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Marksmanship Hunter DPS Spec, Builds, Talents, and Pet Talents (Legion 7.2)

Last updated on Apr 17, 2017 at 17:23 by Azortharion 808 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent choices for Marksmanship Hunters in World of Warcraft Legion 7.2. We detail what each of the talents do and in which situations they should be taken.

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 Vanguard. You can also watch his stream on Twitch.

1. 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.

1.1. For Mythic+ (Known as the "Meme Build")

This build is an excellent starting point for questing, dungeons, or general purpose usage, but particularly Mythic+ content.

1.2. For Raid Encounters

This build is an excellent starting point as a standard raid setup.

2. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Lone Wolf Lone Wolf Steady Focus Steady Focus Careful Aim Careful Aim

Tier 1 talents offer you a choice between 3 talents that increase your DPS.

  • Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf removes your ability to summon a pet, but increases all of your damage done by 18%.
  • Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus causes your passive Focus regeneration to be increased by 25% for 12 seconds whenever you use Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot twice in a row. Sidewinders Icon Sidewinders activates Steady Focus with only one cast.
  • Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim causes your Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot, Marked Shot Icon Marked Shot and Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot abilities to have a 20% increased chance to critical strike on targets above 80% health. Additionally, when they critically strike, these abilities will deal 30% additional damage in the form of an 8-second DoT effect.

Currently, we recommend using Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf at all times since it simply provides the most damage and requires no management. It also improves target switching capability by removing the pet, putting more of the total damage in the hands of the hunter.

Steady Focus Icon Steady Focus is a decent choice if you enjoy having a pet, but with the new patch where Focus is not the limit as much as it is time, it is significantly worse than Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf in terms of damage output, and even worse in terms of target switching since you will have a pet if you use this talent.

TL;DR: Pick Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf.

Careful Aim Icon Careful Aim is also a vastly inferior choice to Lone Wolf Icon Lone Wolf.

3. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Lock and Load ? Lock and Load Black Arrow Black Arrow True Aim True Aim

Tier 2 talents offer you a choice between 3 talents that increase your DPS.

  • Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load gives your auto shots an 8% chance to trigger Lock and Load, causing your next two Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shots to cost no Focus, and be instant cast.
  • Black Arrow Icon Black Arrow is an active ability that deals high damage to the target over 8 seconds. It also summons a Dark Minion which will taunt and tank your target for you, though this taunt only works in outdoor content. When you kill an enemy (requires you to land the killing blow), the cooldown of this ability is reset. It has a 15-second cooldown and costs 10 Focus.
  • True Aim Icon True Aim causes your consecutive attacks on the same target to stack a damage debuff called True Aim Icon True Aim on this target. This buff stacks up to 10 times, and increases your damage done to that target by 2% per stack.

True Aim Icon True Aim is the best pure single-target option by a fair bit, but only really when combined with the level 100 talent Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot on a pure single-target (with complications arising on multiple targets as described below), as they add together to vastly increase Aimed Shot damage. When not using Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot, Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load is always the best choice. Black Arrow Icon Black Arrow is not worth using for any PvE situation outside leveling.

Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load is always used when there is regular target switching in the fight.

It is worth noting that the True Aim Icon True Aim talent cannot be used together with Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot for situations where you will be making use of Trick Shot's ability to cleave, since the AoE-Aimed Shots that Trick Shot causes will cancel out True Aim Icon True Aim's beneficial effect on a single target, as it will constantly reproc on different targets. When this is the case, swap True Aim Icon True Aim for Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load.

TL;DR: Pick True Aim Icon True Aim for fights where you do not really switch targets. Pick Lock and Load Icon Lock and Load otherwise.

4. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Posthaste Posthaste Farstrider ? Farstrider Trailblazer ? Trailblazer

Tier 3 talents offer you a choice between 3 means of improving your mobility.

  • Posthaste Icon Posthaste causes Disengage Icon Disengage to free you from all movement-impairing effects and boost your movement speed by 60% for 5 seconds.
  • Farstrider Icon Farstrider causes your damaging ability critical strikes to have a 15% chance to reset the cooldown of Disengage Icon Disengage.
  • Trailblazer Icon Trailblazer increases your non-mounted movement speed by 25% after you have not attacked anything for 3 seconds. It expires when you attack something again.

Your default choice should be Posthaste Icon Posthaste, as it will make you much better at covering long distances on a regular basis. You can use Farstrider Icon Farstrider if you never have to move more than the distance a single Posthaste Icon Posthaste will take you. Trailblazer Icon Trailblazer is only really worth using for non-mounted periods where you will be moving between combat zones for a long time. Since dungeons have nearly constant combat, and World Quests allow you to mount up, there are not many places where you can reliably do this. There is a conceivably use for it for Survival in dungeons, since the spec does not have a lot of mobility when running between packs besides its Harpoon Icon Harpoon ability.

5. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Explosive Shot Explosive Shot Sentinel Sentinel Patient Sniper Patient Sniper
  • Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot is an active ability that fires a projectile in a straight line ahead of you when you first press it. The second time you press it, this projectile explodes for high damage, based on how close it is to its target. In short, the closer you explode it to your target, the more damage it will do.
  • Sentinel Icon Sentinel is an active ability on a 1-minute cooldown. It allows you to place a 10-yard radius area on the ground for 18 seconds. Every 6 seconds, all enemies in the area will be marked with Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark, allowing you to cast Marked Shot Icon Marked Shot on them. This happens 4 times; once when you cast the spell, then again after 6 seconds, after 12 seconds, and again after 18 seconds when it also fades.
  • Patient Sniper Icon Patient Sniper has been redesigned. It now increases the damage bonus of Vulnerable Icon Vulnerable by 10% every second, meaning it is significantly more powerful towards the end of its duration, going to 110%, 120%, 130%, 140%, 150% and finally 160% damage increases. This means that Aimed Shots will do more damage if they are fired towards the end of the Vulnerable window.

Patient Sniper Icon Patient Sniper is the best pure single-target choice, but whenever you can reliably hit more than 1 target with Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot, you should switch to that. Sentinel Icon Sentinel is not worth choosing in any situation.

Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot, together with Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot, constitutes what is known in the community as the "meme build". It is extremely powerful for multi-target situations of all kinds, and it is much more mobile than Trick Shot builds.

TL;DR: Pick Patient Sniper Icon Patient Sniper for primarily single-target encounters. Pick Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot when you can use its burst AoE on many targets.

6. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

Binding Shot Binding Shot Wyvern Sting ? Wyvern Sting Camouflage ? Camouflage

Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between 3 talents that provide you crowd control and utility.

  • 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 stunned for 5 seconds. This ability has a 45-second cooldown.
  • Wyvern Sting Icon Wyvern Sting puts the target to sleep for 30 seconds. The ability has a 45-second cooldown. Any damage done to the target will break the effect.
  • Camouflage Icon Camouflage is an active ability that gives you stealth for 1 minute, and heals you for 2% of your maximum health every second. The stealth component of this ability does not work in combat.

While none of these talents will have any effect on your DPS, Binding Shot Icon Binding Shot can bring some raid utility, as it can be used as a reliable stun for fights with adds. It can also be used as an interrupt, since placing it so that the add is at the edge of the targeted area will instantly stun it, regardless of whether or not it moves.

You should choose the talent that best suits your situation, but Binding Shot Icon Binding Shot should generally be your default choice.

7. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

A Murder of Crows A Murder of Crows Barrage ? Barrage Volley Volley
  • A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows summons a flock of crows to attack your target for 15 seconds, with a 1-minute cooldown. If the target dies while under attack, the cooldown of A Murder of Crows is reset. It costs 30 Focus.
  • Barrage Icon Barrage is a channeled spell that fires a barrage of shots at all targets in front of you, dealing moderate damage over 3 seconds (a total of 16 shots in quick succession) to all of them. It does not hit targets that are invisible or in stealth.
  • Volley Icon Volley is an activated ability that causes your auto shots to also launch a volley of shots that deal moderate Physical damage to your target, and all other targets within 8 yards. While Volley is active, it will drain 3 Focus per autoattack (about 1 Focus per second on average).

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows is the best choice for pure single-target encounters. Volley Icon Volley is so close on a single-target that it only takes a bit of cleave in the fight for it to pull ahead.

Barrage Icon Barrage is currently the strongest choice in this tier for encounters with a lot of of spread AoE. It has been significantly nerfed on single-target and is now no longer worth using for it at all, with Volley providing better single-target and AoE, albeit in a smaller area. It should be used on any fight where the AoE is VERY bursty and where single-target is not an issue. Sadly, there is no such fight in the current content, so Barrage is rarely (if ever) worth taking due to the massive single-target loss.

Volley Icon Volley does more AoE damage than Barrage Icon Barrage, but it requires enemies to be stacked on top of each other, which is not always the case. You should pick Volley for fights where you can reliably hit more than 1 target with it. If the targets are more spread out, such as on Il'gynoth, then you should use Barrage for AoE purposes instead. It is very close to Crows in terms of single-target, so it does not take much cleaving for Volley to pull ahead.

TL;DR: Pick A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows for pure single-target encounters, or encounters where you can use it to burst down single, important targets (think voidphase adds on Star Augur). Use Volley Icon Volley for cleavy stuff.

8. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Sidewinders Sidewinders Piercing Shot Piercing Shot Trick Shot Trick Shot

Tier 7 talents offer you a choice of various means of enhancing your DPS performance.

  • Sidewinders Icon Sidewinders is an active ability that replaces both Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot. It has a 12-second cooldown, 2 charges, and it generates 35 Focus when it is cast. Unlike Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot, it applies the Vulnerable Icon Vulnerable debuff to the target directly. When cast, it hits all targets in a cone in front of you for moderate Nature damage, applying Vulnerable Icon Vulnerable to them. If you have the Marking Targets Icon Marking Targets buff up when you use it, it will apply Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark to all targets, similarly to Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot.
  • Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot is an active ability that works much like Powershot did in Warlords of Draenor. It deals high Physical damage to the target, and moderate Physical damage to all targets between you and the target. It will consume all the Focus that you have, to a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 100. The more Focus it consumes, the damage it does. 100 Focus consumed means 100% damage, 50 Focus consumed means 50% damage and so on. As of Patch 7.1.5, it is affected by the damage bonus from Vulnerable Icon Vulnerable alongside Aimed Shot, and so it should always be used during Vulnerable, and at maximum Focus.
  • Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot is a passive ability that causes Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to also hit all nearby enemies with the Vulnerable Icon Vulnerable debuff on them for 30% of normal damage. If no other enemies besides the main target has Vulnerable Icon Vulnerable up, it simply causes Aimed Shot Icon Aimed Shot to deal 15% more damage.

Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot provides the best single-target, and powerful stacked AoE. With the War Belt of the Sentinel Army Icon War Belt of the Sentinel Army especially, it is extremely powerful for cleave, but it is not very bursty outside Trueshot. It is the default choice with the belt, but should only be used without the belt for pure single-target encounters.

It is worth noting that the True Aim Icon True Aim talent cannot be used together with Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot for situations where you will be making use of Trick Shot's ability to cleave, since the AoE-Aimed Shots that Trick Shot causes will cancel out True Aim Icon True Aim's beneficial effect on a single target, as it will constantly reproc on different targets.

Sidewinders Icon Sidewinders provides a healthy medium of automatic AoE and good single-target, but its main "strength" that the others do not possess is spread AoE without losing meaningful single-target, which is particularly useful for Odyn and Helya where you are required to do multi-target damage over long distances. Another very genuine benefit of the talent is that it is much, much easier to play in both single- and multi-target situations, and many Hunters have gotten used to the talent for the first 6 months of Legion content.

Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot is the best choice of AoE talent and it is only slightly worse than Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot for pure single-target, and much more mobile, making it the default choice for most raiding encounters. Whenever you can hit multiple targets with it reliably, you should choose it unless you have War Belt of the Sentinel Army Icon War Belt of the Sentinel Army which is a massive buff to Trick Shot.

Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot, together with Explosive Shot Icon Explosive Shot, constitutes what is known in the community as the "meme build". It is extremely powerful for multi-target situations of all kinds, and it is much more mobile than Trick Shot builds.

TL;DR: Use Trick Shot Icon Trick Shot for pure single-target, and sustained cleave if you have the legendary belt (especially when it can be used to increase single-target damage, think Botanist Mythic). Use Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot for bursty multi-target DPS (think Lashers on Botanist and Phantasmal Bats on Tichondrius). Do not use Sidewinders Icon Sidewinders in Nighthold.

9. Pet Talents

Pets do not have talent trees. Instead, you can simply choose one of three specialisations for your pet (Ferocity, Tenacity, and Cunning). You can change your pet's specialisation at any time (while out of combat), free of cost.

Each specialisation grants your pet a few specific abilities. Currently, Ferocity provides the highest DPS in a raid environment, so it should be the default choice for all specs.

10. ChangeLog

  • 17 Apr. 2017: Checked today and deemed updated.
  • 28 Mar. 2017: Reworded Barrage explanation/recommendation.
  • 17 Mar. 2017: Fixed graphical markers for Tier 7.
  • 05 Mar. 2017: Added "TL;DR" bits to the detailed talent explanations.
  • 04 Feb. 2017: Added stuff about meme build to the Explosive/Piercing talent descriptions.
  • 26 Jan. 2017: Revised Crows description.
  • 24 Jan. 2017: Updated recommendations to the "meme build".
  • 20 Jan. 2017: Revised talk about Piercing Shot Icon Piercing Shot, as it is quite good.
  • 12 Jan. 2017: Openness to the possibility of using Sidewinders for new players, or players having trouble picking up the new Arcane-Shot based talents.
  • 09 Jan. 2017: Updated for Patch 7.1.5.
  • 30 Oct. 2016: Removed talent table at the beginning of the page.
  • 25 Oct. 2016: Updated for Patch 7.1.
    • Updated Posthaste's duration. Was changed in Patch 7.1 to be 5 seconds (down from 8).
    • Trailblazer replaces Dash.
    • Updated the reference to Vulnerable in the description of Patient Sniper.
  • 22 Oct. 2016: Updated Mythic+ talent recommendation.
  • 24 Sep. 2016: Updated for hotfixes.
  • 20 Sep. 2016: Changed recommendation back, as it was founded on a mistake by me.
  • 19 Sep. 2016: Changed recommendation from Lock and Load to Black Arrow. Removed sims as they were not useful anymore.
  • 31 Aug. 2016: Rewrote Level 90 talent explanations to make Volley viable in stacked AoE situations.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 06 Aug. 2016: Added talent simulations for all tiers.
  • 19 Jul. 2016: Gave more explanations as to why some talents are not currently viable.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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