Marksman Shot Balancing

Draenei hunter warlords of draenor

The Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes have been updated to reflect the changes we all found out about from MMO-C's datamining yesterday.  It looks like they've started working on at least a first round of balancing on ability damage.   As celestalon pointed out on twitter:
I tend to agree, it would be silly to call any of these changes buffs or nerfs.   However,  we can start thinking about how they will affect the spec. I'm sure there will be many more changes to come, but the most recent build gives us a good picture at the direction they're going at least.

Let's start by taking a look at the Marksmanship changes:

Aimed Shot now does 255% ranged weapon damage, down from 450%.
Careful Aim now also works while Rapid Fire is active.
Chimera Shot now does 190% ranged weapon Nature damage, down from 210%.
Rapid Fire (New) Increases haste by 40% for 15 sec. Hunter - Marksmanship Spec. Instant. 2 min cooldown.

Can  you guess what's got all the hunters excited?
That's right a 75% increased chance to crit on Aimed Shots used during Rapid Fire, which also means a 75% increased chance to get the bleed from piercing shots, and 75% increased chance of getting 20 focus back at the end of aimed shot thanks to the perk Enhanced Aimed Shot.

It will be very interesting to play with Fervor and with ToTH to see which ends up better.   Fervor will basically give you 3 extra Aimed Shots during Rapid Fire.   ToTH of course will simply reduce the cost by an additional 20 focus, if it is proc'ed (currently it's generally proc'ed around 70% of the time).  Imagine having a series of Aimed Shots that guaranteed to crit and only cost 10 focus.  That's most likely going to give ToTH the edge, but it's a bit of a gamble, since it may not proc the entire time you have Rapid Fire up.   With Fervor you can guarantee those 3 extra Aimed Shots.  

As was to be expected, with all of the crazy perks Aimed Shot was getting, it's been lowered from 450% Weapon Damage, to 255% weapon damage.   However, it's important to remember that Weapon Damage will be scaling substantially more with Ranged Attack Power, which means your Aimed Shot damage won't make a huge jump when you get your current tier weapon,   but it also won't stagnate afterward.  It should continue to improve in damage fairly linearly as you gear up.

orcs warlords of draenor
Chim Shot had a similar, but much smaller, Weapon Damage reduction.  This was also to be expected, for the same reason.   It won't benefit as much from a new weapon, but will scale significantly better.

More Stacking
Another affect this will have on our rotations, is it means we'll be needing to stack Rapid Fire with our Trinket Procs.  Where this tier it's been most beneficial to use Rapid Fire immediately as it comes off CD, in WoD we'll need to hold off on it until we get an Agi/AP trinket proc up.  Again, because the increased AP multiplier in weapon damage,  stacking the two together will be a huge increase.

In addition, much like we do currently for Bestial Wrath when playing BM, you're going to want to have at least 90 focus when you start rapid fire, but not more than 110 focus (which is a pretty small window to aim for).  Remember that having 100 when you hit rapid fire means you'll be up close to or above 110 before you actually shoot your first Aimed Shot, depending on how much haste you have.   If you're above 110 focus when you start you'll risk losing some to capping.  If you're much below 90, you may not be able to cast 3 in a row immediately, and will have to resort to steady shots sooner.

Of course, as soon as we have some more numbers to look at, I'll be doing the math to see just how much differences these changes will make.  I would predict that the reduction in the weapon damage multiplier for Aimed Shot will insure that Chim Shot is still our first priority, even when Rapid Fire is up.  Another question we'll need to answer is do we use Rapid Fire when the target is above 80% health?   Since that first 20% goes the fastest, it may be more beneficial to use it at 80% so you're not wasting the Careful Aim bonus.  We'll have to wait for at least the Beta to find out.

Just heard back from Celestalon regarding use of Aimed Shot vs. Chim Shot while Rapid Fire is up.  Sounds like they're open to that happening.

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