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Survival Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated Yesterday at 11:08 by Azortharion 39 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Survival Hunter core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth 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 Survival Hunter.

The other pages of our Survival 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 for many years. He is an accomplished player with dozen of top parses for all specs throughout the game's history. He is also the Admin of Trueshot Lodge, the Hunter Class Discord, and you can watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation

The single target rotation for a Survival Hunter is based on the following priority system:

  1. Cast Kill Command Icon Kill Command on cooldown, if it will not Focus cap you.
  2. Cast Wildfire Bomb Icon Wildfire Bomb on cooldown, but only when the DoT is close to expiring.
  3. When you get a Viper's Venom Icon Viper's Venom proc, cast Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting to spend it immediately.
  4. Maintain the Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting DoT by refreshing it whenever there is less than 3 seconds remaining on it. This is rarely needed with Viper's Venom Icon Viper's Venom.
  5. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to spend Focus, always trying to prevent yourself from hitting the Focus cap.

2. Multiple Target Rotation

Whenever fighting multiple targets of any number, you should spend any time where you are not casting high-priority abilities on cooldown by refreshing and applying Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting to all targets you are fighting. If you are using the Hydra's Bite Icon Hydra's Bite talent, this becomes less of an issue.

On 2 targets, your rotation remains the same as normal, although you should ensure that you have both targets in the cone of your Wildfire Bomb Icon Wildfire Bomb.

On 3 targets and above, you should use Carve Icon Carve on cooldown. You should still focus on casting Kill Command Icon Kill Command and Wildfire Bomb Icon Wildfire Bomb on cooldown.

3. Cooldown Usage

As a Survival Hunter, your main DPS cooldown is Coordinated Assault Icon Coordinated Assault. It is a hefty, flat damage increase, and it makes the cooldown of Kill Command Icon Kill Command reset much more often.

4. Opener Sequence

This section describes the recommended way to start the fight as a Survival Hunter. It assumes you are using the recommended talents for the spec.

  1. Just before the encounter starts, use your combat potion.
  2. About 1.5 seconds before the encounter starts, use Coordinated Assault Icon Coordinated Assault.
  3. Apply Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting.
  4. Cast Wildfire Bomb Icon Wildfire Bomb.
  5. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike once to burn a little Focus.
  6. Cast Kill Command Icon Kill Command to put it on cooldown.
  7. Proceed with your normal rotation, generating and spending as much Focus as possible without capping it, and reacting to Viper's Venom Icon Viper's Venom procs as they come up.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Survival Hunter

While the rotations we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Survival Hunter to its full potential. You will need to understand all the subtleties, pertaining to your abilities, rotations, and cooldown usage, that we present below.

5.1. Focus

Hunters and their pets use a unique resource, called Focus. Focus works in much the same way as other class resources, like Rage and Energy, in the sense that some abilities grant Focus, while others cost Focus to be used.

A Survival Hunter's Focus has a maximum capacity of 100, and regenerates at a slow rate that varies by spec. In addition to this passive flow of incoming Focus, certain talents and abilities will amplify your Focus regeneration, or simply generate more of it.

Most of the abilities in the hunter rotation cost Focus to use, and some talents decrease the Focus costs, or offer other ways to gain additional Focus.

Hunter pet Focus works similarly, and is of no concern to you as you cannot do anything to modify it, nor will you be casting pet abilities manually.

As a general rule, you should always have enough Focus to cast your abilities as soon as they come off cooldown, but also to never have 100 Focus (as any extra Focus you generate would then go to waste).

5.2. Detailed Cooldown Usage

5.2.1. Coordinated Assault

Coordinated Assault Icon Coordinated Assault's main effect outside of its damage increase is that the cooldown of Kill Command Icon Kill Command will reset much more often. This does not have a direct effect on your rotation, since you will prioritize and use Kill Command according to the same rules. You should always try to use Coordinated Assault on high Focus with Kill Command already on cooldown, and Wildfire Bomb Icon Wildfire Bomb recently used.

6. Talents and the Rotation

6.1. Tier 1 Talents

Viper's Venom Icon Viper's Venom procs should be spent immediately by casting Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting, provided that Kill Command and Wildfire Bomb are both on cooldown.

Terms of Engagement Icon Terms of Engagement means that Harpoon Icon Harpoon should be used on cooldown as a low-priority ability. Try to use it when you are on low Focus and would otherwise cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike

Alpha Predator Icon Alpha Predator does not influence your rotation in a significant way. It makes it more difficult to not Focus cap because there is a temptation to use Kill Command Icon Kill Command too much. It is important to remember that the rules for Kill Command usage are not changed by this talent.

6.2. Tier 2 Talents

Guerrilla Tactics Icon Guerrilla Tactics does not have a significant effect on your rotation.

Hydra's Bite Icon Hydra's Bite allows you to use Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting to automatically multi-DoT several targets. Simply keep in mind how many nearby targets are affected by Serpent Sting. If any of them are missing, cast Serpent Sting directly on them or a nearby target to refresh it.

Butchery Icon Butchery should be used on cooldown on 2 targets and above.

6.3. Tier 4 Talents

Bloodseeker Icon Bloodseeker's encourages you to cycle the targets you cast Kill Command Icon Kill Command on, especially when you get resets on Kill Command's cooldown. Whenever possible, you should try to cast Kill Command on a different target each time in multi-target situations to get the most out of the attack speed buff.

Steel Trap Icon Steel Trap should be used on cooldown.

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.

6.4. Tier 6 Talents

Tip of the Spear Icon Tip of the Spear means that you should never cast Kill Command Icon Kill Command more than 3 times in a row. This rarely happens anyway, but is worth keeping in mind to not waste the buff.

Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite replaces Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike. It has the same cost and its role in the rotation is the same, but because of Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury, you want to use it in a way that allows the highest amount of Mongoose Bites in the 14-second window. Most importantly, you want to start Mongoose Fury windows (by casting the first Mongoose Bite to start the buff) at high Focus and with Kill Command Icon Kill Command on cooldown. Finally, when Mongoose Fury is active, you should not bother spending Focus to refresh Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting, but you should still spend Viper's Venom Icon Viper's Venom procs. It is beneficial to try and refresh Serpent Sting shortly before starting Mongoose Fury, to maximize your total uptime of the DoT.

Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike should be used on cooldown when you are at a large Focus deficit.

6.4.1. Tier 7 Talents

Birds of Prey Icon Birds of Prey does not have a significant impact on your rotation.

Wildfire Infusion Icon Wildfire Infusion does not directly impact your rotation by itself. However, the Pheromone Bomb Icon Pheromone Bomb effect causes Kill Command Icon Kill Command to always reset its cooldown which will impact how you play, although the same rules apply to Kill Command usage as normal. Additionally, if Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting is just about to expire, but Volatile Bomb Icon Volatile Bomb is coming up, you should simply refresh your Serpent Sting using the Bomb, rather than manually refreshing it.

If you are also using Guerrilla Tactics Icon Guerrilla Tactics with this talent, you can save the Volatile Bomb until you would otherwise refresh Serpent Sting manually, since you have 2 charges to play around with. Note that it is never worth reaching 2 charges.

Shrapnel Bomb Icon Shrapnel Bomb causes your Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to apply a stacking bleed. It is worth pooling about 60 Focus before using Shrapnel Bomb, as this will allow you to cast multiple Raptor Strikes immediately after Shrapnel Bomb, allowing you to stack the bleed up quickly.

Chakrams Icon Chakrams should be used on cooldown.

7. ChangeLog

  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated the usage of Shrapnel Bomb from Wildfire Infusion slightly.
  • 12 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 04 Aug. 2018: Expanded on the Mongoose Bite talent's effect on the rotation.
  • 31 Jul. 2018: Small additions to some talents' effect on the rotation.
    • Expanded Butchery usage to cover 2 targets, whereas Carve is >3.
    • Added note about not refreshing Serpent Sting during Mongoose Fury.
  • 23 Jul. 2018: Expanded on single-target rotation using Guerrilla Tactics.
  • 19 Jul. 2018: Expanded on the impact that Wildfire Infusion can have on your rotation when trying to play optimally.
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