Marksmanship Hunter PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Dragonflight 10.2)
PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as a Marksmanship Hunter, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.
This page is part of our Marksmanship Hunter PvP Guide.
Playstyle for Marksmanship Hunters
The main role for a Marksmanship Hunter is simple: use your mobility and slows/roots to land Freezing Traps on the enemy healer and use your cooldowns to burst your enemies down. You should not try to burst an enemy down unless the Healer is crowd-controlled. You have multiple ways to do high burst damage as well as no "ramp," meaning that when you switch targets, your damage is immediate and frontloaded; you should take advantage of this.
Before Gates Open
Choose your talents. Talents and PvP Talents are expanded on separately in this guide, but as a baseline, these PvP talents are good in everything:
- Survival Tactics
- Chimaeral Sting
- Trueshot Mastery or Consecutive Concussion (2v2)
Choose your pet. Pets are expanded on separately in this guide, but generally, you want a Cunning pet unless you expect the enemy team to burst you in a stun, in which case you are likely better off with a Tenacity pet.
Cunning pets make you mobile and help you to support your partner if they are the kill target. Tenacity pets make you more difficult to kill when you are the kill target.
As a Marksmanship Hunter, you will always want to play with a pet except for very specific matchups where your team already has a Mortal Strike effect, even when talented into Lone Wolf for Hunter's Knowledge. Having Roar of Sacrifice even when stunned for the enemy team's first set of offensive cooldowns and having Intimidation available when you need it is just too important.
How To Open
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, you will have an advantage over them for the next two minutes.
As Marksman, more than most other specs, you want to be setting the pace of the game as soon as possible with the strongest opener possible.
In a perfect world, you will be able to get the first Freezing Trap without using Intimidation by positioning carefully during Camouflage. It is ideal to hold Intimidation until the second trap because, during combat, it is much more difficult to connect a trap on the Healer.
What follows is a generic opener. In the actual game, there will be variations based on comp; for example, if you are playing with a rogue, they can Sap the Healer instead of you using Freezing Trap.
The Marksman Hunter Arena Compositions page of this guide gives guidelines on the game plan for Marksman Hunter comps in 2v2 and 3v3 arena.
- Use Camouflage
Being in stealth will allow you to reliably get clean openers. While in stealth, you want to position near the enemy healer to make it easier to land your Freezing Trap.
Demon Hunters will be able to see through your Camouflage with Spectral Sight. A way that you can counter this is by summoning your pet after using Camouflage. You will be in Camouflage, but you will be able to attack the Demon Hunter using your pet to cancel their Spectral Sight. You will be able to cast Mend Pet to heal your pet without breaking Camouflage (and can use Roar of Sacrifice, Masters Call and even Revive Pet as well).
- Cast Flare if any member of the enemy team is in stealth
If somebody is in stealth, it is also a good idea to Disengage towards the area you are expecting them to be in before firing the Flare to catch them off guard.
- Cast Hunter's Mark on your kill target
This will give you a damage bonus on your opener, although it will also make it obvious the player you are going to open on, and they might move to a pillar. If they do move to a pillar, it is fine to open on their partner without the Hunter's Mark.
If the team that you are facing is waiting for you to open, rather than running at your team, and their Healer dispels your Hunter's Mark, you can delay your opener and reapply it.
- Pre-cast either Sniper Shot or Aimed Shot
Do this when you are close to the enemy healer, which will enable you to reliably do the next step.
- Cast Freezing Trap on the enemy healer as the cast ends (if you are not able to safely land a freezing trap immediately after the cast without a stun, use Intimidation on the Healer first before you throw the trap)
Using the @cursor or @player Freezing Trap macro (which you will find in the macros section of this guide), you should be able to reliably trap healers after your first cast.
I would recommend using the @player version of the Freezing Trap macro if you are not confident aiming traps yet.
Note that if you are playing with a class that is able to stun, they should stun your kill target immediately when the trap lands.
- (If 3v3) cast Scatter Shot on the "off target" (the enemy who is not the Healer or your kill target)
You are casting Scatter Shot on the off-target to prevent them from doing damage, crowd-controlling your team on their burst, or using defensives on the enemy kill target.
- Proceed with your burst damage rotation
In some situations, it's worth casting Steel Trap on the offtarget out of the Scatter Shot to extend the crowd control chain, but this is situational and usually not worth doing into specializations that are able to break roots.
When you have the enemy healer in crowd control, and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.
- Use Death Chakram
- Use Volley (If talented into Salvo and the kill target is not close to the Healer)
- Use Trueshot
- Use Aimed Shot
- Use Rapid Fire
- During the rotation and particularly around this point, you should be thinking about what has been used by the enemy team and if it is worth swapping targets. For example, if your kill target has used defensive cooldowns, you may want to swap targets to the other DPS.
- If you are running the Salvo build, you may find that the other DPS is already low health from the cleave in your rotation.
- At this point, your trap on the Healer should be ending, and if you are not crowd-controlled and still have pressure, it is worth casting Chimaeral Sting on the enemy healer if your team are not able to cast a disorient category crowd control (e.g.. Blind, Psychic Scream, Blinding Light, Intimidating Shout) on the enemy healer after the trap ends.
- Use Aimed Shot
- Use Aimed Shot
- Use Rapid Fire
- Use Aimed Shot
- Use Kill Shot if an enemy drops below 20% health
- Use Arcane Shot you are not able to cast Aimed Shot
Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns (Death Chakram, Volley/Salvo and Trueshot) are not available.
- If you get Deathblow procs that allow for free Kill Shots, use them immediately for maximum overall damage, (although you can also save the procs for a crowd control chain when the target is stunned for higher burst damage)
- Use Rapid Fire as often as you can (although try to spend focus before casting Rapid Fire and do not cast Rapid Fire if you think it will be interrupted)
- Use Sniper Shot if talented when you are at range or think you can get the cast off (do not cast Sniper Shot during Trueshot)
- Use Aimed Shot when available (if the enemy team stops your Aimed Shot casts that is fine because it means that they will not be able to interrupt Rapid Fire or Sniper Shot)
- Use Arcane Shot when you have Precise Shots stacks from casting Aimed Shot to increase its damage
- Refresh Hunter's Mark if you are disarmed or if the enemy team is full health with no crowd control on Healer or kill target
- Use Explosive Shot if talented when you are not able to cast Aimed Shot
- Use Kill Shot if an enemy drops below 20% health
Maintain Concussive Shot on your target if you are kiting or if your teammate needs it. Remember you can refresh it with Steady Shot.
How to Trap Healers
Hunter comps rely heavily on landing Freezing Trap on the enemy healer and this requires some setup (and a lot of practice).
When you are starting the game from Camouflage, you are able to get your first trap for "free" (meaning without having to commit your intimidation).
It is much harder (and much less reliable) to land traps during combat without a stun or crowd control already on your target.
Tools you have to help you trap:
- Concussive Shot ( Consecutive Concussion helps with trapping)
- Tar Trap + Entrapment
- Steel Trap
- Disengage (If you are struggling to trap, I highly recommend that you Concussive Shot and then Disengage into the Healer and use the @player Freezing Trap macro instead of aiming your trap)
- Binding Shot (if talented)
- Tranquilizing Shot (eg for Holy Ward or Nullifying Shroud)
- Bursting Shot (if you miss a trap, you can always knock them into it!)
Every healing class has multiple ways to dodge or deny your trap; below is a non-exhaustive list of what each healing specialization has to avoid traps and some tips specific to that Healer. Having an addon like Omnibar to track important enemy cooldowns and Gladiatorlossa2 to tell you when they are used will make your life a lot easier.
Remember that in all cases, healers can use mobility and erratic movement to make it difficult for you to trap them. Also, remember that when they are spending global cooldowns trying to outplay your trap and moving instead of casting, you are still applying pressure even though the Healer is not caught in a trap because the Healer is not casting healing spells.
When trapping Discipline Priests you must be aware of:
- Shadow Word: Death
- Phase Shift
- Psychic Scream
- Mind Control (cast as you throw the trap)
- Ultimate Penitence
You may notice that almost all of the Discipline Priest abilities that can be used to avoid your traps are on the Shadow spell school. When you are standing near the Priest in the middle of the game, by kicking them on the shadow spell school, they will not be able to use Shadow Word Death or fade to avoid your trap.
You must always be aware of Psychic Scream, too. If you get too close to a Priest, when it is off cooldown, your plans will backfire, and you will be feared.
Other than that, trapping Discipline Priests is about tracking the cooldown of Shadow Word Death and Fade and throwing the trap when they are not able to use either.
During Ultimate Penitance a Discipline Priest is immune to interrupts and crowd control, you can trap the initial cast if you are quick but if the channel begins they will be immune to your trap.
When trapping Holy Priests you must be aware of:
- Shadow Word: Death
- Phase Shift
- Holy Ward
- Spirit of the Redeemer
- Divine Ascension
- Mind Control (cast as you throw the trap)
Holy Priest is similar to Discipline with a few changes.
They have Holy Ward, which must be purged with Tranquilizing Shot (if you are unlucky and do not get the dispel, you will need to wait 15 seconds for it to expire unless your partner can take it off).
When a Holy Priest uses Spirit of the Redeemer, you can place a trap underneath the angel to trap them instantly when it ends. Be careful, though - if you do this too soon, their partners may try to eat the trap, or the Priest may see you throw it and cancel the guardian into a fade to immune the trap.
When trapping Holy Paladins you must be aware of:
- Blessing of Sacrifice
- Blessing of Protection (on the stun before trap)
- Hand of Reckoning
- Blessing of Freedom + Divine Steed
- Hammer of Justice
- Blinding Light
The main thing here is to be very aware of when a Holy Paladin uses sacrifice and not to trap the Paladin during the duration. Remember that Holy Paladins are relatively squishy, so swapping to the Holy Paladin when they use Blessing of Sacrifice is always an option. If you are able to force their Divine Shield doing this, they will gain Forbearance and will not be able to use Blessing of Protection to escape the next stun into Freezing Trap combo.
When you are trapping out of Intimidation into a Holy Paladin, make sure you throw the trap immediately, as otherwise, they can escape the trap by removing the stun with Blessing of Protection.
Like with Priests and Psychic Scream, you need to be careful when standing next to a Holy Paladin to avoid Blinding Light.
When trapping Mistweaver Monks you must be aware of:
- Revival with Peaceweaver
- Leg Sweep
- Ring of Peace
- Roll/ Chi Torpedo
Mistweaver Monks are difficult to trap when they know it is coming because of their high mobility. As another complication, they are able to teleport away when stunned using Eminence.
Fortunately, to be able to do high-output healing, Mistweaver Monks need to stand still. Either throw the trap when you see them casting and do not think they will move, or follow them until they have no movement abilities left, and then throw your trap.
Avoid trapping out of stuns into Mistweaver Monks unless you know they are out of range of their Transcendence: Transfer (40 yards) and have already used Revival (which can be used while stunned to immune your trap).
If you are facing a "Fistweaver" (melee) Mistweaver Monk, it is easy to trap them when they chase you using the @player Freezing Trap macro and between your traps, it is a good idea to swap onto the Fistweaver, as they are likely the easiest kill target on their team.
When trapping Preservation Evokers you must be aware of:
- Nullifying Shroud
- Deep Breath
- Dream Flight
- Stasis to dispel themself
- Dream Projection by hitting themself with it as trap lands
Nullifying Shroud is a big counter to Hunters. Unless somebody on your team is able to remove the Shroud, a lot of the time, it is easier to do your opener without using crowd control on the Healer just to build momentum. Remember, you can still kick the Evoker during Nullifying Shroud.
Avoid using Intimidation on an Evoker the moment that Nullifying Shroud ends because they will see the buff wearing off and use either Deep Breath or Dream Flight at that moment to immune your stun.
If an Evoker is casting Dream Projection, use Counter Shot before throwing your Freezing Trap if available, as they can otherwise use the Projection to dispel themself.
When trapping Restoration Druid you must be aware of:
- Wild Charge
- Mighty Bash/ Rake/ Maim into Cyclone
- Tranquility with Keeper of the Grove
- Grove Guardians (spawning tree NPCs that may "eat" your traps)
- Growl on your pet
Restoration Druids are one of the hardest targets to trap. They do not cast as much as other healers and, therefore, have no reason to stand still when you chase them.
With practice, you get used to their movement, and it gets easier to trap them, but do not allow the Druid to bait you into bad positions when chasing them.
Be careful of Grove Guardians. Restoration Druids will deliberately spawn these non player characters when you push for a trap to make it more difficult for you to aim. Take your time and be precise when you can see the trees spawn next to the Druid.
When facing Druids, remember to take Tranquilizing Darts because if you have high uptime, you can win with pressure rather than relying on big crowd control setups.
When trapping Restoration Shamans you must be aware of:
- Grounding Totem
- Lightning Lasso
- Earthen Wall Totem (does not stop the trap but will stop you being able to kill their teammates)
- Spirit Link Totem
The main thing to watch for here is Grounding Totem. Good Shamans will be very quick with using it, stand near them, apply slows and roots, and wait it out. When the Shaman uses Grounding Totem, quickly Arcane Shot it and throw your trap. A mouseover Arcane Shot macro will help with this a lot.
Earthern Wall Totem is mentioned above because even though it does not deny your trap, it will stop you being able to kill somebody with your burst. Whenever you see a Shaman drop Earthern Wall Totem, you should be looking to knock their partner out of it using Bursting Shot. If you cannot get their partner out of the Earthern Wall Totem (or cannot kite them out of the totem), do not trap them until they are outside of it.
Cross Crowd Control
Even if there is a stun on the Healer before you aim your trap, there are other complications. For example, you could be facing a shaman who will press Grounding Totem to deny your trap, a warrior using War Banner, or a Retribution Paladin using Blessing of Sanctuary to cancel your Intimidation.
You always want to cross crowd control on the off-target when you are trapping (usually Scatter Shot into Psychic Scream if you are playing with a Priest). Whether you Scatter before or after the trap depends on the matchup.
Survival of the Fittest an extremely powerful defensive ability. Use this when you expect to be stunned (for example, instantly use this if a rogue uses Blind on your Healer) or when you are taking heavy damage during your own offensive cooldowns and want to stay aggressive.
Fortitude of the Bear is available to you when you have a tenacity pet summoned. This not only increases your maximum health as it says, but it also heals you for this same amount so that you are left with increased current HP after using it. Be aware that you can use this whilst you are in crowd control and stuns, but not when your pet is crowd controlled. If an area of effect crowd control is coming ( Ring of Frost, Leg Sweep, Blinding Sleet) you will want to move your pet away beforehand so that you can still use this selfheal.
You can also use Fortitude of the Bear when you do not have an active pet if you are talented into Lone Wolf, but without a pet you are not able to use it while crowd controlled.
Feign Death is your main defensive tool due to its short cooldown and the Survival Tactics PvP Talent. Use it whenever you are about to take damage to reduce the burst damage you take and to force the enemy to re-target you.
Aspect of the Turtle is our immunity 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 use Traps (except Steel Trap), Flare, and other non-offensive spells. You will usually want to combine Aspect of the Turtle with your trinket when stunned for maximum value.
It is worth communicating with your Healer and deciding what enemy cooldown you will use your trinket and Aspect of the Turtle to counter.
Exhilaration is a strong instant heal. Try to use this early as the cooldown resets quickly via Natural Mending.
Roar of Sacrifice is a vital utility ability for you or your teammates. This makes the teammate you use this on immune to being Critical Strikes by spells but causes your pet to take 10% of the damage that your teammate takes. Use this immediately when the enemy team uses their cooldowns on a teammate or yourself.
Do not rely on Roar of Sacrifice alone to save you from cooldowns. It will make the damage predictable because there are no critical strikes, but it is not a damage reduction cooldown, and most classes will be able to kill you with their cooldowns if you use Roar of Sacrifice and nothing else.
Master's Call is a utility cooldown to help you or your teammate kite or push for damage. Versus Balance Druids, it becomes an absolutely essential defensive cooldown. You must cast Master's Call on your Healer immediately when your Healer is rooted in a Solar Beam.
Interlope is a defensive cooldown that you may choose to use. It will allow you to either redirect damage off yourself or teammates or redirect crowd control off your Healer. An easy way to get value from this talent is to play it into Hunter teams and Interlope your Healer when they are stunned to redirect the Freezing Trap.
- 20 Nov. 2023: Fortitude of the Bear clarification.
- 19 Nov. 2023: Changed offensive rotation and included new Restoration Druid and Discipline Priest spells.
- 06 Nov. 2023: Reviewed for patch 10.2.
- 04 Sep. 2023: Reviewed for patch 10.1.7 with minor tweaks.
- 10 Jul. 2023: Guide re-written
- 09 May 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.
- 30 Jan. 2023: Updated the page for relevant changes in Patch 10.0.5.
- 11 Dec. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight Season 1.
- 22 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
- 31 May 2022: Reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
- 22 Feb. 2022: Updated and restructured the Opener and Burst DPS Rotations and clarified Lock and Load/Concussive Shot usage. Added Death Chakram.
- 10 Nov. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.1.5.
- 06 Jul. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.1.
- 18 Mar. 2021: Updated Burst and Sustained Damage rotations.
- 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Rotations to include Covenant Abilities.
- 29 Nov. 2020: Removed outdated Traits and Essences.
- 11 Nov. 2020: Updated all Burst and Sustained damage rotations.
- 15 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch (9.0.1)
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