BM Hunter Shot Priority Rotation

Posted: by Azortharion

reviewed and accurate
Reviewed 4/2/2015
Patch 6.1

View other WHU WoW WoD hunter guides. Updated for patch 6.1.
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This guide will cover the optimal Beast Mastery hunter shot rotation for level 90 in Warlords of Draenor. We’ll cover both single-target raid dps and AoE / 5-mans.

Hunters in WoD will still be following close to a shot priority system for all aspects of damage. Here we’ll discuss the priority as we’ve personally simcrafted, conducted our own tests and made sure everything is accurate for launch.

BM Hunter Shot Priority

We no longer have anything to maintain on a fight anymore after ability pruning has swept the BM priority to just focusing on your shots and cooldowns.

BM has the most cooldown-heavy rotations of the hunter specs, having more identity with Bestial Wrath, and Focus Fire being spec exclusive.

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 should be lined up with Kill Command to be able to use two kill commands in one BW cycle. As Focus Fire has been buffed considerably, and with the BM 2-piece tier bonus, it will be very unlikely you’ll be able to line up Focus Fire properly with Bestial Wrath, so instead, you’ll be looking for maximum up-time on both, using either as soon as they become available, with the exception that you won’t cast Focus Fire during Bestial Wrath (right before, however, is preferable).

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 use your cooldowns, make sure Kill Command is always being used on CD, and pooling enough focus to use Barrage every 20 seconds. A BM hunter shines once he or she learns how to pool the focus properly between KC, Barrage and other abilities.

BM Hunter AoE Rotation

The key to the BM AoE is their passive Beast Cleave ability, which allows your pet’s 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 necessarily hit all mobs in a pack — just the nearby ones. Pet placement is highly important when it comes to ensuring proper usage of Beast Cleave.

The BM AoE priority rotation is:

Keep in mind that Beast Cleave only works for 4 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. If you get a kill with Kill Shot, you essentially can now “cherry pick”, and even regen health for doing so! 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, as well as help your healer out with a bit of extra health.

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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

    taken with

    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.