Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Furrymammoth's Raiding Marksmanship Guide

Hello, all. This (in the world of 3.1) is my Marksmanship Build guide. In it, I hope to:
  • Describe EVERY MM talent available, and explain why I go with one over the other
  • Provide some options on where to spend extra talents (what happens after the 51st).
  • Help out fellow hunters who are interested.
  • Hopefully draw in at least one more reader.
Obviously, it takes 5 talent points to make it to the next tier of talents. In this light, I will explain where I would put a set of 5 talent points at a time, rather than how much I would spend on a given tier.

My basic rules for speccing into any talent tree for Raiding is that as a Hunter, my job is to provide DPS. Just like any other player I need to avoid shadow fissures/black spots/almost any round-shaped thing in a raid encounter, but as long as I do that, I should be able to trust my tanks (plus my Feign Death to keep threat away from me and I should be able to trust my healers to keep me alive through any party damage. This being said, all my points that possibly can go to DPS, not surviving.

(note that this is only the case for unavoidable damage like raid-wide AOE or random-target sorts of damage. It IS a DPSer's job to stay away from things that can be avoided including round-shaped traps, tail swipes, etc.)

I read somewhere that with each talent point, you should try to improve your DPS by at least 1%. While it may not always be possible, I try to do this.

  • Hunter is hit capped at 263 or more Hit Rating (although non-hit capped talents will be mentioned)
  • Hunter is level 80.
  • Some talents are optional or situational. We will call these fillers. I'll mention which are fillers and then discuss order toward the end.
  • While your pet's DPS is DEFINITELY important, some of the math I do will not count it.

Anyway, on to the guide:

Marksmanship Tree

Talent Points 1-5: (tier 1)
Improved Concussive Shot: Improves daze duration of a Concussive shot by 2 seconds (1 second/talent point). The only bonus to DPS this is could be an extra second/two seconds of extra Steady Shot bonus damage, but this is doubtfully helpful as it will improve 1 shot per concussive shot by only 175 damage. And most bosses are probably immune to this effect anyway. I would not suggest this talent.

Focused Aim: Focused Aim does two things- for each talent point added you get an extra 23% reduced pushback while casting steady shot, and you also get an extra 1% chance to hit. In a few encounters the pushback reduction may be helpful, but this is probably a generally PVP-oriented part. A hunter's Hit Rating cap is 263, and this is probably the most important number for a hunter to get to- "You can't crit what you don't hit." This being said, each point in this helps you out for 32.79 Hit Rating, as it is that much for each % chance to hit. This is a situational filler talent.

A big caveat that is not noticeable is that the hit % that you recieve from this talent DOES NOT transfer to your pet like the % from Hit Rating does. This is HUGE for BM hunters but still pretty important for others as well. While it helps when your hit rating is low, this talent is not a replacement for hit rating from gear. (However, this may change in 3.2- we'll see.)

Lethal Shots: Increases ranged crit by 5% (1% for each talent point). An extra %chance to crit is huge for a talent point!

Spending talent points 1-5: I'd put 5/5 into Lethal Shots- Remember, we're assuming hit capped here. If you need to boost your HR, you'll be able to use some of the filler points for Focused Aim. We'll get to this later.

Talent Points 6-10 (tier 2)
Careful Aim: at 3 points (33% each), increases attack power by 100% of your intellect. My current gear gives puts me over 400 intellect meaning each talent point would give me over 130 AP each. Even with worse gear its a good amount of AP. (Also, realize that with 3/3 this is 1 AP per intellect. That's how much AP we get from agility.)

Improved Hunters mark: each talent point tacks on 50 more AP for all ranged, attack-power based damage dealers (in other words, hunters). While it isn't as powerful as other talents, I feel like if you are in a raiding guild with multiple hunters, at least one of you should be specced into this and should be the designated marker. (However, the glyph is character-based instead of a buff given by whoever is marking). This is a situational filler talent.

Mortal Shots: +30% bonus damage on crits (5 talent points max, 6% each point). Hunters crit a lot. A LOT. In one given night I crit about 42% of the time. This is a big DPS boost, in my mind. 5/5 needed to get to Aimed shot in tier 3.

Spending talent points 6-10: I'd put 5/5 in Mortal shots. Don't worry, we're coming back.

Talent Points 11-15 (tier 3)
Go For the Throat: 1 talent point gives your pet 25 focus back for every time you crit. A second point makes that number 50 focus instead of 25. While my pet isn't as powerful as a BM pet, they are still a part of your DPS and this will keep them casting their special abilities. (Must-have if you are BM.)

Improved Arcane Shot: +15% damage from your Arcane Shot (5% per talent point). Ok, lets do math here- If I am haste capped and arcane shot has a 6-second cooldown, I can shoot this up to every fourth shot. 5% bonus/talent / 4 shots per (available use) = 1.25%. Worth it! However, Arcane is not your most important shot, so it won't be quite this, but (at least in my book) it's 2nd on the priority list.

Aimed Shot: an extra 408 damage for the shot and healing effects reduced by 50% for 10 seconds. For me, the jury is still out here. To start it does the same amount of damage as multi shot and only hits one target- the benefit is that it can be used while moving and the mana cost is 1% less (barely anything), and it shares the CD with multi-shot, so you can only use one. That being said, it seems to be modified well by later talents and when I tried it my DPS seems to have gone up. But I'm still skeptical. (The healing debuff on the target is rarely useful as most bosses don't heal themselves.)

Rapid Killing: For the most part, 2 minutes (1 per talent point) reduced from your Rapid Fire ability. Not necessary yet, but I'll when we talk about readiness and other spells it'll get better.

Spending talent points 11-15: I'd put 3 points in Careful Aim, 1 point in go for the throat, and 1 point in Aimed Shot. We don't need 2 in Go for the Throat, as our crits come often enough to keep our pet happy with only 25 focus/crit.

Talent Points 16-20 (tier 4)
Improved Stings: Increases the damage done by your Serpent Sting and Wyvern Sting by 30% and the mana drained by your Viper Sting by 30%. In addition, reduces the chance your Sting damage over time effects will be dispelled by 30%. I usually only use serpent sting in a Raid, and this 30% extra (10%/talent point) is pretty nice- especially since it also affects my damage by Chimera Shot (we'll get to that later).

Efficiency: all shots and stings mana cost reduced by 15%- 3% per talent point. Helpful, but mana is not a huge priority since we have Aspect of the Viper, but this does make for a nice filler talent.

Spending talent points 16-20: I'd put 3 into Improved Stings and 2 into Rapid Killing.

Talent Points 21-25 (tier 5)
Concussive Barrage: 100% chance (with only one talent point, 50%) to daze target of a multi-shot or a Chimera shot. Not helpful in a raid. Great for PVP, I guess.

Readiness: Resets the cooldowns for all hunter abilities (aside from bestial wrath, which we don't have anyway). Did I hear that right? This could be used to take care of a crucial but resisted feign death (but I'd suggest never getting to the point where it is crucial), but the best way for DPS to use this is in conjunction mainly with your Rapid Fire. If you pop rapid fire then readiness, you are able to use Rapid Fire again right away, making it 30 seconds for every 3 minutes (since we are specced into Rapid Killing), rather than only 15 seconds. This doesn't even include resetting the CD on things like Chimera and Aimed shot...

Barrage: Increases damage of Volley, Aimed Shot, and Multi-Shot by 12% (4% per talent point). Ruling out Volley from most raid fights, we have a 10-second cooldown which usually will be for Aimed Shot. If we shoot every GCD (1.5 seconds), that's 1 shot out of every 6.67 shots- 4/6.67 = less than 1% increase. But we'll keep this for a filler, as it can come in handy for trash/adds. This is a filler talent.

Spending talent points 21-25: 1 into Readiness, 3 into Improved Arcane shot, and one into a filler.

Talent Points 26-30 (tier 6)
Combat Experience: Agility and Intellect increased by 4% (2% per point). Agility and Intellect are your 2 greatest stats, and this buffs both of them. No brainer.

Ranged Weapon Specialization: Damage done by ranged weapons increased by 5% (1% at one point, 3% at 2 points). Again, no-brainer. This pretty much buffs your attacks other than your pet's damage and your traps. 5% increase for 3 talent points=nice.

Spending Talent Points 26-30: 2 into Combat Experience, 3 into Ranged Weapon Specialization.

Talent Points 31-35 (tier 7)
Piercing Shots: Your crits from Aimed, Steady, and Chimera Shots cause your target to bleed for 30% of the damage done (10% per talent point). Aside from your Arcane shot (every 4th shot) and Silencing Shot (which isn't on the list since it doesn't share the GCD), that's an extra 30% damage for all crits, bringing the grand total to 60% now. Actually, its 1*1.3*1.3, or 69% bonus damage for the listed shots. And this only takes 3 talent points. This is one reason why Aimed Shot would be worth the talent point compared to multi-shot.

Trueshot Aura 10% extra Attack Power. To everyone. This DOES NOT stack with the buff from shamans or from death knights, however. But its still nice especially for those big spread-out sorts of fights.

Improved Barrage: You need 3/3 Barrage to get to this. Increases the critical strike chance of your Multi-Shot and Aimed Shot abilities by 12% and reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while channeling Volley by 100%. Another filler talent, if you get to it.

Spending talent points 31-35: Put one into Trueshot Aura and 3 into Piercing Shots, and add a second point into your filler talents.

Talent Points 36-40 (tier 8)
Master Marksman: Increases your critical strike chance by 5%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, and Chimera Shot by 25%. That's an extra 1% crit and a reduction of mana from some shots by 5% for each point. We already decided that 1% chance to crit is worth speccing into, and now we get this bonus too! (Another bonus to Aimed shot too- starting at a cost of 8% base mana, this brings it down to 6% base mana, 33% less than multi-shot.)

Rapid Recuperation: You gain 4% of your mana every 3 sec while under the effect of Rapid Fire, and you gain 2% of your mana every 2 sec for 6 sec when you gain Rapid Killing. This means (with the Rapid Killing points from earlier in the tree) that if done right, you get 12% of your mana back every 3 minutes and when killing trash or soloing you get a good amount of mana back as well. While we do have Aspect of the Viper, we'd rather not need to use it, and this will give us enough mana where it is worth it. Not as important as other talents but not as low as a "filler"- not quite.

Spending talent points 36-40: 5 into Master Marksman.

Talent Points 41-45 (tier 9):
(get excited, you'll be getting more filler points here)
Wild Quiver: your auto shot has a 12% to cause an extra 80% of its damage in nature damage. 80%*12% of the time = average of 9.6% increase from auto-shots. These go on constantly and will be a significant part of the damage you do. In one random night, about 18% of my damage was from auto shots, and that sounds about average. 18%*9.6% = 1.73% bonus for 3 points, or just under .6% per talent point. While your auto shot is significant, the damage from this talent is not so much, so save it as a filler.

Silencing Shot: does 50% weapon damage and silences the target for 3 seconds. On first glance, you may think "What a waste! 50% weapon damage? I wouldn't spend a GCD on that!" Neither would I. HOWEVER, this is not connected to our Global Cooldown, so it is extra damage that does not cost us any time, only mana. So it boosts our DPS!

Ok, break time from DPS-centric thoughts. Many fights require a stun or interrupt to stop a powerful spell from being cast. This shot could be used, and it is off the GCD so you can use it very quickly to stop a cast. If you need to help interrupt, the DPS you lose by not using this every time it is off its Cooldown IS worth losing if it means keeping the raid alive. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Improved Steady Shot: Your Steady Shot hits have a 15% chance to increase the damage done by your next Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot or Chimera Shot by 15%, and reduce the mana cost of your next Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot or Chimera Shot by 20%. (the damage increase and mana reduction stay the same, but its 5% chance for each talent point).

Its time to see how many steady shots we cast, exactly. Lets take a two-minute long session and assume that we use each GCD to its fullest (meaning we have enough haste to cast a Steady Shot in 1.5 seconds and we are fast enough to use each GCD).
  • Glyphed, chimera shot is every 9 seconds (we'll get to this later)
  • Arcane Shot is every 6 seconds
  • Aimed shot is every 10 seconds, but lets just say its every 10.5 since, based on the GCDs, thats how often you can shoot it.
  • Steady shot everything else

two minutes = 120 seconds = 80 GCDs = 80 shots
120 seconds / 9 seconds per Chimera Shot = 13 Chimera Shots
120 seconds / 6 seconds per Arcane Shot = 20 Arcane Shots
120 seconds / 10.5 seconds per Aimed Shot = 11 Aimed Shots
80 - 13 - 20 - 11 = 36 steady shots, or (36/80) = .45% of our GCD shots taken. .45%*.15% chance to proc = 6.75% chance for a GCD shot to get this buff. And that doesn't include the times when it procs twice in a row when you have two steady shots before another special shot. Lets say that we get this buff on a shot on 6.75% of our shots * 15% damage increase = 1% damage increase total for these shots, which make up less than 100% of the damage done, and amounts to only about .25% of a damage increase per talent point. EWWW (did I talk about this enough?). Not even a filler talent. Stay away.

Spending talent points 41-45: 1 into silencing shot, and 4 into filler talents.

Wow, I took a while there. Luckily the next bit is easier.

Talent points 46-50 (tier 10)
Marked for Death: Just the 10th-tier talent points for most specs in the game, these are obvious. As long as your target has a Hunter's Mark on it, your damage AND your pet's damage is increased by 5% (so it already wins), but on top of that you also get another 10% crit damage bonus for almost all of the special shots you use regularly in a raid (Aimed, Arcane, Chimera, Kill, and Steady), which brings the total crit damage bonus for Aimed, Chimera, and Steady shot to 1*1.4*1.3 = 82% bonus crit damage. (Yeah, crit is that important).

Spending Talent points 46-50: All 5 into Marked for Death.

The 51st talent (tier 11)
Chimera Shot The tooltip is long, so lets explain it in a raid environment.
-You need to keep serpent sting up
-Once you shoot it once, you can keep it up with this instead of constantly wasting a GCD on it.
-Without the sting, this shot does 125% weapon damage. With it, you get an extra 40% of the serpent sting overall damage. This is not based on what the current serpent sting has already given out, but the overall damage of the sting. Both parts of this can crit, and I believe they do so separately. I have personally seen some really massive crits on this.

The last 20 points
We'll cover these a bit differently. Many hunters agree that the best way to divy points out for MM is 7/57/7. I think it depends on gear. But the 7 in survival are a must.

Talent Points 52-58
Survival tree tier 1:
Improved Tracking: All ranged damage to targets that you can track is increased by 5% (1%/talent point). This is good for pretty much any boss but Mimiron and Deconstructor (am I missing any?) Free 5% (aside from pet&traps) as long as you remember to track. And there are multiple addons that can do that for you! (By the way, I use track-o-matique)

Hawk Eye: 6 yard range increase (2 yards per talent point). This can be helpful sometimes, but I strongly believe that it is unnecessary, especially since Blizzard has been trying to avoid any spell/talent to be completely necessary for the sake of a class. I have yet to find where this would help significantly in a PvE fight in WotLK.

Savage Strikes: Melee damage buffed. No. Just no. I'm not discussing it. If you like this talent, you're going to sit in the corner for 10 minutes. Hunters don't melee.

In Survival Tier 2:
Survival InstinctsDamage taken reduced by 4% (nice bonus to the healers when you do take a shot), and crit chance for steady shot and arcane shot increased by 4%. From the calculations of the GCD shots we make, this is a 4% increase on crit chance for 70% of the shots on the GCD. So its worth it.

Spending Talent Points 52-58: put 5 into Improved Tracking then 2 into Survival Instincts.

13 points to go!
Is it worth it to spec into Improved Aspect of the Hawk? I would say no if you are haste capped. I will post on haste some time in the future, but now I'll link you to the haste post from Warcraft Hunter's Union. Pretty much, what I would suggest you do is subtract your haste from the haste cap, divide the number by the haste rating needed to get 1% haste and divide that by three, take the cieling, then put that many points into IAotH.

WTF, mate?

Ok, shorter version for a calculator (or Google..)
[(523-(your haste rating)) / 32.79 / 3], then round up.

Put that into IAotH. If you want to do what everyone else does, though, just throw 5 points into that and then 2 points into Focused Fire, which will increase your DPS by 1% per talent point plus giving your pet extra chance to crit during kill command, assuming your pet is out and active.

The rest is filler, giving you up to 13 more points of filler, bringing the grand total to 19 possible filler talent points.

Marksmanship Filler Talents
The list of filler talents we have in the marksmanship build are: Focused Aim, Improved Hunter's Mark, Efficiency, Barrage, Improved Barrage, Rapid Recouperation, and Wild Quiver. Here's the order in which I would suggest you put points in, however this may differ from Hunter to Hunter.

  1. If you have already tried gems and enchants to improve your hit rating and you are still low, put points into Focused Aim until your Hit Rating % increase + bonus from Focused Aim is GREATER than 8%.
  2. If you are the designated marker of your raiding guild or you'd like to provide it for yourself and any other hunters when you pug, fill the next points into Hunter's Mark.
  3. Rapid Recouperation
  4. Efficiency
  5. Barrage
  6. Wild Quiver
  7. Improved Barrage

Minor Glyphs: (starting with these because its easier)
I'd suggest Glyph of Feign Death and Mend Pet, but the third doesn't really matter. I use Glyph of the Pack.

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Chimera Shot: Reduces cooldown of Chimera shot by 1 second, making it fit nicely in the GCD and letting you shoot your most powerful shot more often. MUST HAVE.
My other two (as of this post):
Glyph of Hunter's Mark+20% more Attack Power from Hunters mark, or another 100 Attack power.
Glyph of Steady ShotIncreases damage done by steady shot by 10% when Serpent Sting is active (which is always). I like this one a lot.
Others to consider
Glyph of Aimed Shot: CD down to 8 seconds instead of 10. More Aimed Shots!
Glyph of Kill Shot: Kill shot can be used every 9 seconds instead of 15. Pretty nice, but that's only in the last 20% of the fight- I don't think its worth it.
Glyph of Trueshot Aura Aimed shot crit chance increased by 10% as long as your Trueshot Aura is up. Pretty cool considering all the other talents that have improved Crits and Aimed Shot damage already.
Glyph of the Hawk I actually don't think this one is worth it anything. Another 6% speed increase form Improved Aspect of the Hawk procs. I guess it could replace 2 talent points in there, as long as you have at least 1.

There you go, my guide to speccing into marksmanship. The shot priority I try to keep with my GCD when all I need to do is DPS is:

  1. Make sure serpent sting is up all the time
  2. Use Silencing Shot whenever possible
  3. Chimera Shot (will help with serpent sting)
  4. Arcane Shot
  5. Aimed Shot
  6. Steady Shot

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