Marksmanship | Sharpshooter
Marksman Sniper is currently a low parsing DPS ranged spec. It, however, has a fun and fluid rotation that makes it, in my opinion, easy to learn and keep pace with. As ranged spec's go, this is a good place to start. 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.
Gearing up for Marksmanship
Below are the gear selections, legendary implants, tactical and skill point choices I recommend for this class.
The Base Pattern
The way I have my bar set up, puts the abilities below in the following "+" pattern, with buffs for each above or below their respective ability. The marksman sniper is one of my favorites due to its fluid casting. Below, I have set up a more Liner rotation for better reference.
The above, only drawn out into an "opener"
Use Orbital Strike as the tank begins the countdown to maximize your opener's dps. It takes a few seconds to channel, and the initial blast goes off a few seconds later. Work on timing it to where you can hit corrosive dart as the tank says go/starts the pull.
After our Opener, we move into a priority system
Remember to Always hit Follow through after any of your rotational Priorities
Watching the remaining cool downs of pen blast and ambush are critical to timing your shots. I highly recommend making certain you have cool down text active on your quick bars.
Quick Reference Cards
Always use Laze Target before your ambush channel. We will get 2 charges of laze target as a marksman with the skill tree pick below. Be sure not to smash it twice for the same ambush, as it will only serve to refresh the buff window, thus wasting a charge.
Without the Energy Regulator's Legendary Implant, our energy management is going to suffer. This energy recharge will be used almost on cooldown, and the base rotation will require inserting base attacks to keep ahead.
Marksmanship'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 entrench back off cool down, but more so to go ahead and get the cool down of imperial preparation resetting.
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 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, but for marksmanship we have to give up a pretty significant dps increase with shattered snipe. 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.
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.
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 DPS at end game is a bit north of 400k HP. 3% HP every 2" comes out to around 12,000 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.
Legendary Implants and Tactical
The first item I would get on this list would be Energy Regulator's Package. Without it, the Marksman runs out of energy after about 60" of combat.