Welcome to our WoW Classic guide for the marksmanship hunter specialization! Of all three hunter specializations, marksmanship is the one you’ll want to use if you’re concerned about maximizing your damage. Unlike the other two specializations, there is less of a focus on your pet with marksmanship.
There are several things you should know in order to successfully play as a marksmanship hunter. You’ll want to understand how to play and the best rotation to use, but you’ll also want to know the race and talent options that are best suited for the specialization. This guide will also cover all aspects of optimizing your character, including enchants, consumables, professions, and how you should be prioritizing stat values.
Hunters are often regarded as one of the easier classes to play solo. With the aid of a pet, plenty of utility, and the ability to attack from range, hunters are truly a formidable class! Mastering your marksmanship hunter is absolutely worth the effort. Doing so will allow you to maximize your damage, which is important for securing a raid spot!
Of all five races that can be a hunter, all of them are a solid choice. Your best option will ultimately depend on your specialization, but marksmanship still has clear favorites on both factions. The horde does have an advantage when it comes to racial benefits, but that doesn’t mean an alliance hunter will be weak!
You can check out all the abilities offered by each race option here. Otherwise, take a look at your preferred faction below!
If you want to play as an alliance hunter, you’ll need to pick either a night elf or a dwarf. Both of these are decent choices, but a dwarf has a slight advantage if you’re able to use a gun. Night elves do have the ability Shadowmeld, which can be useful in a few niche situations. More beneficial is the fact that no other race starts with a higher agility stat value.
Dwarves are slightly better because they have access to Gun Specialization, which slightly boosts weapon skill with guns. You won’t benefit from this unless you’re using a gun, so this makes the difference between the two races fairly negligible. Dwarves also have Stoneform, so they also make for a decent defensive choice.
Horde have several options when it comes to being a hunter. You can play as a troll, tauren, or an orc. Tauren are definitely the weakest choice of the bunch, considering they have no racial abilities that offer a benefit. War Stomp may come in handy for an additional stun, plus Endurance for +5% Stamina never hurts.
Orcs are typically the best choice, but not when it comes to marksmanship. Because hunters have the unique ability of attacking with ranged attack power, they won’t benefit from Blood Fury, which only boosts melee attack power. They do also have Command for +5% damage from your pet, but marksmanship is less concerned about using a pet, and may not even have it out at all for some encounters.
This means that a troll is by far your best choice. Not only do they have Bow Specialization for a boost to bow weapon skill, but they also have the powerful ability, Berserking. Berserking grants additional attack speed based on missing health, but it also synergizes very well with Rapid Fire, a hunter’s main offensive cooldown. If you’re playing a marksmanship hunter, you should definitely be a troll!
When it comes to picking your talents, marksmanship hunters tend to have less flexibility with what they choose. Most of the beast mastery tree isn’t very useful considering you aren’t concerned with pet survivability or damage, but there are some good choices in the survival tree. This means that your best talent setup will generally look like 5/31/15.
This is the best talent setup you can use as a marksmanship hunter to maximize your damage. It selects all the important talents in the marksmanship tree, most notably Aimed Shot and Trueshot Aura, but also allows you to pick up Deterrence in the survival tree for a critical defensive cooldown. Considering you won’t use stings or Arcane Shot, none of the other talents in the marksmanship tree are helpful outside of Improved Hunter’s Mark. You can drop a few points in Survivalist to max it out if you’re designated as the hunter who applies Hunter’s Mark.
Your job isn’t done just because you’re level 60 and you have an optimal talent setup. At this point, your journey has just begun! Now you’ll need to go through the process of optimization, which will cost you a lot of time and/or gold, but is entirely worth the effort! Optimizing your character is what allows you to deal the most damage you possibly can, and as a damage-dealing class, that’s your primary job!
First up is your stat priorities. Hunters are quite a weird class, considering they can benefit from agility, intellect, and strength. There are definitely some stats that are better than others, so you’ll want to know which to prioritize!
Here are the stat priorities for a marksmanship hunter:
- Hit Cap to 9% – Most important for any hunter is reaching your hit cap. The biggest way to lose DPS is by missing abilities, something that is definitely fixable by reaching the cap. Hunters have quite an easy time reaching this cap thanks to late game enchants.
- Agility – After making sure you’re hit capped, you’ll want to stack as much agility as you can possible find! Not only does agility grant you 2 Ranged Attack Power per 1 Agility, but it also grants crit rating. You can’t possibly go wrong with that!
- Ranged Attack Power – Up next is pure ranged attack power. This is what makes your auto attacks and Aimed Shot hit harder. You’ll mostly find it indirectly through agility, but you can also find it on some enchants, so load it up!
- Critical Strike Rating – After agility and ranged attack power to boots the power of your shots, you’ll want some critical strike rating to give that chance for even more damage. Since you naturally get some from agility, it’s better to get your crit that way, but you certainly shouldn’t shy away from it on gear!
- Intellect – Another interesting stat you’ll benefit from is intellect. Since you won’t likely get to use Viper Sting, mana regeneration won’t be abundant. This makes intellect nice for a larger mana pool, meaning more Aimed Shot casts!
- Strength – You can also benefit from strength, but just barely. Strength won’t make your auto attacks or Aimed Shot hit any harder, but it will boost your melee damage (if you ever happen to be in range), while also slightly increasing pet damage. Pet damage isn’t as important for a marksmanship hunter, so only pick strength if there’s nothing else.
You’ll also need to make sure and max out your weapon skills. This is mandatory for your ranged weapon, meaning a bow, crossbow, or gun, but it is also a good idea to raise your melee weapon skills. You never know when you might need an occasional Raptor Strike or Wing Clip, so this will ensure that those abilities actually hit and deal good damage when you use them.
You’ll also want to raise your weapon skill because each point will give you:
- 0.04% reduced chance to miss.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent blocking attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent parrying attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent dodging attack.
- 0.04% increased critical strike chance.
Professions are also very important for a marksmanship hunter. You can benefit from just about any profession, but there are a few that seem like a natural fit. Seeing that you’ll need a lot of ammunition, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle by picking up engineering and mining. Alternatively, leatherworking and skinning are a great choice for helping you gear up. Depending on how you want to play, your profession choice might change.
As a marksmanship hunter, these are the best professions to have:
- Engineering – There’s no question that engineering is the best profession. For any class, engineering is often favored because they can make useful bombs and gadgets. Hunters can also benefit because this gives them access to the strongest ammunition in the game. Additionally, with jumper cables and Feign Death, hunters can serve as an emergency battle rez.
- Mining – If you’re going to pick up engineering, you’ll definitely want mining to make your life easier. You can’t benefit from engineering if you don’t have the required crafting materials. These are found with mining, which make the two a great pairing.
- Leatherworking – A decent backup choice is leatherworking. If you’re a dragonscale leatherworker, you can make the black dragonscale set, making reaching the hit cap that much easier.
- Skinning – The natural choice for leatherworking is skinning. You’ll need to level up skinning if you want to gather the necessary leathers for crafting.
You’ll also benefit from a wide variety of powerful enchants. Hunters in particular get great benefits from enchants, considering that they have access to several hit chance bonuses and use multiple weapons. These enchants can definitely get expensive, but you’ll feel the difference if you spend the time to collect them all!
You’ll need these enchants for a marksmanship hunter:
- Helm – Falcon’s Call, +24 Ranged Attack Power, +10 Stamina, +1% Hit Chance or Lesser Arcanum of Voracity, +8 Agility
- Shoulders – Zandalar Signet of Might, +30 Attack Power
- Cloak – Lesser Agility, +3 Agility
- Chest – Greater Stats, +4 All Stats
- Bracers – Mana Regeneration, +4 MP5 or Superior Stamina, +9 Stamina
- Gloves – Superior Agility, +15 Agility
- Pants – Falcon’s Call, +24 Ranged Attack Power, +10 Stamina, +1% Hit Chance or Lesser Arcanum of Voracity, +8 Agility
- Boots – Minor Speed, + Movement Speed or Greater Agility, +7 Agility
- 2H Weapon – Agility, +25 Agility
- 1H Weapons – Agility, +15 Agility
- Ranged Weapon – Biznicks 247×128 Accurascope, +3% Hit Chance or Sniper Scope, +7 Damage
Last, but certainly not least on your optimizing path, is a nice supply of consumables for temporary benefits. Hunters in particular need a fair deal of consumables, considering that you can quickly run out of ammunition and need pet food to keep your pet happy. It might be expensive, but taking the time to farm up consumables will definitely help you to secure a raid spot!
These are the best consumables for a marksmanship hunter:
- Elixirs – For an elixir, the best choice is an Elixir of the Mongoose, which will give +25 Agility and +2% Crit Chance.
- Potions – You’ll want two kinds of potions, one with a long-lasting effect and another for instant, short-term benefit. Mageblood Potion for +12 MP5 is your choice of long-lasting potion, and Major Mana Potion for ~1800 extra mana every 2 minutes is amazing.
- Food – Your choice of food is Grilled Squid, which will give you a nice +10 Agility.
- Juju – Jujus are far less important for a marksmanship hunter, so only get these if you know you’ll be using your pet and want to go above and beyond. These include Juju Power for +30 Strength and Juju Might for +40 Attack Power.
- Ammunition – One thing that hunters like to forget is to stock up on ammunition. Your best choice is made through engineering, and is Thorium Headed Arrow / Shell, which gives +17.5 Weapon Damage!
- Others – Those are all the main consumables you’ll need as a marksmanship hunter. If you ever find any Scroll of Agility during your travels, save it for +17 Agility. If you know you can use your pet, you’ll also want pet food to keep its happiness up for maximum damage.
Rotation & Gameplay Tips
That makes up everything that goes in optimizing your marksmanship hunter! Optimization may seem like a hassle, but you’ll be nowhere near your full potential if you skimp out on it. Most raid groups make things like enchants and consumables a requirement of joining.
While optimizing is quite important, it won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to play! Fortunately, marksmanship hunters are quite simple to play in a raiding environment. Multiple abilities are no longer relevant in a raid, which makes your life much easier as a hunter.
One thing you’ll want to master is the use of your cooldowns. If you’re playing as a troll, you’ll have access to Berserking on top of Rapid Fire. If you are a troll, you’ll want to use both abilities at the same time for the greatest benefit. They do have different cooldown times, so you’ll likely cast another Berserking in between a Rapid Fire cooldown.
Don’t forget to put Tranquilizing Shot on your action bars! This is an important ability that removes frenzy effects. Hunters are one of the few classes that can remove frenzy, so this gives you an added responsibility in certain raids like Molten Core.
While hunters are traditionally known for fighting with a pet, this isn’t always the case for a marksmanship hunter. Beast mastery hunters have the benefit of having a stronger and tougher pet. Marksmanship hunters often avoid the beast mastery tree entirely, meaning your pet is often going to be pretty weak.
Especially since you likely won’t have Improved Revive Pet, there will be several fights where it isn’t even worth using your pet at all. Spending mana and time to revive your pet just for it die a few seconds later isn’t worth the loss of DPS. This doesn’t mean you should never use your pet, but you’ll definitely want to know how likely your pet is to survive a fight to see if it is worth using.
Your best choice of pet is definitely a wolf. Wolves have access to the Furious Howl ability, a unique ability that boosts the physical power of both you and your whole party’s next attack. You’ll also need to unlock rank of Furious Howl, only accessible from Bloodaxe Worg in Lower Blackrock Spire.
The rotation for a marksmanship hunter isn’t very difficult because you only use 2 abilities. Hunters do have access to more, but they aren’t relevant in a raid setting. This applies to Serpent Sting, which isn’t strong enough to take up one of the 16 debuff slots, and Arcane Shot, which shares a cooldown with Aimed Shot.
If you can use a pet, then do so for the extra damage. Otherwise, keep Hunter’s Mark applied at all times (if you’re assigned to it). After applying Hunter’s Mark, your next priority is making sure that your auto attack fires off. Once it does, you can immediately start casting Aimed Shot.
Once Aimed Shot finishes casting, you’ll want to make sure another auto attack fires off. After this, you can use your second ability, Multi–Shot. Multi-Shot won’t do much damage unless there are multiple enemies, but it is still worth using on a single target. After this, you’ll want to make sure another auto attack fires off before Aimed Shot is ready to cast again. At this point, the rotation will repeat itself.
To simplify, a marksmanship hunter’s rotation is Hunter’s Mark > Auto Attack > Aimed Shot > Auto Attack > Multi-Shot and repeat! You will notice that the cooldown for Aimed Shot is very long, but you only use one ability during that time. Your priority is always to make sure your auto attacks are firing, as this is your largest source of damage. It is a good idea to pick up an addon that can track the reloading time of your ranged weapon, which can help you to ensure you’re not clipping any auto attacks in favor of firing an Aimed Shot.