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Scattered Shots: How to play a MM hunter

Brian Wood

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the hunter podcast uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim or ask him on Google+.

With the awesome buffs to MM in Patch 5.2, MM hunter DPS is better than ever, just a theoretical wee bit behind SV DPS. Despite this, however, MM continues to be vastly under-represented in raid parses, often having so few it's impossible to make a statistical evaluation of their performance (and that's before even considering the selection bias).

Theories abound for the lack of MM representation: MM is harder to play; MM is technically a bit behind the others so everyone leans on the ones ahead; MM has no clear role in which they are superior (unlike BM burst and SV AoE); MM is associated with elves, and no one wants to have anything to do with dirty elven things.

It's been a long time since MM has been a popular spec, and most of the hunter optimization sites focus on maximizing your performance in BM or SV. So now seems like a good time to review how to optimize your MM hunter to take full advantage of all those juicy 5.2 buffs.

MM talents

Talents for the MM hunter look very similar to the talent selection you'll see for other hunters:

Like all hunter specs, there's no obvious "right" choice for the first three talents. There are talents that are situationally useful depending on the boss fight mechanics -- particularly in the self-heal tier the choice might change depending on what fight you're facing.

Shot priority

As always you want to be sure that you have Hunter's Mark on your target, and that you put Serpent Sting up and keep it up throughout the fight. Thereafter your shot priority looks like this:
Alas with MM, we have additional complications. The biggest of these is Careful Aim -- when the boss is over 80% health we can major crit bonuses to our Aimed Shot, making it almost a guaranteed ginormous crit every time.

Careful Aim priority:
  • Chimera Shot
  • Aimed Shot even if you have to hardcast the long cast time version
  • Steady Shot in pairs to regen focus as needed
You want to ignore all other shots during the Careful Aim Range. Generally at the start of the fight hunters want to put up Serpent Sting and fire off their specials -- Dire Beast, A Murder of Crows, Stampede -- and then trigger Rapid Fire to have the fastest possible Aimed Shot casts during the Careful Aim period of the fight.

Another complication of the MM rotation is whether or not to hardcast the full casttime version of Aimed Shot. In general, we don't want to do this in our rotation; however, during big haste effects like Rapid Fire or Ancient Hysteria you can also hardcast Aimed Shot.

MM hunters will also want to take the Glyph of Aimed Shot, so they can hardcast while moving.

AoE talents & rotation

The MM AoE rotation is fairly simple, just spamming Multi-Shot as often as possible, while also maintaining the Steady Focus buff with pairs of Steady Shots.

MM hunters benefit from Bombardment, which lowers the cost of their subsequent Multi-Shots by 20 focus and increases the damage. The Bombardment buff lasts for five seconds, so the key to MM AoE DPS is to keep that buff up always -- this means you will not always want to Steady Shot your focus all the way to full. Instead just fire the steadies in pairs and always get at least one Multi-Shot in between steady pairs.

As always, MM hunters will also want to launch an Explosive Trap into AoE packs that are going to be around for a while.

AoE talents: If you're in a fight where AoE is important, or you're just clearing lots of trash (such as in 5-mans) you will want to take Barrage instead of Glaive Toss, and take Thrill of the Hunt (which makes your Bombardment Multi-Shots free!) instead of Dire Beast.

Your AoE rotation then becomes:
  • Launch Explosive Trap
  • Barrage
  • Multi-Shot
  • Steady Shot pairs
You will usually want to Multi-Shot immediately after Barrage (rather than firing Steady Shots) to maintain the Bombardment buff. Also, be careful with your Barrage as the shots can fire off at odd angles and strangely long distances to pull in a nearby pack of mobs -- I prefer to pass the pack by, turn around, and fire Barrage back in the direction that is already cleared.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?

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