- Author: Nevermore
- Date: July 16, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Marksmanship Hunters train their entire lives to master the art of ranged combat: bows, crossbows and guns are all natural extensions of their arms to them. They still possess the same tricks as other hunter specializations, such as pets and traps, but MM Hunters have focused on making their shots as lethal as possible. There is no target a Marksman cannot hit, no matter how distant it may be, and no target can survive their arrows, either.
Marksmanship goes from our weakest specialization in TBC, to one of the strongest for the first half of WotLK, and ultimately the strongest spec for the second half. We deal crazy amounts of single-target damage, instantly, from extremely long distances — 3 traits that make us incredibly potent damage-dealers. While our cleave and AoE damage isn’t as strong as some of the other specs out there, our overall damage is incredibly powerful nonetheless.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about playing a Marksmanship Hunter in PvE content, with a focus on raiding. We will cover everything from talents and equipment, to ability rotations and macros. By the time you’re done reading this guide, you will be topping DPS meters and collecting epic loot!
Marksmanship Hunter Strengths & Weaknesses
- Top-tier single target damage
Marksmanship Hunters have some of the strongest single target damage in the game. In fights with only 1-2 enemies, you’ll consistently be near the top of damage meters, flexing at your friends.
- Instant, burst damage from range
Frequently, when discussing DPS classes, players fixate on who does the most DPS. MM does great DPS, there’s no doubt about that, but how we do it is also important. All of our spells are ranged, which is great on fights with low melee uptime. Furthermore, they’re instant — meaning movement doesn’t disrupt our damage like it does to casters, who cannot cast while moving. Finally, the damage of our abilities comes in a burst — we don’t rely on DoTs, and we don’t need to set up combo points or anything like that, so when a new target needs to die quickly, MM Hunters can take care of it right away. This makes us more than just damage bots — our damage will make the difference in killing specific targets.
- Low loot competition
MM Hunters are very reliant on equipment, as mentioned in the Weaknesses section. However, the good news here is that, unlike other classes / specs that also have this issue, we have very little loot competition. We use mail armor, with Enhancement Shamans being our only competition — and Enhancement isn’t very strong in Wrath, so your guild may not even bring any. Thus, the only competition you’ll generally have for most of your items will be other Hunters, which will generally be 2-3 players in your raid, while other DPS players have to compete against 6-7 players for loot. We share a tier token with Warriors and Shamans, and neither of them are anywhere near as popular as they used to be, making our token the easiest one to obtain.
While our utility isn’t the greatest overall, we have 1 piece of utility that every single raid will practically need: Misdirection. Most raids will initiate fights with this ability, and having multiple Hunters using it on multiple tanks makes thing a LOT easier — you’ll be the MVP of pulling thanks to this little toy.
- Below average AoE damage
Since time immemorial, MM Hunters have suffered from a lack of AoE damage. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change in Wrath — Volley is our only useful AoE ability, and its damage is nothing to write home about. Our cleave damage is salvageable thanks to Multi-Shot, but on fights with 4 or more enemies, our damage will be middle of the pack at best.
- Highly reliant on gear
MM Hunters deal very strong damage, as mentioned in the Strengths section. However, this is caused by our great scaling — our base damage isn’t as impressive. This means that we are weaker on in early phases, and then become powerhouses once we get strong ranged weapons and are kitted out with armor penetration gear. For this reason, many Hunters will elect to go Survival for Phases 1 & 2, as it’s slightly stronger, but starting in Phase 3, it’s Marksmanship season.
- Very little & situational utility
While utility becomes less important in Wrath, compared to TBC at least, it’s still an important aspect of every class & spec out there, and MM Hunters are unfortunately pretty limited in that department. We have Misdirection for unique utility, which is great, but sadly not much more beyond that.
Marksmanship Hunter Utility
Besides their damage, Marksmanship Hunters bring the following raid buffs & debuffs to a raid:
Our threat misdirection is back in WotLK and it’s still great! It has been changed slightly since TBC, giving you a 4-second window of threat redirection after your first shot, which is honestly great. Our Aimed Shot is instant now, as is our new nuke Chimera Shot, so we can instantly pull with these 2 abilities very easily, ensuring that the tank has a nice threat lead at the start of the fight.
- 10% increased attack power (does not stack) – Trueshot Aura
Our Trueshot Aura experiences a change that’s simultaneously a buff and a nerf. It’s no longer unique, but it offers way more attack power than it previously did, as it now becomes the same must-bring 10% attack power buff that Enhancement Shamans had as an exclusive, Unleashed Rage. Most raids won’t bring an Enhancement Shaman anymore, but they will bring a Blood DK, and they can also offer this buff with Abomination’s Might. This means that most of the time you won’t need to be the one to provide this buff, but you may have to in 10-man raids, where a Blood DK may not be present.
- 3% physical hit chance reduction (does not stack) – Scorpid Sting
This often-ignored debuff helps your tanks survive a little bit better by causing the boss to miss more often. Your Balance Druids can also provide it with Insect Swarm, which is part of their DPS rotation, but they typically do not keep a 100% uptime on it. This means that if necessary, you can step up and debuff the boss, helping your raid out a little.
- 5% armor reduction (does not stack) – Sting (Pet Ability – Wasp)
In a slightly peculiar twist, Hunters of all specs gain access to the same 5% armor debuff that Druids can offer with their Faerie Fire & Warlocks with Curse of Weakness. In 25-man raids it will nearly always be applied by Druids, so you generally don’t need to bring a Wasp pet for this debuff. In 10-man raids and dungeons, however, you can bring the Wasp in and help out your raid’s damage a little.
We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if PvE Marksmanship Hunter is the class / spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems etc., to get more information on how to improve your performance as a Marksmanship Hunter in WotLK!