Legion - Marksmanship First Impressions

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Last week I wrote feedback regarding Survival Hunters on the current iteration of Legion Alpha. This is an extension of that feedback focusing on Marksmanship Hunters instead.

Once again, this will harken back to the feedback regarding the Hunter Preview released on the Blizzard website in November. This will be my impressions regarding Marksmanship's class identity, core combat design, talents, artifact and the leveling experience from 100-106.  I've had to mull about what I want to say for Marks a bit more than Survival, but hopefully it's coherent.
Reading times are according to WordCounter at 275wpm.

NOTE: This was written as of this week and won't include any changes done to Marksmanship within any build released since. It is done from around the same time as I wrote the Survival feedback and reflects the first iteration of Marks. 



This post will consist of,
( clickable table of contents ; use keyboard home to return to this )
  1.  prelude introduction, did Marksmanship meet expectations from the preview?
  2.  first impressions and go-over of all its core ability spells,
  3.  then impressions of the talents (in regards to its core kit),
  4.  then the artifact and its traits, along with specialization expectations,
  5.  a "too long; didn't read" summary and highlighting changes I'd like to see.


Marksmanship's iteration in Warlords of Draenor was, for the most part, the final form of Marks' evolution since late 2010 and WotLK. It has been based around Steady Shot, Chimaera Shot and Aimed Shot for a large part of its history. WoD focused this down primarily into those three abilities: shedding the burden of Steady Focus, Master Marksman and (for most of us) extra rotational buttons by performing well with talented passives. Instead it focused on heavy crit burst and the opportunistic gameplay of Careful Aim, Thrill of the Hunt and Execute, giving it an ideal core identity as a priority add sniper.

At its core Marksmanship will remain a physical ranged. The written class preview told us a few things that made it sound like it would be the same old Marksmanship we've always known, except with abilities honed more specifically with a marksman edge (versus, obviously, Chimera). The write up told us Marksmanship would be a sniper in hiding, devising methods for stalking their own prey as lone wolves. The specific wording was their vision of Marksmanship Hunters being master archers and snipers, relying on their skill and precision with weapons.

My concern when I wrote my initial Legion Hunter Preview feedback was that moving away from control or precision based gameplay into proc-based or on-chance activators would shroud the fantasy of a Marksman relying on their skill and precision, and that it would be hard to capture that essence with what was presented.

Did Marksmanship meet expectations set forth by the Legion Preview?
A sniper in hiding, master archers relying on their skill and precision with weapons. Deadliest from range, blending into the environment to expose the weakness of whatever passes their crosshairs. These were the keywords given by the Legion Preview. The core combat abilities presented were Arcane Shot, Marked Shot, Aimed Shot and Seek Vulnerabilities.

One of the aforementioned combat abilities is not an ability - it is a passive procced by Marked Shot. Evidentially Marksmanship has retained its very slim ability set, focusing primarily on the interactivity between three main moves: in the past, Steady and Aimed shot interacted with various passives, and Chimaera Shot was used as an extra signature burst of instant damage (or, at one point, extending the duration of Marks' once owned Serpent Sting). Now Steady and Marked Shot interact with their various passives to grant extra oomph to Aimed Shot as our signature damage dump. Prior emphasis was heavily reliant on the Careful Aim phase, its interaction with Aimed Shot, and the burst Marks could employ with Thrill of the Hunt. The new setup emphasizes setting up stacking debuffs to take advantage of increased damage on Aimed Shot instead.

Marksmanship is a series of short debuff timers, all of which you must maintain through constant use of various abilities and their procs. My concern about proc-based and on-chance activators shrouding the control and precision promised to Marksmen remains valid, as much of the maintenance relies on proc chance. However, I believe this is the route that will be taken, and regardless of its reactive play versus one concisely planned it does still clearly play as an archer archetype.
In my opinion, this success largely relies on the re-implementation of slows in the core of Marksmanships kit. Marks' cares much more about controlling their enemy, and with the loss of traps to Survival, had to come up with various other methods of achieving this. The most important part of that is it was done within the core kit itself, not with tacked on talent or artifact builds.

Feedback for Marksmanship is harder for me to write, as much of my leveling experience involved grossly oversimplifying the process with the Head Shot talent. This was, more or less, insta-gibbing everything in its path - for the sake of balance this is hopefully just an overtuned bug. It wasn't until I took time away from leveling to play with the spec against rare elites or target dummies with different talents that I was able to garner some form of opinion. However, this gave me the opportunity to spend more time thinking on details than I otherwise would have.

Forward I will discuss impressions of the core kit, talents that augment them and what I would do differently to polish the specialization. While I might have some reservations about Marksmanship, all in all I am quite happy with the direction it's going.


Marksmanship has four core abilities I would consider part of its damage arsenal:
Multi-Shot, Arcane Shot, Marked Shot and Aimed Shot.
And while I personally don't consider the current iteration of the Artifacts' first unlocked ability a fifth core damage spell, I do believe the intent is that it will be:

Unlike Survival, I have less to say on each individual ability by itself (and certainly no interesting discoveries on their cone radius), but more to say on how each ability works in tandem for the spec as a package.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=2643/multi-shot -

 Multi-Shot has been a bit of a lost soul for Marksmanship for quite a while. Albeit benefiting from one of the few remaining passives in Marks' arsenal, http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=82921/bombardment, it has remained inferior to Marksmanships single target prowess insofar that using Multi-shot in a multi-mob scenario was almost always less efficient than simply focusing each mob one at a time. Unfortunately I see this remaining true in Legion, as there is no true cohesion regarding Multi-Shots purpose.
There could still be damage tuning done to multi-shot, but functionally its purpose seems to be in spreading hunters mark via http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185987/seek-vulnerabilities in order to deal damage by cleaving http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185901/marked-shot instead.

My first reaction is that maybe we needed to see the return of something similar to Concussive Barrage, a passive that once provided a slowing effect on targets hit by Multi-Shot. However, this is technically being done by Marked Shot. This is a bit of an awkward scenario, for in order to do that one must:  Multi-Shot one, two or three times to spread Seek Vulnerabilities, then Marked Shot a follow up one or two times in order to slow mobs affected by Seek Vulnerabilities. The awkward part comes in the form of only affecting some of those mobs, at random, so while you may slow part of a group of mobs down (by only 15%, mind), the reality is several of them are still booking it towards you full speed.

So if the purpose is not in control, then it might be worth having Marked Shot also increase the damage done by Multi-Shot. As it stands the current dynamic of Multi-Shot seems lost:
For single target, Arcane Shot to activate Marked Shot to increase the damage of Aimed Shot.
For AoE, Multi-Shot to activate Marked Shot cleave to increase the damage of ... Aimed Shot?
We see this further emphasized with talents like http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=199522/broadside, which aims to create a cleave effect on Aimed Shot with other Marked Shot vulnerable targets.
The fact of the matter is that Multi-Shot consumes focus and deals pitiful damage to accomplish the same thing Arcane Shot does generating focus. Bombardment is not enough of a reduction to justify Multi-Shot as anything than an inconvenience, and a black mark in the face of Marksmanship multi-target Quality of Life.

There is a solid feedback loop attempting to be made in Marksmanship, but Multi-Shot feels like it was injected as a square third wheel.  One thing that could make me change my mind about Multi-Shot that I have not seen on Legion yet is if http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=191048/call-of-the-hunter synergizes well with the dynamic between Multi and Marked. For this to happen, I believe Multi-Shot must not spread Vulnerabilities per missile, but per shot. IE, if Arcane spreads Vulnerabilities on average every 2 GCDs 1 at a time, then Multi should spread Vulnerabilities on average every 2-2.5 GCDs to multiple targets every time. In other words, a minimum of two multi-shot "spread successes" to mark 4 (or 5?!), with Call of the Hunter following up by overlapping every one of those Marked Shot targets with impressive burst. This overlapping of Call of the Hunter would be required for any feasible AoE, without increasing the amount of targets Marked Shot cleaves to in the first place.
If that was hard to follow, all I'm saying is if Multi-Shot isn't apart of the damage loop then it should be reliable at spreading Vulnerabilities in a multi-target scenario and the final follow-through from Call of the Hunter needs to deal a substantial amount of damage in its stead. If Arcane marks 1 target on average every 2 casts, then Multi should mark a minimum of 2 new targets on average every 2 casts. 

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185358/arcane-shot -

Arcane Shot returns to Marksmanship, replacing Steady Shot as our focus regenerator. It is still instant cast and deals Arcane damage, which brings an interesting new dynamic to Marks we haven't seen since Arcane was taken away in WoD. Much of my leveling (outside of cheesy Head Shots) involved simply weaving Arcane and Marked, regardless of the focus cap.

And indeed, with the default focus regeneration for hunters increasing to 10 focus per second, along with our focus regenerator being instant cast, the focus feedback return is quite comfortable. It's speedy, it's reliable, and most importantly along with http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=193533/steady-focus it easily accounts for the focus return we became accustomed to on Aimed Shot thanks to the old Draenor perks. Only instead of needing the feedback to happen after an Aimed Shot lands, we now get it more passively and predictably.
The only downside is that Steady Focus once involved more active involvement to maintain [specifically thinking of Steady Focus in Throne of Thunder on Marksmanship], on account of having to weave in both the longer cast time of Steady and the larger amount of focus that would accumulate at the end of the Steady Focus gain (14 per Steady + 8 FPS instead of 5 per Arcane + 10 FPS, or 10 per Arcane after the artifact trait). This shouldn't be a problem so long as additional talents are available for when the easy to maintain focus regeneration of Steady Focus is no longer needed/wanted.
As it is now, even just trying to maintain Steady Focus with a 5 FPS, low haste hunter (as opposed to a 10 FPS arcane shot from the artifact trait during a haste buff like our cooldown) is impossible without focus capping. That's a lot of focus. Maybe not a good thing overall, but haven't seen enough to call those shots yet.

Arcane Shot has also been burdened with the responsibilities of http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185987/seek-vulnerabilities. This is an awkward situation where too much focus regeneration could cap the hunter without having first activated the phase that lets us deal damage. Whether or not we want to cap focus until we have empowered Aimed Shot fully, or dump focus whenever Arcane Shot fails us to avoid capping, will not be known until damage tuning. As a result I can't fully comment on whether I think it's going to be infuriating or not.

Nonetheless Arcane Shots tie with Seek Vulnerabilities has sparked quite a bit of concern from other hunters. We've taken the randomness of Thrill of the Hunt out of Marksmanship but put it right back in through Hunters Mark. The entire dynamic, while interesting, tends to wind up throwing a monkey wrench in the predictable form of the Marksman rotation, causing a reactive level of gameplay and analysis instead. Not necessarily a bad thing, and I actually have a bit of a soft spot for it, but it is without a doubt the anti-thesis to "master archers relying on their skill and precision with weapons." We are not so much exposing the weakness in our enemies as we are reacting to random exposures (procs).

I don't see this getting a major overhaul for the sake of adding in precision or control,  because the system does in fact work - but many of the concerns raised are valid. The most valid of these concerns, in my opinion, is that the entire system works on a build up of debuffs on a single target. As a result it becomes very difficult for Marksmanship to be effective with target swapping. I would like to see some sort of Falconry talent put in to augment the Hunters Mark system so that it can be reliably moved between targets.
We don't have to be the master snipers of priority adds anymore, but this restriction of a build up on one target only to lose all that buildup immediately on death / new targets is reminiscent of the old combat point system. Build up a stack of points to use stronger abilities on the target ... Only to have those points tied to the specific target. Yik.
Who's the Master Marksman now? Maybe we should've brought a gun. 

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185901/marked-shot -

The new toy itself. This is far more appropriate for the Marksmanship arsenal than Chimaera/Chimera ever was, and despite some reservations about its dynamic passive feedback loop with Arcane Shot, I do enjoy what it has brought to the table.  For a very long time I wanted a dynamic between Chimaera and Aimed Shot, and that's exactly what Marked Shot aims to achieve.
If you read my Survival feedback, you'll also know I'm a fan of tight rotations. Marksmanship, too, comes close to having a tight rotation on account of Marked Shot and its unforgiving nature regarding its timers. Part of this is what is causing reservation in other hunters, and indeed I believe some of our timers are either too short or bugged. Specifically:

Arcane Shot triggers Seek Vulnerabilities, or Hunters Mark, which allows the use of Marked Shot. Marked Shot places a Vulnerable debuff on the target stacking up to 3 which increases Aimed Shot damage.
Currently Hunters Mark lasts 10 seconds, but Marked Shot can only be used for the first half of that. In other words, you can Arcane ->  Proc -> React with Marked no problem, but you cannot Arcane -> Proc -> wait to use the proc until the last second, as Marked Shot deactivates after the 5s mark.  This is less punishing while you're building stacks since reacting right away is generally beneficial, but incredibly punishing while maintaining full stacks. At full stacks you want to use as much focus as possible putting Aimed Shots in while the Vulnerable debuff is active, meaning holding onto active Hunters Mark to refresh Marked Shots' debuff when convenient is preferable. Basically using the timer as much as you can before using weaker abilities to refresh it.

Because Marked Shot is only usable for 5 seconds of that time, you essentially can only fit in two Aimed Shots before having to fish proc Arcane again and hope you squeeze the Marked Shot off in time. A five second cycle, like I mentioned in the Survival feedback, is a very tight cycle. For Marksmanship it also has more to do with the high focus cost of Aimed Shot and the proc dynamic of Arcane Shots Hunters Mark.
I would like to see Marked Shots use time bumped up to the full 10 second duration. It might even be worth considering up to 15 seconds, depending on if there is also a way to extend the duration of http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=198925/vulnerable (which currently also lasts 10s).

The second part, which is the slow on http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=187131/vulnerable, involves a slow that I'm not entirely sure was stacking like it says. Part of this might've been my lack of experimentation. Or was this bugged with the Heightened Vulnerabilities talent, insofar that even though it'd apply 3 stacks, the 15% slow would stay as 15% instead of 45%?

Seeing a slow built into the Marksmanship core kit makes a lot of sense, especially with the loss of both our pets and our traps. On account of this I'd like to consider bumping the slow on Marked Shot from 15% to 20%. A large part of Marksmanships survivability while solo relies entirely on this newly provided slow - but in the mean time we also have http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=5116/concussive-shot in our arsenal, meaning the 45% slow on Marked Shot is partially irrelevant. We would not be maintaining Marked for the slow, but the damage boost.

Overwriting Marked Shot with Concussive only provides 5% extra slow, so unless this is changed to stack the overall dynamic of having both abilities doesn't make much sense. It would make sense if either the fully stacked Marked Shot was stronger than Concussive, and Concussive was simply GCD gains, or if Concussive was exceptionally stronger than Marked Shot but limited by cooldown and duration. This is further complicated by the fact many mobs are simply not vulnerable to slows to begin with. Keep in mind that, because Aimed Shot is a cast and cannot be used while moving, we are rooting ourselves to cast that ability. Slowing our enemies and keeping distance must also take into consideration the time where our movement speed is zero. A longer range helps, but so does a better slow.

Two suggestions regarding Marks' slow:

  1. Allow Marked Shot's stacking Vulnerable debuff to allow Concussive Shot to slow even invulnerable slow targets [with a timed Diminishing Returns if necessary].
  2. Allow Marked Shot to stack up to 60% slow at 20% per stack, for greater control per stack, and to justify building a slow out of a (minimum) 3 GCDs - (maximumish) 9 GCDs versus Concussives 1 GCD. Alternatively, stack the slow with Concussive.  

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=19434/aimed-shot -

Aimed Shot has an ebb and flow to its history. Cast, instant cast. Cast, instant cast. Cast, instant cast. Bringing back instant cast Arcane Shot against Aimed Shots long cast, in my opinion, was an exceptionally good move. Rather than continuing the dynamic of "improving" hunter gameplay by providing instant cast Aimed Shots, we can now focus on expanding the Marksmanship gameplay through timer dynamics, durations and interactions with its new signature - Marked Shot. Bringing instant Arcane together with a cast Aimed Shot within the dynamic of a focus regenerator and focus dump is really pulling the spec back into what it was in the first place.
A lot of vanilla era hunters will appreciate the new Marksmanship gameplay, I think, and the way it has all come  together cohesively under focus and passive dynamics. Including the use of slows and kiting in the solo artists arsenal. Should I include a section for Jump Shot? (joke).

There is nothing for me to overly say about Aimed Shot. The current dynamic is very refreshing for me and I'm happy to see Aimed Shot return to its destiny, and finally given the positive feedback loop synergy its always needed with the signature. The cast time on it may be too low, but I'm definitely not going to be the one to say that, and it's definitely not the case with the current state of timers (Hunters Mark, Vulnerable, Marked, etc). This is certainly something I'd keep an eye on nonetheless, especially with the Marksmanship cooldown being haste.
Any issues regarding Aimed Shot are not so much about Aimed Shot itself, but directly relevant to timers involving the Marked Shots dynamics instead. I'd highly recommend keeping Aimed Shots velocity at its current high speed, even though the Draenor Perk is no longer relevant to focus return. 


Unlike Survival's first artifact skill, where I used it almost every chance I got because it was 'for free', Marksmanships first artifact skill felt too burdened to use for leveling. Which is to say the dynamic of that is the complete opposite in raiding:  while leveling, an opener cast will almost always be neglected in favour of an instant cast, either  because that instant cast has a cooldown or  to save time engaging combat sooner. On the other hand, while raiding, an opener cast will almost always be used instead of the instants, since there is no time saved engaging combat sooner - only time gained precasting longer shots prior to engagement.

However, even in situations such as those, I found Windburst to be a curious addition for Marksmanship. Is this ability free from the feedback loop of Marksmanships general rotation supposed to reduce our ability to fit in talents that are also free from the feedback loop, and therefore eat GCDs? Is it to replace Chimaera Shot as an "outside force" random use burst on cooldown? The current tuning has Windburst hitting harder than Aimed, which insinuates that is the case. But because of the nature of Marksmanships rotation, given all the tight timers and debuff maintenance, I can't help but wonder whether this is an appropriate job for the ability. Do we really have a place for a long cast pause?

There are two suggested routes I'd like to see Windburst take.

  1. The first involves making it similar to Survivals ability, by reducing its damage back down but allowing us to continue using other shots during the Windburst cast. This way we will use Windburst on cooldown, and still manage to maintain our timers and debuffs within its cast. 
  2. Reducing the cast time of Windburst from 3.0s to 2.5-2.8s and granting it the ability to extend the Vulnerable debuff by 3-5 seconds. Alternatively, also include Windburst in the damage boost from Vulnerable. In this way we don't have to choose between losing all our hard work (stacking vulnerable up to 3 by fish proccing Arcane for Hunters Mark and Marked Shot usage) or casting Windburst, because I think in that decision Windburst always loses.  I'd rather a "burst of wind better exposing targets weakspots" than a "burst of wind escorting my Beast Mastery pals fat pet pig Waddles up to the boss." 
The speed boost from Windburst, to me, is irrelevant. It's a severely minor Quality of Life boost for any melee friends who, for whatever reason, are not or cannot use their own gap closers. Melee are being given a lot more mobility enhancers so this is literally the niche of niches. For ranged this is no replacement for Stampeding Roar, unless you are also going to increase the run speed radius by at least 3 yards on either side of the hunter. 
When I see Windburst, I see Chimera Shot fused back into a strange chimaera. And that's my polite way of saying abomination. 

Finally, Marksmanship has a few miscellaneous spells in its core kit.
Four utility spells - Counter Shot, Bursting Shot, Misdirection and Concussive Shot. 
Two survival spells - Exhilaration and Aspect of the Turtle - note I have nothing further to add on Turtle.
Three passive abilities - Bombardment, Lone Wolf and Seek Vulnerabilities.
And one cooldown - Trueshot. 

Four utility spells - Counter Shot, Bursting Shot, Misdirection and Concussive Shot.
Most of Marksmanships utility spells are less interesting, remaining the same as they always have been.  http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=147362/counter-shot is the same as it always has been and is burdened by travel time the same way it always has been. The fact this is still true is utterly mind boggling - there is no reason to use an inferior interrupt over a superior one with no travel time. If any hunter spell should be the recipient of a 120y/s velocity, or a complete redesign to be comparable to other instant ranged interrupts, it's this one.  But, frankly, from my personal end all it means is I wind up saying, "Naw have the mages interrupt instead, PCE." So.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=186387/bursting-shot on the other hand is brand spanking new and insanely awesome. If you told me Scatter Shot would be returning in the form of an AoE cone with a knock back I wouldn't have believed you. The price to pay, however, shines light on the feasibility of its reincarnation. No pets, no traps - only slows and a handful of pocket sand to spook enemies coming up in your face.
I will personally fight you if you take this away again! We'll be fighting over disengage anyway but, I mean, I'll fight for this one too. Whatever happens, don't make this one a 3 minute cooldown. This one is Marksmanships baby.   10/10 would praise developers for this one again.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=34477/misdirection ... I don't have anything to say about Misdirection. It has a small niche use in raids to redirect mobs towards tanks for a few steps of travel. Otherwise it's a troll spell to cast on DPS so they get scared enough for me to laugh at them for thinking Misdirection even does anything. Nice for a BM hunter to direct enemies to their pet for 8 seconds, or long enough for Growl to come into effect, but almost entirely irrelevant to a Lone Wolf.

Everything I had to say about http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=5116/concussive-shot I went through in the Marked Shot section above. Outside of Bursting Shot this is the most useful utility spell in the Marksman arsenal. That isn't praise for Concussive Shot so much as it is a wistful sigh about the other spells.

Two survival spells - Exhilaration and Aspect of the Turtle.
Marksmanships version of http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=194291/exhilaration is particularly interesting. It's obviously far more potent than the 30% base on Survival and BMs version, if we neglect the overheal factor of 100% on those specializations pets (from my perspective, though, the pet heal is going to be almost entirely irrelevant). And, therefore in my mind, is the superior version of the hunters heal. When I compare these to an ability like the rogues http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185311/crimson-vial, the main thing I note is that ours does not cost focus, heals substantially more as Marksmanship, but also has a substantially longer cooldown.  I don't think hunters need a rotational heal as much as rogues do, given their Artifact drains health, but I will be keeping wary eyes on the damage reduction being done to rogues while Crimson Vial remains the same. It's not so much Marksmanships Exhilaration that I am wary of - in fact, I'm quite a fan of the 50% reactionary back up - but it definitely highlights the short comings in Survival and Beast  Mastery's versions.
I'm going to close my eyes and pretend that mages do not currently have a 90% heal every 15 seconds on Blink.

Earlier I said I had nothing more to say on http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=186265/aspect-of-the-turtle. For the most part, this remains true. But I will note that the more I see of other classes defenses, the more disillusioned I become with our own. http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=196555/netherwalk is the obvious elephant in the room here. Especially if we harken back to Survival. This is Marksmanship feedback, but as a note, the recent new build came out as I was writing this and I'm super salty about Survival disengage.

Three passive abilities - Bombardment, Lone Wolf and Seek Vulnerabilities.
http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=35110/bombardment was mentioned earlier. Frankly I no longer see the purpose of this passive. Unless Multi-Shot is addressed within the Marksmanships arsenal there will not be a point where we are "bombardment weaving" to maintain this buff. If the purpose of Multi-Shot is to spread Hunters Mark, there is no reason why most hunters will not simply throw their hands in their air frustrated at Multi-Shots incompetence and simply target swap Arcane Shot instead. Even if Bombardment was buffed to make spamming Multi-Shot worthwhile for the damage buff ... Frankly, it's not riveting game play regardless, especially when we'll just be ruining that weave with Marked Shot to maintain a 3 stack of vulnerable on our main target.
Maybe Bombardment needs to affect the cleave on http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185901/marked-shot as well.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=155228/lone-wolf ... Listen, I'm shrugging. What other class or specialization has Arcane and Aimed Shot? This passive is basically saying, "Your auto shot damage will do a little wee bit more than Beast Mastery's."   Let me get my kazoo.
This was neat in Warlords because I got to continue giving the raid a buff even without my pet. This being used as class flavour when it's actually nothing just speaks for itself to the commitment being shown to hunters. Don't use this as a flavour splash.     Yeah the salt is still about Survival disengage...

All right, let's talk about the synergy feedback loop in Marksmanship's http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185987/seek-vulnerabilities. A lot of what I had to say was gone over in the section for Arcane Shot, Marked Shot and Aimed Shot, but I'd like to rewind a bit back to the class feedback post I made. In that initial post there was a remark where I said it was interesting BRASS was making an appearance of some form in Marksmanship.

BRASS stands for Breathe, Relax, Aim, Slack, Squeeze and is a shooting technique meant to increase marksmanship by calming yourself before a shot. In Marksmanship Hunters I see this in the form of AAMS, or VAAMS with the http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=206817/hightened-vulnerability talent.  In our case,  Arcane Shot, Arcane Shot, Marked Shot, Aimed Shot.  Build the proc, use the proc, follow-through on the proc.
As mentioned before, whether this would be a system of AAMAAMAAM - S to build up stacks or a calm cycle of AAMS - AAMS - AAMS - S S S + is yet to be seen in how the timers and damage tuning goes. Obviously I'm in favour of the latter: part of the fun in the hunter rotation has been that involvement dancing with maintaining focus. But more likely we'll just VAAMS (Head Shot tuning pending).
Of course, this was an over simplification since Marksmanship is far more reactionary. There's a big difference between [ AMS ], [ AAMS ] and [ AAA S A MS ]. Hopefully it's enough to illustrate what I mean, though.

Out of curiousity I took 100 pieces of data at the target dummy regarding successful procs of Seek Vulnerabilities through Arcane Shot. That data is the image to the right. In other words, the random range we're looking at for this spell is between 1-4 casts. While leveling I had this up to 6, but given this data set I assume that is very rare indeed. While this random nature is what causes other players concern with Marksmanship, what I noted was that on average we can expect the proc every 2 Arcane Shots. Fine. AAMS. It's fine. It's Steady Focus. I can live with that.
Grudgingly.  Yes this is still about Survival disengage.

And one cooldown - Trueshot.
Marksmanships cooldown comes in the form of a re-purposed Trueshot Aura -- once used to provide a beneficial attack power bonus to everyone around us, http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=193526/trueshot now takes the place of Rapid Fire. And, as expected, the Careful Aim benefit of Rapid Fire was replaced with its new benefactor: Seek Vulnerabilities. Theoretically this means that the prior note of expecting, on average, a proc every 2 Arcane Shots is reduced to expecting one every Arcane Shot. Sometimes. This is partially another kazoo moment because in reality, given the random nature of the proc in the first place, we don't know if we would've gotten the majority of those Marks on every Arcane Shot regardless. In fact, the above data set seems to support the fact that this is rather underwhelming compared to Careful Aim.

On the plus side, with Aimed Shot not being instant cast any more we finally have a cooldown to affect our cast speed. We've even got some Auto Shot effects in Legion that will make haste more exciting. Maybe. I dunno - I like haste. Marksmanship has always been about speed and haste to me, and while a fast paced, haste build built on Survival would've been my first pick with Marksmanship being crit heavy, slower and controlled, I'm obviously not going to complain about Rapid Fire sticking around for Marks. Especially while paying homage to hunter history.
Is it one of the less exciting cooldowns? ... Yeah, a little bit, I suppose. Truthfully getting even more focus regeneration during this is what makes me sweat the most. Understandable, though, that most cooldowns are being shown as simple secondary stat buff cooldowns.


My understanding of this talent system is that they are to augment our core kits for various situations: single target, AoE, burst, sustain, etc, and do so in a variety of methods ranging from easy (passive), to hard (more engaged). This is how I'll evaluate.

NOTE: While I was writing this feedback post, Celestalon announced that there will be significant revisions to Marksmanships talents. Guess I was a bit late writing this up, but I hope I'll be pleasantly surprised.


Wary of True Aim, mostly like the tier.
Currently the most alluring talent in the tier outside of Steady Focus due to the finicky nature of True Aim. Though I am not interested in having 3 of my GCDs eaten by Black Arrow if need be, so would like to see True Aim addressed.
Maybe for multidotting, or Ko'ragh 2.0.
Passive and incredibly easy to use on the new regenerator. Bit of overkill with Marksmanships final Focus regeneration rate, especially with the need to fish for procs with our regenerator, so would like to see a strong alternative to this.
Would like to see this be the strong passive alternative to Steady Focus at high focus regeneration rates.
This does not always refresh on Marked Shot, thus can fall off during Aimed Shot. Also Windburst. If this was avoidable in good play I'd like it, but it's not. Timer needs to be increased.

Movement. Like the tier. Dislike Cheetah.
Same tier as Survival. Same comments. Like Posthaste.
Same tier as Survival. Same comments. Might be interesting dynamics with Kill Flip, but I imagine this line up will change.
(Keep it if you can, make Kill Flip its own button with a small kickback range).
Same tier as Survival. Same comments. In lieu of Cheetah going from 1m to 3m, you can put this talent in the trash. Stomp on it to flatten for good measure.

Dislike the tier. It's all passive and doesn't affect gameplay.

If you've read my previous write ups from WoD you know I'm happy to see this return.
Would've liked to have seen it on Multi-Shot too.
A nice passive boost, like the once dead Wild Quiver.
A shining gem next to the other two talents. While I like them individually, I'm not sure about the three together.
I wasn't excited about this talent in WoD and I'm not excited about it now. I like the idea, and it's fine as a passive, easy to use boost. But that's what Piercing Shots it. And that's what Broadside is. This tier needs some oomph.
Something active, or something hard to use with higher reward.
Did I mention slows stepping on each others toes?
If any of the gameplay that affects Aimed Shots damage also affected our interaction with Broadside, I'd like it.
But it's just 100% physical cleave, and to me all that accomplishes is flipping the bird at Multi-Shot. It's counter productive to Marks kit. And Marks' kit is already slim. Be a team player, Broadside.

Tier is okay. Neither here nor there.
Binding Shot is always a nice little toy. Combining this with Marksmanships kiting prowess and its brand new http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=186387/bursting-shot makes this a very happy inclusion to the kit choice.
Other talents could take a note from Binding Shot about being a team player with the core kit.
I suppose it makes sense next to Binding Shot, and maybe it will be nice in PvP control, but I don't see why this is in the PvE arsenal. This was originally Surivals toy, meant to be a "superior" trap. Is this here to make up for our loss of traps? (PS, Survival is asking why it has them). 
Like Survivals Camouflage, this Camouflage seems out of place next to Binding Shot and Wyvern Sting. Binding Shot is at least a strong contender, especially with Bursting Shot in the main kit.
Nonetheless, glad to see it here. Not sure I'd have Survival and Marks' inclusion of this in the Legion class preview write up.

Conflicted tier. Needs refinement.
Like the concept of this as a bolster to AoE and Single Target, sort of as an active counterpoint to Serpent Sting. Flare, however, needs an incredible rework to be incorporated in the Marksman rotation. Instant feedback, no delay on cast, a much faster and reliable travel time.
And enough of a damage boost to justify the GCD.
Beyond the typo, I actually do like this talent. It is the Quality of Life marksmen want after frowning at the ramp up time for Marksmanships Vulnerable functions.
The question is whether we should feel like we need this talent to be comfortable with our gameplay. Do we give up too much in this tier for it?
In theory this talent is amazing. But should not be so amazing we take it without question, especially on the same tier as the main QoL for our rotation.
Would like to see Head Shot scale based on the health percentage of a target too. So at 100 focus against a 100% HP target, it would do the most damage. At 20 focus against 10% HP, the lowest.

Like the tier. Needs refinement.
Single target Murder of Crows, against burst AoE barrage, against sustain Volley. I like it, and I like Murder of Crows, and I like it even more when it's not bugged. But, as per usual, has to be worth the GCD. Ideally even if it doesn't reset?
Comfortable burst AoE, but not sure about its place if our rotation cycle is tight. How much maintenance will our AoE take? How much time can we afford losing Marked Shot and Vulnerable? Does it match Barrages cast time? If so, OK.
Rusty first implementation, but if it's a set it and forget it then it falls under the line of Fury of the Eagle. And I like that.
Work on its animation though. That's pretty lack lustre. Not so sure about that focus cost on a set-it-forget-it either. Weak and cheap, not expensive burst. That's Barrage.

Conflicted tier. Needs refinement.
Didn't use this leveling up. Why would I level with this? If I wanted a pet tank, why not Beast Mastery? Marksmanship is about kiting. Will this be useful in raids? Or is this a bandaid for keyboard turning [ie, not jump shot kiting]?
If so put it in t15, not t100.
At the very least, it's a good pairing for an active monkey wrench like Kill Flip.
There was a lot of negative feedback about this, but I think it can work. I'd love for it to work. But I think it has to be its own button to do so. "Kill Flip" the button, not Disengage. And the hop back for Kill Flip would have to only be 2-3 feet. The issue, of course, is disengages' distance.
Also maybe not an 8 second cycle when we're working within a 10s cycle.
We heard you liked passive RNG so we put some RNG on your RNG so you can RNG while you RNG. Aimed Shots destiny hole.
"Improve it with instant casts!"
(I'd love this as a revival of Master Marksman, however).
There are no tiers in Marksmanships kit that I am particularly fond of. For damage, once again, my partial choices would be T15 and T75. Black Arrow feels like an easy to use, good feedback button - a neutral active. Similarly, Steady Focus feels like an easy to use, good focus feedback passive. True Aim is where its lacking. Way of the Mok'Nathal for Survival required more thought. True Aim is refreshed on literally all three of our core kit abilities, so it is essentially a passive that can fall off if we deviate from those three core kit abilities (and, unfortunately, even within it thanks to Aimed Shot and hunter travel time delay / timer bugs). The current implementation of True Aim begs for an erosion reduction of its stacks instead ... But frankly I'd like to see it reworked into a more engaging, high reward talent. This feels like another pitfall where Marksmanship is so reliant on three specific abilities that it literally has no creative freedom of movement for any other development.
This might not be a matter of True Aim needing a longer timer - but a more reliable refresh on the travel time from Marked Shot.

T45 would feel stronger to me if the purpose was clearer between the abilities. Piercing Shots is a nice passive single target DoT. Exotic Munitions is a nice passive mix of ST, AoE and toe-stepping-slows. Broadside is a nice passive AoE cleave. All right, now where is my high reward, engaging talent? The talent that changes gameplay? Did it fall somewhere? Can I at least have some sort of control over any of these options, like I do with Carve and Lacerate in Butchery?
Lock and Load isn't cool. Lock and Load on Survival had a little bit of interactivity. That interactivity reduced on the removal of Trap weaving, but there was still the requirement of maintaining Black Arrow. The linearity given to Lock and Load in its final iteration was mind numbing, but hey, I never claimed to have any good words regarding Survivals play the past few years. This new one? On Auto Shots? Not my cup of tea, no sir. There's something to say when the t100 talent that received the most negative feedback, Kill Flip, is still my highest interest of that tier. Maybe it needs an RPPM instead.

Focus concerns regarding Arcane Shot and Steady Focus will become even more counter-productive to our debuff maintenance mini-game if the 120 focus Draenor perk is removed.

Light 'Em Up. Not sure the message you're sending to hunters here. There was a Green Day reference in the Trueshot Lodge oath. Now a Fall Out Boy lyric in our talents? Look, I'm  happy to emo-cry as much as mages and warriors if you'll give us all the same broken toys as them! Where's my 90% heal every time I disengage with disengage on a 10 second cooldown? My second spectral Barrage on my Barrage as I Barrage? ;)
Don't get the wrong impression. I love instant casts. Just not sure about the constant bait and switch on Aimed Shots history.
We walk the lonely road... For ours is the Unseen Path...And we walk alone.  Guitar solo. 


Marksmanship will always be the de facto raiding specialization thematically to me - a belief stemming from years ago where Marks was for dungeons and raiding, Beast Mastery was for leveling and solo, and Survival was for laughing at or having a bit of PvP fun. Don't get me wrong: I've played every spec in raids over multiple tiers, and would say that Beast Mastery has probably seen the most use in that regard of all three. Either way when I see Marksmanship written as a solo Lone Wolf, it confuses me regarding the intent.

One thing is clear. Marksmanship has been stripped of its Sniper prowess for priority add targets. I do not believe the write up was relevant to Marksmanships design whatsoever, wherein most of the keywords used to drive the write up have no actual hand in Marksmanships play. We are not "Snipers" in hiding, bursting high priority adds with impressive or controlled single target burst. We do not "hide, lying in wait," except for a single talent we share with Survival. We do not "rely on skill or precision," as most of our abilities - and indeed also our talents - are passive or uncontrollable. We do not "expose the weakness" of enemies, we simply have a ramp up debuff mechanic given a splash name as Vulnerable. We are no more Lone Wolves than Mages are Lone Wolves, or Warriors are Lone Wolves.

I don't know where Marksmanship is going, but I'll always follow along for the story. Regardless of my reservations with this current iteration, and how little focus to detail I feel hunters have received compared to others, I did mean it saying I am interested in Marksmanships new rotational mechanics. With a little polish, this could be one of Marksmanships most successful versions yet, or one of the most fundamentally infuriating with how much each mechanic in it wants to step on the toes of and inconvenience the other mechanics. Successful mechanical play should flow comfortably, so ideally screwing yourself over out of Vulnerable stacks and True Aim stacks by casting something like Windburst is not the norm of Marks' design. Punish bad play, reward good play.
The high punishment, high reward that appears to be Marksmanships new design is very refreshing and very intriguing indeed. This is where I've been waiting to see Marksmanship go for many years.
There is a new iteration coming - looking forward to that. 


The hype up on Thas'dorah was far more believable than the careful dodging regarding the Eagle Spear. The quest for it was also far more interesting - I can tell you the story line for Thas'dorah, why we were there, and why we retrieved it. I can't tell you the story line for Talonclaw, why we were ... Where-ever we were, or why we retrieved it. It was forgettable. The cat was cute though?
There was also a suitable enough cliffhanger that I'm interested in the continued story of Thas'dorah and the characters surrounding it.
So in that regard, Thas'dorah has been the most interesting and successful hunter artifact I've done yet. During the quest for Talonclaw I actually tabbed out and read a few things, tabbing back in and still being alive. During the quest for Thas'dorah I nearly got myself killed because I didn't understand how a mob worked. A+. Or, at least a foreshadowing to Survivals fate. 

Here's how I'm going to speed up feedback about the Artifact traits: by Golden Dragon, with each paired by their own connectors. In a table like the talents.


Addressed in the core kit section. Would like to see it incorporated better. 
Perfect starter. Clarifies Aimed Shot as our signature damage, and critical strikes as our happy stat. Like seeing it be crit damage instead of standard.
Would have preferred a dynamic to control this reduction ourselves, like the old Rapid Fire reductions. Reduces the relevance of Heightened Vulnerabilities.
ZONE 2: Whispers of the Past

Need an unenthused kazoo. How about more than one? Will Marked cleave / Call of the Hunter be good with this?
Generic damage increase. It's fine. Single target and cleave. Strong trait.
Embrace of the Wild. Iron Hawk. Clear cut and standard.


An absolutely incredible healing trait and fully worthy of Turtles long cooldown. Take note, Cheetah.
An extra auto shot. It's fine. Not overly exciting, but very nice that it cleaves too. Worthy of Golden? Not so sure.
Call of the Hunter

Very nice for focus. Not very nice for Hunters Mark proc fishing. Doesn't play nice with Steady Focus. Nonetheless, worthy of Golden let alone Silver.
Just sigh.
Now this is an artifact trait. Love seeing this. Supports a VAAMS. That name though? Hunter, not Rogue.
An incredibly strong pairing with Deadly Aim.


Not complaining but rather weird. Similar note as Critical Focus. Not enough to fit another Aimed in our focus bar.
See my notes regarding Multi-Shot. Imperative regarding the success of this.
ZONE 4: Bullseye

But where is Rapid Recuperation? Exceptionally strong, would've expected it as gold like Aspect of the Skylord. I like it.
That's an explosion, honey.
This is so out of place.
Stacks to what? What is this? Is this a tangent graph? 6 second cycle is tight, especially on just specials (so why would we use casts).


Reading Time
3 min
All of this will have been covered in better detail above. It also, obviously, doesn't cover everything above. I recommend reading the above and using this as extra reading.

Marksmanship was a bit of a face-roll leveling, though this is mostly my fault for using Head Shot to simplify the process. The gameplay felt a bit like just filling in the blanks until Head Shot was back up again, and I have a few misgivings over a talent controlling the main kit of a specialization that way. If Head Shot is reeled into line, however, Marksmanship very clearly has enough "under the hatches" to provide an exceptionally engaging play style focusing on very punishing timer maintenance. 

The main concern for me is whether or not Marksmanship will get trapped within its slim ability set once again. 'Keeping it simple' is always a good mantra, but if Marks keeps it too simple part of its new charm could go to waste. The new direction is exceptionally fascinating, and the high reward of playing successfully in reaction to Vulnerabilities stacking Marked Shots buff (and especially with later Artifact traits encouraging specific Aimed Shot use) is something that has been missing in Marksmanship for many years. 
It is certainly not what I would have expected Marksmanship to become, as moving away from precision based gameplay to exemplify "Marksmanship precision" is misleading. It still has an opportunistic play style as seen in current Careful Aim and Execute sniping, but tailored to a much more Arcane-Mage like finale. That is, build up our rotational buffs then maintain them for spectacular single target. 

With a bit of polish, especially on the talents end, this could be a satisfying specialization to play even with the short comings inherent in a stacking debuff system. Would like to see an option to address how similarly this reflects the inflexibility of combat points on specific targets. Still waiting to see how AoE plays out for Marks with extreme reservations.

Requested Highlights
Multi-Shot: Would like to see this ability more appropriately included in the Marksmanships toolkit. Bombardment and traits increasing its damage is all sidelined by its main function being in spreading Hunters Mark, which in itself is limited by traits. Consider Marked Shot increasing Multi-Shot damage. Would like to see the conflict with Broadside on purpose addressed. Want to see it synergize for AoE burst purpose with spreading Hunters Mark for Call of the Hunter by overlapping Call of the Hunter on every Hunters Mark target. I believe Multi-Shot should mark the current target and two new targets each time it succeeds spreading Mark, at minimum.

Debuffs: Our target swapping is currently limited due to all our damage mechanics being ramp up debuffs on our target. Would like to see some sort of talent options that allow for smoother target swapping, either with a restricted ability to move stacks around, or with more talents that build up power on our character instead. IE, Vulnerable stacks are on targets. This is partially addressed with Heightened Vulnerabilities speeding the process but is put in a strange spot on the same tier as Head Shot. True Aim is also a good start for a talent, but builds up on the target too (and has some travel time / timer issues).

Windburst: The artifact trait seems like an awkward shoe-in. It fills a similar role as Head Shot right now except it lacks the ability to influence our focus mini-game. Current iteration hits harder than Aimed Shot but acts as if Marksmanship is not a complex system of 10s timer cycles. Would like to see Windburst incorporated into the system better, either by benefiting from Vulnerable damage boosts or extending the duration.

Counter Shot: It's been three years. It's time to address the travel speed.
Utility and Survivability: As with Counter Shot above, keep an eye on the usefulness of our utility and survivability spells in comparison to other class toolkits. Misdirection, Exhilaration and Aspect of the Turtle. Even Cheetah took a hit and I'm starting to question our usefulness outside of damage-bot glass cannons.

Bombardment: Would like to see this affect the cleave damage on Marked Shot. Its purpose is out in the water currently and I don't know why you wouldn't just reduce the focus cost of Multi-Shot and increase its damage out of noodle territory. Maybe incorporate into the Hunters Mark system somehow?

Timers + Talents: Many of our abilities are on 10s timer cycles. Maintaining debuffs includes using these abilities on those cycles to refresh or build upon them. Several of our augmenting talents are in direct conflict with this directive. Nothing wrong with increasing difficulty of maintenance, but would like to ensure the outcome is high reward. Marksmanship timers should not be easier to maintain the closer we stand to our target.

1 comment :

  1. Oh yeah. And I think it would be worth it to reverse the animation sequences for Marksmanship ranged shots. Right now Auto Shot takes priority, which makes sense given its the longest (3~ second auto shots versus 1~ second instant GCD shots), but causes a lot of animation clipping. We've become used to it, but if the special shot animations were done within their 1s limitation they'd feel a lot more impactful than constantly clipping auto shot animations.

    I put this YouTube playlist together of Marksmanship animations:

    Marksmanship suffers from what I call "Stutter Fairy Dust" syndrome. Most of our abilities are sparkly fairy dust trails and either have no animation or take lower priority to auto shots constant droll, offering nothing but to make it look like our characters are constantly having seizures.

    Looking for some aesthetic love after 10 years.