Marksmanship Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.2)

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Marksmanship Hunter Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Marksmanship Hunter core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft WoD 6.2. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Marksmanship Hunter.

The other pages of our Marksmanship Hunter guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Niix, a top Hunter who raids in Huge in Japan, and whose stream you can watch on Twitch, and by Azortharion, one of the best Hunters in the world, who raids in Danish Terrace. He maintains his own Hunter guide, and you can watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The rotation for Marksmanship Hunters can easily be summarised in the following priority system. Note that, when the boss is over 80% health, the rotation is slightly different. We cover this in a subsequent section.

  1. Cast Chimaera Shot Icon Chimaera Shot on cooldown.
  2. Cast Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot on cooldown
    • can only be cast when the target is at or below 35% health.
  3. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot if Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is active or if the target is above 80% health.
  4. Use Stampede Icon Stampede, if you have taken this talent.
  5. Cast Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss or Barrage Icon Barrage, depending on your talent choice.
  6. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to dump Focus.
  7. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot (or Focusing Shot Icon Focusing Shot, if you are using this talent) to generate Focus.
    • If using Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus as your tier 5 talent, make sure to use Steady Shot in pairs. Your goal is to maintain roughly 80% uptime of the buff it offers, since attempting an uptime higher than that will result in delaying other, more important abilities.

The most important thing to watch out for is not to Focus starve yourself such that you do not have enough Focus to cast your abilities on cooldown.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

There is no real multiple target rotation for Marksmanship Hunters. Against 2 to 6 targets, you will literally continue to perform your normal, single target rotation. Once you are fighting 7 or more targets, you will simply replace Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot with Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot.

3. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Marksmanship Hunter, your only DPS cooldown is Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. You should use this as many time as possible during the encounter.

More details about cooldown usage, as well as information about the other talents can be found in our detailed cooldown usage section.

4. Aspects↑top

Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack Icon Aspect of the Pack are generally not advised during combat because of their negative dazing effect, but can be useful for speeding up your raid's running after a wipe. Note that in the case of Aspect of the Cheetah, you can remove the dazing penalty by using Glyph of Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Glyph of Aspect of the Cheetah.

A hunter's aspect will persist until removed by the hunter or until the hunter's death. Aspects can be changed in combat, but they cannot be changed while a cast is in progress. Aspects are on the global cooldown.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Marksmanship Hunter↑top

While the rotations we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Marksmanship Hunter to its full potential. You will need to understand several subtleties, mostly pertaining to your flexible rotation (depending on the target's health), that we present below.

5.1. Focus

Hunters and their pets use a unique resource, called Focus. Focus works in much the same way as other class resources, like Rage and Energy, in the sense that some abilities grant Focus, while others cost Focus to be used.

A Marksmanship Hunter's Focus has a maximum capacity of 120, and regenerates at an innate rate of 4 Focus per second. This rate is increased by Haste. In addition to this, certain abilities such as Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot (Marksmanship-only) and Cobra Shot Icon Cobra Shot (Beast Mastery and Survival-only) also grant Focus.

Most of the abilities in the hunter rotation cost Focus to use, and some talents decrease the Focus costs, or offer other ways to gain additional Focus.

Hunter pet Focus works similarly, and is of no concern to you as you cannot do anything to modify it, nor will you be casting pet abilities manually.

As a general rule, you should always have enough Focus to cast your shots as soon as they come off cooldown, but also to never have 120 Focus (as any extra Focus you generate would then go to waste).

5.2. Auto-shots and Special Shots

Hunters do the majority of their damage through the use of shots. The rest of the damage is made up of pet damage and DoT damage.

Autoshot is the default Hunter attack, which works similarly to melee classes' auto attacks or "white swings". It is affected by your Ranged Attack Speed, and it continues to work while moving.

The other hunter shots are of all varieties: instant cast or with a cast time, costing Focus or granting Focus, and some are utility shots which cost no Focus and deal no damage.

One of the most important aspects of doing competitive Hunter DPS is to make sure your shots are always used without delay.

5.3. Mastery: Sniper Training

Mastery: Sniper Training Icon Mastery: Sniper Training is a buff that you gain whenever you stand still for at least 3 seconds. When this buff is active, your damage, shot range, and critical strike damage are all increased.

Moving (even slightly) removes the buff, but it triggers another, 5-second buff that provides the same effect. If this second buff expires and you did not, in that time, stand still for at least 3 seconds, your Mastery buff will be completely gone from you. You will need to stand still for at least 3 seconds to regain the buff.

The idea is that you are rewarded for standing still as much as possible (or, alternatively, punished for moving), but the 5-second buff acts as a buffer to allow you to move slightly and still not lose any DPS. Only on fights with very intense movement requirements should you ever lose the buff completely.

5.4. Detailed Cooldown Usage

5.4.1. Careful Aim and Rapid Fire

Thanks to Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim, when your target is above 80% health, or while Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is active, your critical strike chance with Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot and Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot is increased by 50%.

Basically, at the start of the fight, and whenever Rapid Fire is active, you should try to cast Aimed Shot as much as possible to benefit from these effects. During these periods, you should leave out all abilities from your rotation except for Aimed Shot, Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot, and Chimaera Shot Icon Chimaera Shot. In the event that you are fighting more than 1 target, you can also use Barrage Icon Barrage.

As an added improvement, when using Rapid Fire later on in the fight, you can try to pool up Focus before casting it, and even try to hold on to a Thrill of the Hunt Icon Thrill of the Hunt proc.

5.4.2. Tier 4 Talents

Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Thrill of the Hunt Icon Thrill of the Hunt will sometimes provide you with a Focus cost reduction for your next 3 Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shots or Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shots. You will simply benefit from this reduction passively, although you do have to be careful not to reach maximum Focus. It is also important to use these procs up quickly, so as not to have any new ones wasted. In such cases, you can give Aimed Shot a higher priority than usual.

If you take Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus, you should always try to use Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot twice in a row to keep up the buff you gain from Steady Focus.

5.4.3. Tier 5 Talents

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows should be used as many times as possible during the fight. There is no benefit in stacking this ability with anything else.

Blink Strikes Icon Blink Strikes is a passive ability, so it requires no explanations.

Stampede Icon Stampede has a long cooldown, and it does a lot of burst damage. As such, aside from using it as many times as possible in any given encounter, you should make sure to use it whenever the burst damage is most needed.

5.4.4. Tier 6 Talents

Against a single target, Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss and Powershot Icon Powershot should be used on cooldown, while Barrage Icon Barrage is not worth using at all against a single target.

Against multiple targets, use them whenever you can hit the targets with your abilities. Note that you should position yourself in such a way that the spell hits all the targets in the fight (so you must face them, or as many of them as possible).

It is interesting to note that you can change where Barrage is directed by turning your character while channeling the spell. This allows you to hit more targets than those you were initially facing.

5.4.5. Tier 7 Talents

If you have taken Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf, then this requires no management whatsoever, and you will simply enjoy the increased damage that you do. It goes without saying that you should make sure to dismiss your pet so that you benefit from this talent.

Exotic Munitions Icon Exotic Munitions should be used depending on the encounter. Poisoned Ammo Icon Poisoned Ammo is best for single target DPS, while Incendiary Ammo Icon Incendiary Ammo is best for AoE damage.

Focusing Shot Icon Focusing Shot simply replaces Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot in your rotation.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 22 Jun. 2015: Updated the single target and multiple target rotations, and removed a mention of using Glaive Toss during Careful Aim / Rapid Fire.
  • 15 Mar. 2015: Updated the single and multiple target rotations.
  • 10 Jan. 2015: Updated the single and multiple target rotation sections slightly.
  • 27 Dec. 2014: Added a mention of replacing Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot with Focusing Shot Icon Focusing Shot, if you are using the latter as a talent.
  • 12 Dec. 2014: Re-added Barrage Icon Barrage to the single target rotation.
  • 07 Dec. 2014: Removed Barrage Icon Barrage from the single target rotation.
  • 03 Dec. 2014: Updated the rotation, and removed a mention about targets staying in Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap's area of effect, since this is no longer relevant (Explosive Trap applies a DoT).
  • 26 Nov. 2014: Made a small tweak to the single target priority.