Focus Pocus: A closer look at Focus Fire, Steady Focus, and Focusing Shot

Have you been enjoying the hunter spec equality we have now? I sure am. With more people playing BM and SV again, I thought it warranted a closer look at a couple of the less popular talents.

Focus Fire, aka RNG Fire

The recent buff to Improved Focus Fire (5% per stack instead of 2%) has put a great deal more importance on the  Focus Fire ability. Every basic attack has a 40% chance to add a stack of Frenzy. I’ve never paid much attention to stack generation before this, but now my eye is on it constantly, and I’ve discovered just how RNG-dependent BM DPS can be now.

Sometimes my stack generation will be so high that I’ll have generated 5 stacks before my current Focus Fire buff has even expired. It feels fantastic when this happens. Other times, I’ve had my Frenzy stuck at a single stack for an entire 30 seconds.  Ouch.

This RNG got me thinking about the Steady Focus talent. Delirium had done some testing in beta which discovered it also increased pet focus regeneration, but it still seemed like an inferior talent to the guaranteed damage of Dire Beast.

Enter Steady Focus

With extra pet focus regeneration, that means more pet basic attacks. More pet basic attacks means more chances at proccing stacks of Frenzy to use Focus Fire more often. So I opened up Simulation Craft and ran some quick numbers. Dire Beast was pretty well ahead (over 1k DPS), but then I checked out the focus details and noticed the same number of basic attacks were cast in both simulations. That can’t be right.

Turns out SimC was bugged and not taking the pet focus regen into account. They fixed the bug and things changed substantially.

Simulated in my own gear (ilvl 656)
Simulated in my own gear (ilvl 656)

Steady Focus gives your pet approximately 10% more basic attacks over the course of a fight, which leads to about 5% more uptime on Focus Fire. Together this will even out to roughly the same benefit as the raw passive damage of Dire Beast. In AoE or cleave situations, the difference is much greater thanks to more Beast Cleave damage.

In practice, Steady Focus was a bit problematic for me. I ended up being so overly concerned about keeping it up all the time that it started to affect my DPS in other ways. The weakauras I set up ended up being more of a distraction than anything. I think the key to Steady Focus is to not let it change your shot priority, even if it means less than 100% uptime. It’s also worth noting that the Steady Focus uptime was only about 80% in the above simulations.

Another nice benefit is that Kill Command does not interrupt the Steady Focus chain, so you can cast Cobra Shot -> Kill Command -> Cobra Shot and it will give you Steady Focus. This is unique to Kill Command.

Whether or not you like the talent, it’s just nice to know that it’s a good option now. It’s not Dire Beast or bust.

Focusing Shot with Survival

There’s a lot of excitement over survival right now, which I find kind of amusing considering how much everyone (including yours truly) was ragging on it through beta and up until this hotfix. Really, not much has changed. It still doesn’t have an execute. It still doesn’t have a baseline cooldown. Yet people are flipping out over it.

For me, the appeal of survival right now is how incredibly reliable the damage output is. I know exactly what kind of damage I’m going to do as survival. It matches up almost perfectly with my simulated result and RNG has little bearing on it (at least compared to bad RNG on Focus Fire for BM, or Thrill of the Hunt for MM).

Simulated with my own gear (ilvl 656)
Simulated with my own gear (ilvl 656)

The good news for pet lovers who want to play Survival is that there is an option that can do the same (or even more) DPS than Lone Wolf. Focusing Shot works surprisingly well for the spec despite the smaller focus pool. In the real world, it was about the same as Lone Wolf on single target.

My favorite talent (though the least optimal) for Survival is Exotic Munitions. In any kind of AoE or cleave, it can do pretty well. It’s simply just going to lag behind in pure single target. I wish they’d give a very slight buff to Poisoned Ammo to help with this.

I know a lot of folks hate the movement restriction, but if you can pull it off you will be rewarded.

  • For BM, Steady Focus is competitive with Dire Beast in single target. It is better than Dire Beast in multi-target.
  • For SV, Focusing Shot has the highest DPS potential in all situations — assuming you can master its use.
  • Fire Steady Focusing Shot — Is anyone else confused by all these similar sounding spell names?


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12 thoughts on “Focus Pocus: A closer look at Focus Fire, Steady Focus, and Focusing Shot”

  1. I am actually enjoying using focusing shot with MM because the extra focus helps me pump out all my cheap aim shots. However i dont combine with steady focus because that would put too much reliance on that skill and i be screwed if i am in a constant movement fight like any bridge fight. I am loving looking for the brief quick seconds to use it and get a sniper training buff

  2. How many mastery do you have on your gear? With a high amount of mastery, Steady Focus is steal competitive? Currently, on single target DB is about 13-15% of my damage (15% DB, 55% my lovely pet, 30% myself), and I have 51% of Mastery (buffed).
    Is Steady Focus increasing the global focus regeneration (Base + Haste)? Then should you prioritize Haste? (which is bad compared to Mastery / Crit / multistrike…)

    Ezylia – Archimonde (EU)
    °-° BM forever °-°

  3. I’m one of those diehards where people are all “you can do that as X (inferior spec)?” I was neck and neck with the survival overlords as beast mastery (after the great bm nerf) in wrath. And stuck with survival through all this rot about it being a trash spec.

    Ever considered the multi dot aspect of poisoned arrows? Cause i end up just sticking with that over the fire ones in general. (It can be a bother switching back and forth)

  4. Nice to know that Steady Focus feeds into the BM feedback loop – while Dire Beast is just another button to press. Different playstyle choices that lend themselves to different situations, exactly the way talents are supposed to function.

    Still not sold on Focusing Shot though, even as MM, which is the least mobile spec. Sniper Training feels like a bonus for proper positioning when I have it active – I don’t depend on it to do what I do. By contrast, Focusing Shot makes movement feel punitive, like I need to choose between moving for fight mechanics or maintaining my rotation properly.

    By contrast, Exotic Munitions lets me play with different passive ammo effects – requiring no playstyle adjustment yet giving me something hunters have been asking for since vanilla. Same for Lone Wolf – I can finally play an archer with no pet management to worry about, something I have wanted since the first time my pet wiped a group 9 years ago.

  5. So can you give me an advice which talents to choose now? Since steady focus is now useful, do I go for AmoC for 75, Barrage for 90? Since I like the blink strike a lot and glaive toss is really easy to handle in sinle target unlike barrage which can pull a lot of unnecesary mobs . I would really like to hear your advice.

  6. @Jaclie I’ve been wondering about the dps difference between poisoned arrows and the explosive arrows in AoE situations. I can’t seem to find an option to specify the type of ammo used in Esoth’s tools, so I’ll have to look into that myself I guess.

    @Dejan Ljevar Your “optimal” dps is going to be based on several factors, including your playstyle and gear. I’d encourage you to play around in Esoth’s Hunter Tools (Bendak has been so gracious to leave us a link in his sidebar). Import your stats from the armory, then choose the different talents and recalculate your dps. Keep in mind, this is only an approximation, but it’s a darn good tool for us hunters. /highfive Esoth

    In another note, I’ve been playing around with some talent choices myself. While I solo as BM, I dungeon and raid as SV. My ilvl is 618, so by no means is this the end-all analysis here, but I found that Dire Beat was gaining me quite a bit of dps over Thrill of the Hunt. That suits me just fine as SV – gives me another button to press. As for other talents, A Murder of Crows and Blink Strikes were almost identical, with AMoC coming out slightly ahead.

    Can anybody around that same ilvl confirm any of those findings? I know there’s a lot of buzz about MM and BM these days, but let’s not let the SV buzz die!

    If you want to check my math it’s Aukatos @ Azjol-Nerub (US)


  7. I started out with BM using steady focus because I found myself frequently casting 2 cobra shots in a row. 1 less button to push compared to Direbeast.

  8. I found that Steady Shot was a viable option during the beginning of WoD simply because it was a great way to increase focus regeneration. I normally weave 2 Cobra Shots in between Kill Commands – so it seemed like a great fit. I’m glad to see that this focus regen also applies to pets and gives a slight bump to Frenzy stacks. It’s frustrating sometimes when Frenzy just doesn’t want to proc.

  9. Really loving the massive buff they gave serpent sting. The fact that it does so much damage now finally makes survival feel like a proper dot spec in the sense that you get rewarded for multidotting SS.

    1. This was changed as Ranged haste was reverted back to Haste. Meaning the Haste you gain from consuming Frenzy stacks allows your pet even faster attacks than 5 stacks – It’s essential even more now (with the buff) that you consume Frenzy stacks almost all the time. You want Focused Fire on as much as possible as the added benefits of both the haste AND attack power heavily outweigh the haste stacks provided with Frenzy.

      Since Focus Fire gives 25% AP and provides you with haste – that haste now transfers to the pet … so your pet will benefit from boosted AP and higher haste than what it would have with 5 frenzy stacks. There’s no reason to keep Frenzy stacks at all.

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