3.1 Piercing Shots = Deep Wounds

Good news for MM hunters today, the new Piercing Shots is intended to act like Deep Wounds. As stated by Ghostcrawler regarding its behavior on the current build of the PTR:

It's a known bug. It should work exactly like Deep Wounds, which is smart enough to average in any new damage applied to the existing dot.

Standard caveat applies that we could run into trouble when trying to do this for some reason.

Why is this such good news for us? Well, let’s use an example of Piercing Shots with Deep Wounds behavior. Let’s say Chimera Shot crits for 6000 damage, and thus procs a bleed of (.3 * 6000) = 1800 damage over 8 seconds, or 225 dps. Six seconds later, Steady Shot crits for 2000 damage, giving a bleed of (.3 * 2000) = 600 damage over 8 seconds, or 75 dps.

However, two seconds of the 225 dps Chimera bleed were still there, so that 450 damage rolls over into the Steady bleed. Thus, the Steady bleed becomes (600 + 450) = 1050 damage, yielding 131.25 dps for 8 seconds. This behavior isn’t present on the current build of the PTR, and that absence is the “known bug” in the quo/r te above. Prior to this confirmation of Piercing Shot’s intended design, hunters were actually attempting to theorize how to delay Steady crits after a Chimera crit, a daunting task to say the least. So, the quote above is excellent news, both for one less theorycrafting headache and the promise of a very good MM talent.


3.1 and the Marksman: First Look

As listed on the official PTR patch notes for 3.1, MM so far can anticipate these changes:

  • Piercing Shots re-designed: Your critical Aimed, Steady and Chimera Shots cause the target to bleed for 10/20/30% of the damage dealt over 8 sec.

A formerly worthless talent becomes almost mandatory with this change, especially if (please note, this is my GUESS only) the bleed effect benefits from a feral Druid’s Mangle. To get an idea of how much DPS this could potentially add, I’ll use numbers from my last Kel’Thuzad for some napkin math. For a frame of reference, Kill Shot accounted for 34,697 damage, or approximately 3% of my dps.

Chimera crits averaged 7830, highest was 10549, with 15 crits total over the fight. Using that average figure, Piercing Shots would have added 15 x (.3 x 7830) = 35,235 damage, slightly more than Kill Shot for this particular fight! Steady crits averaged 3250, highest was 4097, with 35 crits total. With that, we would have added 35 x (.3 x 3250) = 34,125 damage, close to Kill Shot’s contribution.

Thus, the new Piercing Shots would have given me approximately another 6% dps, right on target with Blizzard’s stated goal of 2% dps for a single talent point.

  • Ranged Weapon Specialization: Points reduced from 5 to 3, 1/3/5%.

Yay for talent tree bloat reduction, making it easier to get other talents!

  • Wild Quiver: Chance increased to 4/8/12%, up from 4/7/10%. Damage increased from 50% of an auto shot, to 80%.

We’ve already discussed that WQ is basically a “free damage” talent giving 3% dps over most boss fights, but this makes it even more attractive. Higher proc rate, higher damage… and given the variables previously explained, it’s a bit difficult to estimate the exact extent of this buff, but it’s clearly a great improvement. With just these changes, I’m greatly anticipating seeing what else lies in store.


Wild Quiver is not crap.

I’ve noticed a trend lately among newer MM hunters and those thinking of trying out the tree. They usually have a decent idea of an overall spec, but when Wild Quiver is mentioned, they dismiss it as pure crap. Now while the talent isn’t overwhelming, neither is it completely worthless. Let’s examine this, starting with the description. With 3/3 points, the talent says:

You have a 10% chance to shoot an additional shot when doing damage with your Auto Shot, dealing 50% Nature damage. Wild Quiver consumes no ammo.

Consistently, MM hunters report (with WWS reports to back them) that Wild Quiver accounts for 2-3% of their damage on boss fights. For example, in Sapphiron this week, WQ accounted for 14,629 of my 864,326 damage, which is approximately 2%. With that in mind, let’s look at how it works.

WQ is a 10% chance proc based on successful Auto Shot attacks that doesn’t use mana or ammunition. Thus, due to these free shots, the haste we already have for Steady Shot gains a bit more value, as it causes more frequent Autos, and therefore more WQ shots.

Now, let’s consider the damage added. The tooltip says “50% Nature damage”, but a less brief version would be “50% of an Auto Shot calculation, dealt as Nature damage”. Thus, despite being calculated as half Auto damage, a WQ Auto Shot can hit for more than that as it ignores armor and takes advantage of up to 13% magical damage from debuffs. Additionally, these shots can and do crit like any other.

So, for 3 talent points, we get shots that can crit, benefit from spell debuffs, ignore armor, and proc from a guaranteed attack, adding 2-3% dps. Wild Quiver may not be astonishing, but it’s not crap.


To Aim or Not to Aim?

It’s time to discuss what shots we use as MM. Serpent Sting, Chimera Shot, and Steady Shot are all obvious staples of our rotation, but what about the other instants in our arsenal? Let’s examine Arcane Shot and Aimed Shot.

Aimed vs. Arcane
To begin, we assume no mana reduction talents or glyphs. Arcane Shot is known to scale with 15% RAP, and now in 3.0.8 costs 5% base mana, or roughly 250 mana. As we’re all aware, it is a baseline spell, ignores armor, and has a six second cooldown. Aimed Shot scales with 20% RAP, is normalized to 2.8 weapons, and costs 8% base mana, or roughly 400 mana. It’s a talent, doesn’t ignore armor, and has a 10 second cooldown shared with Multi-Shot.

Assuming perfect timing, for a thirty second period, we would fire five Arcanes for about 1250 mana and three Aimed for 1200 mana. Also assuming 5000 RAP (reasonable for 25 man gear), we can calculate approximately 4688 damage from Aimed, and 6210 from Arcane. The final result is 1522 more damage for 50 more mana. Were we to calculate Aimed damage being reduced by armor, Arcane would show even more impressive numbers.

Shot Buffing Talents
With 3/3 Improved Arcane Shot and 2/2 Survival Instincts, Arcane gains 15% more damage and 4% more crit (as well as 4% crit for Steady and some nice survivability for us). Thus, from our previous example, our five shots become 7141 damage.

With 3/3 Barrage and 3/3 Improved Barrage, Aimed gains 12% damage and 12% crit, along with Multi-Shot and Volley. Based on our example, Aimed gives 5251 damage.

Even with talents, Arcane is more attractive than Aimed. Five talents points boost it, Steady, and our survivability, versus seven points to gain Aimed and boost it. I exclude Multi-Shot and Volley from the comparison because Aimed locks out Multi and Volley is generally not used on bosses.

Another talent to consider is Improved Steady Shot. (Yes, I know I linked Rank 2, we’ll cover that in a future article.) If at all possible, we want to use the talent’s proc for Chimera Shot, as it is unquestionably our most powerful. If we have both Arcane and Aimed in the rotation as well, it’s very likely that one of them will consume the proc.

Final Thoughts
So does all this mean “Don’t ever use Aimed Shot”? Yes and no. Aimed is a good shot, but extremely mana inefficient. Including it in a rotation very quickly puts you in Viper, which of course we want to avoid as long as possible, as well as wasting Improved Steady Shots. However, as it is another instant cast, it serves as excellent situational burst damage. Fire it at Heigen as you dance. Fire it at Sartharion as you dodge lava. Enjoy having an extra tool in your bag for when you can’t employ your full rotation.


Random Shots #1

So while I’m working on more detailed articles, I present the first Random Shots, which will cover things that don’t quite need a whole article, but should be discussed.

Today, I’ll share a trick learned from the famous Howitzer of Fusion, a simple macro that makes a huge difference for hunters, and indeed anyone who raids. Simply type:

/console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 4

This will allow you to zoom the camera MUCH further out than the default settings, which makes it simple to see the entire fight. For example, this really shines on Sartharion for seeing lava waves, enraged elementals darting for healers, and so on.


Hunter’s Mark: Improved or Not?

“So Fean, Improved Hunter’s Mark and the glyph sound like they could be really powerful, right?” I’ve been asked this a few times lately, so I’ll give a brief answer: No. A hundred times, no. At the very best, we could make a weak argument based on multiple hunters in the raid, but even then it’s more likely other talents would be better.

“But why, Fean?”

  1. The bonuses do NOT scale.
    In both cases, we’re offered a percentage increase of Mark’s AP bonus, which at 80 is 300. Nothing but leveling and gaining a new rank of Mark will ever boost that base figure, so the value of the talent and glyph do not scale along with new gear. Strike 1.
  2. The bonuses from the talent and glyph are both weak.
    The talent and glyph offer 30% and 20% more AP from Mark, respectively. 30% of 300 = 90 AP, and 20% of 300 = 60 AP. As you can clearly see, the bonuses from both are very underwhelming, and worse yet, they can easily be tested and shown to be additive. In other words, should we take both, we get 90 + 60, rather than multiplying the bonuses like most other glyphs and talents do. Strike 2.
  3. Hunter’s Mark only affects hunters.
    Unlike BC where all physical dps reaped the benefits of Marked targets, now only hunters get any bonus from it. Not even our faithful pets see an iota of a dps increase from Mark, so if you’re the only hunter present, you’re getting a very weak bonus, rather than scaling talents and glyphs that would prove much more beneficial. At the very best, your 25 man raid has three hunters, but even then, you’re potentially sacrificing more dps than you’re gaining. Strike 3.

The only time to even consider spending precious talent points or a glyph slot on Hunter’s Mark is if there’s multiple hunters in the raid, and even then, it may not be worth it.


Glyphs for the Discerning Marksman

Today, we’ll briefly go over the glyphs a raiding MM hunter should consider using. We assume your raid is decently balanced in terms of mana return, and therefore rule out mana cost reduction glyphs. While those are nice, in our theoretical raid, they should be unneccessary. Naturally, we also rule out trap and melee ability glyphs. Of what’s left, let’s look at what stands out.

Glyph of Hunter’s Mark sounds promising, but provides fixed benefit that does not scale with gear. 20% of base 300 is only 60 AP. While this is a very modest benefit if the raid has multiple hunters, it’s extremely weak for individual dps.

Glyph of Improved Aspect of the Hawk is one we should definitely use at this point. While we only gear for haste up to the soft cap as previously discussed, Quick Shots is an active haste effect. Thus we increase the total number of Auto (and Wild Quiver if you have it) shots fired, thus increasing our dps for free. When you consider Quick Shots often has a near 50% uptime on bosses, this glyph is a clear winner for one of our slots.

Despite my glowing praise for active haste above, Glyph of Rapid Fire isn’t one of our choices. There’s nothing wrong with the glyph itself, but rather with the uptime. Even talented for a three minute cooldown, Rapid Fire simply isn’t up nearly as much as Quick Shots. This glyph therefore isn’t bad, we just want glyphs that are almost always in effect.

Glyph of Serpent Sting is mandatory for MM. If we look at Chimera Shot, note that it deals 40% of the damage done by Serpent Sting. Now, what’s not immediately obvious about this glyph is that, by adding six seconds to it, it adds two additional ticks of damage. This effectively boosts Serpent Sting’s damage by 40%, and therefore Chimera-Serpent is also greatly boosted. If you haven’t glyphed this yet, do it right now.

Glyph of Steady Shot even with 3.0.8’s nerf to Steady is another must have, especially considering it now actually works for MM hunters. It should be noted that this glyph does NOT in fact cancel out the nerf, but it does ease it by a decent margin. Further, Steady will still be a large part of our rotations, albeit while we wait on cooldowns.

While our minor glyphs are lackluster at best, Glyph of Feign Death is an obvious choice for every hunter, MM or not. If I had 1g for every time I wanted FD and there was a few seconds left on the cooldown…

The other minor I’d like to recommend is Glyph of Revive Pet, simply because if you’re forced to use the spell, the last thing you want is pushback prolonging your non-dps time.

Overall, while of course you’re free to experiment as you see fit, I hope to have helped point out the benefits, obvious or not, of glyphs that best compliment MM.

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