Let's get the obvious classes out of the way first. The Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight appear to be made for this game. The tank classes can obviously carry the ball well, and the DPS specs certainly hold the mid-court effectively. But there are other utilities that help these classes assist in their teams' win at Huttball.
Juugernauts are gap-closers. The first ability a Sith Warrior gains at level 2 is Force Charge (Force Leap for a Jedi Knight). You can use this utility quite effectively to move the ball down the field either by carrying the ball yourself or by leaping into position for another player to throw to you. The downside to the latter is that you have to jump to an opponent. I would suggest throwing down a crowd-control ability like Intimidating Roar (or Awe) if you are level 42 or higher, or you could pop your defensive cooldowns (Saber Ward) if you're still in pre-50 PvP.
Another offensive gap-closer doesn't come until level 50, but it becomes highly effective when you wish to quickly move the ball down the field. I have seen Juggernauts go from mid-court to goal range in a matter of seconds with a well-timed Intercede (Guardian Leap) followed by a Force Charge.
If you're interested in receiving a lot of medals during your Huttball match, then a Juggernaut or Guardian should consider doing much the same things he does during PvE. By throwing Guard (an ability we lovingly call the hamster ball) on a player, you gain protection points. If you throw that on the ball-carrier, your protection points will skyrocket; however, you should keep in mind that you will probably be defeated a lot. We shouldn't forget Taunt, either. This ability reduces the amount of damage the target performs by 30% if he's not attacking you, thereby protecting the ball carrier. You get protection points and medals for that, too.
Marauders and Sentinels are, of course, known for the amount of sheer damage they can dish out at opponents, but only the best players take into account the utilities these vicious saber-wielders can toss out to help fellow players. Marauders build up Fury (Centering on the Sentinel) as a player attacks and defeats other players. When you build up a full stack of 30, then a few utility-based abilities can be activated; the most beneficial of of these for Huttball is Predation (Transcendence). This grants everyone in your group (or group radius) a 10-second burst of speed and also increases melee and ranged defense by 10%. Not only can you help keep the ball-carrier's health up, but you can also help move the ball down the court faster.
If you happen to be the person carrying the ball, of course, Saber Ward and Cloak of Pain (Rebuke) will help defend you and reflect some damage back to the other players, but don't discount Undying Rage (Guarded by the Force). Of course, if you are at 100% health, you don't want to hit this ability because it knocks your health in half, but if you are at 5% health, you might consider it, especially as the ball carrier. You will gain 99% defense for at least five seconds, which might be just enough time for you to cross the goal line or pass to someone who can.
It's been said that Huttball is a Force users' game. Well, I beg to differ. In fact, any of the Agent or Smuggler advanced classes can be a great ball-handler or protector. I've said this game isn't just about how fast you can burn down an opponent's health bar, but sometimes well-timed bursts of damage can be quite effective.
The Operative and Scoundrel have been said to be the worst classes to play in Huttball. Although I agree that it might not be immediately evident how this advanced class fits in the whole scheme of PvP, Huttball is far from its most challenging conundrum. In fact, both the medicine and concealment (sawbones and scrapper) trees fit really well.
Obviously, the medicine (sawbones) player should heal the ball carrier or help hold mid-court, but unlike their Force-using counterparts, Operative (Scoundrel) healers have more abilities that allow them to heal on the move, like Recuperative Nanotech (Kolto Cloud) and Kolto Probe (Slow-release Medpac)
Concealment (scrapper) has its place, too. The most obvious to me is preventing the ball from moving forward. There's nothing more infuriating to a ball-carrier than not being able to move. And if you time your strikes right, you can immobilize him for several seconds, making him unable to do anything with the ball -- not even get rid of it. Couple this with a shout into Ops chat that you are making your way to the endzone and you have now made yourself one of the most valuable players on the team because you can pop out of stealth at just the right moment for a friendly player to throw to you.
Sure, Snipers and Gunslingers really only have one role: do as much damage as possible. But sometimes all you need to do is murder face. When you can do it like a Sniper or Gunslinger, your role in Huttball is vital. Three clean shots can take another player down easily: Ambush (Aimed Shot) then Snipe (Charged Burst) followed by Takedown (Quickdraw). The real trick is getting into a place where you can hunker down to pull off those shots. I like the spot just on the far side of the acid pit if I'm covering the center; if I'm covering the backhalf, I like the spot just at the top of the largest ramp. Remember, a Sith Warrior or Jedi Knight cannot jump to you if you are behind cover, and you can always blow someone back with Cover Pulse (Pulse Detonator) if he gets too close.
In part two next week, I will analyze the other two major classes, but in the meantime, feel free to give your opinion about this topic in the comments below.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!