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05.22.2012 , 11:31 AM | #1
Frontline Medicine

Updated for Patch 3.3
(Last Updated July 22, 2015)

Notice: The guide is being updated for Patch 3.3, which has slightly changed the Discipline abilities of Combat Medics and rearranged their healing magnitudes.


This is a fairly long guide, so it may be helpful to skip to a section you are having difficulty with. The links are found below.

Class Profile

Warzones are a chaotic place, with lots of lightsabers, guns, lasers, knives, lightning, and theoretical blood. A lot of people are going to need help, and you're just the medic to do it. After all when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Combat Medics don't do flashiness. We don't do showstopping numbers. They call it a support class because we're carrying your asses. Clad in heavy armor, Combat Medics are immoveable objects which firmly anchor their team in place. Combined with our sustainability, we are also incredibly difficult to outlast through attrition. Although a Combat Medic will almost always outgunned and outnumbered, we are never outmatched.

A Note About This Guide

This guide was originally posted when Combat Medics and Bodyguards were in separate forums. I'm in the process of adding the Bodyguard ability names where convenient, but the guide itself will probably remain focused on the Combat Medic. As a result, for the majority of the time, the guide will discuss Combat Medic ability names without any special designation. Where necessary, they will be colored blue.

Bounty Hunter ability/skill will follow the Combat Medic ability names after a /, in (parenthesis), or as a note at the end of a section if it is less of an eye-sore that way. No matter how it appears, Mercenary abilities will be colored red, so look for those if you are looking for Bodyguard-specifics. These sections are highlighted with a "For Mercenaries" header to help draw attention to these.

For my own sanity, I won't be doing the same with ammo and heat -- just know that they are interchangeable except for the way they appear on the UI.

Healing Warzones

Healing in warzones ranges from mind-numbingly painful (terrible team) to an awesome experience(strong team), so first and foremost you need to understand that your ability as a healer, even when played optimally, is entirely dependent on the caliber of the players around you (that includes BOTH their ability and their gear). If a tank guards you and doesn't have the hit points and damage reduction to handle it, they've just killed themselves and likely you if you spent too much ammo trying to save them. Similar things will happen if your team makes no effort to protect their healers and, similarly, if your team doesn't have the composition to fight the opposing team. This isn't your fault, but it is something that must be stressed or else it will stress you.

1. The Combat Medic Discipline: Abilities, Skills, Mechanics

Consider this an introduction to the Combat Medic Discipline. Much of what is discussed here overviews the major abilities you'll be using in PVP, their effects, and the like. Its intended to double as a refresher for players returning to the class after some time away, or first-time players. As a result, some of the material may be very basic. Skip ahead to another chapter if you think you're comfortable with the abilities/mechanics.

What is a Discipline? And What are Utilities?

As I'll discuss in the Builds & Gear chapter, there have been some major changes to the way skill trees work in Star Wars: The Old Republic with Path 3.0. The skill trees are essentially gone; instead they have been replaced with a skill "line" called a Discipline.

Before, when you leveled up (after level 10), you received a skill point that could be spent in your skill tree. With your Discipline, every so many levels you automatically unlock a skill or ability in your skill line. As it suggests, there is no customization in your skill line in and of itself, and that's okay, since most of the abilities along the line are fairly important from a mechanical perspective (and were required skills in the old skill tree if you expected to be an effective healer).

Most of the customization comes from your Utilities. Utilities are unlocked by your skill line, just like your abilities and other major mechanics. Every other second or third unlock in your skill line is usually a Utility unlock, which grants you one Utility point. You may then spend your Utility point on an effect that interests you in the Utility tree, which is reminiscent of the old skill tree (you should find it on the right hand side of your Discipline screen in-game). There are some very interesting effects in that Utility tree, and you can find some recommendations in the Builds & Gear chapter.

Still confused? Check out this developer post about Disciplines:

The Discipline

Inside of the spoiler below I've included every unlock in your Discipline. The Utilities are not listed here because these are mostly bonus effects and not fundamental mechanics. You can find the Utilities discussed in more detail in the Builds & Gear chapter; some are very interesting for PVP.


The Tools: Healing Abilities

Combat Medics have several active abilities at their disposal. Inside the spoiler is a list of all of them, and some tips for their use. Some abilities have special notes for players that have been playing Combat Medic 3.0 to help them understand and adapt to the changes in that patch (some of which are major).

Also, if you're playing as a Bodyguard, keep in mind the following when reading the ability tips and strategies below:

Medical Probe = Rapid Scan
Advanced Medical Probe = Healing Scan
Kolto Bomb = Kolto Missile
Bacta Infusion = Emergency Scan
Successive Treatment = Progressive Scan
Trauma Probe = Kolto Shell
Field Aid = Cure
The auto-heal, Med Shot, is the same for both classes.


The Mechanics

Combat Medics, and Commando in general, has some mechanics that are important to understand for PVP healing. They can be found in the following sections, with tips on building Supercharge, Target Lock, Field Triage, and an introduction of managing ammo (which will be discussed in the next Chapter, Ammo Management).

For Mercenaries: the same mechanics apply, although there are some name changes. You are still building Supercharges like your Commando-brethren. Target Lock is called Advanced Targeting on the Mercenary, your Field Triage proc has the name Critical Efficiency.

Quick Introduction to the Healer Stance: Combat Support Cell

Since it's not really a mechanic but is important for healing output, the Combat Medic healing stance is the Combat Support Cell. It provides +3% healing and damage done while active. It is also required to benefit from some of Supercharged Cells effects, as well as some parts of your Discipline. If you are not in this stance, you are not a healer, although the punishment for being out of the stance isn't quite as severe as before (you couldn't use your auto-heal because it was tied to the stance before; Med Shot is available to all Commandos regardless of their stance now).

For Mercenaries: your Supercharged Cells is simply renamed Supercharged Gas. Also, Bounty Hunters stances are called "cylinders" instead of "cells", so your healer stance is called Combat Support Cylinder.

Supercharge, Building Charge, Supercharged Cells

Let's begin looking at mechanics with the Commando's main game mechanic, Supercharge. After 3.0, all Commandos make use of the Supercharge mechanic. Supercharge is generated by using certain abilities; these abilities are:

Hammershot, Med Shot, Charged Bolts, Grav Round, and Medical Probe

Each of these abilities generates 1 stack of Supercharge on each use. Medical Probe, for Combat Medics, has the bonus effect of generating 2 stacks of Supercharge, making it a faster but more expensive way to build Supercharge.

Supercharge itself has a passive effect on your damage and healing output. Each stack of Supercharge increases your healing and damage by 0.1%, which caps at 1% with the 10-stack maximum. In and of itself, this is small and probably won't be noticeable. In fact, this is really just a secondary effect. The purpose of building Supercharge isn't for this meager increase in damage and healing, it is to build 10 stacks of Supercharge so you may activate Supercharged Cells or your raid-wide ability Supercharged Alacrity. For now, we'll focus only on Supercharged Cells since you'll be using that much more often.

Supercharged Cells has a special effect for each of the Commando stances. For Combat Medics, it boosts your healing and damage output to 5%, which (should) stack on top of your other healing bonuses from your stance (3%) and your Supercharge stack count (ranging from 0% to 1%). This increase is great, but more importantly, Supercharged Cells ends the cooldown on Advanced Medical Probe and reduces the cost of it by 5 ammo. This means you can more readily spam this ability, and if you combine it with stacks of Field Triage, some of your Advanced Medical Probes can be 100% free.

But perhaps more important in a long fight, especially when you are tight on ammo, is the fact that Supercharged Cells generates 10 ammo every time it is activated. This alone is reason enough to build Supercharge, and it is frequently this effect which separates good Combat Medics from the great ones.

Before moving on to the next mechanic, its also worth mentioning that Supercharges can be built while Supercharged Cells is active. this is an upgrade introduced in Patch 3.0 and it is important because it means you can achieve a much higher up-time on your Supercharged Cells. The better you are at building Supercharge, the better you will be at healing and managing your ammo at the same time.

For Mercenaries: You are using the same mechanic as Combat Medics called Supercharge, so hopefully this is mostly familiar. Instead of generating or refunding ammo as I sometimes call it, Bodyguards are in the business of venting heat. Both are the exact same thing -- the only difference is that Bodyguards want to have minimal heat while Combat Medics want maximal ammo. In other words, the systems are just inverses of each other. Lastly, the Mercenaries build charges through Rapid Shots, Med Shot, Rapid Scan, Tracer Missile, and Power Shot. Only the first three are of interest to healers.

Field Triage: Ammo Reduction for Main Heal

Field Triage now stacks up to three times and is used to reduce the ammo cost of your big heal. Combined with Supercharged Cells and a full stack of Field Triage, your next Advanced Medical Probe can be 100% free. Essentially, each Field Triage is a 25% cost reduction and Supercharge Cells is also a 25% reduction. So in general, you want at least a 50% reduction before casting Advanced Medical Probe to make your ammo easy to manage. Things get out of control quick otherwise.

Procing Field Triage comes from Medical Probe, which is your quicker casted heal. You always want to cast at least one before every Advanced Medical Probe, and whenever possible, you'll want to cast two instead. Three stacks of Field Triage is ideal, but generally speaking if you haven't used Advanced Medical Probe in the meantime, it probably means the healing is light and/or the damage is weak/disorganized. In a really competitive battle, 2 Field Triage stacks is probably the best you can do, and Supercharge can bridge the gap as well (it reduces its cost by 25% while active). Managing this is often a situational skill that will require some practice, because you cannot spam Medical Probe without consequences to your ammo supply.

For Mercenaries: your Field Triage is Critical Efficiency. It reduces the cost of Healing Scan, and is triggered by casting Rapid Scan. The same rules apply: you want to have 50% cost reduction on Healing Scan before casting it as a minimum. 75% is better, 100% requires three stacks in combination with Supercharged Gas.

Target Lock: The Passive Surge Boost

Patch 3.0 introduced a new passive talent to all Commandos: Target Lock. Target lock improves some of your damaging abilities, but its highlight for Combat Medics is two fold. First, it increases the critical hit chance of Advanced Medical Probe and Bacta Infusion by 5% -- both of which are two of your larger heals. Second, Target Lock increases your critical damage and healing by 10% for 6 seconds. This is a roundabout way of saying it is an increase to your surge rating, and combined with Potent Medicine in the Discipline (Level 56), your heals are probably in the neighborhood of a 100% surge bonus depending on the surge rating on your gear. The entry-level gear (Exumed) puts you just shy of 95% with its default itemization.

The trick is obviously keeping this buff rolling, since it lasts for only 6 seconds. Without it, your critical heals will have a smaller (but not devastating) magnitude. Luckily, Target Lock is fairly easy to keep going because it relies on critical heals, any they can come from any source. In fact, I hazard to call this a full mechanic since it's not exactly something that needs to be managed, but it is certainly an easy way of boosting your heals and it certainly can provide the difference with the high burst damage of your enemies.

The best way to keep Target Lock up is by keeping Trauma Probes up on your allies and using Successive Treatment and Kolto Bomb regularly. These all provide multiple chances over multiple players, and only one needs to be a critical to start or refresh Target Lock. Of course, all of your heals can generate Target Lock, but you'll likely find that you don't even need to think about it once you master the aforementioned heals.

For Mercenaries: Your version of Target Lock is called Advanced Targeting. It has the same effects, and the easiest way of keeping it going is a combination of Kolto Shell on your whole party, Progressive Scan on cooldown, and Kolto Missile whenever the previous two abilities are not priorities.

Ammo Regeneration Mechanics and its Constraints

Combat Medic, and Troopers in general, are largely restricted by their ammo supply. This is because your regeneration rate is a function of your current ammo count. It is a stepped relationship with three possible rates, out of a resource pool of 100:

  • Fast (commonly referred to as optimal) in the range of 60 to 100 ammo: 5 ammo/sec
  • Moderate/Slow in the range of 30 to 60 ammo: 3 ammo/sec
  • Very Slow in the range of 0 to 30 ammo: 2 ammo/sec

Although these numbers do not consider alacrity (this stat will be discussed in the following chapter on ammo management), it is easy to see why the fast regeneration range is where you ideally want to spend your time. Falling outside of this range runs the risk of causing you run out of ammo and face grueling regeneration times. At first, this system can be very unforgiving. However, there is quite a bit of flexibility to be discovered in the system, as the following chapter will explore.

For Mercenaries: Your heat system is the inverse of the Trooper ammo system. Your heat is vented at the same rate the Trooper ammo regenerates, as shown above.

2. Managing Ammo

Learning to manage your ammo supply is something you will quickly discover is your biggest challenge in playing Combat Medic. If you run dry, or low for too long, you'll find yourself unable to keep up with the demands of healing. So let's take a closer look at the ammo mechanics of Combat Medics and how to squeeze the most out of our resource.

Key Abilities: Recharge Cells, Reserve Powercell, Supercharge Cells, Bacta Infusion, Hammershot, Med Shot
Mercenary Equivalents: Vent Heat, Thermal Sensor Override, Supercharged Gas, Emergency Scan, Rapid Shots, Med Shot

The Standard Rotation

A important part of managing ammo on a Combat Medic is finding a rotation that is ammo neutral (ammo spent = ammo regenerated). The basic rotation of a Combat Medic is as follows:

MP (Medical Probe) > FA (free ability) > MP > FA > Advanced Medical Probe > FA > repeat

Note: The "free-ability" will typically be Med Shot, but can also be Bacta Infusion.

This rotation is about as basic as it gets, so it is also my personal rotation. What makes it effective is that if you are able to follow it step by step, you can use this rotation indefinitely and will never run out of ammo. However, what must be said is that you will almost never be able to accomplish this when you and your team are under pressure. Consider this rotation a template into which you can substitute heals into and out of to sustain yourself. In this respect, it is your Plan A but you need to remember Plan A is always the first casualty of war.

For Mercenaries: Mercenaries are in a similar boat, except you'll be using your own equivalent abilities. So RS (Rapid Scan) > FA (no-cost ability) > RS > FA > HS (Healing Scan) > repeat. Like your Commando brethren, the most common no-cost ability to plug into those FA spots will be Med Shot or Emergency Scan. It can also be any ability of low cost, compared to Rapid Scan (e.g. Kolto Shell).

Staying Ammo Neutral Under Pressure

Realistically, it will be very difficult to keep yourself in the optimal regeneration range at all times. Burst damage and/or group-wide damage will very easily cause this rotation to break down. This is where you will want to be effectively ammo neutral.

To do so, train yourself to stay above 50 ammo at all times, especially when first starting out. You might be able to push it a little further as you become more comfortable with the ammo management, but for now the 50 ammo-mark is a very good threshold. The reason for this is simple: by expanding the optimal regeneration range out to include first part of the moderate/slow regeneration ranges you grant yourself significantly more freedom in choosing heals without overextending yourself. The trick is knowing which heals to substitute in and when. Think about the ammo costs of your abilities, and try to make every other one free or cheap. The longer you go without doing so, the more of these cheap abilities you'll need to use later.

Another reason staying around the 50 ammo mark is because Supercharged Cells returns 10 ammo when activated. This puts you just outside of the optimal regeneration range and may very well push you back into it providing you with even more ammo every second. This is important because you'll want plenty of ammo to make the most out of that Supercharge.

Managing Advanced Medical Probe, Medical Probe, Field Triage

The main way you are going to deal with sustaining healing is with a mechanic we discussed in the first chapter, Field Triage. Each time you use Medical Probe, it reduces the cost of Advanced Medical Probe by 5 (or 25%). As a result, you should always cast Medical Probe twice before casting Advanced Medical Probe. A good habit is also protecting that Field Triage proc as long as the situation allows. Supercharged Cells provides its own 25% cost reduction as well, so 3 Field Triage stacks + Supercharge = free Advanced Medical Probe. Bacta Infusion can even make it instant with Emergency Response.

For Mercenaries: Your Field Triage is called Critical Efficiency and it is built by casting Rapid Scan and lowers the heat generated by Healing Scan. Also, your version of Supercharged Cells is Supercharged Gas. Other than these name changes, the mechanics are identical.

Use Supercharge Cells to Get Ammo Back

The main purpose of Supercharged Cells is to restore 10 ammo on use.While that won't save you if you've strayed too far into the low end of the resource pool, using Supercharge Cells whenever its available is a great way to return ammo on demand. Depending on your cast times, it is theoretically possible to have a near 100% up-time on Supercharged Cells (having a new one every 15 seconds), but this is usually difficult to accomplish due to ammo, healing demands, crowd control, and your own movement.

For Mercenaries: Same as Commando, except Supercharged Cells is called Supercharged Gas for Bodyguards.

Med Shot

Med Shot should be used liberally. Med Shot isn't used for its healing output (although its usually enough to counter a DoT), but for its ammo regeneration. By default, Med Shot is free. But late in your Discipline, it generates 1 ammo each time it is used. If it produces a critical heal, an additional 1 ammo is regenerated. Translation: using Med Shot is an important way of regenerating ammo, and it also builds Supercharge!

Working it into your plan is quite easy and is pretty much mandatory for long-term heals. Whenever possible, you should use it after pretty much every other heal, especially if ammo is giving you trouble.

Alacrity and its Limits

Alacrity has continued to become a more useful ability in recent patches, and it now reduces the cooldown lengths of your abilities and reduces the internal cooldown of abilities like Trauma Probe, in addition to its previous effects of lowering your global cooldown and cast times. With this said, the use of alacrity is somewhat limited, and in general, the default itemization contains all the alacrity you'll need.

Lowering Costs with Reserve Powercell

Reserve Powercell is your utility no-cost ability. Reserve Powercell allows the next ability costing ammo to be free, and this obviously a great way to keep yourself in an acceptable ammo range. It is on a long cooldown, so use it wisely. For healers, it should be used pretty much exclusively with Medical Probe, but may also be used on an unproc'd Advanced Medical Probe (no Field Triage/Supercharge) or any other heal that would push me under 50 ammo. Just make sure you use the ability on the right heal -- sometimes if you get stunned, it might get applied to a heal you didn't want. This usually isn't a problem unless its a cheap heal, like Trauma Probe.

Another handy trick is using Reserve Powercell in combination with Tech Override. Doing so makes your next heal free and instant, which can be essential in a pinch.

For Mercenaries: Thermal Sensor Override reduces the heat of your next ability that generate heat by 100%. There is essentially only one heal to use it on: Rapid Scan. You may also want to use it on Healing Scan if you cannot lower its heat generation with Critical Efficiency or Supercharged Gas. The moral of the story: as long as TSO is used on an ability that is relatively expensive, it should be okay. Avoid using it on something cheap like Kolto Shell.

"Reloading" with Recharge Cells

Recharge Cells is your manual "jump start" utility cooldown. It is a great for any situation where you need a fresh restore of your ammo supply. The ability has two parts: first, it gives you about 30 ammo instantly. Secondly, the ability proceeds to regenerate additional ammo for the next 3 seconds (which can also be increased with the Cell Capacitor utility). One thing to understand is that you should avoid using any ammo-costing abilities until the regeneration finishes (especially if you do NOT take Cell Capacitor in your Utilities!). Using ammo too soon will curtail your regeneration and can easily negate the purpose of using the cooldown in the first place.

As a result of thumb, save Recharge Cells for situations when you are below the 20 ammo mark (the very slow regeneration range). You will see why in a moment.

Controlled Ammo Burn

There will undoubtedly be times as a Combat Medic where you cannot possibly keep people alive while being ammo efficient. Sometimes you'll notice this early, other times you'll see you're ammo is running low. In situations like these, a good strategy is to start a controlled burn through your ammo. What this entails is intentionally burning through your ammo suppy to maximize healing, before refreshing with the Recharge Cells cooldown. Keep in mind, however, that this type of healing cannot be sustained (very ammo intensive) and should only be used in an emergency. Because it makes use of a 2-minute cooldown, you really only have one chance at making it work.

Before ever committing to an ammo burn, confirm that Recharge Cells is off cooldown. If it is, proceed to heal as much as possible. Although your intention is to burn all of your ammo, try to ease yourself through with additional healing like Kolto Bomb and Bacta Infusion. Both will pump out extra healing, and should be enough to squeeze out another unproc'd AMP with all the ammo you regenerated during the burn. Also, before you get trigger-happy, try and save the Supercharged Cells that will almost always accumulate during this burn until after activating Recharge Cells.

Keep going until you fall into the very slow regeneration range (less than 20 ammo), and then pop your Recharge Cells cooldown. Depending on your talents, this will grant you somewhere between 30 and 50 ammo instantly. Allow yourself to regenerate until you get up to 60 at the minimum but preferrably 70 or ideally 80. Remember to give yourself time to regenerate ammo after Recharge Cells, so avoid using abilities that cost ammo. If you do not have the Cell Capacitor utility, you need to pay special attention to this and give yourself extra time! Once you have that ammo, pop Supercharge Cells and continue healing as necessary. Take care to not fall below 50 ammo, because Recharged Cells is now on cooldown for two minutes.
Aux "Spaniard" Wargarde (Rank 2400+ Combat Medic) | Reighner the Relentless (Conqueror Bodyguard)
The Generalissimo Legacy