rotation….but because there is some RNG factors that can slightly alter your rotation, a priority system still does exist. You can reliably proc PPA every 6s if you follow a strict pattern in your rotation. Let’s begin with a legend for the abilities:

PS = Power Shot
TD = Thermal Detonator
IM = Incendiary Missile
RS = Rail Shot
UL = Unload
EN = Electro Net
TSO = Thermal Sensor Override
FM = Fusion Missile
RP = Rapid Shots
PPA = Prototype Particle Accelerator
VH = Vent Heat

So we base our rotation around procing PPA every 6s, this is feasible MOST of the time, occasionally you will have a delay on this rate by 1 GCD (1.5s) making it 7.5s between procs. You should NEVER make PPA wait more than 7.5s or you’re hurting your sustained dps significantly. How do we do this? Well 6s is equivalent to 4 GCDs, one of those GCDs is going to be RS from your previously proc’d PPA, the other 3 GCDs are what you need to figure out what to do with. For maximum efficiency, always use PS on the 4th GCD (3rd filler) to attempt to proc PPA. So your basic rotation will have a series of combos that follow the below pattern.

RS > Filler 1 (F1) > Filler 2 (F2) > PS (If no PPA; then UL or PS; else end of combo)

Furthermore, you want to give yourself as many “auto-procs” of PPA as possible. The way pyro is working currently, you can auto proc PPA when F1 or F2 above is also a PS or if you use UL’s 3s channel to cover both F1 & F2. Hence, the goal is to squeeze in a PS or an UL in accordingly during every combo. This means if F1 or F2 (or both) are already prioritized to maximize PPA proc potential, that only leaves one filler for us to figure out. The two abilities that come off cd most frequently to mix into those slots are TD and IM (we’ll get to EN and FM later), and for heat management occasional RPs will be necessary.

So before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s start with a solid opener. After a LOT of testing on this matter, I’ve found the best opener for me to be (I’m listing the opener in a similar style to how I am laying out the priority system, using combos):

Opening Burst

TD > EN > Adrenal+IM
RS > PS (If Necessary > PS)
Begin Rotation/Priority System

The easiest way for me to explain the general priority system is to lay out the possible combos you may use and order them in highest to lowest DPS illustrated below:

Possible Combos To Use

1. RS > TD > PS > PS
2. RS > IM > PS > PS
3. RS > PS > PS > PS
4. RS > TD > RP > PS *(If Necessary > UL or PS)**
5. RS > IM > RP > PS *(If Necessary > UL or PS)**
6. RS > UL > PS (make sure not to clip UL, timing on the PS is challenging since you can’t queue)
7. RS > RP > PS > PS (rarely used)

*UL to proc PPA

**In combos 4,5 - F1&F2 can be swapped depending on heat, more to come on this but just keep in mind that if IM gets bumped to F2, try to maintain IM in F2 going forward as to not clip it. The next combo that gets backed up a GCD will bring it back in line with F1.

Now we need to squeeze in EN and TSO+FM in somewhere. I’ve been inserting both of these abilities into F1 and/or F2 only in place of PS,RP,UL as they come off cd, keeping everything else intact. So for example, if I’m about to use a combo 6, I would use (EN or FM) > PS > PS instead. Or a combo 1 or 4 would become TD > (EN or FM) > PS …. I prioritize EN over FM unless I need heat regen. I only use FM with TSO and I make sure using it won’t follow with me sitting at zero heat for more than an instant. Albeit all these conditions, they pretty much just end up being used very close to on cd of EN/TSO.

So the only thing left to do is assign scenarios/heat windows that each of the above combos can be used. It’s fairly simple, When VH is off cd you’ll only use combos 1-3 and that includes EN/FM replacement combos. I start ignoring RP combos around 15-18s cd on VH and start ignoring UL around 9-12s cd on VH. It’s kinda just a feel from practice, but the goal is to use VH as close to cd as possible…by pushing your heat at just the right moment…but not overheat in the process. Some players may prefer to save VH for mess-ups, but you will maximize dps by utilizing VH as an offensive cd.

Below is the priority system with conditions, I’ve kept the structure to reflect highest combos 1st so some of these windows overlap each other. Please note that the Heat conditions are referring to where your heat is after the proc’d RS.

Rotation/Priority System Of Combos

VH < ~10s or Heat < 15
1. RS > TD > PS > PS
2. RS > IM > PS > PS
3. RS > PS > PS > PS

VH > ~15s and Heat < 31…If Heat > 24 then swap F1&F2
4. RS > TD > RP > PS (If Necessary > *UL or PS)
*If Heat <32
4b. RS > PS > (If Necessary > PS)
5. RS > IM > RP > PS (If Necessary > *UL or PS)
If Heat <24 and TD is off cd
5a. RS > TD > PS (If Necessary > PS)
If Heat <32
5b. RS > PS > (If Necessary > PS)

VH > ~9s and Heat < 28
6. RS > UL > PS

7. RS > RP > PS > PS

Because of the conditions laid out above, your opener is going to be a rotation for quite some time using only the first 3 combos. After you VH you’ll almost immediately start using combo 6 and a short while later you’ll start to look to the remaining combos 4,5,7 and the subsets based on your heat and VH cd. The first use of VH will be roughly around the 3rd use of TD or IM depending on your initial PPA proc…It’s difficult to tell you exactly when to use it following the first use, but somewhere around 50-60 heat is the trigger. Practice will show you how to not use it too early or too late. You want the use of it to bring you close to 0 heat without hitting 0 for more than an instant.

Cruise Control Mode

Ok so since this rotation is excellent and requires very little thought to use, I'm adding it in to the guide. Advantages are it's extremely consistent due to the rinse & repeat aspect...and it relies on zero PPA proc RNG. It is a popular dummy rotation and it can be translated to many boss fights. I'm not a big fan of it...because's a little boring, but it's arguably as good as anything written above in this guide. I would say it's potential high dps is less, and potential low dps is more due to having less PPA proc RNG. Anyway here it is, the opener is the same in the guide, and ignore UL combos until after you vent heat and then you fall into this rotation:


Rinse and repeat until VH is coming off cd at which point you can ignore the UL combo and use one of the others or RS>PS>PS>PS as needed.

***Credits + Achievements***

Special Thanks

Personal Bests

Here's some parses if you like to disect them. Will update them when I can.

1 Mil Dummy Arsenal: 3730 DPS
1 Mil Dummy Pyro: 4101 DPS
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