Low Down and Dirty – Sawbones Basics

Chewing on a piece of straw, the Sawbones Scoundrel giggles with glee as he tips his hat towards the sun, signaling two droids to bathe a nearby Jedi in neon green kolto goo.

In many ways, the Sawbones is the most fitting spec for the Smuggler, as you’re always on the move, relying on a massive arsenal of dirty tricks and strange contraptions to do your bidding. You aren’t as stationary as a Commando or a Sage, preferring instead to stay on the move, dodging enemy fire while keeping your friends (or Wookie buddy) in tip-top fighting shape. Because really, if it wasn’t for them…you’d be the one taking fire, and we can’t have that now can we?

Here are a few things to keep in mind should you want to join the ranks of the low-down and dirty:

We heal using energy.

That’s right, our resource is as renewable as solar power. There are a variety of ways you can regenerate it in combat, but the fact remains that while it’s hard to “run out” of energy, you can easily deplete your stash in a frantic burst of healing. Be prepared to pace things out a bit.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Energy regeneration mechanics in SWTOR are very different from World of Warcraft. Rather than maintaining a set speed, energy in SWTOR regenerates at different speeds based on your current energy levels. This is represented by the arrows next to your energy bar. It breaks down like this:

>20 =  2/sec        20-60 = 3/sec     >60 = 5/sec

As you can see, it behooves you to keep your energy above 60% as much as possible. Often, dipping below 20% can put you in a pit that’s very difficult to crawl out of. This also means that you can heal somewhat indefinitely using a specific rotation, as long as you balance your output to match your input.

Depending on the content, we’re either a HoT healer or a heal bomber.

Our only AOE heal is a HoT. Our primary talented heal is a HoT. Even our free heal is a glorified channeled HoT. If assisted by a more effective tank healer, we can spread the love across a wide variety of targets, providing healing while on the go. Otherwise, we’ve got some of the most efficient and powerful single-target heals in the game and we’re able to go the distance no matter the duration. We can bring whatever it takes to table without switching specs, which can be very useful to any Ops group. Pair a Scoundrel with a Commando, you’ve got a raid healer. With a Sage? Tank healer.

That said, most of our heals are instant cast.

A far cry from the stationary life of the Gunslinger, the Sawbones can always be on the move. With the exception of our channeled heal and our primary cast heal, we can refresh all our buffs or toss out weak direct heals while dodging nasty AoE or kiting adds. If assigned to a tank though, expect a Scoundrel to be more akin to a kolto spewing turret, as we’ll be spamming our one cast heal over and over again.

Still here? Good! Let’s talk abilities:

Upper Hand

While not technically an ability, Upper Hand is as important as one. This is a self-buff that stacks three times and lasts 16 seconds, refreshing whenever a new stack is applied. When you have it, your healing is increased by 6%, so it’s important to keep at least one stack up as often as possible. Beyond this, it’s consumed by three of our abilities: Emergency Medpac, Kolto Pack, and Pugnacity. We gain it through two main methods: casting Underworld Medicine or through ticks of Slow-release Medpac. The best practice is to try and keep at least one stack up at all times, to gain the 6% healing buff and to restore Pugnacity when it falls.


Instant cast, consumes Upper Hand, 35 sec CD

Another self-buff, Pugnacity is as vital as Upper Hand. When active, Pugnacity restores 3 energy every 3 seconds for 45 seconds, but requires and consumes Upper Hand to activate. You want to keep this up at all times, as it equates to 1 energy a second, which doesn’t seem like a lot but adds up.

Underworld Medicine

2 sec cast, 25 energy, high direct healing.

This is our primary cast heal. If you need to heal a LOT of damage really quickly you hit them with this. At 25 energy, it’s a quick way to burn your resources, but used judiciously (and with Emergency Medpack) you can bring a tank from the brink of death to a rosy glow in about 5 seconds.

The most important part about UM is that it procs Upper Hand. A good way to start any fight is to cast UM on your tank to gain UH and then buff yourself with Pugnacity.

Diagnostic Scan

3 sec channeled (2.1 sec talented), very light healing

Initially underwhelming, Diagnostic Scan’s value is all in the details. There are two main reasons to use it whenever possible:

1) It’s free. Sure it’s a pathetic heal, but what else are you doing if you’re not casting a direct heal or rebuffing?

2) Talented, each tick that crits restores 2 energy. Welcome to your primary form of energy restoration. Additionally, it gains an additionally 24% chance to crit from talents. You’re looking at a minimum of a 40% chance for each tick to crit and restore 2 energy. Combine this with Pugnacity and you’re regenerating anywhere from 1-3 energy a second.

That said, you should be using DS whenever you’re not doing anything else, even if your target is at full life.

Slow-release Medpac

Instant cast, 15 energy, high healing over time.

Welcome to our bread and butter heal folks. If you don’t like this one, go roll a Commando. Slow-release Medpac does slightly less healing than a UM cast over 18 seconds, but stacks twice on a target. Talented, each tick has a 30% chance to grant UH, which is pure magic. This alone makes it important to keep at least one stack of SRM on every member of your party whenever possible, with two stacks on the tank. If a target has two stacks on them and is taking damage, it’s of vital import to not let them fall off, as once two stacks are up, each cast simply refreshes it. Let that 2 stack drop and you have to spend TWO GCDs reapplying it.

Because it’s a HoT, SRM is generally useless at healing spike damage. If a target is taking significant repeated damage, you’ll want to fall back on more traditional tools. What SRM is best for is bolstering your main heals, counteracting AOE damage, or providing a cheap way to heal a target that has taken damage but won’t be taking more any time soon.

Emergency Medpac

Instant cast, consumes Upper Hand, medium healing.

More often than not, Emergency Medpac is used as a supplemental heal. You might toss it out following a UM cast, using the UH buff it proc’d, to provide just a bit more healing on top. You might also use it to get somebody out of the danger zone immediately following an unavoidable attack. The important thing about EM is that it’s free and can be used on the run. Often, with UH buffs rolling it at lightning speed from rolling SRM on your party, you might end up giggling like a madman and ending up with massive amounts of UH. This is where they go. Rather than let your UH procs be wasted, use EM to keep the tank topped off or to heal that last bit on a DPSer that could spell the difference between life and death.

As a free heal, EM carries a hidden benefit. It doesn’t interrupt your energy regeneration. This is especially important if you’re trying to climb out of the sub-20 pit and need to throw out a heal.

One important thing that is easily forgotten about EM is that, talented, it refreshes the UH buff it consumes when used on a target below 30% health. This gives you a spammable free heal for targets are in the danger zone. This is a great tool for last minute saves, especially if you’re hurting on energy.

Kolto Cloud

Instant cast, 30 energy, 15 sec cooldown, high healing over time, affects 4 friendly targets.

That’s it folks. 40 levels of healing your Wookie and this is what you get for it. I won’t lie and try and tell you it’s exciting to get an AoE HoT, but it’s surprisingly useful if used in conjunction with double stacks of SRM. I’ve seen nearly 2500/sec from both with lucky crits.

Kolto Cloud is best used right before AoE damage is about to hit, such as when you see Ironfist take a knee before his missile barrage. Ideally you can toss a SRM on each party member in addition to keeping KC up, using EM to heal any spikes while your energy regens. Double stacking SRM after a KC cast will obliterate your energy pool, which is part of the reason why it’s a good idea to keep SRM rolling on each party member as much as you can.

One caveat to this ability: much like the other AoE heals, KC has a prohibitively small AoE: 10 meters from the person you cast it on. This means you need to either get your people together long enough to get the cast off (good luck) or time your cast for that magical moment when everybody is just within 10 meters of one poor sap. Sometimes you might need to put yourself in the prime position, using your own body as a bridge for various targets. Knowing when to do this is an art for sure, but you’ll learn soon enough and then you’ll be spreading your buzzing green goop like a pro.

Kolto Pack

1.5 sec cast, requires Upper Hand, 20 energy, high direct healing.

I’m not 100% sure what the purpose of this ability is for a Sawbones spec’d Scoundrel. Talented, UM does more healing for a .5 sec longer cast and 5 more energy, which would be fine if Kolto Pack didn’t consume the ever valuable UH buff. This gets shelved for now until I can find a real use for it.

With the recent addition of a third stack of UH, there may be more of a use for this in the future, but that’s to be seen.

Heartrigger Patch

1.5 sec cast, 5 min cooldown

While not a real heal, Heartrigger Patch is our in-combat rez. Usable once every 5 minutes (each player in the party / operation is given a 5 minute long debuff after use in addition to the 5 minute cooldown, so you really only get one per fight) this will bring a dead player back to life in the middle of a pitched battle. They come back with VERY LITTLE LIFE, so be ready to heal them the second they pop up. DO NOT use this during an AoE damage phase, as they will die almost immediately after accepting the rez.


Instant cast, 10 energy, 4.5 sec cooldown.

This is our debuff cleansing ability, which removes 2 physical, tech, or mental debuffs in addition to providing a very very small (almost pointless) heal. The cooldown can be frustrating in situations where multiple debuffs are getting thrown around, but otherwise it’s easily managed.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Debuffs, especially DoTs in this game HURT. Do not let any DoT effects tick for long, especially the fiery ones. Those ones seem to hurt the most. Look at it this way: if a DoT does 5000 damage over 30 seconds and you cleanse it, you’ve just healed that person for 5000 damage for 10 energy. MOST…EFFICIENT…HEAL…EVER!

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