Classic Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Hunter DPS in both single-target and multiple-target PvE situations in WoW Classic. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS.
The Hunter rotation is based around maximizing your Auto Shot usage. Whenever you use an ability, it has the potential to delay your Auto Shot if your Auto Shot is off cooldown and ready to go, meaning most of the time, you will want to use abilities in the down time between Auto Shot uses. However, there are syncs where your Auto Shot and Aimed Shot will both be available and you will have to choose to use one or the other. This is the main choice to make when maximizing your DPS as a Hunter. If you choose to use Auto Shot first before starting your Aimed Shot, this is known as the "full" rotation. Alternatively, if you choose to start your Aimed Shot case as soon as it is up, delaying an Auto Shot use, this is known as the "clipped" rotation.
The only two abilities that you will use in your normal single target rotation are Aimed Shot and Multi-Shot. You will never use Serpent Sting or Arcane Shot. There are two reasons for each. First, they are both magic-damage based abilities, meaning they do not scaled with your ranged AP. The more gear you get, the more your Aimed Shot and Multi Shot's physical damage will out scale them. Serpent Sting also takes up a debuff slot, of which there are only 16 available. Debuff slots are incredibly valuable in Classic, and your raid should plan out what to use in these slots, mostly on debuffs that will increase the damage done by raid members, such as Sunder Armor and Hunter's Mark. Serpent Sting is a terrible choice for one of these slots and should never be used, as it is one of the weakest damage spells and is far worse than damage over time effects that casters like Warlocks could put up instead. Arcane Shot is bad because it shares a cooldown with Aimed Shot. Since you can only choose to use one of them, always use Aimed Shot. The only exception would be if the target was going to die before the Aimed Shot cast finished and you could get the Arcane Shot off instead.
One potential issue that you might run into, especially as a fresh Level 60 Hunter, is running out of Mana too quickly. If this is an issue, you can switch Multi-Shot to a lower rank of the ability to use less Mana. In raids, you should start with the max rank, but switch to a lower one during the fight if you run too low on Mana. The goal should be to end the fight with no Mana, while not running out of Mana before the end.
3. Auto Shot PvE Rotation for Hunters
The full rotation is when you choose to always prioritize Auto Shot, thus delaying your Aimed Shot cast occasionally. You should choose to use this rotation when you have a weapon with a slower speed, usually when it is greater than ~3.0 seconds. When your attack speed is slower, that means each Auto Shot hits harder, making them more valuable individually and not worth delaying. With faster weapons, the opposite holds true, and Aimed Shot becomes a higher priority. The actual math behind which rotation to use can be quite complex, so if you want to ensure you always are using the correct rotation, you should use a simulation spreadsheet to help determine which is best based on your gear.
This is the basic full rotation. It will not always follow this exact order, but this is the order you should start with. Remember that the full rotation is all about maximizing Auto Shot usage, so prioritize getting Auto Shots off and using Multi-Shot and Aimed Shot in the downtime between shots. Multi Shot has a 10 second cooldown and Aimed Shot has a 6 second cooldown, meaning you will have to change the rotation around slightly, as the cooldowns do not sync up well.
4. Aimed Shot PvE Rotation for Hunters
The clipped rotation is when you choose to cast Aimed Shot as soon as possible every time it is off cooldown, thus delaying some Auto Shot uses. This is usually a better choice with faster weapon speeds, usually less than 3.0 seconds.
5. Cooldowns for PvE as a Hunter
Usually, you will want to use Rapid Fire along with any other damage cooldowns, such as on-use trinkets and Berserking, together on pull, but you sometimes might have a specific place you will want to use them later in a fight, if there is a damage check. It is also worth thinking about the duration of a boss fight before you go into it. Different durations for boss fights will mean potentially more or less uses of a cooldown depending on how long the fight is, and will influence how you stack your cooldowns. A general rule to follow is that you should stack your cooldowns whenever possible, but do not give up extra uses of a cooldown by delaying it. For instance, if you are in a boss fight that you expect to take 6 minutes, that means you will get 2 uses of Rapid Fire and 2 uses of Berserking if you are Troll. This means it is worth delaying your second Berserking to sync up with your second Rapid Fire. However, in a 4 minute encounter, you will only get 1 use of Rapid Fire and 2 uses of Berserking, meaning you are free to use your second Berserking whenever you would like.
Another great place to use cooldowns is when your Improved Aspect of the Hawk is active. The extra Haste from this talent and your other abilities work well together to provide a great damage boost. Remember that during periods of high Haste, such as when the talent and your cooldowns are up, you might need to change the rotation you use depending on how fast you are attacking.
6. Open Spot
If you looked at either rotation you may be wondering what the open spot is. Exactly as the name implies, it essentially is free time in your rotation where you can choose to do one of a few things.
6.1. Trinket Swapping
While it is impossible to swap gear in combat, Hunters have Feign Death, which allows them to drop combat even in the middle of a raid encounter. During your open spot in your rotation, you can choose to use Feign Death and swap to a new trinket. This is highly recommended to do if you can swap between an on-use and passive trinket. If you have a trinket with an on-use effect, such as an Engineering trinket, you can use it on pull with your other cooldowns, and then swap into a different trinket that just increases your stats during your first open spot in your rotation. All you need to do is use Feign Death, equip the new trinket, and get right back into your rotation.
6.2. Melee Weaving
Hunters are unique in that they have both a melee and a ranged basic attack with separate cooldowns and short animation times. During an open spot in your rotation, you can choose to run into melee to use Raptor Strike for some extra burst damage. To pull this off, you need to be doing your ranged rotation from the minimum distance, or 8 yards. As soon as you finish the Auto Shot, run into melee (within 5 yards), and use Raptor Strike. Once the Raptor Strike goes off, turn around and run back to the minimum ranged distance. You should only have to run 3-5 yards depending on your character's and the boss' hitboxes, making it a relatively short distance. This is a great option for what to use as a default during your open spot, assuming you can be in melee range of the boss without issue.
- 12 Jun. 2019: Page added.