Swapping Specs? 3 Steps to Reduce Your Learning Curve

Morynne —  August 21, 2011 — 7 Comments

After having just made a change from raiding as Survival and moving to Marksmanship, there’s a few things I did to really make my life easier.  It can be done in 3 steps, that’s all it takes, really!

  1. Draw parallels between the two specs you’re swapping between.
  2. Set up your UI where it’s pretty close between the two specs and what order you’ll be hitting the buttons.
  3. Practice on a target dummy

First thing’s first, learn the rotations of both specs, and compare the two — how they’re similar, how they’re different.

For MM (mob below 90%)

  • Ensure Serpent Sting is on the target (assuming you have the Marked for Death talent, otherwise make sure HM is up too)
  • Kill Shot (when mob below 20%)
  • Chimera Shot every time it’s up
  • Aimed Shot (every time the Fire! proc happens)
  • Arcane Shot (as a focus dump)
  • Steady Shot

For SV

  • Ensure Hunters Mark and Serpent Sting is on the target
  • Kill Shot (when mob below 20%)
  • Explosive Shot every time it’s up
  • Black Arrow every time it’s up
  • During Lock n’ Load procs, cycle Explosive Shot and Cobra Shot until proc is used.
  • Cobra Shot (refreshing Serpent Sting)

So… similarities.

There’s a button you push constantly to fill in where you can’t push anything else.  In your UI, you’ll likely want that to be the same button between both specs.  In my UI, you’ll see Serpent Sting in the same place, and Cobra Shot and Steady shot interchangeably placed.  So for the most part, regardless of what spec I’m in, I tend to start the same way.

Marksmanship UI

In my MM UI, you’ll see Aimed Shot take the 2 key since it’s going to be something I now use very frequently — and I don’t have to apply Hunter’s Mark.  It’s there, and within reach, but not something I push regularly, so it’s not key bound.  Chimera Shot takes the 3 position with Arcane on the 4 button.   Given that the Grave key (the button to the left of 1 is my push to talk key) I tend to stay on 12345, and use my Naga mouse to fill in the rest. Kill Shot is macro’d into my Steady Shot, as well as Cobra Shot, so I hardly ever have to hit that button – regardless of spec.

Survival UI

In my SV UI, HM is on 2 because otherwise I’ll forget to apply it, putting Explosive Shot on 3, and Black Arrow on 4, but largely the button pushing remained the same as my MM set up.  So realistically, the proc difference between the two specs for what button I push is just one button off (moving from 3, back to 2 to MM)

So continuing to learn how to teach yourself a new spec, it’s all about muscle memory.  That’s where you spend plenty of time refining your shot priorities to make sure your muscles can switch between the two.  I tend to try to push myself on a target dummy to 10-million damage done, and then write down the DPS reported by Recount.  Clearly not the most scientific way, but it works.  Keep running it between the two specs — you’ll get better the more you do it.  Once you’re satisfied with those numbers, the hard part begins.  Create yourself a World of Logs account, and start running combat logs when you’re working on a target dummy.  You’ll want to go through there and analyze the data.  Look at how you did, and find ways you can optimize your shots.  You’ll find areas you messed up your rotations, it happens, just learn from it and move on.

I made a video to show how my specs differ while running on a target dummy, if you need a bit more of a visual demonstration, this is it.

I know everyone has their own little tricks to learning faster.  What are yours?


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Morynne is an avid hunter, and prefers Marksmanship. She has co-hosted the Hunting Party Podcast, and appeared on the Twisted Nether Blogcast. For more information, click here.

7 responses to Swapping Specs? 3 Steps to Reduce Your Learning Curve

  1. I was running BM as an off spec last night in FL 10 man. I went with the same keybinds as MM except I swapped:

    Chimera Shot with Kill Command

    Aimed Shot with Focus Fire

    Steady Shot with Cobra Shot

    Readiness with Fervor (thought not keybound to anything – I don't want an OOPS! with Readiness)

    I left Intimidation out of the keybinds but found a home for it that was close enough to reach if absolutely needed. I put Bestial Wrath into my LeftSide mousebutton (which I don't normally use) and left my "DAI" macro (fire all cooldowns and trinkets) in the same spot.

    Worked well enough. The muscle memory is about the same.

    For SV I did much the same only I moved Black Arrow to Aimed Shot/Focus Fire key, Explosive Shot became my Chimera Shot/Kill Command get and my poor R key continues to get abused with Cobra Shot/Steady Shot.

    Basically: Prime shot, Focus Builder and longer cooldown shot were switched around so they remained in the place I was used to them being – that's about all. :)

  2. For switching to MM you might make mention of the use of rapid fire, readiness, rapid fire. More than anything else in going from survival to MM, I find that adjustment to be the larger issue.

  3. Ozolin of Moon Guard August 26, 2011 at 4:17 am

    WIN. I can't believe I missed this post until now- it's exactly what I've been hoping to find! I LOVE playing and raiding as SV, always have, but I've been trying out MM to see just why/how it's so much better (from what I'm told) at DPS. I have had a bugger of a time getting comfortable with the new spec and a HUGE source of the discomfort has been not knowing or having an efficient way to set up my UI (hotbars) for the switch.

    Unfamiliar shots in unfamiliar places, hotkeys doing different things, OI VEY! But this article was a tremendous help in getting my addled brain to settle down and take a look at where I have things positioned and why, what I need to prioritize and how! Very, very helpful to me as a guideline.

    Thank you, thank you!

    • I'm glad it helped! I'm going to finish my transmogrification post, and then I'll likely have a guide on how to optimize your Rapid Fire use (and other haste phases) as a Marksman hunter.

      Keep practicing, you'll get it!

  4. Hello and sorry for my bad English : i'm french ^^

    On your video, the errors messages are on the left of the screen, can you tell me what addon make this ?

    And thank you for the tips :)

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