Cool-Downs and Shot Rotations

Cool-Downs and Shot Rotations


Shot Rotations are a series of abilities that are used in a certain sequence and are repeated over and over. Their main use is to maximise your total damage output. However they can also be used to keep a debuff applied to a target or even to keep your mana topped up over longer fights by using mana efficient spells. Shot Rotations are linked strongly with Cool-Downs, being mainly focused on trying to avoid them. Shot rotations are generally made with macros to make life easier and mistake free.


A cooldown is the time it takes for an ability to recharge. You will not be able to use an ability on cooldown until the duration has expired. The amount of time varies largely, from less than a second to larger than an hour.

You can also get shared cooldowns, where the same abilities or items have a linked cooldown. When you use one of them, the other shares it’s cooldown, meaning you cannot use either until it expires.

Lastly is the Global Cooldown. It begins any time you start to cast a spell and it affects almost all of your spells and abilities. Exceptions generally apply to spells that will affect the ability you use afterwards. For example: Rapid Fire, Readiness and Kill Command ignore the Global Cooldown.

If a spell has a cast time of less than the global cooldown, including instant cast spells, you generally have to wait for the remainder of the global cooldown before you can cast your next spell. If a spell with a casting time is interrupted before it has finished, the global cooldown will be cancelled meaning you can start casting a new spell immediately.

The global cooldown for Hunters is 1.5 seconds

Cool-Downs and Abilities

Hunters have a variety of different cooldowns for their abilities. For instance Arcane Shot has a 6 second cooldown and Multi-Shot has a 10 second cooldown. Other abilities, such as Steady Shot have no cooldown at all. However they are all under the affect of the Global Cooldown.

Different shots also have different cast times. In this case Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot have an instant cast time, where as Steady Shot has a 1.5 second cast. This means that Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot will have a 1.5 second global cooldown after casting, meaning you will have to wait that time until you can cast another spell. Because Steady Shot takes exactly 1.5 seconds to cast, the global cooldown finishes by the time the spell has finished casting, allowing you to cast again straight away.

Auto-Shot is the only ability not affected by this. It will fire every 2.7 seconds automatically, even through global cooldowns and castings of other spells.

Once you have cast times and cooldowns sorted, you can move onto creating your Shot Rotations.

Shot Rotations

Lets assume we want to make a shot rotation from Arcane Shot, Multi-Shot and Steady Shot that lasts at least 30 seconds. First lets list out the details:

Global Cooldown = 1.5 seconds.

Arcane Shot: Instant Cast. 6 Second Cooldown.
Multi-Shot: Instant Cast. 10 Second Cooldown.
Steady Shot: 1.5 Second Cast. 0 Second Cooldown.

Although Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot are instant cast spells, you must take the global cooldown into consideration. This effectively makes them all 1.5-second cast spells.

First off you have to divide the damage each spell causes by the cast time (include the global cooldown with the cast time when it’s less than 1.5 seconds). This finds out how much each spell causes per second; hence letting you know which spells cause the most damage.

At this point, if there are any useless shots then remove them from your shot rotation. An example of this would be where you have two shots with the same cast time and with no cooldown, but one causes less damage than the other. There is no point in using the one with less damage as the higher damage shot could be used at any point instead. Remember that it’s never as easy as the above example to work out and may not seem obvious at first.

For this example, we’ll assume Multi-Shot deals 200 damage, Arcane Shot deals 150 damage and Steady Shot deals 100 damage. Because they all share the same cooldown, they maintain the same damage ratio when divided down:

Multi-Shot: 133dps
Arcane Shot: 100dps
Steady Shot: 66.7dps

This makes:

Multi-Shot: 1st Priority.
Arcane Shot: 2nd Priority.
Steady Shot: 3rd Priority.

Now that we know the priority of each shot, all we have to worry about are the cooldowns.

The perfect Shot Rotation deals the most damage within its selected time period, with its selected shots. This means that you need have your higher priority shots firing as often as possible and your lower priority shots firing while the higher ones are on cooldown.

However firing your higher priority shots as soon as they come off cooldown is not always the best way to increase damage. Here is an example of this:

0: Multi-Shot
1.5: Arcane Shot
3: Steady Shot
4.5: Steady Shot
6: Steady Shot
7.5: Arcane Shot

If you were to fire your highest priority shot (in this case Multi-Shot) as soon as it came off cooldown, you would have to wait 1 second, dealing no damage, to fire it on time. The other option would be to delay Multi-Shot by 0.5 seconds and fire a Steady Shot beforehand.

7.5: Arcane Shot
10: Multi-Shot

7.5: Arcane Shot
9: Steady Shot
10.5: Multi-Shot

Each line carries on towards 30 seconds differently.

To work out which would be the better choice, you simply have to divide the total damage done by the total time and you find the dps (damage per second) of the rotation. The rotation with the higher dps is the superior one.

In this case, at 30 seconds, the first rotation will deal a total of 2600, where the shots are solely based on priority. The second rotation will total 2700, where the primary aim is to avoid gaps and shot priorities fit in as closely as possible.

Shot rotations with gaps are generally used for short rotations. They allow you to pump out the most amount of damage in a short period of time, even though they are not sustainable. Long rotations tend to have no gaps, allowing a steady flow of damage, overtaking shorter rotations once so much time has passed.

In this example, the second example deals more damage than the first, making it superior.

Complex Shot Rotations

Once your spells start having different cooldowns and longer cast times, things can get more complex. To show an example of this, let’s add a Damage-Over-Time, Viper Sting, to our existing rotation.

Because Viper Sting doesn’t deal damage as such, draining mana instead, we don’t have to worry about its Dps. For this case lets assume draining our targets mana is our first priority, moving our previous shots down a rank.

Viper Sting is an instant cast, so due to global cooldown lets call it a 1.5 second cast with no cooldown. However it’s effect lasts for 15 seconds. This effectively gives it a 15 second cooldown, as even though you can cast it again straight away, there is no point until it’s effect is completed as it will simply be a waste of mana.

Lets assume we want the rotation to last for a long fight, but lets just work out the first 30 seconds of the rotation. Because it’s being used for a long fight, we don’t want to leave any gaps in the rotation. That means we need to place a Viper Sting at 0 seconds, 15 seconds and 30 seconds. Now we simply have to fit in our shots priority based, without leaving any gaps. The first half of the rotation would look something like this:

0: Viper Sting
1.5: Multi-Shot
3: Arcane Shot
4.5: Steady Shot
6: Steady Shot
7.5: Steady Shot
9: Arcane Shot
10.5: Steady Shot
12: Multi-Shot
13.5: Steady Shot
15: Viper Sting

Points of Consideration

When creating a macro you must be clear on what it’s purpose is. Is it to purely cause damage, or is it to debuff your target in some way. This should help you pick the list of spells that you plan on using.

Consider the affects of your spells while selecting them. Multi-Shot is a great example of this. It may be a great boost to your damage output, but remember it can affect more than one target, which can sometimes be a major drawback.

Next work out all your spells cast times and cooldowns. These help you dismiss the unnecessary spells and work out the priority of the others.

Then decide on how long you want the macro to run for. This will help you to decide how to fit in your spells and create the final rotation.

At this point, things sometimes get complicated.

When working on an important shot rotation, it is worth checking through your first attempt, making sure there is no way to improve it’s total damage output for the selected time.

Sometimes rotations take a lot of spells to be used until they fall into a pattern and start to repeat themselves. This is a pain since macros can only be made so long. This presents two choices.

Firstly you could simply change your rotation. Although it may not be as perfect, it can be fit into a single macro. The other option is to make multiple macros for a single rotation. This is generally not a great idea, as knowing when you should finish one macro and start on the next can get confusing.


Shot Rotations are made to improve your damage output as well your overall performance. However, getting the right rotation can be extremely difficult. When creating a rotation, list out the key points, (such as its time period and the spell details) and always keep in mind what its purpose is, (for pure damage or to debuff). If you struggle creating your own, there are many standard Shot-Rotation Macros that have been created by others that you can use.


~ by Arty on October 30, 2008.

2 Responses to “Cool-Downs and Shot Rotations”

  1. Athing you need to consider when putting in a Multi-Shot into a shot rotation is that it breaks cc, so does Explosive Shot which shares a cooldown with Arcane Shot.

  2. Explosive shot was changed to single target and no longer breaks crowd control. also when using multi-shot, there is a .5 sec delay before it goes off, call it a “cast-time” if you may. so multi-shot isnt always the best choice on boss oriented fights.

    also arty, feel free to email me with what i posted about earlier. i would like to help but i currently dont have time to read all content in a timely fashion…but i can help in any way possible if need be.

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