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.


  1. Thanks for the detailed post. I always subscribed to the standard use after BW approach that most suggest, but that was also prebuff. Post buff looking at your numbers makes the 10 second mark seem like a great idea. Love the added bonus of you can use the increased haste at the time to power off cobras at that time which makes it even better.

    1. The more I think about it, the more I'm frustrated by the buff. I mean, I'm glad BM is at least viable on multi-target or add spawning type fights. but having the buff come from something that is completely RNG reliant is really frustrating. I kind of mentioned that in the caveats section, but now that we've got more logs under our belts, it's even more obvious that getting good parses with BM is going to be all about RNG. Perhaps even more so than SV was in 5.4 with the tier bonus. Add in the BM tier bonus once we get to blackrock foundry, and we're completely at the mercy of the RNGods...

      I haven't played enough BM to know if this is the case, but I'm wondering if someone is going to find a better method, which will involve casting your BW's around Focus Fire, instead of the other way around. In the past, BW was always our biggest CD, so everything had to fit around it, but now FF is certainly up there, with a larger flat DPS increase, but lacking the benefit of half focus costs. I haven't yet thought of a really good way to model that difference yet.

      Anyhow, I do feel pretty good playing BM this way, as described above. But I won't at all be surprised if someone finds a better method.