Hunter 101: Survival Rotation

Something I am often asked is “What is your rotation for SV/MM/BM?”

The long and the short of it is… there is no rotation for any of these specs. It’s all about shot priority. For SV and BM, you’re going to be managing cooldowns and with MM it’s all about being ready for your next Chimera.

As of patch 4.3 Survival is the top DPS spec for most fights in Dragon Soul, so I’ll start there and go in order of “best” to “worst” spec DPS-wise.

This is part one of a three-part guide.

[Part 2: BM guide] [Part 3: MM guide]

Please keep in mind each fight is different and there may be situations in which you would intentionally delay the use of a specific shot or cooldown to wait for a more optimal time in the fight to use it. A good example of this would be a BM hunter on Spine of Deathwing saving Bestial Wrath for the tendon burn phase, rather than popping BW on cooldown.

Survival Shot Priority

  • Kill Shot
  • Explosive Shot
  • Black Arrow / Explosive Trap for melee range or AOE
  • Arcane Shot
  • Serpent Sting
  • Cobra Shot

Survival is the DoT spec for Hunters. We deal buttloads of nature damage with this spec and when done right, you can do insane amounts of multi-dotting through the use of Serpent Spread and smart positioning.

You want to always have enough focus to make sure you aren’t delaying yourExplosive Shot. This is your “power shot” and it’s essential you use it the SECOND it comes off cooldown for maximum damage output.

As with every spec, Kill Shot becomes your top priority as soon as it’s available.

Black Arrow and Explosive Trap share a cooldown because they both proc Lock and Load (via your points in T.N.T.). When you’re able to stack in with melee and drop an Explosive Trap at your feet, that’s ideal because it costs zero focus to do so and you are still proccing LnL.  On a fight like Heroic Yorsahj, you essentially want to keep an Explosive Trap at the boss’s feet almost the entire fight, since you’re going to be stacked under his butt most of the time you’re in there.

When you get your LnL procs, you want to weave other shots in between your free Explosives to allow the DoT to tick for 2 seconds. Use instant shots like Arcane, Kill, or Black Arrow. If you won’t have enough focus for the third, non-free Explosive at the end, use a Cobra Shot between free Explosives, but this is a non-optimal choice as you’re delaying your Explosive Shot by anywhere from .4-.7 seconds depending on your haste. If you accidentally do two Explosives in a row, it’s okay, it’s not the end of the world, but you’re clipping your DoTs and missing out on the extra damage they provide for you.

Survival DoT clipping: The GREAT Debate!

There is a lot of confusion going around with whether or not you should do Explosives Back to back, some people say the DoTs stack with certain shot combos and some people think the DoTs only clip after the second shot. Just think about that, guys. It makes NO sense for a shot to behave differently based on what order you do it in. I found the thread on EJ that started all this nonsense. I’m not going to link it because people get confused by what’s posted there and for some reason, people think EJ is the end all gospel on game mechanics and if it’s posted there, they think they HAVE to do it regardless of whether or not it actually works for them.

Here’s the long and the short of what the guy said: If you hesitate slightly between Explosives and wait for the global to come up, your DoT won’t clip and latency will make up for the second tick. This is all well and good in theory, but this “trick” was discovered standing still on a target dummy where you can tunnel your cooldowns and hesitating half a second to wait for the GCD isn’t hard.

Put that in to practice on a fight and tell me you’re going to sit there and hesitate between LnL procs while bursting down a tendon on Heroic Spine and I’ll slap you and call you a liar, because you, sir, are a goddamn liar. In the real world, on boss fights, you’re going to be queueing up shots like you SHOULD be doing and you’re going to clip all your DoTs. Just get in the habit of weaving shots. Don’t be an elitest derp. Just play your class correctly.

9 thoughts on “Hunter 101: Survival Rotation

  1. The answer I got from Zeh on LnL is:

    ExS rolls its dot for *one tick*. So if you clip the last tick, it doesn’t actually get clipped, it just gets rolled in to the next ExS which becomes a 4-tick dot. If you clip two ticks, it drops one of them.

    So you do ExS-ExS / wait or ArcS / ExS

    Alternatively you can ExS / ArcS / ExS-ExS

    I meant to make pictures for this for the longest time, but I never have, I’m always stymied by my lack of graphical design skills.

  2. Sorry if this is somehow a duplicate, getting weirdness with my WP account:

    Blergh, I tried to find her post, but forum search wasn’t working real well. Instead I went in to one of my logs, here’s an LnL cycle from me:

    [21:19:15.527] Peregrina gains Lock and Load from Peregrina
    [21:19:15.607] Peregrina Arcane Shot Ultraxion 16667
    [21:19:15.837] Peregrina casts Explosive Shot on Ultraxion
    [21:19:16.917] Peregrina casts Explosive Shot on Ultraxion
    [21:19:16.917] Peregrina’s Lock and Load fades from Peregrina
    [21:19:16.957] Ultraxion afflicted by Explosive Shot from Peregrina
    [21:19:16.957] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion 13889
    [21:19:17.977] Peregrina casts Arcane Shot on Ultraxion
    [21:19:17.977] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion *29028*
    [21:19:18.057] Ultraxion’s Explosive Shot is refreshed by Peregrina
    [21:19:18.057] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion 13933
    [21:19:18.957] Peregrina casts Explosive Shot on Ultraxion
    [21:19:18.957] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion *29120*
    [21:19:19.087] Peregrina Arcane Shot Ultraxion 16634
    [21:19:19.967] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion *29121*
    [21:19:20.067] Ultraxion’s Explosive Shot is refreshed by Peregrina
    [21:19:20.067] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion *29141*
    [21:19:20.967] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion *29141*
    [21:19:22.027] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion 13943
    [21:19:22.957] Peregrina Explosive Shot Ultraxion *29141*
    [21:19:22.957] Peregrina’s Explosive Shot fades from Ultraxion

    (that first ArcS damage was from an ArcS cast right before I gained LnL)

    You can definitely see that the last refresh of the dot ticks four times, which means it definitely rolled a tick from the previous dot. I’ve also got 9 ticks of ExS total, which means I’m not losing any ticks. I think that this is the fastest you can get through the proc and get ExS on CD without doing a 0-damage wait or losing a tick.

    1. Fair warning, I’m terrible at math and not very good with the numbers part of the game, so I might be completely wrong here and I fully admit that. And I definitely defer to Zehera as the queen of hunter mechanics, so if she says it works like this, then I am not going to argue with it. But this is what I’ve determined from what I can see based on your logs and my personal experience:

      I think this is happening because of latency. I don’t think the DOT is intended to work this way and the server lag is causing the DOTs to tick in a way that is unintended. If you look at the time between the first ES and its tick and the second ES and its tick, it takes longer for the tick to happen from that second shot. I think the game lagged slightly, making the DOTs behave like this. I mean, your LnL faded before Ultraxion was even affected by damage from the first ES. Latency + travel time is spreading out the damage in weird ways. It seems like the DOTs are happening so fast, the game engine doesn’t really know what to do with it, so it just lets all the ticks happen. I tried to line up the original shot with its ticks and because the times keep changing, I wasn’t able to connect each tick to its originating shot.

      I think you are right, but I also don’t think I’m wrong for not recommending this practice. Does that make sense? I just think it is not a good idea to rely on latency to roll the DOTs over, because the shot is obviously not designed to work in this way and if/when it gets fixed, back to back Explosives WILL start to clip DOTs.

      Remember at the beginning of the xpac when Aimed Shot was proccing in a weird way so if you had a fast enough reaction time and were standing far enough back, you could get double free shots from a single proc? I think the Explosive DOTs are kind of like that. It’s not intended, and it might be fixed. Though now that I think about it… I doubt fixing wonky DOTs is really a high priority for them with MoP on the way, so maybe I’m just blathering on about this for no reason.

      1. I think it is actually probably intended. That doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind later on, but it feels pretty straightforward right now. I don’t think latency is much of an issue – I have a consistent 60 FPS and sub-100ms ping in raid (usually around 60-70), so things should all be going pretty smoothly. The delay between the shot casts and the shot landing is a consistent 1 second for all three ExS and the ArcS, and it’s ultraxion so I’m not moving or anything. This is the engine at its absolutely most predictable.

        The first application of ExS ticks twice, then gets refreshed and rolls one tick into the next dot.

        The next application of ExS (i.e.: the first refresh) ticks three times then gets refreshed. A normal ExS only has 3 ticks, so if it ticks 3 times then gets refreshed, that means there had to have been more to the dot’s duration. That really has to be a deliberate choice, the engine isn’t going to add ticks to a dot’s duration unless the code specifically tells it to.

        The final refresh of course ticks 4 times.

        I guess the final test would be to just mash the ExS button three times in a row and see if you get 8 or 9 ticks, and I think Zeherah’s tested that as well as other possibilities.

        So yeah, I definitely think it’s intended. There’s no way a program is going to let a 3-tick dot tick 4 times without the programmers making it work that way. That’s just not within the realm of possible latency stuff, especially not with my latency as low as it is.

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