Shot Rotations versus Shot Priorities

Shot Rotations was a term that became ingrained into our mind during Burning Crusade. Discussions popped up about using shot rotation macros versus hand-weaving. With the current state of Hunters I think it is important for people to shake off the idea of “shot rotations” in the sense we once knew them.

For example, raiding as a Hunter in Burning Crusade, if you were not the Survival Hunter in your raid, you were Beast Mastery and your entire “rotation” consisted of using Steady Shot at appropriate times. We can say this was a rotation because it didn’t change. Steady Shot has no cooldown and can be used at will.

Even Survival was able to call their DPS a rotation as they still only used 3 abilities or so.

I think in most cases people have stopped asking for shot rotation macros and have embraced that Hunters now use a large number of our abilities in order to maintain great DPS. A lot of people find the sheer number of abilities we use to be daunting, and some people have even said they prefer Beast Mastery because maintaining DPS is simpler, even if it is only one or two fewer abilities to actively manage.

The best way to think about Hunter DPS now is not about keeping a specific rotation in place but knowing which shots and abilities have a higher priority when compared to another ability. With so many different abilities all with variable cooldowns, things are not always going to be ready in the same order. That’s why knowing which ones are more important in terms of the DPS they provide is crucial.

As Survival, for instance,  you have to consider Serpent Sting, Black Arrow, Explosive Shot, Aimed Shot, and Steady Shot as abilities you use on a regular basis with abilities with longer cooldowns like Rapid Fire and Hunter’s Mark tossed into the mix at various times. You can also factor in talent procs such as Lock and Load that are all going to modify our shot priority.

As an example, if Serpent Sting is about to fall off your target and Black Arrow is about to finish it’s cooldown, both abilities are an option to fire when your next global cooldown finishes. Re-applying Black Arrow to not only start the cooldown but start you chances at a Lock and Load proc take precedence over Serpent Sting, which since it has no cooldown and won’t proc anything on it’s own, can wait for the next GCD before you re-apply it.

The same is true for Marksmanship. Talents like Improved Steady Shot are best used with Chimera Shot due to the monster numbers it provides  as well as reducing it’s huge mana cost. Being careful not to waste a valuable proc like that on Arcane Shot is huge, especially considering what type of numbers a critical strike would provide for your Piercing Shots.

With the current state of Hunters that’s why it is so important to be able to track our procs and shot cooldowns.

Not all abilities are created equal and this is where “the spreadsheet” helps us once again.

Under the “Shot Rotation” tab we can assign shot priorities to each of our abilities and run a rotation test to help us determine which abilities should come first when the option is presented to us. Most of our decisions are pretty easy to determine based off talents we might have. But for testing purposes we can play around in the spreadsheet, putting our shots in different orders of priority just to see how certain decisions affect our DPS.

So remember, when it comes to DPS, in most cases it’s all about keeping certain abilities on cooldown while knowing which ones are the best for us in terms of DPS when it comes time to decide which ones to use.

Any thoughts, comments, questions, etc, feel free to post them here or join us on the forums!

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About Drotara

Drotara (or BehemothDan) considers himself a geek on many levels. A web developer and programmer by trade, he has no shortage of geeky hobbies. When not fulfilling husband and daddy duties, he enjoys WoW, the WoW TCG, Magic: The Gathering, and great board games with friends and family.