The author of this guide is Aaeril. For quite a long time, he used to be a part of the Exorsus guild, participating in a number of World First events. In Season 4 of BFA, he reached about 6k Rio. Twitch channel – https://www.twitch.tv/aaeril
Marksmanship Hunter is an excellent shooter who fully relies on their ranged weapon mastery, dealing damage from a greater distance than other classes. In this guide, you will find all the information on how to get the maximum DPS out of your character, what gear you need, which talents to use, which Covenant, Soulbind and Conduit to choose. And, of course, a few tips and tricks to boost your performance!
- Insignificant losses despite frequent repositioning
- Great burst potential, including AoE
- High mobility
- Immunity spell
- Long-ranged abilities, more than the standard 40 yds (scales with Mastery)
- Doesn’t depend on a pet (unlike the other specs)
- Lack of cleave on 2 targets
- Low survivability
Basic information on the spec:
Like any other Hunter spec, Marksmanship uses Focus as their main resource. It’s typically the go-to spec for any player who doesn’t like managing pets, but still wants to play Hunter. You can deal damage on your own due to the passive ability – Lone Wolf.
Aimed Shot – costs 35 Focus, 2.5 sec cast time. A powerful aimed shot that deals Physical damage. Has 2 charges, base CD 12 sec. Your Haste rate and Trueshot reduce the cooldown of this spell.
Also triggers Precise Shots, causing your next 1-2 Arcane Shots or Multi-Shots to deal 75% more damage.
Arcane Shot – costs 20 Focus. A quick shot that causes medium Arcane damage.
Kill Shot – you attempt to finish off a wounded target, dealing Physical damage. Only usable on enemies with less than 20% health.
Rapid Fire – deals high damage and generates Focus. Channeled spell, 2 sec cast. Shoot a stream of 7 shots at your target, dealing Physical damage and generating 7 Focus over the duration. Usable while moving. CD 20 sec.
Multi-Shot – costs 20 Focus. Fires several missiles, hitting up to 5 targets within 8 yards of your current target for Physical damage.
Trick Shots: when Multi-Shot hits 3 or more targets, your next Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire will ricochet and hit up to 5 additional targets for 50% of normal damage.
Beast Lore – gathers information about the target beast, displaying diet, abilities, specialization, whether or not the creature is tameable, and if it is exotic.
Dismiss Pet – temporarily sends this pet away. You can call it back later.
Feed Pet – feeds your pet the selected item, instantly restoring 50% of its total health. Not usable in combat. You may use the Beast Lore ability to identify what types of foods your pet will eat.
Mend Pet – Heals your pet for 35% of its total health over 10 sec. CD 10 sec.
Tame Beast – you must dismiss any active beast companions and have an empty Call Pet slot before you can begin taming a new beast. Only Beast Mastery specialized Hunters can tame Exotic Beasts.
Call Pet – summons your pet to you.
Trueshot – кeduces the cooldown of your Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire by 60%, and causes Aimed Shot to cast 50% faster for 15 sec. CD 2 min.
Primal Rage – Increases haste by 30% for all party and raid members for 40 sec. Allies receiving this effect will become Sated and unable to benefit from Primal Rage or similar effects again for 10 min.
Mastery: Sniper Training – range of all your ranged abilities is increased by 5% and damage of all abilities increased by 11% (scales with Mastery).
Hunting Party – after you kill a target, the remaining cooldown on Exhilaration is reduced by 30 sec.
Aspect of the Turtle – deflects all attacks and reduces all damage you take by 30% for 8 sec, but you cannot attack. CD 3 min.
Exhilaration – heals you for 30% and your pet for 100% of maximum health. CD 2 min.
Feign Death – feign death, tricking enemies into ignoring you (to quit a combat completely, you need to call off your pet first, or buy Pet Training Manual: Play Dead that allows your pet to learn the ability). Lasts up to 6 min, CD 30 sec.
Bursting Shot – fires an explosion of bolts at all enemies in front of you, knocking them back, snaring them by 50% for 6 sec, and dealing Physical damage.
Counter Shot – interrupts spellcasting, preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 3 sec.
Aspect of the Cheetah – increases your movement speed by 90% for 3 sec, and then by 30% for another 9 sec.
Disengage – leap backwards, CD 20 sec.
Binding Shot – fires a magical projectile, tethering the enemy and any other enemies within 5 yards for 10 sec, rooting them in place for 8 sec if they move more than 5 yards from the arrow.
Concussive Shot – dazes the target, slowing movement speed by 50% for 6 sec. CD 5 sec.
Freezing Trap – hurls a frost trap to the target location that incapacitates the first enemy that approaches for 1 min. Damage will break the effect. Limit 1. Trap will exist for 1 min. CD 30 sec.
Tar Trap – hurls a tar trap to the target location that creates a 8 yd radius pool of tar around itself for 30 sec when the first enemy approaches. All enemies have 50% reduced movement speed while in the area of effect. Trap will exist for 1 min.
Tranquilizing Shot – removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from an enemy target.
Hunter’s Mark – apply Hunter’s Mark to the target, causing the target to always be seen and tracked by the Hunter.
Eagle Eye – changes your viewpoint to the targeted location for 1 min. Only usable outdoors.
Flare – exposes all hidden and invisible enemies within the targeted area for 20 sec. CD 20 sec.
Misdirection – misdirects all threat you cause to the targeted party or raid member, beginning with your next attack within 30 sec and lasting for 8 sec. CD 30 sec.
General information. On reaching several levels, you will open new Talent tiers. In each tier, you can choose one Talent at a time. Talents can affect your abilities in different ways: add new ones, replace old ones, passively modify various effects and spells. You can change Talents while you’re in Sanctums or in rest areas, but if there are no such places nearby, you can use Tome of the Tranquil Mind, which allows you to change Talents within a minute. Note that Talents can’t be changed in combat. Also, if a Talent selected in a certain tier is on CD, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge in order to change it.
Tier 1 Lvl 15. Talents that affect DPS
- Master Marksman. Your ranged special attack critical strikes cause the target to bleed for an additional 15% of the damage dealt over 6 sec.
- Serpent Sting. Fire a shot that poisons your target, causing them to take Nature damage instantly and an additional Nature damage over 18 sec.
- A Murder of Crows. Summons a flock of crows to attack your target, dealing Physical damage over 15 sec. If the target dies while under attack, A Murder of Crows’ cooldown is reset.
* By default, you always take Master Marksman. Other talents just can not compete with it at the moment.
Tier 2 Lvl 25. Talents that affect DPS
- Careful Aim. Aimed Shot deals 50% bonus damage to targets who are above 70% health.
- Barrage. Rapidly fires a spray of shots for 3 sec, dealing Physical damage to up to 8 enemies in front of you. Usable while moving.
- Explosive Shot. Fires an explosive shot at your target. After 3 sec, the shot will explode, dealing Fire damage to up to 6 enemies within 8 yards.
* Careful Aim is used on single targets in most situations.
Explosive Shot is good for cleave and AoE.
Barrage currently has no use.
Tier 3 Lvl 30. Mobility and Survivability.
- Trailblazer. Your movement speed is increased by 30% anytime you have not attacked for 3 seconds.
- Natural Mending. Every 20 Focus you spend reduces the remaining cooldown on Exhilaration by 1 sec.
- Camouflage. You and your pet blend into the surroundings and gain stealth for 1 min. While camouflaged, you will heal for 2% of maximum health every 1 secs.
* This tier is responsible for your survivability, so take what suits you best. In raids we mostly use Natural Mending, while in M+ dungeons, Camouflage allows you to skip some packs, which is very useful.
Tier 4 Lvl 35. Talents that affect DPS
- Steady Focus. Using Steady Shot twice in a row increases your Haste by 7% for 15 sec.
- Streamline. Rapid Fire‘s damage is increased by 15%, and Rapid Fire also causes your next Aimed Shot to cast 30% faster.
- Chimaera Shot. Replaces Arcane Shot. A two-headed shot that hits your primary target for Nature damage and another nearby target for Frost damage.
* Steady Focus is the best choice against single targets.
For AoE and M+, take Streamline, as when you pull a new pack, you have to activate lots of stuff before you can use Steady Focus.
Chimaera Shot is the best option only for 2-target fights, so it’s rarely used.
Tier 5 Lvl 40. Survivability
- Born To Be Wild. Reduces the cooldowns of your Aspects by 20%.
- Posthaste. Disengage also frees you from all movement impairing effects and increases your movement speed by 50% for 4 sec.
- Binding Shackles. Targets rooted by Binding Shot deal 20% less damage to you for 8 sec after the root effect ends.
* This is a utility tier, so the choice depends on your preferences. Posthaste increases your mobility and works great in raids. Born To Be Wild is another possible option, but only if your strategy requires Aspect of the Turtle more often than once every 3 min.
Tier 6 lvl 45. Talents that affect DPS
- Lethal Shots. Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot have a 30% chance to reduce the cooldown of Rapid Fire by 5 sec.
- Dead Eye. Kill Shot has 2 charges, and causes Aimed Shot to recharge 60% faster for 3 sec.
- Double Tap. Your next Aimed Shot will fire a second time instantly at 100% power without consuming Focus, or your next Rapid Fire will shoot 100% additional shots during its channel.
* The most effective Talent is this tier is Double Tap. In a standard situation, it is used in combination with Rapid Fire, but if you have Careful Aim, this ability should be combined with Aimed Shot if the target has more than 70% health.
Tier 7 Lvl 50. Talents that affect DPS
- Calling the Shots. Casting Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot reduces the cooldown of Trueshot by 2.5 sec.
- Lock and Load. Your ranged auto attacks have a 8% chance to trigger Lock and Load, causing your next Aimed Shot to cost no Focus and be instant.
- Volley. Rain a volley of arrows down over 6 sec, dealing Physical damage to any enemy in the area, and gain the effects of Trick Shots for as long as Volley is active.
* For single targets, you can pick Calling the Shots or Lock and Load, depending on the combat timings.
For AoE and M+, take Volley.
For single targets
- Master Marksman
- Careful Aim
- Natural Mending
- Steady Focus
- Double Tap or Lethal Shots
- Calling the Shots or Lock and Load
For AoE and M+
- Master Marksman
- Explosive Shot
- Natural Mending
- Streamline or Steady Focus
- Double Tap or Lethal Shots
The best choice in terms of DPS (against any number of targets) is the Night Fae. The Kyrian work too, especially considering your poor sustain. Phial of Serenity is way more useful than Soulshape for this spec.
- Signature ability – Summon Steward. Call your steward to bring you a Phial of Serenity that can be consumed to restore 20% health and remove all Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed effects.
- Class ability – Resonating Arrow. Fire a resonating arrow to the target location that deals Arcane damage to any enemy in the area, and fill the area with echoing anima for 10 sec. The effect causes your attacks to ignore line of sight to enemies in the area, and you have a 30% increased critical strike chance against them.
The Night Fae
- Signature ability – Soulshape. Turn into a Vulpin, teleporting 15 yds forward and increasing your movement speed by 50%. You may reactivate Soulshape every few sec to teleport again.
- Class ability – Wild Spirits. Evoke the energy of Wild Spirits at the target location, dealing Nature damage and apply Hunter’s Mark to all enemy targets within the area for 15 sec.
While the Wild Spirits are active, each damaging ability you or your pet use against a target in the area will strike up to 5 nearby targets for Nature damage.
- Signature ability – Fleshcraft. Form a shield of flesh and bone over 4 sec that absorbs damage equal to 20% of your maximum health for 2 min.
- Class ability – Death Chakram. Throw a deadly chakram at your current target that will rapidly deal Shadow damage 7 times, bouncing to other targets if they are nearby. Generates Focus.
- Signature ability – Door of Shadows. Wend through the shadows, appearing at the targeted location.
- Class ability – Flayed Shot. Fire a shot at your enemy, causing them to bleed for Shadow damage over a few sec. Each time Flayed Shot deals damage, you have a 10% chance to gain Flayer’s Mark, causing your next Kill Shot to be free and usable on any target, regardless of their current health.
Soulbinding is a system of progression in which players who join a Covenant are able to bind themselves to one of its members, sharing some of their power through an artifact-like talent tree. Conduits add further customization to those Soulbind trees, allowing players to fill empty sockets in the trees with bonuses of their choice. However, these Potency Conduits are absolutely imbalanced in terms of DPS, HPS and survivability, so their effectiveness may vary greatly. Let’s have a look at interesting Soulbind features of all Covenants.
The best Soulbinds for PvE:
- The Kyrian – Pelagos
- The Venthyr – Nadjia
- The Necrolords – Emeni
- The Night Fae – Niya
Nadjia the Mistblade
- Dauntless Duelist– The first enemy you damage in combat is marked as your Adversary. You deal 3% more damage to them, and they deal 1.5% less damage to you. You may only have one Adversary at a time (tree with 1 less Potency Conduit).
- Thrill Seeker– while in combat, you gain a stack of Thrill Seeker every 2 sec, or 4 stacks on killing an enemy. At 40 stacks Thrill Seeker is consumed to grant you Euphoria, increasing your Haste by 20% for 10 sec. Thrill Seeker decays rapidly while you are not in combat.
- Exacting Preparation – the benefits of Well Fed, Flask, and weapon enchant effects are increased by 20%.
Theotar the Mad Duke
- Soothing Shade– your spells and abilities have a chance to call Tubbins and Gubbins to your side for 12 sec, parasol in hand. Standing in the shaded area grants you 525 Mastery (tree with 1 less Potency Conduit).
- Wasteland Propriety – activating Resonating Arrow signals the start of tea time, granting 10% Versatility to you and 4% Versatility to up to 4 nearby allies. Lasts 10 sec. Tea time may only occur once every 1 min.
- Refined Palate – the effects of combat potions last 100% to 200% longer.
This Soulbind is for survivability and maybe PvP. Has no useful abilities for DD’s.
- Let Go of the Past – using a spell or ability increases your Versatility by 1% for 10 sec. Using another spell or ability increases this amount by 1% when it is not a repeat of the previous spell or ability, stacking to 5%.
- Combat Meditation – activating Resonating Arrow increases your Mastery by 5% for 20 sec and occasionally expels Sorrowful Memories. Walking through Sorrowful Memories extends this effect by 3 sec.
- Valiant Strikes – you and your nearby allies’ critical strikes grant you stacks of Valiant Strikes, up to 40. At 40 stacks, you heal yourself for 10% of your maximum health and up to 4 nearby allies for 5% of their maximum health over 10 sec.
- Pointed Courage – critical strike is increased by 1% for every nearby enemy or ally, up to 8%.
Forgelite Prime Mikanikos
- Hammer of Genesis – damaging a new enemy grants you 2% Haste for 10 sec, up to 5 stacks (tree with 1 less Potency Conduit).
- Bron’s Call to Action – after using 90 damaging or healing spells and abilities, your next spell or ability summons Bron, knocking back enemies on arrival and attacking and healing your targets for 30 sec.
Plague Deviser Marileth
Has no significant abilities for DD’s.
- Gnashing Chompers – gain 3% Haste for 10 sec after defeating an enemy, up to 15%.
- Lead by Example – activating Death Chakram increases your primary stats by 5% and nearby allies’ primary stats by 2% for 10 sec. You gain 5% additional primary stats for each ally affected, up to 15%.
The Night Fae
- Niya’s Tools: Burrs – your damaging attacks and spells have a chance to toss Niya’s Spiked Burrs under your target. The burrs latch onto the first enemy to cross them, reducing movement speed by 20% and inflicting Nature damage over 6 sec.
- Niya’s Tools: Poison – your interrupting abilities apply Niya’s Paralytic Poison to the target, dealing Nature damage over 30 sec. Targets with Niya’s Paralytic Poison take additional Nature damage if interrupted once more.
- Grove Invigoration – healing or dealing damage has a chance to grant you a stack of Redirected Anima. Redirected Anima increases your maximum health by 1% and your Mastery by 25 for 30 sec, and stacks overlap. Wild Spirits grant you 6 Redirected Anima stacks.
Has no significant abilities for DD’s.
- First Strike – damaging an enemy before they damage you increases your chance to critically strike by 25% for 10 sec.
- Wild Hunt Tactics – your damage to targets above 75% health and healing to targets below 35% health are increased by 10%. When your spells and abilities are enhanced this way, you gain 10% bonus movement speed for 5 sec.
There are 3 types of Conduits:
- Potency Conduits improve the effectiveness of your character in their main role.
- Endurance Conduits provide additional defensive value through damage mitigation or increased healing.
- Finesse conduits grant extra utility to your class.
Endurance and Finesse are class Conduits, 1 per each Covenant, and 4 Potency Conduits per each spec.
The best Conduits:
Enfeebled Mark – your attacks and abilities deal increased damage to enemies inside Resonating Arrow. Has a good synergy with Trueshot and Double Tap, which has the same CD as Resonating Arrow.
Spirit Attunement – Wild Spirits lasts 3 sec longer, and deals increased damage.
Empowered Release – Flayed Shot has an additional 5% chance to proc Flayer’s Mark and it increases the damage of your next Kill Shot.
- The second best Conduit for single targets is Powerful Precision, and for M+/AoE – Deadly Chain.
But if you join Necrolords, then take Sharpshooter’s Focus instead.
Overall, Marksmanship Hunter has 16 available Legendary Items:
4 general class, 4 spec specific and 8 general powers.
The best items effects:
General class powers:
Choosing a race
Generally speaking, races hardly affect your DPS, as each race grants a DPS bonus, so if you do not strive to become one of the world’s best players, just choose the race you like more.
However, in terms of DPS (only), while there are still very few stats, the best races are:
- Orc (Horde)
- Mechagnome (Alliance)
First let’s have a look at your basic priority:
You should keep in mind that Precise Shots is a buff that is activated after Aimed Shot. Aimed Shot causes your next 1-2 Arcane Shots to deal 75% more damage. Always try to implement this buff to the fullest, the only exception is the rotation with Trueshot, where we don’t want to hit 2 charges of Aimed Shot.
- Use Double Tap on recharge, right before Resonating Arrow. When Careful Aim is on CD, spend the buff on Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire.
- Use Aimed Shot on recharge, only when Precise Shots are implemented.
- Cast Rapid Fire on recharge, don’t let your Focus overcap.
- Use Arcane Shot to implement Precise Shots or to spend extra Focus.
- Steady Shot is your Focus generator when there’s nothing else to use.
Your main task is to avoid the Focus cap.
Don’t let Aimed Shot remain at 2 stacks.
Maximize Focus generation from Rapid Fire by using it whenever it’s available
Spend all Precise Shots procs.
Trueshot is a powerful burst cooldown, it should be used when it’s most needed in combat. To benefit most, use Trueshot during the Careful Aim windows, when the target has 100% to 70% health.
When Trueshot is active, your task is to get the most of Aimed Shot, spend Precise Shots procs and effectively use Rapid Fire to generate Energy.
Accordingly, your priority is the following:
- Use 1 Arcane Shot under Precise Shots proc.
- Next, Aimed Shot.
- If you lack Energy, use Rapid Fire.
- If there’s nothing else left, cast Arcane Shot to implement Precise Shots.
- Use Steady Shot.
On 2 targets, stick to the single target rotation.
On 3+ targets, your main rotation remains the same, but you have to take into account your passive ability Trick Shots – when Multi-Shot hits 3 or more targets, your next Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire will ricochet and hit up to 5 additional targets for 50% of normal damage. Keep this buff active whenever you want to cast one of these abilities. Besides, spend Precise Shots procs on Multi-Shot, and not Arcane Shot. These are the main differences between your AoE and basic rotations.
To start with:
- Precast Double Tap 10 sec before pulling the boss
- Precast Aimed Shot 2 sec before the fight
- Rapid Fire
- Resonating Arrow
- Aimed Shot
- Arcane Shot
- Aimed Shot
- Arcane Shot
- Aimed Shot
- Rapid Fire
- Stick to the Trueshot rotation we mentioned above, then proceed with your basic priority.
Your basic stats priority is the following:
Finesse > Crit > Mastery > Versatility > Haste
To maximize your stats, use raidbots.com (-> Stat Weights) and import this information with Pawn (addon) for further convenience.
Based on the above-mentioned characteristics and your own simulation results, let’s move on to Gems, Enchants and Consumables.
Flasks and Pots
Modifier kick. Hold Shift to apply to your focus target, or apply to your current target by default:
/cast [mod:shift,@focus] Counter Shot
Instant activation of Aspect of the Turtle and Feign Death (interrupts your current cast, can be extremely useful):
/cast Feign Death
/cast !Aspect of the Turtle
The exclamation mark is necessary so that subsequent clicks don’t cancel the effect immediately when this key is spammed.
Disabling Aspect of the Turtle, as you don’t always want to keep it active, since you can’t attack over the duration:
/cancelaura Aspect of the Turtle
Misdirection at the cursor position
/cast [@mouseover, exists] Misdirection
Trap macros. You can use these macros to instantly place a trap under your character or at the cursor position, e.g.:
/cast [@player] Freezing Trap
/cast [@cursor] Freezing Trap
Such macros can also be used for all ground abilities, such as Flare or Binding Shot.
Nochanneling macros allow you to cancel a channeled cast of Rapid Fire and use Aimed Shot right after the Rapid Fire channel is over. In a standard situation, such a cast would be canceled before reaching the end.
/cast [nochanneling] Aimed Shot
/cast [nochanneling] Arcane Shot
Bartender4 is a highly customizable panel addon.
Chatter allows you to customize chat.
Deja Character stats – adds more information about the character.
Sexy map – makes your minimap super sexy!
Shadowed unit frames – an alternative to ElvUI for unit frames.
WeakAuras is probably the most important addon in modern WoW. With its help, you can set up almost anything, and on wago.io you can find hundreds of useful auras and import them to your game in a few clicks. You can also find a full pack of auras for any spec, check out this link!
BigWigs/Deadly Boss Mods – addons with timers and announcements for bosses in raids and M+, choose either of these. It’s also super useful in PvE. For BigWigs, the instance module, LittleWigs, must be installed separately.
ElvUI is an all-in-one global build for fans of a neat and concise interface. Replaces several addons at once. On wago.io you can also find a large number of different customized profiles for ElvUI.
Details! Damage Meter is the most up-to-date and advanced damage meter at the moment.
Plater Nameplates– an addon from the author of Details that changes enemy nameplates. Fully customizable design and a huge number of available features, as well as the ability to import profiles and mods from wago.io – what else do you need?
Pawn – helps you find upgrades for your gear, requires SimCraft.
SimulationCraft – a tool to explore combat mechanics and optimize your character.
Exorsus Raid Tools is an addon for raids that includes a lot of useful features.
Move Anything – allows you to move and resize any part of your interface.
World Quest List – groups your world quests to the left of the map and filters them by zones.
Legion ToDo – saves information about your characters and displays it in a customizable list.
I personally recommend playing with a higher SpellQueueWindow value, 300-400. It will protect you from micro lags and downtime between casts.
/console SpellQueueWindow 350
Hunters often complain that Feign Death doesn’t work. The two most common reasons are:
- You clicked Feign Death with the right mouse button held down and moved it. Unfortunately, this ability can be canceled when you turn your character. Therefore, make it a habit to release the right mouse button when you click Feign Death.
- You used Feign Death during the GCD with a queued up spell. Accordingly, your Feign Death gets interrupted by another ability. Here’s how to prevent it:
/use Feign Death
The first command – /CancelQueuedSpell – cancels the queued spell, so if this macro is the last one you click, you definitely won’t get up immediately.
That’s it, guys! We hope that now you’re armed and ready! And if you still have questions or just want to check out my gameplay, click on this link – twitch.tv/aaeril. Thanks for tuning in! Best of luck in the world of Azeroth!