The Greatest of Hunter Zones

After spending too much time writing about math, I thought it'd be nice to write about something a bit more fun.  Check out my take on the best hunter zone in Draenor, now up at the Warcraft Hunters Union.

ToTS: Stacking Bestial Wrath with Focus Fire

The following is a repost of an blog post I did here a few months ago (back in the Warlords of Draenor Beta) with some edits to bring the information in line with the latest buff to Beast Mastery Hunters; as it's likely more hunters will be hoping to make the switch back to BM (even if it remains a bit lower for single target DPS).  

There's been a bit of disagreement in the hunter community about the proper use of Focus Fire in Warlords of Draenor, where it now includes an Attack Power buff of 5% per stack of Frenzy consumed. And since having a blog means I get to express my opinion about things, I thought I'd take a minute to go over the new mechanic, and what it means for our rotation as BM in WoD.

For our example, I'll be looking at the numbers from a level 100 BM hunter with run-of-the-mill 667 ilvl gear.  When testing, I was around 42% mastery, 30% crit, 14% haste, 16% multistrike, 4% Versa, and a little over 5000 AP.

The issue I'm looking at, primarily, is when Focus Fire should be used, relative to Bestial Wrath.  So for most of our work, we'll only look at abilities that are used during BW, and then compare the benefit we get from using the two abilities separately, to using them together.

Bestial Wrath and Focus Fire Stacking Damage

To start off, lets look at the damage our abilities are doing under different circumstances.

w/ 5 Frenzy15484.52097.14561.18066.55274.8
w/ BW18581.42516.55473.38873.25802.3
w/ Focus Fire17033.02306.85701.48687.66291.8
w/ FF&BW23226.83145.76841.710583.96921.0

What you're seeing here is the effect of multiplicative buffs.  If an unbuffed Kill Command does X damage, then during Bestial Wrath, it will do X*1.2 damage; during Focus Fire, it will do X*1.25 damage, but during both effects, it won't do X*(1.45) damage, instead, it will do X*(1.2*1.25).  In the end, that only works out to 5% extra damage.  Furthermore, considering that you'll be stacking other buffs around Bestial Wrath, and you'll be saving focus so you can use all damage dealing shots during BW, that extra 2% will work out to even more total damage.

The next part I'd look at is how often we can use each ability.  For cast abilities, this doesn't change.  I can always use 2 Kill Commands, 1 Barrage and 5-6 Arcane Shots (assuming I've managed my focus correctly, and do not use Cobra Shot or Focus Fire during BW) and my pet  should, on average, cast 3 Basic Attacks: Smack, Bite, or Claw (this is an average because of the BM Perk which lets your pet reset the CD on its Basic Attack).  

Attack Speed and Haste Effects

Two abilities we'll use during Bestial Wrath, however, are affected by Attack Speed: Pet Melees, and Auto-Shots.  

Pet MeleeAuto-shot
Unbuffed Cast Frequency1.662.65
Casts during BW w/ 5 Frenzy7.23.8
    "    "    w/ FF w/ 0 Frenzy6.04.9
    "    "    w/ FF w/ 1 Frenzy6.34.9
    "    "    w/ FF w/ 2 Frenzy6.54.9
    "    "    w/ FF w/ 3 Frenzy6.74.9

Looking at that chart, two differences immediately pop out in my mind when comparing the first two rows: with Focus Fire we have an extra Auto-shot, while with Frenzy we have an extra Pet Melee. We can then look up to our first chart to see what damage that difference will net. 

With 5 stacks of Frenzy and Bestial Wrath, our one extra Melee is worth (on average) 3145.7 damage; that is to say, by using Focus Fire, we lose that full amount.  However, our Melees in general are worth a little bit more due to the FF AP buff: about 629.2 damage more.  Since we'll still have six Melees, we can multiply that 629.2 by 6, which we'll subtract from the 3145.7 we've lost. That gives us, already, a net gain 629.5. On top of that, we'll also get an extra Auto-shot, and all of our auto-shots will have the extra bonus of benefiting from the FF AP buff**.  An entire Auto-shot with FF and BW (which averages 6921.0 damage) plus the difference between 4 other Auto-shots during BW, with and without the FF buff (1118.7 damage each) gives us a +11,395.8 damage.   Combine that with our pet melee gain of 629.5 due to the Attack Speed buff from Frenzy, and we're at a net gain of 12,025.3 damage.

That might not sound like much, but that is only covering the difference in damage of Auto-shots and pet Melees.  We'll also get an extra 5% out of our Kill Commands, Arcane Shots, Glaive Toss and our pet's Basic Attacks, which would vanish if we used the two abilities separate (that is the bonus from the buffs multiplying).    

The Ideal Placement of Focus Fire

But we're not even done yet. There's still another thing you can do to increase you net damage gained. Because the Focus Fire buff lasts for 20 seconds, if we use it 10 seconds before using  BW, our pet will have three 40% chances to build up Frenzy stacks again before we hit BW.  That's only a 6.4% chance of getting up to three stacks before BW, but a 78.4% chance of getting at least one stack, and a decent 35.2% chance that you'll get two stacks before BW***.  

Another benefit of using Focus Fire at this point, is that you'll be wanting to cast some cobra shots before BW to build up focus.  Using Focus Fire at this point allows you to cast those significantly faster, allowing you to spend more time on harder hitting shots, while still pooling the appropriate amount of focus.

Conclusions & Considerations:

Now that Focus Fire represents a larger damage increasing cooldown than Bestial Wrath, there is more legitimacy to the method which would tell you "use it as soon as you get five stacks of frenzy, no matter what".  The reason being that occasionally, you will get really good RNG and end up with lots of Focus Fires. This is fine if you're goal is to get top parses, but is inadvisable when working on progression.  As XKCD demonstated in the comic at the top of this post, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc is not a valid argument for how we do things.  The vast majority of the times, stacking the two cooldowns will provide the greatest DPS increase, and will provide much more reliable DPS, that won't depend as much on RNG.

That doesn't mean, that we shouldn't take advantage of good RNG when it comes along, though. With a little luck, you'll be able to use Focus Fire twice every minute.  Once 10 seconds before BW, and once about 0-10 seconds after it falls off.  If RNG isn't on your side, it's best to wait until 10 seconds before BW to use it, though.  


 *Note that Frenzy does not affect the damage of a shot, only the attack speed, so in this case, this line can be seen as our average damage of each ability, unbuffed.

**It may be worth mentioning that a 10% buff to AP works out to be about an 19.28% buff to an ability which uses Weapon Damage as it's base multiplier, in the gear I wore for testing. That is to say:

The Weapon Damage multiplier = WD + (2.8 * (AP) / 3.5)
(1191+(2.8*1.25*5023/3.5)) / (1191+(2.8*5023/3.5)) = 1.1928

That percent change will be different, however, depending on the ratio of your base WD to AP.

***These numbers are actually a bit higher, thanks to the Draenor perk Enhanced Basic Attacks, which gives each basic attack a chance to proc a second, focus-free basic attack, which gives you an additional 40% chance to proc a stack of Frenzy.

Balancing Hotfixes

There have been a few hunter changes over the last week for balancing purposes:

Beast Mastery:

  • Improved Focus Fire now grants a 5% increase to AP for every stack of Frenzy that had been consumed. (Dec 15)
  • Kill Shot's damage has been reduced by 10% (Dec. 3)


  • Serpent Sting's damage has increased by 60% (Dec 15)


  • Aimed Shot's damage has been reduced by 10% (Dec 3)
  • Kill Shot's damage has been reduced by 10% (Dec 3)
We've had a week to play with the MM nerfs, and overall, they seem fair. We were doing really well on single target fights, and this wasn't enough to make us bad for single target, but we're slightly closer to the rest of the pack.  

As for the other two specs, this will hopefully put them more in line with the rest of the classes.  The Serpent Sting buff only represents about a 5% single target buff for SV, which won't be enough to bring it in line with MM single target, but it will be a much more significant buff to SV AoE.  

The Focus Fire change, is frankly, huge. This will have fairly huge implications for PvP, as an already fairly bursty spec will be have even more to stack. It's also going to represent a significant buff to both BM AoE and Single Target in PvE.

Thrill of the Spreadsheet: Glaives Vs. Barrage

Edit:  With the hotfixes announced 12/8/2014, much of this information has quickly become outdated.  Aimed Shot recieved a 10% nerf (as did Kill Shot).  As soon as I have more logs, I will revisit this issue, and, if needed, post more info on this blog.

On the Hunting Party Podcast yesterday, we briefly touched on the choice between Glaive Toss and Barrage on Single Target fights.  I think I've briefly covered this, to some extent, but I wanted to get into it again just to have all my thoughts collected in one place.

The crux of the argument I'm trying to make in favor for Glaive Toss is this:
While compared in a vacuum, Barrage does more damage than Glaive Toss, and does more Damage/Cast-time than Glaive Toss.  However, when you compare the opportunity cost, that is to say, how much time you'll have to spend casting Steady Shots to make up the focus cost, or what you could have spent with that same amount of focus, Glaive Toss ends up being the better choice.  
To get to that conclusion, I want to take a look at one of my logs from last week.  In a single target fight (against the Butcher), the value of my Glaives and Barrage looks like this:

Tick/HitCrit TickPer cast ave:Focus CostCast/GCDDam/CTDam/FocusDam/CT/Foc
AiS w/ TotH22359.151751.531176.82242.2114107.161299.03587.80
AiS w/ CA22359.151751.548812.26322.2122087.001525.38690.22
AiS w/ TotH&CA22359.151751.548812.26122.2122087.004067.691840.58
Glaive Toss5972.112405.817766.4315117766.431184.431184.43
Chim Shot36711.380655.566007.435166007.401885.931885.93

If you're curious where those Aimed Shot focus costs came from, I had about a 30% crit chance, so without Careful Aim, I should have 30% of my Aimed Shots cost 30 focus (because the crit returns 20 focus), and 70% cost 50 focus. I used the same averaging technique with Careful Aim, but with 90% crit chance.  

Considering Barrage

What I've tried to do in this spreadsheet is control for the focus cost of a shot, by not just looking at Damage per Cast-time (or DPS, however you like to think about it) but looking at Damage per Cast-time per Focus. As I've mentioned before on this site, this creates a simple metric to compare focus-costing shots by both their damage and their opportunity cost in resources.  

From this sheet, we see Chim Shot is the clear winner, as we expect, even during Careful Aim while TotH is up, we're getting the most "bang for your buck" from Chim Shot.  But that's not really what was in question here.  What we're trying to look at is the comparison of Glaive Toss to Barrage. The trouble with barrage, is in this scenario, it's focus cost is so high that it's only doing better than one ability, which is Aimed Shot with no Careful Aim and no TotH buff.  There's no question then, that Aimed Shot during Careful Aim is more valuable than Barrage, but also, when you consider, I had TotH up, on average, 64.32% of the time, Aimed Shot without Careful Aim is still, on average, a more valuable ability than Barrage.  This puts Aimed Shot above Barrage on our ability priority list. 

The reason this is important is because once an ability with no CD is higher on our priority list than another ability, then we'll never get to the lower ability.  And that is really what the pro Glaive Toss argument relies on, it's not that Glaives is necessarily better than Barrage on it's own, it's that Barrage isn't as good as Aimed Shot.  That's the result of having a really powerful focus dump, that's further buffed by Lone Wolf.  

Considering Glaive Toss

As you can see in the spreadsheet above, because Glaive Toss has no cast time and a low focus cost, its value (when measured in dam/ct/focus) is relatively high.  Higher, in fact, than Aimed Shot in all but one situation (Careful Aim while TotH is up).  In addition, it's DPS is higher than Aimed Shot without Careful Aim, and not significantly lower than Barrage.

But that's not the only benefit of Glaive Toss.  One of the harder to quantify benefits is that it is a single GCD ability in a sea of cast-times.  I mentioned above that no matter what, Chim Shot is at the top of our Priority (yes, it does more damage on average than Kill Shot, also, but that's really for a different discussion), and that means we want to use it as close to on CD as possible.  With Glaive Toss we have an opportunity to use it as a "filler" shot in our rotation.  That is to say, if I only have a second left before Chim Shot is off CD, if I choose to use Barrage, then I either have to use Aimed Shot, delaying Chim Shot by 1.2 seconds,  or I can just sit there twiddling my thumbs for an entire GCD until Chim Shot comes off CD.  With Glaive Toss, however, we have a low focus cost, instant cast ability to fill in those occasional little gaps in our rotation.  

Another Metric 

Though I'm a big fan of Damage per Cast-time per Focus, there are other ways to think about the value of our abilities.   One way to consider this particular problem, is what we could do with the same amount of focus.  Barrage, for me, did 54.4k damage, and costs 60 focus. Using that same focus, how many Aimed Shots could I have cast?  Assuming we're already decided that we wouldn't use Barrage during Careful Aim, we can just look at the cost of Aimed Shot outside of Careful Aim.  With, as I mentioned above, a 64.32% up time on TotH, we can say Aimed Shots cost 24 focus 64% of the time, and 44 focus 36% of the time.  That means on average, when Careful Aim isn't up, we spend 31.2 focus per Aimed Shot.  So basically, we could do two Aimed Shots for the same focus cost as one Barrage.  And as we see above, two Aimed Shots provides us with about 10k more damage.  

Another way to think about it is using a Glaive Toss + Aimed Shot comparison.  At 15 focus per GT and 31.2 focus per Aimed Shot, we can cast one glaive toss and 1.44 Aimed Shots,  for a total of 62.7k damage, also well out damaging Barrage.

The Caveat

There is a caveat here, that is certainly worth considering, that Barrage is more valuable than Aimed Shot without Careful Aim or TotH.  The reason I bring this up again, is that even though the average Aimed Shot is more valuable than Barrage, we don't deal with averages in the game. That is, TotH isn't always 64% up,  it's either up or it's not.  

So because of this, there is a time when the in-game application of Barrage is more valuable (measured in Dam/CT/Focus) than Aimed Shot, and since it will do more D/CT than Glaive Toss, I think we've got to consider this as an viable talent.  

In this situation, instead of trying to use Barrage on CD, we would only use it when (TotH isn't up, and Careful Aim isn't up), which may end up netting us more total damage than not using it at all.  This also provides the added benefit of having a high focus cost shot, which is more likely to proc more TotH's, which is especially valuable because you're only using it when TotH is down, giving you the full three stacks.  

In this case, our shot priority would look like this:

  • Chim Shot
  • Kill Shot
  • Aimed Shot w/ TotH & CA
  • Aimed Shot w/ CA
  • Aimed Shot w/ TotH
  • Barrage
  • Aimed Shot
  • Steady Shot (to rebuild focus)

Unfortunately, at this point we've gotten into too many variables, so we can't easily compare the two abilities using spreadsheet math.  We'll have to turn to our handy DPS simulators, to see if we can get some definitive answers, when comparing these two abilities.  For now, I'll be sticking with Glaive Toss for single target, but I'll be very interested to watch hunters who are using Barrage, and see if they find a way to pull more DPS out of it.  

Huntering 101: The Pit

Back when the Timeless Isle was fresh and new (before over a year of doing it, that is), I started some really basic guides for newer hunters, that covered how to solo things that were't to the level of "extreme soloing", but at the same time, weren't things that your average wow player could do either.  So in that vain: in guild I keep getting people asking me to group with them to do The Pit Apexis Crystals daily, and when I was first asked, I was quite surprised, for one because I hadn't noticed it was supposed to be a group quest, and also, I don't know why anyone would want to share their Primal Spirits.

So, for recently boosted hunters who are looking for a good practicing spot to work on their soloing in a safe-ish environment, or lower ilvl hunters looking to have a great place to farm Primal Spirits, here below is how to get by in The Pit.  This guide is aimed at hunters between 600 adn 630 ilvl; around 630 or higher this will become fairly trivial, and you'll be able to just zerg through most of the mobs in this zone.


You can choose any Hunter spec you want, as they'll all do fine here.  I go with marks, because it's got the best single target DPS, which helps you burn through everything a bit faster.

The important talents include Posthaste, Binding Shot, and Spirit Bond. Posthaste comes out on top, as there will be a few snares/roots that you'll want to break, and the main mob who casts it will do it a bit to often for Master's Call to do the job.  Plus it's nice to be able to run around a bit faster.  On the second tier I go with Binding Shot.  Wyvern Sting can be helpful, as you'll see below, because there are some packs of mobs that it'd be nice to CC both of them,  but I like having Binding Shot for those "oh shit" moments when you didn't notice the mobs on the ledge above you and pulled everything with barrage.  And of course, Spirit Bond adds some nice healing, which will generally keep you topped off (since you should only be taking unavoidable damage, the brunt of it going to your pet).

Less importantly, you can choose whatever you like from tier 60.  From the 75 talents I like Crows, since it will be resetting a lot, you can use it pretty much constantly.  Tier 90 is again, totally up to your preference, though using Barrage will take some planning, since it may break your CC.  And the final level 100 talents, I like Focusing Shot, but Exotic Munitions is fine too, if you don't like standing still.

For Glyphs, Glyph of MD is mandatory, as is Glyph of Mending (at least at lower ilvls).  I took Animal Bond for my third, though there are plenty of other viable options.  Glyph of Deterrence can be helpful at lower ilvls (I'll explain below).

In the minor glyphs, I like to keep the Aspect of the Cheetah glyph, so you can run fast without worrying about turning it off. The Play Dead glyph is great in other situations, but here there will be times when you want to drop aggro on  your hunter, but keep aggro on your pet, so I would avoid it here.

Irontusk Trampler

The Irontusk Trampler is the first mob I run into when I jump the fence to get into the pit.  You can find them on the southern, upper cliffs.  The only ability of note is Trample, which does AoE damage which around ilvl 610 or below will be a bit much for Spirit Bond to keep up with.  You should be able to safely just soak one of these, and if he isn't dead by the time he's casting a second, you can just step back out of range until it's safe to DPS again.  Other than that, the hunter should take no damage while fighting him, and will only have to keep Misdirect up on your pet, and/or keep growl on. 

Iron Laborer

The Iron Laborer has the lowest health of any of the mobs you'll see.  They are not elite, and have no abilities that will give hunters a problem.  They do tend to hang out in long lines, and if you pull enough, their damage can be too much for Mend Pet to take care, so at low ilvls, pulling two or three at a time is a good idea.  Around 620+ ilvl, you'll be able to pull the entire pack of them and just AoE them down (especially if you're doing this as BM).  

Iron Warden

The trouble with pulling large packs of Iron Laborers, is they usually have a supervisor, the Iron Warden.  This will provide good practice at selective pulling, though.  The Iron Warden will be riding a wolf, pacing back and forth watching the Iron Laborers,  at all of the spots where they spawn, however, the area where he turns around is far enough away from the laborers that you can pull the Warden safely.   If you do pick up a Laborer too, you should be able to just DPS him down, as they'll die pretty quickly.  Be sure to do so before focusing on the Warden, or their combined damage will quickly kill your pet.

The only ability the Iron Warden has that affects the hunter is called, Iron Shackles.  It's a Root with a DoT. However, since you're using Posthaste, just make sure to have your back toward a wall, and you can get out of this without taking any damage.  

Another basic hunter move that you can practice with this guy is quick CC and Rez Pet. Especially at lower ilvls, this guy's basic attacks can cause problems for your pet, and that's part of why I liked Binding Shot. Keep enough distance between your pet and you, and if you see your pet is about to die, throw up a binding shot at their location.  This will give you more than enough time to rez your pet, and get aggro off of you without having to reset the mob by feigning death.  Once your pet is alive and has gotten in at least one hit on the Warden, you can safely Feign Death to reset your hunter's aggro (though if you've been keeping up Misdirect the whole time, your pet should quickly regain aggro).  

Dealing with Packs

Around the southwest ridge of the pit, there are plenty of mobs to quickly finish the quest. The problem is, they generally are standing in packs of three or four; too many to safely pet tank, and with varied enough abilities that it's worth taking a look at how they work. These mobs include:

  • Iron Bloodburner: A blood mage that doesn't seem to do any damage that affects the hunter.
  • Iron Deadshot: a ranger/hunter with high damaging abilities, but very squishy. Needs to be burst down.
  • Iron Cauterizer: a healer which doesn't deal much damage, but will heal itself. Needs some amount of burst to kill, especially in lower ilvl gear.  Most abilities are interruptable.
  • Iron Bulwark: Possibly this is supposed to be the tank, they have health, but don't hurt much. Generally your least important mob, so you can focus on something else.
  • Iron Enforcer: These come with varied abilities; a stacking DoT, a deathgrip-type ability, and a bladestorm type ability.  Several stacks of the DoT can hurt quite a lot, even at higher ilvls. This is where Glyph of Deterrence comes into play, since it will reduce the damage done by the ticks by 50%, and allow time for the stacks to fall off (since they can't reapply while Deterrence is up).  Remember to set traps while Deterrence is up, since you can't DPS otherwise.
  • Gruesome Torturer: Often found alone, but sometimes in the packs.  He does a ground effect that you have to move out of, as well as a cone attack that will take 50-75% of your life if you don't avoid it; it does, however, have a long cast time, so this shouldn't cause any problems.
As you're camo'ing around, looking for easy pickings, you'll notice that some of them walk around between groups.  This is, of course, the easiest way to kill one, when it's all alone.  Most of the time, though, you'll have to CC one, and handle at least two.  If there is one in the pack, I always CC the Deadshot. They seem to do the most damage, and even though they die quickly, their damage can be too much to handle while other mobs are up.  The second choice for CC, if there's no Deadshot, is the Gruesome Torturer; he's not really a problem, but you have to pay attention, at least, so it's easier to just deal with him when he's alone.  If neither of those mobs are in a pack, then I CC the Cauterizer, but at that point you can probably just pull them all together.  

After CC'ing, I find it easiest to use the same CC priority list for my DPS first list.  So if I've CC'ed a Deadshot, and have a Cauterizer and a Bulwark, then I'll burst down the Cauterizer first, then finish off the Bulwark.  Especially with Rapid Fire or Bestial Wrath, you can generally burn through one of them pretty quickly, so you rarely have to worry about two mob's abilities at once for very long.  Again, this is a good opportunity to practice Binding Shot and Rez Pet, or a little bit of kiting to finish them off.  


You'll run into a lot of rares in The Pit (especially if you go during off hours).  These are designed to be taken on with five or more players; however, most of them are soloable in current gear.  

I'm not going to get into the specifics of each one here, but if you've gotten to the point where all of the regular elite mobs in the pit are no challenge at all, then it might be time to go perfect your kiting with these rares.  I haven't managed to kill (or even find) all of them yet, but the ones I have, all involved a fairly simple pattern of kiting with aggro on my hunter, and then using the glyphed Distracting Shot, so I can kite him with my pet (using the Moveto command).  

Of the rares I've tried, the hard part isn't really kiting them, but finding a path in which to kite them, where you don't pull lots of other mobs.


Somewhat similar to the Timeless Isle, there are several damage buffs you can pick up around the pit. An easy way to find some that seem to always be up, is follow the train tracks on the west side of the pit.  Eventually you'll see the break in them shown to the right.  You can easily just disengage across and grab a fire buff (adds fire damage to some abilities) and a really cool shoulder mounted rocket launcher.  

None of the buffs are really game changing, but they do speed up the process, so you can finish up just as quickly as those weird support classes doing the quest in groups, waiting on their healers to drink.  

Some PvP Stat Clarifications

Since I started PvP'ing (even if just casually), I've always struggled with the first season of an expansion.  With no crafted PvP set to get me started, and a few horrible experiences in Ashran right after hitting 100, I pretty much have just been ignoring PvP.  After all, it's not like I haven't had plenty to do to get ready for raiding.

Well I suppose I should have queued for a couple random BGs sooner.  Somehow I missed the implication of getting a chance at a piece of gear; it means people actually have a reason to try in random BGs.  Instead of queuing with half the people in the group just sitting there, tabbed out, slowly grinding out some honor, there is now significant reward from winning (well, at least before conquest gear comes out later today).  And there's another big benefit of the loot boxes system, and that's that even when you're with a horrible team, there's a reason to stay to the end, because even the losing gear has a chance to give you gear that's the same ilvl as the Ashran gear.

I imagine random BGs were mostly fun because they had a lot of great PvPers in them, since there were no RBGs or ranked Arenas open yet.  Still, it was fun while it lasted, and now I'm getting excited to get into RBGs and some Arenas as the season opens.

PvP Stat Changes

I didn't, until last week, know about all of the various changes to stats in Warlords.  I suppose I had heard that there multistrike would work differently, but even that, I was still working with outdated information. Dillypoo mentioned this on Arena Junkies, and over on the forums, hunter Mejjmejj recently posted a fairly detailed guide to hunter stats in PvP, and I've since found confirmation of all of these in logs and Dev posts.  

The big changes are that Crits only do 150% damage (instead of the 200% they do in PvE) and Multistrike only has a chance to do 1 additional shot for 30% damage (instead of 2 in PvE). What that means for the stats, is that you'll need more crit or multistrike stats in order to increase your dps by the same amount.  For example, where before (and currently in PvE) you needed 110 crit to raise your overall DPS by 1% (not including its other effects, like focus return), now you need 220 crit to raise your overall DPS by 1%.

So the immediate DPS effects of our basic damage multiplying stats look like this:

110 Crit = + .5% damage
110 MS = +.5% damage
110 Versa = +.85% damage

For Mastery it's going to depend on playstyle (are you focused on all Pet Damage as BM, etc..), but just as an average from a few BG logs, using the same 110 stat as a comparison, my mastery weights looked like this:

BM: 110 Mastery ≈ +1.2% damage
SV: 110 Mastery ≈ + .75% damage
MM:  110 Mastery ≈ + .55% damage (assuming you have 100% uptime on ST)

Based on these numbers, only BM mastery is going to out perform Versatility, especially once you consider the other benefit of Versatility, reduced damage taken.  However, there needs to be an addendum, in that Crit's value isn't only in doing more damage.

For MM hunters, Aimed Shot Crits return 20 focus.  This can be crucial when trying to burst someone down, as getting that extra focus could mean you can cast an additional damage dealing ability before they have time to heal, where as otherwise you might need to use Steady Shot, delaying your big damage dealing abilities, and possibly giving your opponents healer time to catch up.

For BM hunters, Auto Shot crits give your pet 15 focus, do to the Invigoration mechanic (formerly called "Go for the Throat").  This, in turn, can lead to a higher number of Claws, Bites, or Smacks (pet basic attacks) or a greater number of Wild Hunts (which double the damage of your pet's basic attacks).

Both of these mechanics are very difficult to quantify as a "% damage increase", but should still be considered when looking at ideal stats.

Anyhow, we should have some better ideas of Strategy Dependent stat weights as we the new season opens (today!), and hopefully, more info on determining the best gearing strategy for PvP Hunters.  

Maximizing Rapid Fire

I've gotten a couple questions about Rapid Fire recently and I thought it might be fun to write down all my thoughts on proper usage of the CD for Maximum DPS yields as we approach the opening of Highmaul.  Because we're at the very beginning of the xpac, I'm going to look at the numbers based on having all heroic dungeon blues, including our weapon, with the exception of a few easily accessible higher ilvl pieces.  As a disclaimer, the preciseness of any numbers used herein will change as the expansion progresses and we get better gear, but the general theory should stay the same.

The Basics of Rapid Fire

Rapid Fire: Increases haste by 40% for 15 seconds.  2 min cooldown.

Careful Aim: Increases the critical strike chance of your Steady Shot, Focusing Shot and Aimed Shot by 60% on targets who are above 80% health or while Rapid Fire is active.

In WoD, Careful Aim was modified to include any time that Rapid Fire is up.  This completely changed the use of Rapid Fire from a basic increased haste CD to a huge DPS CD with both Crit and Haste bonuses.  Where as in MoP we wanted to use Rapid Fire mostly when we were low on focus, in WoD we'll do the opposite, pooling focus so we can use the most Aimed Shots as possible during the buff.

Stacking CDs and Trinkets

During the first tier of WoD, our pre-raid BiS trinket will be Lucky Double Sided Coin.  In addition to a good chunk of crit, this trinket includes an on-use Agility buff, with a very convenient 2 minute cool down. 

Because this trinket has the same CD as Rapid Fire, for the vast majority of hunters, you'll simply want to macro these two abilities together (See the section on Chim Shot below for an explanation of how you can do better than macro'ing the two together).  You may have particular macros you like to use, but for me, it looks something like this: 

#showtooltip Rapid Fire
/cancelaura Deterrence
/cancelaura Hand of Protection
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear
/use 14
/cast Rapid Fire

Note, for those unfamiliar with macros, if you keep your Lucky Double Sided Coin in the upper trinket slot, you'll want "/use 13" instead of "/use 14".

In case I haven't spelled it out lately, the reason you want to always stack these two abilities is the same reason we stack anything as DPSers: damage modifiers multiplied together result in higher total damage than damage modifiers added together. For example, with Rapid Fire Aimed Shot Crits will be our big damaging ability, a normal Aimed Shot will look like this:

Damage = 4.20*(WD+2.8*RAP/3.5)

This doesn't include all of the other modifiers like target armor, MS, Versa, etc., but since those will be the same for all situations we're examining, we'll just ignore them for the time being.  The one modifier we will be interested in is Crit.

Assuming we have about 30% crit (we're in dungeon blues, remember), we can just multiply our total result by 1.3 and we'll have the average value of an Aimed Shot.  With 3833 AP, and a 630 weapon that has 901.5 WD, that works out to 21,666.7.  During Rapid Fire we add 60% crit chance, so our 1.3 multiplier becomes 1.9, which puts our average value at 31,666.7.

While the DSC (I got tired of typing it's name out) buff is up, we'll add the AP gained from the Agility to like this:

Damage = 4.20*(WD+2.8*(RAP+"DSC AP")/3.5)

Crit will work the same way, so with DSC's buff, but no Careful Aim/Rapid Fire, we'll have an average Aimed Shot be worth 29,676.5, or with Careful Aim, 43,373.3.  

To compare the value of stacking vs. not stacking the two buffs, we can simply look at the sum of DPS gain from using LDSC without Rapid Fire (8009.8 damage per Aimed Shot) and the gain from using Rapid Fire without LDSC (10,000 damage per Aimed Shot), and compare that to the gain from using both together (21706.7 damage per Aimed Shot).  Because 21,706.7 is greater than 18009.8, it's clear that stacking the two buffs together is going to be superior to using them separately.  And, that doesn't even include the added benefit of having shorter cast times on Aimed Shot due to the Haste aspect of the buff.  

Other Considerations

Stacking Rapid Fire with your trinkets (and when possible with your potion) will provide the greatest increase to your DPS of all the things I'm going to write about today.  However, there are certainly other smaller things we can do to increase DPS.  These will all change depending on what talents you take, and to some extent, what type of fight you're in (AoE, Cleave, Single Target, etc.).  

Thrill of the Hunt

If you're using the Thrill of the Hunt talent, you'll want to save your Rapid Fire until you have a full three stacks of TotH.  This is really the primary reason that Thrill of the Hunt, even after all the nerfs it has received since MoP, is still such a good talent.  If you save your Rapid Fire for when you have three stacks of TotH, you can quickly cast three Aimed Shots in a row for the low net cost of about 10 focus (30 focus each, plus the return of 20 per crit (and they all should crit) and your base focus regen).  And even though these Aimed Shots will have a very low net focus cost, they still have the chance of re-proc'ing TotH as though they cost 30 focus.  

Of course, the point of this is, the less focus you spend, the less time you'll have to waste casting Steady Shot or Focusing Shot, the more time you can spend casting Aimed Shots.  

Steady Focus

Steady Focus can get us into a little bit of trouble, because to keep the buff up, we'll be casting double Steady Shots, and during Rapid Fire, you don't want to waste your time casting Steady Shots instead of Aimed Shots.  The easiest way to deal with this problem is to take Focusing Shot, in which case you'll only have to cast it once to get the Steady Focus buff, and it will only cost you the cast time of one Aimed Shot (while giving you considerably more focus than two Steady Shots).  However, with the current tuning of DPS, many hunters will prefer to take Lone Wolf instead of Focusing Shots, so it's worth considering how to use this ability while casting double Steady Shots.

To get the most out of this talent, we'll always want to cast our double Steady Shots immediately before casting Rapid Fire.  We'll be wanting to pool focus for Rapid Fire anyway so we have plenty to cast Aimed Shots, so this shouldn't change what you're doing much, and will give you 10 seconds of increased focus regen without having to worry about the buff.  If you had enough focus, you could simply let the buff fall off and finish the duration of Rapid Fire simply spamming Aimed Shots (and Chim Shots), however, that doesn't look very likely.  With the high cost of Aimed Shots without TotH, you'll need to use Steady Shots during Rapid Fire.   This will depend on what your haste level is, but in general it's going to be decision you make as you play.  If there's any way to get away with only using one Steady Shot during Rapid Fire, then I prefer to do that, letting SF fall off.  However, if there is any chance I'll have to use a second Steady Shot (which is pretty much always), then I'll do a double Steady Shot starting around the 6 or 7 seconds mark (from when I first hit rapid fire).  

Lining Up Chim Shots

Until we get the set bonuses, Chimeara Shot will not be benefiting at all from using it during Rapid Fire.  However, the average damage of Chim Shot (even when compared to the =60% crit chance of an Aimed Shot during Rapid Fire) will be giving you more damage than Aimed Shots, so it will remain at the top of your shot priority.  

If we didn't have an on-use trinket to use with Rapid Fire, we would generally want to use Chim Shot immediately before Rapid Fire, so that we only have to use once during Rapid Fire without delaying it or reducing our total number of Chim Shots.  With the trinket, however, we'll want to make sure we get as many Chim Shots as possible during the the trinket's buff.  

In order to get three Chim Shots into the 20 sec buff, you'll have to either, after hitting your Rapid Fire macro, use Chim Shot first, or cast one Aimed Shot and then a Chim Shot.  This will result in having two Chim Shots during Rapid Fire (which you'll want anyway once  you get the 4-piece set bonus), so, for those who are really trying to squeeze out every last bit of DPS they can, you can leave your trinket and Rapid Fire not macro'ed, and cast:  

Trinket/Chim Shot, 
Steady Shot, 
Steady Shot, 
Rapid Fire/Aimed Shot,

Or alternatively:

Trinket/Chim Shot,
Focusing Shot,
Rapid Fire/Aimed Shot

This method will allow you to get three Chim Shots during the duration of your on-use trinket, while only having one Chim Shot interrupting your Aimed Shot spam during Rapid Fire.  

It's worth noting again that once you do have your 4-piece set bonus (which should happen a good deal faster than normal, with normal and heroic having completely separate lock outs from each other, and from mythic) you'll want to make sure you cast at least 2 Chim Shots during Rapid Fire (to take advantage of the increased crit damage).  Some top hunters have suggested that we should save Chim Shot for the very last GCD of Rapid Fire with the 4p, but I don't have enough data yet to say if that's actually ideal or not.  I can say that from playing with it on the beta, you'll see some insane 120k+ chim shot crits if you use that method, which feels pretty damn good.  

Focusing Shot

One question I've had from a couple different people was regarding the use of Focusing Shot.  The question goes something like this: "If we're taking Focusing Shot, if we're using FS right before Rapid Fire so that we have plenty of focus during RF, wouldn't it be better to use RF right before FS so that it has a shorter cast time?" 

I believe (though I haven't really checked) that if we still had MoP's Rapid Fire mechanics, that would be true.  However, with the addition of Careful Aim, we're going to see more damage by waiting out the normal cast time of Focusing Shot, then after casting RF spamming Aimed Shots.  

To think about it, we can compare the amount of time we save by using FS during RF to the amount of damage an Aimed Shot would have done in the same amount of time.  And we don't actually have to look at the real value of Aimed Shot to know which is going to be better, because the amount of time saved by using FS during RF will always be a fraction of the cast time of an Aimed Shot, and the amount of time we spent during RF casting FS will always be exactly equal to the cast time of one Aimed Shot.  Since 1 will always be greater than a fraction of one, we know that it will always be better to cast Focusing Shot before, not after RF.