This guide will cover the optimal raid dps marksman hunter spec for level 85 in Cataclysm. MM hunters started the game off in vanilla as the raid spec, and the spec has had its ups and downs since. Cataclysm brings the MM hunter an excellent dps toolbox that gives them excellent flexibility at the cost of a demanding rotation.
For a MM hunter choosing talents, you want to look almost exclusively at dps. You are a dps class, and your talent spec should be designed to maximize your boss dps — because it’s bosses we care about, not trash. Any spare talent points should be focused on health and self-heals since we can’t overburden the healers as much in Cataclysm.
Cataclysm Marksman MM Raid Talent Build: Level 85 Spec: 7/31/0 +3
Most of these choices are pretty obvious, and pretty much what you’ll see in most MM hunter builds. With the shortened talent trees in Cataclysm, we have less choice, with the result that it’s harder to make a poor spec. What’s fascinating with the MM tree in Cataclysm is how much the BM tree actually benefits us.
Our recommendation for the MM hunter build actually leaves 3 points unspent. Where you want to spend these points depends heavily on your position in the MM haste plateaus. If the haste will allow you to increase the number of Chimera Shots fired, then you want to spend these in Pathing. If not, you’ll want to top off Frenzy then toss the last two in one of any number of available talents.
Let’s take a look at a few of the talent choices that might raise some eyebrows.
Something MM hunters (and SV) often forget is that our pets make a very real contribution to our dps — thousands of dps in fact. Frenzy boosting pet attack speed by 30% is a huge benefit of hundreds of dps, and makes it worth even taking the somewhat lackluster One with Nature to get down to Frenzy.
Now that damage has been removed from Silencing Shot it is too often looked over. Silencing Shot costs no focus, and is not on the global cooldown. Like it or not, MM hunters are an interrupt spec and may need to help the raid. And with Glyph of Silencing Shot — a major glyph, by the way, where you don’t have other dps options — you instantly gain 10 focus when you interrupt a cast. While other classes are certainly better at interrupting than we are, it’s still a valuable tool we can bring to help the raid succeed.
Marked for Death
We put one talent point in Marked for Death, only because we needed to spend this talent point somewhere to get to the bottom of the tree and grab Chimera Shot. This is not an essential talent at all! In fact, this spare talent point can be spent in one of three possible locations:
- Rapid Killing isn’t a great talent; however, on some AoE boss encounters it can be useful. The idea is that you’re AoEing down the adds, and every time you kill one, you get 50 focus back to continue your AoE through the Rapid Kill and Rapid Recuperation combo. Note, however, that for this talent to proc you must be the one to land the killing blow, and of course the boss adds must actually grant experience — they don’t always, but thus far in Cataclysm most of them have. So for AoE fights, this talent can help your AoE and inflate your dps numbers. Also note that you’ll only want to spend one talent point on Rapid Killing — all you care about is the focus regen through Rapid Recuperation.
- Resistance is Futile is another talent that’s not great, but can definitely increase your dps. You would be surprised how many bosses actually move around, or are repositioned, and this talent seems to proc pretty quickly amid steady movement. When it does, it’s a free Kill Command — while MM doesn’t normally use Kill Command, it’s worth it when its cost will be refunded (and it does significantly more damage than Arcane Shot, after all). Note of course that you must have the focus to pay for the Kill Command, though you get it back.
- Marked for Death is our final choice. MfD is situationally useful only in fights with heavy target-swapping (Omnotron is a perfect example) where it can save you the need to waste a global cooldown on reapplying Hunter’s Mark.
With buffs to Multi-Shot, Bombardment can make MM a viable AoE spec, though still behind BM and SV. Because more hunters are using their MM spec for AoE fights, we’re including this talent in the WHU build, even though it does nothing for your single-target dps. If you’re planning to use another spec for the AoE fights, then ditch Bombardment. See the Marked for Death discussion below for where to spend those extra two talent points.
Again, the value of Pathing depends entirely on your position in the haste plateaus — but keep in mind that while the value of haste rises and falls with the plateaus, haste is still always beneficial — just when you’re after a hard plateau and before the next soft plateau, you can probably do better with talent points in Frenzy.