The Sky Has Fallen

Normally I tend to be very optimistic when it comes to World of Warcraft, and I like to give the developers a wide berth when it comes to changes, especially when the game is in full fledged development. So either Marksmanship is due for some exciting changes in a future build, or it will wear the mantle of the all-time worst iteration of a Hunter spec since the game’s inception.

The only way that it could have any appeal in Warlords is if the trade off for exciting game play is that it hits like freight train bearing a load of trucks. I won’t lie, I like big crits, but you know what I like better than big crits?


Marksmanship had loads of it, and now it’s been stripped of all of it.

Gone are Steady Focus, Master Marksman, Piercing Shots, Concussive Barrage and Chimera Shot’s self heal.

Marksmanship had the perfect balance of active and passive self buffs. Steady Focus defined the Marksmanship rotation. You used an inferior ability to gain a superior buff to do your highest DPS. It was incumbent on the Hunter to activate the buff and keep it going 100% of the time. The buff lasted 20 seconds, so it really wasn’t that great a challenge to keep it going. In Warlords, if you chose the Focusing Shot talent you were not even going to sacrifice DPS to keep it going.

The other aspect to keeping the Steady Focus buff going, is that you were likely to proc the Master Marksman buff giving you a free Aimed Shot.

This was the heart and soul of Marksmanship’s game play and it’s now gone.

This current incarnation of Marksmanship is devoid of skill and is completely beholden to the results of math and spreadsheets to dictate the priority of when to do things.

You fire Chimera on cool down, Aimed Shot until you need focus, and then Steady/Focusing Shot. If you have Glaive Toss, Dire Beast or Stampede/Crows you would fit them in according to the math. It’s a straight priority order.

The rotation is not that only the only thing that’s been gutted. Piercing Shots is gone as well. This was a passive bleed, that was triggered by Aimed Shot Crits, and it had great synergy with Rapid Fire and Careful Aim. The patch notes did leave a glimmer of hope under the Piercing Shots section.

“TBD: Another change will be made to ensure that Critical Strike is more valuable to Marksmanship Hunters.”

Marksmanship will need more than just a single change, but this note hints that the spec is a work in progress, and that there will be additional changes.

I thought the spec was just fine, so I’m not sure what Blizzard has in mind.

A simple thing to do is reduce the cast time of Aimed Shot to make up for the loss of Steady Focus. They could also buff the damage of Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot to make up for the loss of Piercing Shots. Those are simple changes that are way less interesting and compelling that what was there before, and I thing Blizzard will need to dig deeper than that.

Blizzard is capable of doing interesting things. Note this clarification about Multi-strike and Surivival.

What Blizzard is doing with Survival is making Multistrike an important secondary stat that affects rotation and game play for that spec. They need to do something similar with Crit.

They had that with Piercing Shots, but perhaps they felt that was too basic. One option is to proc the Master Marksman affect based on certain shots’ crits, or even the Steady Focus buff. I hope the designer do better than that though. All my suggestions do is bring back things the spec has now, but in a less compelling way.

Like I said, I tend to be optimistic so I’m hopeful that this is phase one of a grand remaking. Until we know for sure, I recommend that you play Mists and respec into Marksmanship now. It may not be the top DPS spec, but at least you’ll be able to say that you played when it was a true spec.


  1. I recently dinged 90 on another hunter, who happens to be on a new server for me, so I’ve been working on gearing up via the timeless isle. If people want to really get some fun out of marksmanship before all the mechanics are changed, pick up that chi-ji buff and go to town on the timeless isle. I’m in all 496 gear except for my 569 BoA garry bow, and even at that gear level, with chi-ji, MM is crazy fun. Especially for the bigger mobs like Archiereus of Flame, when you can really get into your rotation.

    Having to kite without glyphing Aimed Shot can be a lot of fun, too. Not as annoying as the old days of stutter steps or even aspect dancing, but it’s just enough to make kiting interesting.

    I’ll be sad to see MM go, but until then, we’re having lots of fun together.

    1. I’ve yet to play MM this expansion, mainly because it’s generally been my least favorite spec. I may play around with a bit.

      I’m hopeful that they have some good things in store for this spec and that this isn’t the final vision.

  2. Concusive Barrage I can live with but removing Steady Focus and Master Marksman completely removes the rotation. They may as well rename Chimera Shot to Dummy Shot.

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