There has been a surge in questions about the basics lately- people telling me that they are not producing enough DPS based on what they think they should do with the gear they have. I’m going to go over the basics today, and if you do everything you read here, you shouldn’t have that problem.
Let’s start with at the very beginning- your expectations. Just because your gearscore is 4500 doesn’t mean you should be doing 3000 DPS on a target dummy. In fact, your gearscore is not a good measure of your gear, because it doesn’t know that hunters enchanting strength and going 300 over hit cap is bad. Also, your boss dummy DPS doesn’t necessarily indicate anything about your fully raid buffed performance. I can easily show you two hunters with similar quality gear and ideal specs for that gear, and one of them would do better on a raid boss, while doing worse on a target dummy.
Assuming your stated goal is raiding, target dummy parses and heroic parses are not the most useful tool to measure performance. Raid parses are. That said, if you aren’t already raiding, these will at least give you some information.
Let’s start with your gear. Hit is the most valuable stat until you never miss your target, which happens at 8% hit for raiding. Every point you spend on hit rating under the cap will give you more DPS than any other stat, generally. Never take a piece with spell power just because it has hit, however. In order to get yourself raid ready, take a look at Eidotrope’s pre-raid gear guide. He has a column for hit rating.
You need to gem and enchant your gear, as well as use epic ammo- it may not seem like much, but this is a vital step for your DPS. Also vital, while not gear specifically, is consumables. Use the best ones for raiding.
See? Gear is the easy part! Use the best gear you can, make sure you’ve polished it up nice, and you will be a tenth of the way there.
Now let’s talk about your spec and glyphs. If you are raiding, you will do the most DPS with survival or marksmanship. BM is fun, but unfortunately still gimped in raids, especially when you don’t have access to some of the more BM friendly raid gear (like the 4t9 set bonus).
If you’re starting out, you will likely find that you do more DPS as survival, because while marksmanship has the current high-water mark for DPS, survival is better DPS for many common (lower) gear levels. The difference is not much, however, so by all means, spec either way. Just make sure you are using a good raiding spec. My guides need an update, but to get you started, here’s the SV primer and the MM primer. When I rewrite them, I’ll go back and update this post. Those guides also contain information about glyphs.
Next up, your “rotation”. Note the quotation marks. You do not have a rotation, you have a priority list of shots. This is more often than anything else what a hunter can improve the most to get more DPS. In addition to what you would fire when you’re standing still, you also have to know what you would fire when you’re moving. The priorities can sometimes change based on cooldowns and boss abilities or phases. All in all, it’s not easy, however start working on it now and you’ll reap the rewards.
Your stand still priority lists for SV and MM are a good start. Again, I’ll update these links once I refresh the guides. Once you’ve gotten the hang of this (and gotten rid of any old bad habits like avoiding steady-shots for more than a cooldown in favor of a stronger shot), then start learning to plan your movements. All hunters do more DPS when they can stand still, so learn the fights, and try to position yourself in such a way that you’ll minimize your motion. Use disengage to get around- blizzard gave hunters a reverse blink for a reason :)
Last, and probably least, your pet. Wolves are the best DPS pet for all specs, and here‘s how you set them up. Don’t sweat the details- if you have to (or want to) use another pet, go ahead. Just make sure that for raiding, you always use a ferocity pet, that it’s always level 80, and that you don’t let it die. Macroing the new cower damage reduction to mend pet is a good first step, leaving the pet on passive and actively managing it to keep it out of danger is a good next step. Lastly, now that they get a 90% passive AoE reduction, chances are for most fights, you pet will not die even if you ignore it.
Now that you’ve gotten the basics down, here’s one final tip: learn to use the EJ DPS spreadsheet and/or femaledwarf.com. These tools are invaluable when it comes to deciding between one setup and another. A note- the DPS numbers you see in there are not actual DPS numbers, but are for comparison purposes only. Here are my guides (with screenshots) on how to use the spreadsheet and how to use the femaledwarf website.
Hope this helps! Happy new year!