Marksmanship Hunter DPS Spec, Builds, Talents, and Pet Talents — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5

Last updated on Feb 21, 2019 at 12:04 by Azortharion 90 comments

On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Marksmanship Hunter in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5. We also have default talent lists for various types of content, such as raiding or Mythic+. If you play with Warmode on, we have your PvP talents covered as well.

1. Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf is a Marksmanship Hunter passive ability. It gives you 10% damage buff whenever you do not have a pet active.

Generally speaking, the best DPS option is to not have a pet active. You can simulate having a pet versus using Lone Wolf for yourself by performing an Advanced Raidbots sim and using the following bit of extra code underneath your profile:

  • # Your import goes above this line
  • copy="nopet"
  • summon_pet=disabled

On multiple targets, having no pet becomes even more valuable, since your pet does not do any AoE damage.

In some cases you may prefer a specific pet to counter a specific situation, and this should take precedent over the small DPS boost from not using one.

2. Marksmanship Hunter Talent Cheat Sheets

While optimizing talents on a contextual basis is the highly recommended method of setting up your build, the talent builds listed below work great for specific purposes.

2.1. For Raiding

This build is focused primarily on raiding and should be your default build.

3. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

This row consists of talents that improve your DPS in various ways.

Master Marksman Master Marksman Serpent Sting ? Serpent Sting A Murder of Crows A Murder of Crows
  • 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.
  • A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows is a DoT ability that costs 20 Focus with a 1-minute cooldown. It applies a powerful 15-second DoT to the target that deals Physical damage every second. If your target dies while the DoT is active, the cooldown of A Murder of Crows is reset.

All talents in this tier are within 1-3% of each other for pure single-target.

Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting is a respectable single-target damage option (and not bad when multidotting a few targets either), but we prefer Master Marksman Icon Master Marksman for its ease of use, and therefore we generally do not recommend using Serpent Sting.

Master Marksman Icon Master Marksman should be used by default. It is the best and also the simplest option.

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows is generally not worth using, as it does not scale with multiple targets.

4. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

This row consists of talents that improve your DPS in various ways.

Careful Aim Careful Aim Volley Volley Explosive Shot ? Explosive Shot
  • Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim causes your Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to deal 50% additional damage to targets 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, as well as your target itself.
  • Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot is a simple AoE ability that deals heavy AoE damage to all targets near your target. It costs 20 Focus and has a 30-second cooldown.

Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim should be your default choice for most situations.

Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot is useful for Mythic+ scenarios where everything dies so quickly that you do not get to benefit from Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim. This is particularly the case in lower Mythic+ keys, and arguably more so during Tyrannical weeks.

Volley Icon Volley should never be used.

5. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

This row consists of talents that improve your utility, mobility and survivability.

Trailblazer ? Trailblazer Natural Mending Natural Mending Camouflage ? Camouflage
  • Trailblazer Icon Trailblazer increases your movement speed by 30% whenever you have not attacked for 3 seconds. This is essentially just a helpful passive for moving between packs in Mythic+, or rare raid situations where you need to move for a while and are not able to attack anything.
  • Natural Mending Icon Natural Mending causes your Exhilaration Icon Exhilaration ability's remaining cooldown to be reduced by 1 second for every 20 (Marksmanship and Survival) or 30 (Beast Mastery) Focus you spend. We can generally expect a cooldown reduction of over 30 seconds.
  • Camouflage Icon Camouflage puts you in stealth for 1 minute and heals you for 2% of your maximum health every second. It has a 1-minute cooldown, and the cooldown only starts ticking once Camouflage has been cancelled.

Your choice of talent in this tier is mostly situational, but for general survivability in raids and dungeons, we recommend Natural Mending Icon Natural Mending by default.

6. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

This row consists of talents that improve your DPS in various ways.

Steady Focus Steady Focus Streamline ? Streamline Hunter's Mark Hunter's Mark
  • 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 20%, making it do more damage and generate more Focus. This 20% increase roughly amounts to 0.6 seconds, but as your Haste gets higher this number will decrease.
  • 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.

Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark should be your default choice for most situations, even in Mythic+ where you can pick a suitable target beforehand, and targets are going to die throughout the pull. Streamline Icon Streamline has an edge in Fortified situations where trash is much more important.

Streamline Icon Streamline buffs your Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire AoE significantly. Its edge on AoE is very small, however, so it should only be used when AoE is the absolute top priority.

Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus is not part of any particularly good build, so we do not recommend it.

7. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

This row consists of talents that improve your utility, mobility and survivability.

Born To Be Wild Born To Be Wild Posthaste Posthaste Binding Shot Binding Shot
  • Born To Be Wild Icon Born To Be Wild reduces the cooldown of your Aspect of the Turtle Icon Aspect of the Turtle and Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Aspect of the Cheetah abilities by 20%, reducing both their cooldowns to 2 minutes and 24 seconds.
  • Posthaste Icon Posthaste increases your movement speed by 50% for 4 seconds after using Disengage Icon Disengage.
  • Binding Shot Icon Binding Shot fires an arrow at a targeted location on the ground. If an enemy comes within 5 yards of the arrow, and then steps more than 5 yards away from it again, they will be rooted for 5 seconds. This ability has a 45-second cooldown.

Your choice of talent in this tier is mostly situational, but for general utility in raids and dungeons, we recommend Posthaste Icon Posthaste by default.

8. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

This row consists of talents that improve your DPS in various ways.

Lethal Shots Lethal Shots Barrage ? Barrage Double Tap Double Tap
  • Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots gives your Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot a 20% chance to reduce the cooldown of Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire by 5 seconds.
  • Barrage Icon Barrage is an ability on a 20-second cooldown that deals moderate Physical damage to all targets in a cone in front of you. It has a 3-second channeling time and costs 30 Focus.
  • 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.

Double Tap Icon Double Tap should be your default choice for almost all raid situations.

Barrage Icon Barrage can be competitive for very heavy AoE, but the single-target damage loss is large and even in Fortified Mythic+ it is tough to recommend it.

Lethal Shots Icon Lethal Shots is not a bad talent, but it is worse than both the other options by a slim margin for almost all situations. We do not recommend its usage.

9. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents for Marksmanship Hunter

Calling the Shots ? Calling the Shots Lock and Load Lock and Load Piercing Shot Piercing Shot
  • Calling the Shots Icon Calling the Shots causes Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot to reduce the remaining cooldown of Trueshot Icon Trueshot by 2.5 seconds. This can be a powerful talent for certain fights that benefit from short Trueshot timings. You can expect over 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 is an instant shot that deals moderate Physical damage to the primary target, and reduced damage to all nearby targets. It costs 35 Focus and has a 30-second cooldown.

Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load should generally not be chosen, unless the fight is so short that Calling the Shots Icon Calling the Shots will not give you another Trueshot Icon Trueshot. This is very rarely the case and it is not worth worrying too much about it.

Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot should not be used.

Calling the Shots Icon Calling the Shots is generally the best choice, becoming significantly better with the Unerring Vision Icon Unerring Vision Azerite trait, which buffs Trueshot with stacking Critical Strike.

10. PvP Talents (War Mode)

In Battle for Azeroth, there will be the option to go into "War Mode". Enabling War Mode provides the following benefits:

  • PvP talents enabled in the outdoor world.
  • 10% increase in World Quest rewards at maximum level.
  • 10% more experience gained while leveling.
  • Earn Conquest Points which can reward gear every week.

With the benefits of enabling War Mode for leveling and PvE content, it is recommended to enable the feature to maximize your leveling and rewards at maximum level. However, you will make yourself available for open world PvP, and the possibility to be "ganked" while leveling or doing World Quests exists.

10.1. Marksmanship Hunter War Mode Talents

In this section we will rank the PvP talents best for leveling and doing solo / small group PvE content. Below is a ranking of both General PvP Talents and Marksmanship Hunter-specific PvE talents.

10.1.1. General PvP Talents

  • Relentless Icon Relentless is also a passive ability but it does not automatically remove crowd control abilities but instead reduces the duration.
  • Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is an on-use ability that removes all movement impairing effects and all loss of control effects.
  • Adaptation Icon Adaptation is recommended, is likely your most passive choice since it will automatically remove loss of control effects over 5 seconds.

10.1.2. Marksmanship Hunter PvP Talents

  1. Sniper Shot Icon Sniper Shot is an ability that deals 20% of the target's maximum health from up to 55 yards away, and increases the range of all your other abilities by 40% for 6 seconds. It has a 10-second cooldown. This is extremely useful for pulling mobs from afar before others can get to them, and finishing them off before they can get close.
  2. Trueshot Mastery Icon Trueshot Mastery refunds all your Focus when you use Trueshot Icon Trueshot, and reduces its cooldown by 20 seconds.
  3. Ranger's Finesse Icon Ranger's Finesse is a good default choice as it will passively reduce the cooldown of your Aspect of the Turtle Icon Aspect of the Turtle and Exhilaration Icon Exhilaration abilities significantly.
  4. Hunting Pack Icon Hunting Pack is a useful mobility option, allowing you to use Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Aspect of the Cheetah much more often.

Scatter Shot Icon Scatter Shot, Survival Tactics Icon Survival Tactics, Dragonscale Armor Icon Dragonscale Armor, Viper Sting Icon Viper Sting, Spider Sting Icon Spider Sting, Scorpid Sting Icon Scorpid Sting, and Hi-Explosive Trap Icon Hi-Explosive Trap have limited use in PvE content in terms of increasing your damage in the open world, but they can be situationally useful.

11. Pet Talents

Pets do not have talent trees. Instead, different types of pet belong to one of three difference specs: Ferocity, Tenacity, and Cunning.

Each specialisation grants your pet a few specific abilities. Currently, there is no DPS difference between the different pet specs. The only differences are in utility.

12. Changelog

  • 21 Feb. 2019: Altered the recommendation status of Calling the Shots versus Lock and Load.
  • 30 Jan. 2019: Updated our Steady Focus recommendation.
  • 24 Jan. 2019: Lone Wolf and Explosive Shot recommendation updates.
    • Updated the Lone Wolf recommendation to be no pet in most situations.
    • Made note of Explosive Shot's viability for low Mythic+.
  • 13 Dec. 2018: Fixed the Tier 4 Talent Row Checkmarks.
  • 12 Dec. 2018: Added note about Unerring Vision only requiring one rank to make Calling the Shots the best talent.
  • 11 Dec. 2018: Multiple small fixes.
    • Fixed the Explosive Shot, Streamline, Sand Lethal Shots descriptions.
    • Updated the time it takes for Lone Wolf to fully ramp up.
  • 10 Dec. 2018: Made numerous updates for Patch 8.1.
  • 04 Oct. 2018: Significantly updated the talent recommendations for AoE.
  • 31 Aug. 2018: Added note about Steady Focus to the cheat sheet.
  • 16 Aug. 2018: Removed outdated mention of a Legendary.
  • 12 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth release.
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