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Survival Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.3.2)

Last updated on Dec 05, 2017 at 05:30 by Azortharion 343 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 Legion 7.3.2. 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. He is also an accomplished player who raids in Solaris. You can also watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation

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

1.1. When Mongoose Fury is not active (Filler Phase)

  1. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike just enough to keep Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal active on 4 stacks, refreshing as late as possible and keeping the global cooldown in mind.
  2. Cast Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike on cooldown.
  3. Cast Spitting Cobra Icon Spitting Cobra on cooldown.
  4. Keep up the Lacerate Icon Lacerate DoT.
  5. Use Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike in order to consume your T21 2-piece proc (active after casting Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike.
  6. Use Steel Trap Icon Steel Trap on cooldown // Use Caltrops Icon Caltrops if it is not active on the target (the cooldown is shorter than the DoT, remember that.
  7. Use Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap on cooldown.
  8. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike when you can do absolutely nothing else, and if you still do not have 2 Mongoose Bite charges.
  9. If you have done all of the above and have at least 2 Mongoose Bite charges, start your Mongoose Fury window by casting Mongoose Bite, then go to the Bite Phase rotation. You should also put up Lacerate Icon Lacerate right before entering the Bite Phase if you have the Tier 20 4-piece bonus.

1.2. When Mongoose Fury is active (Bite Phase)

  1. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike just enough to keep Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal active on 4 stacks, refreshing as late as possible and keeping the global cooldown in mind.
  2. Cast Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle if you run out of Mongoose Bite charges, or there is 10 seconds remaining on Mongoose Fury. (Whichever comes first, generally the latter).
  3. Cast Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter with 0 charges of Mongooose Bite left, and more than ~4 seconds remaining on Mongoose Fury so that you can spend all 3 generated charges in this window. Do not use this along with Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle, it is better to space them out between different Bite Phases.
  4. Cast Fury of the Eagle Icon Fury of the Eagle towards the end of Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury when you have no charges left. If you generate any charges while channeling Fury, cancel it and cast those Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bites.
  5. Cast Lacerate Icon Lacerate if it is about to drop off, but only if you have the T20 4-piece bonus. Remember to start your Bite Phases with a fresh Lacerate, so this step is not needed very often.
  6. Cast Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike on cooldown when you have 2 charges of Mongoose Bite or fewer.
  7. Cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite
  8. Use Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike when you cannot do any of the things above, especially to spend your set bonus procs from the Tier 21 set bonuses.
  9. When Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury ends, go back to the Filler phase.

Casting Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite at high stacks of Mongoose Fury is essentially always more important than refreshing DoTs or casting other things on cooldown (unless it is Flanking Strike, if only just to cast more Mongoose Bites). Losing a bit of uptime on your many DoTs is way less damage loss than missing out on a 6-stack Mongoose Bite for the most part. Take advantage of down-periods where you are waiting for Mongoose Bite charges to return and refresh your DoTs then. This makes the rotation somewhat cyclical.

2. Multiple Target Rotation

When facing multiple targets, your rotation does not change, save for a few abilities that you will be using differently.

  • Cast  Icon Fury of the Eagle when there are many targets up — and ideally at 6 stacks of Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury. Using it on as many targets as possible is generally more important than the stack count.
  • When you are facing more than 1 target, you should use Butchery Icon Butchery on cooldown, if you are using this talent.
  • When you are facing 2 or more targets, you should not cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike (except to keep up Way of the Mok'Nathal), but you should instead use Carve Icon Carve in its place as a Focus dump that you only use when you would otherwise cap Focus.
  • If you are using the Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting talent, you should use Carve Icon Carve to refresh the debuff on more than 1 target.

3. Legendaries & Rotational Changes

Helbrine, Rope of the Mist Marauder Icon Helbrine, Rope of the Mist Marauder increases your damage done by 30% for 10 seconds after using Harpoon — which in most cases is just the opener. To make use of this, firstly you should lay down ranged traps just before using Harpoon Icon Harpoon, so that they land roughly when the encounter begins. Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap and Caltrops Icon Caltrops both work for this. Just make sure they are triggered by the boss when combat starts. Furthermore, do not put up your other DoTs on the target in the opener. Instead, go straight into spamming Mongoose Bite and putting up Aspect of the Eagle, trying to frontload as much of your damage as possible into the short duration of this proc. When your first Mongoose Fury window expires, you can refresh your DoTs and proceed as normal.

Butcher's Bone Apron Icon Butcher's Bone Apron causes Mongoose Bite to stack a buff that increases the damage done of your next Carve Icon Carve or Butchery Icon Butchery (talent) by 10%, stacking up to 10 times. It does not change your general rotation as such. It is excellent for cleave fights where the cleave is not constant, but rather intermittent such as Gul'dan, where your single-target rotation will automatically stack the buff which you can then unleash once the AoE happens. Butchery is of course even better with this Legendary, while Carve is really lackluster.

Frizzo's Fingertrap Icon Frizzo's Fingertrap causes Butchery Icon Butchery or Carve Icon Carve to spread Lacerate onto an additional target. This is an excellent sustained Cleave legendary, and paired with the Mortal Wounds Icon Mortal Wounds talent, it is a single-target DPS increase as well whenever you can have multiple Lacerates ticking.

Other Legendaries have no meaningful effect on your rotation. Their effects are either passive, or they give you extra uses of certain cooldowns which essentially happens automatically, provided you do not sit on your cooldowns for too long.

4. Cooldown Usage

As a Survival Hunter, you have one cooldown in Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle, with a few more unlocked through talents. More details about them can be found in our detailed cooldown usage section.

5. 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 Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  2. Use Harpoon Icon Harpoon to close the gap to the boss when it is pulled.
  3. Cast Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap (can also be precast 1-2 seconds before combat, at a distance).
  4. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike 3 times.
  5. Cast Spitting Cobra Icon Spitting Cobra.
  6. Cast Lacerate Icon Lacerate and Steel Trap Icon Steel Trap//Caltrops Icon Caltrops to put the DoTs up.
  7. Cast Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap (if you did not precast it)
  8. Cast Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike.
  9. Cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite until Flanking Strike is available again (this generally means 3).
  10. Cast Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to refresh the buff, and to get 4 stacks of Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal.
  11. Use your cooldowns: Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle, racials and so on. Save Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter for the next Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury window, same with Fury of the Eagle Icon Fury of the Eagle.
  12. Cast Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike, then proceed with the Bite Phase rotation above.

The Survival Hunter opener is one of the more complex and daunting opening rotations in the game, and in order to make sure you get it right, we strongly recommend practicing it on target dummies to get it under your fingers.

6. 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.

6.1. Set Bonuses

Antorus, the Burning Throne is introducing new set bonuses, they are as follows:

  • 2-piece set bonus: Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike has a 50% chance to cause your next Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to always Crit. It also increases the critical strike damage of Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike by 50% for 20 seconds.
  • 4-piece set bonus: Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite stacks a buff that increases the damage done by your next Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike by 20%, stacking up to 6 times for a 120% damage increase.

Both set bonuses are centered around making Raptor Strike much more powerful. It is a fairly weak ability to start with. To maximize them, you should try and keep your non-buffed Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strikes to a minimum, primarily using them to extend your Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal buff as always. During a bite phase, you should use Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike in any situation where you cannot cast either Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite or Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike.

6.2. Trinket Usage

The Tomb of Sargeras has introduced a few on-use trinkets, and some of them require more thought than just using them on cooldown. So unless listed here, you should use on-use trinkets on cooldown.

Umbral Moonglaives Icon Umbral Moonglaives should be used on adds that will survive for more than 8 seconds, so that you will benefit from the glaive explosion at the end of its duration. The more targets the better for this ability. Secondary to the amount of targets, you should always try to line it up so that its damage explosion at the end happens inside Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle. This is as simple as casting Aspect of the Eagle and the trinket at the same time.

Vial of Ceaseless Toxins Icon Vial of Ceaseless Toxins should be used on large adds that will die after close to, but less than 20 seconds to benefit the most from the proc — and to reduce its cooldown in preparation for another use. This can be a bit finicky, but the intended use of the trinket is to deal lots of damage to big, important adds in a fight. The best case scenario is an add that dies in 19 seconds, but you will probably not get that every time.

Engine of Eradication Icon Engine of Eradication's proc is powerful on its own, but when it does proc, it spawns 4 orbs around you that can be picked up to extend the duration on the buff. Picking these up is quite important, and it is as simple as running into them when they spawn.

6.3. 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 an innate rate of 10 Focus per second. This rate is increased by Haste. In addition to this, certain abilities such as Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot (Marksmanship-only) also grant Focus.

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).

6.4. Detailed Cooldown Usage

6.4.1. Aspect of the Eagle

Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Leading up to Aspect of the Eagle, you should ensure that you have no Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury stacks currently active. Ideally, it should expire right before you plan to use Aspect of the Eagle. Then, you should cast Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite once, pop Aspect of the Eagle, and proceed to use the rest of your available Mongoose Bites. From here, you should proceed with your normal rotation, while trying to get as many Mongoose Bites in as possible. Finally, you should try to end the Aspect of the Eagle phase with as close to 0 Focus as possible.

6.4.2. Fury of the Eagle

 Icon Fury of the Eagle is the active ability of the Survival Artifact. It is no longer used for its damage potential, but instead acts as a "buffer" that allows you to get more Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bites. This is because when you cast Fury of the Eagle Icon Fury of the Eagle, it extends your Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury for as long as you keep casting Fury of the Eagle. You should use it during Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury when you have run out of Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite charges, Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter is not available, and ideally towards the end of the Mongoose Fury window. When you cast it, you should let the channel go and keep an eye on your Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite charges. As soon as you get one (if you get one at all), you should cancel Fury of the Eagle and cast your Mongoose Bites. The idea is that you extend the Mongoose Fury buff with Fury of the Eagle, giving yourself more chances of 6-stack Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bites. On multiple targets, however, Fury of the Eagle Icon Fury of the Eagle does respectable damage and it should not be cancelled in these scenarios. Instead you should try and line it up with as many targets as possible, and ideally with as many stacks of Mongoose Fury Icon Mongoose Fury as possible.

6.4.3. Snake Hunter

The goal of Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter is to get as much leverage out of the additional 3 charges as possible, and you ideally want them all to contribute to a 6-stack Mongoose Fury window, either by getting you there faster, or giving you additional casts of them. Therefore, you do generally not want to use Snake Hunter in the opener because you are already generating more charges than you can cast in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, delay Snake Hunter till your second Mongoose Fury window, using it whenever you have 0 stacks and more than 4 seconds remaining in that window. From there, use it on cooldown, but only ever at 0 charges, ideally just after spending the final charge, minimizing the chance of capping them out.

Because both Snake Hunter and Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle offer a big return on Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite charges, you do not usually want to cast them within the same Mongoose Fury window.

6.4.4. Tier 1 Talents

Animal Instincts Icon Animal Instincts has no direct effect on how you play, although you should be aware of what cooldown is being reduced so that you may plan ahead your rotation more efficiently.

Throwing Axes Icon Throwing Axes usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal should be maintained at 4 stacks by using Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike. You should only use Raptor Strike exactly enough to refresh the Mok'Nathal Tactics Icon Mok'Nathal Tactics buff as late as possible, ideally maintaining 4 stacks for the entire fight. You should be clever and very conservative about your Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike usage, since overusing it may cause you not to have enough Focus to cast Raptor Strike when you need to refresh Mok'Nathal Tactics.

6.4.5. Tier 2 Talents

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows should be used as many times as possible during the fight. The cooldown of this ability will reset if its target dies before the debuff expires (15 seconds). You should try and take advantage of this effect as much as possible (but without delaying A Murder of Crows needlessly much). Remember that it is not worth it to benefit from this effect by casting A Murder of Crows on targets that will die in a second or two.

Mortal Wounds Icon Mortal Wounds has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the increased chance to generate Mongoose Bite Icon Mongoose Bite charges whenever your Lacerate Icon Lacerate ability deals damage.

Snake Hunter Icon Snake Hunter should be used together with your Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle ability. We explained its usage in details in the detailed cooldown usage section.

6.4.6. Tier 4 Talents

Caltrops Icon Caltrops should be cast just often enough to maintain the DoT it applies, similarly to Lacerate Icon Lacerate.

Guerrilla Tactics Icon Guerrilla Tactics has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from most of the effects to your traps, especially Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap's damage increase.

Steel Trap Icon Steel Trap usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown. The DoT lasts for a very long time, however, so you should not use it on targets that are only a few seconds away from dying.

6.4.7. Tier 6 Talents

Butchery Icon Butchery should be used on cooldown when you are facing more than 1 target.

Dragonsfire Grenade Icon Dragonsfire Grenade usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting should be refreshed using Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike, similarly to Way of the Mok'Nathal Icon Way of the Mok'Nathal. If you are using Way of the Mok'Nathal, and maintaining it correctly, Serpent Sting will automatically be maintained as well. On 3 targets and above, you should use Carve Icon Carve to refresh the Serpent Sting debuff. (2 if you are using the Frizzo's Fingertrap Icon Frizzo's Fingertrap legendary).

6.4.8. Tier 7 Talents

Spitting Cobra Icon Spitting Cobra usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown.

Expert Trapper Icon Expert Trapper has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the damage increase to Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap in particular.

Aspect of the Beast Icon Aspect of the Beast has no effect on how you play, and you will passively benefit from the additional DoT damage after using Flanking Strike Icon Flanking Strike. You should ensure that your pet is specced Ferocity to benefit from this talent.

7. ChangeLog

+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
  • 05 Dec. 2017: Slight Aspect of the Eagle usage update.
  • 03 Dec. 2017: Updated the advanced Fury of the Eagle section.
  • 01 Dec. 2017: Updated Survival rotation to be even MORE complicated. Updated the opener and shortened it significantly.
  • 27 Nov. 2017: Updated for Antorus - made some early stabs at incorporating the T21 set bonuses into the rotation.
  • 01 Nov. 2017: Cleaned up and updated the Survival opener.
  • 28 Oct. 2017: Added Fury of the Eagle to the multiple target rotation.
  • 06 Sep. 2017: Made small fix to rotation.
  • 28 Aug. 2017: No changes needed for Patch 7.3.
  • 08 Aug. 2017: Updated rotational note about Aspect of the Eagle, it should be used at exactly 10 seconds remaining on Fury. Added note about lining Umbral Moonglaives up with Aspect of the Eagle. Expanded on correct maximizing of the Helbrine Legendary belt.
  • 01 Jul. 2017: Updated small things in the rotation.
  • 30 Jun. 2017: Split the rotation into 2 phases and generally made it much easier to read. Added trinket usage section.
  • 13 Jun. 2017: Added note about prioritizing Explosive Trap if you are using the new Legendary cloak.
  • 26 May 2017: Added detailed usage of Snake Hunter.
  • 25 May 2017: Cleaned up the rotation and added pointers that makes Fury of the Eagle usage more clear.
  • 17 Apr. 2017: Checked today and deemed updated.
  • 27 Mar. 2017: Added paragraphs about how certain Legendaries affect the rotation.
  • 18 Feb. 2017: Added another clarifying paragraph to the rotation.
  • 08 Feb. 2017: Rewrote rotation. Updated opener slightly.
  • 07 Feb. 2017: Update Survival opener. So. Many. Buttons.
  • 28 Jan. 2017: Updated Survival opener.
  • 26 Jan. 2017: Added set bonus talk.
  • 14 Jan. 2017: Add Caltrops to opener.
  • 12 Jan. 2017: Put Caltrops in the rotation, removed note about Lacerate cooldown, updated best usage of Caltrops and Lacerate as a result.
  • 09 Jan. 2017: Updated for Patch 7.1.5.
  • 08 Nov. 2016: Opener update.
  • 06 Nov. 2016: Added Throwing Axes back to the rotation since it is still worth using in some situations.
  • 29 Oct. 2016: Patch 7.1 update with ability buffs and Way of the Mok'Nathal being the recommended talent.
  • 25 Oct. 2016: Updated the paragraph about Animal Instincts, following its change in Patch 7.1.
  • 11 Oct. 2016: Slight opener change.
  • 13 Sep. 2016: Added Raptor Strike as a Focus dump in the rotation.
  • 08 Sep. 2016: Put Fury of the Eagle in the Survival opener.
  • 06 Sep. 2016: Updated Survival Hunter opener to get the most out of the buff to Mongoose Fury (12s > 14s duration).
  • 05 Sep. 2016: Updated Fury of the Eagle guide.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 29 Jul. 2016: Better rotation.
  • 27 Jul. 2016: Updated opener slightly.
  • 23 Jul. 2016: Removed talents from rotation to simplify it, added notes about handling Mongoose Bite stacks that should be easier to understand and put into practice.
  • 19 Jul. 2016: Added opener.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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