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The Powertech Compendium

By on Dec 23, 2011 at 9:00 am, in Article, Editorial, SWTOR  |  Comments: 11 comments

Powertech Compendium

Hello all and welcome to another guide by your friendly neighbourhood meatshield, Elicas. This is my updated guide for Powertechs, including tanking, Dps and PvP. I’m hoping to make this guide the “go to” guide for all things Powertech, from tanking your first instance to DPSing the latest raid boss. This guide will include which companions you can get, what their specialisations are, where to get them and also what crew skills work well for a Bounty Hunter. I will not however, include any hidden companions or anything about the Story Arc. I’m not here to ruin you’re enjoyment of the game, there are no spoilers ahead!

1 – Abbreviations and Desired Stats

BH – Bounty Hunter!
PT – Powertech!
AoE – Area of Effect
DD – Direct Damage
ShT – Shield Tech tree
Pyro – Pyrotech tree
AdvP – Advanced Prototype tree
CD – CoolDown.
EH – Effective Health
AM – Armour Mitigation
TM – Total Mitigation
DEF – Defense
RP – Rocket Punch
IGC – Ion Gas Cylinder
FB – Flame Burst
FS – Flame Sweep
FT – Flame Thrower
RS – Rail Shot
JC – Jet Charge
HB – Heat Blast
CTS – Chance To Shield
OS – Oil Slick
RB – Retractable Blade
Rsts – Rapid Shots
TD – Thermal Detonator
IMO – Immolate

2 – Stat Descriptions

BH PT Primary Stats The Primary Stats for all Bounty Hunters are Aim and Endurance, which increase our damage (Threat for Tanks) and Health. Aim gives 0.2 ranged damage while Endurance gives 10 HP per point. Aim will always give + Ranged Damage and + Tech Damage, so a BH will never need to gear for +Tech specifically.

BH PT Secondary Stats are: Presence – Boosts companion health, damage and healing. Tech Power – Found on weapons, increases Tech damage but not Ranged damage.

  • Accuracy – Gives +hit and gives armour penetration when over 100%
  • Crit – Gives Ranged and Tech critical chance.
  • Surge – Increased critical damage.
  • Armour – Reduces physical and kinetic damage (all Tech and Force powers unless otherwise specified are Kinetic)
  • Defense – Increases Parry/Deflect.
  • Shield – Increases chance to be shielded on attack
  • Absorption – Increases the % of damage shaved off shielded attacks
  • Alacrity – Cast/channel Haste The most important of these will depend on what you currently have the most of.

A well balanced and varied build is always preferable to heavily stacking in one area, so for example the more DEF  you have the less value it has, and the more you want to increase your Shield or Accuracy. This will again further depend by which spec you choose to play. A good rule of thumb to follow for tanking is the following; Accuracy to 105% > DEF/Shield/Armour > Endurance/Absorbtion > Aim > Secondary Stats. The reasoning behind this is simple, all mobs have a 5% base chance to avoid your attacks, to rule this out of the combat table we need to get a 105% chance to hit your enemy. This guarantees you will always hit and will therefore always be generating threat from your abilities. Def/Shield and Armour are all mitigation stats of around the same equivalent worth, depending on how much of each you have. Keep these stats roughly balanced and you won’t be going wrong. Many tanks like to simply stack health, and while it is an important stat if you have 10,000 health and 0 mitigation you’re going to die faster than a tank with 8,000 health and 40% TM. Finding a good balance between mitigation and pure health is the art of maintaining a good EH tank. Aim is the least important of the main stats, as it doesn’t provide any survivability. It does however increase our threat generation, which makes it much more useful than any of the other secondary stats we could choose.

For PvE DPS try this; Accuracy to 105% > Aim > Accuracy over 105% > Alacrity > Crit/Surge > Endurance My reasoning behind this is again relatively simple. We get as much accuracy as we can, as when we go above the 105% cap we gain armour penetration. Accuracy will never be a bad stat for a DPS BH,

However Accuracy over the cap should only be taken after Aim. Aim is our main DPS stat, it increases the damage of all our abilities, even those that are melee. Let me make this perfectly clear here, as many people ask me about this. Melee abilities of a BH increase their damage with the AIM stat, NOT STRENGTH. I place Alacrity as more important than Crit or Surge for a very important reason. Due to our overheat mechanic, we cannot constantly spam our abilities. Every two abilities we use, we should then use Rapid Shots to allow some extra heat to dissipate. This means that speeding up the casting of our abilities that we do get to use is of the utmost importance, as it will let us squeeze out that extra dps needed. The difference between a 2 second and a 1.5 second cast time might not sound like alot, but when you use that ability 100 times over the course of a fight, it makes a massive difference. I bring Crit and Surge in last place for a Dps build, as they are valuable but not worth gearing for specifically. The reason they are not worth gearing for specifically is that they are, to an extent, random with no return. What i mean by this is that there are no talents that vent Heat on a critical. All our ‘On Crit’ talents are handy, but not enough to build an entire spec around.

3A – Tanking Skill Specializations

Tank Spec

First up we’ll have a look at the builds I have chosen, including my reasoning behind which talents I have picked. The tanking build I am currently using is 31/8/2.

Tier 1 Abilities

  • Combust: 4% reduced damage for 15 second, costs 25 heat for Flame Sweep to hit up to 5 targets or 16 heat for Flame Burst to hit one target. Worth 2/2 points to keep up the 4% reduced damage at all times.  This will factor into our mitigation calculations later on in the guide.
  • Intimidation: 6% extra damage on our fire damage abilities, which make up the majority of our damage. That’s 6% bonus threat on all of these abilities. 3/3 points.
  • Prototype Burn Enhancers: 6% bonus crit chance for our fire damage abilities. Mostly a filler talent to help us get to tier 2 of the Advanced Prototype tree. 2/2 points, that can be swapped with Prototype Electro Surge if you prefer the reduced CD for the stun, personal preference.
  • Puncture: 60% armour penetration for Rail Shot, filler talent to help us get to tier 2, though Rail Shot does hit hard and will be being used at every available chance. Bonus threat, 3/3.
  • Iron Fist: 8% extra damage and therefore extra threat on one of our most used abilities, 2/2.

 Tier 2 Abilities 

  • Ion Overload: 100% chance to proc Ion Shock from your Cylinder when using Rocket Punch, our main threat generator. 2/2.
  • Steely Resolve: 3% Aim increase per skill point, which directly increases our damage done by 9%. That’s basically a 9% threat boost to our abilities before our additional threat modifiers are added to our abilities. 3/3.
  • Rebraced Armour: Absolutely a no brainer, 16% bonus Armour Rating. 2/2.
  • Prototype Cylinders: 8% extra threat and damage from our passive tanking proc. Well worth the one point as we’ll trigger the proc 100% chance every time we RP.
  • Power Armour: 1% reduced damage from all sources per point. Well worth the points, 2/2.

 Tier 3 Abilities

  • Shield Vents: 2% extra chance to shield an attack, and every attack shielded has a 50% chance of venting 8 heat. 2/2.
  • Oil Slick: Avoid 20% more attacks for 18 seconds every minute for just one point. Invaluable and a must have for all tanking Powertechs. 1/1.
  • Ablative Upgrades: Our shields absorb 6% more per hit, plus a 60 second reduction to our main CD. 2/2.

 Tier 4

  • Abilities Supercharged Ion Gas: Filler skill to move to the higher trees, 25% extra damage and a longer duration on the shock component of our tanking passive. Not bad at all for a 1 point investment. 1/1.
  • Ion Screen: Any time our main tanking passive is up, we take 2% less damage. As we should always be tanking with IGC up, that’s 2% reduced damage from all sources at all times. No brainer, 2/2.
  • Flame Shield: Increased crit chance for FS and RP, two of our main abilities. Plus shielding an attack gives a 50% chance to reset the CD for RP. Well worth taking, 2/2.

 Tier 5+ Abilities

  • Jet Charge: Initiator and clutch interrupt. Use it to get quick aggro on a boss at the start of a fight, or to interrupt if Quell is on CD, 1/1.
  • Flame Surge: Even more bonus damage for RP. Filler talent to get to Tier 6, 2/2.
  •  Empowered Tech: Increases our chance to shield by 10%. Invaluable, 5/5.
  •  Heat Blast: Signature ability, vents 8 heat and does a significant amount of fire damage. Number 1 on our threat ability priority table, 1/1.

3B – Tanking – PVP

PVP Tank Spec

Tanking in PvP is a much different beast than tanking in PvE. Opposing players have no threat tables, and tthey can’t be ‘taunted’ in the conventional sence. However, there are two important things to remember in PvP for a tank.

First of all, Guard. Guard can be changed on the fly to provide a great deal of support for whoever you place it on. In huttball this can be whoever is carrying the ball, or your healer if you are carrying the ball. This is recognised in the stats screen at the end of the game, as this is the “Protection” line of the stats screen. You will recieve medals for protecting people in PvP.

The second thing to remember is that our taunt skills, ‘Neural Dart’ and ‘Sonic Missile’, still work in PvP. It makes enemies that are not attacking you do 30% reduced damage, while doing 100% damage to you. Use this on everyone you can, and the 30% reduction of damage is added to your protection score at the end of the round. This is a major factor to winning games, as reducing your enemies damage while guarding a healer/ball carrier can have a major impact on the game. I’ve quite frequently came out of the game with over 50,000 protection points. That’s 50,000 points of damage that would have been done to the team, either done to me instead or reduced via taunts. Quite simply, massive.

The spec I favour for pure PvP is only slightly different to the spec I use for PvE. It still works for PvE, though at a reduced effectiveness, and should be more than enough for anyone tanking 4man instances on the normal difficulty. It makes for an effective spec for anyone leveling primarily via PvP with instances and the Class Quest on the side. The spec I’ve been using is 31/10/0, with a focus on using Grapple, my taunts and guard to influence fights. I try and AoE everything that I can trying to get my Neural Overload debuff slowing everyone, while Grappling enemy Healer sinto our team, and taunting enermy dps that are focussing on our healers. Thus far, it has worked very well.

4 – DPS Skill Specialization

DPS Spec

The two different DPS specializations for the Powertech are the Advanced Prototype tree and the shared Pyrotech tree. Both tree’s play differently, with AdvP focussing on melee abilities and Pyro forcussing on the 4m-10m range bracket. Both play very differently, while they gear in the same way. The Advanced Prototype spec I like is 8/31/2. The focus of this build in it’s purest essence is to build up your flamethrower damage from usage of FB. Obviously it’s not quite as simple as that, but that’s the general idea. To do this, we use the following priority system;

Flamethrower at 5 stacks > Rail Shot > Immolate > RB > RP > FB > RSts if 50+ heat

This utilises all of our abilities that have a CD, while trying to maintain 5stack flamethrowers as much as possible. With 8 heat being vented every 6 seconds and using Rapid Shots when over 50 heat, we should maintain good heat dissipation while maximising DPS. It is a very simple spec to play, and in my opinion is the best spec for beginner Powertech DPSers.

Pyrotech Spec

The Pyrotech DPS spec I use is very unusual, as it does not have 31 points in the main tree. This is because Pyrotech’s signiture ability Thermal Detonator is currently inferior to the ability it replaces. TD is a single target DD ability that costs 16 heat and shares a 15 second CD with Explosive Dart. However, here’s the kicker. It does on average around 400 less damage than Explosive Dart, and only hit’s one target. The only thing it has over Explosive Dart is that it has a minor 2 second CC aspect to it when used on weak or standard enemies, as they cower when it is thrown at them, and that it doesn’t break CC on other targets when it is thrown unlike Explosive Dart. However, in my build I do not use Explosive Dart except when there are enemies to AoE, so it becomes useless in my build. My Pyro build is 7/6/28 The idea of this build is to proc as many Rail Shots as possible, while keeping up Incendiary Missiles DoT componant. Again this sounds deceptively simple, it’s not quite so easy in practice. This spec revoles around very good heat managment as it does not have a standard heat vent unlike Advanced Prototype or Shield Techs. It instead vents heat whenever Rail Shot hits a target afflicted by a burn effect, either Combustible Gas Cylinder or Incendiary Missile. This means hitting the right opponent at the right time is critical.The priority list for this spec is as follows:

Incendiary Missile > Rail Shot > RP > FB > Unload > Rsts if +50 heat.

While this is a very simple priority list, I’ve found that in practice it takes much more thought and brain-to-hand agility when pulling off combinations. This makes me rate this spec as for use by more experienced players of MMO’s. Obviously, as there is yet no parser or damage meters in game, I cannot conclusively state how good these builds are nor how effective they are in comparison of each other. What I can say however, is that while using them stuff dies, usually while on fire, and that life is therefore good in the galaxy!

5 – Effective Health and Mitigation

EH and Mitigation are two very important concepts to balance out when choosing gear and talents on any end game tank. EH is how much raw Health Points (HP) you have modified by the damage reduction of your Armour Mitigation (AM). The maths is; Health / (1-AC%). Therefore a level 50 tank with 10,000 HP and an AM of 50%, would have (10,000 / 0.5) 20,000 effective health. Important – This only affects physical damage taken by mobs melee swings, not damage done by non-physical special abilities and spells.

Total Mitigation is the sum of our Avoidance and our Shielding. Avoidance in TOR is our chance to parry/dodge an attack, which is boosted by the DEF stat, while our Shield stat is our chance to absorb an amount of damage, similar to the Block stat in many other MMO’s. A good rule of thumb for tanks trying to be a mitigation tank, is that you want to aim for as close to 100% total mitigation as possible. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never take damage, it instead means that any time you do take damage, part of it is resisted. TM works with EH, meaning that your EH is increased even further every time you avoid or absorb an attack. Calculating your TM is incredibly simple, you simple take your DEF chance percentage and add it to your Shield chance percentage. I’ll show you exactly what this means in the following part of this guide. Hovering over your DEF stat in the character pane will show you what your DEF % is. Howevering over your Shield stat will show you what your Shield % is. Combining the two like thus; DEF + Shield = Avoidance. Gives us your chance to avoid all or part of the incomming damage.

This can be further refined however by adding in our current EH, as well as the straight damage reduction skills.. A BH, from skill specialisations alone, will have a minimum of; 5% base CTS + 15% CTS from IGC + 2% CTS from Shield Vents + 10% CTS from Empowered Tech + Power Generator Stats 5% base DEF. 5% base reduced damage taken from IGC + 2% reduced damage taken from Power Armour + 2% reduced damage taken from Ion Shield +4% reduced damage from Combust Debuff This totals as 5% DEF + 32% Shield when naked at level 50, with the resulting damage being by 13%. Now, instead subtract that hit from your EH total after factoring armour, and you’ve got a heck of alot of survivability on a BH. Let me give you an example, with the formula and the math behind it. I’ll be using a BH with easy to use defensive numbers;

A = Avoidance
B = Shield Chance
C = Shield Absorption
D = Armour and Modified Damage Reduction

((((100-A)*B)*(1-C))*(1-D)) + (((100-A)-((100-A)*B))*(1-D)) = Z 100 –

Z = Average Mitigation

A= 15
B= .32 (Shield Base 5%) + (IGC 15%) + (Shield Vents 2% + Empowered Tech 10%) = 32%
C= .26 (Shield Base 20%) + (Ablative Upgrades 6%) = 26%
D= .5000 (Easy to work with round number, 50.00% reduction)

((((100-15)*.32)*(1-.26))*(1-.5000)) + (((100-15)-((100-15)*.32))*(1-.5000)) = 38.964

100 – 38.964 = 61.036% Average Mitigation

Currently we are not sure if TOR does use a single roll for the hit table or not. If it does, then it makes calculating our defensive capabilities even easier, as we simply aim for a total combined shield/avoidance score of 100% + boss level bonus. Usually a one roll hit table will work out as; Miss Avoidance (Dodge and Parry) Shield Critical Hit Normal Hit We then plug in our calculated BH defensive stats naked at level 50 with all the talents detailed above and a basic 20% generator off hand and come out with:

Miss 5.00% 0.01 – 5.00
Avoidance 15.00% 5.01 – 20.01
Shield 47.00% 20.02 – 67.03

Now we get to the part that is hypothetical again, presuming that mobs have the same base 5% crit chance as we do;

Critical Hit 5.00% 67.04 – 72.05
Normal Hit 27.95 72.06 – 100.00

Now, it has been said that during beta there was a direct quote from a developer saying that there was a two-roll combat table being used, however, with the beta forums now being inaccessable, we can’t state yay or nay one way or the other without a direct quote.

6 – Threat and the Priority System

A PT tank does not use a set rotation like a dps class, but instead uses a Priority System, similar to an if statement flow chart. Simplified, it looks like the following;

Mitigation > Heat Dump if >40 else High Threat > Heat Dump if >40 else Procs > Filler

This means that you most important abilities are those that increase your survivability or mitigation, most notably FB and FS. This is followed by dumping heat with HB if you have more than 40, otherwise using our highest threat abilities, which are RS and RP. This is again followed by dumping heat with HB, otherwise we use any RP procs or return to mitigation, if everything is on CD and we don’t need to dump then we use filler abilities, such as our basic blaster attack.

A typical single target combination would look like this; FB -> RP -> RS -> RP/HB -> Filler

Whereas a typical multi-target combination would look like this; FS/OS -> RP -> RS/HB -> FT/HB -> RP/HB -> Filler

You’ll notice that the multi target combination has a much higher reliance on using HB. This is due to the fact that AoE attacks cost more heat, and you’ll therefore need to dump more often than when you’re tanking single target.

7 – Companions

Bounty Hunter’s get a wide variety of companions throughout the course of their Story. We get a variety of a healer, several tanks and severl dps companions that are a mix of Humans and Alien companions. Below I shall list where we get them (but not how to get them) what their specialities are and any crew skill bonuses they might have. Where known, i’ll also list their prefferred gift types. I will not list romances however, I’ll let you find that out yourself.


Mako – Hutta
Combat Style: Ranged Healer
Armor: Medium
Weapon type: Blasters
Special: Healing
Starting Kit: Concussion Rounds
Crew Skills: +5 Cybertech Efficiency, +15 Slicing Efficiency


Gault – Tatooine
Combat Style: Ranged DPS
Armor: Medium
Weapon type: Rifle
Starting Kit: N/A
Crew Skills: +10 Underworld Trading Efficiency, +2 Biochem Critical


Torian Caldera – Taris
Combat Style: Melee Tank
Armor: Heavy
Special: AOE flame swipe taunt
Starting Kit: Ground Slam Kit
Crew Skills: +10 Research Efficiency, +2 Bioanalysis Critical


Blizz – Hoth
Combat Style: Ranged Tank
Armor: Heavy
Weapon type: Blaster
Special: Suppressive Fire Taunt
Crew Skill: +15 Armormech Efficiency, +1 Armstech Critical


Skadge – Belsavis
Combat Style: Melee Tank
Armor: Heavy
Weapon type: Vibrosword
Starting Kit: Flamethrower kit
Crew Skills: +10 Scavenging Efficiency, +2 Treasure Hunting Critical

2V-R8 – D5 Mantis
2V-R8 is the Droid that comes with your personal ship, the D5 Mantis. He is a non-combat companion, than can only craft and do missions. The 2V-R8 are the standard on all Sith Empire ships, all ship companion Droids look like this over all the Empire classes.

8 – Crew Skills

Professions for the BH come down to a choice in whether or not you want to make weapons, armour or healing kits as you level up. There are four main crafting professions that work well with the BH. These are:

  • Armourmech – Crafting of Medium/Heavy armour for non force users.
  • Armstech – Crafting of Blaster Rifles and Pistols, as well as Weapon Mods.
  • Biochem – Consumables and Implants.
  • Cybertech – Droid components and Armour Mods.

Certain resource collection skills work well with each of the above. Each crafting crew skill has a gathering skill and a mission skill that compliments it. Each crafting skill has a skill that is labelled as ‘primary’. This means they will gather the items most useful for that crafting skill. Each crafting skill has the possibility of having a secondary skill. Secondary skills gather items that can be used to level the main crafting skill, but aren’t necessarily only for that crafting skill.

  • Armourmech – Scavenging primary and Underworld Trading secondary.
  • Armstech – Scavenging primary and Investigation secondary.
  • Biochem – Bioanalysis primary and Diplomacy secondary.
  • Cybertech – Scavenging primary and Underworld Trading secondary.

All BH’s also have the option of taking Slicing. Slicing allows your companion to go on missions and look for lockboxes that contain credits, or missions that return Augmentations. Augmentations are item mods that plug in to equipment that is made by a ‘critical hit’ crafting crew skill and have the “Exceptional” tag line. These Augments are unique to Slicing. The reason Slicing works so well for the BH is that Mako recieves +15 Slicing Efficiency, making our very first companion 15% quicker at getting lockboxes for us. Basically allowing us to start stacking up credits at a very early level.

Personally, I have chosen Slicing, Armourmech and Scavenging. This allows me to maintain the very best of armour upgrades, mixing and matching the items I can make with the very best of blue, orange and purple items that I find.

  • Suro

    I’m confused by your claim that alacrity helps significantly, as dropping 2.0 down to 1.5 is a big deal. In particular, since heat long-term is unaffected by alacrity (AFAIK), long term, you have to fill in with more rapid shots to keep things going. Thus, you’re not getting in any more ‘named’ shots, only rapid shots as the fight continues. More pointedly, it does help with things like Unload, as you can get it off faster and move out of the fire, but still, long term, you’re going to be heat-limited, and so overall, it’s not going to help you get off any more specials over the course of the fight – just rapid shots.

    Again, if I’m missing something, let me know, I’m not trying to speak from a position of authority, just that your claim, as stated, doesn’t make sense.

    • Elicas

      While we are heat limited, what you need to look at is the amount of time saved by casting things at 1.5 instead of 2, and the amount of extra rapid shots we can fit in to the rotation. For example, 

      Ability A – 2 second cast time is used 100 times in a fight. That is 200 seconds of casting.
      Ability A – 1.5 second cast time is used 100 times in a fight. That is 150 seconds of casting.

      That’s 50 seconds of extra rapid shots, at level 50 that can easily equate to upwards of 5000 damage.5000 damage is an extra 7500 threat. That’s for free, simply by having a faster cast time.

      Dropping ability’s cast times down to the GCD is always valuable.

  • Jeff Dkso

    You are incorrect about our droid companion. He’s a pure healer and heals better than mako. Mako is better sent out on missions. Look at the droids abilities vs makos

  • Malaclypse

    Love this. Would be awesome to see more of these.

  • Rombo Baak

    2V-R8 can join you while questing and properly geared heals just as well as Mako, if not better. He repeats the same thing all the time, so he’ll drive you mad unless you turn of the voices.

  • Endgameinitiaitve

    I would perhaps consider shield rating more strongly when compared to say, defense. The bonus procs from shielding are pretty fantastic for a tank.

  • John

    9% more aim doesn’t translate to 9% more damage/threat. The Aim talent is worthless as is and it’s actual increase to threat/damage is under 1.5% If this is game breaking for you for 3 whole points then by all means waste 3 points in steely resolve 

  • Twiggeh

    Is it really that good to have talents that increase the Ion Gas Cylinders damage at this point? AFAIK that ability is bugged and only does ~30% of its tooltip damage.

    Wouldnt it be more beneficial to spend those points elsewhere until Bioware fixes the cylinder?

  • Sharangir

    This formula is incorrect. Even if I use your numbers, I never get 38.964

    • JNic290


      If you follow the order of operations and use the parenthesis from the original article, it does come out to 38.964.

      ((((100-15)*.32)*(1-.26))*(1-.5000)) = 27.2*.74*.5 = 10.064
      (((100-15)-((100-15)*.32))*(1-.5000)) = (85-27.2)*.5 = 28.9
      As per the formula, we add the two together for a result of 38.964.

      — Basic math, my friend

  • The Sniper

    Torian is a Melee DPS, not a tank