SWTOR: Saboteur PvP Quick Start Guide

Smuggler Build Guide for PvPing with the Gunslinger Saboteur Tree

Updated for 2.8!

Saboteur spec is all about AoE. This spec is great for what I call actively defending. By actively defending, I mean responding to attacks on your controlled objectives. Sitting on defense at an uncontested node is a waste of your abilities(some exceptions). As an example:

Sitting on defense

Actively defending
Saboteur Gunslinger PvP Warzone
I deal twice the damage, in almost half the time, with less kills, by actively defending.  This is a support/utility spec, not a beast damage spec. It is mainly to complement a group, not run solo. Sharpshooter is the single target, high damage spec. You can still put up decent numbers catching enemies with this spec when they stack together.


Armor: Before 55, anything will do thanks to the bolster system. Once you hit 55, you will want the Field Tech or Professionals PvP sets. Mixing the sets for the stats you want is also viable. You will need to buy Partisan first. Conqueror gear requires the corresponding part of Partisan gear for the purchase.

See my post on new SWTOR Gunslinger Gear for more on Field Tech versus Professional’s.

Accessories: Again, Field Tech, Professional’s, or a mix. The others are also acceptable based on what stats you need, but are generally meant for Scoundrels.

Relics: Relic of Serendipitous Assault and Relic of Focused Retribution.


This is the stat priority you want to go by:

  1. Accuracy – You need 100% for special attacks(90% basic – mouse over your character sheet to see the difference).
  2. Critical – You need 30% unbuffed.
  3. Surge – You need 75%.
  4. Power – No limit/whatever is left.

Augmenting for Cunning provides a very slight benefit over power.  We’re talking really small, so if you happen across Power augments at a good price, don’t shy away.

PvP Spec

Here’s my 55 point build link, and video explanation on why:


Below is an expanded explanation for the 55 point build:
*Choices in bold are considered mandatory.


  • Cool Under Pressure 2/2 – Heal 1% every 3 seconds.
  • Bravado 2/2 – More energy, more options.
  • Streetwise 3/3 – Cunning is damage AND crit.


  • Independent Anarchy 3/3 – Increased damage to AoE and Sabotage Charge.
  • Saboteur’s Utility Belt 2/2 – Reduces cooldown of flash grenade and thermal grenade. Two frequently used abilities.
  • Pandemonium 0/2 – Gives a chance that your next Charged burst will be free.
  • Underworld hardships 0/2 – Not worth 2 skill points. It’s 2% to Endurance, not 2% to health.


  • Contingency Charges 2/2 – This helps with burst, as the next two hits you land will deal extra damage. It also leads into the next tier for even more extra damage hits.
  • Dealer’s Discount 2/2 – Reduces energy cost of some frequently used skills.
  • Shock Charge 1/1 – A DoT that resets it’s cooldown if removed. Also improves with the next skill.
  • Sapping Charge 2/2 – Shock Charge now slows the target by 30%!


  • Insurrection 1/1 – Extra Contingency Charges (burst damage) and extra energy when they explode.
  • Hot Pursuit 0/2 – Free Quick Shot (no energy) when you leave cover, but only every 20 seconds.
  • Arsonist 2/2 – Increases Crit chance of AoE attacks.


  • Seize the Moment 0/2 – After casting Sabotage, your next Sabotage Charge or Incendiary Grenade is free.
  • Sabotage 1/1 – Resets cooldowns on Cool Head, Defense Screen, Hunker Down, and Hightail It.
  • Press The Advantage 2/2 – Reduces the cooldown of Sabotage, and heals you for 5%.


  • Riot Screen 2/2 – Reduces damage taken while in cover and reduces the cooldown of Scrambling Field. Again, squishy classes like more and more often damage mitigation.
  • Blazing Speed 1/1 – Speed Shot adds a DoT. This is great against a stealth class, or someone LoSing you. It is elemental damage as well, which most specs have very little resists against.
  • Hot Shot 3/3 – Charged Burst and Quick Shot add the same DoT as Speed Shot.


  • Scatter Bombs 2/2 – Hightail It drops damaging bombs on your trail, and reduces energy cost of Thermal Grenades.
  • Jury-Rigged Mods 3/3 – Increased ranged and tech crit chance. Can’t beat that.


  • Incendiary Grenade 1/1 – AoE that deals damage AND slows targets. Also stuns a target with Shock Charge.


  • Black Market Mods 2/2 – Alacrity is more viable as a PvP stat. I’m still testing.
  • No Holds Barred 0/3 – Increased ranged and tech crit chance. Useful until you max out your Crit.
  • Holdout Defense 0/2 – Lets you escape faster after a good pistol whip!


  • Ballistic Dampers 2/2 – Helps reduce 3 sources of incoming damage. Can be reset every 6 seconds.
  • Steady Shots 2/2 – Increases damage of Charged Burst, Speed Shot, and Wounding Shots. All commonly used attacks.

  • Sharpshooter 3/3 – Increases Accuracy, which isn’t needed in PvP. 100% for special attacks is all you need.


  • Percussive Shot 0/1 – Aimed Shot knocks a target back.
  • Cover Screen 1/2 – Exiting cover increases ranged defense.
  • Sharp Aim 0/2 – Aimed Shot ignores some armor.
  • Trip Shot 0/2 – Reduces cooldown of Leg Shot.


  • Keep in cover as much as possible to prevent classes from jumping to you.
  • Use range to your advantage by letting enemies come to you.
  • Two is the magic number you generally want to use to determine whether to use an AoE ability.
  • Flourish Shot reduces healing on the target, so make it your second or third shot.
  • Use your CC to keep enemies at a distance, or stun them when they get close so you can readjust your position.
  • Ready For Anything gives you amazing stealth detection when behind cover. Keep your back to a wall when guarding.

Defensive Cooldowns

  • Defense Screen – Absorbs some incoming damage for 15 seconds.
  • Dodge – Dodges all ranged and melee attacks for 3 seconds.  It also removes all harmful effects like bleeds and snares.

Scrambling Field – Puts up a huge shield over you and any allies nearby. Reduces damage to all of you by 20% for 15 seconds.  It stays in place and does not follow you around.

  • Use your range to your advantage by letting enemies come to you.
  • Two is the magic number you generally want to use to determine whether to use an AoE ability.
  • Flourish Shot reduces healing on the target, so make it your second or third shot.
  • Use your CC to keep enemies at a distance, or stun them when they get close so you can readjust your position.

Crowd Control (CC)

  • Flash Grenade – Stuns one target, but deals no damage. Any damage breaks the effect, including any player’s DoTs. Careful of other players tunneling. Good as an interrupt too.
  • Dirty Kick – Stun that you can run from, or burn them down through. Not affected by damage.
  • Leg Shot – Roots people regardless of resolve. Damage breaks the root.
  • Shock Charge/Incendiary Grenade – You can use this strategically. Drop a Shock Charge on the target to start the damage, then drop your Incendiary Grenade on top of them when you’re ready for the stun. You can attack during this stun also.
  • Pulse Detonator – Knocks enemies back, potentially off ledges or into traps.


Huttball – Stay on the uppermost catwalks and shoot down while out of harms way. Use Pulse Detonator to knock enemies off the catwalks (or into traps). Lots of opportunities to be LoSed here, so use your Wounding Shot, Speed Shot, and Shock Charge DoTs to keep the damage going when you don’t have a clear shot. Pass the ball, do not run it unless there is no other option. The new ability High Tail It makes you nearly unstoppable near the end zone.


Alderaan – Use your AoE to your advantage. As enemies stack up close on the platform, it’s a great opportunity for your AoEs to overwhelm healers. You can also use your AoE to interrupt an enemy capping a console, by attacking another enemy close by. When you see enemies approaching, move to the front of the platform so you can begin attacking the instant they are in range.

Voidstar – You can use your AoE to interrupt multiple enemies planting the bomb. Try to stay between the pillars and the door when defending. Stay beyond the pillars when attacking. Your Flash Grenade is amazing for catching an entire wave of rezzers returning to battle, buying you precious seconds for a plant.


Novare Coast – Use your AoE to interrupt multiple enemies capping a bunker. Always keep the bunker interior within your LoS when defending, and stay inside the sandbags. When attacking a bunker, stay outside them.

Ancient Hypergate – Your AoE is perfect for clearing out the orb room. With stealth detection, you also make an amazing guard for the pylon.


Because there’s nowhere else to put these:
  • Energy regenerates faster, the more of it you have.  If you drop down to 1, it’s going to tick up to 2 slowly.  If you have 3, it’s going to tick up to 4 pretty quick.
  • Your CC actually hits when it lands on the target, not when you activate it.  For instance, your enemy has a resolve bar that is emptying.  You throw a Flash Grenade before it empties, but it doesn’t actually count until it hits the target.  (True story, this actually happened to me.  It caught my enemy just as his resolve bar cleared.)


This guide is only meant to cover what you need to know to get started. My intention is to get people running as fast and easily as possible. I don’t throw in every detail because I don’t want to overwhelm or confuse people. I plan to continually update the guide with more in the future. This guide is always a work in progress, so please feel free to post your questions, suggestions, or what you’d like to see in future updates. You can find this guide on the Official SWTOR forums, here as well.  If you want to learn even more, watch my Twitch.tv channel to see the me action.  I stream warzones all the time.

2 Replies to “SWTOR: Saboteur PvP Quick Start Guide”

  1. Hi, I just found your guides an have found them very helpful as a f2p player. At the moment I am thinking about subbing as I have a 28 Sorcerer and 15 Assassin. Is it worth me subbing to do you think? Are you subbed? Also would it be possible for you to make some more class guides particularly for Assassins or Sorcerers? At the moment I am preferring assassin and think that I will pursue that as my first 50/55! Thanks a lot for the guides mate

    1. Glad I could help! I am not subbed right now, but it might be worth you subbing for at least a month. You get the Hutt Cartel expansion free, a little bit extra xp gained while leveling, and Preferred status when your sub ends. Ideally you just need to get a character to 50 to farm the daily quest hubs (Corellia) for cash. You can buy most of the F2P unlocks off the GTN. The hard one to get will be Artifact unlock. You might be able to use your monthly stipend of Cartel Coins to buy it, or you can buy it with credits if you can afford it. There isn’t a credit limit while you are subscribed, so i’d look to getting that one first. The others are easily under 350k for account-wide unlocks.

      As far as an assassin/sorcerer guide, i’m afraid that’s the one class I haven’t played. You could try http://www.madsithassassin.com/p/guides.html – that’s the first website I can think of to help you with the Inqisitor class(es). I am working on a Vanguard trooper, though it’s not really a priority atm so no telling when i’ll have it out. GSF is holding my interest pretty steadily atm.

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