Marksmanship Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated on Oct 19, 2018 at 11:25 by Azortharion 74 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Marksmanship Hunter core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth 8.0.1. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Marksmanship Hunter.

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 for many years. He is an accomplished player with dozen of top parses for all specs throughout the game's history. He is also the Admin of Trueshot Lodge, the Hunter Class Discord, and you can watch his stream on Twitch.

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 100% 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 will cleave up to 5 additional targets for 50% of its original damage or your next Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire will hit up to 2 additional targets for full damage. You simply want this buff to be active when casting Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire while dealing with more than 3 targets.

2. Marksmanship Hunter Single-Target Rotation

The Marksmanship rotation is focused on not wasting a few valuable resources: Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot charges, Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots stacks, 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. You never want to stop casting and gaps between casts should be minimized. The following is a priority list that describes how to play the Marksmanship rotation.

  1. Cast Trueshot Icon Trueshot in accordance with the recommendations we have in the Cooldown Usage section further below.
  2. Cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot to spend Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots stacks. Try to cast them immediately after Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  3. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot when Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is up, or when it is about to reach 2 charges.
  4. Cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire when Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is up, and Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot is not available. Cast Rapid Fire on cooldown if you have either Focused Fire Icon Focused Fire or 2 traits of In The Rhythm Icon In The Rhythm.
  5. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows on cooldown.
  6. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot when you have 70 Focus and you are not specced into Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus. If you are specced into Steady Focus, ignore this step and wait until Step #2 is true. If you are not specced into either Steady Focus or Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots, simply cast Aimed Shot on cooldown.
  7. Cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot when Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is up, Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire are unavailable, you have 5 Steady Aim Icon Steady Aim stacks (if you have this Trait) and you are near maximum Focus. This is almost never the case.
  8. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot to proc Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots, generate Steady Aim Icon Steady Aim stacks and to generate Focus.

3. Marksmanship Hunter "Machine Gun Hunter" Rotation (Steady Aim)

"MGH" is a Marksmanship Hunter single-target rotation and build that revolves around and requires 2 traits of Steady Aim Icon Steady Aim and the Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus talent. If you have 2 Steady Aim traits, then you should use this build for single-target.

  1. Cast Trueshot Icon Trueshot in accordance with the recommendations we have in the Cooldown Usage section further below.
  2. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows on cooldown.
  3. Cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot to spend Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots. Try to spend them immediately after Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  4. Cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot when Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is up, or if you have 5 Steady Aim Icon Steady Aim stacks and either Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load is procced, or Aimed Shot is about to reach 2 charges.
  5. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot to try and get Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs that will allow you to cast Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.

3.1. Azerite Traits

  • With no traits, you should follow the single-target rotation above.
  • With 2 Steady Aim Icon Steady Aim traits, follow the MGH rotation.
  • Focused Fire Icon Focused Fire and In The Rhythm Icon In The Rhythm make Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire worth casting on cooldown in the standard single-target rotation, but not the MGH Rotation.

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.

  • Focus capping is a smaller concern than maximizing the amount of Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs that you get. This is why casting Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot is better than casting unbuffed Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shots if you are trying to proc Lethal Shots.
  • It is not worth casting Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire unless Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is active, and you are unable to use the proc with Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot. The exception is if you are not using the Lethal Shots talent at all, which makes it worth using Rapid Fire on cooldown. You also use Rapid Fire on cooldown if you have Focused Fire Icon Focused Fire or In The Rhythm Icon In The Rhythm, but as mentioned above, Steady Aim Icon Steady Aim cancels out those 2 traits.
  • If you are using Double Tap Icon Double Tap, then you should always spend its proc on Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.

4. Multi-Target Rotation for Marksmanship Hunter

Your general rotation is the same, but there are a few changes to keep in mind.

On 2 targets, you do not change your rotation at all.

On 3 targets and above, the following rules apply.

  • Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs are best spent on Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire, but you should not sit on them for a long time in order to make this happen. You should also not delay Rapid Fire to line it up with a Lethal Shots proc. Half the time you will be forced to spend procs on Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, and that is fine.
  • You should always have your Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots buff active before casting Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire, by casting Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot whenever there are 3 or more targets active.
  • Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot completely replaces Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot. Arcane Shot might as well not exist when you are fighting 3 or more stacked enemies.
  • You should always cast Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire on cooldown with Trick Shots Icon Trick Shots active.
  • Casting your AoE-focused talents such as Barrage Icon Barrage and Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot is your highest priority.
  • If you are using Double Tap Icon Double Tap, then you should always spend its proc on Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.

5. Cooldown Usage for Marksmanship Hunter

Trueshot Icon Trueshot is your main cooldown. It instantly refunds 1 charge of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, and it increases your Haste by 30% for 15 seconds.

To conceptualize how to use Trueshot, we will list the different situations where it is best to use it in order of priority. In other words, it is best to use it with Bloodlust, but if that is not possible, you move on to the next line in the priority and so on.

  1. More than anything, you want to use Trueshot as many times as possible. It is not worth waiting for the things below to be true, unless you are sure that you will not lose a cast because of it.
  2. Use Trueshot Icon Trueshot when Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism is up.
  3. Use Trueshot Icon Trueshot when the boss is under 20% health (only with Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim) and Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is up.

You may have to break the rules above if you are using Trueshot Icon Trueshot for heavy AoE in Mythic+ or similar scenarios where burst damage on a certain target is more important than having a perfectly set up Trueshot.

6. 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. Make sure to apply Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark before the pull.
  2. Just before the encounter starts, use your combat potion.
  3. Start casting Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot roughly 2 seconds before the fight begins.
  4. Cast A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows.
  5. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot until Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs, or you reach 90 Focus, whichever comes first.
  6. Spend your 1-2 stacks of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  7. Activate Trueshot Icon Trueshot.
  8. Cast your second charge of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  9. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot until Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs, or you reach 90 Focus, whichever comes first.
  10. Spend your 1-2 stacks of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  11. Cast your third Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  12. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot until Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs, or you reach 90 Focus, whichever comes first.
  13. Spend your 1-2 stacks of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  14. Proceed with your normal rotation.

7. Talents and the Rotation

7.1. 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.

7.2. 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.

7.3. 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 3. This means that instead of 75 Focus being your cut-off for casting Rapid Fire, it should be 69 Focus instead. The same goes for all other Rapid Fire-related Focus breakpoints — you simply subtract 6 from all of them.

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.

7.4. Tier 6 Talents

Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots procs from Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot every so often. It buffs Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire. In most cases, it is best to spend Lethal Shots procs on Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot. However, if you have the Focused Fire Icon Focused Fire Azerite trait, then Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire becomes the better choice again.

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 Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire, as it is by far the best ability to spend it on.

7.5. 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.

8. Changelog

  • 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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