One Shot, One Kill: Imperial Agent Sniper Build

One Shot, One Kill is a column devoted entirely to the Imperial Agent Sniper. If you’ve got something Sniper-related you’d like resident devotee Matthew ‘Scope’ Pearce to cover, drop us a line.

I wanted to spend some time covering the burst DPS build I use with my Sniper and what’s changed since patch 1.4 hit.

What changes in 1.4 actually affected snipers?

Well we should all be happy that they finally fixed the delay that was happening when going into cover and using our AOE knockback  straight away. The delay that usually followed meant knocking your opponent in the wrong direction or missing them completely, thus wasting a life- saving cooldown.

Marksmen spec snipers should also be happy with the improved Followthrough that is now usable 5 seconds after using Snipe, Ambush, or Takedown, up from 3 seconds. It now allows us a little more breathing space in our rotations and some time to mix things up a bit, which I like a lot.

Why should I play a Sniper?

Great long range abilities, CC immunity , amazing crowd control as well as multiple damage reduction defensive abilities.

Snipers are great fun to play – they have some of the best defensive  and offensive cooldowns in the entire game.

What other reasons should you play a sniper that are not combat related? Well, Imperial Agents get to experience one of the best story lines and meet some of the most interesting companion characters out of all the Empires classes.

Without giving away any story spoilers, the Imperial Agent’s story is like one of the good James Bond stories – it’s filled with loads of action, loyalty, love, betrayal , and focuses on the Sith Empire from the viewpoint of a loyal soldier trying to do their best to help the Empire or to help themselves

What build are you using at the moment and why?

I run with the 25/16/0 build and have been since I first made my sniper back in beta:

imperial agent sniper build

 My reasoning behind why I run this build instead of a full 31 point build is simple: I love burst damage.

When you play on a PVP server like I do and when world PVP can and does happen (though rarely as of late), I prefer burst damage builds. They are the best way to bring your enemy down as quickly and easily as possible and snipers fill this role the best out of all the ranged damage classes in SWTOR.

My build is centred around the application of Explosive Probe, for its main damage dealing abilities and as a source of energy regeneration with the talents in Imperial methodology, plus the extra regeneration from Snipers Pillbox in the marksmanship tree. These two talents allow me to stay in the fight longer as well as manage my energy levels better and thus deal more damage.

Is this build good for levelling?

When I first levelled my sniper up I made sure that my first 2 talent points went into the “Engineers Tool Belt”

These 2 talent point lets us throw our Fragmentation Grenades every 3 seconds and makes levelling faster and easier as we can simply run into a group of 5 enemies toss a grenade, rifle shot and then toss another grenade again over and over until all the mobs are dead.

I would focus on going up the engineering tree first until you hit level 30, then I would respec and go with marksmanship and try out the new ability “Followthrough”. Once you get to level 32 you should put two points back into “Engineers Tool Belt” to regain the ability to AOE spam every 3 seconds and then continue back up the engineering tree the same as in my build until you hit level 50.

So where does the burst damage come from?

The combination of the Marksmanship tree’s ability to dish out fast and hard hitting single target attacks, combined with the explosive abilities that activate when hit from the engineering tree, make for one hell of a burst damage build.

Here is an example of my sniper using just “Explosive Probe” followed by “Ambush” and the burst damage I can dish out:

 imperial agent sniper build

That’s 11600 damage in 1 hit.

Can you show us an example of a basic rotation?

Say you run into a Sage or Sorcerer – these guys have the lowest armour in game and as such are usually the easiest targets for a sniper to kill and kill quickly. If they aren’t paying attention you can bring them to below 50% hp with 2 button presses.

Here is a quick and easy rotation that you can use to bring a Sorcerer or Sage down in around 5-8 button presses depending on his gear and yours.

1 First go into cover

2 Toss out your “Explosive Probe” ability. Note that if another person or NPC is hitting the target of “Explosive Probe” the next hit the target takes will trigger the effect. however don’t let this discourage you from using this ability as it also adds four extra damage ticks due to our spec.

3 Hit your Ambush ability. Note that you can also use your “Laze Target” and the “Target Acquired” cool downs prior to using Ambush in order to add extra damage if so desired.

(once Ambush hits the target with an explosive probe the target usually goes down to 50% hp)

4 Hit your “Followthrough” ability. This ability can only be used after using either Ambush Snipe or Takedown.

(If the target is now under 25% hp use “Snipe” and then “Takedown” – if the target is not below 25% continue to step 5)

5 Hit “Snipe”

(Because of our talents when we go into cover we get an instant cast snipe for the next 10 seconds)

6 Now that “Snipe has been used it has unlocked the ability “Followthrough” again but it is still on cool down so what we do next is use our “Series of Shots” ability.

7 Once that ability is finished quickly hit “Followthrough” again

8 Now the target should most definitely be below 25% health so we can use the “Takedown” ability to finish them off.

(if this ability doesn’t finish them off completely you can simply leave cover and re-enter cover for another instant cast “Snipe” that you can easily follow up with another devastating “Followthrough”)

So over to you: do you currently play a Sniper or plan on levelling one now?


  1. Till this is F2P, Dont care. Still wont play Op’s when it is. My ‘Rauder is too awesome.

  2. This build sucks just like any sniper hybrid. You put all your eggs in one basket which is explosive probe an ability that has 30s CD, can be dispelled (ops and mercs, assassins force shroud) and still does kinetic damage just like the rest of MM abilities. You trade extra surge damage for Followthrough, Takedown and SoS for extra surge from EP. I don’t need to mention how many times you can use those 3 MM abilities in a 30s time frame while your EP is on cooldown. Full MM can root, EP, ambush, FT just as well, and without that less damage. That big numbers screenshot you provided is one where you used power adrenal, something you cannot use in warzones. Also, I don’t see the shatter shot debuff on dummy. Binding your rifle shot on “1” is one of the worst binds for a mobile sniper. I want to see you WSAD your way in a warzone while pressing “1” with your left hand.

    • I have rifle shot bound to 1 on my sniper, but I use a Naga when I play so hitting it while moving is pretty easy. Back on topic though, based off SimulationCraft of a BiS Sniper, Marksman vs Hybrid (this build only slightly modified for PvE) a pure MM is marginally better. 1970 DPS average vs 1914 DPS(2piece pvp/pve bonus used for both). I think ultimately it comes down to how well you can manage energy etc.

      I imagine some of these talents differ PvP to PvE, such as putting points in Heavy Shot etc.

      • “When you play on a PVP server like I do and when world PVP can and does happen (though rarely as of late), I prefer burst damage builds.”

        “Marksman vs Hybrid (this build only slightly modified for PvE)”

        So this is a modified PvE build but your premise is all about burst for PvP… waaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?