A closer look at marksmanship hunters in Warlords

Update 8/22: This article is still mostly accurate but is slightly depreciated. It will give you a good overview of the overall changes but you may want to view more recent posts under the Marksmanship tag for more info and recent opinions.

If you missed it earlier, Blizzard released the first version of patch notes for the Warlords of Draenor alpha. I’ve summed up all the relevant hunter info in this post if you want to catch up.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be looking at some of the individual changes in separate posts such as this one — my opinions on them, and what I think they mean for hunters.  Previously, I discussed the survival changes, and today I’m going to look at marksmanship. A new focus dump, farther attack range, and potentially “fixed” AoE? Say it ain’t so.

Aimed Shot Changes

Aimed Shot is now the primary focus dump for marksmanship hunters. They will no longer use Arcane Shot. Aimed Shot can now be cast while moving without a glyph. I think a hardcasted focus dump fits the “marksman sniper” theme pretty well. In fact, some marksman hunters already play like this.

Currently, while you are casting Aimed Shot your auto shot timer is delayed and they stop firing. This will no longer be the case in Warlords, so auto shots will continue firing during the cast. Marksmanship hunters would be firing very few auto shots if they didn’t change this.

In addition, Thrill of the Hunt will now reduce the focus cost of Aimed Shot as well. If you combine this with the Enhanced Aimed Shot perk, Aimed Shot crits will effectively cost 10 focus (if TotH is active).


Chimaera Shot Changes

Chimaera Shot (formerly Chimera Shot) has been changed into a 2-target cleave ability. It now shoots two Chimaera “heads,” one for frost damage and one for nature damage. Each head can independently crit and multisrike. If there isn’t another target near your primary one, it will just shoot a single projectile.

To learn more about the new Chimaera Shot, see this post.

Rapid Fire now a Marksmanship exclusive

Originally, Rapid Fire was removed from all specs but it was recently revealed by Celestalon that marksmanship will get to keep this cooldown. A nice change considering marksmanship was left with zero active cooldown abilities (besides talents) prior to this. I think Rapid Fire makes the most sense for this spec anyway when you consider the majority of marksmanship’s shots will now be hardcasted.

Careful Aim has been “majorly buffed”

Careful Aim is already pretty strong for the opening of a fight, but it has turned into somewhat of a “passive cooldown” due to its new interaction with Rapid Fire. Careful Aim will always be active during Rapid Fire, essentially giving you guaranteed Aimed Shot crits whenever you use the cooldown.

Removed Abilities

Rapid Recuperation has been removed, but marksmanship hunters have a new focus recovery mechanic with the Enhanced Aimed Shot perk.

Silencing Shot, currently a marksmanship exclusive, has also been removed. This isn’t necessarily a specific hunter nerf. Blizzard just didn’t want any abilities to both interrupt and silence at the same time. You will get Counter Shot like the other specs now.

Steady Focus, Master Marksman, and Piercing Shots have all been removed as well. The reasoning from Blizzard behind Master Marksman was now that Aimed Shot is the primary focus dump, they didn’t feel it was right to have a proc to give you a free focus dump. Steady Focus is a bigger loss, but personally I was never a fan of it.

New Mastery: Sniper Training

Marksmanship’s mastery has been changed from Wild Quiver to Sniper Training.

When you stand still for 3 seconds, you gain a buff which increases your damage, crit damage, and shot range. When you begin moving again, the buff continues to last for 6 seconds (and it will fall off unless you stop moving again to reapply it).

It seems they really want MM to be the “turret” spec of the class. You’ll also note how well this meshes with the new Focusing Shot talent. Its base cast time is 3 seconds, so if you’re using that, you’ll only need to stay still half a second longer or so to apply the Sniper Training buff.

Opinion is very mixed on this one. Remember, that we hunters have been used to a whole expansion of having zero movement penalty, and the other 2 specs still have no movement penalties. In theory, properly utilizing this new mastery should reward you with very high DPS, but  that’s only in theory. On first glance, it may seem terrible for PvP (and you may be right), but the silver lining here is the extra shot range.

A Closer Look at Marksmanship Perks

You will receive one of these perks every level from 91-99. What perk you receive is totally random, so you may get your favorite one first or last. It should add a little bit of excitement each time you ding. What will you get next?

  • Enhanced Kill Shot: Kill Shot can now be used on targets with 35% or less health.
    This is the one perk shared with beast mastery. Kill Shot is going to be getting a lot more mileage now.
  • Enhanced Camouflage: You heal 3% of your maximum health every second while Camouflage is active.
    All 3 hunter specs share this perk. It adds some much needed utility and usefulness to Camouflage. Keep in mind that Camo only lasts for 6 seconds when you cast it in combat (and it will automatically stop you from shooting).
  • Enhanced Aimed Shot: Your Aimed Shot crits grant you 20 focus.
    I love procs, so I’m on board with this one. It also adds a bit of a reactionary element to the rotation which I like.
  • Improved Focus: Increase your maximum focus by 20.
    This makes total and complete sense. I always thought a 120 focus pool was better suited to marksmanship and its high cost shots. Unless Kindred Spirits is removed, survival is going to be the only spec not invited to the 120 focus party.
Dealing death from afar

I know some people are concerned about having a hardcasted focus dump, but I think with the changes to Aimed Shot it will probably work out for the better. To me, it makes sense for marksmanship to feel slow and methodical.  Hard hitting snipers. Less spammy.

There are two seemingly good choices from the level 100 talents as well. Focusing Shot’s enormous focus return (50 focus per cast) plays well with the high cost shots and the 120 focus pool. With 100 focus it would be easier to find yourself in a focus capped situation when using Focusing Shot. There is the movement penalty to worry about, but I don’t think that will be an issue on every single boss fight or situation.

So, what do you think? Would these changes get you interested in playing marksmanship? As someone who currently duos survival and beast mastery, I am going to have a very tough time deciding on my secondary spec. I’m a beast master at heart, so that will always be there… but the decision between survival and marksmanship just got a lot more complicated. WTB tri-spec, Blizz?

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14 thoughts on “A closer look at marksmanship hunters in Warlords”

  1. I leveled as Marks, only when BM when I was forced to by BC mechanics, or Surv through much of Wrath and etc. I’ll use any excuse to go back to Marks, and I want to take credit for Lone Wolf but that would be silly.

  2. As a Marksmanship hunter from the beginning, with only brief (a few hours or so) dalliances with BM to tame pets or Survival for Firelands raiding, I’m very happy with the WoD alpha Marks spec, especially with Lone Wolf. (I’ll still have my bear out for soloing.)

    I’m concerned about the Glyph of Aimed Shot issue, myself, especially since it’d have to compete with additional new glyphs. (The Glyph of Feign Death seems tempting, for instance, although it feels too weak for a Major Glyph and too strong for a Minor Glyph.)

  3. I think Celestalon is referring to a different cooldown, probably a buffed version of Rapid Fire that will replace Blink Strikes on the level 60 talent tier. It makes no sense to have two abilities with a long cooldown and then a passive that a lot of people will have to take by necessity. We still haven’t seen the changes to BM yet, and I’m prepared to bet that BS will be included as a passive BM ability (though perhaps with a reduced percentage, no minimum range and no internal cooldown). While I’m speculating, I think direct pet-control might also be happening for BM, but will be dropped if it proves too unwieldy, why else would “Rabid” be removed and Growl be given a longer range?

    1. Not gonna lie, I would like it very much if all the talent choices in that tier were active. I know the reasoning behind having a passive choice but it ends up being better in so many situations.

      The problem now is part of the reason BM is doing great AOE damage is because of blink strikes and those buffed basic attacks cleaving. However, there is a Draenor Perk which increases beast cleave damage by 25%, and that would include both basics and melee attacks. In other words, it’s roughly the same damage increase as Blink Strikes is currently (for beast cleave).

      So you may be right about Blink Strikes. I hope the blink component stays as a passive for target switching if they do end up removing it.

  4. All I can say is there are going to be a lot of healers hating MM for standing that extra 5 yards.

  5. I always preferred MM but have been SV/BM for MoP because MM just wasn’t viable. I really like the Enhanced Shots perk (it should be renamed Hawk Eye though), if only for the flavor it adds to the spec. Choosing specs will be hard in WoD. BM stays as a mandatory spec for taming exotics and SV has the camo perk. I wonder how careful aim is changed since a CD would imply it’s an om demand ability.

  6. I ran MM for the entirety of Wrath and only swapped to BM in Cata to tame rares. I am really looking forward to getting into Marks again. It was always my favorite.

  7. I was looking at the Hunter talent tree calculator on WoW head specifically the spec passives and i since We’ll be using Aimed Shot more the passive Master Marksman seems weird to me to have free aimed shots when we already have cheaper Aimed Shot procs off Thrill of the Hunt… So what if instead it was stacking buff for a free Chimera Shot i think this would be a lot more fun and rewarding…

  8. I agree, the feeling of a fun and usefull proc for marks apart from Thrill of the Hunt, shouldn’t be an Instant Aimed shot which is out Focus dump, I would perfer a reset of the cooldown on Chimera shot and 100% free Focus cost for it, maybe a 6 second duration seems fine but having the signature “Hardest Hitter of the spec” similar to the same concept of Proccing Pyroblast (the mage’s hardest Hitter in Fire spec” is more what i’d look for in Marksman. Does anyone else agree?

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