Marksmanship Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.3)

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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 6.0.3. 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 two of the best hunters in the world: Yooz, who raids in Envy, and Azortharion, who raids in Echoes (you can watch his stream on Twitch).

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Hunter Transition Guide!

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. Use A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows on cooldown.
  2. Cast Chimaera Shot Icon Chimaera Shot on cooldown.
  3. Cast Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot on cooldown
    • can only be cast when the target is at or below 20% health.
  4. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot if you have a Thrill of the Hunt Icon Thrill of the Hunt proc.
  5. Use Barrage Icon Barrage or Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss, depending on your talent choice.
  6. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to dump Focus.
  7. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot to generate Focus.

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.

This assumes that you have taken A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows, Thrill of the Hunt Icon Thrill of the Hunt, and Barrage Icon Barrage or Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss as your tier 4, 5, and 6 talents, as these are the best ones in terms of DPS.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

Against 2 or 3 enemies, you should simply perform your single target rotation on one of them.

When facing 4 or more enemies, you should keep performing your single target rotation, while making the following changes to it:

  1. Cast Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot instead of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
    • If Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is active, or if you can attack a target that has over 80% health, you should keep using Aimed Shot.
  2. Place an Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap at the location where targets are located.
  3. Cast Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot.
  4. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot whenever you have insufficient Focus for Multi-Shot.

Bombardment Icon Bombardment, a Marksmanship-specific passive ability, causes your critical hits with Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot to grant you a 5 second buff that reduces the Focus cost of Multi-Shot by 25 Focus and increases Multi-Shot's damage by 60%.

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 Icon 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.

Aspect of the Fox Icon Aspect of the Fox lasts 6 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown. While active, it allows raid members within 40 yards to move while casting spells and abilities.

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 100, 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 100 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.

It is interesting to note that using Aspect of the Fox Icon Aspect of the Fox grants you the Mastery buff for its 6-second duration, even if you are moving constantly during that time.

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 60%.

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. Your rotation will actually not change very much at all. You will continue using Chimaera Shot Icon Chimaera Shot during this time, but you should not cast your tier 6 talents (unless facing multiple targets).

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.

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, all of these talents should be used on cooldown, though it is worth noting that only Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss and Barrage Icon Barrage are DPS increases.

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.