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 Marksmanship Hunter rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Marksmanship 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 attractice 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 situtions. 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.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Minimum range has now been removed from the game. You can shoot the target from any range.
- Master Marksman now requires 3 stacks, down from 5, in order to make your next Aimed Shot instant cast and free of cost.
- 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.
- 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.
- Improved Steady Shot has been changed slightly, and renamed to Steady Focus. The buff now lasts 10 seconds (up from 8) and also increases the amount of focus generated by Steady Shot by 3.
- Steady Shot now generates 14 focus, up from 9.
- Bombardment now also increases the damage of the next Multi-Shot by 30%. It is no longer provided by a talent - instead, it is simply granted to you as a passive spell.
- Call of the Wild has been removed.
- Kill Command has been removed.
- Cobra Shot (altough never used by Marksmanship Hunters) has been removed.
Rotation and PlaystyleThe rotation for Marksmanship 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. Chimera Shot refreshes its duration, so you should only have to apply it once.
- Keep up the Steady Focus self-buff (the new version of the old Improved Steady Shot) by casting a pair of Steady Shots every 10 seconds.
- Cast Aimed Shot when you have 3 stacks of Master Marksman, making Aimed Shot instant cast and free of cost.
- Cast Chimera Shot on cooldown.
- Cast Kill Shot on cooldown. This is only available when the target is below 20% health.
- Cast Arcane Shot to dump focus. It may also be viable (or even preferred) to hard-cast Aimed Shot to dump your focus, but this remains to be seen.
- Cast Steady Shot to generate focus.
Careful Aim remains unchanged. Therefore, the "Careful Aim Phase" rotation should still be maintained, just like in Cataclysm.
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 Chimera Shot is 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 2-3 enemies, you are best off performing a single target rotation. If it is imperative that the targets are AoE'd (though this will lower your DPS), you should spam Multi-Shot.
Against 4 or more enemies, you should spam Multi-Shot. In case the enemies are stationary and in a group, you should place an Explosive Trap under them.
Bombardment still exists (though it now also increases the damage of the next Multi-Shot by 30%), and this is what makes Multi-Shot viable as an AoE spell.
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 and Chimera 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 Marksmanship 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!