Gear disparity is a perennial complaint in the PvP community. This has prompted us to explore the Bolster mechanic in more depth. We have found that, while Bolster has some wacky behaviour, it generally does a good job of equalising stats, bringing undergeared characters closer to parity with better-geared characters.
It would be impracticable to test every possible combination of gear, item modifications, etc. Therefore, we’ve chosen to compare the default 230, 236, 242 and 248 Force-Mystic’s sets as well as a set comprising 208 item modifications from the previous tier. The data (and the gear and item modifications used in our tests) is compiled in this marvellous spreadsheet.
What is Bolster?
Your base stats, gear stats, effective Discipline Path skills, ability ranks, dps, armor and combat level have all been increased for this Warzone match.
In short, Bolster is a PvP mechanic intended to close the gap between undergeared and better-equipped characters. It is applied whenever you enter a warzone or arena (or by using the Bolsterizer on the Imperial or Republic Fleet).
As of game update 5.5, any gear whose item rating is below 242 is Bolstered to (be equivalent to) 242.
The parameters of our test are as follows:
- no class buff
- no stim
- no utilities
- no augments
- tested Sorcerer DPS and healing disciplines
- tested default Force-Mystic’s sets; the ratio of Critical Rating to Alacrity remained consistent between tiers
- +41 Critical Rating crystals in main hand and offhand
- all datacrons and companion bonuses.
Note: The Corruption discipline has a 3% passive increase to its damage reduction.
Note: Bolster seems to take account of augments, hence why our data shows that 248s benefit from Bolster.
Note: Full list of item modifications is given in the spreadsheet.
Based on the data we’ve collected, we infer that Bolster grants stats according to your role.
- Healers gain more Alacrity Rating and Critical Rating.
- Damage dealers gain Accuracy and more Power.
- Tanks gain Defense, Absorption Rating and Shield Rating, as well as extra Endurance.
Neither healers nor tanks gain Accuracy from Bolster.
Note that damage dealers gain Accuracy when Bolstered, regardless of their discipline. That is, DPS Sorcerers gain Accuracy, despite having no white damage attacks that benefit from Accuracy.
From our tests, we suspect that Bolster grants you a fixed amount of offensive stats based on your overall item rating. This means that you can adjust your tertiary stats as desired. For instance, if you want more Accuracy than Bolster provides, you can swap out gear or item modifications. Be aware that equipping gear and item modifications of mixed item ratings can have unpredictable results.
Interestingly, Bolster grants you bonus stats even if you have nothing equipped at all (see Table 1 below).
Also, we can infer that Bolster accounts for augments. Even if your gear’s item rating equals or exceeds 242, you benefit from Bolster if your gear is unaugmented. Based on our data, fully augmented characters whose overall item rating is equal to or greater than 242 do not benefit from Bolster. The difference between an unaugmented Bolstered character and a fully augmented character is roughly 900 offensive stat (depending on the type and item rating of the augments). See the spreadsheet (“248” and “248, Bolstered” columns) for raw data.
Is there a disparity between gear sets when Bolstered?
From our findings, we can infer that Bolster does not adjust your stats linearly from one item rating to the next. In one instance, Bolster may provide a lot of tertiary stats while in others, it may grant a lot of Mastery instead. So what provides more DPS/HPS: 𝑥 Critical Rating or 𝑦 Mastery, for instance? To make an educated guess, look at how much total offensive stat you gain (or lose). From this, you can determine whether it is a clear increase in DPS/HPS potential.
Which stats provide DPS/HPS increases?
Critical Rating, Alacrity Rating and Accuracy are tertiary stats found on enhancements, augments, earpieces and implants. Mastery and Power are also important stats that increase your damage and healing bonuses (Mastery increases your Critical Chance as well). When comparing the Bolster adjustment between gear tiers, these are the key stats to look at.
Endurance is important, contributing to your survivability. However, it has no impact on your HPS or DPS. Mastery, Power, Critical Rating, Alacrity Rating and Accuracy (“offensive stats”) contribute to your output; stacking these is preferable. Healers and damage dealers should avoid Endurance-heavy builds.
Bonus healing and damage always increases between tiers but does not increase linearly. See Fig. 1 below.
Endurance shifts between tiers are a little wonky. See Fig. 2. Note that these values are the same for healing and DPS specs.
See Fig. 3 for a chart of Total Stat Gain vs Gear Tier. While 248 gear unsurprisingly provides the most stats (and thus the greatest potential DPS/HPS output), 236 gear Bolsters very favourably—marginally better than 242 gear.
This article was a collaborative effort, authored by KissingAiur, rambol and doc. Thanks also to “Mac” from <It’s Lit> for providing the data for 248 gear.