Raid Ready: Serpent Sting

Drackmire, Dwarf Marksman Hunter

As a marksman hunter, one of the shots you are going to have on your target at all times is Serpent Sting.

Useful Glyphs With Serpent Sting (all are self explanatory for the most part):

  • Glyph of Arcane Shot – Your Arcane Shot refunds 20% of its mana cost if the target has one of your Stings active on it. (useful if you have mana problems)
  • Glyph of Serpent Sting – Increases the duration of your Serpent Sting by 6 sec (adds two ticks of the normal damage of your SS. It does not decrease the amount per tick to accommodate the extra 6 seconds, damage is applied using the 15 sec rate, but for 21 seconds).
  • Glyph of Steady Shot – Increases the damage dealt by Steady Shot by 10% when your target is afflicted with Serpent Sting. (increasing steady shot damage is always good)

In a marks build I recommend Glyph of Serpent Sting, and Glyph of Steady Shot, with your third major being Glyph of the Hawk.

Serpent Sting

Serpent sting is one of two ranged damage over time (DOT) abilities we have and has many things going for it:

  1. It scales with ranged attack power (RAP). Regardless of how you increase your RAP, you will increase the damage of your Serpent Sting.
  2. It does nature damage, which ignores armor so you will get the full damage specified in the tooltip. Of course if the target has enough nature resist, it will resist some of the serpent sting damage.
  3. As a marksman hunter, as long as you keep Chimera Shot going, you only have to pay mana for it once.
  4. Serpent sting is not limited to a single target, so you can have it up on multiple targets which is great for packs of elites in heroics or raids.
  5. It is a core ability and doesn’t require any specific talents or builds (see Wyvern Sting); it can be used in any hunter talent spec.

Some things that need to be known about Serpent Sting:

  1. Serpent Sting is not affected by ranged haste or weapon speed. You can change from a 2.0 speed weapon to a 3.0 speed weapon and the damage on Serpent Sting will not change.
  2. Serpent sting is not affected by the target’s armor. All the armor penetration in the world will not affect the damage on Serpent Sting.
  3. Serpent Sting remembers damage modifiers of the initial application; it remembers RAP of the current application; both can be modified on further applications via recasting Serpent Sting or from Chimera Shot (more on this in a minute). There is a difference which I will hopefully clear up.
  4. Hunter’s Mark increases Serpent Sting damage.
  5. Anything that increases your attack power, whether permanent (gear) or temporary (buff or item proc), affects Serpent Sting but only on for the current application. Increasing attack power after applying Serpent Sting will not increase ticks of your current Serpent Sting application.

Serpent Sting and Aspect of the Viper

I will start by saying, DO NOT apply Serpent Sting on your target while using Aspect of the Viper. This does not include reapplying using Chimera Shot, only the actual ability Serpent Sting as described in the initial post. As I said before, Serpent Sting remembers the 50% damage reduction while in Aspect of the Viper. This means that if you cast Serpent Sting on your target while in AotV, your ticks will do half damage until Serpent Sting ends or is dispelled. This includes reapplying using Chimera Shot.

If you already have Serpent Sting on and are using Aspect of the Dragonhawk, then switch to AotV for mana regen and use Chimera Shot, when the Serpent Sting reapplies it will remember the damage modifier that was used on the initial application. It will however notice that you have less attack power and the ticks of the reapplication will be slightly less, even if you switch back to AoTD until Serpent Sting is reapplied.


My normal ticks for Serpent Sting are 619. This is using Trueshot Aura and AotD only. Each tick will tick for 619. If I let the SS run its course, or if I reapply it using Chimera Shot or the regular ability it will continue to tick for 619 if there is no change to my RAP. If I have on AoTV, my normal ticks are 300. This includes the 50% damage reduction from AoTV as well as the loss of RAP from not using AoTD.

Now, say that I apply Serpent Sting while in AoTV. SS will tick for 300, and during SS I switch back to AoTD. Even though I no longer suffer the RAP and damage penalty, my SS will still tick for 300 because it remembers the initial damage modifier. If I then cast Chimera Shot, my SS will reapply; it will remember what the damage modifier was when I first applied SS, but it will also notice that I have more attack power. After the Chimera Shot, my SS now ticks for 309. So it kept the damage modifier of the original application, but it now ticks at the new RAP. The only way to get rid of the damage modifier is to reapply SS using the actual ability, and not Chimera Shot.

That was long but I hope it emphasized why it is important to not use SS while in AoTV.

Serpent Sting and Chimera Shot

Chimera Shot damage is based on the damage your Serpent Sting does, not how much it has already done. This means that if you cast Chimera Shot right after you use SS, or if you wait until right before the final tick, Chimera Shot damage will still be the same. The reapplication of SS from Chimera Shot will…

a) remember any damage modifier already on the SS, and…

b) recheck RAP and recalculate damage based on the RAP at the time of casting Chimera Shot.

All ticks of the new application will be based on the RAP at the time of casting Chimera, even if your RAP drops after casting Chimera Shot.

It would be beneficial to save Chimera Shot for when any RAP boosting abilities proc, but for the sake of DPS it’s best just to use it when it is up and should always be on cool-down. The best way to nerf your own DPS is to cast SS while in AoTV. I discovered this while farming one day, and was curious as to why my SS was ticking so low. Now I know, and hopefully… so do you. This applies mostly to raiding, as halving your SS on a 6-7 minute boss fight is a tremendous DPS loss.

If you got nothing else out of this, just remember… don’t cast Serpent Sting while in AoTV and you’ll be fine. Micromanaging SS to maximize its DPS could result in a loss of overall DPS as you wouldn’t constantly be keeping your abilities on cool-down. Now get out there and DPS!

– Drack

7 thoughts on “Raid Ready: Serpent Sting”

  1. As a long time MM Hunter, and the hunter that everyone in my guild tends to lean towards for advice, I’m absolutely amazed at the information I’ve learned here today. This is a fantastic post, and one that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking to further improve their dps. Thanks for the added info and keep up the great posts!

  2. As Gar said, my post was pretty much focused towards the Marksman Hunter, since not having Chimera will require you to reapply it every 15 or 21 seconds depending on your glyphs. Though if you do reapply it in these cases, it might be better to do it while you have a RAP buff or proc up.

    The goal in any boss fight is to apply SS once, and only once, though certain boss fights will dictate otherwise.

    My main point was to show what things affected SS, and what things did not…and to not use SS while in AoTV.

    I wouldn’t recommend reapplying SS if it is already up, unless you had managed to initially put it on the target while in AoTV. In which case I would say as soon as you notice it, you should reapply it regardless of how much time is left on the current application.

    You also don’t want to really let your SS lapse, so get Chimera off before it wears off if at all possible.

    A suggestion I might make to everyone: If you have trinkets or items that you control, which have use effects that increase RAP or damage, use Chimera right after you pop those use effects. It will cause the reapplication of SS to tick for more during the next application. If your effect lasts longer than 1 Chimera cooldown, then you may be able to get a second application of the increased ticks off before your use effect wears off.

    Something I mentioned in the original article but may not have expounded on enough. When you have SS on the target, switching the AoTV will not incur a 50% damage penalty to the ticks, even if you reapply it with Chimera Shot while in AoTV. The only change will be the actual damage of the ticks which are based on the RAP during the time of the reapplication. So if you were ticking for 650, then switch to AoTV. Using Chimera during AoTV would result in the ticks doing around 620 or something due to the RAP loss from switching out of AoTD. So aside from the huge drop in Chimera damage because of AoTV, SS isn’t really affected all that much.

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  4. I’m sure Drack will have some advice of his own to share, but here’s how I handle it.

    I never reapply Serpent Sting unless it wears off due to the boss resetting during a phase, having to switch targets for any length of time, or having to stop DPS, etc… Sapphiron is the best example I can think of off the top of my head. Or… as Roarbeard said, when my Mirror procs or I pop Loatheb’s. Whenever you gain an additional x number of RAP through some sort of buff, such as a trinket, it’s a good idea to reapply SS since it’s damage is modified by RAP.

    Basically, I try to micro manage my mana pool so that I never cast Chimera while out of Dragonhawk. The 10 second cooldown on Chimera allows for a solid 9+ seconds of AotV in between.

    Instead of waiting until the last minute, I try to gauge things along the way to ensure I not only have enough mana at the end of the fight, but that I also am able to utilize my hardest hitting shots while in AotD.

    Since BM and SV have to constantly reapply it, I don’t think having to cast one while in AotV is going to kill your DPS. Obviously you want to avoid doing it, but if you need mana, you need mana.

    As BM or SV, I’d say it would be counter-productive to refresh a sting early on since it’s a huge mana drain. Having to go Viper in a fight means you’re already having mana troubles. Both of these specs are reliant somewhat upon Serpent Sting for damage, but not necessarily for the Sting itself like MM is.

    BM needs the sting up at all times for the bonus damage to Steady Shot from the glyph, and SV needs it up for the Noxious Stings damage buff. However, neither spec relies heavily upon damage from the SS itself, just from the buff it provides.

    Most of what Drack had to say was pertaining to MM DPS.

  5. Wise words drack.

    @Gnoll SS should ALWAYS be up on your target. Regardless of mana issues. Say you are fighting a boss and you oom out. Drop into aspect of the viper and keep pumping as usual, then when you drop out of viper into dh again drop chimera again.

    Like, I have mirror of truth. If mirror of truth procs I re-apply SS with that up, but its kind of a trade off after a viper swipe. I personally just stick with the initial application as even though viper will notice a slight ap change, with the mirror of truth buff and my other initial buffs I find that it is less efficient for me to throw down serpent again after a viper run.

    This will be a non-issue in the new expansion, but for now its just a personal call really. Best way to keep the numbers up, roll with a shaman, have a ton of mana potions on hand, never ever ever neglect HM and SS, and always drink when you can. 🙂

  6. So what do you suggest? Reapply SS sometimes or just cast it and forget it until the end of the fight? In boss fights it could be reapplied but I suspect you lose precious time…


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