Despite always feeling that, “this time I am leaving WoW for good,” I find myself subbed again and getting ready for Legion. What brought me back? I still have a larger group of online friends in WoW than any other game. That, and I wanted to see what was going on with all of these Hunter changes!
Well, not quite all. Never been a big fan of BM, although I have played it from time to time when the situation called for it (like all of TBC and the first few months of Wrath). Other than those dark days, I have mostly trended towards MM and Survival. Survival has had its moments of greatness (Wrath trap-dancing, come on!), but MM usually was the better option from a pure kill-the-thing quickly perspective.
With that history, I did a little reading up on the current state of the specs and decided that I would try out MM and Surv in the Broken Shores scenario and Legion invasions and try to figure out which spec suited me for Legion. My plan for Legion was questing, dungeons, and maybe some light raiding, so I don’t need to be the greatest DPS of all time. That being said, I like seeing my name at or near the top of the Recount list, because I am a bit of a narcissist. So, I went to Icy Veins, figured out the ideal DPS setups and went out to test them in the real virtual world.
After some hiccups, I decided that I loved the feel of Survival and its new, rather complex rotation. It had some nice synergies and big numbers. After a little while, I even started getting use to being in melee range. The one thing, however, that I could not get past was that Disengage was gone. In its place was Harpoon, a 30 sec. CD ability that pulls you to your target. On paper, this sounds like a great idea, since you need to be on your target to be doing damage now. In practice, not having Disengage frankly sucks.
Back in the day, I went to the Frostheim school of Jump-Disengage. It provides amazing mobility, particularly when you can use it out of combat. On top of that, the Posthaste talent gives you +60% move speed for 8 seconds after disengaging. People are complaining about the change to Aspect of the Cheetah (short speed boost on a 3 minute CD), but Disengage+Posthaste makes Aspect of the Cheetah almost irrelevant. Moreover, it always brought me great joy flinging myself all over the place, even when completely unnecessary or somewhat annoying to others in the group. By contrast, Harpoon only works in combat, and the speed boost of Posthaste seems very situational.
So, the lack of Disengage ruined Survival for me, and I turned to MM instead. Actually, I turned to MM earlier, but I didn’t like it. The optimal DPS setup of Sidewinders (replaces Arcane Shot and Multi Shot, has a cooldown, but applies Vulnerable) plus Patient Sniper (Vulnerable debuff does not stack, is much shorter, and Marked Shot and Aimed Shot do quite a bit more damage) almost roots you in place for several Aimed Shots and can be quite boring.
Realizing this might get a little technical for non-MM people out there, the core of the spec revolves around applying and utilizing, eh, screw it. Just read the first two paragraphs of what Wowhead says here, and you will get the gist. Okay then, the optimal DPS build replaces Arcane Shot and Multi Shot and changes around the stacking nature of Vulnerable to make it more powerful and of shorter duration. That basically reduces the rotation for MM to Barrage (when available)>Sidewinders>Marked Shot>Aimed Shot*2. There is a little nuance, but I said “basically.” I dislike.
After abandoning Survival, I tried MM again. Still, ick! So, I played around and came up with what is likely to be a sub-optimal build, but I like it. Hopefully, I will not get laughed at too much. There also is not a ton of guidance out there on MM builds that do not use Sidewinders/Patient Sniper. So here it is, my help to getting your MM Hunter to the middle (or bottom) of the pack.
This is my talent setup:
And here is a link to my Non-Optimal Marksman Talent Build. I am only going to talk about a few talents and then focus on the spastic, movement-friendly rotation.
First, is Lone Wolf. The other talents kind of suck, but I do like my pocket tank, I mean pet. When questing, I will probably take Steady Focus and keep my pet with me. When I have a tank, all signs point to Lone Wolf being head-and-shoulders better than the other talents. Alternatively, Black Arrow, with its taunting shadow fiend, is a decent choice for questing if you really hate pets but want something to keep the hate off you.
The meat (or lack thereof) in this build is Sentinel and Piercing Shot. These are, in no way, a DPS increase over the other, preferred talents. They do, however, allow you to apply Vulnerable in a less stressful, easier to manage way, and deliver a huge amount of damage every 30 seconds with Piercing Shot.
Here is the general idea of the rotation for a single target. For multiples, just replace Arcane Shot with Multi Shot:
- Fire Piercing Shot on CD, when your Focus is 100+. The damage scales from a lot to a whole bunch depending on how much Focus you have, so you may want to Arcane Shot your focus up if it is about to come off CD. It is also a great Misdirect opener!
- Next, fire Barrage. If you just used Piercing Shots, you will likely need to weave in an Arcane Shot to build focus. Also, neither Piercing Shots nor Barrage benefit from Vulnerable, so fire these firsts.
- Next, get your three stacks of Vulnerable up on the main target. You can do this either through natural procs of Marking Targets, or force the situation with your two charges of Sentinel. Between those two charges and natural procs, you should be up to 3 stacks in no time.
- Any time Marking Targets comes up, fire Arcane Shot to trigger Hunter’s Mark, then fire Marked Shot.
- When Marking Targets is not up and your other shots are on CD, fire Aimed Shot to dump focus and Arcane Shot to build it up.
You also have Lock and Load procs (2 free, instant cast Aimed Shots) to account for. Aimed Shot does less damage than Marked Shot, so in the priority list, I would place these free shots below Piercing Shot, Barrage, and Marked Shot, but above an Arcane Shot with Marking Targets (or any other Arcane Shot). If Piercing Shot is coming off CD, however, I might go with the Aimed Shot proc to build some focus over Barrage or Marked. In addition, if I have less than three stacks of Vulnerable and the ability to apply more (Sentinel, Marked Shot, or a Marking Targets buff), I would get the stacks up first. I have nothing to back either of these point up other than general feel.
The only other major issue to account for is your DPS cooldown, Trueshot. Trueshot makes every Arcane/Multi Shot apply Hunter’s Mark, meaning you can sit there and fire Arcane Shot>Marked Shot repeatedly during the life of the buff. This is a great way to reach three stacks of Vulnerable without using Sentinel, which can then be saved for times when you want to get off another Marked Shot. In addition, Trueshot increases haste, lowering the cast time of Aimed Shot. I’m still not sure whether a long burst of Arcane Shot>Marked Shot beats using hasted Aimed Shot.
Since this build does not use Sidewinders, Arcane Shot is always available for focus regen and applying Hunter’s Mark. Along with Sentinel, in my limited experience, you will be using Marked Shot in this build much more than in the optimal build. Piercing Shot also gives you another massive damage dealer on a medium cooldown. The combined result is less of a reliance up Aimed Shot than the optimal build, which means more mobility. In addition, no CD on Arcane Shot means small mistakes (like firing off both charges of Sidewinders right before Marking Targets procs) shouldn’t hurt as bad.
More important that all of that is that I like this build better than others and see myself enjoying it. I hope that it is somewhat competitive with the optimal build, so that I am not gimping myself or my group when rolling it. It is tough to sit at a dummy and compare different MM builds because it is very RNG dependent. In my limited testing, however, this build did appear to come in only about 5% lower than optimal.
Good luck with whatever you choose!