3.2 edit: I’ve gone through this survival rotation guide and ensured that everything is accurate for patch 3.2.
Here it is- the list of things you should choose to fire first. Always choose the higher ability on this list whenever given the choice on a GCD:
- Rapid fire is instant and off the GCD- use it whenever it’s up. I have it macroed into all my GCD shots.
- Kill shot will trigger the global cooldown, and should be used over any other shot that triggers the GCD.
- Explosive shot is your primary damage source. Use it over everything besides kill shot. Note: there’s some discussion about whether you should refresh a black arrow before firing a explosive shot- I believe that my way is slightly more DPS, but if you’re more inclined to reverse the priority, knock yourself out. They’re really close.
- Black arrow (don’t forget to train all ranks!!) is the way we get our hard hitting lock and load. It’s also a shadow damage over time spell, and will magnify all damage you do by 6%. It comes off cooldown every 24 seconds assuming you’re specced right, and lasts for 15 seconds per shot. As of patch 3.2, the internal cooldown on lock and load has been set to 22 seconds, however every tick of black arrow outside this cooldown looks like it has a 20% chance to proc.
- Serpent sting is a damage over time that, properly specced, will increase the damage you do to the mob by 3%. Also, assuming you have the right glyph, it increases your steady shot damage.
- Aimed shot (single target) and multi-shot (multi-target) share a cooldown, and both do more damage than steady shot. Importantly- multi-shot is not getting a 6% buff from sniper training if you’re standing still where aimed will. However, for a small extra mana cost and a short cast time that prevents you from moving, you get the ability to up to triple your shot damage if there are adds that you’re allowed to hit. In fact, many builds skip aimed shot in favor of another point in another talent that returns more DPS. If you have the 4 piece T8 bonus, this becomes even more of a DPS boost because more steady shots means more procs of precision shots.
- Steady shot is the lowest priority shot, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. You can’t move while using it, but it can proc bonuses for us, and on a stand still fight over time, this shot can be a significant portion of your DPS.
Some general tips:
- If you notice a lock and load proc (for example, using the power auras addon), fire three explosive shots in a row. Don’t fire them back to back though, or else you will be “clipping” the last tick of the damage over time and costing yourself a third of your damage. Fire them exactly 2 seconds apart. That’s 0.5 seconds after the global cooldown finishes. I use the Quartz addon, so have a quartz command “/qt ESDot 2″ macroed into my explosive shot. This displays a small 2 second cooldown bar that will tell me when it’s safe to fire the next shot without wasting that last tick.
- Always be aware of your remaining cooldowns- it’s ok to wait 0.2 seconds for explosive or black arrow to come off cooldown instead of firing a steady shot.
- It’s not ok to wait 1.2 seconds for them- even a steady shot is worth more than 20% of an explosive shot.
Ok, that looks like it for now. As always, keep me honest in the comments.