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MoP Mindset Shift for Hunters

Morynne —  August 7, 2012 — 3 Comments

Cross your arms.

Now cross them the other way.  Did you have to think about it? Was it uncomfortable?

Most likely it did take some thought, and some intentional adjusting to be able to do it.  Brace yourselves, there will be a mindset shift for pretty much everyone come MoP. Continue Reading…

What with this being a big Star  Wars Beta weekend, Blizzard had to do something, so they gave us the MoP talent calculator! (This is far later than I expected, mostly because I was playing on my Imperial Agent and having a great time.)

You can find it linked off of the main WoW site here, and it’s worth noting that this is a snapshot in time, and these things may change as we get closer to MoP coming out.

The MoP Talent Tree for Hunters

I’m not going to go through the whole talent tree, just talk about what talents I feel will be used for what circumstance.

For Level 15, I can see Venom Tipped Arrows be the common use for raiding and instancing just because of the additional damage being put out.  For extreme soloing I’d expect Frozen Arrows because it will slow targets down, and Arcane Arrows for leveling, but that’s largely dependent on play style.

For Level 30, I expect BM hunters and extreme solers to pick up Intimidation, where Silencing Shot will be chosen for raiding, and Wyvern Sting for PvP.

For Level 45, I expect Exhilaration to be used by extreme solers, and the other two will be selected situationally.  Both have their values for raiding and other scenarios.

At level 60, these are all defensive.  I’d expect this to be a wildcard talent selection.

For level 75, if you’re raiding, Readiness is a winner, but Thrill of the Hunt has a chance as well.  Getting free shots periodically will certainly make it appealing during a really long boss fight.

At level 90, all of these are CC abilities, and will be used situationally — meaning you’ll change things around based on the encounter you’re going through.

Now let’s talk about the specializations…

Beastmastery Only AbilitiesBeastmastery

  • Frenzy – Your pet gains 6% attack speed after attacking with a basic attack, lasting for 10 seconds and stacks up to 5 times.
  • Focus Fire – Consumes your pet’s Frenzy Effect stacks, restoring 4 focus to your pet and increasing your ranged haste by 3% for each Frenzy Effect stack consumed. Lasts for 20 seconds.
  • Bestial Wrath – Send your pet into a rage causing 20% additional damage for 10 seconds. The beast does not feel pity or remorse and cannot be stopped unless killed.
  • Cobra Strikes – You have a 15% chance when you hit with Arcane Shot to cause your pet’s next 2 basic attacks to critically hit.
  • The Beast Within – When your pet is under the effect of Bestial Wrath, you also go into a rage causing 10% additional damage and reducing all focus costs by 50% for 10 seconds.
  • Kindred Spirits – Increases you and your pet’s maximum focus by 10.
  • Invigoration – When your pet critically hits with a basic attack, you gain 6 focus.
  • Beast Mastery – Ability to tame exotic pets and increases pet talent points by 4.
  • Mastery: Master of Beasts – Increases the damage done by your pets by 13%.  Each point of mastery increases pet damage by an additional 1.87.

Now here’s my take on things.  I think, based on what I’m reading here, that BM may make a resurgence — but I also think that without data we’ll have no idea.  I’ll also say that on paper, all three specs are pretty evenly balanced.

Marksmanship Only AbilitiesMarksmanship

  • Aimed Shot – A powerful shot dealing 164% of ranged weapon damage plus 1410.
  • Careful Aim – Increases critical strike of your Aimed Shot and Steady Shot abilities by 60% for targets over 90% health.
  • Concussive Barrage – Your Chimera Shot and Multi-Shot abilities have a 100% chance to daze the target for 4 seconds.
  • Trueshot Aura – Increases melee attack power by 20% and ranged attack power by 10% for party members within 100 yards.
  • Marked for Death – Your Arcane Shot and Chimera Shot automatically apply the Marked for Death effect. Marked for Death is the same as Hunter’s mark, is undispellable, but does not grant unerring sight of the target.
  • Bombardment – When you critically hit with your Multi-Shot ability, your next Multi-Shot has its focus cost reduced by 50%.
  • Master Marksman – You have a 60% chance when you Steady Shot to gain Master Marksman effect, lasting 30 seconds. After reaching 5 stacks, your next Aimed Shot has it’s casting time and focus cost reduced by 100% for 10 sec.
  • Chimera Shot – An instant shot that causes ranged weapon Nature damage plus 1795, refreshing the duration of your Serpent Sting, and healing you for 5% of your total health.
  • Mastery: Wild Quiver – Grants a 16.8% chance for your ranged attacks to also instantly fire an additional ranged shot. Each point of mastery increases the chance by an additional 2.1%.

There is only one thing that irritates me about the Marksman tree. I cannot stand Concussive Barrage.  There is no reason to incorporate a daze with Multi or Chimera Shot.  I don’t know many tanks or raid leaders that appreciate the target being dazed all the time.  This is one thing I want to see changed before launch.


  • Explosive Shot – You fire an explosive charge into the enemy target, dealing 497 Fire damage. The charge will blast the target every second for an additional 2 seconds.
  • Black Arrow – Fires a Black Arrow at the target dealing 3565 Shadow damage over 15 seconds. Black Arrow shares a cool down with other Fire Trap spells.
  • Entrapment – When your Ice Trap or Snake Trap are triggered, you entrap all afflicted targets preventing them from moving for 4 seconds.
  • Lock and Load – You have a 100% chance when you trap a target with Freeze Trap or Ice Trap to cause your 2 next Arcane Shot or Explosive Shot abilities to cost no focus and trigger no cool down. Effect lasts for 12 seconds.
  • Trap Mastery – Ice Trap and Freezing Trap duration increased by 30%. Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap, and Black Arrow’s periodic damage increased by 30%. Snake Trap – Increases the number of snakes summoned by 6.
  • Serpent Spread – Targets hit by your Multi-Shot are also affected by your Serpent Sting equivalent to 9 seconds of its total duration.
  • Hunting Party – Increases the melee and ranged attack speed of all party or raid members by 10%.
  • T.N.T. – When you deal periodic damage with your Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap, or Black Arrow you have a 12% chance to trigger Lock and Load.
  • Mastery: Essence of the Viper – Increases all magical damage you deal by 8%. Each point of mastery you earn increases that damage by 1%.

Survival seems largely unchanged, but it does force you into using Entrapment — which if you’re looking to do a lot of AOE damage, it’s a good thing to not have those mobs move all over the place.

What do you like/dislike/want to see changed before MOP launches?

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?

Marksmanship: The Homecoming

Morynne —  August 12, 2011 — 10 Comments

Returning to Marksmanship after an 8 month stint as Survival felt like coming home.

Since Cataclysm came out 9 months ago, I’d been raiding as Survival.  Why? Well for the majority of that time, the guild I was in needed it.  In that 10-man environment, I was topping meters — as SV hunters tended to do through tier 11 content.

Then the last straw had been dropped, and I needed a change.  Guild changed, server changed, raid format changed, and Firelands dropped — all within a 1-week period.  The first raid night with the new guild was our first night in Firelands too — so the encounters were all new to everyone.  I was terrified.  I had no idea what to expect from the raid, the new guild, and I was suffering from a huge bout of performance anxiety.  Muscle memory dictated that I stay Survival, despite the 2-3k deficit in DPS between MM and SV (all gear being considered equal).

That was about 6 weeks ago.  Since then I’ve seen considerable gear upgrades, gotten far more familiar with the Firelands bosses, and read a ton of information about the Cataclysm Marksmanship rotation/priorities/gear choices, etc.  Did I feel comfortable after my once through? Heck no.

So what did I do to get myself back up to speed? Honestly, I spent no less than probably 5 hours over the course of three weeks on a target dummy, running combat logs, and nit-picking my shot choices and figuring out how I could better optimize what I was doing.

Was I still unsure? Absolutely. I tried running a few troll heroics to get a better handle on what I was doing, but that seemed like a moot point.  Things died far too quickly to be able to gauge if what I was doing was the right thing.

Last night I bit the bullet. I switched to Marksmanship after one attempt on Alysrazor.  If you haven’t seen that fight yet, just know it is pretty chaotic, and probably not where you want to test a new spec.  I, on the other hand, decided that the only way I was going to get back into the Marksmanship saddle, was to bite the bullet, and pick probably one of the most chaotic fights and just do it.  Admittedly, my rotation and method to running MM for now are probably a little off, but that’s okay.  I was keeping up with another Marksman hunter that always tops meters. Embarrassingly enough, when I looked at Recount after just my first attempt as Marksmanship and saw what I was doing, I nearly cried.

I proved to myself I could do it.

Going back and glancing at logs from last night, it’s pretty clear where I messed up my rotation last night.  From a cursory glance though, it seems like it was only a couple times – which is even more encouraging to me.  Needless to say I’ll be optimizing my gear back to Marksman primarily, and save Survival for fights that need stupid amounts of AOE (Beth’tilac, Rhyolith, and trash).

The moral of this rambling tale is this: Don’t give up.  Just because you’re not so hot at one of the specs out there, it doesn’t mean you’ll always be that way.  Spend the time, do the research, practice, practice, practice.  Then challenge yourself outside your comfort zone.  Your hard work might just pay off.

Morynne’s note: This is a guest post from Quori.  He writes at Surviving WoW with Quori, sharing his thoughts on various subjects related to huntering — everything from guild management to raid progression. You should check him out, seriously. I’m going to keep looking for guest posters, so if you’re interested, please shoot me an email.


The name is Quori. Orc Hunter on Madoran, formerly Night Elf Hunter on Azjol Nerub and Senjin. I started playing World of Warcraft upon its launch in 2004. My wife bought me a copy for Christmas and gave it to me early. I read the owner’s manual over and over again trying to determine what class to roll first. I was instantly drawn to a Hunter, but found myself enticed by other classes like Warrior, Druid, and Shaman. In the end, I went with my instinct of Hunter…and never looked back. I have leveled 2 Hunters to end game on 2 different servers. I have done end game PvP, PvE, and sat around doing nothing. So as not to bore you with all the gory and mundane details of all of my personal travels….I am going to give a simple snapshot of where we started, and were we are today, mostly ignoring all the meat in between.  :)

the hunter How did we begin…ranged damage dealing with a multitude of movement restricting spells and a fully functional combat pet. Were we a utility class or a pure dps class? We provided sustained top end damage in any spec with additional utility for kiting, pet-tanking (i.e. off-tanking), and some party buffs like Trueshot Aura. In the end, opinions vary based on perspective and how you were utilized. Personally, I was a utility class. My value was always to see the open field of combat and provide directions and feedback as to what was going on around us. My PvP days of 2005 forged this and my switch to PvE in 2006 only solidified it deeper in me. Its what I am best at…vision. So I admittedly feel Hunters should be best at this too.

We were never a liability to the raid, and provided solid performance and group compliments. Ranged damage that could mitigate threat, assist with pulls (during Vanilla it was always Hunter base pulls for us – Jantara, Xylina, and I!!!), off tank in a pinch (Hunter tanking on certain adds was hysterical), and requiring minimal healing attention.

So, where are we now? Disregarding everything that came in between; you would think nothing has changed. In other words folks…UTILITY. Yes, we are still a utility class. Not the “I can heal and tank and then damage with my moonfire, pew pew!” kind of utility. We are now pure damage dealing utility, bringing three different types of damage to the table.

Most damage dealers fall into one type or another…its either physical melee (i.e. Rogues, feral druids, enhancement shaman, warriors) or it is ranged magical (i.e. mages, warlocks, shadow priests).

We have 3 times the death-dealing charm:

  • Beastmaster: physical dps split between melee and ranged
  • Marksman: physical dps from range
  • Survival: magical damage from range

This is important stuff people! VERY important!!! It gives us the flexibility to provide variable dps based on the encounter. Have a boss susceptible to magic…go SV. Heavy movement fight…bring the BM Hunter for sustained pet damage. Need the dps to stand still and PEW PEW…Marksmanship is your homerun hitter. Other classes cannot adjust nearly as well as we can. Oh, and btw….we can still kite, tank (Baradin Hold pet tanking FTW!!!), and provide some semi-helpful raid wide buffs (that’s sarcasm folks…we are awesome at providing missing buffs to 10 mans especially). We are in a good place with 3 relatively equal specs all capable of bringing value-add to a raid.

My 25 man ran with 5 Hunters last week…FIVE. It was quite an awesome thing. Revel in these very good times my hairy wristed friends, it certainly may not last. Let’s enjoy it while we can.


4.2: Hunter Hotfixes

Morynne —  May 13, 2011 — 8 Comments

Over the last couple days there were a couple of Hunter specific hotfixes posted for 4.2.

  • Hunter pets no longer lose talent points when a Beast Mastery hunter gains a level.
  • The Disorient effect from Scatter Shot should no longer immediately break if Scatter Shot hits the target immediately after a buff on the target fades.
  • Multi-shot damage has been reduced. It now deals 120% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 137%.
  • Traps now scale with hunter stats such as hit, expertise, spell penetration and attack power as intended.
  • The Aggressive pet stance has been removed and replaced with the Assist stance. This stance will cause the player’s pet to attack the player’s target. The pet will not change targets unless the master attacks a new target for a few seconds.

I’m glad to see they’re fixing the BM bug — that’s been a pain for awhile, and the Scatter Shot change is going to make the shot more important for PVP, but for those of us that used it on fights like Cho’gall for the interrupts, it might cause our interrupt to become less valuable.

The Multi-Shot change isn’t something I’m surprised with.  As Frostheim said, the Multi-Shot damage was super duper good, and now it’s looking like Blizzard wants to bring that dial back from 11.  It’s not a huge nerf, so our AOE will remain some of the best.

The trap change is nice, and probably a long time coming.

Last but not least, I’m very excited for the Assist Stance for our pets.  It’s going to keep Fluffy who is a super duper aggressive Sporebat from going and pulling a pack of mobs we can’t handle (not like there a lot of those, but you get the point).  Fluffy will only attack the player’s target, and won’t change targets unless you change targets.  Omnomnotron anyone?

With Cataclysm being a couple weeks behind us, and plenty of people weighing in on what spec is better, I think it really comes down to what you’re working on at the time.

Survival has come up on top of the three Hunter specs — by leaps and bounds.  Survival is better at AOE damage, better at crowd control, and better single-target DPS with less DPS loss during a movement dependent fight — at least for a 329 ilvl rating.  There’s a lot of talk that Marksman and Beastmastery are going to be more gear dependent — which is a good possibility.  We saw that in Wrath with Marksmanship, especially with the focus going to Armor Penetration.  With the gear progression and stats improvement being more linear (and not exponential like ArP was) it’s also a good possibility to continue to see Survival on top of the DPS meters.

That being said, I have spec’d Survival (1/9/31) for heroics and instancing.  Why?

Crowd Control in heroics has become very important.  There are countless pulls that you can no longer just AOE down like we used to in Wrath, and frankly the Survival ability to trap for 20% longer time makes a big difference as you’re taking out the bigger packs.  The trap target no longer has to be the first one downed — it can be closer to the end.

AOE damage has become insane with Survial hunters — so for those occasions when you have to AOE, Multishot (Serpent Spread) now applies Serpent Sting for 6 seconds per target.  It really is crazy.  Be aware when you’re using it, you’re likely to get aggro.  Make sure your healer knows.

The rotation is the easiest of the specs right now, and requires a lot less decision making at certain percentages of the fight.

Basic Survival Shot rotation:

  1. Hunters Mark
  2. Serpent Sting
  3. Explosive Shot
  4. Kill Shot (if available)
  5. Black Arrow
  6. Arcane Shot
  7. Cobra Shot

Lock n’ Load Procs

  1. Explosive Shot
  2. Cobra Shot (or Kill Command depending on focus)
  3. Explosive Shot
  4. Cobra Shot
  5. Explosive Shot

So now you know how Survival is better for instancing and heroics.  Marksmanship still has its merits.  I find it much easier to solo as Marksman.  Why? I’m less likely to pull threat off my pet as I’m soloing.  The hits from my shots aren’t as hard it seems, but the mobs die pretty quick.  I can use a physical DPS pet (like a cat or a tenacity pet) because I don’t see the DPS boost from my wind serpent. (They increase the target’s magic damage taken by 8%, which is most of what Survival damage comes from).  I’ve been using my cat more frequently when soloing because the Agility boost seems to make a difference, but I could see the plus side to using a Fox or a Tallstrider that cause the target to slow attacks, but ultimately pet choice is up to you — we all have our preferences… especially now that everyone isn’t running around with a Wolf just because it gives the best dps gains.

Still want to be a Marksman during raids? I don’t blame you.  I’ll go over Marksman raid information in depth over the next few weeks.

Looking for more Survival information? Warcraft Hunters Union has much more detail!

4.0: How Do I Specialize Now?

Morynne —  October 11, 2010 — 6 Comments

Ok, so you’ve read through what each Marksman talent does in 4.0.

Where should you really spend your points? Remember, in order to get out of your first tree, you have to spend at least 31 points in one of them. Giving you a total of 5 at level 80 to spend in the other talent trees.

3 Beastmastery / 31 Marksman / 2 Survival

The Marksman spec above covers most of your bases, and will be most like the standard 7/57/7 of 3.3.5.  Your rotation will also be very similar to 3.3.5, except you’ll be dropping Silencing Shot for Arcane Shot, and using Steady Shots to regain Focus.

31 Beastmastery / 2 Marksman / 3 Survival

The Beastmastery spec above gives you all the basics to be able to operate with exotic pets and not be unfortunate.  Based on my testing in Beta, you’ll want to replace your Steady Shot with Cobra Shot, but unfortunately until Cataclysm is launched, you will not have this in your tool belt.  Cobra is learned at 81.

3 Beastmastery / 2 Marksman / 31 Survival

I will first of all say that I’m not super familiar with Survival.  The spec above seems to get the job done though, it increases the duration of your traps, and increases the frequency that your Black Arrow and Lock n’ Load will proc.  If some brave soul out there wants to test out this Survival spec and give me some feedback, that would be awesome.

Marksman has been tested at 80 as pushing the best DPS for now, but it’s expected through balancing that Beastmastery may come back into a top DPS spot.  So I’ll run some tests tomorrow when the servers are back up and provide some real numbers.

Good luck!

Holy cow! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to work on this.  Welcome back!  I swear I haven’t forgotten.  Life got in the way, and still is, but I needed a break, so here I write.

Today we’re going to go through the remaining 7 talents that every Marksman hunter in the 7/57/7 build should consider — especially if you’re raiding.  We left off with Improved Barrage, so we’re in the final stretch!

Master Marksman

  • Rank 1 – Increases your critical strike chance by 1%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, and Chimera Shot by 5%.
  • Rank 2 – Increases your critical strike chance by 2%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, and Chimera Shot by 10%.
  • Rank 3 – Increases your critical strike chance by 3%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, and Chimera Shot by 15%.
  • Rank 4 – Increases your critical strike chance by 4%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, and Chimera Shot by 20%.
  • Rank 5 – Increases your critical strike chance by 5%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, and Chimera Shot by 25%.

So wait, this talent not only increases my crit chance by 5% at max rank, but it also reduces the costs of my most commonly used shots by 25% — Yes please!

Continue Reading…

Come here often?

I’m going to cover the next 5 talents in the Marksman tree you’ll typically find in the 7/57/7 build.

Combat Experience

  • Rank 1 – Increases your total Agility and Intellect by 2%.
  • Rank 2 – Increases your total Agility and Intellect by 4%.

This talent combined with Careful Aim increases your DPS significantly.  Agility, AP, and for now Intellect (in this case) all help your DPS, so this talent makes perfect sense.  Should be maxed out at 2/2.

Ranged Weapon Specialization

  • Rank 1 – Increases the damage you deal with ranged weapons by 1%.
  • Rank 2 – Increases the damage you deal with ranged weapons by 3%.
  • Rank 3 – Increases the damage you deal with ranged weapons by 5%.

Pretty self-explanatory.  This talent directly increases the damage output from your ranged weapon.  If you’re worried about your melee damage, you ought to check your goals as a hunter. ;)

Piercing Shots

  • Rank 1 – Your critical Aimed, Steady and Chimera Shots cause the target to bleed for 10% of the damage dealt over 8 sec.
  • Rank 2 – Your critical Aimed, Steady and Chimera Shots cause the target to bleed for 20% of the damage dealt over 8 sec.
  • Rank 3 – Your critical Aimed, Steady and Chimera Shots cause the target to bleed for 30% of the damage dealt over 8 sec.

This is such an awesome talent.  It is up more than not, which is great — free damage for the win.

Continue Reading…