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Survival Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Nov 08, 2016 at 09:28 by Azortharion 184 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Survival Hunter core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1. 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 Survival Hunter.

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

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Azortharion, the main theorycrafter of the spec. He is also an accomplished player who raids in Vanguard. You can also watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation

The single target rotation for a Survival Hunter is based on the following priority system:

  1. Cast  Icon Fury of the Eagle as often as possible when you have 6 stacks of Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury.
  2. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike just enough to keep Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal active on 4 stacks, refreshing as late as possible and keeping the global cooldown in mind.
  3. Cast Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap
  4. Cast Dragonsfire Grenade Icon Dragonsfire Grenade, if you have chosen this talent.
  5. Cast Lacerate Icon Lacerate. Remember that the DoT is longer than the cooldown, so a bit of delay is fine.
  6. Cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite until you have 0 charges left, when it is about to reach 3 charges, and provided that Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle is not coming off cooldown shortly.
  7. Cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite if Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury is active or when it reaches 3 charges. We strongly recommend reading below to fully understand the best usage.
  8. Cast Throwing Axes Icon Throwing Axes when there is nothing else to do.
  9. Cast Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike when there is nothing else to do.
  10. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to dump excess focus and when there is nothing else to do.

Your playstyle as a Survival Hunter consists of using the correct abilities on cooldown, and maximizing the benefit you get out of Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bites without wasting them. You achieve this by making each of your Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury windows reach as many stacks as possible, but you must ensure that you have 3 charges of Mongoose Bite ready to go when your cooldowns come up. When you pop cooldowns such as the Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter talent and Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle, you spend all of you charges. This ensures that the bulk of your high-stack Mongoose Bites are done under the effects of damage buffs. It also makes it easier to always end up at 6 stacks of Mongoose Fury when  Icon Fury of the Eagle comes off cooldown.

Generally, when Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite reaches 3 charges and Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury is down, you should spend all 3 charges and then proceed with your normal rotation, but use Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite as much as possible instead of waiting for it to reach 3 charges to build your Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury to as many stacks as possible before it expires. When it expires, proceed with the rotation as normal until Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite reaches 3 charges again, or your cooldowns come back up.

2. Multiple Target Rotation

When facing multiple targets, your rotation does not change, save for a few abilities that you will be using differently.

  • When you are facing more than 1 target, you should use Butchery Icon Butchery on cooldown, if you are using this talent.
  • When you are facing 2 or more targets, you should not cast Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike and Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike (except to keep up Way of the Mok'Nathal), but you should instead use Carve Icon Carve in its place as a Focus dump that you only use when you would otherwise cap Focus.
  • If you are using the Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting talent, you should use Carve Icon Carve to refresh the debuff on 1 targets and above.

3. Cooldown Usage

As a Survival Hunter, you have one cooldown in Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle, with a few more unlocked through talents. More details about them can be found in our detailed cooldown usage section.

4. Opener Sequence

This section describes the recommended way to start the fight as a Survival Hunter. It assumes you are using the recommended talents for the spec.

  1. Just before the encounter starts, use your Potion of the Old War Icon Potion of the Old War.
  2. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows.
  3. Cast Lacerate Icon Lacerate.
  4. Cast Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap.
  5. Build 4 stacks of Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal immediately by spamming Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike.
  6. Cast Dragonsfire Grenade Icon Dragonsfire Grenade.
  7. Cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite until you have 6 seconds remaining uptime on Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to refresh Way of the Mok'Nathal while doing this.
  8. Activate Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle.
  9. Cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite until you are at 0 charges, or until Mongoose Fury is just about to expire. Keep refreshing Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal.
  10. Cast  Icon Fury of the Eagle when Mongoose Fury is just about to expire.
  11. Proceed with your normal rotation.

It is possible for Explosive Trap to not be triggered if you cast it too early, as it is placed on the ground when you cast it.

4.1. Pet Abilities

Since Growl Icon Growl and Thunderstomp Icon Thunderstomp (Tenacity-only, not recommended anymore) are not automatically cast on most raid bosses, you should manually be using these on cooldown by macroing /use Growl and /use Thunderstomp into your ability macros, as these casts will give you extra chances of generating a charge of Mongoose Bite.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Survival Hunter

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 Survival Hunter to its full potential. You will need to understand all the subtleties, pertaining to your abilities, rotations, and cooldown usage, 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 Survival Hunter's Focus has a maximum capacity of 100, and regenerates at an innate rate of 10 Focus per second. This rate is increased by Haste. In addition to this, certain abilities such as Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot (Marksmanship-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 abilities 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. Detailed Cooldown Usage

5.2.1. Aspect of the Eagle

Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Leading up to Aspect of the Eagle, you should ensure that you have no Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury stacks currently active. Ideally, it should expire right before you plan to use Aspect of the Eagle. Then, you should cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite once, pop Aspect of the Eagle, and proceed to use the rest of your available Mongoose Bites. From here, you should proceed with your normal rotation, while trying to get as many Mongoose Bites in as possible. Finally, you should try to end the Aspect of the Eagle phase with as close to 0 Focus as possible.

If you are using the Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter talent (which we do not advise as of patch 7.1), you should use this together with Aspect of the Eagle. To use it optimally, you should follow the guide from above, but instead of continuing your normal rotation once you have expended your Mongoose Bite charges, you should use Snake Hunter and use the 3 Mongoose Bites that it gives you immediately, and proceed as normal from there.

5.2.2. Fury of the Eagle

 Icon Fury of the Eagle is the active ability of the Survival artifact. Like most other cooldowns, it should be used as often as possible. However, it also does extremely high, linearly scaling AoE damage, so it is important to save it for when you can use it on 2 or more targets during the encounter. Its damage scales with Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury stacks in the same way that Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite's damage does. This means that you should always use it when you have 6 stacks of Mongoose Fury. Keep in mind that when you use Fury of the Eagle, the remaining duration on Mongoose Fury is extended by about 4 seconds. This means that in order to get the most out of Mongoose Fury, you should cast Fury of the Eagle as it is about to expire so that you do not waste any potential Mongoose Bites that you could have spent in the Fury window. This is the reason we recommend doing the rotation as described above, where you bank your Mongoose Bite charges and then unleash them at the same time. With that said, if you are starting your Mongoose Fury window with Aspect of the Eagle active, you should cast Fury of the Eagle as soon as you hit 6 stacks rather than waiting till the very end, this is in order for Fury of the Eagle to benefit from Aspect of the Eagle as much as possible.

5.2.3. Tier 1 Talents

Animal Instincts Icon Animal Instincts has no direct effect on how you play, although you should be aware of what cooldown is being reduced so that you may plan ahead your rotation more efficiently.

Throwing Axes Icon Throwing Axes usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal should be maintained at 4 stacks by using Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike. You should only use Raptor Strike exactly enough to refresh the Mok'Nathal Tactics Icon Mok'Nathal Tactics buff as late as possible, ideally maintaining 4 stacks for the entire fight. You should be clever and very conservative about your Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike usage, since overusing it may cause you not to have enough Focus to cast Raptor Strike when you need to refresh Mok'Nathal Tactics.

5.2.4. Tier 2 Talents

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows should be used as many times as possible during the fight. The cooldown of this ability will reset if its target dies before the debuff expires (15 seconds). You should try and take advantage of this effect as much as possible (but without delaying A Murder of Crows needlessly much). Remember that it is not worth it to benefit from this effect by casting A Murder of Crows on targets that will die in a second or two.

Mortal Wounds Icon Mortal Wounds has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the increased chance to generate Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite charges whenever your Lacerate Icon Lacerate ability deals damage.

Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter should be used together with your Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle ability. We explained its usage in details in the detailed cooldown usage section.

5.2.5. Tier 4 Talents

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

Improved Traps Icon Improved Traps has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the cooldown reduction to your traps, especially Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap.

Steel Trap Icon Steel Trap usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown. The DoT lasts for a very long time, however, so you should not use it on targets that are only a few seconds away from dying.

5.2.6. Tier 6 Talents

Butchery Icon Butchery should be used on cooldown when you are facing more than 1 target.

Dragonsfire Grenade Icon Dragonsfire Grenade usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting should be refreshed using Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike, similarly to Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal. If you are using Way of the Mok'Nathal, and maintaining it correctly, Serpent Sting will automatically be maintained as well. On 3 targets and above, you should use Carve Icon Carve to refresh the Serpent Sting debuff.

5.2.7. Tier 7 Talents

Spitting Cobra Icon Spitting Cobra usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Expert Trapper Icon Expert Trapper has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the damage increase to Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap in particular.

Aspect of the Beast Icon Aspect of the Beast has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the additional DoT damage after using Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike. You should ensure that your pet is specced Ferocity to benefit from this talent.

6. ChangeLog

  • 08 Nov. 2016: Opener update.
  • 06 Nov. 2016: Added Throwing Axes back to the rotation since it is still worth using in some situations.
  • 29 Oct. 2016: Patch 7.1 update with ability buffs and Way of the Mok'Nathal being the recommended talent.
  • 25 Oct. 2016: Updated the paragraph about Animal Instincts, following its change in Patch 7.1.
  • 11 Oct. 2016: Slight opener change.
  • 13 Sep. 2016: Added Raptor Strike as a focus dump in the rotation.
  • 08 Sep. 2016: Put Fury of the Eagle in the Survival opener.
  • 06 Sep. 2016: Updated Survival Hunter opener to get the most out of the buff to Mongoose Fury (12s > 14s duration).
  • 05 Sep. 2016: Updated Fury of the Eagle guide.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 29 Jul. 2016: Better rotation.
  • 27 Jul. 2016: Updated opener slightly.
  • 23 Jul. 2016: Removed talents from rotation to simplify it, added notes about handling Mongoose Bite stacks that should be easier to understand and put into practice.
  • 19 Jul. 2016: Added opener.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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