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Guide: How to build a gunship


WiseStranger's Avatar


WiseStranger
01.03.2014 , 12:26 AM | #1
Hello there and welcome

Today I will be talking about Type 1 gunship (SGS-45 Qwarrel & GS5-3 Mangler and their cartel market equivalents) in update 2.7. I will also speculate a bit about upcoming Type 3 gunship.
(I'm not going to bother talking about Type 2 gunship at this time as I have no idea what it was designed for aside from being a free kill to whoever passes by. I might come back to it once I can comprehend it's design or the developers enlighten us with explanations or changes)

Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion on the subject and if you disagree and can not express it constructively - keep it to yourself.

First of all - what is a gunship?

A gunship is a starship that:
  • mainly uses long range weapons that can deal incredible damage OR debuff your foes making them an easy target for your team-mates
  • has slow base turning rates and speed

Based on these two points, one might picture an immobile heavily fortified turret play style and I can not blame you for that, however:
  • You're not heavily fortified and you don't have a lot of hull strength to tank ships that come your way.
  • When you're playing against other fully upgraded ships (such as scouts and strike fighters) piloted by people with brains and some skill - being an immobile turret is a death penalty and you will be a regular customer in the "respawn cafe"

I build my gunship around being able to runaway and survive as long as possible. Also I play gunship mainly as a support ship and let my team-mates do the killing. I'm pretty happy with 15-30 assists on a good run.

Let's start with the actual build:
I discuss only the final product. How you're going to get there and what you're going to upgrade first is none of my business, because it depends on many factors, however in the next post I will give some pointers on what I think should be leveled up first.

Objectives of the build
  • protect your hull and repair it
  • be difficult to detect and detect people who try to sneak up on you
  • be able to run away more efficiently
  • be able to support your team in their effort to capture objectives and kill enemies
  • be able to do some killing on your own.

Crew:

The only two companions on the republic side that have Hydro Spanner - an active ability that repairs your hull are B-2G9 and T7-01
  • T7-01 is not the best as he gives increased weapon power pool and reduction to weapon power costs and gunships don't really have any problems with weapon power.
    • (some people say that weapon power cost doesn't affect railguns, I don't have any data that proves it false so we'll go with that assumption)
  • The only other choice is B-2G9 and this droid comes with passive buff to accuracy and reduction in reload time and cooldown time to secondary weapons.
    • (some people say that cooldown doesn't work on railguns, but they are wrong, it does work, but since the cooldown on those is 1 second - reduction is only 0.1 seconds, so... it's not a huge thing but not a total waste either)

Some will say that Qyzen is superior as he gives you accuracy and improved firing arc however!, he can't heal you and if you can't survive and kill stuff without extra 2 degrees to your firing arc - having it will not magically help you to be better (more on firing arc in railgun section).

Others might say that Bypass active ability is better (blah, blah, blah). It is! if you can hit the target with fully charged slug railgun, but if the team you're fighting against doesn't consist of brand new players with default ships - the value of bypass goes down as you will be visiting respawn area much more often. Also, this ability got huge neft and went down in magnitude from +35% to +16%.

So we settle for B-2G9 as a co-pilot for active ability Hydro Spanner (245 heal over 6 seconds) and following passive abilities:
  • Pinpointing +6% weapon accuracy
  • Rapid reload -8% secondary weapon reload and cooldown time

Other Passives:
Engineering: C2-N2 (Blizz)
  • Power to engines +10% engine power pool
  • Efficient maneuvers -13% engine resource costs
Tactical: Treek (Talos Drellik)
  • Silent Running +4500 sensor dampening
  • Peripheral Vision +2500 sensor radius
Defence: Bowdaar (Ashara)
  • Structural Support 9% DR
  • Response Tuning 5% Evasion

A side note: on the imperial side Blizz has Hydro Spanner so you have a choice for offence between Jaesa and Gault. Gault will give you the exact replica of republic side crew. Jaesa will give you buff to firing arc instead of weapon cooldown (however, as I said - extra firing arc isn't that good; more on that in railgun section)

Minor Components:

Sensors
Dampening Sensors > Range Sensors > Communication Sensors

The only choice that makes sense is Dampening Sensors to be more difficult to detect. It's not your job to scout the enemies (range sensors) and communicate their location to others (communication sensors). Leave that job to scouts.

Reactor
Turbo Reactor > Regeneration Reactor > Large Reactor

Why? By default gunships have 6 seconds Shield Power Regeneration Delay. With turbo reactor you can cut that down to 2.4 seconds. I prefer to have shorter delays and smaller chunks (Turbo Reactor) than longer delays and larger chunks (Regeneration Reactor).
Large Reactor sounds nice, but it's not your job to tank ships that approach you and with many weapons partially bypassing shields - it doesn't matter what you have there if you don't get away fast.

Magazine
Regeneration Extender > Power Pool Extender > Munitions Capacity Extender

Regeneration Extender is the only good choice, because the other options you have won't do you any good
Power Pool Extender just gives you bigger power pool. And bigger pool is worse than faster regeneration.
Munitions Capacity Extender... I have no idea why this is even an option for this gunship type. The ammo for railguns is infinite so having +50% to infinite ammo supply won't change a thing.

Armor
Lightweight (+9% evasion) > Reinforced (+20% Hull) > Deflection (+20% Damage Reduction)

Lightweight armor with +9% to evasion is the best choice at this time, also considering the choice of crew and shields.
Reinforced armor is ok. Having more HP is good, but because your heal is a fixed value heal - it doesn't scale with your HP pool, meaning your heal is relatively less effective and if you're not fast - extra 250 HP will not save you. Also, your enemies can't see your actual hull/shield value, they see it in percentage form and if you don't have it at 100%, the likelihood of being targeted increases.
Deflection armor is not a good choice if the following assumptions are correct: buffs to damage reduction through passive crew skills, ship upgrades and default ship value are all considered armor. So with many weapons that are able to ignore 100% of ship's armor - game doesn't encourage stacking damage reduction if you're given a choice.

Major components:

Engines
Barrel Roll > Rotational Thrusters > Interdiction Drive > Weapon Power Converter

The only engine that disables missile lock and allows you to avoid launched missiles is Barrel Roll. It allows you to travel large distance at very high speed while boosting your evasion by 30% also in tier 3 you can opt to passively increase your ship speed or turning rate by 10% (both options are good and the choice depends on what you prefer more). Unfortunately developers addressed their concern that the skill is used for traveling too much not by reducing the distance traveled, but by increasing reuse time to 30 seconds base (20 sec upgraded) and cost of the skill to something around 15% of your max power pool. (If only we had a developer with brain instead of what we've got. We might have gotten just a reduction in distance traveled or would have gotten other options for engine that breaks missile locks).
Other tree choices are bad:
Weapon Power Converter just allows you to convert your engine power to weapon power, so it's not that great as you will be lowering your escape chances.
Interdiction Drive slows down enemies around you, but too bad it doesn't give you any speed boost and you will be dead in no time with this engine. Too long of a reuse time makes it even more useless.
Rotational Thrusters rotate you to face your currently selected enemy, but it doesn't help your mobility and with any good pilot flying upgraded scout of strike fighter - you will be dead before doing any real harm to them.

Shields
Distortion Field > Feedback Shield > Fortress Shield

Distortion Field is the only smart choice. +9% passive boost to your evasion, Active ability that boosts your evasion by 35% for 6 seconds and you can choose in tier 3 between extra 3 seconds of duration or disabling missile lock giving you a second way to do it. Considering that the magnitude of the buff was changed from 75% to 35% and duration from 3 to 6 seconds, choosing missile lock disable seems to be a better option now.
Feedback Shield - nice concept, but it lasts 15 second OR until first hit. After that first hit (as you wouldn't use it unless you're being attacked) it turns into dead weight and does nothing for you. If someone jumped you, damage it deals won't be enough even to break through shields.
Fortress Shield - sounds strong! but it isn't. Remember what I told you about being an immovable turret? You will get a lot of shield, but it will get burned so fast as if it wasn't even there, because it does nothing for your shield regeneration. And do you recall our discussion about shield bypass on some weapons?

Secondary weapons (Railguns)
Ion Railgun > Slug Railgun > Plasma Railgun

Recent addition is that all railguns require 25% minimum charge to fire. IMO it changes nothing as it's so easy to get to 25% anyway.
It seems there is a bug that sets firing arc of railguns based on your primary weapon, but it doesn't change anything for you anyway, since all railguns have tracking penalty 5% per degree, less 5% (if you have that talent taken). Effectively with firing arc of 16 degrees and let's say accuracy of 105% (just for easy calculations) at 16th degree you will have only 105-(16*5-5) = 30% accuracy. At 18 degrees (2 more from crew passive: Improved Kill Zone) and you're down to 20%, at 22 degrees your accuracy is 0%, so there is no real advantage to larger firing ark aside from field of vision.

Presently if you do not have Ion Railgun - you should not play a gunship. Fully upgraded ion railgun is the most fearsome weapon that you have. It drains large chunks of weapon and engine power from your target and tier 4 talent makes successful attacks hit up to 3 more targets within your firing arc. Those extra targets don't even have to be within your line of sight. Fully charged - it will demolish enemy shields and you can even prevent them from regenerating energy for 6 seconds with tier 5 talent. Recent change to this railgun was that energy drain scales with charge.
Slug Railgun - fully upgraded, it ignores targets armor. When fully charged can even oneshot a ship if crits. For tier 4 and 5 best choice is accuracy and critical chance. Accuracy makes it easier to hit and you have less penalty for tracking. Critical it better than base damage increase as even if you hit someone with higher base damage - you will still need a second shot to finish them, but if you crit them - you might not need a second shot at all.
Plasma Railgun - my least favorite weapon as it lacks on demand burst and accuracy talents the other railguns have, however, if your team is very good, you can opt to run with this weapon instead of slug because of the debuff to evasion/damage reduction while the dot lasts and of course extra second on the dot is helpful as well.

Primary weapon
Burst Laser Cannon > Light Laser Cannon

Your primary weapon is your last priority as if you're using it effectively - your opponents are... incompetent. And if they are competent - you will be dead most of the time if you resort to it.
As it stands now - Burst Laser Cannon is better than Light Laser Cannon because it has a talent to ignore armor completely, but fully upgraded, both are viable choice, subject to what I said about your opponents.

A few words about tactics:

Power Conversion:
  • Default power conversion setting is bad - never use it.
  • When you snipe - use weapon power conversion
  • When you don't snipe - use engine power conversion
  • When your shields are low/down, you created enough distance and you have sufficient engine power - you may briefly use shield power conversion to restore shields faster.

Situational awareness.
  • You have a minimap with some green and red dots. Green are your friends. Red are your enemies. If you see red dots close by - be ready to run away.
  • You have a targeting computer that shows you how far your target is, who they are and who they have as a target. Use it well as you should know the effective range of all ships to be able to survive.
  • You have self and targeted enemy buff/debuff bars that tell you if they have used something that is dangerous for you.

You're not cut for a dogfight, so don't engage in it.

Know your opponents! Your worst enemies sorted by the degree of danger:
  • You being an idiot
  • Bad team-mates
  • A good enemy pilot (even worse when there are more than one)
  • A gunship with another gunship > scout > strike fighter
  • Two scouts or strike fighters
  • A scout
  • A strike fighter
  • A turret
  • An edge of the map
  • A sneaky asteroid

If you're being hit - use Distortion Field cooldown and start boosting or even Barrel Roll away. Don't sit and tank, because you will not last long. Also use Distortion Field cooldown to buy time to regenerate engine power when you're being chased

Use barrel roll when you're being targeted by a missile. Try to time it for when missile is launched so the enemy has missile on cooldown and one less missile.

Use your engine power carefully. Don't let it run low or you won't have enough for a barrel roll Slow down or even stop from time to time.

If you're being chased - kite to a friendly satellite where your friends and turrets will organize a welcome party. (You can try to dogfight if you want, but be careful and be prepared to die).

If there are two or more tough enemies on your tail - don't be afraid to retreat towards your capital ship(s) in domination. You don't have to go all the way, but when 2+ people are chasing you - they are not contributing to objectives and they're flying in your space not theirs - so you can worry less about running into another enemy and they will have to worry about you getting reinforcements.
On a side note: If someone makes fun of you for running away - they are just mad that they weren't good enough to catch you. They don't stay still in one spot for you to shoot them with ease. They use the environment to line of sight you or move faster than you can track them and in unpredictable patterns so you should not feel bad for not giving them a free kill either by using environment (such as turrets, capital ships, line of sight) and your team-mates.

TL;DR
Republic: http://dulfy.net/2013/11/16/swtor-ga...HgAOAC4ALgAuA=
Empire: http://dulfy.net/2013/11/16/swtor-ga...LgAuAA4ALgAeA=

WiseStranger's Avatar


WiseStranger
01.03.2014 , 12:27 AM | #2
I will not bother describing what components you start with since if you're going to play a gunship, you will see them anyway.

Warning:
First 2-3 games will be very hard and frustrating, since you don't have any survivability and will be an easy kill for almost any decently leveled ship piloted by a decent player.
Next 7-8 games will be a bit easier, but you will not be able to survive continuous chase.
After about 15 games most of the components and upgrades responsible for your survivability will be in place and it will be mostly a matter of your personal skill.

1. Unlock Distortion Field (1.5k)
2. Barrel Roll to T2 (1k + 2.5k)
3. Distortion Field to T2 (1k + 2.5k)
This is where you stop with these two components, because you've got most of your survivability upgrades and now must build up your offense. So far you've spent 8.5k and it's not that hard to get this much.
4. Ion Railgun T1 to increase your accuracy (1k)
Now your Ion Railgun is the most accurate weapon you have and you should use it as often as you can. Help your team by demolishing enemy shields and draining their engine and weapon power. Your Slug Railgun isn't that effective yet due to lack of armor bypass.
5. Slug Railgun to T3 (1k + 2.5k + 5k)
Now your Slug Railgun is very effective on turrets and other armored ships such as strike fighters.
6. Regeneration Extender Magazine to T3 (1k + 1.5k + 2.5k)
...
t.b.c.

A few words to those who scream about overpowered gunships:
  • Stop flying in a straight line and charging directly at a gunship. Change the bloody direction from time to time when you enter 15km distance.
  • If you got killed in one hit from 100% to 0% there are 3 explanations:
    1. Gunship used bypass and scored a 2.4k crit on you with fully charged Slug Railgun (That gunship will be an easy kill in the war of attrition)
    2. Gunship picked up damage buff in team death match and scored a hit on you with fully charged Slug Railgun and very possibly with bypass activated and/or maybe that hit was a crit.
    3. There was more than one hit during a very short window (meaning 2+ attackers)
  • If you can't hit a gunship with your blasters from a knife distance it means they used Distortion Field that lasts 6-9 seconds. Start locking a missile instead of emptying your weapon power pool.
  • If you can't kill a particular gunship - remember that a dogfight between two equally skilled opponents can last for a very long time. What makes you think that you should be able to kill a skilled gunship in lesser amount of time? Either get help or get better.

Possible additions in the future:
- review of the other gunship type

Tentou's Avatar


Tentou
01.03.2014 , 12:41 AM | #3
Good guide.
/* Tentou/Tangier/Shock - Consular/Sorcerer */
/* Port Nowhere->Pot5->Shadowlands->Satele Shan */
/* PvE - <Condemned> || PvP - <Casual> || GSF - Gunship */
/* http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/160...90/23/7o3o.jpg */

Sadishist's Avatar


Sadishist
01.03.2014 , 06:13 AM | #4
On sensors, don't you need range sensors to detect the enemy to snipe from far away?

Armonddd's Avatar


Armonddd
01.03.2014 , 06:32 AM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by Sadishist View Post
On sensors, don't you need range sensors to detect the enemy to snipe from far away?
Not if you're within communication range of your allies (which you should always be, on every ship). Besides, you'll never, ever have enough sensors to detect someone that far away on your own.
Space Ace of <Death Squadron>, <Black Squadron>, <Eclipse Squadron>, and <solo da>

Sadishist's Avatar


Sadishist
01.03.2014 , 07:19 AM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Armonddd View Post
Not if you're within communication range of your allies (which you should always be, on every ship). Besides, you'll never, ever have enough sensors to detect someone that far away on your own.
I see, what about communication sensors? Gunship has high communication range. I think OP thinks it only falls to scout, but shouldn't it be in gunship since it's support class?

MaximilianPower's Avatar


MaximilianPower
01.03.2014 , 08:24 AM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Sadishist View Post
I see, what about communication sensors? Gunship has high communication range. I think OP thinks it only falls to scout, but shouldn't it be in gunship since it's support class?
There are a few options you have on gunship builds - but OP is correct, sensors aren't one of those choices (along with the ion gun). Dampening sensors are really required. While the other sensors would certainly be useful in their own ways, nothing is going to help you wreak havoc on the enemy like maxed dampening sensors (coupled with a crew member that enhances the dampening range). Your job is to snipe, and you can't do that job effectively unless your target can't detect you.

One choice that is definitely debatable is hydrospanner versus bypass. I've used both, and I seem to do better with bypass (Khem's active on the imp side). I think that's largely because the hydrospanner repair simply isn't significant enough to save me if I'm really in trouble. But I can see the argument for both options.

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Star Forge / Satele Shan / Darth Malgus


Self-Inflicted / Shadowlands Reconnaisance Wing / Retrocide / Imperial Entanglements

Fractalsponge's Avatar


Fractalsponge
01.03.2014 , 10:10 AM | #8
Dampening would be even more useful if they worked beyond 15km like they did on PTS.

Good guide. This is basically what I run except for Turbo reactor (I prefer Regen).

Armonddd's Avatar


Armonddd
01.03.2014 , 10:29 AM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Sadishist View Post
I see, what about communication sensors? Gunship has high communication range. I think OP thinks it only falls to scout, but shouldn't it be in gunship since it's support class?
Unlike sensor range, increasing communication range isn't flat out a bad idea - it's simply a worse idea that increasing sensor dampening.

With sensor range, you just can't get enough to make you better at your chosen role, and you're always going to be worse at it than a scout. It's simply a bad idea.

Communication range, on the other hand, has its place... if your team is full of gunships and strikes. Most of the time, I find my ships are within communication range of most of my team (excluding the few that are way off in the middle of nowhere because they're fighting over worthless space and/or trying to shake a mob). This is partly because a lot of people play scouts (who have very high communication and sensor ranges) and partly because of the specifics of how sensors work.

Let's take a common example: you're flying in your gunship, I'm flying in my Sting or Flashfire. For our Tactical crew members, we've both picked up crew members with sensor dampening and sensor radius. This means your communication range is 10000m, your sensor radius is 17500m (yes, you read that right - gunship default is 15000m, according to Dulfy), and mine are 20000m range and 10000 comm. This means that as long as we're within 10000m of each other, you can see what's within 17500m of you and 20000m of me (before enemy sensor dampening comes into play). That's already massive compared to what you need to work efficiently, and while upgrading your communication range to 20000m with your sensors component would be nice so you can guarantee communications with anyone on the satellite, it's simply not required and wouldn't help you as much as dampening will.
Space Ace of <Death Squadron>, <Black Squadron>, <Eclipse Squadron>, and <solo da>

WiseStranger's Avatar


WiseStranger
01.03.2014 , 06:49 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by MaximilianPower View Post
There are a few options you have on gunship builds - but OP is correct, sensors aren't one of those choices (along with the ion gun). Dampening sensors are really required. While the other sensors would certainly be useful in their own ways, nothing is going to help you wreak havoc on the enemy like maxed dampening sensors (coupled with a crew member that enhances the dampening range). Your job is to snipe, and you can't do that job effectively unless your target can't detect you.

One choice that is definitely debatable is hydrospanner versus bypass. I've used both, and I seem to do better with bypass (Khem's active on the imp side). I think that's largely because the hydrospanner repair simply isn't significant enough to save me if I'm really in trouble. But I can see the argument for both options.
The first reason why I don't choose bypass is simple. I use Ion Railgun as a main weapon. It doesn't do that much damage against the hull, so there is no point in bypass. And if I shoot with Slug Railgun - my target doesn't have any shields so full charge = kill.

Other reasons:
To get maximum out of bypass you need to have full charge on Slug Railgun and more than one enemy ready to receive the present. It's not hard to get full charge, however you can get maximum of 5 shots before the buff runs out and you need to have at least 3 people who will let you shoot them.
Because it's unlikely that your targets will be staying still, you will need to spend some time tracking with fully powered shot, so you will be wasting your power and buff time. That will realistically limit your capability to about 3 fully powered shots.
With popularity of evasion stacking builds - there is a high chance that you will miss with your fully powered shot. A scout can have 41% passive evasion and they might opt for Running Interference for extra 15% buff for 20 sec and that is 56% chance that you will miss miss. Gunships can have 31% passive evasion. Strike fighters can hope for 11% for basic and 21% for unlockable model, but they have so much HP that you will not be able to one-shot them unless you crit. The same applies to gunships and existence of distortion field DCD and Barrel Roll will make even harder to score bypass kills effectively.
People that say it doesn't matter if I die. Bypass will reset and there are no penalties for deaths are very very wrong. There maybe to penalties for you, but there is a penalty for your team being at disadvantage. If you're not there, the guy that killed you is shooting at your team-mates and capturing satellites. And by the time you'll get back your bypass would have been half through cooldown anyway.

There is also a psychological effect with using Hydro Spanner. If you on a target that has 50% shields and 50% hull, you want to chase them, because you know, for as long as you stay on their tail you will win. If you see that your target HP goes up (and shields go up by themselves anyway) you realize that it's going to take forever as your shield bypass is being countered. They now face a choice: Do I chase that ship, because if I leave it alone it will shoot me to death OR Do I leave it alone and try to escape to somewhere safe and kill something else? In both situation you win. You drag one enemy behind you and they don't do much and your team is not at disadvantage (and if you're really good you can still kill someone or drain someone while your Distortion Field is active. OR you get back to shooting right away.