The Rules of Engagement is the column that provides Republic Troopers with highly detailed intel on everything a Trooper needs to know to adapt and overcome on and off the battlefield.
Our resident Commando goes in-depth in discussing changes to the Advanced Class in Patch 1.2: Legacy
Written By: Mike Kern
Earlier, I had given a review of the Trooper changes in Patch 1.2 concerning Combat Medics. This week I’d like to take a look at the Gunnery tree and analyze the changes we find there.
As before, let’s look at each change separately.
Charged Barrier now provides 1% damage reduction per stack
Pre-1.2: Provided 2% damage reduction per stack (5 stacks)
Change: 50% reduction in damage reduction (5% now vs 10% at 5 stacks)
Analysis: Commando Gunners often timed spammed Grav Round before Patch 1.2, and this skill was one of the primary reasons. In their attempt to spread out the Trooper’s rotation, this skill has been made less effective. There are other reasons for this, I’m sure.
One of these reasons is that a Commando is not a Tank. No matter how you slice it, a Commando Gunner is a DPS spec, even with your heavy armor. 10% damage reduction helped Commandos hold their own in PvE fights (and in PvP Warzones on occasion), and sometimes allowing them to sub for Tanks in a pinch.
So, does it help spread around your rotation? Does lessening its effectiveness make it less desirable or just more painful when taking damage? I’m more inclined to agree with the latter statement. I still want to use this ability but now I’m getting cut six-ways-to-Sunday in a slightly more brutal fashion than before.
Curtain of Fire: The chance to trigger this effect has been increased significantly
Pre-1.2: Provided a 10/20/30% chance to finish cooldown on Full Auto and increase it’s damage by 25%.
Change: Now provides a 15/30/45% chance to activate.
Analysis: You’re looking at a total chance to proc increase of 15%, which is pretty significant. You can crunch calculations showing that a 15% chance will lay down a moderate amount of damage, and it’s satisfying to see your cooldowns just go away, isn’t it?
This is a nice change for Gunners. It gives you a more reliable proc for Full Auto that makes its selection in your rotation even more attractive. This, in turn, spreads out a Gunner’s ability choices and lessens dependency on Grav Round alone.
Demolition Round’s damage output has been increased by approximately 10%. Bonus damage dealt by this ability now correctly takes the number of your Gravity Vortices on the target into account.
Pre-1.2: Fires a round that deals 1209-1359 kinetic damage. Damage is increased by 5% per gravity vortex on the target.
Change: 10% damage increase (approximate, though my screen shows this to be actually 10% less on pick-up), and correctly takes the number of Vortexes into account.
Analysis: I won’t analyze that it is Vortexes and not Vortices, so let’s skip this obvious issue.
A 10% damage increase is always welcome and actually taking into account the number of vortexes (not pointing out this spelling again) is a nice touch. It’s handy for a Gunner to know that he can rely on his skills to accurately affect his targets and allow his DPS to climb into the appropriate stratosphere upon releasing this deadly round.
With a cooldown of just 15 seconds, this places another key ability in the hand of a Gunner that is not Grav Round, and now does enough damage to make it worth the 2 Ammo used.
Overall, this is a welcome change, though it feels more like a fix and unabashed “my bad” to the Gunnery Tree.
Grav Round has been rebalanced in order to encourage more active gameplay rotations. It now costs 2 Energy Cells, has a 2-second activation time, and deals approximately 10% less damage
Pre-1.2: Grav Round cost 3 Energy Cells and had a 1.5-second activation time.
Change: 1 less Energy Cell, .5-second increase in activation time and 10% less damag.
Analysis: Is it just me or did we use Grav Round for more than its damage and 1.5-second activation time? Charged Barrel comes to mind, as well as a healthy stack of Gravity Vortexes, but maybe that’s the simple-minded Medic in me.
Let’s look at this more logically however. Grav Round is now on par with Charged Bolts, both with 2-second activation times, 10% less damage and costing you 2 Ammo. Great, so we have two abilities that do roughly the same damage, cost the same, and take just as much time to fire. Is one of them on a different cooldown schedule? No. Does Charged Bolts activate Charged Barrel? No.
Curtain of Fire does the same effect to both Grav Round and Charged Bolts, so there is nothing in this change to spread a Gunner’s rotation between the two of them. That said, it does allow a Gunner to select a skill other than Grav Round. Sound like Heresy? Perhaps not.
There has been some thought given to utilizing cells other than Armor-Piercing for Gunnery, such as Plasma. With Plasma Cell, you don’t necessarily need to use Grav Round to get your High Impact Bolt to proc, though you do miss out on the Charged Barrel damage increase.
I’d love to hear some honest discussion on how Gunners use both of these skills.
Looked at alone, this change gives the Gunner a longer time-to-activate, less damage but less Energy Cell usage. If you tally up the damage in a longer fight, this actually tops you off with slightly more DPS in the long run. In shorter fights, it just leaves you kicking your Autocannon in hopes it will shoot faster.
Muzzle Fluting no longer reduces Energy Cell costs. It now reduces the activation time of Charged Bolts and Grav Round by .5 seconds.
Pre-1.2: Reduces the cost of Charged Bolts and Grav Round by 1.
Change: It now reduces the activation-time of both abilities .5 seconds.
Analysis: Since both abilities had their cost reduced by 1, and activation-times increased by .5 seconds, this ability now costs you a Skill Point to make your skills activate just like they did before the patch. It’s become something of a must-have, even more so than before.
You too can now effectively empty your clips faster!
Tenacious Defense now reduces the cooldown of Concussion Charge by 2.5 seconds per point
Pre-1.2: Reduces the cooldown of Concussion Charge by 5 seconds per point.
Change: A reduction of 2.5 seconds per point (50% reduction).
Analysis: Concussion Charge has a cooldown of 30 seconds to start with, so you’re losing a total of 5 seconds with this change. That’s a fairly significant number (16% slower), reducing a Gunner’s crowd control ability.
Is this an attempt to make you more of a DPS? Making you focus more on hitting with Grav Round/High Impact Bolt/Full Auto rotations instead of your crowd control abilities? It seems so, though with 20 or 25 second cooldowns, Gunners were never the equivalent of Enchanters from EverQuest anyway, even with Cryo Grenade.
My opinions on the Gunnery changes are a bit more bleak than my opinions on Medics. If you haven’t read my review of the Combat Medic, then pretend I was kinder, more understanding and thoughtful when it comes to the outcome. Medics were nerfed in a way that made them reconsider who they were and how they operated. Gunners seemed to just fall from the DPS tree, hitting a few weak nerf branches on their way down.
I understand the need to spread out the Gunnery Tree’s rotation. I began life as a Gunner and all I ever used was Grav Round and High Impact Bolt. Now Gunners will be faced with a bit of limbo and a rotation that is a little less certain. Obviously Full Auto has been placed higher on the priority list and Charged Bolts is back on the table, even if its methods for being so are more dubious than Elara Dorne’s check-ins with command.
I reserve my judgement on Gunnery for now, but I feel that as a DPS class they have been hobbled a bit, gaining many more reductions than increases.
Do you think otherwise or have a theory I haven’t considered? Please leave us a comment below!
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Tags: Advanced Class, Ammo, Bioware, Charged Barrel, Charged Barrier, Charged Bolts, Combat Medic, Commando, Concussion Charge, Curtain of Fire, Demolition Round, DPS, EA, Electronic Arts, Energy Cell, Full Auto, Grav Round, Gunnery, High Impact Bolt, LucasArts, Mike Kern, Muzzle Fluting, Patch 1.2, Plasma Cell, PvE, PvP, Republic Trooper, Star Wars: The Old Republic, SWTOR, tank, Tenacious Defense, TOR, Trooper, Warzones