edit: This post is outdated- all the relevant and recent advice is here.
Here’s the first in a series of guides I’m planning on writing about marksmanship. Today, we go over the rotation. As always, it’s more of a priority list than a rotation, but it certainly feels simpler than survival did.
First thing you need to determine is whether you’re expected to provide silences. If you aren’t, go ahead and macro silencing shot into something like steady shot so it will fire about every 20 seconds (its cooldown). It’s a really weak shot though, doing half an auto-shot, so if you forget, you’re not losing too much performance. If you are expected to silence something, make sure you take it out of your macro and have it on a bar somewhere with a keybind. It’s off the global cooldown, so you can use it right when you need it.
Now for the rotation itself:
- Serpent sting: you always want to open with this, and never fire it again unless you’ve let the damage over time expire. If the sting is expired, this has priority over everything but kill shot. Without it, your largest shot is half useless.
- Chimera shot: this is the largest shot you have. If the serpent sting debuff is up, use this before anything. It hits hard, and when you hit a target with your serpent sting on it, it will instantly do 40% of the total serpent sting damage.
- Kill Shot: all other rotations (SV, and BM) should use this first if it’s available, but for Marks hunters (unless you’re in top end ArP gear), this actually does less damage than chimera shot.
- Aimed shot: less important than chimera shot, instant, has a healing debuff that’s almost never relevant for PvE. This shot triggers piercing shots (our bleed talent), but can’t be used if you use multi-shot as they share a cooldown.
- Arcane shot: this can be used while moving, deals arcane damage, and ignores armor. The fact that this is magic damage is important on some fights. As for whether to fire an aimed before arcane, it all depends on your stats. I would run both rotations through the DPS spreadsheet and see which gives you more DPS.
- Steady shot: Our weakest shot, but one of our only non-auto shots that is affected by armor penetration. You can’t cast this while running. It’s the lowest priority shot.
That’s the priority list. Now we get to the hard part- cooldowns. You have rapid fire on a 3 minute cooldown that will regenerate a bunch of mana (from the rapid recuperation talent), you’ve got readiness on a 3 minute cooldown, and you’ve got kill command on a 1 minute timer. Rapid fire will not trigger a global cooldown, but can’t be cast while you’re recovering from one.
Since you can always count on most bosses taking longer than 3 minutes to fall, you should try to use a rapid fire, readiness, and another rapid fire as soon as you’ve lost enough mana [edit: leaving a couple seconds in there for the kill command to get fully used by the pet]. If you have so much mana floating around in your raid composition that you never go OOM, then just use the first one either early, or during the heroism/bloodlust if it will be early enough for you to get a second readiness off at the end of the fight. Once your first one is gone, save the readiness until the boss is under 20% (unless you have reason to believe that you will have close to a 10 minute fight, allowing 3 readiness uses). You can use the rapid fire whenever you want, but the goal of saving rapid fire until you are under 20% is that you will be able to fire a kill shot and chimera shot, readiness, rapid fire, and then fire another kill shot and chimera shot.
As for kill command, I macro it to all of my shots. Some people like to save it for specific times, but I feel that the lost DPS from waiting until the “opportune moment” to use it is more than the DPS gained by using it when it will have the greatest effect. Also, since my pet is mostly around to give me furious howl, I don’t really worry much about min/maxing his puny attacks :)
Timing your cooldowns is the only challenge here that’s different than SV- other than that, I find the shot priority list to be easier (since there’s no random procs of lock and load)