Thrill of the Spreadsheet: A Closer Look at Sniper Training

Marksmanship Hunters in Warlords of Draenor, Sniper Training

To get the most out of Marksmanship DPS, we're going to have to re-learn how to be a casting-type class in regards to movement; however, our movement mechanics are going to look quite different than the typical caster's movement restrictions. So, I thought it might be prudent to breakdown some of our shots, and how they work with Sniper Training.  To start off, I wanted to make sure I understood exactly how Sniper Training was working; the tooltip says:
Sniper Training-When you stand still for 3 sec, you gain Sniper Training for 6 sec, which increases your damage, shot range and critical strike damage by 4%.

Determining the Value of Sniper Training

As with all Mastery tooltip, that doesn't really tell us how the stat works, so I had to jump on the beta and take a look.  Sniper Training (also like all mastery stats) starts out with a flat percentage (4%), and adds an additional percent for every 220 of the mastery stat.  This is by far the lowest of the Hunter Mastery stat conversions, as SV starts at 8% and gets an additional percent for every 110 stat, and BM starts at 16% and gets an additional percent every 55 stat.

The other fun part of Sniper Training, is not only does it work multiplicatively with other stats, but with crit, it has two multipliers, on for the initial damage modifier, which increases the value of your crit, but it also increases the damage done by crits; so it increases the value being multiplied, and it increases the value it's being multiplied by.

To make that simpler (hopefully), imagine we have 25% crit, and a shot that does 1000 damage on a normal hit.  On average, that shot will do 1250 damage (1000*1.25).  If we add in the damage of mastery, which is, for instance, 10%, we'll average 1402.5.  That is to say, where m = 1 + mastery %, and c = crit % and N = base damage, we can calculate the average damage with:

Avg. dmg. =  (N * m) + (N * c * m^2 )

That, of course, isn't including the versatility or multistrike multipliers, or any other damage modifiers, and we still need to be able to multiply those with our base damage.  So, trying to remember a little 8th grade algebra, let's call our damage multiplier:

m + c * m^2

In case that's unclear, for example, if we have 30% crit, and 10% mastery, we would take our base damage, and multiply it by (1.1+.3*1.1*1.1).  And that gives us the actual our mastery and crit, which we can then continue to multipy with other modifiers.  If, for example, we also had 4% versatility, we could just tack on a *1.04 after that last end parenthesis. 

For those interested, with any given Mastery or Crit rating, you can use the above formula to see the difference between using any shot with, or without the mastery buff.  But for those who don't want to do the work, below is a chart describing how much more damage a shot will do with the Sniper Training buff, than without it.  That is to say, the % in the middle of the chart represents the increased damage with Sniper Training, assuming you'll get the same number of crits with or without the buff. The final row of 100% crit represents the value of mastery during Careful Aim (assuming you reach the crit cap).


The final row is a fairly interesting number, in that you'll see the value of mastery nearly doubles.  Since we'll have Careful Aim up around 30% of an average fight, this is increasing the value of our mastery drasticaly, assuming we can keep the buff up. 

Getting the Most out of Sniper Training

There's a major part of that formula that I left out, and that's Sniper Training's up-time; from the tooltip "When you stand still for 3 sec, you gain Sniper Training for 6 sec".  A few weeks ago, I briefly mentioned this in a post, but I'll cover it here a bit more in depth.  As our crit and mastery ratings get higher, we'll want to pay more attention to what abilities we'll use while the Sniper Training buff is up, and what we'll use while it's down.  Of course, optimally, we would have this buff up 100% of the time, and seen hunters on the beta get it up to around 90% up-time on high movement fights, but the reality is, to do that we'll have to stand in a lot of bad.

So assuming there's high enough movement that we won't have 100% up-time, the trick will be timing your movement so that it you're using Steady Shots (our least damaging shot) while the buff is off.  However, while you can easily swap the placement of your Aimed Shots and Steady Shots to make sure you're not losing the buff during Aimed Shots, you don't want to have to delay your Chim Shot while waiting for the buff to come back up, since delaying Chim Shot for just a few seconds will result in a considerable DPS loss.  

Is Delaying Chimaera Shot Worth It?

Now, to be clear, in general, if it's a matter of delaying your chim shot 1 second, then it is going to be worth delaying it.  If you're going to need to delay it the full 3 seconds (to regain the buff) then it won't be worth it.  To come up with that conclusion, I looked at Chim Shot in 667 gear.  With the Sniper Training buff up the entire time, with 32% crit and 10.2% mastery, I was averaging about 60k damage per Chim Shot.  In this situation, my mastery was accounting for about 7k of my damage.

Each time I delay a Chim Shot, I'm chancing getting 1 less total chim shot.  In fact, if I delay  and even if I only delayed it by 1 second, if I do that nine times, then I've lost the damage of an entire chim shot.  If each of those 9 times, delaying Chim Shot by 1 second gets me my mastery buff, that's 7k more damage per shot, for a total of 63k damage, which is worth more than my average Chim Shot.

On the other hand, if we move that up to 2 seconds, we only have to delay it 4.5 times to lose an entire Chim Shot, and at that rate, the 7k damage buffs aren't going to be worth the delay.

The Ideal Situation

Regardless, we're still going to get our best DPS if we both don't delay Chim Shot, and always have the Sniper Training buff up when we use it.  So that should always be our goal.  The most obvious way to do this, is to never move.  Because there aren't any fights that you can get through without moving, we'll need to look at some other strategies for achieving the correct up-time on Sniper Training.

The best way to get through a fight is to simply aim for 100% up-time on sniper training by never moving for more than three seconds, and never moving for more than three seconds out of every 6 seconds.  For a lot of fights that simply involve not standing in the bad, this method is all you'll need.  
For fights with really heavy movement, however, there are simply going to be too many occasions where we need to move once, and then a second or two later, move again. So this next strategy allows plenty of time for movement, and is based around only standing still during double Steady Shots.  In general, especially at the beginning of the expansion, we'll always be using 2 steady shots every 9 seconds (during the CD of Chim Shot), unless we're during Careful Aim, or possibly Ancient Hysteria.  If we always use them back to back, and stand still during their duration, we'll can have the other 5.5 - 6 seconds free to move around, and we've only lost out on about 11% more damage to our Steady Shots, which only average around 6.8k damage each in the same gear.  That means we lose out on about 1600 damage every 9 seconds, or 177.78 DPS over the course of a fight.  

I'm not at all saying losing (almost) 200 dps is acceptable, but for the cost of being free to move around for 66% of the time, it's not a bad trade off.  Of course, if you can get away with the first method, never moving for more than 3 seconds and not moving more than once every 6 seconds, then you won't even have to think about which shots line up with the buff, and which don't.  

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