With dual-specs upon us, and hunter specs in general looking a lot closer in terms of DPS differences than they have ever been before, a lot of hunters are trying out specs they don’t normally play. Along with that, there are a lot of questions floating around regarding our shot rotations– or perhaps more accurately these days, shot priorities. So, I figured I would create this post as a quick reference guide for what you are supposed to be doing when you spec a certain spec. I plan on keeping this post “active” and coming back to it as needed to reflect any future changes, though I’m getting the feeling that we’re approaching some semblance of permanence for this expansion.
Quickly, what this post is and is not:
This is NOT… going to tell you how to spec, glyph, level, or PvP.
This IS… primarily level 80, PvE-oriented and should give you a quick idea on what to do if you just spec’d for a new spec, and spec’d it relatively well, and are running straight into an instance or raid.
Keep in mind that these are not strict rotations, instead, they are priorities: What that means is you are not going to go down this list and fire every shot, and then go back to the beginning and rinse and repeat. It means that you are going to fire shots which are off cooldown and/or need refreshing in this order. Also please note that these are adaptable for various situations, and that I tended to stick the Stings/DoTs first, as a matter of style and just to organize things, although there may be some situations where you don’t want to fire them first– for example, if Kill Shot is available.
So without further ado…
The WotLK Hunter Shot Rotation Compendium:
Last Updated: April 21, 2009 – Patch 3.1
The Shot Priority: Serpent Sting – Kill Shot – Arcane Shot – Multishot/Aimed Shot (optional– can be a mana hog so works best in conjunction with Replenishment) – Steady Shot
Pike’s Notes: Not just Steady spam anymore, although I see plenty of non-hunters and even hunters running around who still think this is the case. Heck, I saw BM Hunters on the receiving end of mockery regarding this just today in trade chat. They are, I am pleased to report, quite mistaken. Beast Masters may not have quite so many shots and stings to juggle as the other specs, but they still have plenty to do and when you combine this with a Bestial Wrath glyphed and talented almost down to a minute, and your Kill Command which is on a similar cooldown, you’ve got lots to play around with as well.
This rotation depends largely on Glyph of Steady Shot— Steady is still a large chunk of your damage as a Beast Master and because it is so weak you need to do everything you can to pull it up, and yes, that includes keeping Serpent Sting up.
The rotation is adaptable on the fly to account for mobs that are nearly dead (when the cooldown for refreshing a Serpent Sting would not be worth the extra Steady damage), as well as deciding to put off Serpent Sting if Arcane and Multi are off cooldown, for example.
The Shot Priority: Serpent Sting (one time only) – Kill Shot – Chimera Shot – Aimed Shot – Arcane Shot – Steady Shot
Pike’s Notes: One of my favorite attributes of the Marksman spec is that you don’t have to worry about refreshing Serpent Sting– Chimera Shot does it for you. It will spoil you rotten, I promise.
Note that Multishot is typically not in your rotation as a Marksman– it shares a cooldown with Aimed, and Aimed will generally pack a larger punch for you in the case of most current Marksman specs. However, if there is more than one target, and the tank has a good hold of them all, swapping in a Multi for Aimed will in fact result in a DPS increase. (This is the case with all three specs).
Use Readiness wisely, it can be used for great effect to get double Kill Shots after a trinket pop, for example
The Shot Priority: Black Arrow – Serpent Sting – Kill Shot – Explosive Shot – Multishot/Aimed Shot (optional) – Steady Shot
Important! When Lock and Load procs: Be sure to squeeze one Steady or Aimed between your two “instant” Explosive Shots– that way you don’t overwrite your own Explosive Shot DoT. (You may also opt to “wait” between Explosives if you don’t have an instant ready– see the comments in this post for details.)
Pike’s Notes: This is me being biased, but with the introduction of Black Arrow and the current encouragement to use Multishot or Aimed, Survival has gotten a lot more fun and interesting for me in 3.1 than it was, well, pre-3.1. The overall “rotation” feels like a weird cross between Beast Mastery and Marksmanship, with a side dish of “random” tossed in, and it might take some getting used to but it’s certainly not boring.
Black Arrow is interesting as it cannot be “refreshed” like Serpent Sting: it has a pretty hefty cooldown even with talents that reduce that cooldown. Still, it’s a not-too-shabby DoT and also a big DPS booster, and also your source of Lock and Load procs, that should be kept up anytime it is available.
Explosive Shot is still your ace in the hole here. You are more encouraged to use Multi/Aimed as Survival than as a Beast Master because you are more mana efficient and can probably afford it. Play around with it and see if it works for you.
…and, that does it! In closing while I can now say I have played all three specs in both instance and raid situations in the past month or two, I still don’t know how much of an “expert” I can be considered especially on Marksmanship and Survival, so please, if you play one of those specs and you have more advice or corrections you would like to throw in, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do to edit your notes in.
And remember: this type of thing is often subjective. I encourage you to read the comments, read other blogs, and do your own research and testing on this subject. I just wanted to make a quick reference that should work fairly well in most situations. *nods*