Engineering | Saboteur
Engineering is a spec I have played quite a bit as my main DPS spec in 7.1.1. It has a fun rotation that flows rather nicely with a mix of AoE abilities, channeled attacks and dot applications, making it have a little bit of everything. It has a very high dps ceiling and works very well in add heavy fights. It has no DoT spread of its main dot, but in place of one it has an AoE burn that stays up pretty much 100% of the time rotationally. It can be a bit intimidating at a glance, but after a little direction, I was quickly on the right track to putting together a fluid combat style. In 7.3 all sniper specs gained access to a self-heal utility that can essentially heal the sniper back to full in 60" so long as they stay in cover. This addition makes the sniper an even more alluring spec to pick for operations. If taking constant damage throughout a fight, they can easily put up 5-6k hps.
This class has planned balance changes in 7.4. My feel is that these changes are more aimed at PvP and will not impact the actual rotation of the spec. As one of my main DPS specs, this will be one I test out quickly in 7.4.
Gearing up for Engineering
Below are the gear selections, legendary implants, tactical and skill point choices I recommend for this class.
Set yourself up for your rotation by using these abilities as your opener before the main pattern begins
With the Ruthless Interrogation tactical, our Interrogation Probe should never fall off our target unless there is downtime in a fight. Be 100% certain to reapply it as you target swap. It's critical to have this on your primary target. EMP will gray out if it's not active.
When I set up my Engineering rotation, I noticed two main patterns that I called blocks. Putting these together below, we get the class's full rotation. Block one focuses on procing our EMP discharge, block two is mostly fillers and dot reapplications as we wait for the explosive probe to come back off cool down to begin the pattern again.
I start and base my rotation from the cool down of Explosive Probe. When it cycles off of cool down, I know I am back in my first block and focusing on using EMP Discharge. Series of shots will detonate the 3 stack of Explosive probes placed on the target, so it is important to only use explosive probe if there is time to use series of shots right after it. Each shot of series of shots detonates one probe. After detonating all probes, EMP discharge will proc (note that interrogation probe must be active on the target for this ability to be used).
DoT and Fillers
The block focuses on 3 key parts of the rotation - 1) We start/refresh Corrosive Dart on our target. 2) We refresh our Interrogation probe with a series of shots and keep our stacks of electrified rail gun up for our EMP Discharges, and finally we refresh the Plasma probe as it is falling off. Running the spec correctly, we should see zero downtime of our fiery AoE.
Orbital strike and takedown should be used on cool down and substituted in place of Fragmentation Grenade or snipe in the rotation. Do not use it in place of series of shots, as you need that to keep your interrogation probe active on the target. Likewise, plasma probe needs to stay fixed in the rotation to prevent downtime.
Targeting systems will provide us 2 buffs. The first, Targeting systems will make our next use of Explosive Probe have 100% critical chance. The second, systems upgrade buffs all of our probe damage dealt by 10% for 20".
We will rarely need this for an energy regeneration as an engineering sniper. This ability has a neat hidden little buff. If you use it while the Targeting systems buff is active, it will extend its duration by 10". More DPS!
Quick Reference Cards
Engineering's Defensive Abilities
The Sniper Class enjoys some very strong defensive abilities that support its very static nature. Often it can ignore moving out of danger circles and use a defensive ability, or combination of abilities, to avoid taking a large amount of damage. Many of the sniper's defenses can be reset as well for rapid use. This can make the class extremely mobile and resilient. In the absence of self-heals and the ability to self-cleanse harmful afflictions, knowing your tool kit here will save you from taking damage and keep the focus of the healers on the tanks.
Ballistic Shield is kind of like the sniper's raid buff. It deploys a cover shield 10 m around the sniper. Anyone inside receives 20% less damage for 10". This can be a HUGE raid wide defensive ability when planned strategically.
Diversion is first in our tool kit, though its use in operations is somewhat limited. Diversion reduces the target's accuracy by 45% and removes enemies from cover (other snipers). This effect does not work against operation bosses. This is very nifty to use in PvP against other snipers trying to take advantage of cover. They rarely realize that they have been exposed, and it's a lot of fun to allow your friends to be able to leap to, interrupt and/or stun someone who thinks they are safe. But that is PvP...in PvE they will help against trash and in one boss fight in particular, thrasher, they can be used to expose the sniper on the upper level from cover.
Entrench reduces AoE damage by 60% (virtually all ops bosses damage is AoE damage type). This is the basic one we use to mitigate enormous amounts of damage. It last forever and can be reset through Meticulous preparation. I prefer to use imperial preparation with this to get the entrench back off cool down, but more so to go ahead and get the cool down of imperial preparation resetting.
This one doesn't do much, but it's worth hitting with another defensive ability. Using Entrench, Meticulous Preparation and Shield probe with your ballistic dampeners up makes you take very little damage from very big hits.
This is what makes our defensives so good. They all have relatively short cool downs, but with the ability, Countermeasures, Shield probe, Cover Pulse (not really a defensive) and entrench are all reset. With the over prepared skill point, this also gives us a 15% damage reduction for 15" as well.
(Optional) This is my personal favorite. This lowers your threat, but if you choose the Evasive Maneuvers passive as your level 27 skill tree choice, this ability goes to a new level of amazing defensive. When used, you gain a 200% increase chance to dodge Melee and Ranged attacks. It also reduces damage that you take from force and tech attacks by 75% for 3". Gold in my book and a hard one to pass up. For a true DPS build, grab take down in the tree. When you need to stay alive, this is the ticket. This is better than many tank defensive cool downs and reminds me of the shadow's resilience ability. Oh, and yeah, of course, Meticulous preparation resets it.
This one gets us around the battlefield fast. Similar to the smuggler's scamper or guardian's blade blitz, Covered Escape rolls us forward 18 meters. While we are rolling, we have a 100% to dodge attacks. Making this ability all about timing the role of a one shot to "cheese it" (Doom from dread guards, for example). It's a skill that once mastered will make you invincible. Countermeasures will reset the cool down of Covered Escape. Meticulous preparation will reset the cool down of countermeasures. Making it very possible, use the following combination for multiple covered escapes in sequence.
There is nothing I can think of that you would want this many rolls in a row for, but it is of note that it will work.
Ok, last defensive ability here (what a list!). Ballistic Dampers must be chosen at level 51, but it's the only viable option, making it an easy choice for a very strong defensive. You will want to keep an eye on this one on your buff bar. As a sniper it is easy to stay stationary, but with ballistic dampers you want to move around a little to keep resetting them. Each charge of ballistic dampers absorbs 30% of an incoming attack. You get 3 charges each time you enter cover, with a 6" cool down on their use. So keep an eye on them. When they consume on damage, and it has been at least 4-5 GCDs (ability activations or 6"), exit cover and get back into cover to reapply them. Between Ballistic Dampers and your other Defensive abilities, you are invincible.
So, there you have it, snipers have quite the list of defensive abilities to choose from. Ballistic Dampers, entrench and using Meticulous Preparation is a great defensive combo for ignoring a very high damaging attack. It is fun to push the limits of just how much damage you can ignore with your defensive tool kit as a sniper. I have found in the new R-4 Operation that (outside of stalker phases) I can just sit still and eat 4-5 of the watch dog's missile circles when using my defensives properly in burn. It can be helpful to know when you can use your defenses and stay in place to get that channel of series of shots off to keep your damage output high. The sniper is a very stationary class at times, and with this support tool kit you can take full advantage of keeping your uptime in a fight.
This is a new passive at level 64 introduced in 7.3. We have to give up meticulous preparation as a defensive ability (and the reduced cool down), but it is a worthy sacrifice and one every sniper should be taking for operations content. The average Health bar at end game is a bit north of 400k HP. 3% HP every 2" comes out to around 12,000 healed every 2" or 6000 heals per second. That's 360k HP in 1 minute. If the sniper is taking constant damage throughout the fight, they can easily self-heal matching a watchman sentinel's frame wide heals. Keep in mind, adding these additional self-heals is going to build more threat. Keep a watch-out in the first 10-20" of a fight to make sure that you are not grabbing primary threat of a boss.