Marksmanship Hunter DPS Guide — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5

Last updated on Mar 22, 2019 at 21:45 by Azortharion 90 comments

Welcome to our Marksmanship Hunter guide for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5. Here, you will learn how to play as a Marksmanship Hunter in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons: from the very beginning to maximizing your DPS.

1. Marksmanship Hunter Overview

Marksmanship is the least mobile Hunter spec, as it is the only spec that has to deal with long cast times during which you cannot move. From a playstyle perspective, Marksmanship is relatively simple with only a few central abilities you must understand to play the spec optimally.

2. Patch 8.1 Changes for Marksmanship Hunter

The 8.1 Changes for Marksmanship Hunter seek to return Marksmanship to a more traditional playstyle. Most importantly, this involves returning Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire to an important spot in the rotation, rather than something that is very rarely used in your average raid encounter.

2.1. Spec Changes

  • Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot's damage has been buffed.
  • Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot's damage has been buffed.
  • Bursting Shot Icon Bursting Shot now snares for 6 seconds, up from 4.
  • Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot's radius has been increased to 10 yards, up from 8. Its damage has also been buffed slightly.
  • Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots has been nerfed, and now increases the damage done by Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot by 75%, down from 100%.
  • Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot now also increases the duration of Concussive Shot Icon Concussive Shot by 3 seconds.
  • Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots now affects Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire the same way as it does Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, meaning it can hit up to 5 additional targets. Its damage has also been buffed to 50%, up from 40% of the original shot's damage.
  • Trueshot Icon Trueshot has been redesigned. It now reduces the cooldown of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire by 60%, and it reduces the cast time of Aimed Shot by 50%. It is currently bugged, and reduces the cooldown of Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire by much more than intended.

2.2. Talents, Azerite Traits and Other Relevant Changes

  • Hunters can now tame Crawgs, using the item Blood-Soaked Tome of Dark Whispers Icon Blood-Soaked Tome of Dark Whispers.
  • Barrage Icon Barrage's damage has been nerfed.
  • Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim is now a 100% chance, but only 50% as effective. This removes the RNG while keeping it as good as it was before.
  • Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot no longer has a missile to aim. It works like any other ability.
  • Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots has been redesigned. It now gives Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot a 20% chance to reduce the cooldown of Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire by 5 seconds.
  • Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot's damage has been buffed, since it now ignores the target's armor.
  • Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting's damage has been buffed slightly.
  • Streamline Icon Streamline now increases the duration of Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire by 20%, down from 30%.
  • Volley Icon Volley's chance to proc has been increased to 25%, up from 10%. Its damage has been nerfed to compensate.
  • Sniper Shot Icon Sniper Shot, a PvP talent, now does a flat 20% of the target's maximum health. The duration of its range-increasing effect has been reduced to 6 seconds, down from 15.
  • The Arcane Flurry Azerite Trait has been removed, and is replaced by Surging Shots.
  • Surging Shots Icon Surging Shots is a new Azerite Trait that increases the damage done by Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. The damage bonus is small at the beginning of the cast, but gets gradually bigger towards the end of the Rapid Fire cast. It also gives Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot a 15% chance to reset the cooldown of Rapid Fire.
  • The Focused Fire Icon Focused Fire Azerite Trait has been buffed.

3. Patch 8.0.1 Changes for Marksmanship Hunter

Marksmanship has been completely redesigned. The Vulnerable mechanic and all the abilities surrounding it are gone, but there are still important ability interactions that you must know about to make good use of the spec.

  • Marksmanship's maximum Focus is now 100.
  • Focus now regenerates passively at a much slower rate.
  • Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf is now baseline. It increases your damage done by 10% when you do not have a pet summoned.
  • Many abilities that were not on the global cooldown before are now affected by it, including main cooldowns like Trueshot Icon Trueshot.
  • Our Mastery: Sniper Training Icon Mastery: Sniper Training now affects all of our abilities, rather than just the ones that cost Focus.
  • Pet specs can no longer be swapped, and pet families will always belong to a certain spec that cannot be changed. For example, Turtles are always Tenacity, Wolves are always Ferocity and so on.
  • All pet specs now do the same damage, but the pet specs now provide different bonuses for defense and utility.

4. Viability of Specs

On this page, we will attempt to give a full picture of what the 3 Hunter specs are good at and when you might want to use them. Generally speaking, all the specs are competitive enough that you can play whichever one you prefer from a playstyle perspective. On this page, we will try to be as objective as possible when determining which spec is the best. To determine this, we will use simulations, intuition and occasionally WarcraftLogs Data to try and get a full picture.

4.1. Spec Viability in Practice, Strengths and Weaknesses

In this section, we will look at some of the perks and downsides of the different specs in raids and Mythic+.

4.1.1. Beast Mastery

  • Extremely mobile, fairly easy to play.
  • Able to bring additional utility and heals like Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend.
  • Short cooldowns make it a consistent Mythic+ performer.
  • Relies on pet AI, which can be inconsistent and buggy.
  • Is able to deal heavy damage to a single target while AoE'ing.

4.1.2. Marksmanship

  • Capable of extremely high burst damage.
  • Unfortunately does not use a pet for multi-target scenarios, costing it utility/survivability.
  • Limited/no reliance on pet AI, more damage is in your hands.

4.1.3. Survival

  • Very high sustained AoE damage.
  • Quite mobile for a melee spec.
  • Relatively simple single-target rotation.
  • Relatively hectic multi-target rotation.

4.2. What Is The Best Spec?

4.2.1. Single-Target/Raiding

All of the specs are close to equal in this respect, with Marksmanship having the highest theoretical maximum and superior gear scaling. In practice, there is very little between the specs from a damage perspective and there is no strictly right or wrong choice.

4.2.2. Cleave/AoE/Mythic+

  1. Beast Mastery;
  2. Marksmanship;
  3. Survival.

4.2.3. Utility/Defensives

Beast Mastery can provide Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend to you and your allies which is a powerful self-heal, and various utility through its pets.

Marksmanship does not often use a pet, and it does not have Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend at all.

Survival lies somewhere between Marksmanship and Beast Mastery. While it does not have Spirit Mend, it can use any pet type for any situation just like Beast Mastery (with the exception of Exotic Beasts, but these do not provide anything uniquely useful).

5. Changelog

  • 22 Mar. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added tips for Jaina on Mythic Difficulty.
  • 19 Mar. 2019 (this page): Updated the Raiding viability/performance comparison section.
  • 15 Mar. 2019 (simulations page): Updated the Racial Simulation to include Zandalari Trolls and Kul'Tiran Humans.
  • 06 Mar. 2019 (rotation page): Updated the single-target opener slightly.
  • 06 Mar. 2019 (mythic+ page): Altered the recommended Level 100 Talent for Mythic+.
  • 06 Mar. 2019 (easy mode page): Altered the Level 100 Talent recommendation.
  • 01 Mar. 2019 (addons page): Added information about nochanneling macros for Marksmanship.
  • 24 Feb. 2019 (rotation page): Added a precast of Double Tap to the multi-target opener, and put one Aimed Shot in front of Rapid Fire.
  • 22 Feb. 2019 (rotation page): Added a multi-target opener.
  • 21 Feb. 2019 (talents page): Altered the recommendation status of Calling the Shots versus Lock and Load.
  • 20 Feb. 2019 (rotation page): Expanded a little on some rotational subtleties.
  • 20 Feb. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added boss tips for multiple bosses on Mythic.
    • Added tips for Stormwall Blockade (Mythic).
    • Added tips for King Rastakhan (Mythic).
    • Added tips for High Tinker Mekkatorque (Mythic).
    • Added tips for Opulence (Mythic).
    • Added tips for Conclave of the Chosen (Mythic).
  • 20 Feb. 2019 (this page): Altered the simple spec rankings slightly for Single-Target/Raiding.
  • 05 Feb. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added boss tips for Jadefire Masters (Mythic) and altered the talent recommendations.
  • 03 Feb. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated information about Overwhelming Power/Heed My Call/Gutripper.
  • 03 Feb. 2019 (enchants page): Added note about using Masterful Navigation with good gear, and for multi-target scenarios.
  • 03 Feb. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added boss tips for Champion of the Light and Grong (Mythic).
  • 30 Jan. 2019 (rotation page): Updated the recommended usage of Double Tap significantly, and added an optional step to the opener.
  • 30 Jan. 2019 (talents page): Updated our Steady Focus recommendation.
  • 28 Jan. 2019 (rotation page): Changed the recommended usage of Double Tap slightly (included mention of Careful Aim).
  • 24 Jan. 2019 (talents page): Lone Wolf and Explosive Shot recommendation updates.
    • Updated the Lone Wolf recommendation to be no pet in most situations.
    • Made note of Explosive Shot's viability for low Mythic+.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (simulations page): Added a small Raidbots text guide.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (rotation page): Added a dedicated paragraph about Double Tap usage with Calling the Shots.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Removed Archive of the Titans and added Treacherous Covenant. Updated description of Unerring Vision.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (rotation page): Added note about delaying Double Tap until the end of Trueshot with Unerring Vision.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (gear page): Added a Recommended Gear List for Battle for Dazar'alor, and an introduction to the Raidbots Droptimizer feature.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added boss tips for Marksmanship Hunter in Battle of Dazar'alor.
  • 11 Jan. 2019 (enchants page): Updated the optimal food to use.
  • 04 Jan. 2019 (rotation page): Updated the opener slightly (removed an Arcane Shot, as you do not want to spend Master Marksman procs while already Focus capped).
  • 18 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Updated the opener to make use of Master Marksman, and added a specific Trueshot Shot Priority.
  • 17 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): Added several new questions and answers.
  • 15 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the recommended weapon enchant.
  • 14 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Expanded slightly on Lethal Shots' role in the rotation.
  • 13 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Fixed the Tier 4 Talent Row Checkmarks.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Added note about Unerring Vision only requiring one rank to make Calling the Shots the best talent.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated Unerring Vision to only require 1 rank to make Calling the Shots the best Level 100 talent.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added note about Unerring Vision changing the recommended Level 100 talent.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (this page): Added note about Trueshot being bugged.
  • 11 Dec. 2018 (this page): Revised the description of Marksmanship's viability to no longer reference the MGH build.
  • 11 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the recommended gems.
  • 11 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Added Double Tap to the opener and rotation.
  • 11 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Multiple small fixes.
    • Fixed the Explosive Shot, Streamline, Sand Lethal Shots descriptions.
    • Updated the time it takes for Lone Wolf to fully ramp up.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (simulations page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (this page): Added Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (easy mode page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (spells page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Made numerous updates for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (stats page): Updated the stat priority for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (Uldir page): Added more specifically useful tips for Marksmanship on each boss in Uldir Mythic.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated the talent recommendations for Mythic+.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added note about Archive of the Titans being very competitive, regardless of the need for Reorigination Array.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Updated the rotation, opener, Talents and cooldown usage for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation charts to be hosted through BloodMallet.
  • 09 Nov. 2018 (this page): Removed the comparison simulations as they were getting less relevant, outdated, and to clean up the page.
  • 19 Oct. 2018 (rotation page): Various updates.
    • Updated Trueshot criteria slightly.
    • Added note about Careful Aim affecting Trueshot usage.
    • Changed Trueshot's position and criteria in the opener.
  • 19 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added a small section emphasizing that having at least one Uldir trait within the raid is mandatory for optimal performance.
  • 17 Oct. 2018 (this page): Updated the discussion on spec viability in Uldir and Mythic+.
  • 17 Oct. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison.
  • 17 Oct. 2018 (rotation page): Rotational updates.
    • Updated the rotations and split it into 2 builds.
    • Updated the Trueshot section vastly.
  • 12 Oct. 2018 (gear page): Updated the list of good dungeons and their items.
  • 05 Oct. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated recommendations.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (rotation page): Rotational updates.
    • Added a note of Aimed Shot's high priority when it is about to reach 2 charges.
    • Added a clarifying note that Lethal Shots procs on AoE are best spent on Rapid Fire, but that will not always be possible.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (talents page): Significantly updated the talent recommendations for AoE.
  • 28 Sep. 2018 (mythic+ page): Removed Thunderous Blast from the list of desirable traits.
  • 28 Sep. 2018 (rotation page): Cut down the size of the rotation and altered the format.
  • 25 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Trait simulation to account for the latest hotfixes.
  • 20 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Restructured the page and added some written recommendations.
  • 18 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation to include Meticulous Scheming properly.
  • 08 Sep. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal weapon enchant to use. This is a result of gear outscaling Incendiary Ammunition, which has no gear scaling.
  • 08 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 08 Sep. 2018 (this page): Updated the spec comparison simulations.
  • 07 Sep. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 03 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Added additional content for Uldir's release.
  • 01 Sep. 2018 (mythic+ page): Added content.
  • 31 Aug. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison.
  • 31 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Added note about Steady Focus to the cheat sheet.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal potion to use.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Edited the rotation slightly, mostly for ease of understanding.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include the recent SimCraft changes to RPPM.
  • 29 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added a rarely used line to the Lethal Shots rotation.
  • 27 Aug. 2018 (this page): Added more information about Survival to the "What is the Best Hunter Spec" section.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include buff to the Tiny Electromental in a Jar.
  • 25 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated the opener sequence to be easier to react to and execute.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (this page): Added a section called "What is the Best Hunter Spec", and updated all the simulations.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include various World Quest trinkets.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added Trueshot to the rotation priority list.
  • 23 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added a link to the origin spreadsheet for the simulation chart.
  • 23 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Added a link to the origin spreadsheet for the simulation chart.
  • 21 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added checklists to the rotation, to make it easier to distinguish between the playstyles of different talents.
  • 21 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated Trinket simulations.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Changed the BiS list to a more generally useful list of good dungeons to farm, as this will be relevant throughout the entire expansion.
  • 17 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the traits' impact on the rotation.
  • 17 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Added the mention of using an Agility gem.
  • 16 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Removed outdated mention of a Legendary.
  • 16 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal healing potion to use.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal gems to correspond with the stat priority.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated the Marksmanship Hunter rotation to be more clear on single-target priorities, and multi-target changes to the playstyle.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (simulations page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Page created.
  • 07 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Significant updates to the general playstyle with Lethal Shots, and updated the rotation with a new format.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (spells page): Added Counter Shot to the spell list.
  • 01 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated the single-target spec comparison.
  • 01 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added page.
  • 31 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Added some missing BfA pets to the pet family overview.
  • 27 Jul. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added Azerite page.
  • 23 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Updated multi-target rotation.
  • 22 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal single-target potion.
  • 21 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Reverted the optimal flask, as the Flask of Falling Leaves was nerfed.
  • 21 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Added Steady Shot to the Spell Summary.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Moved the Gorilla and its Special Ability from Tenacity to Ferocity.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Reverted the optimal gem, as it was nerfed.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Updated Celerity of the Windrunners' Haste level from 2% to 3%.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Various updates with old-world gems, enchants, and consumables.
    • Updated the optimal potion to use.
    • Updated the optimal flask to use. Added note about Belt Buckles to the Enchants table.
    • Reverted the optimal potion to use, as Blizzard has nerfed the old one.
    • Updated the wording on the Healthstones/Healing Potion paragraph to say "and", as you can now use both of them at once.
    • Removed Belt Buckles as they were hotfixed.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated the stat priority.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Updated Golganneth's Vitality to just be an Argus Personal Loot drop.
  • 16 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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