Attention: This guide is quite old as you may have noticed by the screenshots. I may possibly update it for Warlords of Draenor, but in the meantime, it is here for the sake of nostalgia, or for those of you running older versions of WoW.
Marksmanship is a great spec for raiding. Marksman Hunters are not only able to deal out large quantities of single target damage, but they’re also the kings of Hunter AoE.
The Pros and Cons of Raiding as a Marksman Hunter
- Smooth rotation – Marksmanship’s shot priority is pretty easy to get used to. The shot selection is more diverse than Beast Mastery, yet not as complicated as Survival.
- Huge burst capability – With properly timed Readiness, Marksmanship provides outstanding burst damage within a relatively small window. This is a huge plus when trying to finish off a boss at that crucial < 20% health mark.
- AoE damage galore – Due to having the most powerful Volley ability, Marksmanship is great for fights like Onyxia or Anub’arak, where multiple mobs need to be AoE’d down at once.
- More dependent upon weapon damage – A lot of Marksmanship’s damage is modified by weapon damage, so if you lack a high damage weapon, you’re probably going to get better results with a more attack power based Survival spec.
- Less mana efficient – While the tree does offer its share of regen talents, you get less ROI than you do with the Survival regen talents. Marksmanship requires more mana pool micromanagement than the other two specs.
- Less suited for high mobility fights – Since a huge portion of Marksmanship’s damage potential is a result of hasted Auto and Steady Shots, high mobility fights are more of a problem.
All in all, Marksmanship has a lot going for it. It provides powerful single target damage, incredible AoE DPS, an insane raid wide attack power buff, and huge closing power at the end of boss fights. Because the spec brings a lot to the table, while not possessing a terribly difficult shot rotation, Marksmanship is a good option for players new to the class. It has less steep of a learning curve than that of Survival, so therefore it’s easier to try and maximize the spec’s potential early on.
This is a good universal build for Raiding Marksmanship Hunters, provided you’re hit capped. If not, I recommend pulling points as needed from Improved Hunters Mark and putting them into Focused Aim.
Also… if another Hunter in your regular raiding group has Improved Hunter’s Mark, then drop the 3/3 in IHM and put them into Improved Barrage. Only one Hunter in the raid group needs to have the talent in order to benefit from it.
Marksman Hunters and Armor Penetration
Prior to the Patch 3.2.2 Armor Penetration nerf, Armor Penetration builds for well geared end-game Hunters were all the rage. Patch 3.2.2 nerfed the effectiveness of Armor Penetration, not by a huge amount, but enough to cause Hunters to wonder whether stacking armor Penetration was worth it or not.
Before 3.2.2, a MM Hunter needed 1232 Armor Penetration in order to reduce a target’s armor to zero. This was attained by using either Mjolnir Runestone or Grim Toll, and by reaching an Armor Penetration soft cap not including the bonus from the trinket proc. With Mjolnir, 567 ArPen was needed, and with Grim Toll, 620 ArPen. With the respective procs, it would bring the total Armor Penetration level to the desired 1232, thus negating the target’s armor completely.
When 3.2.2 hit, it increased the amount of ArPen needed from 1232 to 1400 in order to obtain 100% armor reduction. This meant you’d now need 735 ArPen w/ Mjolnir, or 780 w/ Grim Toll. In other words, 168 more ArPen. Trying to reach that mark would force a Hunter to have to sacrifice a ton of agility, therefore compromising the overall effectiveness of the build.
Unless you’re rocking BiS, along with one of the aforementioned trinkets, you’re probably not going to see any real benefit from sacrificing agility in favor of Armor Penetration.
Armor Penetration and Arcane Shot
On the other hand, there is a point where a Marksman Hunter can drop Arcane Shot from their priority and see a DPS increase. The reason for this, is because Arcane Shot does not scale with Armor Penetration, unlike every other shot in the MM Hunter’s arsenal.
Even without gemming specifically for it, it’s fairly easy to obtain 350-450 Armor penetration solely through gear. Somewhere around this point is where dropping Arcane from the priority yields an overall DPS increase. Arcane Shot should still be used in movement heavy fights, but dropping it from the regular rotation can produce more damage with enough Armor Penetration. This also allows points to be moved from Improved Arcane Shot into another talent, such as Improved Barrage, Improved Hunter’s Mark or Improved Steady Shot.
This the build I would recommend provided you meet the Armor Penetration requirements to drop Arcane Shot from the priority.
For a concise article on this subject, check out Armor Penetration vs. Agility, Redux! over at OutDPS.
- Glyph of Serpent Sting – This one is mandatory for MM Hunters, as it increases the poison damage done by Chimera Shot.
- Glyph of Kill Shot – A solid glyph for all builds.
For the third glyph slot, I’d go with either…
- Glyph of Chimera Shot – The best choice here, but only if you can weave the shot in properly with its shorter cooldown. Players with higher latency may not see the added benefit from this glyph and therefore may be better of with my next suggestion.
- Glyph of the Hawk – This is a good 3rd choice, as a good portion of the damage output from this spec is via hasted Auto Shots. This glyph won’t be as beneficial for encounters that require lots of movement though.
Pet Choice and Pet Build
- Wasp – Good DPS, plus it has a helpful armor debuff which is very handy if you don’t have Faerie Fire in your raid.
- Raptor – Decent DPS
- Cat – Less DPS then the Raptor, but not by much
This is the build I would suggest for a MM Hunter Ferocity pet raiding build.
Marksman Hunter Shot Priority
The Marksmanship Hunter’s shot priority is pretty basic.
This is what it looks like:
- Kill Shot
- Serpent Sting
- Chimera Shot
- Aimed Shot
- Arcane Shot*
- Steady Shot
- Silencing Shot
It may look long and involved, but it really isn’t. Here’s how a normal boss encounter would go down:
- Put up Hunter’s Mark
- Apply Serpent Sting
- Chimera Shot
- Aimed Shot
- Arcane Shot*
- Steady Shot while Chimera, Aimed and Arcane* are on cooldown
- Reapply Serpent Sting during AP increasing trinket procs
- Macro Silencing Shot in with your normal shots and use it when its cooldown is up
- Once Kill Shot becomes available, it takes precedence over all other shots
*Arcane Shot can be dropped from the regular priority if the Hunter possesses the necessary amount of Armor Penetration. Currently ~350 or above.
Serpent Sting is refreshed by Chimera Shot, so you need not worry about keeping it applied. However, to maximize its damage along with Chimera’s, reapply it during attack power increasing trinket procs. Serpent Sting scales with RAP, so reapplying it during a trinket proc will net more damage from not only the subsequent ticks, but also from Chimera.
In the event of an Improved Steady Shot proc, try to use Chimera Shot to release the bonus. If it’s on cooldown, just keep spamming Steadies, delaying the use of Arcane Shot or Aimed Shot until Chimera is available. The 15% damage bonus and 20% mana cost reduction is too valuable to spend on Aimed, and definitely not for Arcane. This can sometimes be a difficult chore in the heat of battle, so an addon such as Power Auras can be beneficial here.
Use Readiness immediately following Chimera or Kill Shots for back-to-back goodness. After a Readiness, Kill and/or Chimera, Aimed, Arcane, Rapid Fire, back to Steadies…
Marksman’s shots are expensive, so this spec tends to drink mana a lot quicker than that of a Survival spec. Due to this fact, proper aspect switching is essential. The main issue of note here, is that you never want to cast Chimera Shot while in Aspect of the Viper. The reason for this is, Serpent Sting is an AP based ability. If you cast Chimera while in AotV, the refreshed version of the sting will tick for far less and yield much lower damage when it’s released after your next Chimera Shot. When you do have to switch into AotV, the best bet is to only use Steady Shot while you’re replenishing. Steady Shot is not only mana efficient, but it’s damage is split between weapon damage and RAP, thus it suffers less than some of the harder hitting shots.
For a good explanation on the mechanics of Serpent Sting and the dangers of Aspect of the Viper, check out Drackmire’s article here.
Silencing Shot is not on the global cooldown, so you can macro it in with other shots for added DPS.
#showtooltip Chimera Shot
/cast Silencing Shot
/cast [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command
/cast Chimera Shot
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/cast Silencing Shot
/cast Steady Shot
If you’d like more control over when and if to cast it:
/cast [modifier:shift] Silencing Shot
/cast Steady Shot
For more info on this, visit my Hunter Macros page, specifically section IV concerning MM Hunters.