Written by Lorhin, Edited by Xam Xam.
Disclaimer: I do not claim that this is the best way to play Sawbones, but it’s how I approach this healing class. This guide focuses on running this discipline in a PVE setting. Also, I’m using Republic terms mostly, since that’s what I’m more used to. #PubSideBestSide
UPDATE – Game Update 6.0
So you want some help with learning how to heal as a Scoundrel/Operative specifically? Of course, you do. You’re a smart person, and smart people pick smart healers. Nothing against our fellow Sage and Commando healers. They are good and have their place. I’m sure they’re very nice people. But, come on! We got the style. We bring the sass. We’re creative, got lots of utility, and frankly, we’re just awesome. Why wouldn’t want to be a Scoundrel healer?
And… who might you be?
I am Lorhin. I wrote the PvE Healing 101 Guide, and I am a Sawbones main. I raid on the MM progression team Resurrection, in the guild <Fortitude> on Star Forge. I’ve cleared every operation boss in the game on every difficulty as a Sawbones. But enough about me! Let’s get into how to heal like a scruffy-looking nerf herder.
Class Basics and Description
What are we most awesome at?
HoTs. That’s us. And I’m not just talking about our smouldering good looks. HoT, for those who don’t know, stands for “Heal Over Time”. So it’s like a DoT (Damage Over Time), except it makes you feel good instead of causing nausea. While HoTs are not very ideal for burst healing, they do a great job at keeping people stabilized. Another thing we shine at is AOE heals. Since our HoTs stick to their target and tick for a while, that allows us to have heals running on many people at once. Pair that with a few AOE heals that we carry, and you’ve got yourself the most powerful raid-wide healing in the game.
Where does our awesomeness start to fade?
Now, I know it’s hard to believe, but as amazing as we are, there are some areas where Scoundrels may not shine so brightly. As mentioned before, burst healing is not exactly our strong suit. Our HoTs tick a bit slow, and although our group heals are phenomenal, our single target burst heals could be better. It’s not like we don’t have any burst. We actually have decent burst heals. It’s just not “on-demand” like Sage or Commando burst heals are. There’s a bit of a start-up time for us, which may or may not be ideal, depending on the situation. But hey, look at the bright side. We’ve got some other tricks up our sleeves that the other healers don’t have.
How else do we differ from the other two healing classes?
As stated before, we don’t have great burst capabilities, and we use a lot of HoTs. This leads us to play more proactively than a Sage or Commando would. They have the on-demand burst that we don’t, so they can react faster than we can when things start getting hairy. This doesn’t make us slow. This just means that we’re always ahead of the game. (Should be, anyway.) Scoundrels and Operatives are always one step ahead of everyone, and this is reflected in how we heal. We keep our HoTs ticking on people so that if they get damaged, their health is already in the process of being stabilized because they are already being healed. Softens the blow for us, since we have to wait a second or two for our heal casts to finish. Makes sense? Remember, heal smarter, not harder.
Key Abilities & Cooldowns
You and Your Discipline
Alright, now let’s take a closer look at our arsenal to see what kind of tricks we’ve got up our sleeves. I’m not going to give the exact descriptions of each skill because honestly if you don’t know what something does, you really should read your discipline tree and skill descriptions. I will give TL;DR versions, and categorize things to hopefully make the info easier to take in.
Note – Blue names are Republic terms. Red names are Imperial terms. Non-coloured means it shares the same name between both factions.
HoTs / AOE Heals
- Slow-release Medpac/Kolto Probe – Your main heal. Dispense freely.
- Kolto Cloud/Recuperative Nanotech – Smart AOE HoT (meaning it prioritizes people with low HP). Instant cast. Heals up to 4 targets. Gives a “heals received increased” buff for a few seconds.
- Kolto Waves – AOE channel heal. Heals 8 targets that stand in it.
- Emergency Medpac/Surgical Probe – Instant cast, small burst. Use it to refresh Slow-release Medpac when possible. Spammable (as long as you have stacks of Upper Hand available).
- Kolto Pack/Kolto Infusion – Quick cast, medium burst heal. Gives an “internal/elemental damage reduction” buff.
- Underworld Medicine/Kolto Injection – Your biggest heal. Generates 1 stack of Upper Hand.
DCDs and Other Handy Skills
- Diagnostic Scan – Yeah, it heals, but the heals are weak. Use to regenerate energy. Can channel while moving.
- Triage/Toxic Scan – Cleanses up to 2 tech or physical effects on a target.
- Dodge/Evasion – Use to cleanse yourself and save Triage for another player. Negates Range and Melee damage completely for 3 seconds.
- Cool Head/Adrenaline Probe – Instant energy regenerator that fits in your back pocket.
- Pugnacity/Stim Boost – Instant Upper Hand stack generator that fits in your back pocket.
- Scamper/Exfiltrate – Use when you need to run away.
- Trick Move/Holotraverse – Also useable when you need to run away. Or run to something. Have to have a target though.
- Surrender/Countermeasures – Your threat dump.
- Heartrigger Patch/Resuscitation Probe – Your battle res.
- Stack the Deck/Tactical Superiority – Your raid buff. One of the best ones too, I might add.
- Defence Screen/Shield Probe – Absorbs a noticeable amount of incoming damage, and has a relatively short cooldown.
- Disappearing Act/Cloaking Screen – Your “get out of jail free” card. Can be used as a complete threat dump, to attempt a stealth res, or to save you a walk back after a wipe. Smart, yeah?Hot
- Streak/Tactical Overdrive – Our new skill in 6.0. You can use it to reset some cds you might need, and give yourself a little more juice for 15 seconds.
The Onslaught Expansion brought about a change to everyone’s utility trees. Instead of four tiers, now there are only three. Utility skills have also been rearranged, and you need to pick 3 to progress to the next tier. If you want suggestions on which utility points to grab, below is the setup I usually run with.
I tend to lean towards utilities that assist me defensively. After all, you can’t heal if you’re dead. That is why I pick Smuggled Get-up/Nanotech Suit, Scar Tissue/Chem-resistant Inlays and Supplemented Medpac/Fortified Kolto. Keep Cool/Endorphin Rush obviously helps when I’m running low on energy. I take Sneaky/Infiltrator for the movement speed boost. Flee the Scene/Advanced Cloaking allows me to fit in slightly more stealth res attempts, threat wipes, etc. if need be. Scramble/Evasive Imperative helps Dodge come off cooldown faster if you’re being attacked (which can happen a lot, since healer aggro is real), and Surprise Comeback/Revitalizers turns Pugnacity into an impressive defensive cd. Depending on the fight, and if there’s anything to reflect or not, I swap back and forth between Back At Ya/Blow for Blow and Hotwired Defensives/Augmented Shields.
I know some people like to take Sly Surrender/Curative Agent to make Kolto Pack the hot that it used to be, way back in the day. I find the burst version of Kolto Pack much more useful. It helps our burst heals more, and again, that’s where we kind of lack. Tanks also tend to die from spike damage far more than they do from sustained damage, especially in the harder difficulties. The faster we can help them regain health, the better.
Stats and Amplifiers
Back in the previous expansion, it was recommended for everyone to run enough alacrity to achieve a 1.3 second GCD. However, stat distributions have changed in 6.0. Healers can technically still get a 1.3 second GCD (3206 Alacrity), but their crit rating will be incredibly low. What I suggest doing is going for the 1.4 second GCD (1213 Alacrity), then get your Crit Rating to around 3300-3500.
Another new change is the existence of a cap on the Mastery and Power stats in all old (pre-6.0) content. This is due to the new level sync tech introduced in Onslaught that is present in all old flashpoints and raids. This cap on Mastery and Power renders relics like Serendipitous Assault and Focused Retribution pretty much useless. The Relics I suggest going for are Devastating Vengeance (crit proc), and Primeval Fatesealer (clicky Alacrity).
There is one more new mechanic that 6.0 introduced for gearing: amplifiers. These are kind of like augments, except they are tied to the armour shell, and modification pieces of gear (not colour crystals or tunings). There are also more than just combat-related amplifiers, too. There are some for crafting, some that affect your companions, and many others created for utility purposes.
If you are looking to get amplifiers that affect your healing, you will want to go with the Medtech amplifier. This increases the healing done by tech abilities, and it just so happens that all our heals are tech-based. There are other amplifiers that may look helpful, specifically the Periodic Restoration, and the Aural Rejuvenation. The former increases the healing power of periodic healing abilities (aka. Our HoTs), and the latter increases the healing power of AOE heals. Medtech, however, helps all of our heals, so it would be the better amplifier to invest in.
Set Bonuses and Tacticals
So, 6.0 brings along a lot of new Set Bonuses for everyone to play around with. I am not going to go over all of them, as there are so many, but I will talk about a few. I have to say, the one that I got the most mileage out of is this one:
- (2) +2% Alacrity
- (4) Bushwhack/Toxic Haze refunds all its energy.
- (6) Bushwhack/Toxic Haze heals any allies standing inside it by a minor amount.
I love this set bonus. That heal on Bushwhack helps SO MUCH. It says “a minor amount” in the description, but the Bushwhack heal is actually pretty noticeable. I found myself using it just as much as I used Kolto Waves. Using them both together to heal a clustered group of dying friends is just magnificent. *chef’s kiss* I HIGHLY suggest obtaining this set bonus.
Another set bonus that you can go for is the Tactician set.
- (2) +2% Mastery
- (4) Hot Streak/Tactical Overdrive additionally resets the cooldown of Back Blast/Backstab, Tendon Blast/Sever Tendon, and Triage/Toxic Scan. Gaining an Upper Hand/Tactical Advantage increases your Critical Chance by 15% for 10 seconds. Can only happen once every 10 seconds.
- (6) Upper Hand/Tactical Advantage gets an additional stack. Having an Upper Hand/Tactical Advantage increases your damage and healing by 5%.
While you don’t get the extra heal skill to carry around, this set gives you a nice boost in raw power, when you obtain or have stacks of Upper Hand available. The Tactician set also doubles for a nice DPS set, so you could kill two birds with one stone by getting this.
There is one more set bonus I wanted to talk about since most healers will think it sounds like a good idea at first. This is a general Smuggler set bonus, not tied to any specific Advanced Class or Discipline.
- (2) +2% Endurance
- (4) Defence Screen/Shield Probe creates a small shield around surrounding allies
So you might be saying to yourself, “Oh neat! Whenever I use my Defense Screen, it will shield others around me as well. This could be useful for predictable raid-wide damage in some fights. Not to mention, Defense Screen has a relatively short cooldown for defensive ability. I’d be able to use it often. This sounds like a worthy set bonus to pursue.”
Firstly, great job using your noggin like that! That’s the kind of scheming I like to see in my Scoundrel healers! And secondly, you’re wrong.
While this set bonus looks good on paper, unfortunately, it’s not very helpful. When it says “small shield,” it really means it. It only shields about 5k damage on other people, and the utility that boosts the amount of damage your Defense Screen absorbs does not affect this set bonus. The piddly shield will probably be passable in SM ops and FPs, but in harder endgame content, this will never do. Another issue with this set bonus is that other people need to be within 5 meters of you to even get the shield. So basically, melee range. That’s not always possible, or desirable, when healing group content, especially ops. One last problem with the Probe Tech set… it’s just a 4-piece set bonus. You would have to use a 2-piece from another set or wear pieces of the Amplified Champion set to make the rest of your armour useful.
TL;DR – Just use either Aggressive Treatment or Tactician.
Onslaught introduces a brand new gear slot called “tacticals”. What they do is they basically alter how one of your skills functions to the point that you might strengthen a particular part of your combat proficiency, mitigation, or heals. For example, DPS have tacticals that increase their burst damage, or tacticals that increase their AOE damage. You can swap them out to change how you would approach a particular encounter or foe.
There are many tacticals that you can use, but for the sake of this guide, I am only going to cover the ones that might be useful for Scoundrel healers.
- Critical Surgery – Emergency Medpac/Surgical Probe always critically hits on targets below 50% health
- Diagnostics Probe – Activating Emergency Medpac/Surgical Probe reduces the cast time of the next Underworld Medicine/Kolto Injection by 0.25 seconds. At 3 stacks Underworld Medicine/Kolto Injection can be cast instantly and consumes all stacks.
- Regenerative Waves – Kolto Waves consumes an Upper Hand/Tactical Advantage and heals 20% more per tick
- Combat Medic Training – Heartrigger Patch/Resuscitation Probe becomes instant cast and Kolto Pack/Kolto Infusion can be cast while moving
Honestly, I use the first three. The one that I default to is Diagnostics Probe, as that one does a number for our single target heals. It balances things out very nicely with the Aggressive Treatment set bonus. But I was able to find scenarios where I could use Critical Surgery or Regenerative Waves, and they made healing an encounter a little more manageable. The Combat Medic Training tactical sounds nice, but it doesn’t really give you much to work within the “let’s keep my group alive” department. Not as much as the other tacticals, anyways. Yeah, your battle res becomes instant, but you can only use that once every 5 mins in VM and MM. Most VM/MM operation boss fights aren’t long enough to use it more than once anyways (unless someone dies at the very beginning). Being able to cast your smaller burst heal on the move is nice, but it doesn’t really have a long cast time as it is.
Tips and Tricks
What else do we have in our particular set of skills?
Stealth Res – Scoundrels and Operatives are the only healers in the game that can perform a stealth res. If you’re not sure what this is, you basically use your combat stealth to drop combat, then use your out-of-combat res to revive a downed group member. If done right, you can pick someone back up without having to use a battle res. Extremely useful! Shadows and Assassins can also perform the stealth res, but they have a 15-minute cooldown for their out-of-combat res. We don’t have a cooldown at all because we are a class that can spec heals. This allows us to stealth res people more often.
Tips to remember when trying to stealth res:
- The revive ability needs to be used from your skill bar. You can’t just right-click the player’s corpse to res them. Don’t know why that is, but it is what it is.
- Make sure you don’t have any DoTs or HoTs ticking on anyone. The damage/heal ticks will pull you back into combat, cancelling your revive cast.
- Getting healed by your co-healer can also put you back into combat. (I’m looking at you, Wandering Mend…)
- Taking damage, or spawning adds put you back in combat as well. You’ll need to time when you attempt to stealth res someone if a boss fight has these kinds of mechanics, preferably waiting until after they happen.
- You can chain res multiple people in one combat stealth usage, so long as you don’t get pulled back into combat.
Slippery Suckers – It may not sound as useful for PVE as it is for PVP, but we can cover quite a bit of ground with Trick Move and Scamper. Add that combat stealth to the mix, and we should be able to slither our way out of danger almost as well as we can talk our way out. Not to mention, you can use these skills to quickly get in range of someone who’s dying, so you can heal them up.
Hey. You still there? Wow, well congratulations on making it to the end of this rather lengthy guide! Do I have any more tricks up my sleeve? Perhaps, but this is enough for now. If you need any more tips, feel free to contact me directly on Twitter (@LorhinGames). I tend to stream when I raid as well if you want to see my Scoundrel heals in action (twitch.tv/Lorhin). And speaking of raids, I want to thank my team, my guild, and all my friends who I’ve raided with over the years. Without them, I wouldn’t have all this experience to share with you. And speaking of you, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my guide! I hope you find my suggestions helpful. Remember: play smarter, not harder. May the Force be with you!