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Marksmanship Hunter in Battle for Azeroth (BfA)

Last updated Today at 07:03 by Azortharion 928 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, you will find information on how to play your Marksmanship Hunter in Battle for Azeroth. Because the new expansion is still in beta, this guide is simply here to help you perform better in the beta or to give you a sneak peek into what the new expansion has in store for your class.

The other pages of our Marksmanship 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 Solaris. You can also watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Foreword

This page will be an introduction to the Marksmanship spec in Battle for Azeroth, going over the abilities, mechanics and baseline rotation. The primary goal is to help players make a decision on choosing a spec in Battle for Azeroth, and offering a peek into how the spec works and plays in the new expansion.

In Battle for Azeroth, Marksmanship has been completely redesigned, with almost none of the mechanics and abilities from Legion being retained. Because of this, we will first do a brief introduction of the baseline mechanics and abilities.

2. Basic Mechanics Changes for Marksmanship Hunter in BfA

  • Marksmanship's maximum Focus is now 100.
  • Focus now regenerates passively at a much slower rate.
  • Lone Wolf is now baseline. It increases your damage done by 10% when you do not have a pet summoned. For single-target, having a pet active is generally superior to the 10% damage bonus from Lone Wolf, while in multi-target scenarios, using Lone Wolf is usually better.
  • 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. We have listed them below.
Pet Spec Passive Effect Active Ability
Ferocity Predator's Thirst Icon Predator's Thirst gives you and your pet 10% Leech. Leech heals you based on how much damage you do. Primal Rage Icon Primal Rage, which provides the Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust effect, increasing Haste for you and all nearby allies by 30% for 40 seconds. This shares cooldown with Bloodlust and similar effects.
Tenacity Endurance Training Icon Endurance Training increases the maximum health of you and your pet by 8%. Survival of the Fittest Icon Survival of the Fittest is a defensive ability that reduces the damage taken by you and your pet by 20% for 6 seconds. It has a 3-minute cooldown.
Cunning Pathfinding Icon Pathfinding increases the movement speed of you and your pet by 8%. Master's Call Icon Master's Call clears all movement-impairing effects from your pet and a friendly target, and makes them immune to movement-impairing effects for 4 seconds. The friendly target can be you. It has a 45-second cooldown.

2.1. Lone Wolf Bonus

Whenever you do not have a pet summoned, you will gain 10% damage done. Additionally, you will gain the Survival of the Fittest Icon Survival of the Fittest cooldown that you would have if you had a Tenacity pet active. However, you will not get the maximum health bonus. The damage bonus of Lone Wolf ramps up slowly over time, only reaching 10% after a few seconds.

3. Baseline Abilities & Changes for Marksmanship Hunter in BfA

  • Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot now has a 2.5-second cast time and 2 charges with a 12-second base cooldown each. It does heavy Physical damage and remains a big part of Marksmanship's damage. It is not castable while moving.
  • Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot is now an additional Focus dump that does moderate damage.
  • Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot is the new Focus generator. It has a 1.75-second cast time and is a filler for when when there is nothing else to do. It can be cast while moving.
  • Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is a new heavy-hitting Focus generator. It is a 3-second channeled ability on a 20-second cooldown that generates Focus throughout its cast.
  • Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots is a new AoE mechanic that is the basis of Marksmanship's AoE. When you cast Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot on 3 targets or above, your next Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot will cleave up to 5 additional targets, or your next Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire will cleave up to 2 additional targets. It does not generate additional Focus from hitting the additional targets.
  • Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots causes your Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to make your next 1-2 Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shots or Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shots within 15 seconds do 100% additional damage. It is random whether you get 1 or 2 buffed Arcane Shots.
  • Trueshot Icon Trueshot is your main cooldown. It instantly gives you 1 charge of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, and increases your Haste by 30% for 15 seconds. It is ideally used at 0 charges of Aimed Shot, because that is when you will get the most out of the instantly refunded charge.

These abilities and mechanics form the baseline of the spec, which can be embellished further with talents.

4. The BfA Marksmanship Hunter Talent Tree

BFA MM Talent Tree

Some old talents make a return, while there are plenty of new ones. This list will only contain ones that are either new or significantly changed from Legion.

4.1. Level 15

  • Master Marksman Icon Master Marksman causes your Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to reduce the Focus cost of your next Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot by 100%, effectively making them free.
  • Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting is a DoT ability that costs 10 Focus and applies a DoT for 12 seconds. It also does a small amount of initial damage when you cast it. This is generally just to be kept up at all times, and can be useful for multi-dotting as well.

4.2. Level 30

  • Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim gives your Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot a 50% chance to deal 100% additional damage to targets that are above 80% health, or below 20% health. This essentially means that 40% of the time, your Aimed Shot will do 50% additional damage, effectively giving you a 20% damage increase to Aimed Shot, although the benefits of the extra execute damage and the opening burst can be greater than this damage bonus alone.
  • Volley Icon Volley gives your auto shots a 10% chance to rain down additional arrows on all enemies within 8 yards of your target. It is not known whether this affects the target itself.
  • Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot is simplified from Legion. It no longer deals damage based on how far away from the target you detonate it, it just has to get close enough. Additionally, if you fire it off but you never detonate it, you will be refunded 10 Focus (half of the cost), and its cooldown will be reduced.

4.3. Level 45

  • Natural Mending Icon Natural Mending causes your Exhilaration Icon Exhilaration ability's remaining cooldown to be reduced by 1 second for every 20 Focus you spend. We generate about 6 Focus per second on average, meaning that without wasting any of it, we can expect a cooldown reduction of over 30 seconds.

4.4. Level 60

  • Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus makes casting multiple Steady Shot Icon Steady Shots in a row more beneficial. Whenever you cast Steady Shot, you will reduce the cast time of the next one by 20%, stacking up to 2 times. This encourages a playstyle of spending a lot of Focus so that you can most efficiently get it back by casting many Steady Shots in a row, without capping your Focus.
  • Streamline Icon Streamline extends your Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire channel time by 1 second, making it do more damage and generate more Focus.
  • Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark lets you mark a target in a fight that you will then do 5% increased damage to until you apply it to another target. If your current target dies with Hunter's Mark active, you are refunded 20 Focus, making it at least slightly useful in AoE scenarios where individual targets die quickly.

4.5. Level 75

4.6. Level 90

  • Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots gives your Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot a 25% chance to make your next Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire be guaranteed Critical Strikes. The shot that is affected will simply depend on which one you cast first after getting the proc.
  • Double Tap Icon Double Tap is a mini-cooldown with a 1-minute cooldown. It causes your next Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to fire an additional time (although the second Aimed Shot cannot proc Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots or anything else activated by Aimed Shot), or your next Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire to shoot twice as many shots in the same amount of time, doubling its damage and Focus generation. With Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots active, the additional Aimed Shot will also cleave up to 5 additional targets.

4.7. Level 100

  • Calling the Shots Icon Calling the Shots causes Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot to reduce the remaining cooldown of Trueshot Icon Trueshot by 3 seconds. This can be a powerful talent for certain fights that benefit from short Trueshot timings. You can expect almost a minute of total cooldown reduction from using this talent.
  • Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load gives your Auto-Shots a 5% chance to make your next Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot free and instant cast. Because of the new charge system for Aimed Shot, Lock and Load now also refunds you a charge so you can spend the proc immediately.
  • Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot works the same as in Legion, but it now no longer has a Focus-to-damage mechanic, and always costs 35 Focus as a result. It also does slightly reduced damage to secondary targets, 40% down from 50% in Legion.

5. Azerite Traits for Marksmanship Hunter

Azerite Traits are the new version of the Artifact traits of Legion. They are a mix of small defensive, utility and damage boosts. None of the Azerite traits so far have a strong influence on how you play, but this can change as more of them are released.

As it stands right now, we will most likely be using sims in Battle for Azeroth to figure out the optimal traits, although in many cases there is only one choice of trait per spec, as well as a generic trait that benefits all specs. In this instance you will usually choose the Marksmanship-specific trait, but sometimes the generic one can be better.

6. The Base Rotation for Marksmanship Hunter in BfA

In Battle for Azeroth, the Marksmanship rotation will be focused on not wasting a few valuable resources: Aimed Shot charges, Focus, and time. Time in the sense that you always want to be casting something, with Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot providing an active way of generating Focus. Like in Legion, you never want to stop casting and gaps between casts should be minimized. The following is a very rough "example" of how Marksmanship should be played in Battle for Azeroth.

  1. Use Trueshot Icon Trueshot on cooldown, or when the fight suits it. Try to use it at 0 charges of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  2. Use Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot if it is about to reach 2 charges. Reaching 2 charges of Aimed Shot is one of the worst things you can do.
  3. Cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire on cooldown. You should try and use it when below 75 Focus, and in order to avoid capping Focus after channeling, you should generally follow it up with Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot instead of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, otherwise you might Focus cap while casting Aimed Shot. If you cast Rapid Fire with less than 70 Focus, then it is acceptable to cast Aimed Shot right after it.
  4. Spend Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots stacks on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  5. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot on cooldown. Not casting it directly on cooldown is acceptable, but you never want to reach 2 charges. You generally want to follow up Aimed Shot with 1-2 Arcane Shots, depending on how many stacks of Precise Shots you have.
  6. Use Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot strategically to avoid capping Focus, especially right before casting Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. If you are above 90 Focus, you should use Arcane Shot before Aimed Shot to not Focus cap during the Aimed Shot cast.
  7. Use Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot when there is nothing else to do, and to generate Focus.

Beyond this, there are a few important rules to keep in mind when trying to play the spec optimally. Following these guidelines will also help make the spec feel easier when learning and practicing.

  1. Avoid casting Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire above 75 Focus.
  2. Avoid casting Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot above 90 Focus unless you are about to reach 2 charges, in which case casting it immediately is worth it.
  3. For the reasons above combined, it is generally best to be under 70 Focus. This is the optimal place to cast both Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire and Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot from, and you should be using Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot and Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot strategically to hover around this Focus level.

6.1. Multi-Target Rotation for Marksmanship Hunter in BfA

When fighting multiple targets, the goal is to get the most out of Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots and its interaction with Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.

Your rotation is essentially the same as on single-target, but before you cast Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire, you should have Trick Shots activated by casting Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot, keeping in mind that it only activates on 3 targets and above. You can simplify its usage by simply casting Multi-Shot right after spending the Trick Shots proc, as you can always expect to be casting either Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire within the next 20 seconds.

After Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots is activated, Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot should replace Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot in your rotation when you are hitting more than 3 targets. Since they cost the same Focus, this does not change your rotation in any other way.

7. Pet Families and Special Abilities for Marksmanship Hunter in BfA

Along with the pet spec abilities and passives, most pet families have a special ability that can have some utility in raids, but especially Mythic+, PvP, and open-world content. Remember that Exotic Pets can only be tamed by Beast Mastery Hunters.

7.1. Ferocity Pets

Special Ability Description Pet Families
Damage Reduction Cooldown Reduces the damage taken of your pet by 50% for 12 seconds. This has a 1-minute cooldown. Core Hound (Exotic).
Dispel Enrage/Magic Removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from your pet's target. This has a 10-second cooldown. Bat, Nether Ray.
Healing Reduction Reduces the healing taken of your pet's target by 25% for 10 seconds. This has a 6-second cooldown, which means that it will be active all the time. Carrion Bird, Ravager, Scorpid, Wasp.
Dodge Chance Cooldown This ability increases your pet's Dodge chance by 30% for 20 seconds. It has a 1.5-minute cooldown. Cat, Wind Serpent.
Slow/Snare Reduces the movement speed of your pet's target by 50% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. Crocolisk, Spider, Tallstrider, Wolf.

7.2. Tenacity Pets

Special Ability Description Pet Families
Damage Reduction Cooldown Reduces the damage taken of your pet by 50% for 12 seconds. This has a 1-minute cooldown. Krolusk (Exotic), Beetle, Turtle.
Dispel Enrage/Magic Removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from your pet's target. This has a 10-second cooldown. Spirit Beast (Exotic), Crane, Stag.
Healing Reduction Reduces the healing taken of your pet's target by 25% for 10 seconds. This has a 6-second cooldown, which means that it will be active all the time. Direhorn, Hydra, Riverbeast, Lizard.
Damage Reduction On Low Health Reduces your pet's damage taken by 60% for 15 seconds when your pet falls below 40% health. Gorilla, Oxen.
Dodge Chance Cooldown This ability increases your pet's Dodge chance by 30% for 20 seconds. It has a 1.5-minute cooldown. *Feathermane.
Slow/Snare Reduces the movement speed of your pet's target by 50% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. Worm (Exotic), Crab.

*Feathermane pets also have Updraft, which enables Slow Fall for you and your pet, allowing you to fall safely from almost any height while the pet is active for 30 seconds.

7.3. Cunning Pets

Special Ability Description Pet Families
Damage Reduction Cooldown Reduces the damage taken of your pet by 50% for 12 seconds. This has a 1-minute cooldown. Shale Spider (Exotic), Boar, Mechanical.
Dispel Enrage/Magic Removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from your pet's target. This has a 10-second cooldown. Water Strider (Exotic), Moth, Sporebat.
Healing Reduction Reduces the healing taken of your pet's target by 25% for 10 seconds. This has a 6-second cooldown, which means that it will be active all the time. Hyena, Rodent, Raptor.
Slow/Snare Reduces the movement speed of your pet's target by 50% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. Basilisk, Bird of Prey, Dog, Warp Stalker.

7.4. Exotic Pets (Beast Mastery-only)

Pet Family Specialization Special Ability Exotic Ability
Core Hound Ferocity Obsidian Skin Icon Obsidian Skin reduces your pet's damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds. It has a 1-minute cooldown. Molten Hide Icon Molten Hide causes your pet to gain Molten Hide when it gets hit by a melee attack, causing it to deal slight Fire damage to all further melee attackers for 10 seconds. It can only activate every 60 seconds.
Chimaera Ferocity Frost Breath Icon Frost Breath reduces the movement speed of your pet's target by 50% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. Froststorm Breath Icon Froststorm Breath is an 8-second channeled ability for your pet that deals AoE damage to all enemies within 12 yards every 2 seconds. It costs 10 Focus to activate, and then 5 Focus per second to maintain.
Devilsaur Ferocity Monstrous Bite Icon Monstrous Bite reduces the healing taken of your pet's target by 25%. It lasts 10 seconds and has a 6-second cooldown, meaning it is up all the time. Feast Icon Feast lets you order your pet to consume a nearby Humanoid or Beast corpse within 5 yards, healing your pet for 20% of its maximum health, and restoring 20 Focus over 6 seconds.
Clefthoof Ferocity Thick Hide Icon Thick Hide gives your pet a 60% damage reduction for 15 seconds when it falls below 40% health. This can only occur once every 2 minutes. Blood of the Rhino Icon Blood of the Rhino is a passive effect that increases your pet's armor by 10%, and increases the effectiveness of all healing done to it by 20%.
Quilen Tenacity Stone Armor Icon Stone Armor buffs your pet when it falls below 40% health, reducing its damage taken by 40% and healing it for 3% of its maximum health every 1 second for 15 seconds. This effect can only occur every 2 minutes. Eternal Guardian Icon Eternal Guardian is an instant resurrection for your pet. If your pet has died, you can use it to instantly revive it with 100% of its health. It has an 8-minute cooldown.
Spirit Beast Tenacity Spirit Shock Icon Spirit Shock removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from your pet's target. It has a 10-second cooldown. Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend heals a friendly target for a small amount instantly, and applies a small healing DoT for 10 seconds. It costs 5 pet Focus. It can be cast on yourself as well. Spirit Beasts also have the Prowl stealth ability, like Cats.
Worm Tenacity Acid Spit Icon Acid Spit reduces the movement speed of your pet's target by 50% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. Burrow Attack Icon Burrow Attack is an 8-second channeled ability for your pet that deals AoE damage to all enemies within 12 yards every 2 seconds. It costs 10 Focus to activate, and then 5 Focus per second to maintain.
Krolusk (Exotic) Tenacity Bulwark Icon Bulwark reduces your pet's damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds. It has a 1-minute cooldown. Calcified Carapace Icon Calcified Carapace passively reduces your pet's Physical damage taken by approximately 10%. The proper spell data is not in the game for this ability yet.
Shale Spider Cunning Solid Shell Icon Solid Shell reduces your pet's damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds. It has a 1-minute cooldown. Shimmering Shale Icon Shimmering Shale passively reduces your pet's magic damage taken by approximately 10%. The proper spell data is not in the game for this ability yet.
Silithid Cunning Tendon Rip Icon Tendon Rip reduces the movement speed of your pet's target by 50% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. Dune Strider Icon Dune Strider passively increases your pet's movement speed by 30%.
Water Strider Cunning Soothing Water Icon Soothing Water removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from your pet's target. It has a 10-second cooldown. Surface Trot Icon Surface Trot allows you and your pet to walk on water. Any damage taken will cancel the effect and cause you to fall in the water.

8. ChangeLog

  • 17 Jun. 2018: Updated the descriptions of Master Marksman, Careful Aim and Lethal Shots as they were both buffed significantly.
  • 08 Jun. 2018: Updated Volley's proc chance to 10%, up from 5%. Updated to reflect the cast time reduction of Aimed Shot and Steady Shot, and added information about Lone Wolf's new bonus.
  • 06 Jun. 2018: Precise Shots now affects Multi-Shot as well.
  • 04 Jun. 2018: Updated Rapid Fire's interaction with Trick Shot. Updated the Focus targets in the rotation to reflect the Rapid Fire Focus nerf. Added note about the updated Mastery.
  • 30 May 2018: Added a table with all pet family special abilities, and Exotic/Bonus abilities where applicable.
  • 29 May 2018: Added table with pet abilities for the different pet specs.
  • 25 May 2018: Tweaked the wording of some explanations slightly, and defined "High Focus" as a specific Focus level in the rotation.
  • 22 May 2018: It is unknown whether Volley affects the current target or not. Steady Shot stacks 2 times, with a 20% (effectively 0.4 seconds) cast time reduction with each stack. Rapid Fires affected by Trick Shot do not generate additional Focus.
  • 21 May 2018: Page added.
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