Rotation vs. Priority

Talent crunching and gear grabbing is all well and good – and definitely important – when it comes to teh huntaring. But there’s a question I’ve seen probably close to five bajillion times, and the main problem with it is that the answer shifts like sand in an hourglass.

“What’s my shot rotation?”

At first glance, it seems to be a humble and perfectly valid question. After all, you only have so many shots to use, and there are so many factors to keep in mind, such as mana efficiency and cooldowns. As Beast Masters, we were spoiled in Burning Crusade by endlessly spamming the Steady Shot button. Collectively, we have been slapped upside the head by Blizzard and told that we can’t do that anymore.

When someone asks for what their shot rotation should be, they’re looking for a set-in-stone list of buttons to push. A sadly large number is looking to slap together a /castsequence macro so they can take their brain and pitch it back into the trash can for raiding. Unfortunately – or thankfully, depending on your outlook – all a castsequence will get you is dismal dps.

That’s right – we no longer have something as strict as a rotation to rely on. Instead, what we’re looking at is more along the lines of shot priority – a hierarchy of spells to pull from based on each individual situation at hand. While a rotation might work when all you do is stand and pewpew, a lot of fights now force you to get your butt moving or burn to death.

For us, the number one priority is Kill Shot. If it’s up, and you can use it, USE IT. It’s your heavy hitter, your huge damage dealer, the thing that crits for over 10k and it is glorious. Second to that, assuming you’ve dumped the three points into improving it, is Arcane Shot. It has a 6-second cooldown, yes, but the improved version will do more damage than Steady Shot but cost the same amount of mana. Plus, it can be used on the run.

Now, since we’re using Glyph of Steady Shot – you are using that, right? – we want to have Serpent Sting active on the target before firing off a Steady Shot. I use the Quartz timer mod in order to keep an eye on if my Serpent Sting is up. If it’s down, throw it back on before you move on to spamming Steady Shot.

The best thing about having a shot priority rather than a rotation is that it trains you for fast shot maneuvering mid-combat. Flame tornado whirling your way? Break the Steady Shot cast and toss out an Arcane Shot as you make a break for it. Ignis tossing you into the air? Renew your Serpent Sting while you’re flying. Auriaya spawned her litter of kittens? Keep an eye on your cooldowns while you sit through casting a Volley.

We may have more buttons to push than we used to, but we’ve still got it easy compared to the other specs, which have to worry about Chimaera Shot and Black Arrow and yadda yadda. If you’re still feeling confused, however, I’ve whipped up a handy flowchart to help you figure out what to fire when:


See? Easy as pi. 😀


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7 Responses to “Rotation vs. Priority”

  1. Gelles Says:

    So… wait… Being a Hunter actually requires thinking again?

    Hallelujah! I might actually go back to considering thinking about playing my hunter again!

  2. smart001 Says:

    That chart is great. You should throw Aimed shot in there for those of us that specced into it. 🙂

    • Tchann Says:

      I don’t spec into Aimed Shot personally, so I can’t say for sure, but I’d place it right below Kill Shot in the priority list. It has decent damage, yes, but the mana cost is much higher (8% of base compared to Arcane/Steady’s 5%), and is more of a utility buff that would need to be monitored, similar to Serpent Sting.

      Does that make sense? ^.^;

  3. Ambrosyne Says:

    Did you miss the TwitterMemo where I declared that flow charts where for Fridays? 😉

    • Ambrosyne Says:

      Now to add substance (wtb edit): It seems a LOT Of classes have moved away from a “rotation” to a priority system. I know my shadowpriest is like this-in fact I arranged my buttons from left to right in order of priority. And honestly, even as a BM hutner in the BC days, I NEVER sat there and spammed a Steady Shot macro. I did my uber DPS by HAND! Uphill both ways in the snow, barefoot! And I’ll enjoy continuing to do so. 😀

      • Tchann Says:

        Flowchart Fridays, huh? I’ll have to keep that in mind. 😉

        I’ve never liked /castsequence macros, and the closest I got was pre-3.1 when you could macro Kill Shot to Steady Shot. With LunarSphere letting me put three abilities on one button, it ensures I never have to move my mouse very far to hit whatever button I want to hit next. ^.^

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