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Marksmanship Hunter in the Shadowlands: Spec Highlights and Class Recommendations

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Update: the Marksmanship pre-patch guide is ready and you can check it out here:
Marksmanship Hunter Shadowlands Guide

It's round two of the Hunter class highlights as Azortharion continues to enlighten us with his take on the specs in Shadowlands. Today it's Marksmanship's turn and he goes over QoL changes, the new and changed abilities and talents, Covenant choice and legendaries.

Exciting Changes for Marksmanship Hunters in Shadowlands

For our second Hunter Class Overview thread, we are looking at Marksmanship. This spec underwent a complete redesign in Battle for Azeroth, and it will mostly be staying the same in Shadowlands. The biggest changes have been new Talents, some new baseline abilities, and of course the introduction of Covenants and Legendaries that can alter your playstyle.


General Hunter Quality of Life Changes

  • Several abilities, namely DPS cooldowns like Trueshot Trueshot, are now no longer on the GCD!
  • Misdirection Misdirection now only starts working after your first attack. A very welcome Quality of Life change that will stop you from ever wasting your Misdirect when you thought the tank was about to pull but they didn't!

Interesting New Baseline Hunter Spells

  • Eyes of the Beast Eyes of the Beast is back! This spell lets you see through the eyes of your pet as well as controlling it for 1 minute. It is probably not very useful in a competitive setting, but it has been a dearly missed flavor ability for years.
  • Kill Shot Kill Shot is back and baseline for all Hunter specs. It is a powerful execute ability that is usable on targets below 20% health.
  •  Hunter's Mark Hunter's Mark is baseline for all Hunter specs and works just like the Marksmanship Hunter talent did in Battle for Azeroth. However, it now has a 20-second cooldown, but its cooldown will reset if the target dies.
  • Arcane Shot Arcane Shot is now available to both Ranged Hunter specs, becoming a signature ability of the Hunter class as a whole.
  • Tranquilizing Shot Tranquilizing Shot is back! We no longer need to rely on pets to do offensive dispels. This even gives you 10 Focus when you use it to dispel successfully!
  • Freezing Trap Freezing Trap is now baseline for all specs!
  • Binding Shot Binding Shot is now baseline for Marksmanship Hunters.

Interesting Marksmanship Talent Changes

  • Chimaera Shot Chimaera Shot is now a Marksmanship Hunter Talent. It replaces Arcane Shot Arcane Shot and hits up to two targets, on top of doing significantly more damage than Arcane Shot does.
  • Volley Volley has been redesigned. It now lets you place an area on the ground where arrows will continuously rain down for 6 seconds, dealing heavy damage and applying Trick Shots Trick Shots to all targets within for the duration of the Volley. This has great burst AoE potential and takes out a lot of the setup of Marksmanship Hunter AoE (namely casting Multi-Shot Multi-Shot before every Aimed Shot Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Rapid Fire).


New Covenant Hunter Abilities

Night Fae Ability - Wild Spirits  Wild Spirits - 2min CD

Applies Wild Mark to all targets within a chosen area for 15 seconds and increases damage done to them by 5%.

This ability might remind you of the Sentinel ability from Legion, a niche but extremely fun and sometimes OP talent for AoE!

  • Wild Spirits: Each damaging attack you do to an enemy in the Wild Spirits effect does an additional 45% Nature damage.

It's like a 50% damage buff for 15 seconds every 2 minutes, and it affects multiple targets! Not too bad and tuning pending, it could be a good burst AoE option.

Necrolord Ability - Death Chakram  Death Chakram - 45s CD

Throw a deadly chakram at your current target that will rapidly deal (50% of Attack power) Shadow damage 7 times, bouncing to other targets if they are nearby. Each time the chakram deals damage, its damage is increased by 15% and you generate 3 Focus..

A cool flavor ability that might remind you of Glaive Toss (or the Survival Talent Chakrams Chakrams).

Besides looking and feeling cool, it does not seem all that special and most of its effect happens automatically after you press the button. Not the most fun in my opinion!

Venthyr Ability - Flayed Shot  Flayed Shot - 30s CD

Fire a shot at your enemy, causing them to bleed for (250% of Attack power) Shadow damage over 20 seconds . Each time Flayed Shot deals damage, you have a 15% chance to gain Flayer's Mark, causing your next Kill Shot to be usable on any target, regardless of their current health.

Basically, a DoT that sometimes lets you use Kill Shot on a target regardless of their health. Unfortunately, it is entirely RNG and a fairly low chance at that, making this perhaps the most boring of the Covenant abilities.

Kyrian Ability - Resonating Arrow  Resonating Arrow - 1m CD

Fire a resonating arrow to the target location and fills the area with echoing anima for 10 sec . The effect causes your attacks to ignore line of sight to enemies in the area, and you have 30% increased critical strike chance against them.

Perhaps the coolest of all the Covenant abilities, the creative use of the LoS effect can have massive implications for Marksmanship Hunter and on top of that, it is simply cool in my opinion! My fingers are crossed that this will be our go-to Covenant as I think it is by far the most exciting.


Legendary Effects

While there are other generic Legendary effects, I'm only going to touch on the ones specific to Marksmanship Hunter (although you can check out the rest of the Hunter ones here and generic ones here).

  • Eagletalon's True Focus Eagletalon's True Focus fixes the problem with Trueshot Trueshot, which is not having enough Focus to get all your abilities off. Good fun to play with, but you only notice during your Trueshot windows.
  • Surging Shots Surging Shots adds a little bit of reactivity to an otherwise fairly static rotation, but is overall quite unexciting.
  • Serpentstalker's Trickery Serpentstalker's Trickery is likely to be extremely powerful, although it is quite boring and you are unlikely to notice its effect very much outside of your DPS meter.
  • Secrets of the Unblinking Vigil Secrets of the Unblinking Vigil is a significant boon to Marksmanship Hunter AoE which suffers from a slow setup and therefore poor up-front damage by default.



Marksmanship looks to be the most exciting PvE spec on the Beta and has been the default choice of many for its high damage. I would not mind Marksmanship becoming the meta raiding spec for Castle Nathria, as we have been playing Beast Mastery for an extremely long time by now.

Check out Azortharion's other content here:



Other Spec Highlights:

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Deeply against Arcane Shot being a "signature" hunter ability, simply because what hunters have to do with Arcane magic. ._.

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2 hours ago, Teufel said:

Deeply against Arcane Shot being a "signature" hunter ability, simply because what hunters have to do with Arcane magic. ._.

They stick it on their arrows and fire it! DUH 😄

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