Marksmanship Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1

Last updated Yesterday at 13:55 by Azortharion 78 comments

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Marksmanship Hunter in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.

1. Important Abilities, Procs and The General Rotation of Marksmanship Hunter

To play Marksmanship, there are a few basic mechanics you must understand to fully unlock the potential of the spec.

Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots is a buff that is activated whenever you cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot. It causes your next 1-2 Arcane Shots after casting Aimed Shot to do 75% more damage. You do not want to waste this buff by casting Aimed Shot when you have it active. You always want to spend the charges first.

Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots is the primary AoE mechanic. When you cast Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot on 3 targets or above, your next Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire will cleave up to 5 additional targets for 50% of its original damage. You simply want this buff to be active when casting Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire while dealing with 3 or more targets.

2. Marksmanship Hunter Single-Target Rotation

  1. Cast Double Tap Icon Double Tap on cooldown, right before you are going to cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot (or Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire if you have Surging Shots or Focused Fire enabled).
  2. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot on cooldown, but only when Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots is down.
  3. Cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire on cooldown.
  4. Cast Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot if you have chosen this talent.
  5. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows if you have chosen this talent.
  6. Cast Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot if you have chosen this talent.
  7. Cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot to spend Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots stacks, and to keep yourself from Focus capping. Using it to stay at a low amount of Focus is fine.
  8. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot as a filler.

2.1. Trueshot

You should use Trueshot Icon Trueshot when it suits the fight best. Other than that, you should try to use it during Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim. That means using it when the main boss is under 20% health, and above 80% health. Other than that, try to use it when Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire are both on cooldown.

3. Multi-Target Rotation for Marksmanship Hunter

On 2 targets, do the single-target rotation.

On 3 targets, your general rotation is the same, but there are a few changes to keep in mind. These changed are summarized in the priority system below.

  1. Maintain Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots by casting Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot instead of Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  2. Cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire on cooldown.
  3. Cast Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot when Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots is up.
  4. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot on cooldown.
  5. Cast Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot if you have chosen this talent.
  6. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows if you have chosen this talent.
  7. Cast Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot if you have chosen this talent.
  8. Cast Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot to keep yourself from Focus capping. Using it to stay at a low amount of Focus is fine.
  9. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot as a filler.

4. Opener Sequence for Marksmanship Hunter

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

  1. Precast Double Tap Icon Double Tap to ensure that it is active for your first Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  2. Make sure to apply Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark before the pull, if you are using this talent.
  3. Just before the encounter starts, use your combat potion.
  4. Start casting Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot roughly 2 seconds before the fight begins.
  5. Cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.
  6. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows.
  7. Cast Trueshot Icon Trueshot
  8. Cast 1-2 Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shots to spend your Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots stacks.
  9. Follow your standard rotation.

5. Talents and the Rotation

5.1. Tier 1 Talents

Master Marksman Icon Master Marksman does not change your rotation in any fundamental way. You should be aware of when it is up so that you know when your Arcane and Multi-Shot will not cost any Focus, as this helps manage your Focus correctly.

Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting is a DoT that should be kept up at all times. You can refresh it with 3 seconds remaining and not waste any of its duration.

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows should be cast on cooldown. You can get even more damage out of it by casting it on targets that are about 10 seconds from dying. When they die, this will reset the cooldown of the ability and allow you to use it again for a large damage boost.

5.2. Tier 2 Talents

Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim does not change anything fundamental in your rotation, although you do want to try and use Trueshot Icon Trueshot when it is active.

Volley Icon Volley does not change anything in your rotation.

Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot should be used on as many targets as possible. If you are only fighting one target, it should be used on cooldown and delayed as little as possible. It has a lower priority than Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire and Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot. It is worth it to delay it significantly if you can hit multiple targets.

5.3. Tier 4 Talents

Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus encourages casting Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot in multiples that are grouped up together. Instead of going Steady Shot, Arcane Shot, Steady Shot, you would always move the Arcane Shot either in front of or behind the two Steady Shots to ensure you benefit from the buff as much as possible.

Streamline Icon Streamline essentially increases your Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire Focus regeneration by 2. It does not change your rotation in any meaningful way.

Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark should be applied to the primary target you are fighting. It is on the Global Cooldown, meaning that if you are swapping targets, you must be doing a significant amount of damage to it before it is worth spending your Hunter's Mark on it. It is generally worth re-marking anything that you are going to attack for more than 15-20 seconds. This can also depend on how important the target is to kill.

5.4. Tier 6 Talents

Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs from Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot every so often. It does not have a significant effect on your rotation.

Barrage Icon Barrage should not be used on a single target if you have chosen the talent, unless you are in a situation where you need to burn a lot of Focus quickly for any reason. It should be used on cooldown if you are fighting 2 targets or above.

Double Tap Icon Double Tap should be used right before Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot by default, but if you have an Azerite Trait that buffs Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire such as Surging Shots Icon Surging Shots or Focused Fire Icon Focused Fire, then it is better to spend it on Rapid Fire instead.

5.5. Tier 7 Talents

Calling the Shots Icon Calling the Shots does not have a fundamental effect on your rotation.

Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load procs should be used as soon as possible, but you should always attempt to spend any Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots procs that you have already before using the procced Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.

Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot should be used on cooldown. It is worth delaying it if you can hit multiple targets with it however. If you can hit 2 targets, it is worth delaying up to 7 seconds to make that happen. If you can hit 3, it is worth delaying even more.

6. Changelog

  • 11 Dec. 2018: Added Double Tap to the opener and rotation.
  • 10 Dec. 2018: Updated the rotation, opener, Talents and cooldown usage for Patch 8.1.
  • 19 Oct. 2018: Various updates.
    • Updated Trueshot criteria slightly.
    • Added note about Careful Aim affecting Trueshot usage.
    • Changed Trueshot's position and criteria in the opener.
  • 17 Oct. 2018: Rotational updates.
    • Updated the rotations and split it into 2 builds.
    • Updated the Trueshot section vastly.
  • 04 Oct. 2018: 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.
  • 28 Sep. 2018: Cut down the size of the rotation and altered the format.
  • 30 Aug. 2018: Edited the rotation slightly, mostly for ease of understanding.
  • 29 Aug. 2018: Added a rarely used line to the Lethal Shots rotation.
  • 25 Aug. 2018: Updated the opener sequence to be easier to react to and execute.
  • 24 Aug. 2018: Added Trueshot to the rotation priority list.
  • 21 Aug. 2018: Added checklists to the rotation, to make it easier to distinguish between the playstyles of different talents.
  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated the Marksmanship Hunter rotation to be more clear on single-target priorities, and multi-target changes to the playstyle.
  • 12 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
  • 07 Aug. 2018: Significant updates to the general playstyle with Lethal Shots, and updated the rotation with a new format.
  • 23 Jul. 2018: Updated multi-target rotation.
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