Marksman speccing, glyphs and rotation


Here’s my guide on Marksman speccing, glyph choices and rotation for level 85. I’ll be updating it later so it remains current for upcoming patches and changes applied through hotfixes.

Version history:

  • Patch 4.2:
    • Added some more glyph elaboration and thoughts on Aimed Shot usage
  • Patch 4.1:
    • Added Chimera Shot glyph to the options and the AOE part for the rotation section.
  • Patch 4.0.6
    • New specc with 3/3 One With Nature and 3/3 Pathing, points taken out of Frenzy and Bestial Discipline.
    • New shot rotation favoring hardcasting Aimed Shot in certain situations.


My philosophy is not to exclusively maximize single target dps, I’m going for best overall specc with minimal dps sacrifices. The specc above could be adjusted to provide about 100 dps more (+0.25%) but then you would lose out on a massive amount of AOE dps (which is very beneficial on some encounters) or the ability to interrupt, etc.

The dps sacrifice I’m referring to here is dropping 2 points out of Termination (which only provides a very small dps increase) and put them into 1/1 Silencing Shot and 1/2 Rapid Killing – the last one possibly being a situational dps-boost. You can also look at it as taking 2 points out of Termination for 2/2 Bombardment and keeping the other two previously mentioned talents.

Talent commentary: The do’s

Silencing Shot

Since Silencing Shot doesn’t provide any dps nowadays, there has been a lot of talk of skipping it in favor of dps-increasing talents. This is total hogwash (or “bullshit” for you Americans). Being able to interrupt casts is a very valuable buff to any raid, there are lots of encounters that require interrupting and you can’t always count on rogues to do it for you. Same goes for dungeons and of course, in PvP situations.
The ability isn’t on the global cooldown and it doesn’t cost any focus, you shouldn’t ever be afraid to use it when there’s something to interrupt.

Rapid Killing

One point in this talent in combination with 2/2 Rapid Recuperation will give back 50 focus whenever you get a killing blow on a level appropriate mob or player. This will be a tremendous dps boost in any encounter where there are lots of adds and even more so in dungeons and during soloing. The dps gained from this talent is very situational and can’t accurately be counted. What we can say for sure is that is a definite quality of life improvement that won’t require you to be as focused on getting focus (hah?) and that it’s only one talent point. Definitely worth it.

Marked for Death

Again, any encounter with adds makes this talent a dps-boost. If there are no adds and the encounter will be over in less than 5 minutes which means you wouldn’t have to recast Hunter’s Mark then this talent will provide no benefit whatsoever and in that case it would be better to just put these two points in Termination.
Most encounters do however have adds and/or target switching (6 out of 7 bosses in tier 12 for example) and you gain a benefit in every dungeon and during soloing and PvP.

Note: Even when you have this talent, always put Hunter’s Mark up on the boss before the encounter begins so that you get that extra ranged attack power applied to your first attack as well.


As Marksman, your AOE dps can not compare to that of Survival. But without speccing into this talent and combo it with Rapid Killing and Rapid Recuperation you have absolutely no chance of achieving any kind of respectable AOE dps. With these talents you will be able to double your AOE dps and with that help the raid tremendously.

Does being able to AOE really matter you say, isn’t that just for trash pulls? Well, no. Several encounters require a lot of AOE dps. Encounters such as Beth’tilac, Rhyolith, Ragnaros, Magmaw, Maloriak, Halfus Wyrmbreaker and Cho’gall.

One With Nature

Apart from talents within the Marksman tree, this one Beast Mastery talent should be the highest on your priority list. It will greatly increase your single target and AOE dps. After this get 3/3 in Pathing and then for the last four points we put 2/3 in Bestial Discipline and 2/3 in Frenzy. Out of these, Bestial Discipline provides the least dps point for point but is still more valuable than any other option available.

Talent commentary: The don’ts


This talent grants you extra focus when hitting a target below 25% health with Steady Shot or Cobra Shot. This of course sounds awesome… but is it? No, it isn’t and I’ll tell you why.

When targets are below 20% health you suddenly have another ability to fit in your rotation; Kill Shot (and if you have the glyph, which you should, you’ll have to fit it in twice as much). This ability doesn’t cost any focus, instead you’re gaining a bit more focus per second since you’re not spending any focus. Without trying you are most likely capping out on focus without even having time to fit enough Arcane Shots in your rotation to use up that extra focus.

That is why a bit of extra focus during this part of the encounter isn’t as practically useful as it sounds on paper. You do however gain the benefit during that 5% between 25% health and 20% health of the boss (which frankly, is a pretty minimal gain).

Concussive Barrage

No dps gain and potentially annoying for tanks to deal with. Only use this in PvP or soloing, not in raids or dungeons.

Resistance is Futile

This does provide a potential dps-increase during soloing or PvPing but does not give any benefit during raids. Even when you’re in a situation when you can and should use it, it’s a bit tricky to use and the benefit isn’t that big.

Improved Serpent Sting

The dps-increase from this talent comes in two parts, the first part (Serpent Sting deals 30% damage instantly when applied) exclusively applies to the first and only time you apply Serpent Sting, not when you’re refreshing it with Chimera Shot and thus this is pointless for Marksman.

The second part increases the Critical Strike chance of Serpent Sting by 10%, this is a very minor dps increase and not worth taking over any other option. For comparison, a point in Frenzy gives you about five times as much dps as a point in Improved Serpent Sting.


Prime Glyphs

  • Steady Shot – Increases the damage dealt by Steady Shot by 10%.
  • Chimera Shot – Reduces the cooldown of Chimera Shot by 1 sec.
  • Rapid Fire – Increases the haste from Rapid Fire by an additional 10%.
  • Arcane Shot – Your Arcane Shot deals 12% more damage.
  • Aimed Shot – When you critically hit with Aimed Shot, you instantly gain 5 Focus.
  • Kill Shot – If the damage from your Kill Shot fails to kill a target at or below 20% health, your Kill Shot’s cooldown is instantly reset. This effect has a 6 sec cooldown.

The Steady Shot glyph is far above anything else and is the only set-in-stone glyph. All the other glyphs is basically up to you and your playstyle.

The Chimera Shot glyph is in theory fantastic since it takes 1 sec off the cooldown of your most important shot. However, to see the benefits of this glyph you really need to be able to fire Chimera Shot exactly when it comes off cooldown. If you are confident you can do that, then you should use this glyph. If not, stay away.

The Rapid Fire glyph provides 10% additional haste during it’s duration and this is pretty damn good. If you are able to stand still and hard-cast Aimed Shot for the duration of your Rapid Fire cooldowns then this glyph is a solid choice.

If you try to minimize Aimed Shot usage and instead focus on using Arcane Shot more then the Arcane Shot glyph could be very good for you. But on the other hand if you are planning on pretty much never ever casting Arcane Shot and focusing purely on Aimed Shot, then you could instead benefit from the Aimed Shot glyph. But even then it depends on your passive focus regeneration and your play style. My best advice to you when it comes to Aimed Shot glyph is; try it on the dummy. See if it makes your rotation easier or not. If it doesn’t, then you don’t need it. Also, if you aren’t trying to pretty much always use Aimed Shot, then you don’t want the glyph either.

Last choice is Kill Shot glyph, if neither Chimera Shot, Arcane Shot or Aimed Shot glyphs are suited for you, then you should use this.

Major Glyphs

  • Disengage – Decreases the cooldown of Disengage by 5 sec.
  • Silencing Shot – When you successfully silence an enemy’s spell cast with Silencing Shot, you instantly gain 10 focus.
  • Trap Launcher – Reduces the focus cost of Trap Launcher by 10.
  • Misdirection – When you use Misdirection to your pet, the cooldown on your Misdirection is reset.
  • Mending – Increases the healing done by your Mend Pet ability by an additional 60%.

The first three provides possible dps boosts and should be used if you actually use those abilities (which you should in most raids). When you’re not raiding you might find the last two very useful, especially the Misdirection glyph.

The Misdirection glyph is essential for soloing and can actually be a good idea to use in dungeons just so you can misdirect your threat on every pull (not to the tank mind you, but away from yourself – you might wanna bring a tenacity pet when doing this). If you want to drop another glyph out for the Misdirection glyph I would suggest removing the Trap Launcher glyph or Silencing Shot glyph but definitely do not remove the disengage glyph since you’ll have a great use for it in raids, dungeons, PvP and soloing.

Minor Glyphs

  • Feign Death – Reduces the cooldown of your Feign Death spell by 5 sec.
  • Revive Pet – Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Revive Pet by 100%.
  • Aspect of the Pack – Increases the range of your Aspect of the Pack ability by 15 yards.

Not much to say here, since there isn’t much to chose from. All of these only provides a minor potential benefit, which most of the time you could have been without.

If you’re looking to replace any one of them for the terribly underwhelming Lesser Proportions glyph, then switch out Aspect of the Pack since it won’t provide any potential benefit during an encounter. It’s only really useful for shortening corpse runs after wipes.


Like most classes and specs these days, Marksman does not have a straight-up rotation. Instead we have what some people refer to as a “priority system”.

Starting an encounter

  • Apply Hunter’s Mark before the encounter starts and load up a Misdirect on the main tank
  • Open up with:
    1. Serpent Sting.
    2. Rapid Fire in combination with Call of the Wild and any other stacking cooldowns (not haste cooldowns).
    3. Use Readiness again after a Chimera Shot to immediately get Rapid Fire and Chimera Shot off cooldown again.
    4. Use your second Rapid Fire after the duration of the first one runs out.
  • Replace Arcane Shot with Aimed Shot during the first 10% of the encounter (When the boss’s health is above 90%), your Aimed Shots are almost guaranteed to crit because of the Careful Aim talent and therefor will almost always be worth the long cast-time.

Shot priority

  1. Cooldowns such as Rapid Fire, Readiness and Call of the Wild.
  2. Chimera shot as soon as it comes off cooldown.
  3. Free proccs such as Kill Shot and Aimed Shot.
  4. Maintaining Improved Steady Shot buff by using two Steady Shots in a row.
  5. Bleeding off excess focus with Arcane Shot or Aimed Shot.

As Marksman you want to always have the Improved Steady Shot buff up since it increases your attack speed by 15%, you get this buff from firing off two steady shots in a row and that’s how you should always fire steady shot: two in a row. There’s a great addon that helps you keep track off your buffs and debuffs that will help you tremendously here, it’s called NeedToKnow, check it out!

You should try to keep your focus bar around 50-60 focus most of the time so you can use Chimera Shot as soon as it becomes available, you don’t want to have to fire off additional steady shots and make that Chimera Shot wait.
This means that you shouldn’t use Arcane Shot if you’re low on focus, instead fire off some more steady shots and use Arcane Shot once you’re over 60 focus.

Aimed Shot vs. Arcane Shot

Theoretically you do a little bit more dps by always casting Aimed Shot as a focus dump instead of Arcane Shot but in an actual raid this isn’t exactly true. The first thing you need to understand is that the spreadsheets only calculate maximum possible dps in an optimal situation and in an optimal situation you never need to move and you never lose a cast.

In reality you will lose a cast now and then because you have to get out of some nasty fire on the ground or you suddenly and unexpectedly needed to move due to some random encounter mechanic that would have killed you or wiped the raid.

If you lose 2-3 Aimed Shots casts due to a knockback (Rhyolith, Ragnaros, Halfus, Nefarion), target switching (Beth’tilac, Omnotron), moving (Rhyolith, Alysrazor, Ragnaros, Valiona & Theralion, Ascendant Council, Atramedes), etc. Then you will have lost all the potential benefit from casting Aimed Shot over Arcane Shot. And on the other hand, you will never lose out on an Arcane Shot (due to it being instant)… once you click that button, it’s done!

To sum up, in general you don’t want to use Aimed Shot over Arcane Shot. The benefit is small and the risk is big. There are however some situations where the benefit is big and the risk is small and in these situations you should cast Aimed Shot instead of Arcane Shot:

  • During the Careful Aim phase (when the boss is above 90% health). Your Aimed Shots are almost guaranteed to crit here and will most assuredly be worth it.
  • During big haste cooldowns such as Rapid Fire, Heroism or Haste proccs on trinkets. The cast time on each Aimed Shot will be a lot shorter and therefor the risk of losing them becomes a lot smaller. Also you’re casting a huge hitter much faster, pew pew!
  • When you’re absolutely sure that you don’t need to move for a while – Be careful with this rule, there a lot of situations where you think you don’t need to move but then end up needing to do it anyway. After doing an encounter many times over you’ll get a feel for when it is applicable.


When AOEing as a Marksman hunter only really have two abilities that are relevant:

  • Explosive Trap – Lay down a trap using Trap Launcher on top of the mobs just before you move into your rotation.
  • Multi-Shot – Your bread and butter AOE ability. Unlike Beast Mastery and Survival, you need to think a little about how you are using this ability though.

For Marksman hunters it is best to not refresh your focus in-between casts of Multi-Shot, which works well for Beast Mastery and Survival. Instead you want to empty your entire focus bar using Multi-Shot before using Steady Shot to replenish your focus, and when you do that, you replenish it all the way back up to maximum before fireing off Multi-Shot again (all the way down to 0 focus).

This is to maximize the potential of the Bombardment and Rapid Killing + Rapid Recuperation combo talents.



About Gavendo

I write a World of Warcraft blog called "Rapid Fire" on the topics; hunters, pets and achievement hunting.
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8 Responses to Marksman speccing, glyphs and rotation

  1. Inzy says:

    As a point of clarification, Improved Serpent Sting also increases the crit chance of each tick of your Serpent Sting by 10%. Since it should always be ticking, this is a potential dps increase. But I have not done any testing at this point.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  2. Inzy says:

    edit: I should say 2 points in Imp Stings will increase tick damage by 10%
    (5% per point)

  3. Gavendo says:

    You are correct and I shall update the post to clarify that bit. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

    The dps it provides is still so low (I got 25 dps per point) that it shouldn’t be considered over Frenzy or Pathing for example.


  4. toby says:

    during careful aimed phase (first 20% of bosses life) rotation is aimed and steady shots to gen focus to fire more aimed shots. this is a huge dps gain on a boss, not on a targeting dummy that always stays above 80%.

  5. DMS says:

    I can’t say I agree with arcane over aimed, it is easier yes, but it’s not more dps, hard casting aimed is the best damage return on focus spent there is. My whole “roration” is set up around getting enough focus to cast aimed shot. Chimera is only used to not let SS drop.

    • Gavendo says:

      In a perfect situation where you don’t need to move at all it can be more dps indeed. But if you’re in an actual raid with actual raid encounters then you will have to move and you will have to cancel your Aimed Shot cast partly through the cast and once you’ve lost 2 or 3 Aimed Shot casts this way you will have done less dps than if you just cast Arcane Shot instead. But of course if you’re in a situation where you KNOW you won’t have to move (Chimaeron is a good example) then it’s a good idea, and I say this in the post above.

      Out of curiosity I tried femaledwarf with prioritizing Aimed Shot over Chimera Shot (except for refreshing Sting) and it came out as a dps loss for me – and that is in a perfect situation where you don’t have to move at all.

      I see no evidence to support your theory and until you can prove otherwise I will not recommend Aimed Shot over Chimera Shot in all situations.


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