BM Hunter Shot Priority Rotation

Posted: by Frostheim


reviewed and accurate
Reviewed 3/20/2013
Patch 5.2

View other WHU WoW MoP hunter guides. Updated for patch 5.2.

This guide will cover the optimal Beast Mastery hunter shot rotation for level 90 in Mists of Pandaria. We’ll cover both single-target raid dps and AoE / 5-mans.

Hunters no longer have any kind of fixed rotation like we did in the days of yore, instead we fire our shots in a priority system, making decisions as we play about whether to save up focus for the BM signature shot, or to burn focus before it caps out, and working in a host of shots all on different cooldowns.

BM Hunter Shot Priority

As always we want to start by making sure Hunter’s Mark is on the target and applying Serpent Sting.

BM has the most cooldown-heavy rotations of the hunter specs, with Bestial Wrath and Focus Fire popping up regularly to interrupt the already hectic shot priority.

During Bestial Wrath your shots will cost half focus and most of the time you’ll be able to just spam Kill Command and Arcane Shot. Bestial Wrath is also a good time to burn A Murder of Crows, to get the focus discount on the expensive ability.

When BM pops all of its cooldown at once, it has the largest burst dps of any hunter spec, allowing BM hunters to soar to the top of the charts at the beginning of the fight. There is endless discussion of the exact “right” order to hit every ability, but in general you want to burn your cooldowns, Readiness, and burn them again for a nice super long period of hasted Bestial Wrath / Stampede / crow frenzy.

BM Hunter AoE Rotation

The best BM AoE rotation assumes that you’re taking the best BM AoE talents (Barrage, Thrill of the Hunt). However it’s common for BM hunters optimized for single target damage to still need to deal out the AoE, and in that case you’ll just drop or substitute a few shots from your AoE rotation.

The key to the BM AoE is their passive Beast Cleave ability (that all BM hunters automatically have), which allows your pets melee attacks to inflict 30% damage to nearby targets after you Multi-Shot. Their AoE combines well with Bestial Wrath, which drops the cost of Multi-Shot in half, allowing BM a small period of quite good burst AoE, followed by longer period of fairly so-so AoE. Note that Beast Cleave will not all mobs in a pack — just the nearby ones.

The BM AoE priority rotation is:

Keep in mind that Beast Cleave only works for 5 seconds after you Multi-Shot, so you want to be sure that you are Multi-Shotting at least every five seconds, to maintain your pet’s cleaving ability. I generally like to Multi-Shot immediately after launching the Explosive Trap, and then Barrage and do another Multi-Shot just after the Barrage.

Depending on your situation, you may want to also fire Kill Shot as the mobs are dying. Generally this works best when you’re AoEing smaller numbers of mobs with larger health pools. For 5-man trash the mobs will usually be dead before your Kill Shot can hit — but it can be a good way to save some focus for the next pack when it works.

It’s also worth noting that while Glaive Toss is technically an AoE-ish ability, it depends heavily on the positioning of the mobs and you’re unlikely to hit them all. If you are using Glaive Toss be sure you’re targeting someone in the back of the pack and try to position yourself to hit as many mobs as possible. If, on the other hand, you are using Barrage, be sure to position yourself to avoid pulling any packs of nearby mobs.

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  1. Jyger says:

    Let’s talk about Focus Fire.

    I hit it when it lighst up, also before BW unless I would cap the pets focus with the gained focus. The increased speed on the pets autoattacks does not make up for the extra basic attack (and increased focus regen) from FF during a BW . I find that my pets are focusstarved, and anything I can do that will dump more focus into them during a BW is an increase (except using haste on gear – I’m trying to dump haste on my gear as fast as I can.)

    • Frostheim says:

      Excellent point — somehow in my head I was remembering the original MoP version of Focus Fire before they added the pet focus regen to it. Thanks for the catch.

    • Whitees says:

      Is it the best choice to use FF before BW is activated? I usually used it after BW because I wanted my pet to have its ferenzy stacks during BW. I test my rotation with femaledwarf and there’s no option to compare these two different ways of using it – am I wrong with my rotation? : /

  2. Kheldul says:

    I was going to ask where FF was! Good addition. The only thing I’d say about it is that people shouldn’t necessarily just wait until it flashes at you. Hitting it when you’re at 4 or even 3 stacks can keep the buff uptime quite nice. And it is especially useful during AoE when you want it for the MultiShot costs.

  3. Hierakles says:

    I’m pretty sure Beast Cleave has been patched to do 50% of your pet’s melee attacks, up from 30%, the tooltip just needs changing.

  4. Dibbler says:

    It can also be useful to track the duration and number of your frenzy stack. I found that even when your pet is attacking the whole time you sometimes can go the full 30 seconds without adding a stack, causing it to fall off. If it’s only at 1 or 2 I won’t bother to use the GCD for focus fire but if I have a 4 stack and it’s about to fall off then then it’s worth it.

  5. Bramman says:

    “start by making sure Hunter’s Mark is on the target”

    Is it even worth mentioning Hunter’s Mark as part of the rotation anymore now that it is automatically applied?

    • Sazda says:

      Not all abilities apply Hunter’s Mark, so if you want to have its beneficial effect for every single ability you use on a target before one of the abilities that triggers HM, you need to make sure to manually put it on to the target before you attack it.

  6. Akhem says:

    After a lot of tinkering with BM stat priority (most websites don’t agree on the right “choice”), I think I’ve finally found a balance that works great – at least for me; that is including the t14 4-pieces bonus, and a 501 ilvl.
    1 : Hit & Exp to 7.5% cap
    2 : Haste to ± 4000 (this allows for sufficient Pet focus regen and decent Cobra Shots cast times)
    3 : Reforge remaining Hit/Exp/Haste to Mastery
    4 : Leave Crit as it is if possible
    With that reforge, I’ve found that my opening burn phase reaches up to 250k dps, while “normal” phases don’t plummet t (as is often the trouble with BM) but remain around a healthy 100k . Dunno if this helps, but there you go ^^
    On a side note, I’ve tried breaking the T14 4p bonus with superior iLvl gear, but eventually I went back to it: 6s longer BW is just THAT good.

    • Frostheim says:

      Interesting — you seem to have landed on the opposite of most theory. My numbers showed that for BM, crit and mastery were nearly the same, with a tiny edge for crit. Many BM hunters prefer to go for mastery.

      Can you share any of your math for pursuing haste as yielding higher dps? Keep in mind, the differences between the secondary stats are so tiny these days that they can’t effectively be measured on dummies (where RNG margin of error is larger than the max benefit of reforging one way or another).

      • Akhem says:

        Actually I’m really bad with maths so (insert Trollface here)… Just trial and error mostly. I’m not really pursuing Haste, just a sort of “haste cushion” if that makes sense. I tried reforging all Haste to Mastery, and indeed it works great on dummies, but in practice, the overlong Cobra Shots really screwed up my cycle. Most MoP raid bosses require you to interrupt your dps at some point, or switch targets, etc, or even (The Horror!) AOE things. And overlong cobra shots or lack of focus can really be a problem in those circumstances.
        I guess with that formula I’m loosing a bit of potential DPS during burst phases -but I’m gaining a substantial amount during those “not optimal for BM” phases, which seem to abound.
        Also, that mysterious Haste “cap” of roughly 4000 is very easily attainable now, so I’m not reforging to it, just NOT reforging out of it.
        I hope this makes sense…

  7. Akhem says:

    Oh and also – and Theorycrafter will probably laugh – this balance “feels” right to me in terms of gameplay and reactivity. I guess it’s an important factor too, even if you can’t put numbers on it.

  8. bahzob says:

    The following addons can help getting used to the various rotations

    http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/ovale

    taken with

    http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/nerien-ovale-scripts

    They use theory crafting along with a fairly powerful scripting language to realtime monitor all your abilities and other factors (e.g. target health) to suggest what to use when.

    They don’t replace skill ofc but they certainly can help

  9. Anonymous says:

    Is hunter dps magical or physical? there are a few pets which increase physical damage.

    • Frostheim says:

      It’s both. Auto-Shot, pet attacks and other shots (like Kill Shot) are physical. Shots like Arcane Shot and Cobra Shot are magical. Many of our special cooldown are physical too — A Murder of Crows, Dire Beast, etc.

  10. Slizzer says:

    Frostheim, I think you have forgotten to mention about Rapid Fire.

    • Frostheim says:

      No, I treat the big cooldowns separate from the base priority list: so Rapid Fire and Readiness and Stampede aren’t included on the list.

  11. Shannon says:

    What about Serpent Sting? It was a part of the rotation in Cata and I’ve kept it, but if it’s not worth it, I’ll put one of the other abilities in that easier-to-press slot.