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.
@Hordeshootsome Hunters can talent into an additional cooldown, and Careful Aim has been majorly buffed, effectively acting as a CD.
— Celestalon (@Celestalon) April 4, 2014
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?