Author Topic: Marksmanship guide  (Read 1547 times)

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Offline Air

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Marksmanship guide
« on: July 12, 2008, 09:30:20 AM »
This is a repost of a thread from:
With a few things changed or removed.


Most Hunters, (and rightfully so), specialize into Beast Mastery and / or Survival for maximum DPS potential or benefit of the overall raid. The Hunter class itself is quite unique, (screwed), in that we are the only class that has 3 very different ways of playing via the 3 talent trees, and yet we are only offered 1 type of armor set for PVP and PVE raiding. Most of you know that the requirements for hit rating for BM and MM builds do not apply to the Survival tree because of surefooted, nor does the survival or BM tree rely more on INT stats and/or MP5 as the MM tree does. The amount of agility on gear to a MM hunter, (while still very important), is not "AS" important as it is to a Survival spec Hunter because of Expose weakness, the LR talent, and the flip-flop of higher scaling RAP in MM vs higher scaling AGI in Surv. Both specs, very different, require different tweaking of stats, gear, consumables, and overall playstyle. Because of these variables throughout each talent tree we have to make informed decisions on what types of gear to select, what kind of shot rotations we will use, what type of group make-up we'll shine in, what we can offer to a raid, PVP, and so on and so forth.

What I will discuss here specifically isn't so much number-crunch, but a more hands-on approach to explaining the playstyle of Marksmanship in PVE and PVP assuming you are a fresh level 70 Hunter.

Itemization & When to go Marks?

The success of the MM spec is definitely gear dependant. The primary stats you want to look for when crafting, looting, or purchasing gear is as follows, (in order of importance):

1) Hit Rating (if not maxed)
2) Agility
3) Crit Rating
3) Attack Power
4) Intellect
5) Stamina
6) Mp/5

If your hit-rating is max or damn near to it you should not be afraid to spec into MM and try it. While the DPS potential from T4 content to T5 will not equal the damage output of BM spec, the MM tree will begin to show its prowess beyond this point and especially in PVP. The choice to go Marksman for you should be solely based on what your RAP / CRIT / HIT is currently at, (or what your raid really needs). If you're hovering below 2000 Ranged attack power as Marksman and have less than 120 ~ or so hit rating (not yet capped) and less than 20-23% crit I would re-consider your gear choices and stick with either a Hybrid MM/SURV build (or go with Beast Mastery until you raise the bar in terms of gear.

You will notice that T4,5,6 and all off-set pieces are VERY tailored to the Marksman spec. Why Blizzard did this? No one really knows. What I do know is that if you like the MM spec, you'll probably love T6. T5 is very nice for Beast Mastery, but still has sufficient power to perform with MM quite well. The benefit of Marks Hunters seeking upgrades is they do not have to cringe as much with a heavier INT number on items since it translates a portion into RAP. On the other hand the Survival hunter will try to stay away from that more since they don't use nearly as much mana from ToTH and get no benefit from Careful Aim. You just have to remember that no other tree is as mana-intensive as Marks is, you have to balance yourself between AGI/INT/STAM and don't neglect any 1 stat too much.

You will NOT get exceptional performance with sub-par gear as a Marks Hunter like you would with Beast Mastery. Leave that misconception at the door. Big numbers do NOT equal big DPS.

Choosing Your Talents

Recommended Marksman builds for PVE:

---< or >---
---< or >---

This build focuses on DPS keeping raiding in mind as well as occassional PVP. I really enjoy having builds that will perform well in both cases to avoid constant respecs without gimping myself in either. Nothing is worse than constantly respecializing your talents and its a quick way to become broke. Both specs assume you have ample hit points, hit gear, don't care for trapping, savage strikes, or monster-slaying. Some people will argue that monster-slaying should be a part of a PVE build... I will tell you that the only damn thing you'll find this useful on is Gruul. You'll find Humanoid Slaying useful in PVP as well as PVE in SSC / TK.

Recommended Marksman builds for PVP Arena:


This build takes away lots of sustained DPS potential in exchange for survivability and is built to annoy the opponents as much as possible. You don't have the mana conservation talents and sacrifice that for stuns, dazing, trapping, hit points, improved SS/Viper, and higher use of Arcane shot. I personally never use a spec like this because I am not hardcore into the PVP Arena scene. I'd only say blow your respec cost on this build if you're dedicated to arena play.

Recommended "Hybrid" build for PVE:

---< or >---

These two specs are excellent for Hunters that enjoy the playstyle of Marksmanship but do NOT have the gear to support it. It improves your gaps in gear in the following areas:

a) Lack of Hit-Rating
b) Lack of Crit percentage
c) Lack of Hit Points

While you will not have as much attack power as a full MM spec and will not have bigger numbers you will have a much higher chance to hit and will crit much more often. Both of these builds play similar but obviously the 31/30 build will shine better with a higher amount of agility while 36/25 will be better if you have a high INT count on your gear. I would say choose one of them depending on where you stand in terms of itemization. You can use these talent specs until you find yourself comfortable enough to move to a full marks build. The choice is yours. Obviously some of the talent choices are personal preference. You're always going to have a little "filler" in terms of early tier survival talents like savage strikes vs imp. wing clip or entrapment. All this is up to YOU. But the core abilities related to DPS shouldn't change.

The Marksman Shot Rotation

This is such a common topic that is asked so often its mind-boggling. The problem isn't that it is complicated, the problem is that Hunters go from level 1-61 using a certain set of shots and abilities and their world is turned upside-down at 62 with the introduction of steady shot. A lot of Hunters break down and choose the easy route of macroing steady shot and auto shot mixing in Kill Command. This is not the way a marksman hunter will play in PVE.

Rotated shots (mana permitting):

a) Arcane Shot
b) Steady Shot
c) Multi-Shot

The "best" speed for Marksmanship is 2.9-3.0 speed. Gone are the days of 3.4 speed bows, (oh how I miss Ashjre'Thul, Crossbow of Smiting). Having said that, you are going to have to start a fight with either an Auto Shot, or a multi-shot, or Arcane shot, it really doesn't matter and it all depends on if you can use multi at the time or not. We still, to this day, use Multi-shot as a primary dps ability for single-target DPS. This is because as a Marksman you have 6 talent points invested into the skill and it will do more damage than any other shot you have except Aimed shot which isn't used in shot rotations. It is a vital component to MM DPS. If you followed my talent build you will have 4 points in Improved Arcane shot which will lessen the gap of "dead-time" that you are waiting for a shot to come off cooldown.

The trick to proper shot rotation is always having an arrow coming off your bow at a 1:1.5 ratio. NOTE: You are not always going to be firing off 2 specials in between each autoshot cooldown, there is always going to be a bit of variation. What you'll generally see is as follows: I usually start off with either a multi or arcane, allow autoshots to fire and then rotate steadys in between using cooldowns whenever they are up. (If you time things correctly you'll have points where you'll notice 3 shots hitting almost at the same time)

Variations are fine but the general idea is you'll be using 1:1.5 i.e. - A shot rotation with more than 1 special per 1 Auto Shot, or 3 specials per 2 Auto Shots, (you get the drift). This changes based on your latency, your bow speed, your mana consumption, the duration of a fight, and so on. YOU have to dynamically choose which shots will work and when.

Example 1: I am not going to be spamming multi-shot and arcane shot when I am at 20% mana. I will, without thinking, immediately switch to a 1:1 Steady shot / Auto Shot rotation knowing that if I do not I will simply go OOM and my DPS will dwindle to nothing.

Example 2: My Arcane shot, Multi-shot, are on cool-down with less than 2 seconds before one of them will refresh. Auto shot is also on its very short delay. I have a choice of "waiting" for a shot to come up or fire, or, I can use my Silencing Shot for 50% damage output at the cost of mana. Yes, I have many times used Silencing shot as a very fast "filler" before repeating my shot rotation, its one of the nice things Marksmen have vs other builds, an extra instant-shot every 30 sec when needed. While this doesn't happen often, it definitely helps fill the gap if necessary.

In closing, you never want to be waiting for something to do. You will always have to monitor your cooldowns, (I recommend getting Cooldown Counter), and manage your mana depending on what type of group setup you have.

Haste Gear, Yes or No?

I've tried using large amounts of haste gear with a Marks build and I'd advise against it. It really can screw up your shot rotations. It can be hard enough to juggle your Improved Aspect of the Hawk proc in-addition-to your Rapid fire. When you factor those in and add haste gear to the equation it turns into a mess. The other problem with haste gear is that its iLVL points budget is way-too-high for what its worth. You're better off getting gear with crit/agi and other stats that will benefit you more than the haste on an item. Overall, if you're Marks, forget about haste gear beyond what your talent gives you, and, of course, the only exception, is the Dragonspine Trophy trinket. Using that item is good if you have no access to end-game trinkets like Tsunami Talisman or Madness of the Betrayer.

Ideal Group Composition

Since you're Marksman, you're pretty damn useless to the majority of others grouped with you considering the Trueshot Aura is stuck at a dismal 125AP. If you group with a rogue or warrior they might appreciate it, but who needs them? I don't. =) You want to be grouped with a Shadow Priest, Feral Druid and/or a Shaman. While it is unrealistic to think you'll have all 3 in a group, it is very important that you at least get yourself a Shadow Priest. Running out of mana as a MM is horrible. The only way to help yourself offset mana use is mana oils, fel mana potions, and timing the use of them right when you're down 3200 mana, not when you're almost dry.

I've found that the 5% crit bonus from a Feral Druid translates to much more damage potential than a shaman dropping Grace of Air, (as MM). Some will definitely prefer the pairing of a Shaman+Shadow Priest over this because of Mana Tide, GOA, etc, and overall better mana regen. Its really going to end up being in the hands of the raid leader and how they choose to manage grouping of Hunters, (which as you all know isn't always pretty).

Buffing Priorities, Consumables & Threat

You're going to have threat problems, this is a given. Your hits are going to be huge, fast, and powerful. Consider yourself a ranged MS warrior, because thats pretty much what a MM hunter is. You need Salv, believe it or not, and you're going to want to prioritize Blessing of Might over Kings for DPS if you don't have the option of having both. Using Omen / KTM is a must. Managing your threat levels is just as important as managing your shot rotations. Nothing can aggrevate someone more in a raid than a stupid Hunter that constantly pulls aggro. You will, more than survival or BM, be the master of Misdirection. No other spec will build more threat on those initial 3 shots than a Marks Hunter, and thats a GOOD THING! Switch targets often in multiple mob scenarios on trash if you have several tanks. If your Feign Death resists, hold off, or move to a new target before starting up again.

As far as consumables go, you're going to want to use the following in order of importance:

Flasks / Elixirs:

1) Flask of Relentless Assault or:
2) Elixir of Major Agility + Draenic Wisdom / MP5 Elixir
3) Ravager Dogs
4) Hit-Rating food (if not capped)
5) Mana Oils on weaponry
6) Blackened Sporefish


1) Fel Mana (expensive)
2) Super Mana Potions (at the least)

Hunters that spend their money on consumables, (and I mean ammunition, too), are the ones that are going to shine and stick out from the crowd. You all know that Hunters are the easiest class to play, hardest to master. They are also the easiest class to hate because you can so-easily make life miserable for a raid or small group.

Tips & Tricks

1) Viewing distance, in my opinion, is absolutely vital being a Hunter. It doesn't matter whether its PVP or PVE. The more information you have on your screen around you the better off you're going to be at making fast decisions and t his really goes for any Hunter build not just MM related. I recommend typing the following in-game: /console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 4 or go get oTweaks, makes CVar commands ez-mode.

This is a beautiful, (not really well-known), option to really increase your zoom ability and I've found it invaluable, especially in PVP.
"Don't be a Dick." - Wil Wheaton
“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” - Will Rogers

Offline moonras

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Re: Marksmanship guide
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2008, 12:45:58 PM »
Nice guide, I've been wanting to learn a bit more about a shot rotation i should use. Can never get any helpful information on the WoW forums due to people only saying go BM. Thanks.

I do have one thing to add though. It isn't much but on the list of items they could have also added Scroll of Agility V. Just for a bit of extra agi during a fight. Though sometimes I don't think these are worth the cost they can get to on the AH.

Offline Zario

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Re: Marksmanship guide
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2010, 03:07:28 PM »

I don't play marks, but this is a solid update on a marks guide.