Today at WoW Insider I take a look into MM’s horrible representation in raids, and their awful dps in raid logs.

In every expansion there is inevitably one spec that is the red-headed stepchild of DPS and a host of hunters fond of the spec crying into their ale at the unfairness of it all. Right now MM is that spec, and MM-lovers everywhere are sloppy drunk on their own sadness.

Actually, if you look back far enough there was often only one raid viable spec, rather than one bad one. In the memory of Grandpappy Frostheim, it goes something like this:

  • Vanilla: MM is the only raid viable spec.
  • BC: BM is the only raid viabale spec.
  • Wrath: BM Briefly on top, then nerfed to the stone age. SV briefly on top, then MM for most of the expansion. After the nerf BM never recovered and held DPS 20% behind the leader.
  • Cataclysm: SV briefly awesome and overpowered, then over-nerfed. MM on top with SV just behind and BM in third. BM wasn’t so far behind, but was significantly so. The three specs were closer in DPS potential than any time in history.

Nowadays we have BM back in the lead with MM in last place. And if you look at the logs, MM DPS looks horrible. However, recent comments from Blizzard confirm what hunter DPS simulations show us: MM’s dps is in theory very close to BM’s.

So what the heck is wrong that we have MM so amazingly low in the logs — almost always in very last place against every other DPS spec in the game? … Read More.

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  1. Akhem says:

    Great article! I’ve juste started a second spec as MM – which I’ve never played before: all this talk of it being more complex and challenging really makes it quite interesting to me. That’s after all why I chose BM back in Wotlk: because I loved the concept, but also because everybody said it was rubbish. Turns out you just had to put more effort into it.

  2. Cloudbuster says:

    The 20-second duration to Steady Focus will make the spec more palatable, I’m sure. I played MM for a while near the end of Wrath and just never cozied up to it. Dual specced. SV/BM throughout Wrathand early Cata (before I had to stop raiding due to internet issues). The need to frequently fit in the two steady shots wasn’t “challenging” it was just irritating.

    BM now stands as an extremely challenging complex spec, in my opinion (outside of the PvP ‘blow all your CDs and nuke someone down strategy’, which is going away, I hope). What with all the cooldowns you have to time and stack to maximize DPS and all the short to medium cooldown abilities, plus managing your pet’s target and positioning, you have to be constantly on the ball.

    All the specs, frankly, are pretty challenging at this stage, what with all the buttons to push. It actually has be concerned for future expansions — Blizz probably feels a need to keep adding abilities, to make us feel like we’re progressing, but they simply can’t keep giving us more dps priority buttons to push. I can imagine the level 100 hunter with 16-17 dps abilities to prioritize to do optimal dps.

  3. Omogon says:

    I have played since the end of BC but did not raid until Wrath. After the big BM nerf in early wrath I switched to MM and played that way until MoP. BM is a “helluva” lot more complex than it was in BC/Wrath and frankly I miss MM. This was a great article. Think I’ll dust off the MM spec and try it out…..I can’t imagine how it could be more complex than BM is now. I never had trouble keeping the haste buff up and never had to worry about my pet at all other than hitting BW now and then. If I can cast steadies and aimed on the move it should be great.

  4. Itukaaj says:

    Aimed Shot needs some ArPen and Chimera needs a big buff at least to make it work for PVP.

    Marksmen utility in PVP became non existent with the new talent system. I do not join the argument return Silencing Shot to MM. I think MM needs one additional Spell that gives it utility in a PVP setting.

    The level 90 talents have broken Mechanics and need a serious rework in coding and perhaps some other added ability benefits by the devs. Powershot in particular needs a hard look at.

    Not related to Marksman but traps are now broken. Besides the scatter dodge … I have had people in arena walk over my traps and literally jump up and down on them before they laughed and went on to kill my team.

  5. Itukaaj says:

    Aimed Shot needs some ArPen and Chimera needs a big buff at least to make it work for PVP.

    Marksmen utility in PVP became non existent with the new talent system. I do not join the argument return Silencing Shot to MM. I think MM needs one additional Spell that gives it utility in a PVP setting.

    The level 90 talents have broken Mechanics and need a serious rework in coding and perhaps some other added ability benefits by the devs. Powershot in particular needs a hard look at.

    Not related to Marksman but traps are now broken. Besides the scatter dodge … I have had people in arena walk over my traps and literally jump up and down on them before they laughed and went on to kill my team.

  6. Rddragon says:

    Great article…though I’m not sure I understood the “not so far behing, but significantly so” part of it. lol

  7. Arth says:

    The realities of raiding hit everyone’s dps harder that any mathematical differences ever could. I think the complexity item on your list is by far the biggest contributor (for the majority of hunters).

    I have NOT been happy with my dps of late. Burst is insanely good, sustained dps quite bad. Relative to raids that I run and other players, I’ve never been lower. It’s frustrating. I’ll play any spec, and may try to experiment beyond BM again to see how I do with them.

  8. bahzob says:

    Its just stupid to say that DPS is theoretically the same based on simulation craft.

    It is like saying 2 cars will be the same on a race track because their top speed is the same. (ignoring things like behind power/weight ratio, handling and braking which are all way more important).

    • Arth says:

      Agreed, but it IS possible to get damn close in raids to target-dummy precision. You just have to be very, very good at managing movement and shot priority. I think the takeaway is, with a few tweaks to make MM more conducive to raiding situations, it could be viable again. That’s a good thing.

  9. tee says:

    I don’t get the whole mm is complex argument. It is not. And certainly not more complex than bm with all the pet and cd management. It is just underpowered. If it was actually competitive, ppl would play it, like they played the best spec thru previous expansions. Same for both pve and pvp. So pls stop saying mm is complex, it makes no sense.

    • Iridar says:

      MM is complex because of the tight rotation and careful aim phase, and all this new buttos don’t make it easier.

      BM is complex because on multi target fights you have to manually manage your pet to achieve optimal dps.

      You can forego controlling the pet, and you will not notice the difference in rotation.
      However, you cannot forego tight rotation, where you must keep up steady concentration buff, allways have focus for chimera shot AND use all CDs, that’s why everyone says MM is more complex.

      You don’t notice if you suck as BM, but if you make mistakes in MM rotation you’re going to feel it on your own skin, at the tips of the fingers, pushing the rotation buttons.
      As MM you have to constantly plan for focus AND GCDs for cooldown usage, be it AMoC or Glaives, while BM usually don’t worry about GCDs.

  10. Whitefyst says:

    I believe that the simulations are pretty accurate with showing all 3 hunter specs within a small percentage of each other in theoretical.

    I believe that the 38% difference between in MM and BM DPS in logs is mostly selection bias. A small part of the difference is due to the theoretical maximum potential performance of both specs, but the largest part of the difference is due to selection bias – involving the gearing and skill of those currently playing both specs.

    A contributing factor in the log discrepancy is that MM is indeed the hardest to play of the 3 hunter specs and the spec with the most severe penalties, in general, if you screw up. I will first state that the complexity differences between MM and BM/SV has been reduced some in MoP already by the fact that all three specs now have 2 or 3 additional abilities that are used and the fact that the duration of the SF focus buff was extended to be longer than the CS CD instead of shorter as it was previously.

    The factors that can make MM harder to play well include:

    – Managing the SF buff. Not only to you need to perform SSs to manage focus levels, but you also have to do a pair every 10s to maintain the buff. This provides a little rigidity in shot selection as oppossed to BMs and SVs that only have to cast CoS as needed. Losing the SF buff is a large loss in DPS for MM Hunters since not only do you waste extra time to regain the buff due to extra cast time times but you also have reduced autoshot frequency with less WQ procs and your SSs generate less focus per cast. Thus, dropping the SF buff is a direct loss in DPS, time, and focus, with the latter 2 resulting in even more DPS loss.

    – Managing 2 focus dumps. MMs are the only hunter spec with 2 focus dumps with both needing to be used to maximize DPS in different conditions. If you choose the wrong one at certain times, a large drop in DPS can be occur from the maximum potential.

    – MMs perform more cast time shots than the other specs. MMs need to cast more SSs per fight than BMs or SVs need to cast CoS. Furthermore, AI hardcasts are long cast times too. This makes MM DPS much more susceptible to movement, interruption, stuns, etc than BM or SV DPS. Being interrupted in the middle of an AI hardcast is a huge DPS loss. Being interrupted in the middle of a SS cast is not as big of a direct DPS loss but it can result in SF dropping and with still needing to cast it can result in less higher damage shots being performed later.

    – Managing overcapping focus is harder for MMs since we have much less flexibility in shot selection and performing an SS pair at an unideal time can result in wasted focus.

    – Properly managing Master Marksman procs for the focus free instant AI. MMs want the maximum number of MMM AI procs used per fight; however, for maximum DPS you do not always want to use the proc as soon as it is available. Using the proc in the middle of the SS pair needed to main SF is a significant drop in DPS over waiting to cast it after the second SS in the pair, although you lose the possibility of gaining a MMM stack for a new MMM AI.

    – MMs are much more reliant on haste than the other specs. Part of the reason is because we perform more cast time shots. But it is also due to the fact that MM’s with their longer primary shot CD need to more consistently perform a certain number of SSs per CS cycle to balance focus meaning that have certain haste plateuas affect MM DPS the most. The ideal plateaus for MMS that I have calculated for both a tight CS cycle and good focus balancing are 12.93% without the T14 4P and 9.09% with it (this is to perform 3 SSs in 4s). For those that are not geared well enough yet for the T14 4P, they also probably are not going to be able to reasonably achieve anywhere near that desired haste amount. Thus, MM DPS is currently suffering from not having anywhere near the ideal amount of haste for a tight CS cycle, focus balanced CS cycle.

    With all of these factors, it is very easy for someone who either does not understand how to optimally play MM or who is unskilled at doing so to perform way below the maximum potential MM DPS with the discrepancy for the difference for an unskilled MM being way larger than that for a BM or SV hunter. With that said though, I really do not think that it is too hard to play MM well and somewhere close the maximum DPS potential if you understand how to play MM well and have played it enough to have a feel for the rhythm of the shot selections, such that you minimize the effects of the factors listed previously.

    Concerning the 5.1 changes to MM:

    – Increasing the SF buff duration to 20s is a nice quality of life change for MMs and will help those that currently do not play it well to perform better. However, for those that were previously performing MM well, this change has very little benefit in most cases since the average CS cycle still needs about 3 SSs to balance focus. It wil only provide them some flexibility in rare situations where they can perform individual SSs instead to better balance focus.

    – Making SS/CoS castable on the move is a great benefit for all hunter specs, but it is indeed a larger benefit for MMs since we cast more of these. This change will help the unskilled more than the skilled since the skilled are better at managing when to cast their SSs relative to movements.

    – Doubling the duration of the CA phase will help increase MM DPS at the start of the fights, but the increase will not be a doubling of our CA DPS. This is because a lot of the dynamic effects that we have available over that first 10% of boss health to increase our DPS will not be available during the second 10%. It will take longer to cast AIs and SSs with each doing less DPS than earlier in the fight with prepots and trinket procs.

    – The glyph allowing AI to be cast on the move I believe is currently a non-issue. It is not worth taking over other glyphs currently since it is only rarely worthwhile to cast AI in T14. For most MM, casting AI is currently only beneficial during the CA phase, which is only 20% of the fight. Considering that the glyph is only useful when needing to move over that 20%, its benefit is greatly reduced, although there will be some fights where having it can be very beneficial.

    These changes will definitely improve MM DPS somein T14 gear, but MM DPS in actual performance will still be behind BM and SV. However, I am hoping that MM DPS will become more viable in later tiers. The recent change to AI damaging calculations should make it scale better with gear and become a better option in more and more situations as gear improves. Furthermore, as gear improves and has more stats, it will be easier for MMs to reasonable achieve the ideal haste plateau without sacrificing too much of the other stats.

  11. bahzob says:

    If MM was competitive you would expect some of the top hunters (for whom skill is not presumably an issue) to be playing it, in at least some fights where keeping pet on target is an issue.

    I know for a fact this is not the case for PVP. Tosan is one of the best players in the world, he started MoP with the view he would play MM and doesn’t like BM one bit but even he has had to switch.

    How about PVE. What spec are top hunters using? And how does their DPS compare with others. This for me is the best way to assess the classes, since it is in the “real” world but with skill variation minimised.

    (Getting back to my analogy of cars. If you want to know which is best round a race track you get the top drivers to do some laps and tell you.)

  12. Iridar says:

    You didn’t listen to what Whitfyst said.
    MM is competetive, but still harder to play and even then shows results lower than BM. Then why bother?
    To be competetive, MM needs haste plateus and T14, which is yet to be obtained even by top players.
    Concerning PVP, MM used to have precision and utility, while BM was brute force. Nowadays, all the utility is talents, Readiness is baselne, and with Intimidate BM has even more utility than MM, while still having powerful burst. There is just no reason to try and play MM. Sadly.

    • bahzob says:

      So getting back to my analogy with a racing car.

      MM is like a F1 car but without any driver aids like traction control and electronic gear changing.

      So while in theory it should be as fast as a car with all those aids it is next to impossible to drive that way in practice.

      So you are wrong to say it’s “competitive” in any meaningful sense of the word.

      And it demonstrates, once again, that Ghostcrawler really doesn’t have much of a clue.

  13. Iridar says:

    If there are problems with keeping pet on target then it’s easier to spec SV, which doesn’t have most of MMs problems.

  14. Oxix says:

    I tested all current specs on Gara’Jal LFR mode (you basically only stand there, so for me it’s a target dummy with no Careful Aim being screwed. Movement is a personal thing anyway, if you have problems to move in SV, you will have those in MM).

    SV is my best one, done around 61k (477 ilvl, if you’re curious). BM very close, 58k, but God I hate this specc.

    MM… Played this one for almost whole Cata, where the rotation was nearly the same. With Thrill of the Hunt I was nearly able to refresh every 15% speed buff just when it was about to expire, not wasting dps on this pathetic Steady Shot too much. I planned Aimed Shots ahead, so they did not damage my rotation while I was using them with Rapid Fire and Steady Focus up (and Carefull Aim phase of course). I did not delay a single Chimera Shot, Serpent Sting never fell, I never had to shamefully refill focus with a steady shot with no Steady Focus up. Basically, I was proud as hell about my rotation.

    Under 50k.

    MM does not need any rotationwise fixes in my opinion. Steady Focus is tight, but manageable. It needs a straightforward DPS increase. Aimed Shot, our pride and joy for past expansions, now just tickles, hitting for about or even less then Chimera Shot (not a bomb either). Steady Shooting is a moment of doing like 0 dps – this ability does nothing at all. Wild Quilver procs, that were a nice addition even without any mastery reforges in Cata, now are just lame.

    I love MM, I wanna play it, but it’s probably the most undertuned spec I’ve ever played. The changes to Carefull Aim will be marginal and hardly helpfull on bosses that have a “burn phase”, the changes to Steady Focus will affect us by a small percent (5% increase is the most I predict), and movement… Well, as I said, it’s up to a player.

    I’m looking forward to see MM fixed.

  15. Dorianchika says:

    I had just thought that MM was too restrictive and prone to breaking down because of the limited options you have while maintaining the 15% haste buff. Now that MM’s staples like readiness and silencing shot aren’t spec restricted, I don’t see a compeling reason to keep an MM spec on my toon at all. The first time I see a rare beast I appreciate, I’ll be switching back to SV/BM.

    Gonna miss you MM, but you’re rather vanilla atm.

    • Whitefyst says:

      Speaking of that, one improvement that I would like to see for MM to bring back the old days a little bit and make Readiness better for MMs would be for MMs to have a passive talent to reduce Readiness to 3 mins so that it aligns with the RF CD. That would be a nice boost to MM DPS to help even things out a bit and to give Readiness a more meaningful MM flavor again.

  16. Vick says:

    ya….. i just love MM, it is , betwen all 3 specs, the one that has the really meaning of the world “hunter” in its essence, i hate sv in cata with all my guts, because brains was not require to play it and pull numbers, about bm i can only say a low “meh”, i havent tried MM in mop, because everybody says MM now sucks… big time!! but now… ill take a really close look… and hope they put MM where it belongs… on the top os charts again!! but only if u have brain!!

    ps: dont judge my english… im not american!!

  17. Vick says:

    or where else english is the native language!!! lol

  18. Dharion says:

    “And it demonstrates, once again, that Ghostcrawler really doesn’t have much of a clue.”

    I wouldn’t ay he doesn’t have a clue (ok…he doesn’t) but I think it’s more of an unmentioned burning hate for the Hunter class.