Marksmanship Rotational Analysis

As Raiding begins tomorrow, I felt like going over the marksmanship rotation once more, make sure I wasn't missing anything huge.

The following represent the damage done by major Marks abilities with Lone Wolf, Lock and Load, Patient Sniper, Barrage and Sidewinders talents, and report single target damage only.

HitCritPer cast average:Focus CostCast time or GCDDam/SecDam/Focus
Aimed LotW123721.5501.7670329.502474.43
Aimed Vuln248149.5576045.0395702.5501.76224937.077914.05
Aimed Vln LotW406745.3501.76231214.398134.91
Marked CotH202645.2301.32153591.586754.84
Marked Vuln284324.4675349.4340185.1301.32257837.6211339.50
MS Vuln CotH416219.0301.32315466.2213873.97

Tests were run in 850 item level gear.  Stats in such gear were:

Weapon Damage8744.5

Listed damage is without any buffs up and assume a completed artifact weapon (I don't have a completed artifact weapon, of course, but I adjusted the two damage abilities which I don't have filled out yet appropriately).  Aimed Shot and Marked Shot are shown with and without the Vulnerable debuff up, and with and without their respective Golden Trait buffs, which are shown as an average increase per cast.  

Priority Rankings

When sorted by Damage Per Second, the abilities rank (in descending order):
  • Barrage
  • Marked Shot with Vulnerable
  • Aimed Shot with Vulnerable
  • Windburst
  • Marked Shot without Vulnerable*
  • Sidewinders
  • Aimed Shot without Vulnerable
When sorted by efficiency (Damage Per Focus), the abilities rank (in descending order):
  • Barrage
  • Marked Shot with Vulnerable
  • Windburst
  • Aimed Shot with Vulnerable
  • Marked Shot without Vulnerable*
  • Aimed Shot without Vulnerable
Both of these lists are assuming you have Call of the Hunter and Legacy of the Windrunners unlocked. However, the only change in ranking is the placement of Marked Shot with the Vulnerable debuff in the efficiency ranking. Without Call of the Hunter, Windburst is slightly more efficient than Marked Shot (with Vulnerable). Though because of the long cast time and our abundance of focus, this won't have any affect on our actual rotation. 

It's also worth noting here that because of the huge increase in passive focus regeneration and the nature of MM's mechanics focusing around the Vulnerable debuff, the efficiency of an ability has a much lower effect on our rotation than it did in past expansions.  

*I wanted to include Marked Shot without the Vulnerable debuff, just to see where it would be; however, there is no reason you should ever not get off your Marked Shot cast while Vulnerable is still up, barring inopportune raid mechanics that incapacitate you.  

Windburst Vs. Vulnerable Aimed Shot

Windburst is about 41% more efficient than Vulnerable Aimed Shot, but only does about 75% as much damage per second.  Because it's rare to be low on focus while Vulnerable is up, this normally isn't an issue, but it's worth digging into.  

To make the simplest comparison, let's imagine Windburst comes off CD right after you cast sidewinders.  Using Marked Shot immediately would cause you to lose one buffed Aimed Shot (let's say we instead cast the Aimed Shot unbuffed, because we now have nothing else to do while waiting for another marking target). The difference between a buffed and unbuffed Aimed Shot, on average, is 283023.8 damage. 

If instead you continue with the normal pattern (SW; AiS; MS; AiS; AiS), you'll delay Windburst by 6.6 seconds.  If that were to happen several times during an encounter, you would lose out on one Windburst for ever 3.03 times it happened.  So we can say we're losing out on the average damage of Windburst divided by 3.03, which is 75844.6 damage. Compared to our 283023.8 damage difference between a buffed and unbuffed Aimed Shot, we'll be much better off delaying Windburst.  

Alternatively, if we got lucky with our Marking Targets proc, we might not ever have to cast that unbuffed Aimed Shot, in which case we'll just be comparing the Damage per Second of a buffed Aimed Shot and a Windburst, which we've already covered.  

TL;DR - Windburst, despite its incredible efficiency, is never worth using while vulnerability is up. It's primary use is filling the space between the end of vulnerability and the next Marking Targets proc. It can, on occasion, be used if Barrage is about to come off CD, and you're delaying using Sidewinders until after Barrage.  

Barrage during Vulnerable

In a bizzarre twist, Barrage is both our highest damaging ability and our most efficient. Since it's inception in patch 5.0, Barrage has always been a fairly high damaging ability, but has normally been fairly inefficient.  In Legion, however, it's damage is so high that we can essentially ignore it's high focus cost when comparing abilities.  

The question still often comes up, however, as to whether or not we use Barrage during the Vulnerable debuff. We can look at a lot of the same comparison methods we did with Windburst. Delaying Barrage ends up being fairly costly, however.

If again we imagine that barrage comes off CD immediately after casting Sidewinders (perhaps Windburst is on CD, and you wouldn't have had enough focus to cast Barrage had you not used Sidewinders).  If you delay Barrage the 6.6 seconds it takes to cast AiS; MS; AiS; AiS; then you'll, on average, be missing out on .33 * the average Barrage damage, which is 263198.1 damage.  If instead of delaying Barrage you used it right after sidewinders, you would then have to immediately use Marked Shot to get the Vulnerable debuff damage, and then your following two Aimed Shots to finish off the duration of Vulnerable (to do this, you need to start with greater than 35 focus, before using sidewinders, otherwise you won't have enough focus to finish the Aimed Shots). In this case, you're losing out on the entire damage of a buffed Aimed Shot, which averaged out to 395702.5. That is considerably higher than the damage you lose from pushing back Barrage 6.6 seconds.  

Of course, Barrage does about 30% more damage per second than a buffed Aimed Shot does, and is a more focus efficient shot, so you're better off if you can use Barrage before beginning another round of Vulnerable debuffs.   

AoE and Major Cooldowns.

While our priority is fairly well defined (that is, without much ambiguity) for single target, it gets even simpler in AoE situations.
Marked Shot and Sidewinders together do more damage in the same amount of time when you get to three or more targets. Using that combination is of course reliant on having Marking Targets proc'ed, or using your Trueshot cooldown.  Both Barrage and Sidewinders/Marked Shot are what you would be using anyway, if you were only focusing on one priority target, so we get the added benefit of doing our full AoE burst while doing max possible single target damage.
There is an odd benefit from using Barrage in AoE situations if you have the Bullseye Golden Trait unlocked (which everyone should at this point), in that it very quickly stacks up your crit buff. This is true whether in AoE or not, but in AoE situations, especially packs of mobs, using Barrage when more than one mob is below 20% health immediately get you to the max 30 stacks of Bullseye.   It of course doesn't last very long, but does provide a small buff that can give you some extra damage to your priority target.  


  1. Can you please clarify barrage usage during vulnerable? You say that it's costly to delay barrage but it looks like it's more costly to lose out on a buffed AiS. Thanks!

    1. The goal should be to use it before starting a vulnerable chain. Once you're in the middle of one, it looks like it's better to delay barrage until you can't get anymore aimed shots in vulnerable. This is only for single target though, if you have adds that are important to burn down, Barrage can take the place of one of the aimed shots during vulnerable, if you can't use it before sidewinders.

      Something I didn't cover here, which I'm working on at the moment, is how higher hastes effect this. It ends up being really weird, since you have more time in vulnerable, but you'll use and generate the same amount of focus, so at higher haste levels, it looks like it won't be worth squeezing a third aimed shot after marked shot's vulnerable debuff, if you could instead cast barrage.

    2. I've been pondering the same "should I delay barrage for a vuln->aimed shot window" question myself. My 'feeling' is that as long as I don't cap focus and Aimed Shot always lands during vulnerable I don't lose any damage from vuln-aimed but I will lose damage if I delay barrage (thus losing one of my max potential casts during a boss fight). Again, that's with the disclaimer that you pointed out of the boss being a strict single target fight.

      Raw damage wise given that barrage does ~50% damage to other targets: the number of targets and expected lifetime of those targets affects the delaying potential, so perhaps a simplified example would be during the dragons of nightmare fight. You could delay barrage for the tank switch which...I'll be buggered if I know how often happens, but it is an opportunity for 50% more damage on the shared health boss during that one cast. I suppose then it would be a question of either taking it as a happy accident of timing (disregarding other adds, if any), or deliberately plan for it via delaying barrage. Assuming you lose out of one barrage total barrage because of the delay, you have a combined 20 second total delay wiggle room where you must get at least 2 cleaving barrages throughout the fight in order to just break even...so if the total delay is less than 20 seconds and you successfully cleave more than twice it would seem that delaying is worth it...and now my head hurts, so on to something else.

      What haste level would be required to get 3 aimed shots off during a vulnerable window? GCD modified by haste with a low point of 4.5 seconds to land shots (I'm not entirely sure if Aimed Shot snapshots the vulnerable debuff, ie fire an aimed shot and immediately follow with sidewinders, does aimed shot benefit from vulnerable? I'll have to test this). IIRC travel time is a thing and aimed shot must land while vulnerable is up and that is the assumption for the following (don't have my spreadsheet handy):

      0% haste : 1.5s GCD, 4.5s vuln window, 2s aimed
      5% haste : 1.42s GCD, 4.58s vuln window, 1.9s aimed, 2 total
      10% haste : 1.36s GCD, 4.64s vuln window, 1.81s aimed, 2 total
      15% haste : 1.3s GCD, 4.7s vuln window, 1.73s aimed, 2 total
      20% haste : 1.25s GCD, 4.75s vuln window, 1.66s aimed, 2 total
      25% haste : 1.2s GCD, 4.8s vuln window, 1.6s aimed, 3 total (but travel time, latency, etc :\)
      30% haste : 1.15s GCD, 4.85s vuln window, 1.53s aimed, 3 with 0.16s travel window
      35% haste : 1.11s GCD, 4.89s vuln window, 1.48s aimed, 3 with 0.3s travel window
      40% haste : 1.07s GCD, 4.93s vuln window, 1.42s aimed, 3 with 0.47s travel window
      45% haste : 1.03s GCD, 4.97s vuln window, 1.37s aimed, 3 with 0.62s travel window
      50% haste : 1s GCD, 5s vuln window, 1.33s aimed, 3 with 0.75s travel window

      Those haste levels are unrealistic but it does at least suggest break point values and doesn't take into account the effect of haste on marked shot procs. I should probably defer to simcraft on this.

    3. I haven't double-checked this on live, but on the beta, Vulnerable only applies if it's on the target when Aimed Shot hits, it doesn't matter if it's up when you start the cast.

      Anyhow, I've been trying to figure out the bit about squeezing in extra Aimed Shots, also. The problem I'm running into, however, is focus regen.

      Not sure how this will format in a comment, but, even starting with full focus with a pre-cast windburst:

      Ability | Focus | Time Elapsed
      Start | 150 | 0
      Windburst | 130 | 1.333
      Barrage | 100 | 4.000
      Sidewinder | 150 | 5.333
      Aimed Shot | 100 | 7.111
      Marked Shot | 85 | 8.444
      Aimed Shot | 55 | 10.222
      Aimed Shot | 25 | 12.000
      Sidewinder | 95 | 13.333
      Aimed Shot | 65 | 15.111
      Marked Shot | 50 | 16.444
      Aimed Shot | 20 | 18.222

      The focus listed is at the end of the execution time (cast and/or GCD). Time Lapsed is shown with 12.5% haste.

      At the end of the first set of vulnerable debuffs (SW -> AiS -> MS -> AiS -> AiS), there's not enough focus to cast an additional Aimed Shot. By the end of the second, series, there's not enough to even cast the two aimed shots after marked shot.

      Because haste increases our focus regen at the same rate it decreases our GCDs / Cast-time, the only way we get more more focus in our rotation is by being able to cast more Sidewinders, but we can't do more inbetween sidewinder casts. I'm not sure I'm explaining that correctly.

      I guess what I mean is: a series of {AiS, MS, AiS, AiS} is always going to cost 180 focus. If you have 0% haste, it will take 7.5 seconds to cast all of those abilities, and you'll regen 75 focus (7.5 sec * 10 focus/sec), for a net focus of -105. If you have 25% haste, then it will take 6 seconds to cast all of those abilities, and in that time, you'll regen 75 focus (6 sec * 12.5 focus/sec), giving you again a net focus of -105. So by having a higher haste, you can finish the series sooner, but you'll never end up with more focus to spend (until after you cast another sidewinder, that is, but at that point you'll have begun a new series, and won't really be adding on to the previous one).

      Anyhow, this is all what today's post was going to be about, but then I got sidetracked playing with marking targets and RPPM.

    4. Oh, and I forgot about the first part... heh...

      You're correct if you have good RNG, and have vulnerable up for pretty much all the time you're not casting Barrage and Windburst. It's during those unfortunate times of no Marking Targets procs that you run into issues with using barrage during vulnerable.

      I wonder how often that happens. It shouldn't be hard to average, and see which situation is common enough to make one or the other an expected DPS increase.

    5. Two quick additions:

      1) I tested Aimed/Vulnerable/Sidewinders/Marked shot. If I cast aimed shot and then immediately cast sidewinders, even though I see the vulnerable debuff up aimed shot did not benefit from vulnerable. Sidewinders does have travel time and it seems that it doesn't actually apply vulnerable until it hits. So I can't 'cheese' aimed->sidewinders. I got the same results with getting a marked shot proc, waiting for vulnerable to fall off and then marked->sidewinders.

      2) the interaction between haste, focus regen and spending was present in WoD as well. So in order to stay ahead of your shot priority you need to keep in mind how much focus you regen while casting:

      Aimed Shot: -50, 20 regen, net -30.
      Marked Shot: -30, 15 regen, net -15.
      Sidewinders: +50, 15 regen, net +65.
      Barrage: -60, 30 regen, net -30.

      So in order to not waste focus:
      SW->MS->AS: No higher than 80.
      SW->AS->MS: No higher than 65.

      There's other ways to think about it of course, such as always start an Aimed Shot cast before 130 focus. Anyway, I'm off to read your latest post.

  2. Ah ok. I understand. Appreciate the clarification.

  3. How are you getting 79% mastery at 850 ilvl? I am at 853 and barely break like 25% buffed, but also have 23% crit. Is there soemthing I'm Missing?

    1. There are two mastery percentages, one is your increased range, and one is the increased damage to focus-costing shots. If you don't have an addon that shows you both (I can't remember what the vanilla UI shows in legion), the damage increase to focus-costing shots is always 4 times the increased range percentage.

      Also, if you haven't already, check out Deja Character Stats ( https://mods.curse.com/addons/wow/dejacharacterstats ), so you can easily see all of your stats again.

  4. Just curious if you have revisited this after the recent nerf to barrage and buff to windburst?

  5. Just curious if you have revisited this after the recent nerf to barrage and buff to windburst?