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Guts And Gunnery – Vanguard PvP Specs For The Front Line

Guts And Gunnery - Vanguard PvP Specs For The Front Line

When it comes to the warfront no class defines the struggle against the Empire the way the Trooper does. Guts and Gunnery is the place that Troopers come to learn all of the tactics they will need to thrive on the PvP battlefront.

Written By: Erich Hein

In this galaxy of open conflict every Trooper is looking for an edge over his or her opponent. You will need to ask yourself some questions. What play style best suits me? What tools should I bring to face my enemy? Will I be charging into a group of enemies and taking large amounts of punishment? Will I be the type to make eye contact with an opponent across enemy lines and single each other out, making sure only one of you is standing at the end? Do I want to carry the ball in Huttball or do I want to peel off enemies attacking him? Hopefully these different builds will help you make your choices about how to refine your own personal build to suit your play style.

A few words about rotations in PvP: In PvE there is a well-defined highest damage order in which your abilities should be activated to be of maximum effectiveness. However in PvP, you are limited by an infinite and ever growing number variables brought on by the human beings on the other end of your scope. So I’m going to reduce said rotations into a set of best practices. Opening Rotation and Sustained Rotation. An Opening Rotation explains itself. With all your cooldowns up and ready to go, this is how you should enter combat against your enemy. Variations will depend on whether or not you can kill him within your opening rotation or you should save some of your offensive cooldowns for a more effective moment. Sustained rotation is what you should be doing while you hunt for your next kill shot. Sustained rotations will generally be designed to soften up the enemy enough while keeping your ammo high so you can apply a well-placed burst in the middle of your enemies’ short lived career against you.

Many of these builds have been tested with dozens and dozens of hours of PvP, some of them only a few hours. I’ve graded them according to effectiveness and success of root concept (damage dealer, damage taker). No matter what spec you are in, a Vanguard should tab and use both taunts on cooldown. As far as the ratings that I am applying to the damage, mobility, survivability among others of the different specs they are wrought from personal experience with said specs as well as weighing what you spend your time doing in a fight. For example, Storm and Stab has Mobility rating of 8 out of 10. Storm is on a short cooldown allowing you to close distance fast and often, and absolutely none of the regularly used abilities have a cast time or are channeled. The reason it doesn’t get a 10 out of 10 is due to the fact that it doesn’t have a normal flat rate speed increase or a snare drop component. Whereas The Jumping Clown, 9 out of 10, has everything that the Storm and Stab does but also has a 4 second sprint after each Storm.

Abbreviation Key

Sticky Grenade = SG
Stock Strike = SS
High Impact Bolt = HIB
Ion Pulse = IP
Fire Pulse = FP
Energy Blast = EB
Incendiary Round = IR
Full Auto = FA
Charged Burst = CB
Grav Shot = GS
Assault Plastique = AP
Hammer Shot = HS
Grav Shot = GS
Demolition Round = DR

Vanguard Builds

Storm and Stab

Storm and Stab – Root Spec: 23/16/2
This spec goes high enough into Shield Specialist to pick up Storm and Static Surge, then the rest to pick up Gut and other toys. A very solid PvP spec that I currently use more often than any other.

Cell: Ion
Opening rotation: SG > Storm > Offensive cooldowns > Gut >= SS > HIB > IP
Sustained Rotation: Keep Gut up on target, SS > HIB on cooldown. IP with surplus ammo.

Mobility: 8/10
Range: 6/10
Damage: 8/10
Survivability: 9/10
Utility: 9/10
Overall: 40/50

The Jumping Clown

The Jumping Clown – Variation: 28/13/0
This build drops lots of offensive talents like Heavy Stock, Brutal Impact, and Frontline Offense for Charge, Defensive Measures, and Containment Tactics.

Cell: Ion
Opening rotation: SG > Storm > Offensive cooldowns > Gut >= SS > HIB > IP
Sustained Rotation: Keep Gut up on target, SS > HIB on cooldown. IP with surplus ammo.

Mobility: 9/10
Range: 6/10
Damage: 6/10
Survivability: 9/10
Utility: 9/10
Overall: 30/50

Deep Impact

Deep Impact – Variation: 21/3/17
In this variation you go up the Assault Specialist tree instead of the Tactics tree. This build focuses more on buffing your High Impact Bolt than your Stock Strike and because of that you can’t pick up Static Surge. This is an experimental build that needs some fine tuning but I’ve had decent success with it already so I will submit it here for others to try. This is actually one of the best Huttball carrier builds however. While still having Storm you are also able to pick up Degauss and Soldier’s Endurance, making you a threat from almost anywhere in the field as a ball carrier. Since more of your damage is based on Incendiary Round and High Impact Bolt you aren’t at a full disadvantage when fighting between platforms.

Cell: Ion
Opening Rotation: Offensive cooldowns > IR > HIB > SG > Storm > SS > Ion Pulse
Sustained Rotation: Keep IR up on target, HIB > SS on cooldown. IP with surplus ammo.

Mobility: 9/10
Range: 7/10
Damage: 5/10
Survivability: 8/10
Utility: 7/10
Overall: 36/50

Full Tank

Full Tank – Root Spec: 31/8/2
This is a standard tank build with obvious strengths. You are very resilient, your damage output is still moderate, and you make for a great ball carrier, ball guard, turret holder and bomb interrupter.

Cell: Ion
Opening Rotation: SG > Offensive cooldowns > Storm > SS > HIB > EB > IP
Sustained Rotation: SS > HIB > HIB, IP with surplus ammo.

Mobility: 8/10
Range: 5/10
Damage: 5/10
Survivability: 10/10
Utility: 8/10
Overall: 36/50

The Gutsy Tank

The Gutsy Tank – Variation: 30/11/0
This build drops Energy Blast for Gut. You could also drop 4% shield chance for 8% Stock Strike damage as well.

Cell: Ion
Opening Rotation: SG > Offensive cooldowns > Storm > SS > Gut > HIB > EB > IP
Sustained Rotation: Keep Gut up on target, SS > HIB > HIB, IP with surplus ammo.

Mobility: 8/10
Range: 4/10
Damage: 7/10
Survivability: 10/10
Utility: 8/10
Overall: 37/50

Full Tactics

Full Tactics – Root Spec: 8/31/2
Very good damage. All mobility and distance closing revolves around Hold the Line and knowing when to use it and when not to use it. Your damage rotation will depend mostly on watching for Combat Tactics procs.

Cell: High Energy
Opening Rotation: SG > Harpoon > Gut > Combat Tactics HIB > FP > SS > HIB > IP
Sustained Rotation: Keep Gut up on Target, Combat Tactics HIB > FP> SS > HIB

Mobility: 7/10
Range: 5/10
Damage: 9/10
Survivability: 6/10
Utility: 7/10
Overall: 36/50

All Out Assault

All Out Assault – Root Spec: 4/6/31
This is a full Assault Specialist build. Lots of good damage at range, your priority on Stock Strike and Ion Pulse will depend on your distance to the target.

Cell: Plasma
Opening Rotation: Offensive cooldowns > IR > HIB > AP > SS > IP > FA
Sustained Rotation: Keeping Incendiary Round up on the target, AP > HIB > SS, IP with excess ammo.

Mobility: 4/10
Range: 9/10
Damage: 10/10
Survivability: 6/10
Utility: 8/10
Overall: 37/50


MORE DOTS – Variation Spec: 2/11/28
This build variation drops Assault Plastique for Gut.

Cell: Plasma
Opening Rotation: Offensive cooldowns > IR > HIB > Gut > SS > IP > FA
Sustained Rotation: Keeping all three dots up (Incendiary Round, Gut and Plasma Cell), SS > HIB on cooldown.

Mobility: 5/10
Range: 8/10
Damage: 9/10
Survivability: 6/10
Utility: 8/10
Overall: 36/50

These are obviously not all of the Specs available for a Trooper to choose from, but they are most of the viably effective ones. Stay tuned shortly for a Commando spec run down, as well as in depth situation advice.

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Please leave a comment

  1. Ayeax Says:

    Nice post, and vangard dps is very good with utility to boot!

  2. Yosprey Says:

    Aww you forgot one of my favorite specs: 1/22/18 Features high mobility and burst. Plays like your MORE DOTS spec but better mobility.

  3. Baldilocks Says:

    Yeah, like i said its not all the specs available. I honestly hadn’t tried the 1/22/18 build yet, it seemed to me that getting Rain of Fire, assault trooper and burn out would be better in the long run than serrated blades, battering ram and combat tactics. So thats why i listed the 2/11/28 instead.

    But i do like the fact that there are so many viable ways to place your talent points for the vanguard. all depends on play style.

  4. Mordin Says:

    A really good read as always. I use a combination of the jumping clown and the gutsy tank, going mostly tanky but getting some mobility and damage increasing skills aswell, and it works great.

    A little mistake I noticed is, that you haven’t added the numbers of the jumping clown correctly, it should say 37/50 not 30/50 :)

  5. Mordin Says:


  6. Kaouthakis Says:

    As far as a full tank spec goes, I’m quite fond of (34/7/0). I might consider taking a point out of Shield Cycler for Blaster Augs, but that’s about it. The point in defensive measures are more than worth it, especially since the immobilize from Harpoon works even when your target has full resolve. Additionally, that extra immobilize helps a ton just in terms of total dps uptime, since range is so limited.

    I haven’t hit BM yet, but in a good WZ, I can pretty easily pull 200k+ protection and 300k+ damage.

  7. Baldilocks Says:

    Yeah, i can see that for shear survivability. There are lots of options for the vanguard, which is great, and impossible to cover them all with the attention they deserve. But by Valor 76 I found that i prefer being able to dish out some damage at the same time. The snare is great, and its what i focus around with The Jumping Clown spec, but the extra ion cell damage and the stock strike damage were used oh so often that it seemed preferable.

    One thing I didn’t have time to touch on yet is the gathering and using of different sets of Super Commando and Combat Tech and when to use them. Super Commando for Huttball if you are the designated ball carrier, but Combat Tech if you are the support who guards and taunt but still wearing a shield generator instead of power. Super Commando for Alderaan if you are the harass in middle for a 3/1/4 or 2/2/4 spread, but switch back to combat tech as soon as you completed the delay mid and you have both sides. Voidstar is obvious, Super Commando for defending and Combat Tech for Attacking.

    But it is a matter of preference. I like being able to swap between roles and apply varying degrees of protection and pain depending on the situation.

  8. trooperXIG Says:

    Why is everyone obsessed with the Vanguard?

  9. Baldilocks Says:

    This is a Trooper specific website and vanguard is half of that class. There is a commando builds article inbound shortly I assure you. Since we are trying to get down into the depths of how to fight as a trooper and the 2 advanced classes are so very different in play styles there will be focus on first one and then the other. That’s all, no conspiracy. I promise!

  10. trooperXIG Says:

    Oh ok. I was just wondering. I love commandos , so I hope the article comes soon!

  11. DblTrbl29 Says:

    This was great! Sadly I am having a hard time pulling up the skill calculator on Torhead for what you have posted, but I am currently playing a spec that I assume is similar to your Jumping Clown spec, and it rocks when carrying the ball in Huttball

    Loving the site btw

  12. Trooperx6 Says:

    The taction point distribution how effective was it and have you tried it out? In the full tactics root spec.

  13. MAJ Colri Bartlet Says:

    Any chance on an update post 1.3? I’m hearing a fair amount of comm-chatter regarding the Vanguard being nerfed, particularly the “iron fist” build due to a reduction on stock strike, etc. We cant have our troops become PvP toilet paper for those damned imps…

  14. Mike Says:

    I’m working on some stuff for 1.3 yes, but I don’t have any good bits about the Vanguard for certain. I’d hate to guess. Will keep you posted for sure. I was gathering all the info from E3 but there’s been slim pickings for Troopers… more of an overview really.

    Thanks for keeping the vigil!

  15. Velvet Says:

    Do you have specific gear to go with these builds? like which battlemaster set should i be using for storm and stab spec?
    thanks in advance

  16. wydas Says:

    Guys this is a really good PVP blog , pity it is not being updated. Anyway if anyone is still looking I am a big fan of the storm and stab – any thoughts on specific gear and the optimum % stats to balance damage and defence. Interested to hear opinions.

    Cheers. Scalpem (Master Dar’Narla)

  17. Cronnie Says:

    What augment and gear (Eliminator?) would u suggest for “all out assault”?

  18. Scalpem Says:

    Cronnie, This thread is a little old but it may help you decide

  19. Chris Says:

    I have a build that I’m going to be using that will utilize Incendiary Round and trade High Energy cell in for Plasma Cell to keep DoTs up at all times and add slows to my Ion Pulse as well as boost my HiB a bit. But I’ll still go to the third to top tier of Tactics.

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