Marksmanship Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands 9.0.5

Last updated on Mar 31, 2021 at 20:04 by Azortharion 76 comments
General Information

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 — Shadowlands 9.0.5.

If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our Classic DPS Hunter rotation.

1.

Marksmanship Hunter Rotation

Welcome to our Rotation page for Marksmanship Hunters. On this page you will find everything you need to know about actually playing the spec in Raiding and Mythic+ scenarios.

1.1.

Easy Mode

If the rotations below seem overwhelming to you, you might benefit from visiting our Easy Mode page which outlines a close-to-optimal rotation in simpler terms.

1.2.

PvP

The content on this page is purely PvE-related. If you are looking for PvP Rotation Tips, please visit our PvP page below.

2.

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 Shot Icon Arcane Shots or Multi-Shot Icon Multi-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, except during Trueshot Icon Trueshot.

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.

3.

Marksmanship Hunter Single-Target Rotation

  1. If you have just cast a Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot and Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus has less than 5 seconds remaining, then cast another Steady Shot to activate the buff. This applies to Trueshot Icon Trueshot windows as well. In addition, if Steady Focus is not up entirely, applying it with a double Steady Shot is your top priority.
  2. Use Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot on targets that are below 20% health.
  3. Use Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot on cooldown, if you are using this talent.
  4. Activate Double Tap Icon Double Tap when your next cast will be Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, rather than Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. As Kyrian, use it right before entering Resonating Arrow Icon Resonating Arrow, so that your Aimed Shot during the Arrow benefits from Double Tap.
  5. Activate your Wild Spirits Icon Wild Spirits/Resonating Arrow Icon Resonating Arrow Covenant Ability.
  6. Activate Volley Icon Volley if you are using this talent.
  7. Activate Trueshot Icon Trueshot, making sure that you have at least one charge of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot available.
  8. Use Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, making sure that you have no remaining charges of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots. During Trueshot Icon Trueshot, you should favour casting Aimed Shot before it hits 2 charges, over spending Precise Shots charges. Casting Aimed Shot directly on cooldown is not essential, but you never want to hit two charges.
  9. Use Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire on cooldown.
  10. Use Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot mostly to spend Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots stacks, but also to keep your Focus low enough that Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire will never Focus cap you.
  11. Use Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot as a filler, and to keep up Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus (refer to the top of this priority for an explanation on Steady Focus).

The goal of the rotation is to never cap Focus, never reach 2 charges of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, maximizing Focus generated by Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire by casting it on cooldown (but never Focus capping still), and spending every Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots proc.

3.1.

Trueshot Rotation

Your Trueshot Icon Trueshot rotation is the same as the normal one, except for the following changes.

  • Keeping Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot from hitting 2 charges is a higher priority than spending Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots. However, you should still try to spend Precise Shots procs. Just do not let Aimed Shot hit 2 charges in doing so.

A lot of players struggle with Trueshot Icon Trueshot windows because they are casting Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot too much. The goal is to maximize Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire casts, and to only use Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot when this will have no impact on your ability to cast Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire on cooldown.

This means that you will usually only ever cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot if you are about to reach 90 Focus after an Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot. If not, then leave the "gaps" between Aimeds/Rapids to Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot instead. Be careful not to cast too many Arcane Shots.

4.

Multi-Target Rotation for Marksmanship Hunter

On 2 targets, do the single-target rotation. When using Volley Icon Volley on two targets, you should make it a very high priority to cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire inside the window. You do not need any particular Haste amount for this, but it does mean that you should not cast any Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot within this window.

On 3 targets and above, your general rotation is the same, with the exceptions listed below.

  • You must always have Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots active when casting either Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. This buff is activated by casting Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot on 3 or more targets.
  • Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot disappears from the rotation in AoE situations, and is replaced by Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot.
  • When Volley Icon Volley, a very powerful Level 50 AoE Talent, is being used and is active, you no longer need to use Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot to maintain Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots. However, you still use Multi-Shot as a substitute for Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot on 3 targets and above, as you will still need to spend Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots procs. During Volley itself, cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire in any order if possible. On 3 targets and above however, it does not really matter if you fit 2 spells into Volley, as you are using Multi-Shot for Trick Shots anyway. If Trueshot Icon Trueshot is up alongside your Volley, then you can do Aimed Shot, Rapid Fire, Aimed Shot. The order of casts is not important.
  • Double Tap Icon Double Tap should be used before entering combat whenever possible. During combat itself, it is best to use it on Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot if you can, but the most important thing is to not delay it. If Double Tap is up and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is coming off cooldown in 3 seconds, while Aimed Shot is unavailable, then spend the Double Tap on Rapid Fire.
  • Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot should be used when going into a pack as the very first global in most cases. The goal is to just get it out of the way so that you can focus on your upcoming burst rotation, rather than having to weave it into Trueshot Icon Trueshot.

Finally, when using the Serpentstalker's Trickery Icon Serpentstalker's Trickery Legendary Item on more than one target, you should be alternating the targets that you cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot on to apply the Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting DoT to multiple targets. You should only really bother doing this with up to 2 targets, as it is impossible to keep up more than two outside of your cooldowns or Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism.

5.

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. If you are using Double Tap Icon Double Tap, activate it shortly before the fight begins.
  2. Start casting Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot roughly 2 seconds before the fight begins.
  3. Use 2x Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot if you are using Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus, and/or cast Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot if you are using that Talent.
  4. Activate your Wild Spirits Icon Wild Spirits/Resonating Arrow Icon Resonating Arrow Covenant Ability.
  5. Cast Volley Icon Volley if you are using that Talent.
  6. Activate Trueshot Icon Trueshot as well as any potions, racial abilities or on-use trinkets.
  7. Use Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot
  8. Use Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire
  9. Proceed with your normal Trueshot Icon Trueshot rotation.
6.

Multi-Target/AoE Opener Sequence for Marksmanship Hunter

This section describes how to best open on fights and packs that have AoE from the very start, like most Mythic+ situations.

  1. If you are using Double Tap Icon Double Tap, activate it shortly before the fight begins.
  2. Use Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot as soon as the fight is engaged.
  3. Activate your Wild Spirits Icon Wild Spirits/Resonating Arrow Icon Resonating Arrow Covenant Ability.
  4. Activate Volley Icon Volley.
  5. Activate Trueshot Icon Trueshot immediately.
  6. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot
  7. Cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire
  8. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot
  9. After Volley Icon Volley ends, proceed with your Trueshot Icon Trueshot rotation, substituting Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot for Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot to keep up Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots.

The point of the Burst Rotation is to maximize your short-term burst via Volley Icon Volley letting you skip the need for Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot. Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is used before the second Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to benefit from the Streamline Icon Streamline cast time reduction on Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, letting you comfortably get all three abilities into your Volley rotation.

7.

How To Use On-Use Trinkets as a Marksmanship Hunter

There are a variety of On-Use Trinkets for Marksmanship Hunter that are worth using. Here are the rules for using them optimally in the rotation.

  • 1.5-minute trinkets like Darkmoon Deck: Voracity Icon Darkmoon Deck: Voracity and Overcharged Anima Battery Icon Overcharged Anima Battery should be macro'd into Trueshot Icon Trueshot and used together with it at all times. The 30-second delay is worth the extra damage.
  • 3-minute on-use trinkets like Inscrutable Quantum Device Icon Inscrutable Quantum Device should also be macro'd into Trueshot Icon Trueshot and used together with every second Trueshot.
  • Note that the rules above only apply to Trinkets that enhance your stats. For trinkets that just deal damage, such as Dreadfire Vessel Icon Dreadfire Vessel, simply use it on cooldown.
  • If you are using double On-Use Trinkets, use the longest cooldown Trinket (for example the Inscrutable Quantum Device Icon Inscrutable Quantum Device) with your first Trueshot Icon Trueshot. After that, use your shorter cooldown Trinket (for example the Overcharged Anima Battery Icon Overcharged Anima Battery) on cooldown. Then use your shorter cooldown Trinket with your second Trueshot, followed by using it on cooldown, and followed by using your Inscrutable Quantum Device with your third Trueshot. In short, use the 3-minute on-use with every other Trueshot, and fill in the gaps as well as the other Trueshots with your other Trinket.
7.1.

Potion Usage

In almost all cases, the ideal time to use your combat potion is along with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism. In most, but not all, situations, this is when the fight starts.

On fights that last longer than 5 minutes, you will be able to use two potions, provided that you use one of them at the beginning of the fight.

8.

Talents and the Rotation

8.1.

Tier 1 Talents

Master Marksman Icon Master Marksman does not change your rotation in any fundamental way.

Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting is a DoT that should be kept up at all times. You can refresh it with 5 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.

8.2.

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.

Barrage Icon Barrage should be used on cooldown when there is nothing else going on in your rotation, such as Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. On a single target, it is a very low priority. You should try to delay it for multi-target situations whenever possible.

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. You can see its exact place in the rotation in our Single-Target Rotation above.

8.3.

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 does not inherently change your rotation, although it is worth tracking the buff so that you know when your next Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot will cast 30% faster.

Chimaera Shot Icon Chimaera Shot essentially replaces the Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot button in your rotation. On 2 targets only, it is worth spending Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots during Trueshot Icon Trueshot rather than maximizing Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot charges, only when using this talent.

8.4.

Tier 6 Talents

Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs from Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot every so often. It does not have a significant effect on your rotation, although it helps to be aware of your Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire cooldown so that you can react to a proc more quickly.

Dead Eye Icon Dead Eye means that you should never cast Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot twice in a row, even when giving the option, as this would cause you to overwrite the 3-second buff to your Aimed Shot's recharge time. You should always spread out your Kill Shot Icon Kill Shots by at least 3 seconds, and it is usually a good idea to fit an Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot in between them.

Double Tap Icon Double Tap should be used alongside Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot in single-target situations. In AoE this remains the case, but in a practical situation you should simply go for whatever is most convenient between Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire in most cases.

8.5.

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.

Volley Icon Volley should be used on cooldown. It is worth delaying it if you can hit multiple targets with it however. It is so powerful for multi-target that it is worth even dropping usages of the ability, just to ensure that you can use it at key AoE moments.

9.

Changelog

  • 31 Mar. 2021: Clarified that it does not really matter if you fit 2 casts into Volley on 3 targets and above.
  • 09 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 07 Feb. 2021: Removed Arcane Shot from the opener as it has been found to no longer be a DPS increase.
  • 30 Jan. 2021: Several changes.
    • Removed the Focus cap condition for casting Rapid Fire on cooldown.
    • Clarified the rules for casting Arcane Shot during Trueshot.
  • 17 Jan. 2021: Added guide to usage of On-Use and Double On-Use Trinkets.
  • 24 Dec. 2020: Rotational clarifications.
    • Clarified the role of putting up Steady Focus when it is down and how it should be prioritized.
    • Clarified that casting Aimed Shot on cooldown is not a major priority, but that it should be kept off two charges at all times.
  • 16 Dec. 2020: Clarified that Steady Focus should be refreshed during Trueshot as well.
  • 11 Dec. 2020: Added note about Serpentstalker's Trickery multidotting in the Multi-Target Section. Also updated the Chimaera Shot section.
  • 04 Dec. 2020: Several clarifications to the rotation and opener.
    • Updated Double Tap usage for AoE.
    • Expanded on how to use Volley in 2-target and AoE situations.
    • Added a paragraph under the Trueshot Rotation to explain the goals of it further.
    • Added some AoE Talents like Volley and Explosive Shot to the single-target opener.
  • 02 Dec. 2020: Updated the Explosive Shot Talent rotation explanation.
  • 01 Dec. 2020: Rotational Updates.
    • Added Explosive Shot to the main rotation and the multi-target rotation differences.
    • Added Kyrian-specific Double Tap optimization to the Single-Target Rotation.
  • 28 Nov. 2020: Updated the Multi-Target Opener and added a paragraph to explain it.
  • 28 Nov. 2020: Updated the Single-Target Opener.
  • 27 Nov. 2020: Added Double Tap AoE behaviour to the Multi-Target Rotation.
  • 26 Nov. 2020: Updated obsolete text referencing some BFA Bosses.
  • 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 30 Oct. 2020: Added information about rotation changes during Volley in the Multi-Target Rotation section.
  • 24 Oct. 2020: Added a paragraph to talk about Potion usage, and removed it from the opener.
  • 19 Oct. 2020: Fixed Careful Aim's description (above 70% health rather than sub 20% and above 80%.)
  • 16 Oct. 2020: Updated the AoE Opener Sequence.
  • 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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