- Team play (not solo)
- Heists (not Crime Spree/Holdout), without mutators, on all difficulties up to and including Death Sentence One Down
- A maxed (all 9 cards unlocked) Sicario perk deck
- Players with all Infamy skill reductions, although Technician reductions may not be needed
- Preferably players who are level 100
I do not have all DLCs, so I won’t be including any of those in this guide. However, with regard to Sicario, DLC only affects your weapon choices, since Sicario is a free perk deck which forces you into using its exclusive throwable. Feel free to use DLC weapons that I haven’t mentioned.
This is what you get when you play Sicario, from the Long Guide, verbatim:
- +15% dodge
- On dodge: Fully regenerate armor.
- On received bullet damage: +20% temporary dodge. 4 s cooldown. This temporary dodge is just added to the normal dodge.
- On dodge: Temporary dodge = 0%
- Unlocks smoke grenade throwable. 4 m radius, 10 s duration, 15 m alert radius, 60 s cooldown. The cooldown is reduced by 1 s for each killshot.
- Enemies in the smoke are half as accurate.
- Players in the smoke are affected in several ways:
- The smoke owner gets +15% dodge and twice the temporary dodge.
- Other players get +10% dodge.
- (This effect can be stacked when several players have smoke grenades.)
- Additionally, players in the smoke are half as likely to be hit, i.e. new dodge = 1-(1-dodge)*0.5. The idea is that 1-dodge is the chance to be hit, and the final 1- converts this back to dodge. This calculation happens after all the other dodge calculations. The negative dodge of heavy armor is plugged into the formula, so those people will have less than 50% dodge.
One common misconception is that the smoke grenade gives players +50% dodge, based on the in-game description, “automatically avoid 50% of all bullets”. It doesn’t – what it actually does is covered in the last point on the list. Put another way: if, after adding up all dodge bonuses, your chance of getting hit would be x%, the smoke makes it (x/2)% instead.
You have a decent amount of dodge outside the smoke bomb, and a huge amount inside it. With the suit and Sneaky Bastard, you have 30% dodge, which is lower than Rogue’s 60% or Hacker’s (Kluge active) 65%, but this is supplemented with the temporary dodge from Twitch and armor regeneration from Agility Shield. Add in the smoke bomb and your dodge rises to 72.5%.
The huge amount of dodge comes with limitations. Visibility is reduced in smoke, making it hard to aim at enemies while in it. Smoke covers a small area, making it hard to sprint around inside the cloud to get the most out of Duck and Cover aced. Thus, the smoke bomb is best used in situations where you have to stay rooted in one place and not shoot at enemies… which describes interacting with objectives – fixing drills/saws, planting C4, attaching hooks – perfectly. It is quite likely (though never guaranteed) that you can complete an objective with the smoke bomb providing extra protection and get away unharmed.
Overall, I find Sicario to be weaker than the major dodge decks (Hacker/Rogue). Those are more effective in combat, which takes up most of the time in a heist, whereas Sicario is better at objectives, which only happen for fleeting moments. Nevertheless, it’s a decent mid-tier perk deck, absolutely viable on Death Sentence, if you are looking to try out something different.
Skills and Equipment
- Combat Doctor aced
- Inspire aced
- Resilience aced
- Bullseye basic
- Duck and Cover basic
- Parkour basic
- Swan Song aced
- Nine Lives aced (if building for Death Sentence One Down)
Swan Song, in particular, stands out. As Sicario is an objective-based deck, having Swan Song to complete an interaction should the smoke bomb fail you is absolutely crucial.
Hardware Expert basic is highly recommended, as it reduces drill/saw repair time to the point where the smoke bomb can last the entire duration of the repair with 2.5s leeway, for the low cost of 1 skill point.
Sicario is a dodge deck, so you’ll also want Duck and Cover aced and Sneaky Bastard (aced if necessary). While you won’t be sprinting inside smoke, you will be sprinting from cover to the place where the smoke bomb landed, so that extra bit of dodge helps you survive the trip.
Sneaky Bastard provides a huge improvement to the expected number of hits you can take while in smoke. The mathematics is a little complicated (you can refer to the appendices in my build guide for the details). Put simply, you can expect to last nearly 5 more hits (either dodged, or soaked up with armor recovered from Agility Shield) while in smoke if you have Sneaky Bastard, compared to if you don’t. To put this in perspective, going from 50% to 60% on Rogue has an EV of 1 extra hit. Or, to use a non-dodge example, going from suit, which breaks in 1 hit, to ICTV+Frenzy, which breaks in 2, has an EV of 1 extra hit (technically a bit less, due to the suit’s 5% dodge). Sneaky Bastard is an extremely worthwhile investment for your skill points and lets the deck do what it does best.
Deployable: Doctor Bag
Armor: Two-piece Suit
Throwable: Smoke Bomb
Melee weapon: Electrical Brass Knuckles
Remember to keep your concealment high for Sneaky Bastard.
Side note: on lower difficulties, you can become unkillable, no exaggeration, with the heaviest armor (ICTV) and aced damage reduction skills (Underdog and Frenzy). Enemies don’t do enough damage to punch through all your armor. As they’re shooting at you, you accumulate stacks of temporary dodge, which will eventually cause your dodge to spill over into the positives, and replenish all your armor once you dodge a hit. On higher difficulties however, the enemies do more damage, so this doesn’t work and you should be using the suit instead.
How to play (Objectives)
Fortunately, using the smoke bomb is easy:
1) Find something that needs to be interacted with.
2) Throw the smoke bomb at it.
3) Run in and interact with it.
4) Run back to cover.
It is important that you do not reverse the order of steps 2 and 3. Objectives are usually fairly exposed, so you want to make sure that the area is covered in smoke before going in. It does you no good if you run to the objective, drop a smoke bomb at your feet, but get shot into Swan Song before the smoke comes out.
Does that mean I need to get good at YOLO grenade throwing to hit targets 50m away?
Nope. There’s no point to throwing a grenade like a pro and having it land exactly 50m away if you can’t wade through 50m of enemy fire to get there, or if running there takes so much time that the smoke would have dissipated before the interaction with the objective is complete. Typically, you’ll be close enough to the objective that you can aim directly at it, or merely slightly higher, to ensure that it’s covered in smoke. There’s plenty of room for error.
When throwing the smoke bomb at C4 planting spots on the roof of Stealing Xmas, don’t overshoot. If you do, the smoke bomb will fall through the roof onto the tree 2 stories below.
Here are some interaction times, in seconds, assuming the Quick crew ability is not active (but other skills, if specified, are):
- Converting an enemy with Joker basic: 1.5
- Reviving a team mate with Inspire basic: 3
- Planting C4 on Stealing Xmas/Panic Room: 4
- Attaching a hook to the tree on Stealing Xmas: 4
- Starting the crane on Slaughterhouse: 4
- Attaching a hook to a money pallet on Birth of Sky: 5
- Repairing a drill/saw with Hardware Expert basic: 7.5
- Picking a lock in the garage on Hoxton Breakout D1: 20
The smoke bomb lasts 10s, so most of these tasks can be completed within that time. With proper placement and timing, it’s even possible to plant two C4s on Stealing Xmas while being covered by one smoke bomb.
The garage door locks on Hoxton Breakout take 20s to pick, so the smoke bomb can’t cover you for the entire duration. If enemies come out of the lift and start shooting you 10s into the lock picking, you’ll have to drop what you’re doing and deal with them.
Smoke bombs are also great for covering escape vehicles that need to be boarded, such as the truck on Aftershock or the helicopter on Beneath the Mountain. These tend to be a headache if the team is not coordinated.
Keep in mind that even ICTV users will benefit from the smoke. Their dodge in smoke is 27.5%, after their ICTV’s -55% and the smoke’s +10% and bullet avoidance.
Since we’re on that topic, here are some rules you should know about escape vehicles:
- Every (surviving) player needs to be on the vehicle before it lifts off. If someone goes down, you pretty much have to revive him, as the alternative is waiting for him to enter custody, which will take a full 30 seconds.
- If a player is in Swan Song and not on the vehicle yet, he can’t board it.
- If a player is on the vehicle and gets shot into Swan Song, he will be kicked off once Swan wears off. However, if one player gets shot into Swan just before the vehicle starts to lift off, him getting kicked off will not interrupt the successful escape.
The simplest, but least satisfying method of escaping is to have half the team suicide themselves beforehand and the remaining members board the vehicle. Getting 2 guys onto the vehicle takes far less coordination than 4. The more “legit” way is to have every team member overprotect the vehicle: drop Uppers first aid kits on every seat, throw concussion grenades, throw smoke grenades, use (Pocket) ECMs. It’s the very last thing that needs to be done, might as well use up all the resources at your disposal to make it happen.
How to play (Combat)
This is the golden rule for playing on high difficulties, and applies to any perk deck, really. Having a convenient wall to hide behind does wonders for your survival time. Should you go down, if you go down while in cover, your team mates don’t have to risk their lives reviving you, and can manually revive you, conserving their Inspire aced charges.
On dodge decks, it is tempting to look at Duck and Cover aced’s +10% dodge for sprinting, and decide that you should be sprinting most of the time in order to maximize survivability. This is not how it works, at all. Hiding behind a wall requires you to move maybe 2 feet, and in return, you gain complete protection from bullets from most or all angles. Sprinting through a distance >10x that and exposing yourself to bullets from all angles, all for +10% dodge, which doesn’t even get you to 100%, is a sucker bet in comparison.
(The perk deck card, not the escape driver.)
Pop quiz: You’ve just fought off a bunch of enemies and are now sitting in cover. You can see another group approaching. Checking your condition, you find that your weapons’ magazines and your armor are both full. Seems like you’re fully prepared to take them on, right?
Well, there is one small detail: the Twitch card, the one that gives you temporary dodge on a 4s cooldown. Ideally, you’d like to engage the enemies when it’s off cooldown for the best odds of surviving the encounter. However, you won’t know unless you have a HUD mod, and simply looking at your full armor and declaring all to be well on that basis is mistaken.
Consider another scenario, one that could have lead to the one in the pop quiz: you’re at full armor and Twitch is not on cooldown. You get shot twice in quick succession, the first hit breaking your armor, and the second hit dodged, causing Agility Shield to replenish your armor. The 4s Twitch cooldown starts on the first hit, and a few milliseconds later the second hit is dodged, so there’s still >3s of cooldown to go, even though your armor is now full! The key lesson here is that your armor level is not a good indicator of whether Twitch is off cooldown, so if you can afford to wait, just wait!
If you can’t trust your armor level, or at least, not the simplistic “full armor = all OK” rule, what can you trust? Well, you can use the timings of other actions done while in cover to estimate how much longer you have to wait after they’re completed. Consider the following:
- The Brothers Grimm’s tactical reload (i.e. not from empty mag) is 2s with Shotgun CQB aced. (I use the Grimms in my build, but if you use a different weapon, the principle remains the same).
- Natural armor regeneration takes 2.9s with Resilience basic, Shock and Awe (could be from a team mate), and playing in online mode. (It’s faster if playing offline.)
What this means is, if you’re safely in cover and reload the Grimms, the longest you have to wait for Twitch to come off cooldown is 2s (=4-2) after the Grimms have been reloaded completely. Or, if you’ve reached cover with fully or partially depleted armor, the longest you have to wait is 1.1s (=4-2.9) after it recovers.
That said, we’re assuming the worst case scenario: that the remaining cooldown on Twitch is the maximum 4s. Sometimes there’s only 1s left when you get to cover, you don’t know, and it would be ready by the time you’ve reloaded/recovered. Sometimes you leave cover with 1s of Twitch cooldown remaining, but the enemies only start shooting 2s later, so you’re not punished for it.
Nevertheless, if you ever feel like you’re getting RNG screwed too often, maybe it’s because you’re rushing out while Twitch is still on cooldown. Try waiting a little longer.
Hey, this perk deck has a throwable on a cooldown that reduces on killshots, like Kingpin, Stoic, or Hacker. That means I should kill as much as possible, right?
Not really. The smoke bomb is used when objectives call for it, and there’s usually more than 1 minute in between those calls. So by all means, kill to keep yourself safe, but don’t take risks killing excessively to reduce the smoke bomb’s cooldown.
If you see a Bulldozer charging at you, you can even the odds before it gets close by dropping a smoke bomb at your feet. Fighting a Bulldozer inside smoke is advantageous as the smoke halves the Bulldozer’s accuracy as well.
Against green or black Bulldozers, if you can’t kill them, you can dodge-tank their shots (7 at most) until they have to reload, then sprint to another piece of cover. Medic, skull and minigun Bulldozers have larger mags (30, 200 and 1000 respectively), so running them out of ammo is not a viable plan.
Due to his stationary position, the Captain is a sitting duck for the smoke bomb to reduce his accuracy. However, the smoke negatively affects your visibility of him, though he can be highlighted through the smoke with the interact key. This tactic is of minor importance, as the assault ends shortly after the Captain retreats, so even if you fought him sloppily without the smoke bomb, there’s enough time to heal up or be traded out of custody.
Brothers Grimm: 000 Buckshot, Concealment boost, Little Brother Foregrip
5/7 AP: TiN Treated Barrel, Concealment boost, Micro Laser, Extended Magazine
No DLC required, DSOD viable.
I favor converts as they give you another excuse to use the smoke bomb (i.e. to cover yourself when converting them), and can draw fire away from you while you’re doing objectives.
The funniest thing about Sicario is that you have no idea what’s going on around you, as the smoke limits visibility, but you don’t care, because you have so much dodge, and your job is just to hold down the interaction key. If the thought of that amuses you, give Sicario a try.
Thanks for reading this and may the smoke always protect you.
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