Marksmanship Hunter PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.1)
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.
1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Marksmanship Hunters
Marksmanship Hunters are a strong Hunter specialization right now. They are unique because, depending on your playstyle, you can AoE a team down with spells like Multi-Shot, or you can have strong single-target damage with spells like Arcane Shot and Aimed Shot. On top of all of this damage, they also have strong crowd control abilities.
1.1. Strengths of Marksmanship Hunter
- Multiple tools versus teams with DoTs
- Decent mobility
- Strong burst damage
1.2. Weaknesses of Marksmanship Hunter
- Long burst cooldown
- Weak to teams with multiple stuns
- Need help from teammates to land crowd control
2. Stat Priority for Marksmanship Hunters in PvP
The stat priority for Marksmanship Hunter in PvP is as follows:
- Critical Strike;
Agility is the best stat in all situations. Haste is the strongest secondary stat at all times due to it reducing the Global Cooldown on abilities and the cast time of your abilities. Mastery is also crucial as it increases the range and damage of all of your damaging spells.
3. Azerite Traits for Marksmanship Hunters
Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.
3.1. Outer Rings
Below are the best Outer Ring traits.
Marksmanship Hunters do not depend on a single trait to do well in PvP. Instead, you want to have multiple different traits in your Azerite gear. Surging Shots increases the damage of your Rapid Fire. This increases your sustained and burst damage. Focused Fire increases both your damage and Focus regeneration, which is great if you feel you do not have enough Focus through an arena match.
3.2. Middle Ring
Below are the best Middle Ring traits.
The Middle and Inner rings are important for additional damage and stat bonuses. All of the traits above do exactly this. These traits are best for providing small damage or stat boosts and results in increasing your overall damage output.
3.3. Inner Ring
Below are the best Inner Ring traits.
All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.
4. Gear Recommendations
4.1. General Guidelines
In general, Marksmanship Hunters want to get trinkets that line up well with Trueshot. These trinkets can have a passive or on-use effect. The stats you want to be increasing are either Agility or Haste. The Agility will provide a very large increase to your damage and Haste increases your attack speed and reduces your the cast time of your spells, resulting in an increase to your damage output.
To be successful in 3v3 arena, you need the outer two rings to have a combination of Focused Fire, Surging Shots or Steady Aim. You will also want either Overwhelming Power or Heed My Call in the third tier.
Below, we list the items that have these traits.
- Electrified Crown of Rahu'ai;
- Bartered Vrykul Facemask;
- Sinister Gladiator's Chain Headpiece / Sinister Gladiator's Chain Headpiece.
- Sinister Gladiator's Chain Spaulders / Sinister Gladiator's Chain Spaulders;
- Devilbone Shoulderguards.
- Gonk's Scale Robes;
- Sinister Gladiator's Chain Armor / Sinister Gladiator's Chain Armor;
- Chainvest of Assured Quality.
4.2. Recommended Items
Sinister Gladiator's Maledict is absolutely the best trinket you can have. The on-use damage and healing absorption is capable of forcing defensives by itself. This can be used by itself or while you are using your burst rotation to force multiple cooldowns out of enemy teams.
Sinister Gladiator's Medallion is good because of the Agility and the on-use Versatility effect. This increases your overall damage and lines up well with your burst cooldowns.
Sinister Gladiator's Insignia provides a passive boost to your Versatility. This will increase your survivability versus teams that focus you. It also has a passive proc effect that will increase your Agility. This is a solid choice if you just want to increase your sustained damage and want to survive while in a stun.
Darkmoon Deck: Fathoms is not an item you get from PvP. Instead, you will have to look at the auction house or find an someone with the Inscription profession. This trinket also gives a passive effect. You cannot control the proc, but the damage this trinket can do is substantial. You will quickly notice a large increase to your overall damage.
4.3. Weapon Enchant
Enchant Weapon - Quick Navigation is the best weapon enchant. The Haste proc that you get from this enchant is great for increasing your sustained damage. This enchant provides the largest boost to your overall damage output.
5. Talent Choices for Marksmanship Hunters
|15||✘ Master Marksman||✘ Serpent Sting||✔ A Murder of Crows|
|30||✔ Careful Aim||✘ Volley||✘ Explosive Shot|
|45||✘ Trailblazer||✔ Natural Mending||✔ Camouflage|
|60||✘ Steady Focus||✔ Streamline||✘ Hunter's Mark|
|75||✘ Born To Be Wild||✔ Posthaste||? Binding Shot|
|90||✘ Lethal Shots||✘ Barrage||✔ Double Tap|
|100||✘ Calling the Shots||✔ Lock and Load||✘ Piercing Shot|
While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.
5.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents
A Murder of Crows is the best choice in this tier. This ability is a very strong offensive cooldown that should be used when trying to secure a kill.
5.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents
Careful Aim is the best choice in this tier. This talent makes it much easier to swap targets who are above 80% health. It also helps with securing kills on enemies who are low on health.
5.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents
Natural Mending is the best choice in this tier. This talent is crucial for reducing the cooldown of Exhilaration. This will help increase your overall survivability versus teams that will be focusing you. However, if you are playing with a partner who has a Stealth ability like Rogue or Feral, Camouflage is the better choice. This will give you team a very strong opener.
5.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents
Streamline is the best choice in this tier. This increase your sustained and burst damage.
5.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents
Posthaste is the best choice in this tier. This gives you even more mobility. It will allow you to run away from enemies if they are focusing you. However, if you do not need the additional movement speed from Posthaste, Binding Shot is also a good choice to help you land crowd control or kite incoming damage.
5.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents
Double Tap is the best choice in this tier. This provides strong on-demand burst damage and crucial for securing kills. You will want to use this once the enemy healer is in crowd control. Something to note is that this has the same cooldown as A Murder of Crows and you will often be pairing these two cooldowns together.
5.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents
6. PvP Talents for Marksmanship Hunters
The first PvP talent tier will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless, and Adaptation. Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. It is great for removing crowd control on you that your healer cannot dispel. Normally, you should save your trinket for Aspect of the Turtle.
Roar of Sacrifice instructs your pet to protect a friendly target from critical strikes, making attacks against that target unable to be critical strikes, but 20% of all damage taken by that target is also taken by the pet. It lasts 12 seconds and this is a powerful defensive cooldown that is helpful for you and your teammates. With a cooldown of only 1 minute, this is an ability that your healer can call-out to use if they are stuck in crowd control. This is a mandatory PvP talent.
Scatter Shot is crucial for your crowd control. It is a targeted shot that incapacitates the target for 4 seconds. This is crucial for your crowd control if your teammates cannot help you setup your Freezing Trap. You can also use this to help one of your teammates stay alive if they are being focused. Something to note is that Scatter Shot shares a diminishing return with Freezing Trap, so it will only be a 3.5-second trap. This is a mandatory PvP talent.
Sniper Shot is another cooldown you can add to your damage rotation. This has a very long cast time, 3 seconds, and deals 20% of the target's health. This talent is great when you are not the focus target and are able to freely cast your abilities.
Survival Tactics causes Feign Death to remove all harmful magical effects, and reduces damage taken by 99% for 1.5 seconds. This is a mandatory talent when playing against classes with multiple DoTs (Affliction Warlock, Shadow Priest, Balance Druid). This reduces the enemies' overall damage and helps your healer with dispelling harmful effects. You can also use this to stop incoming spells that are being cast on you. You can replace Sniper Shotwith this PvP talent.
7. Racial Bonuses for Marksmanship Hunters
Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.
The passive Orc racial bonus ( Hardiness) is great if you find yourself being stunned a lot and having a hard time against melee classes.
The Human racial bonus ( Every Man for Himself) is a great way to get out of stuns.
If you do not want to play Human and want additional burst, Dark Iron Dwarf is also a strong choice. With the racial bonus ( Fireblood) you can use it defensively to removed debuffs and use the stat increase to help with your burst damage.
8. Playstyle for Marksmanship Hunters
The main role for a Marksmanship Hunter is simple: use your mobility to land Freezing Traps on the enemy healer and use your strong single-target cooldowns to burst your enemies down. You should not try to burst an enemy down unless the healer is on crowd control. You have multiple cooldowns that have a short cooldown and you should take advantage of this. You also want to make sure you are using your Aimed Shot charges as often as you can.
8.1. Before Gates Open
8.2. The Opener
The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. Marksmanship Hunters have Freezing Trap, Scatter Shot, and Spider Sting, which can help to this end.
This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.
- Use Concussive Shot to slow your target.
- Cast Aimed Shot.
- Use Arcane Shot as a filler if you cannot cast Aimed Shot and use it when you have the Precise Shots buff.
- Cast Aimed Shot.
- Use Aimed Shots when Lock and Load procs.
- The Precise Shots buff:
- Cast Steady Shot to generate focus.
- Use your burst rotation.
- After your burst, perform your sustained damage rotation until your burst cooldowns are available.
8.3. Offensive Rotation
8.3.1. Burst Damage
- Cast Sniper Shot
- Use Trueshot
- Use A Murder of Crows.
- Use Arcane Shot with the Precise Shots buff.
- Cast Aimed Shot.
- Use Arcane Shot.
- Use Double Tap.
- Use Rapid Fire.
- Use any Aimed Shots when Lock and Load procs.
- Use Arcane Shot when you have Precise Shots stacks or as a filler.
- Cast Aimed Shot.
8.3.2. Sustained damage
Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.
- Use Aimed Shot as often as you can.
- You never want to be capped on stacks of Aimed Shot. You should always have a charge regenerating.
- It is also important to never Aimed Shot two times in a row. This will result in you losing your Precise Shots stacks.
- Use Arcane Shot after you use Aimed Shot. You should also use it as a filler when you have high Focus./li>
- Use Rapid Fire for strong single target damage.
- This is often paired with Double Tap, so make sure you have Rapid Fire available when you are using Double Tap.
- Use Steady Shot to generate Focus.
- Cast Sniper Shot when you are able to cast it without being interrupted.
- Use Aimed Shot when you get Lock and Load procs.
- Use A Murder of Crows for pressure.
8.4. Pet Talents
Pets do not have talent trees, and instead have their own types of specialization (Cunning, Ferocity, or Tenacity).
8.5. Defensive Techniques
Aspect of the Turtle is our main defensive cooldown. Use this when the enemy team is focusing you down and your healer can not heal you through the damage or is stuck in crowd control. Although you can not attack with this cooldown active, you still have the ability to trap. Using this to ignore incoming attacks and using Freezing Trap on an enemy healer could be crucial.
Roar of Sacrifice is a great utility ability for you or your teammates. This makes the teammate you use this on immune to being Critical Strikes by spells and transfers 20% of the damage they are taking to your pet. Use this when the enemy team is using their cooldowns on a teammate or yourself and not many defensive cooldowns are available.
9. Best Team Compositions for Marksmanship Hunters
Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the arena with your team. Marksmanship Hunters have a very strong burst cooldown in the form of Trueshot. This cooldown paired with multiple crowd control abilities make this spec a threat versus any team.
9.1. 2v2 Arena
In 2v2 Arena, you do not have many options. Trueshot has a 3-minute cooldown and it is crucial to use it at the correct time. Before you use your burst rotation, try to make the enemy healer use their trinket. If you are playing with a Holy Paladin or Restoration Druid, they should use their stun to start the crowd control. Follow that up with a Freezing Trap and Scatter Shot. At the same time you should be doing your sustained damage rotation. When the enemy healer is starting to fall behind in healing or uses their trinket, you should use your burst rotation. With this strategy you are trying to do so much single-target damage to a target that the enemy healer will not be able to heal through it.
Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:
- Marksmanship Hunter + Discipline Priest
- Marksmanship Hunter + Restoration Druid
- Marksmanship Hunter + Holy Paladin
- Marksmanship Hunter + Holy Priest
9.2. 3v3 Arena
Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. You will be focusing on maximizing your single target damage while still crowd controlling the enemy healer with Scatter Shot and Freezing Trap. When you start the crowd control chain, your teammate should stun the kill target and then use your burst rotation. You do not always have to stun the kill target. If your team only has one reliable stun like Hammer of Justice or Mighty Bash, it is best to use it on the enemy healer.
Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:
- Jungle (Marksmanship Hunter + Feral Druid + Holy Paladin/Discipline Priest)
- Cupid (Marksmanship Hunter + Retribution Paladin + Restoration Druid/ Discipline Priest)
- Marksmanship Hunter + Arms Warrior + Restoration Shaman/Holy Paladin
10. Useful Macros for Marksmanship Hunters
Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Marksmanship Hunters can benefit from.
10.1. Counter Shot Focus Macro
- #showtooltip Counter Shot
- /cast [target=focus] Counter Shot
10.2. Concussive Shot Focus Macro
- #showtooltip Concussive Shot
- /cast [target=focus] Concussive Shot
10.3. Roar of Sacrifice party Macro
- #showtooltip Roar of Sacrifice
- /cast [target=party1] Roar of Sacrifice
Using this macro will use Roar of Sacrifice on party player 1. This makes it easier to use this defensive on a teammate while damaging the rest of your team. If you want a macro to use Roar of Sacrifice the second party member, change the party1 to party2.
- 11 Feb. 2019: Removed unnecessary Azerite Trait.
- 27 Jan. 2019: Updated Recommended Items.
- 23 Jan. 2019: Updated Guide for Patch 8.1.
- Updated Azerite Traits.
- Updated Gear Recommendations.
- Updated PvP talents.
- Updated Burst Damage.
- Updated Sustained Damage.
- 07 Nov. 2018: Added Gear Recommendations section.
- 08 Oct. 2018: Added talent table, and removed PvP Gear and War Mode sections.
- 30 Sep. 2018: Updated guide for Patch 8.0.1.
- Updated Introduction and spec overview.
- Added Stat priority.
- Added Azerite Traits section.
- Updated tier all regular talents.
- Added PvP (War Mode) talents and gear sections for the new BfA system.
- Updated Racial Bonuses section.
- Updated Burst Damage and Sustained Damage sections.
- Updated Macros section.
- Removed Gear section.
- Removed Artifact Traits section.
- Removed Relics section.
- 21 May 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
- 10 Apr. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
- Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
- Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
- 13 Feb. 2018: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.5.
- 24 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.2.
- 23 Sep. 2017: Several changes made for Patch 7.3
- Removed Artifact Trait descriptions.
- Changed recommended tier 1, 2 and 7 regular talents.
- Changed recommended tier 7 honor talents.
- Updated sustained and burst damage rotations.
- 17 Jul. 2017: Changed recommended tier 6 honor talent.
- 26 Apr. 2017: Marksmanship Hunter PvP guide created.
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