In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Survival Hunter rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Survival Hunter Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Tier 4 talents offer you a choice between Fervor and Readiness (and Thrill of the Hunt, but this is a passive talent). We currently believe that Fervor is the least attractive choice. Which of the other two is a larger DPS gain remains to be determined, but it is important to note that Readiness can also help you reset cooldowns of useful abilities such as Deterrence.
- Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between A Murder of Crows, Dire Beast, and Lynx Rush. At the moment, it seems that A Murder of Crows is the biggest DPS boost.
- Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between Glaive Toss, Powershot, and Barrage. While each of these abilities seems designed for multiple target DPS, we would put forth that Barrage will prove to be the most useful in both single and multiple target situations. This remains to be determined accurately, however.
- Stampede is a burst DPS ability that causes all your current pets (all 5 of them - the ones in your stable are not counted) to attack the target for 20 seconds. Due to its 5 minute cooldown, this spell is not affected by Readiness.
- Trueshot Aura increases the attack power of all raid members by 10%. Even though this is a passive ability, it is an important raid-buff that we considered worth mentioning (this was previously only available to Marksmanship Hunters).
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Minimum range has now been removed from the game. You can shoot the target from any range.
- Kill Shot's cooldown is reset if it does not kill the target. This effect can only happen once every 6 seconds. This used to be provided by a glyph, in Cataclysm.
- Rapid Fire cooldown has been reduced to 3 minutes (from 5 minutes).
- Cobra Shot now generates 14 focus instead of 9.
- Black Arrow cooldown has been reduced by 6 seconds, allowowing for much greater uptime.
- Hunter's Mark now increases damage done to the target, by ranged attacks, by 5%. Previously, it used to increase the attack power of the ranged attackers against the target. Since the attack power increase was fixed, this change allows Hunter's Mark to scale with your gear.
- Aspect of the Hawk now increases attack power by 10%, instead of by a fixed value. This allows it to scale with your gear.
- Call of the Wild has been removed.
- Hunting Party has been removed. Even though this is not an active ability, we thought it was worth mentioning.
- Kill Command has been removed.
- Steady Shot (altough never used by Survival Hunters) has been removed.
RotationThe rotation for Survival Hunters remains practically unchanged from its Cataclysm version. The only differences arise from the integration of the new abilities. However, since these abilities are on rather long cooldowns, their impact is minimised.
- Apply and maintain Serpent Sting on the target. Cobra Shot extends its duration, so you should only have to apply it once.
- Cast Explosive Shot on cooldown.
- Cast Kill Shot on cooldown. This is only available when the target is below 20% health.
- Cast Black Arrow on cooldown.
- Cast Arcane Shot to dump focus, provided that you will have enough focus afterwards to use Explosive Shot and Black Arrow without delaying them at all.
- Cast Cobra Shot to generate focus (and extend your Serpent Sting on the target).
Lock and Load still exists and works almost identically to the way it did in Cataclysm. The only difference is that Explosive Shot can no longer be "clipped". This means that you can now cast two (or more) Explosive Shots in quick succession, without inter-weaving any other spells, and none of their ticks will be wasted. This makes using Lock and Load procs much easier: you should simply fire off all your Explosive Shots one after the other. The only exception to this is if you are at maximum focus, in which case you should cast an Arcane Shot in between the Explosive Shots.
CooldownsThis section assumes you have chosen A Murder of Crows, Readiness, and Powershot from your talents.
- Rapid Fire remains your major DPS cooldown. You should make sure to use it as many times during the fight as possible. Ideally, it should be used when the boss is taking increased damage or when you need to do burst damage. It is also ideal to stack it with your potions or procs from other items or enchants.
- A Murder of Crows (in case you have chosen it as a talent) should also be used as many times as possible during a fight. You should ideally use it together with Rapid Fire, so that you can reset both their cooldowns with Readiness (see below).
- Readiness (in case you have chosen it as a talent) should be used immediately after Rapid Fire and A Murder of Crows, in order to reset their cooldown and allow you to use them again.
- Powershot (in case you have chosen it as a talent) should be used on cooldown. Ideally, you should find a moment for this spell's long cast time when both Black Arrow and Explosive Shot are on cooldown. You should also attempt to use it after you use Rapid Fire and A Murder of Crows, so that you can reset its cooldown with Readiness as well.
Multiple Target RotationAgainst 2 enemies, you are best off performing a single target rotation, while maintaining Serpent Sting on both targets. Lock and Load procs should be used on both targets, alternatively.
Against 3 enemies, you should use Explosive Trap instead of Black Arrow. You should also maintain Serpent Sting on all 3 targets. Lock and Load should be used on different targets, alternatively.
Against 4 or more enemies, you should use Explosive Trap instead of Black Arrow. You should simply spam Multi-Shot.
Thanks to Serpent Spread (which is unchanged from the Cataclysm version of the ability, then provided by a talent), using Multi-Shot will spread Serpent Sting to all affected targets. Therefore, in all cases where we advise applying Serpent Sting to multiple enemies, you should use Multi-Shot to do so, assuming the enemies are all together.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer you a choice between several movement-enhancing abilities:
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between Silencing Shot, Wyvern Sting, and Binding Shot. Which one you pick will depend on the encounter, but for raiders, it seems that Silencing Shot will have the most use.
Tier 3 is centered around survival and self-healing. Your options are:
We have discussed Tier 4, 5, and 6 talents at the start of the article.
GlyphsThe only glyph which can play any part in your DPS performance is Glyph of Marked for Death. This causes your Arcane Shot, Explosive Shot, and Kill Shot to automatically apply Hunter's Mark to the target. This will save you a global cooldown at the start of the fight, and it will also save you from having to refresh the buff during the fight.
Of the other glyphs, these can help improve your survivability and they will probably be mandatory for raiders: Glyph of Disengage may prove very useful on some encounters.
This concludes our Survival Hunter preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!