This post concerns the version of Aimed Shot that we can fire instead of Arcane Shot as a focus dump in the MM rotation. When and why we should use this non-proc’d, hardcast version of AiS is a matter of some debate and this post attempts to offer some resolution.
Discussing hardcast Aimed Shots requires bringing some new terms into the hunter lexicon, including the word “hardcast” itself.
hardcast – the activation of an ability with its full cast duration as opposed to with a proc’d cast enhancement. For example, Slam vs Slam with a Bloodsurge proc or Aimed Shot vs Aimed Shot with Master Marksman proc.
HAiS – the acronym I will be using for referring to a hardcast Aimed Shot.
focus negative – used to describe a rotation that generates less focus than is necessary to maintain its expenditure demands. This usually entails having to on occassion fire an extra Steady or Cobra Shot. It can result from the simple fact that two Arcanes cost 44 Focus while a HAiS costs 50.
focus positive – used to describe a rotation that genreates more focus than is necessary to maintain its expenditure demands.
The Tooltip and What It Doesn’t Say
Aimed Shot Level 85
50 Focus 40 yd range
2.4 sec cast
Requires Ranged Weapon
A powerful aimed shot that deals 165% ranged weapon damage plus (RAP * 0.724)+776.
- Its base cast time is not 2.4 but rather 2.9 seconds, reduced by Haste.
- HAiS halts your autoshots for the duration of the cast. It also resets your autoshot swing timer so that your autos only start again a full swing duration after the HAiS fires. These effects together mean that a hardcast Aimed Shot generates very long delays between autoshots when used. The delay is equal to the time between the last autoshot and the beginning of the cast, plus the duration of the cast, plus the duration of a full swing.
- HAiS can be interrupted in the conventional ways (stuns, movement, out-ranging, etc.).
- An HAiS that is interrupted does not reset the autoshot swing timer.
- HAiS does not benefit from Aspect of the Fox and so cannot ever be used while moving.
- Its cast speed is determined by haste effects present at the beginning of the cast. The cast speed does not dynamically adjust to haste levels, meaning that even if a haste buff drops off in the middle of the cast, the speed will remain the same throughout.
- Its hit chance is determined (at least judging by the effects of Chimaeron’s slime) at the time the shot is goes off.
- It has notable synergy with Careful Aim (CA) and Piercing Shots.
- Using HAiS diminishes the value of Mastery with each use in a fight, since you’re trading several chances for Wild Quiver procs (Arcanes+autos) for just one (the HAiS).
- Likewise, HAiS somewhat diminishes pet dps because fewer autos means fewer Go for the Throw procs, which means less pet Focus. Using HAiS also reduces the number of shots that MM fires that can proc Sic ‘Em.
Hardcasting Aimed Shot is a bit like choosing a wood in golf. It will take you a long way in one shot, but it usually isn’t the best tool for the short game or for getting out of the rough. HAiS is also a bit of a gamble. When you start casting it you’re basically betting 2+ seconds of halted dps that the shot will pay off and be better than the things you could have done with your focus and time instead.
Arcane Shot, the rival of HAiS as MM’s focus dump ability, does not carry HAiS’s risks. It can be used on the move. It doesn’t halt autoshots. It can’t be interrupted. It is very dependable. Using two Arcanes instead of one HAiS is the safer bet.
The question we have to ask ourselves, then, is whether hardcasting Aimed Shot is worth the cost and risk. With all its drawbacks, should we still be trying to use it? If so, then when? Before we get into the numbers, let’s clear up some basic confusion by addressing some fallacies.
Fallacies About Hardcasting Aimed Shot
“Because all fights require movement, I should never hardcast Aimed Shot.”
Just because you might have to move at some point during the fight, it doesn’t mean you can’t ever hardcast AiS. Using AiS without a proc merely requires being smart about mechanics. You can even work in hardcasts on very movement-intensive fights like Atramedes. For example, you can hardcast an AiS right after Modulation but preceding the Sonar Pulse, and again after the Sonar Pulse providing that Sonic Breath has come and gone.
“If I’m going to choose between the two rotations, an AS rotation is clearly better because I can use it in more situations.”
The thing is, you don’t have to choose in such a dramatic fashion. While AS and HAiS are exclusive of each other in a single round of a rotation, the use of AS in one round does not exclude the use of HAiS in another, and vice versa. You can mix and match, firing AiS when you’re confident you won’t have to move and AS when you think you will.
The results I present below do not cover the entirety of the broad range of possibilties deriving from stat, gear, talent and glyph selection. Rather, they focus on illustrative and average situations because presenting all of the possible variations would make this post downright enormous. Notably, I don’t test the 4p-t11 bonus or the CS glyph. I’m already running 22 tests and including these extra factors would multiply the number of tests dramatically and make the post longer than I want to expect of a reader. The tests I do run are performed with my gear, which I reason to be somewhat average for a raider these days: lots of epics but no 4p-t11, lots of haste but still not as much as a HAiS rotation could really use.
The tables of results below are identical, save that one was generated with the Arcane Shot Glyph and the other with the Aimed Shot Glyph. Constant for both are the Steady Shot and Kill Shot glyphs. Other constants include the default femaledwarf settings and my instructing the modeler to pair Steady Shots. Incidentally, my typical HAiS rotation (CS>SS>SS>HAiS>SS>SS) is very slightly focus negative without the AiS glyph, which partly explains the better dps results with that glyph for the HAiS rotation. If you wish to compare an AS-heavy rotation with the AS glyph to a HAiS-heavy rotation with the AiS glyph, please feel free to just compare across tables.
The columns cover the different possible uses of Chimera Shot in the Careful Aim range: the standard use on cooldown, waiting to use it only to refresh Serpent Sting, and never using it or Serpent Sting until 80% boss health. They are included to help answer the question of “do I use CS during CA or do I spend all my focus on HAiSs?” CS and SrS are used as normal outside of the CA range for all tests. Removing them from non-CA phases appears to be a solid dps loss.
The rows are somewhat self-explanatory. The first two rows present results that are illustrative rather than realistic. They remove the Careful Aim bonus from the equation by removing the talent. They are meant to discern the worth of AS and HAiS as simple, unadorned Focus dumps on an equal playing field. “HAiS Only During CA” is a more realistic test and only hardcasts AiS during the first 20% of a boss’s health. The row following it does the same thing, but also casts HAiS during huge haste buffs like Heroism and Rapid Fire even if they’re used outside of the CA phase. The last row uses HAiS the whole fight and never uses AS.
- The results below simulate fights with zero movement and zero interrupted casts. Obviously, real fights aren’t like that and the more HAiS gets interrupted, the more its value goes down. At the same time, having an HAiS interrupted isn’t the same as losing the whole shot. You lose any autoshots that were cut off and you push your whole rotation back equal to the amount of time you spent casting HAiS (assuming you pick up with Arcanes immediately upon the interruption). That’s not the same as losing a whole Aimed Shot, but it does hurt. If it amounts to a lost auto and, say, a lost Arcane at the end of the fight, that could be 50 dps directly. You also have to compare the two arcanes you did fire to the HAiS that would have fired and it’s likely that dps was lost in the tradeoff. It doesn’t take long, then, for those interruptions to add up and remove any advantage that a HAiS rotation has.
- Let me stress again that these results derive from my gear. Your results may vary.
- These tests assume that femaledwarf is modeling MM rotations correctly and that I haven’t screwed up the settings.
|Stan. CS||Wait CS||Never CS|
|Never Use HAiS, no CA||23783||x||x|
|Always Use HAiS, no CA||24505||x||x|
|HAiS Only During CA||25941||26343||26482|
|HAiS Only During CA and Haste Buffs||26027||26047||26145|
|HAiS All the Time||26302||26475||26813|
|Stan. CS||Wait CS||Never CS|
|Never Use HAiS, no CA||23494||x||x|
|Always Use HAiS, no CA||24772||x||x|
|HAiS Only During CA||25685||25988||26340|
|HAiS Only During CA and Haste Buffs||25878||26103||26366|
|HAiS All the Time||26504||26852||27185|
What do the results say?
- The best rotation appears to be using only HAiS and SS during CA and from then on using a typical rotation with HAiS replacing AS as the Focus dump. However, look how high the HAiS Only During CA + Never CS cell is in the AS glyph table. It is so good that it wouldn’t take many interruptions for it to be better than the similarly-highlighted top dps cell in the AiS glyph table. This is why you see Whytefist and Frostheim recommending AS rotations outside of CA, not because they’re the best on paper but because they’re likely to be better in game.
- The difference between using AS as a focus dump outside of CA (with the AS glyph) and using HAiS as the focus dump outside of CA is substantial (not astronomical, but substantial). This is why it is fair to say that using HAiS is better on paper as a Focus dump than using AS. The difference is large enought that if you can use HAiS with certainty that you won’t have to move and that it won’t screw up your Focus, you probably should.
- It appears that during CA you want to only fire HAiSs, proc’d AiSs and Steadies. The multiplicative gains of CA plus the likely Heroism and Rapid Fire buffs are just too huge to spend Focus on CS.
Using HAiS Well
- Know the fight. Be able to anticipate when a mechanic will interrupt you and use Arcane Shots accordingly.
- Play it safe. It’s better to dump Focus with Arcanes and not be interrupted than to start casting HAiS and be interrupted.
- During CA, you want to maintain the Improved Steady Shot buff. Therefore, the rotation should look something like HAiS>SS>SS, while working in the occasional MMM proc. Work the proc in where it won’t interrupt a pair of Steadies.
- Outside of CA, you want to work in CS, which causes the rotation to switch to something more like CS>SS>SS>HAiS>SS>SS, again with the occasional proc.
- HAiS is a great pull shot. You can pack it and CS into a quick one-two on a boss and throw a lot of threat into one MD.
- Likewise, HAiS can be a good way to knock most (or all) of the health off of a quest mob before it even knows it’s in a fight.
- If you can tail a final HAiS onto the last second of a Rapid Fire, do it. The cast speed is set at the point of initiation, and so it doesn’t matter if RF wears off during the cast.
- Occasionally, a Steady that is in the air will trigger an MMM proc (the free AiS) when you’ve started casting HAiS. As of 4.0.6 this will cause the HAiS’s Focus cost to be 0. The HAiS isn’t getting interrupted, it really is just free focus. However, because the MMM stack gains are random it really isn’t worth it to actively chase the free shots.
- If you do get interrupted, start casting something else right away. You can fire an AS at the exact moment the cast gets interrupted.
- Also, if you see that you’re going to be interrupted, interrupt yourself first. The earlier the better for the interruption if it’s going to happen, for a couple reasons. (1) The less an interruption pushes your rotation back, the better. (2) If you stop casting before your next autoshot would have gone off, it will go off as normal because autos only get cancelled by HAiS if the cast is occurring at the time the auto was to fire. If you start and stop HAiS in the middle of a swing, autos will continue as if nothing had happened.
- Really strive to avoid being interrupted at all times but particularly in CA phase because there, more often than not, the shot that’s interrupted would have done something like 78,000 damage (crit + Piercing Shots bleed).
- Don’t use HAiS on targets that are about to die (because they may die before the HAiS fires).
- If you’re switching targets, remember that AS and CS throw up Marked for Death while AiS does not.
previous Ability Spotlight topics: