Stats to Look For
- Attack Power: In the itemization budget, you get 2 AP or 1 of something else. AP is good for MM hunters and is the only DPS stat that transfers (in part) to our pet.
- Hit Rating: You want to reach the hit cap above all else. It will increase your chance to hit, your pet's chance to hit, and decrease your pet's chance to be dodged or parried. At level 80 the raid hit cap is 8% (263 hit rating) and the heroic hit cap is 6% (197 hit rating). The Focused Aim talent is an excellent way help you reach the hit cap.
- Agility: Gives you a bit of crit and AP, an excellent stat. Agility is the key stat that helps agility-based MM hunters more than any other stat other than hit rating.
- Crit Rating: More crits means more Piercing Shots, more giant numbers, and a higher position on the meters. Crit rating is excellent, though not as good as Agility for MM hunters.
- Intelligence: Increases your mana pool, your rate of mana regen with buffs like Replenishment, and gives you attack power to boot with the Careful Aim talent.
- Armor Penetration Rating: Another excellent, though complicated stat. ArP rating is better and better the more you have of it. MM hunter particularly like it because it boosts the damage of most of the shots that proc Piercing Shots.
- Haste Rating: This will slightly increase the rate of fire of your auto shots, and slightly lower your Steady Shot cast time (though be aware there is a Haste Soft Cap). It will help your DPS, but generally less than any other stat.
Stats to Avoid
Many hunters make the mistake of grabbing rogue gear with high agility, but other stats that don't help us at all. The following stats won't help your hunter.
- Strength: only good for melee, and you should never be meleeing.
- Expertise: only good for melee -- reduces chance to be parried or dodged, and our shots can't be parried or dodged anyway. Our pet gets expertise through our hit rating.
- MP5: a horrible stat for us. Hunters have much better ways of regenning our mana.
- Spirit: not a hunter stat.
The wolf remains the best DPS pet choice for MM hunters, by a good margin. We keeping hoping for the day when we have more of a mix of top pets, but inside my secret heart I'm glad the wolves are on top and I feel my Blizz bribe money is well spent.
You probably want a pet talent build like this: MM Ferocity Pet Talent Build. Most of your pet abilities can just be on auto cast (but not growl if you're in a group!). Call of the Wild is the one pet talent you definitely want to control manually, and some hunters (myself included) prefer to manually time Furious Howl with trinket procs.
Gemming your MM hunter is pretty easy, and requires you to wrap your head around one simple concept: socket bonuses are not always worth it. Always think of your socket bonus like an elf -- fancy looking and probably a dirty hippie and useful in some situations, but certainly not something you'd ever go out of your way to hang out with.
- Meta Gem: Relentless Earthsiege Diamond.
- Red Socket: Delicate Cardinal Ruby.
- Yellow Socket: Delicate Cardinal Ruby unless the socket bonus is extra agility, then go for Deadly Ametrine.
- Blue Socket: use Nightmare Tear for your first blue socket, and use Delicate Cardinal Ruby in the rest.
You have several good options for glyphs, and we're going to look at the top five choices.
- Glyph of Serpent Sting: This is your number one choice for a glyph slot as MM. You don't care about having a longer duration on Serpent Sting, since thanks to your Chimera Shot it'll never fall off anyway. However, by increasing the max duration of Serpent Sting, this glyph also increases the Serpent Sting portion of your Chimera Shot damage.
- Glyph of Steady Shot: This flat 10% bonus to Steady Shot damage is well worth it for MM hunters, with Steady Shot our number one contributor to our DPS.
- Glyph of the Hawk: MM hunters will always have Improved Aspect of the Hawk, and this glyph can be a nice DPS boost.
- Glyph of Trushow Aura: Boosting the crit chance of your Aimed Shot is a great thing. Not only is it one of your hardest hitting shots, but when it crits it procs Piercing Shots for another 30% of the crit damgage.
- Glyph of Chimera Shot: This glyph can be very useful in the right circumstances -- it is especially strong if you're regularly using Chimera Shot to maintain Serpent Sting on two targets at the same time (and never having to reapply Serpent Sting). At some haste levels, however, this glyph can be virtually worthless (after all, if you don't get an extra Chimera Shot per cycle, it's doing nothing for you).
Enchants for Endgame
- Head: Arcanum of Torment
- Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe
- Back: Major Agility
- Chest: Powerful Stats
- Wrists: Greater Assault
- Hands: Major Agility or Precision
- Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
- Legs: Icescale Leg Armor
- Feet: Superior Agility or Icewalker
- Ranged: Heartseeker Scope
- Melee 1h: Superior Potency or Accuracy
- Melee 2h: Massacre
If you are completely new to the hunter class and not yet 80, it may be worth your while to check out the Beast Mastery 101 guide. BM is generally a stronger spec for leveling, though once you hit 80 either MM or SV will provide more DPS. If you're primarily a heroic running hunter and don't hit the raids, you might want to peruse the Heroic DPS Guide.
And that wraps up our Marksman 101. Of course there is a lot more to learn about the MM spec, including the details of movement management and cooldown timing, but this guide will get you most of the way to the top of the meters.
Those of you who took good notes and who do well on the test can graduate to Marksman 102, where we'll look at the mystical ArP MM build that takes the endgame damage meters and slaps them around like a red-headed gnomish warlock.
You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive dps. Scattered Shots is the WoW.com column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you improve your Heroic DPS, understand the impact of Skill vs. Gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101, and even solo bosses with some Extreme Soloing.