Survival Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands 9.0.2
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Survival Hunter in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.2.
If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our Classic DPS Hunter rotation.
Survival Hunter Rotation
Welcome to our Rotation page for Survival Hunters. On this page you will find everything you need to know about actually playing the spec in Raiding and Mythic+ scenarios.
If the rotations below seem overwhelming to you, you might benefit from visiting our Easy Mode page which outlines a close-to-optimal rotation in simpler terms.
The content on this page is purely PvE-related. If you are looking for PvP Rotation Tips, please visit our PvP page below.
Single Target Rotation for Survival Hunter
In the rotation below, we assume that you are using Wildfire Infusion.
The single target rotation for a Survival Hunter is based on the following priority system:
- Maintain the Serpent Sting DoT on your target.
- Activate your Wild Spirits Covenant Ability (or any other Covenant Ability you are using),
- Activate your Coordinated Assault cooldown as often as possible.
- Use Kill Shot when it is available, usually when targets are below 20% health.
- Use Wildfire Bomb when it is about to reach 2 charges, and making sure that you will not Focus cap after using it. Read the details on Wildfire Infusion below to take your Wildfire Bomb usage to the next level.
- Use Kill Command to keep it from reaching 2 charges.
- Use Raptor Strike to spend Focus.
Wildfire Infusion Usage
- Volatile Bomb is green. You should try to use this only when Serpent Sting is close to expiring, or if you are about to reach 2 charges of Wildfire Bomb. Not capping on charges is a more important consideration than anything else. You can also use it if Serpent Sting is up when there is nothing else to do.
- Shrapnel Bomb is blue, and it should be used when you are at 60 Focus or above, as this will allow you to build 3 stacks of the bleed before it expires. Ideally, you should save this for when you know that you will be able to do 3 Raptor Strikes within its short duration. If there is nothing else to do in your rotation, you can use this if you have more than 50 Focus.
- Pheromone Bomb is red, and it should be used when you are at low Focus. Before using this bomb, you should try to dump as much Focus with Raptor Strike as possible. Ideally, you will get 3 Kill Commands off without Focus capping during the debuff. If there is nothing else to do in your rotation, you can cast it regardless of your Focus level.
Multi-Target Rotation for Survival Hunter
Kill Command is still a high priority and should be cast on cooldown whenever it will not Focus cap you. Carve is expensive and Kill Command is necessary to sustain Focus for the cleave rotation.
Serpent Sting should be maintained on as many targets as possible, provided that they will live for a significant amount of time.
Otherwise, stick to the fundamental rules of the single-target rotation, and remember that a Mythic+ pack is only as fast as the last mob to die within it.
Mythic+ Rotation for Survival Hunters
For information about Mythic+ as a Survival Hunter and the rotation you need to use in this game mode, please refer to our Mythic+ page.
WeakAuras for Survival Hunters
WeakAuras can have a tremendously positive effect on your performance. Since this is a broad topic, we will soon have a page dedicated to it.
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.
- Use Serpent Sting
- Use your Covenant Ability along with Coordinated Assault
- Use Raptor Strike
- Use Kill Command
- Proceed with your normal rotation.
On fights that last longer than 5 minutes, you will be able to use two potions, provided that you use one of them at the beginning of the fight.
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.
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.
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).
Detailed Cooldown Usage
Coordinated Assault's main effect outside of its damage increase is that the cooldown of Kill Command will reset much more often. This does not inherently change your rotation, but it is worth keeping in your mind when playing so that you do not Focus cap yourself.
Talents and the Rotation
Tier 1 Talents
Terms of Engagement means that Harpoon should be used essentially on cooldown, although you do not want to overlap the existing buff and debuff. If the target is about to die, which would reset the cooldown, then make sure that it is on cooldown when this happens.
Alpha Predator does not inherently change your rotation, but it does let you "sit" on a Kill Command charge while using other abilities, basically making it less essential to cast Kill Command perfectly on cooldown every time.
Tier 2 Talents
Guerrilla Tactics allows you to cast 2 Wildfire Bombs back-to-back. However, when not using Wildfire Infusion, because the debuff from the Bomb lasts for 6 seconds, you should never cast two Bombs within 6 seconds of each other, as this will overwrite and waste you ticks of the debuff.
Hydra's Bite allows you to use 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 should be used on cooldown on 2 targets and above.
Tier 4 Talents
Bloodseeker's encourages you to cycle the targets you cast 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 should be used on cooldown.
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.
Tier 6 Talents
Tip of the Spear means that you should never cast Kill Command more than 3 times in a row. This rarely happens anyway, but is worth keeping in mind to not waste the buff. You should not try to stack the buff to 3 stacks before using Raptor Strike.
Mongoose Bite replaces Raptor Strike. It has the same cost and its role in the rotation is the same, but because of 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 on cooldown.
Flanking Strike should be used on cooldown when you are at a large Focus deficit.
Tier 7 Talents
Birds of Prey can impact your rotation slightly. If you are at the end of Coordinated Assault and you have a pool of Focus left, then you should cast Raptor Strike repeatedly to extend the buff and spend all your Focus within the buff. This is a higher priority than any other cast during this period.
Wildfire Infusion does not directly impact your rotation by itself. However, the Pheromone Bomb effect causes 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 is just about to expire, but 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 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 causes your 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. You should also make sure that Serpent Sting is active when casting it, so that refreshing Serpent Sting does not interfere with it.
Chakrams should be used on cooldown.
- 12 Dec. 2020: Removed note about clipping Wildfire Bomb as it is not relevant when using Wildfire Infusion.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
- 24 Oct. 2020: Added a paragraph to talk about Potion usage, and removed it from the opener.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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