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State of Marksmanship Hunters on Shadowlands Beta
09.08.2020 um 04:06
Feedback and opinions on the current state of Marksmanship Hunters on the
Beta, mainly focusing on PvE viability, Covenant abilities, Legendaries, Conduits, and concerns going forward.
Marksmanship Hunters have had a rough time as of late, struggling to find a clear direction. The spec has undergone multiple design changes since its initial rework back in Legion. With the current iteration in Battle for Azeroth, Marksmanship is viewed as a "sniper," lending itself towards having excellent single target and mid-range AoE capabilities. Unfortunately, the spec has fallen short of that goal. Tuning aside, there are many rotational flaws that have plagued Marksmanship. Battle for Azeroth added temporary fixes to these issues through borrowed powers such as Azerite. Heading into Shadowlands, the viability of Marksmanship is questionable as many of the core issues have resurfaced and have become even more apparent with the new design changes introduced.
About the Author
. I main
and do both Mythic+ and raiding at a high level. I write the BFA
Marksmanship Hunter guide
and most Hunter-related content and news for Wowhead. I also have a
Hunter Mythic+ website
, stream raids and dungeons on
, and do
content. I've also commentated multiple Race to World First events over the past couple of years. Feel free to message me via
or in the Trueshot Lodge with any Hunter questions or inquiries.
Shadowlands hasn't brought many changes to Marksmanship so far. We've acquired some new talents but aside from the new systems introduced in Shadowlands, Marksmanship is virtually the same as it is in Battle for Azeroth. Below are the major class, spec and talent updates.
- Scares a beast, causing it to run in fear for up to 20 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. Only one beast can be feared at a time.
Iconic Hunter spell that dates back to vanilla WoW. It can be beneficial while questing or during PvP. Sadly, a targeted fear that only works on beasts has very niche uses in modern gameplay.
Augen des Wildtiers
- Take direct control of your pet and see through its eyes for 1 min.
Eyes of the Beast can be used while questing, or in very niche scenarios that require "scouting" ahead. While this ability is perhaps one of the coolest abilities in the game, once again the practical uses of this ability are few to none.
- You attempt to finish off a wounded target. Only usable on enemies with less than 20% health.
Hunters get our execute back! While we had
as a talent, having an execute baseline gives Marksmanship Hunters some depth, something that we lacked in BFA. Marksmanship is also the only Hunter spec where Kill Shot can directly influence our rotation via
. Kill Shot paired with Careful Aim makes Marksmanship's execute one of the strongest in the game.
- Removes 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from an enemy target.
One of the many complaints in BFA for Marksmanship Hunters was that too much of our utility was tied to our pets. Now we get Tranquilizing Shot baked into our baseline toolkit, taking some of the utility away from our pets, and giving it back to us.
Marksmanship's base focus regen has been increased.
5 focus per sec.
Much needed passive focus buff, especially with the loss of Master Marksman.
- Binding Shot is now baseline for Marksmanship Hunters.
Binding Shot baseline gives us more utility which brings us in line with BM and SV Hunter utility. Now we have the option to run
while retaining Binding Shot.
- Misdirect all threat you cause to the targeted party or raid member,
for the next 8 sec
beginning with your next attack within 30 sec and lasting for 8 sec.
It now works like the current
. Definitely a big quality of life change.
- Revives your pet, returning it to life with 100% of its base health.
6 sec cast
Devastating change. This severely hinders all Hunters and discourages the use of pets drastically.
Mal des Jägers
- Hunter's Mark is now baseline for all Hunter specs.
In PvE, Hunter's Mark has been a controversial subject throughout all of BFA for Marksmanship Hunters. While single target is largely a "apply and forget" scenario, having to juggle Hunter's Mark in AoE feels cumbersome and unrewarding. The new version of Hunter's Mark has a reduced GCD (1 sec Hasted GCD) so it's a bit easier to manage, however, the focus generation component has been removed.
- Multi-Shot has been capped at 5 targets.
This just brings Multi-Shot in line with other target capped abilities.
Check out the new talents in the
Meister der Treffsicherheit
Aimed Shot has a 100% chance to reduce the focus cost of your next Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot by 100%.
NEW Aimed Shot has an additional 25% chance to deal a critical strike.
This change is both good and bad. It's good in the sense that the flat 25% critical strike chance is amazing for Marksmanship's toolkit. It's bad because it replaced the old Master Marksman, which basically "fixed" our core rotation and made it feel smooth to play. The new passive effect is also rather boring compared to its predecessor.
- Explosive Shot has been capped at 6 targets.
Just brings Explosive Shot in line with other target capped abilities.
- Barrage has been capped at 8 targets.
Just brings Barrage in line with other target capped abilities. It still has a very niche "spread AoE" usage.
- A two-headed shot that hits your primary target and another nearby target, dealing Nature damage to one and Frost damage to the other.
Chimaera gives us something to do in two target situations, albeit very minor. It does not give focus as it does for BM.
- Targets rooted by Binding Shot deal 20% less damage to you for 8 sec after the root effect ends.
While Binding Shackles has little to no benefit in most end-game content, it provides Marksmanship Hunters a much needed utility spell to help with questing and leveling.
- Kill Shot has 2 charges, and causes Aimed Shot to recharge 50% faster for 3 sec.
Dead Eye by itself is a niche execute talent that bolsters our already solid execute phase due to
. Paired with the Venthyr Covenant ability
, Dead Eye becomes one of our strongest talents we have access to in single target situations.
- Rain a volley of arrows down over 6 sec, dealing Physical damage to any enemy in the area, and gain the effects of Trick Shots for as long as Volley is active.
The concept behind Volley is really awesome and it gives us another option to combat our lack of two target cleave. It deals a ton of damage and provides us with solid burst AoE. The major fault behind Volley is that its short window of opportunity encourages us to ignore
, which is counter-intuitive to our core rotation.
A powerful shot which deals (112.5% of Attack power)% Physical damage to the target and up to Physical damage to all enemies between you and the target. Piercing Shot ignores the target's armor.
We recently got access to the legendaries we will be able to play with in Shadowlands. A few choices are fairly interesting but for the most part, Marksmanship legendaries are pretty underwhelming and don't serve any real purpose in the existing Marksmanship rotation. Hunters have 4 generic legendaries that all three specs have access too, as well as 4 legendaries unique to each spec. Here's a quick rundown of the powers we will have access to.
Ruf der Wildnis
- Call of the Wild is one of the better legendaries Marksmanship has to choose from. It has great synergy with talents such as
and conduits such as
Fokus des Scharfschützen
. Initially, we probably won't see much use out of this legendary since it'll require some scaling for it to become good. We might see some usage out of it in niche raid fights that require certain
timings. As an added bonus to this legendary, the cooldown reduction it provides not only works on Trueshot but also reduces the cooldown of
Aspekt des Geparden
Aspekt der Schildkröte
. Paired with
Wildheit im Blut
, we might see this legendary used defensively depending on the situation.
- Craven Strategem has no added DPS benefit, but it's defensive utility is insanely good, especially for PvPers. It may see some use in dungeons or raids depending on the scenario, but other than niche defensive utility, I highly doubt we'll use this legendary in PvE very much.
- Nessingwary's serves little to no purpose for Marksmanship Hunters. Having to spend a GCD on a trap that does zero damage doesn't help us in any way. In fact, using this legendary is at best DPS neutral. I don't see a world in which we would ever use this legendary over the other options we have.
- Soulforge Embers gives us a unique interaction between
, two very underutilized abilities in the Hunter toolkit. Conceptually, the idea is amazing and brings to light a new element of class fantasy. Pragmatically speaking, however, Soulforge Embers feels awkward to use in actual gameplay, as it requires two GCDs that are not a part of our core rotation. That being said, Soulforge Embers is currently the best performing legendary for all three specs by a landslide on Beta (this can easily change with tuning of course).
Zielsicherheit der Adlerkralle
- This legendary seems good on the surface but in reality its a pretty awful legendary for Marksmanship Hunters. Marksmanship's damage isn't restricted by our focus generation, but rather we are limited by our
charges. In the current iteration of Hunter on Beta, we are able to fully execute a standard
, without casting a single
i.e this legendary does little to nothing for us. There is a possibility that this legendary may become relevant down the road, but it's a pretty underwhelming option at the moment.
Geheimnisse der unablässigen Wacht
- Secrets allows us to conserve focus in our AoE rotation, as getting a proc allows us to cast another
back-to-back. In theory, this sounds decent, but by doing this, this legendary encourages us to completely ignore our
stacks. Additionally, as I mentioned above, saving on focus by foregoing a
does little to actually aid us, as we are still restricted by Aimed Shot charges, not focus. While Secrets does help a bit in AoE, the fact that this legendary has zero relevance in 1-2 target scenarios is a huge turnoff. I don't ever foresee us using this legendary in Marksmanship's current state.
Täuschung des Schlangenpirschers
- On its surface, Serpentstalkers seems very similar to Secrets of the Unblinking Vigil. Despite its wording, the
s proc any time
is used after gaining
. Due to this interaction, Serpentstalkers has awesome synergy with our new talent
. Using Aimed Shots during the Volley window proc the additional Arcane Shots even on 1 or 2 targets. Serpentstalkers also works with
's additional Aimed Shot. Finally, the Arcane Shots produced by Serpentstalkers are buffed by
, so they actually deal a fair bit of damage, especially when using
. Despite it's "AoE restriction", Serpentstalkers is a pretty solid and well designed legendary.
- Another legendary that is pretty mediocre for Marksmanship Hunters. The concept of buffing
is fine, but in its current state, Rapid Fire is pretty insignificant. Using Rapid Fire is barely better than just casting Steady Shots (people are already trying to figure out how to ignore Rapid Fire completely, refer to Uldir Marksmanship). The added damage component of Surging Shots simply makes Rapid Fire do relevant damage. Conduit traits such as
give this legendary potential and of course, tuning Rapid Fire could make this legendary more relevant. Unfortunately for Marksmanship Hunters, outside of
Ruf der Wildnis
(fight dependent), Surging Shots is really the only relevant single target legendary we have at our disposal.
Covenants & Soulbinds
As you progress through Shadowlands, players will be able to choose from one of four different Covenants: the
of Bastion, the
of Ardenweald, the
of Maldraxxus and the
of Revendreth. Each Covenant will give you unique abilities - one damaging ability and one utility ability - and will provide players with a slew of unique transmogs, storylines, mounts, and other benefits. Players will be forced to choose one Covenant, however. We've been told that changing Covenants isn't too difficult, but returning to a previously abandoned one will prove to be cumbersome.
You can read the full Covenant overview
With Beta underway, we have been able to test each of the Covenants for Hunters. Below is a summary of how each Covenant currently interacts with the Marksmanship toolkit and the viability of each.
- In PvE, the bonus 30% Critical Strike can be quite nice, especially in AoE. Unfortunately, due to Marksmanship’s long cast times, it’s hard to fit in too many abilities into the short window. Luckily, Resonating Arrow does pair quite nicely with Marksmanship’s AoE toolkit when running talents such as
, which makes it one of the better abilities at the moment. Resonating Arrow also has an awesome effect that lets you cast abilities onto targets that would normally be out of your line of sight. It lends itself to having some unique benefits in PvP, especially in Arenas.
- On the surface, this ability seems quite underwhelming, but after doing dungeons and raid testing, this ability adds a ton of value. The real beauty of this ability is that
Phiole des Gleichmuts
removes bleeds, diseases, poisons, and curses. Things such as
can be removed, along with a ton of new poisons, diseases and bleeds introduced in the new dungeons and raids such as
fight in Castle Nathria.
- Death Chakram is one of the cooler looking abilities Hunters can choose from. This ability isn't bad for Marksmanship per se, but it falls short compared to some other options we have at our disposal. The ability seems to lend itself towards being versatile - being able to deal with both AoE and single target damage. Outside of pure single target, its damage is pretty underwhelming though (which can be tuned of course). The major benefit of Death Chakram is the additional Focus per bounce which is really strong for Survival Hunters. Unfortunately, Marksmanship Hunters don’t really have any Focus issues at the moment so this perk isn't quite as good for us. Death Chakram seems to be a middle ground between optimal single target and AoE.
- Fleshcraft can be a fairly strong defensive ability, giving players a shield up to 50% of your maximum health every 2 minutes. The major downside of this ability is of course its long channel time. For raid, and even in PvP, it might be hard to find times to adequately charge this ability. In Mythic+ however, there is generally ample time to utilize this ability, which can easily be a game-changer in higher dungeons. The shield also allows you to ignore certain mechanics depending on the situation.
- While most of the other covenant abilities seem to be completely implemented, Wild Spirits seems to be unfinished for the most part. The ability itself works and is usable, but many of our abilities don’t interact with it properly. For Marksmanship, in particular, Wild Spirits does not currently proc off of
, it only procs off of the initial tick of channeled abilities such as
or DoTs such as
, and it doesn’t proc at all off of pet abilities or attacks. It also seems to have an internal cooldown on how often it can proc, which really hurts the damage capabilities. Wild Spirits has the potential to be really strong for AoE, but it has some things that need to be ironed out before it becomes viable for any Hunter spec.
- Utility-wise, Soulshape is probably one of the best covenant options we have. The on-demand blink and added movement speed helps our positioning. Soulshape along with
Aspekt des Geparden
gives us an abundance of tools to deal with different types of mechanics.
- This is it. Flayed Shot is currently Marksmanship's best option for single target and will most likely be the go-to for raiding. Flayed Shot's damage itself is decent, but the real benefit of this ability is the
procs. It has amazing synergy with our new talent
. Typically, Dead Eye is intended to be a niche execute-only talent. When paired with Flayed Shot, however, we gain its benefit throughout the entire fight. This means more
s and more Kill Shots. The major downside to this ability is of course the lack of AoE benefit it provides outside of Dead Eye.
- A teleport can be nice situationally and definitely gives us a bit of added utility to our toolkit. Door of Shadows might be useful for skips in Mythic+ but in general, its usage is pretty niche and situation dependent.
At the moment, there are only two Covenants that seem viable, the Venthyr and the Kyrian. These Covenants offer not only the best abilities but also the best two signatures abilities. Both Covenants have access to powerful Soulbind trees. Theotar gives us access to two Potency Conduits with access to both
Schicklichkeit im Ödland
, while Pelagos gives us access to three Potency Conduits and
Die Vergangenheit loslassen
. Necrolord also has some viability, however, as it stands now its a "middle ground" between the best pure single target covenant (Venthyr) and the best AoE Covenant (Kyrian). It also has weaker options when looking at the Soulbind trees. Marksmanship Hunters will have to choose whether single target or AoE is more important to them, based on their end game intentions.
Conduits are a new system added in Shadowlands. Similar to how relics acted in Legion, Conduits provide a minor buff to existing abilities. Each spec has 16 unique Conduits to choose from, separated into four distinct categories:
traits. Each of these traits scales up to a maximum of 15 ranks, each rank increasing the potency of the Conduit. Marksmanship Hunters have had most of their Conduits revealed on the Beta. Below is a brief description of each conduit and its relevance.
- You can only obtain this Conduit via the Kyrian Covenant. A very good trait that is a straight passive damage boost to all targets within the area of effect. The major downside here is that it's restricted to enemies within the area and loses its benefit as soon as enemies walk outside its effect.
- You can only obtain this Conduit via the Venthyr Covenant. This trait makes the interaction between
even more powerful. Compared to some other traits, this is almost a must-have.
- You can only obtain this Conduit via the Necrolord Covenant. As I've stated previously, Marksmanship Hunters don't really need additional focus. While the additional focus is nice, it's not a game-changer. That being said, the bonus damage it gives
makes this Conduit relevant.
- You can only obtain this Conduit via the Night Fae Covenant. In its current state,
doesn't do much for us considering it doesn't work with half our toolkit. Spirit Attunement has the potential to be a good Conduit, assuming Wild Spirits is fixed. As it stands now, we would never take this trait.
- This effect was stolen from the existing
Azerite trait we have in BFA. The base damage of
is pretty underwhelming at the moment so this trait makes its damage more relevant. It'll take some time for this trait to be good as it becomes significantly better with higher ranks and as we gain more secondary stats (higher Haste values increase the rate at which we auto-attack).
- Deadly Chain simply buffs our damage to secondary targets from our
s that stem from
. This trait has zero application in single target situations, but it'll be almost mandatory in AoE scenarios.
- With the current state of Marksmanship, this trait is fairly mediocre. On the surface, a passive damage buff to one of our core mechanics seems good, but in reality, we actually ignore a large portion of our
, especially during
. As this trait scales in ranks, it might force us to utilize our Precise Shots more, but at the moment this trait has limited value.
Fokus des Scharfschützen
- Another trait that will have a large impact as we gain ranks and gain more secondary stats. Paired with
Ruf der Wildnis
, there is potential to have ridiculous up time on our
. On top of the cooldown reduction we have, other classes also have abilities such as
Segen des Herbstes
that might make this interaction pretty fun to play with.
- Hunters get
! It's not quite as good as its Demon Hunter counterpart, but it'll help a bit while questing or during dungeons. You have to be in melee for it to be useful so this trait isn't really too impactful for us.
Lebenskraft des Geparden
Aspekt des Geparden
can be pretty useful when trying to avoid mechanics or while traversing long distances. Typically we don't really need too much movement speed so this is just a "nice to have" type trait.
Wendung des Schicksals
- This is the only Finesse trait that has some sort of damage gain tied to it. While Marksmanship doesn't really need additional focus, a slight focus gain is better than nothing. This will probably be the go-to Finesse trait for all three Hunter specs, especially in PvP and Mythic+.
Unverwüstlichkeit des Jägers
- Similar to how the existing Azerite trait
In Deckung gehen
reduces damage taken for a short period of time. This is a very useful trait if you are able to predict and time the incoming damage appropriately. It will have relevance in raid, dungeons, and PvP. The cooldown reduction on Feign Death also gives us more flexibility and allows us to ignore targeted spells more often.
Harmonie der Tortollaner
- Cooldown reduction on
Aspekt der Schildkröte
can be useful, but is generally only used in niche situations. As this gains ranks, pairing it with
Ruf der Wildnis
Wildheit im Blut
may allow us to ignore certain mechanics depending on their frequency.
Vorteil des Scharfschützen
- A damage reduction tied to
Mal des Jägers
give us more incentive to use it on different targets. This trait will be especially useful for raid considering most damage stems directly from the raid boss (damage often comes from the environment and may not count towards this damage reduction). The downside to this effect is that it only reduces damage from a singular target (as opposed to the all-encompassing damage reduction that
Unverwüstlichkeit des Jägers
provides for example).
- While the bonus healing this trait provides is nice, I don't foresee it being more useful than other endurance conduits. The initial heal from
is generally enough to prevent you from dying or at least give your healer an opportunity to heal you to a stable level. Hunters suffer from a lack of upfront mitigation, so traits such as
Unverwüstlichkeit des Jägers
Vorteil des Scharfschützen
are much more useful for us.
Concerns Going Forward
One of the major issues with Marksmanship is its counter-intuitive toolkit. Many aspects of the rotation interfere with others, causing conflicts within the rotation. This has been a major issue since the conception of this iteration of Marksmanship at the start of BFA. One of the most prominent examples can be seen in Uldir's "Machine Gun" style Marksmanship play style, which virtually eliminated
from its core rotation. Utilizing the
Azerite trait, Hunters simply built up stacks of it using
, which was then used to buff
. In Shadowlands, we're on the verge of having a similar situation. While there are many other issues with Marksmanship (such as
Mal des Jägers
), below I highlight the most prominent issues.
The most pronounced issue with the current Marksmanship play style is
. In Battle for Azeroth, Marksmanship Hunters had
Meister der Treffsicherheit
which gave us free casts of Arcane Shot or Multi-shot after every Aimed Shot. This talent was essentially mandatory as it "fixed" our rotation. It forced us to utilize
. Now that Master Marksman has been reworked, we no longer have any incentive to use those Precise Shots, especially during Trueshot. Using Arcane Shot during Trueshot depletes our focus, costing us
s. In the current Trueshot rotation on Beta, we ignore our Precise Shots completely, casting nothing but Aimed Shots using fillers such as
The issue can also be seen in talents such as
. While I love the concept of both of these talents, both talents force us to ignore Precise Shots. With Volley, we have such a short window to utilize the "free"
proc, we are forced to squeeze in two Aimed Shots back to back, or an Aimed Shot followed by a Rapid Fire. In either case, we don't have enough time to properly utilize Precise Shots, and since its a lower priority then Aimed Shot, we end up completely munching those procs. Dead Eye has the same effect. While Dead Eye provides an amazing benefit, the recharge time of Aimed Shot is lowered so much that we are forced to effectively ignore our Precise Shots casts. Using them depletes our focus and causes us to cap on Aimed Shot charges.
Once again, borrowed powers have swooped in to attempt to fix things.
has been given to us as a Conduit trait which may force us to utilize Precise Shots down the road. Sadly this is just a band-aid to the underlying issue and won't fix the problem in the long run. It feels very counter-intuitive to largely ignore major procs in order to perform the most optimal rotation. While the concept of Precise Shots seems fine, the current iteration doesn't work with our toolkit in Shadowlands.
was first introduced, it seemed as though it were intended to be an awesome nuke of sorts, something we could look forward to using every 20 sec. In its current state, it does pretty underwhelming damage and its focus generation is essentially non-existent. It seems as though the intent of Rapid Fire has been lost along the way. BFA clearly pointed out the issue with Rapid Fire very early on with the "Machine Gun" build as it completely ignored using it. Since then, Rapid Fire has relied on borrowed power as a solution to the problem. Traits such as
helped to make Rapid Fire relevant, but the issue was never fixed. In Shadowlands, we're already being introduced to new borrowed powers to make Rapid Fire relevant such as
. Even talents such as
that are meant to buff Rapid Fire, actually hurt our rotation, as extending Rapid Fire is a DPS loss in most cases.
Rapid Fire has the potential to be an awesome spell. The animation is amazing and it works with Marksmanship's class fantasy, but something needs to change to make Rapid Fire feel better to play with. Relying on borrowed powers to make one of our core abilities usable shouldn't be happening.
Two Target Cleave
At the start of BFA, Marksmanship was redesigned to fulfill a "sniper" class fantasy. With that idea in mind, Blizzard created Marksmanship's toolkit to excel in pure single target situations and in mid-range AoE scenarios. This meant that we would be target capped at six mobs and our two target cleave would be eliminated. In BFA, Marksmanship Hunters and Fury Warriors were the only classes that had maximum target caps and Marksmanship Hunters were the only class that could not deal damage to two targets. In theory, this could've worked had our toolkit been tuned appropriately, but it never happened. Marksmanship fell behind and the target restrictions left a bad taste with many Hunters.
Fast forward to Shadowlands. Most classes now have some sort of upper limit restricting their damage. This brings Marksmanship in line with most other classes on the high end but still leaves us as the only spec without significant ways of handling cleave scenarios. It's not a great feeling when two targets are present and you're stuck doing your single target rotation because you simply cannot perform your AoE rotation without three targets being present. Your damage contribution ends up feeling insignificant compared to others.
On a positive note, Marksmanship Hunters have gained a few abilities which slightly help out our cleave damage. Both
give us something to use in cleave scenarios, but these still don't address the overarching issue. After having spent a ton of time running dungeons and raid testing on the Beta, there are already multiple scenarios and boss fights that are purely two targets. Unless our damage is tuned appropriately or our toolkit is adjusted to compensate, I fear that Marksmanship Hunters will once again fall short.
Talent Tree Concerns
Marksmanship Hunters have had limited talent choices throughout Battle for Azeroth. In Shadowlands, we've received a couple of talent additions that have helped our situation a bit.
Meister der Treffsicherheit
are all new to the Marksmanship talent tree (or at least new iterations of the same spell). The majority of these spells are improvements over their predecessors and have improved our talent options. That being said, there are still some major concerns within the talent tree.
Our level 35 talent row brings up major issues. The intent of this row is to target our focus generating abilities, increasing our resource generation. While the intent is obvious, all three of the current talents (including Chimaera Shot) do very little to actually accomplish this.
are largely considered dead talents. We don't cast nearly enough
s for Steady Focus to be relevant. Outside of unintentional gameplay such as the "Machine Gun" Hunter build, we would never use this talent. It directly conflicts with Marksmanship's overarching toolkit. The same issue lies within Streamline. As I've mentioned earlier in this article,
's damage and focus generation are hardly relevant (outside of borrowed powers), so having a talent that extends its duration doesn't help. In fact, extending Rapid Fire can oftentimes be a DPS loss, especially during
windows. Chimaera Shot isn't bad per se but aside from being free to use, it doesn't help us with focus generation. Its damage is pretty low and in reality, it's only the best talent at the moment because Steady Focus and Streamline don't provide us any benefit. On a positive note, it does give us something to do in two target situations. Regardless, this entire row needs to be addressed as all three provide little to no benefit for us. The difference between taking one of these talents and taking no talent at all is close to negligible.
Aside from our level 35 talent row, there are a couple of other talents that raise concerns such as
Sichern und Laden
. While A Murder of Crows is largely just a tuning issue, Serpent Sting has fundamental flaws that conflict with the Marksmanship toolkit. Due to Serpent Sting's focus cost and required refresh rate, maintaining it isn't realistic and causes us to forfeit other aspects of our rotation. Perhaps the larger concern for both of these talents, is that Master Marksman overshadows both by a fair margin. Lock and Load also raises concern, however its largely just a matter of tuning, nothing is inherently wrong with the ability.
Another major pain point with the current Marksmanship talent tree is its potential for button bloat. I'd never thought I'd say that a Hunter spec has too many buttons, but depending on your setup for Marksman, it's a very good possibility. With current tuning on Beta, Marksmanship Hunters are using
in dungeons (more passive talents are taken in raid typically). Having added
Mal des Jägers
baseline, we've added a ton of new buttons to our core rotation. Not to mention we are currently using
, which adds
into the mix. Adding buttons isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's
these abilities interact with our toolkit that makes it feel bad. Marksmanship is a GCD locked spec, and our primary goal is to avoid capping on
charges. Adding in all of these buttons (which are all on the GCD of course) force us to either delay our core rotation, or forces us to cap on Aimed Shot charges depending on where you are in the fight. Additionally, to reiterate my point above, the added buttons further discourage the use of
. Since Marksmanship has a very limited amount of "free" GCDs, we're forced to sacrifice things such as Steady Shot or Precise Shots to make room for talents such as Volley and Explosive Shot. It feels clunky and cumbersome.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
Marksmanship Hunters are currently performing very well on Beta at the moment. While normally this would be great, many people who have tested it have equated "dealing damage" to "feeling good" and this isn't the case. Additionally,
is currently doing an absurd amount of damage for all three Hunter specs, skewing how well Hunters are actually performing. It seems that the high numbers and popularity of Marksmanship Hunters on Beta are overshadowing the flaws that are inherent within the spec. Similar to BFA, It appears as though borrowed powers have already been added in an attempt to fix some of the existing pain points. Conduits such as
have been added to help band-aid the faults of
, but these won't solve the underlying issues that plague the spec.
Aside from adding Shadowlands systems such as Legendaries, Covenant abilities, and Conduits, not much has changed for Marksmanship Hunters outside of a few talent updates. The gameplay feels very similar to BFA in its current state. If you currently enjoy playing Marksmanship in BFA, you'll most likely still enjoy it in Shadowlands. If you're someone who wants a spec that provides depth and flows smoothly, you might not enjoy Marksmanship in its current state. Let's hope we see some overhauls for Marksmanship or else it'll be an underplayed spec in Shadowlands similar to Battle for Azeroth.
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