Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beast Mastery and the Zen of Shot Rotation

The other day I sat down and figured out how to do WoW Web Stats, having been inspired by Aspect of the Girl (a fun new hunter and new blog!) and BRK's commendable help guide. Then I WoW Web Stats'd a normal Steamvaults run that me and a few guildies did to help my boyfriend get Cenarion rep.

This is a very useful tool that lets you analyze yourself and see what you did right and what you did wrong and get hard data for just how often things like Improved Aspect of the Hawk or Ferocious Inspiration are proc'ing. It also tells you your DPS-- I managed 613 throughout the duration of the instance and 820 on the final boss fight. I've noticed that boss fights are where I really shine in DPS, because I don't have to be focusing on trapping things and the like. Not to say that I don't like crowd control, in fact, I actually tend to get a bit miffed if I'm not "Lead CC" in a particular group. But if you're looking for MQoSRDPS and nothing but MQoSRDPS from me, you probably won't find it quite as much on trash mobs.

However, I'd like to use some of my WoW Web Stats data to teach you a little about the Beast Mastery Shot Rotation. My previous "Kindergarten" post went over very well (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with still being in kindergarten by the way!), so I thought I would bring you another one.

For starters: What is a shot rotation? Put simply, it is the order in which you use your special shots. It goes beyond that, though: we hunters have an Auto Shot that is constantly going. If you right click on a mob and do nothing else, that is your Auto Shot hard at work. Pew. Pew. Pew.

Auto Shot is interesting, though. It has a hidden timer to it. You can fire most instant cast shots and not interrupt that timer (Arcane Shot comes to mind), but if you fire Steady Shot (a non-instant-cast-shot) at the wrong time, it "clips" your Auto Shot. You don't get that Auto Shot in and you've just cheated yourself out of a lot of DPS.

In order to maximize DPS, hunters have to come up with a shot rotation that takes things like the speed of their weapon into account. This way they can come up with an order to fire their special shots in without clipping their Auto Shots. A lot of us call this "weaving your shots", because you are basically weaving your special shots around one immovable standard: the Auto Shot.

Marksman and Survival hunters often have to come up with very long and complex Shot Rotations that involve Steady Shots, Arcane Shots, and Multishots all done in a very specific order. It takes a lot of hard work to calculate out a big rotation like that and I /salute those of you that do it.

Beast Mastery hunters are a special case though. Why?


Serpent's Swiftness.

Taking 5/5 in this talent ups your ranged attack speed by 20%. This means that we don't have the time that hunters without it do, to weave most of our shots into a rotation. In fact, with a ranged weapon with optimum BM speed (about 2.80), we barely have time to squeeze in one Steady Shot between our Auto Shots.

...but that's not a bad thing as some people might think right off the bat.

The two most mana-efficient shots for a hunter are Auto Shot (which obviously costs no mana) and Steady Shot. Both of these get you your most damage-per-mana-buck. So the Auto-Steady rotation is not only more mana efficient than other rotations (and thus lasts longer), but the fast speed at which you are firing more than makes up for the slower (but usually damage-heavier) shots of a non-Serpent's-Swiftness-hunter.

So let's take a look here and see this in action. Let me show you a small excerpt from the combat log on the final boss in Steamvaults. This is just me: it doesn't display my party members or things that they did, nor does it display things that Locke did (except getting focus from me); this explains why you don't see any Kill Commands:

07:12'17.500 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1354
07:12'18.015 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'19.609 Tawyn gains Quick Shots
07:12'19.718 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 544
07:12'20.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 603
07:12'21.484 Tawyn gains Ferocious Inspiration
07:12'21.937 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1072 (53 blocked)
07:12'22.328 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'22.546 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 614
07:12'24.734 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1370
07:12'25.125 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'25.531 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 586
07:12'27.265 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 537
07:12'27.843 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 604
07:12'29.671 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1221 (53 blocked)
07:12'30.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 566
07:12'30.390 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'32.187 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 582
07:12'32.984 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 621
07:12'34.593 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 562
07:12'35.187 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1420
07:12'35.609 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'37.000 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1381
07:12'37.250 Tawyn gains Quick Shots
07:12'37.609 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'37.937 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 617

So did you see what I was doing there with my shots? Here, let's take out the procs so you can get a better look:

07:12'17.500 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1354
07:12'19.718 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 544
07:12'20.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 603
07:12'21.937 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1072 (53 blocked)
07:12'22.546 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 614
07:12'24.734 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1370
07:12'25.531 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 586
07:12'27.265 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 537
07:12'27.843 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 604
07:12'29.671 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1221 (53 blocked)
07:12'30.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 566
07:12'32.187 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 582
07:12'32.984 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 621
07:12'34.593 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 562
07:12'35.187 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1420
07:12'37.000 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1381
07:12'37.937 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 617

Notice that? I am weaving Steady Shots inbetween my Auto Shots and that is the foundation of a Beast Mastery Shot Rotation.

Elitist Jerks, theorycrafting community extraordinaire, has an excellent picture illustrating this, where the little orange box represents using Kill Command if it's available (and I hope they don't mind if I borrow it-- I'd be glad to remove it at their request):

(Click to enlarge)

So. You've got your Auto Shot, you've got your Steady Shot (if you are level 62 or higher, that is) and you've got Serpent's Swiftness, and you're ready to learn how to do your shot rotation. There are a lot of different ways to do this; some people swear by using a timer addon, others just jump straight into the macro (which I will discuss later). Me, I find that learning to weave your shots is pretty instinctive. I went out after getting Steady Shot and played around with it and after a few minutes I just had this "Ohhhh..." moment where everything clicked and suddenly the mechanics of playing-my-hunter changed forever. I don't know if everybody has a moment like that or if it's just me. But basically, I recommend that everybody learns how to manually weave their shots first before hitting up a macro or timer-- I just think it's a good foundation.

For me, I have discovered that if I watch my character very closely... if I hit the Steady Shot button immediately after she fires an Auto Shot... well, that'll do it. After a couple shots are fired you'll fall into a rhythm and you don't have to watch quite so closely. (Note: I've found that the bow animation sometimes looks funky when you do this. That can be hard to get used to, at least, it was for me. Using a crossbow or gun isn't so bad though.)

It takes a bit of practice to start weaving in your Kill Commands, too. You can use Kill Command after you crit (if you are level 66 or higher). Kill Command has its own little cooldown, though, so you can't just spam it. Nor can you use it if you are mid-Steady-Shot cool-- erm--- up? (Opposite of cooldown >.>) Pretty soon you will get accustomed to keeping track of when you've got a Kill Command in queue and you will learn to use it between Steady Shots. It might take a little practice though.

There you have it. That is the BM secret to MQoSRDPS. I know a lot of people probably think it's easy-mode, and that may be true, but honestly I think it's all in how you look at it. One hunter's easy-mode is another hunter's "functional and elegant". And that last phrase really describes it to me.

Now, one more thing to touch one before I letcha go. The Macro. The Macro. It looks something like this:

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot
/cast Kill Command
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

Yes, I've got it on my secondary action bar alongside all my tradeskills and various rarely-used Aspects. I've got it there because sometimes everything just starts lagging really really badly and we're mid-boss-fight or something and it becomes near impossible for me to time my own shots just because of the lag. So that's when I pull up the macro, shed a little tear, and start spamming it.

What's the macro do? Well, it times all your shots for you and completely eliminates human error, meaning it will probably up your DPS.

Why don't I like it? Because for me, playing my hunter is about having fun and The Macro is just not fun. You sit there and press it over and over again. There is no timing involved. There is no concentration involved. There is no opportunity to enter the little zen-like state I do when I'm deeply in tune with my rotation. It's just... boring. Not to mention the macro tends to make me do weird things like break CC. I like having more control than that.

Now I'm not trying to decry The Macro. If you like using it, then great! Go ahead and use it if it's fun for you. But it's not fun for me. And that's why I don't use it. Fun > maximum-possible-DPS. It's a game, after all. (And besides, I rather pride myself on my ability to often out-DPS hunters who are using The Macro =P)

Well, I hope I have helped a little when it comes to explaining the mysterious Shot Rotation (I say mysterious because I really had no concept of what this was for the longest time when I was starting out my hunter, and I always wondered about it). The whole Shot Rotation playstyle, which really does involve a lot of timing and concentration, is one of my very favorite aspects of the hunter class. Good luck to all you newer hunters when you attempt to go and master it-- I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Class Dismissed!

Homework & Further Reading:

Drotara's Shot Rotations for Dummies
Elitist Jerks Shot Rotations Illustrated

12 comments:

BRK said...

/applaud!!

/encore!!

BRK

gretadelle said...

wow, thanks for mentioning me! *so flattered*

and Kindergarten posts are REALLY helpful. there is still so much I don't know.

my armory link

yours

My bow speed is 2.70 but my speed is 1.97. (quiver/serpent) Your weapon is quite a bit slower and I'm wondering if I should look for something slower now. I've been trying the weaving thing over the last few days but I'm not fast enough to get the steady shot in without losing the autoshot. (could be an FPS/lag issue as well)

I've been going back and forth between auto and steady but basically losing half my autoshots. Instead of steady slipping between, its just replacing.

your log is amazing to read. you are really good at this! an the diagram is quite helpful too.

(hm, also thinking that if I'm going to be slow anyway, maybe it makes more sense to just take the points out of serpent and use them for something else? and keep the faster weapon? what do you think?)

I've never used a crossbow. I really *should* use a gun since I'm a dwarf but the sound gave me headaches after awhile. So I use a bow. Wonder if I should try training up crossbows though...

it seems like even with a macro, you'd still have to time when to press it or you'd clip autoshots? no? I do use some simple macros (mostly adding "say" to stuff or huntersmark/petattack together) but nothing for shots yet.

thank you for this post!

xanthelei said...

@Pike

/dwarfcheer Fantastic!

I've been thinking of putting up something on my own blog about shot rotations, but going more into the numbers and theory of it than this. Would it be ok if I linked to this post saying "if you want no real numbers, come here"?

So adding this blog to my 'check on daily' list!

@Gret

At level 64, I wouldn't worry *too* much about it. Once you hit 70 it becomes a much bigger issue. I can't remember what bows/xbows/guns are available to you right now, but there is a questline in SMV that gives out a VERY nice bow (part of the Cipher of Damnation questline). I'd recommend grabbing that when you're of the right level to do the quest, if you can't get your hands on a Valanos bow.

Pike said...

@ BRK - Always means a lot to me when you come visit! /blush

@ Gretadelle - Not a problem, and I'm glad I'm helpful! Your bow is possibly a tad bit too fast especially if you're just starting out. I wouldn't say it's a super big deal right now although getting a slightly slower bow might help you learn.

My bow is a PvP bow and is great for PvP and... is still pretty good for PvE although I wish it was a little faster. Still, being slow, it gives me a bit of a buffer in the case of lag which is nice. I'm hoping to get a slightly faster ranged weapon soon, though in the meantime, having a slow one isn't killing me.

I would definitely keep the points in Serpent's Swiftness though, because pretty soon you'll be able to get weapons with a better speed. I would look into getting The Gunblade off of the auction house if you can. This weapon served me very well throughout most of my 60s. Plus, you'll get the dwarf racial crit bonus.

The macro is designed so that it only fires Steady Shots and Kill Commands between Auto Shots, this makes it so you don't have to time it because if the timing isn't right, it simply doesn't do anything. Definitely a helpful macro if you are looking for 100% pure maximum DPS but I do think all hunters should learn to time their own shots before they use it.

Thanks for all the questions, I've loved answering them! Feel free to ask me if you've ever got anymore.

@ Xanthelei - Thank you for your comment, and of course you may link to me anytime! I've taken a peek at your own blog and liked what I've seen so I'll definitely be adding it to my own blogroll as well. =D

Kestrel said...

You got the BRK Seal of Endorsement; what else can I say?

Oh...well, I can say /cheer! /applaud! EXCELLENT explanation.

Believe it or not, you really helped me to understand "clipping" even though I knew what it meant: I've now internalized it. And triggered an idea for an article...instead of a long-winded comment. :)

themystichunter said...

Good post.

I just started trying a macro since I needed on with my windserpent anyway (stupid Lightning Breath bug). From what I've read over at TKAsomething.com, I would recommend putting a '!' in front of the Auto Shot like so:

/castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, !Auto Shot

The just recently changed the /cast macros so that a second press will turn auto attack/shot/cast off. For instance this macro would start auto shot on the first press and then turn it off on the second:

/cast Auto Shot

The '!' disables this so that the toggling aspect is turned off (ie: pressing this macro will keep telling the server "turn on auto shot"

/cast !Auto Shot

I guess if this is a kindergarten post, I'm teaching pre-schoolers. BRKU - FTW.

A second note, was my post on owl agro helpful at all, or were you already doing everything I talked about?

themystichunter said...

A quick note for Gretadelle.

When I first picked up steady shot I had a hard time with the weaving as well. A particular hardship was that as soon as I got it right a few times in a row, I'd pull agro from my pet. I was being punished for doing it right.

I recommend all those learning to weave, try to add a steady in every other auto shot rather than all the time so

Auto Shot
Cast Steady
Auto Shot
Wait
Auto Shot
Cast Steady
Auto Shot
Wait

This will give you a good idea of whether you're actually clipping Auto Shots or not, and save you from mashing the Steady button which is counter-productive.

Caleb said...

One thing i found recently. Clipping your autoshots is bad in general because you lose white dps. However the clipped shot is not lost forever, just pushed back until the steady shot cast is completed. So you can sometimes make up the dps in yellow damage.

the other day I tried weaving shots with the Wrathfire Hand Cannon, which has an amazing speed of 2.0. SS and quiver bring it down to 1.45. So even if its perfectly timed, the Steady Shot will push back the autoshot by .05s. But you don't lose the autoshot, its just delayed. Using a hand woven steady shot rotation, I found a large dps increase over my slightly superior 3.0 speed weapon, because of the speed at which my steady shots were going out.

Unfortunately it made Rapid Fire almost useless, because the steady shots become limited by the global cooldown. Plus it drained mana quite fast.

But anyways, to getadelle, don't be afraid to much of clipping your shots. I'd keep the 2.70 speed bow and just try to work on tightening up your rotation.

Also there is a silencer addon to quiet the gun noise. I haven't tried it cause I like my boomsticks
http://wow.curse.com/downloads/details/9480/

Tazbutane said...

another great post for your sidebar. Very helpful and informative, thanks for sharing with us.

Jezrael said...

Great post Pike! Really informative and clear. I love learning more about playing my hunter but I'm no theory crafter as I've often stated in my blog and so sometimes get confuzzled when an explanation is full of numbers and formulas.

As you know I totally agree with you on the zen of shot rotation :)

/cheer
/applaud

Garumoo said...

IIRC, The Kill Command ability doesn't trigger the global cooldown .. which means you don't have to wait 0.5 secs before casting something else. It does however, expire after a time .. time which might get used up while you are casting Steady Shot. Use it or lose it.

Thus, my macros have Kill Command before Steady Shot. It's a safe bet that after whacking that macro (and landing a crit), the very next thing I'll be doing is hitting that macro again, so putting it before the shot in the macro still works.

Also, I've replaced my vanilla Steady Shot, Arcane Shot, and Multi-Shot buttons with macros that look like the following:

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/cast Kill Command
/cast Steady Shot (or Arcane Shot - you get the idea)
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

I'm still in two minds though, because some fights I want to keep my pet by my side, not on the boss (AoE's and all that). Nonetheless, I found it helpful - most fights I don't use a macro shot rotation, preferring to play whackamole with Arcane/Multi/Steady cooldowns, and automating Kill Command is helpful.

(btw, don't throw away Rapid Fire .. reserve it for when you get low in mana: pop aspect of the viper, a fel mana pot, whatever trinket, and rapid fire and sit back doing just auto shots while the FSR kicks in)

Anonymous said...

Auto Shot has a 0.5 second cast time (to prevent you from running and shooting at the same time). If you start any action during that cast time it forces the Auto Shot to start over again. Thus, a badly timed Kill Command or Arcane Shot can nearly double the Auto Shot's cast time.

Also, even if your current weapon doesn't allow you to fully utilize Serpent's Swiftness, your pet still benefits, which helps you keep Ferocious Inspiration going.