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Marksmanship Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (BfA 8.0.1)

Last updated on Jul 16, 2018 at 13:49 by Azortharion 29 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 BfA 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. He is also an accomplished player who raids in Solaris. You can also 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.

The Marksmanship rotation is focused on not wasting a few valuable resources: Aimed Shot Icon 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 rough priority list that describes how to play the Marksmanship rotation.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 channelling, 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.
  3. Maintain Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting by refreshing it when there is less than 3 seconds remaining on the DoT.
  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 Icon 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.

2. Multi-Target Rotation for Marksmanship Hunter

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 4 targets or more. Since they cost the same Focus, this does not change your rotation in any other way.

3. 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 use Trueshot Icon Trueshot optimally, you should be stacking it with other cooldowns and damage-increasing effects as much as possible. This includes encounter mechanics where your damage is increased, multi-target situations, trinket procs, Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism effects and so on. Additionally, you want to use it when you have 0 charges of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot remaining. You should always use Trueshot when you are doing the most damage, not to make up for when you are at a low-damage portion of the fight.

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. Make sure to apply Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark before the pull.
  2. Just before the encounter starts, use your Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  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 Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.
  6. Spend your 1-2 stacks of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  7. Cast your second charge of Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  8. Spend your 1-2 stacks of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  9. Cast Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot.
  10. Cast your third Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot.
  11. Activate Trueshot Icon Trueshot, along with any on-use trinkets and racial bonuses that you may have.
  12. Spend your 1-2 stacks of Precise Shots Icon Precise Shots on Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot.
  13. Proceed with your normal 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. If you see that the boss is just about to go below 80% health, you may choose to cast an Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot now that you would otherwise have delayed slightly.

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 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.

5.4. 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. It will affect whichever ability you cast first. It is best to spend Lethal Shots procs on Rapid Fire, but because it has a longer cooldown, you may not always have a choice. Most of the time, you will have to spend the proc on Aimed Shot when Rapid Fire is on cooldown when you get your proc. If you are low on Focus and Aimed Shot has just recently come off cooldown and Rapid Fire is coming up, you can often delay Aimed Shot and keep casting Steady Shots and Arcane Shots until you can spend your proc on the upcoming Rapid Fire.

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 on cooldown, or when you are fighting multiple targets, or trying to kill a priority target quickly. It is best to spend your Double Tap on a Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.

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.

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