Elitist Jerks Recap: Recommendations for Marksmanship Hunters in Patch 4.2

Whitefyst recently updated The Marksmanship Guide at Elitist Jerks. This recap highlights portions of that guide pertaining to changes for Patch 4.2. It is an organized collection of notes based on the guide, and in turn on the extensive theorycrafting done by contributors in the Elitist Jerks Marksmanship forum thread. Links to the original document are provided.


The suggested spec for a maximum dps Marksmanship hunter in 4.2 has several changes from the previously recommended spec. A point was moved from Pathing to Frenzy due to the higher amounts of haste on gear in T12 content. This change makes the two remaining points in Pathing slightly more valuable by having a larger proportion of total haste coming from gear (read a discussion on stacking haste vs. Pathing in this post). Frenzy “provides a nice increase to pet DPS. However, it is only beneficial in fights where your pet is able to attack regularly.”

A point was also moved from Silencing Shot into Termination. Most raid groups have classes with better interrupts than Silencing Shot;  if your group makeup provides sufficient interrupt capabilities then you may be able to skip Silencing Shot and put the point in Termination instead for higher dps during the last 25% of boss health.

Termination is most beneficial when hasted:

The primary situation where Term becomes beneficial is if you are hasted during its effects. The recommended rotations when we are hasted are not tight CS cycles that are GCD limited and often have spare SSs beyond the 4 required to maintain ISS such that we can take advantage of the extra focus from Termination to add in additional focus dumps or replace extra SSs with them. Thus, if you are under dynamic haste effects for a significant portion of the last 25% of the boss fight, Termination can have significant DPS benefits.

Termination can be beneficial when not hasted when some Improved Steady Shot downtime is allowed:

Termination can also be beneficial when unhasted if you are willing to not maintain ISS at 100% uptime over the last 20% of boss health. If you are willing to replace the last 2 SSs used to maintain 100% ISS uptime with ASs, then you can take advantage of that extra focus while still maintaining ISS uptime at roughly 80 or 88%, depending on whether you have the CS glyph. The problems with this situation is that you lose some autoshot frequency (and resulting pet focus) with the lost ISS uptime and with only doing 2 SSs per cycle, Term is now only providing 12 focus every 10s or 1.2 fps, equivalent to the focus regen from 30% haste. Furthermore, this 2 SS/Term rotation is only sustainable for 1 to 2 cycles, meaning that you will have to “alternate” it with the 4 SS cycle in which Term provides no or little benefits if the last 20% lasts longer than 15-20s. This ISS downtime approach with Term works best with the CS glyph since your ISS downtime will be shorter with only 2 SSs per rotation and since you only have 1 focus free KS every 10s instead [of] 2 every 11s meaning that you are doing more ASs that will benefit from the extra focus from Term.

Thus, Term can be a significant DPS gain in some situations (primarily when hasted) and can be only a small DPS gain in others. [See The Spec section of the guide for a full discussion on specs and talents.]


Glyph of Steady Shot
and Glyph of Arcane Shot remain the top choices for our prime glyphs. For the third slot, there are three options depending on the situation and preferences: Glyph of Chimera Shot, Glyph of Rapid Fire, and Glyph of Kill Shot. Of these three, the Glyph of Rapid Fire is recommended as the best choice in most circumstances. “Although its special DPS is lower than the CS glyph, its use will increase autoshot and WQ DPS hopefully enough to span the gap. The alternate choice is the CS glyph. It results in higher special DPS, but is also the more sensitive glyph to unideal execution.” For analysis and discussion please refer to the Prime Glyphs and 5.4% and 12.93% Haste Shot Phase DPS Comparison With[out] T12 4-Set sections of the guide.


The guide lists the order of preference for Marksmanship hunter stats as generally being: Ranged DPS >> agi > hit = 2 AP > crit => haste >= mastery >> stamina.Note that the order of our secondary stats (crit, mastery, and haste) may change depending on your current gear, shot selection, and reforging situation putting you past a tipping point where changes in stats can cause a reordering of their precedence. However, I believe that the ordering is generally true, and it is agreed upon by other sources.” Please see the Stats section of the guide for further information.

Haste Soft Caps

There are two important haste soft caps for Marksmanship hunters: 5.4% and 12.93% haste from gear and Pathing combined. These soft caps were determined by calculating the points where reducing Steady Shot cast time allows the gain of additional GCDs during a Chimera Shot cycle. (To see how these points were determined please refer to the Haste and Steady Shot with AS as Focus Dump section in the guide.)

5.4% from gear and Pathing:

This amount provides 1.5s SS cast time such that a 10s CS cycle is tight with 4 SSs and 3 GCDs for instants besides the CS. This amount is also the exact amount needed for having your SS cast get to the 1s GCD during RFs with the RF glyph. AI cast times is 2.18s.

12.93% from gear and Pathing:

This amount provides a 1.4s SS cast time such that a 10s CS cycle is tight with 5 SSs and 2 GCDs for instants besides the CS. This is also the amount where your SS cast time is at the 1s GCD during unglyphed RFs. This may be a good case for when we are between the T11 and T12 4-set bonuses, but it will probably not be ideal once we get the T12 4-set since we probably won’t need the 5th SS for focus balancing and need more than 2 GCDs for focus dumps or use of MMM/T12 4-set procs. [See this post for further information]

Of these two points, the guide recommends 12.93% haste from gear plus Pathing, adjusted to account for latency.  (For a discussion on accounting for latency please see this post).  “Without the T12 4-set, the 12.93% haste case outperforms the 5.4% haste for all glyph choices and for with and without Term.” See 5.4% and 12.93% Haste Shot Phase DPS Comparison With[out] T12 4-Set for analysis and further information.


T12 Set Bonuses

2-Piece Set Bonus: Flaming Arrow

The hunter T12 2-piece set bonus grants our Steady Shots a 10% chance to trigger a Flaming Arrow that deals 80% instant weapon damage as Fire.

This is a very beneficial 2-set bonus since we get the benefit naturally by casting SSs and considering all of the SSs that we perform. With doing 4 to 5 SSs per 10s, on average this results in a FA about every 20 to 25s. In the FD simulation at the 12.93% haste level in 378 gear, a FA occurred about every 21.5s and accounted for about 400 DPS. Fully raid buffed, each FA did about 96% of autoshot damage due to the buffing of magic damage on targets. [See T12 Set Bonuses]

Given that more Steady Shots results in more MMM AI and FA procs, the question arises of which would be better, casting an additional Steady Shot or using an Arcane Shot (when it is the focus dump). The guide recommends against Steady Shot spamming and instead suggests using Arcane Shot:

Despite that taking extra SSs beyond those needed for ISS and focus balancing in place of ASs results in more MMM AI and FA procs, it is a loss in hunter damage due to the slightly higher damage of AS over SS and the fact that you can perform more ASs than SSs in a set amount of time. Add on top of this the additional pet damage of the AS case due to more Sic’Em procs, using AS to dump focus instead of spamming SS is better.

Using the 12.93% case, FD shows using AS to dump focus to be a total of 588 damage higher than the spamming SS alternative, with 363 higher hunter damage and 226 higher pet damage. [See Steady Shot Spamming vs. Arcane Shot outside the CA Phase for further information]

4-Piece Set Bonus: Burning Adrenaline

The T12 4-piece set bonus gives our autoshots a 10% chance to make our next shot or Kill Command cost no focus.

This proc is only consumed by abilities that cost focus; hence, it will never be wasted on a SS, KS, MMM AI proc, or other non-focus costing shots. This can also be a very beneficial bonus since it provides additional focus to possibly use to perform more damage. [...] Anytime your normal rotation is focus negative, this proc can help make it focus positive or at least less focus negative. Furthermore, if your rotation has extra SSs required to balance focus, this proc will help reduce or eliminate the number of those additional SSs needed. When under dynamic haste effects with casting AIs and not performing a tight CS rotation, these procs will usually power additional AI casts for more DPS.

Some additional considerations concerning the 4-piece set bonus are:

  • Being under dynamic haste effects increase your autoshot frequency and number of procs per CS cycle. Thus, this bonus favors higher haste cases and the RF glyph.
  • Since AI locks out your autoshot casts, you will experience less procs while using AI as your focus dump at a given haste amount.
  • The T12 4-set bonus has inverse benefits to your T12 2-set bonus. Whenever we have additional focus and can take another focus dump instead of a having to perform additional SSs, we lower our number of SS casts and chances to proc FAs. [See T12 Set Bonuses for further information]

Which shots/spells should be used to consume the 4-piece proc? The answer depends on what shot you’re using as a focus dump, and what shots are on cooldown:

T12 4-piece proc when using Arcane Shot as focus dump: Chimera/Arcane/Kill Command

When AS is your focus dump, the only other focus costing shot that you normally use is CS, which is on a 9 to 10s CD. Since CS costs twice as much focus as AS, the preference is to use the proc on CS if it is off CD or coming off CD soon. However, if CS is still on CD for a long time, it is usually more beneficial to use the proc on AS and start the chances for the next proc. [...] Another option is to replace ASs that would consume the proc [with] KCs instead since they both are instant and focus free in that situation but with KC doing about 1.4 times the damage. [See T12 4-Set Bonus Proc Consumption for additional information]

Possible negative consequences of using Kill Command instead of Arcane Shot for the 4-piece proc are:

  • Loss of possible Sic’Em procs from the AS. However, over the approximately 3 mins of a 5 min fight that you are using AS as the focus dump and assuming a 2s autoshot frequency, you can expect only 9 T12 4-set procs. With assuming a 60% chance at most that the proc will be used by AS instead of CS, that reduces the number of instances of KC for AS replacements to 5.4. With assuming a 40% crit rate, this means that only about 2.2 Sic’Em procs are lost over the course of the fight, which is negligible.
  • The T12 4-set proc may occur in the middle of casting multiple ASs or right before you were already prepared to cast an AS. In these cases it may not be possible to recognize the 4-set proc in time to avoid casting the AS. This is fine and unavoidable. In other cases, you may be able to recognize the T12 4-set proc in time to switch casts, but switching casts may cost you human reaction time and end up being a negative instead of positive change since it pushed out your cycle some.

Using Kill Command to consume the proc rather than Arcane Shot is considered a bonus:

In cases where the proc occurs while you are casting SSs and have plenty of time to both recognize it and prepare to cast a KC, it is definitely better to use KC. Hence, I recommend replacing ASs with KCs for T12 4-set procs where you can do so without adversely impacting your shot timing. When you can replace the AS, I consider the extra damage bonus damage and not anything that can be reliably counted upon. [See Kill Command or Arcane Shot for T12 4-Set Procs for further discussion.]

T12 4-piece proc when using Aimed Shot as focus dump: Aimed/Chimera

When AI is your focus dump, the only other focus costing shot that you normally use is CS, which is on a 9 to 10s CD. Since CS and AI cost about the same amount of focus (within 6 focus depending on Eff and AI glyph), the preference to consume the proc on the higher focus costing shot (AI in this case) is not that important. The difference basically amounts to about 6 focus at most every about 25s or about 0.24 fps. Thus, for most players, I recommend not [to] worry about which shot, AI or CS, consumes the proc. In addition, since KC does so much less damage than AI and does not proc Sic’Em like AI, I do not recommend using KC whenever AI is your focus dump. [See T12 4-Set Bonus Proc Consumption for further information]

Shot Rotations

Standard Phase The Standard Phase is the longest and occurs from 90% boss health to 25 or 20% depending on whether one is talented for Termination.

Priorities for this phase are:

  • Cast CS off CD
  • Use AS as the focus dump when not under large haste effects (RF or BL)
  • Use AI as the focus dump when under large haste effects
  • Cast at least 2 SS pairs per CS cycle to maintain ISS uptime

See Standard Phase Summary and Recommendations for Without T12 4-Set and Standard Phase Summary and Recommendations for With T12 4-Set for detailed recommendations on shot rotations. For an in-depth analysis see this post.

Careful Aim Phase The Careful Aim phase lasts for the first 10% (100-90%) of boss health. During this period we benefit from an additional 60% crit probability for our Steady Shot and Aimed Shot.

Suggestions for this phase are:

  • Use SrS with using CS soon enough to refresh SrS (optionally both can be skipped)
  • Use AI as your focus dump
  • Use at least 2 SS pairs to maintain ISS uptime
  • Utilize the haste from gear requirements from the Standard phase

See Careful Aim Phase Summary and Recommendations for recommended shot rotations under various conditions. To review the analysis that led to these recommendations see this post.

Termination Phase If talented for Termination, the phase lasts for the final 25% of boss health. During this period, our Steady shots generate additional focus. Note that at 20% health Kill Shot becomes available thus most of the Termination Phase overlaps the Kill Shot phase.

The goals for this phase are the same as those for the Standard phase. The rotation is similar to the Standard Phase except that focus is less of a concern thus the possibility could exist to drop an extra Steady Shot from your cycle and replace it with a focus dump.

Looking at the benefits of talenting Termination to this short phase, Termination is a DPS increase in all cases (both haste levels and both unhasted and under dynamic haste effects) since it allows you to be able to drop extra SS casts.

See Termination Phase Summary and Recommendations for recommended shot rotations and this post for detailed analysis.

Kill Shot Phase The Kill Shot phase is in effect during the last 20% of boss health. During this phase, Kill Shot becomes available.

  • The Glyph of Kill Shot, in theory, allows you to cast back to back KSs on a 11s cycle.
  • If you are not talented for Termination, then the Kill Shot phase is very similar to the Standard phase with the exception that you have an additional instant cast, focus-free shot, KS, that you can perform up to every 10s without the KS glyph and more frequently with the KS glyph.
  • In general, adding KSs into the rotation is similar to adding in MMM AI procs. Both are instant cast, focus-free shots that do considerably more damage than AS or SS. The desire here is for KS casts to replace extra SS casts not needed for focus regen or AS casts.

If you are not talented for Termination, see Kill Shot Phase Summary and Recommendations for suggested shot rotations and this post for the analysis. If you do have the Termination talent, see Kill Shot Phase with Termination Summary and Recommendations for rotations and this post for detailed analysis.

A full index of all Elitist Jerks posts recapped at the Wow Hunter’s Hall is maintained in the Index of Elitist Jerks Hunter Forum Posts.

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