The following Essence recommendations are based on Rank 3 of each respective essence. This may not hold true at lower rankings due to special effects obtained at Rank 3. Marksmanship has a couple of different major and minor essence options which change depending on the affixes and level of key you’re doing.
Condensed Life Force - CLF is Marksmanship's single target essence of choice. You generally only want to use this essence for dungeons such as Workshop or high Tyrannical keys where single target damage is needed. When you're using CLF major, be sure to always pair it with Trueshot for maximum output. You should be able to use CLF with every third Trueshot. Generally you should line up CLF to use with bosses or priority adds.
Vision of Perfection - Vision of Perfection major is your go-to essence for most situations. Between vision procs and stacking our cooldown reduction traits and talents, you should have pretty good up-time on Trueshot overall. Vision procs reduce the cooldown of your Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire as well as increasing your Aimed Shot casting speed, increasing your quality of life in between actual Trueshot casts. Between Vision procs and Lethal Shots procs, you should hardly ever have to cast Steady Shot. When using Vision major, try to have at least one Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire available to use during a proc. Finally, Vision procs have a weird interaction with Unerring Vision. Unerring Vision will ramp like normal when a Vision proc occurs, but will cap at 5 rather than its normal 10 sec. Getting a Vision proc within a Trueshot window will extend Unerring Vision's duration.
Essence of the Focusing Iris - Generally Iris is better in lower dungeons where trash won't live long enough for Vision to be worth. Avoid using Iris during cooldowns. Iris can be used situationally in AoE heavy dungeons or dungeons such as Atal'dazar with trash that dies quickly (Saurids). Iris is a loss on single target so you have to have enough consistent AoE each use for it to be worth it (think Freehold, Fortified or Teeming).
Vision of Perfection - Vision is almost a must have in Mythic+. Paired with Calling the Shots, Vision minor makes Trueshot about a 1 minute cooldown. This gives us a ton of versatility, allowing us to use Trueshot for almost every other trash pack. it also allows us to have Trueshot at the start and end of each boss (sometimes three times on higher keys), which pairs well with Careful Aim. You'll generally be running Vision major in most cases, but for the situations you don't have it, make sure to take Vision minor.
Conflict & Strife - Conflict and Strife is a solid option both offensively and defensively. If you're running higher keys, you should always have C&S equipped. It gives you approximately a 2% damage reduction when stacked, which is nothing to scoff at. DPS-wise, Marksmanship Hunters love Versatility so it's a no brainer. Similar to Iris, C&S must be stacked while in combat. Unfortunately, the stacks drop within 14 sec, so it's very easy to drop when traveling in between packs.
Breath of the Dying - Breath is currently our best single target essence in terms of DPS. It falls off a bit in AoE, but it still does fairly good damage. At rank 3, it also has an execute component that causes the procs to accelerate by 400% when enemies are below 20% health. Take this into account for bosses like Harlan Sweete that benefit from having increased execute damage. I suggest running this by default since it not only does great damage, but gives you free corruption resistance as well.
Purification Protocol - Purification Protocol minor is one of our best minors for AoE. I highly suggest using this for big AoE dungeons (Fortified weeks, Freehold, etc) and in Waycrest Manor (Waycrest has a ton of aberrations, which take increased damage from Purification Protocol).
Memory of Lucid Dreams - Lucid is an optional minor for us. It gives us a solid Versatility proc, some decent healing, and gives a chance for some of our abilities to refund a portion of their focus cost. I generally don't recommend using it unless you're really lacking on Haste. With higher Haste values you will often be focus capped when running Lucid, especially when running Lethal Shots, Surging Shots, etc. Lucid is mostly a quality of life essence that can be used if you feel like you're having to cast too many Steady Shots as opposed to spamming Arcane Shots or Multi-Shots (which you should be able to do without Lucid at high enough Haste values).
Unlike BM, you don’t need an ideal setup for Marksmanship Mythic+, and there are a ton of possible variations that perform relatively close to each other. Our outer traits are fairly predetermined with little variation. I list some “flexible” traits, which can be substituted if ideal traits aren’t available to you.
Unerring Vision – Ideally you want at least 2 of these traits. Unerring Vision buffs your Trueshot significantly. Since we have so much CDR, we have Trueshot available for every other trash pack, making Unerring Vision very valuable.
In the Rhythm – You should have at least one of these traits, ideally two. Between Vision procs and Lethal Shots procs, we cast a ton of Rapid Fires, netting us almost 75% uptime on In the Rhythm in dungeons. Paired with Expedients, this gives us a ton of passive Haste!
Focused Fire – You only really need to have one of these. I recommend having it for increased Rapid Fire damage, and the additional Focus it gives. Focused Fire’s additional focus allows us to focus on stacking more Mastery and Versatility as opposed to Haste, and allows us to forgo traits such as Memory of Lucid Dreams.
Surging Shots – Surging Shots is a solid trait that buffs your Rapid Fire damage and gives you a slight chance at Rapid Fire resets. While SuS is a good trait, it loses some value when running lethal Shots due to the abundance of Rapid Fire procs.
Heart of Darkness – HoD is a pretty solid stat boost, assuming you have more than 25 Corruption. MM also loves secondaries so this is a pretty strong trait, and it’s good in both single target and AoE.
Overwhelming Power – OP is an extremely potent Haste buff which procs fairly often. It decreases for every hit you take, which isn’t very often lukcily. It is very overtuned and should be taken over any other trait 100% of the time.
Unstable Flames – UF is the second best trait you can pick up in this inner ring. It gives you a fair amount of Critical Strike, which is our best stat. Unlike Overwhelming Power, it doesn’t proc nearly as often and the proc isn’t as strong.
Elemental Whirl – Elemental Whirl is a pretty decent boost to passive stats. It’s definitely the worst of the three suggestions here, but it’s typically better than most of the other options that are available.
Duck and Cover – Duck and Cover is one of our best tertiary traits available. It reduces the cooldown of Feign Death by 5 seconds and it gives you an on demand shield. If used properly, you can Feign Death before large AoE’s or other incoming damage to help your healers out.
Impassive Visage – Impassive Visage is another really strong healing trait. It heals a small bit consistently anytime you aren’t at full health. It’s not something you’ll notice, but it adds up at the end of a dungeon.
Nature’s Salve – Nature’s Salve is a pretty solid trait which increases our healing from Exhiliration and reduces it’s cooldown slightly. It pairs well with the talent Natural Mending.
Resounding Protection – One of Hunter’s major flaws defensively is that we lack damage reduction. We make up for it in healing, however in Mythic+, especially on higher keys, abilities can one shot you. It is much pretty to prevent incoming damage as opposed to healing it back up. Resounding gives us a small shield every 30 sec, which helps with the lack of DRs.
Vampiric Speed – Vampiric Speed is an extremely good trait for Mythic+. Since mobs are consistently dying throughout a dungeon, you gain a fair bit of healing from this trait. It can also help to counteract affixes such as Bursting or to help with bosses such as the Sand Queen in Tol’Dagor.
Below are some suggested Azerite pieces. This is NOT a full list of potential pieces, there are many more combinations available. Use this to get an idea of how you should build.
Corruption has replaced titanforging in patch 8.3. It acts similarly to titanforging in the sense that it’s random which procs (if any at all) a piece of loot will have. Unlike titanforging, the item level of the corrupted piece remains the same. There are several different types of corruptions. Below I discuss the best corruptions for Beast Mastery Hunters, along with some limitations of corruption.
Expedient is by far our best corruption. While we typically don't want to stack Haste passively for Mythic+, we do love Expedient corruptions because it pairs well with the many Haste procs we get from In the Rhythm, Overwhelming Power, Vita, etc.
Masterful is one of our best corruptions. It is by far our best stat for AoE damage and one of our best for single target. Mastery gives us a pure damage boost to all of our core abilities and extends our range by a bit. I recommend having at least one of these.
Honed Mind is one of our best traits, especially in AoE. It's a solid Mastery proc with a rather high uptime, so it gives us a ton of raw damage. In Mythic+ you typically want to stack Versatility more so than Mastery, so stacking Mastery % isn't necessarily the best. Having at least one Honed Mind is recommended.
Despite being nerfed, Gushing Wounds is still strong. We have a ton of Haste and we stack Versatility, so GW procs more often and does more damage for us compared to most other classes. This is an optional, low budget corruption that typically excels in more single target situations.
Versatile is another optional corruption. Since we stack Versatility passively and use azerite traits such as Conflict and Strife, having a Versatile is a solid option for us. Typically you would rather have a Masterful or Honed Mind for DPS purposes, but adding a Versatile can be good in higher keys for a bit of damage and additional survival.
Aside from random corruption effects, weapons from the new Ny’alotha raid also have exclusive effects on them, which can be quite powerful. Similar to random corruption effects, if you obtain a weapon with a sub-par effect, you can always cleanse it. As a Hunter, you can obtain the Whispering Eldritch Bow which always comes with the corruption effect Whispered Truths.
Your auto-shots reduce the remaining cooldown of a random Hunter ability by 2.0 sec.
Whispered Truths is a solid corruption and is one of our best “per point of” corruptions. It has a chance to lower the cooldown on Aimed Shot, Rapid Fire and Trueshot. Unfortunately, the effect not only reduces offensive Hunter abilities, but it also reduces defensive Hunter abilities such as Disengage or Turtle. The bow has a chance to reduce those abilities, in addition to offensive abilities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in Mythic+, but you should be aware that using other abilities will lower your damage potential (don’t be afraid to use defensives!).
Picking a Weapon
As stated above, Mythic+ requires you to use your utility more often than in raid (Interrupts, Binding Shot, Disengage, Turtle, etc). Because of this, you lose a ton of value from Whispering Eldritch Bow in dungeons. It is generally better to use Dominion, Lurker Beyond Dreams paired with an additional corruption such as another Masterful (in place of Whispered Truths). Since it drops off of N’Zoth, Dominion has a base item level 10 item levels higher than the Skitra bow. All of these things factored in make Dominion a better choice DPS-wise. As a side note, Whispered Truths also provides additional utility (lowered interrupts, lowered defensive cooldowns), so while its slightly worse in terms of pure DPS, it’s definitely not bad to use by any means, and may usable if utility is needed.
In addition to the bonuses, corrupted items also increase the Corrupted stat by varying amounts based on the tier of the effect. Corruption stat incurs penalties that the player must deal with, and while these effects start out rather benign, they quickly ramp up in both potency and impact, to the point where it can be very hard to deal with during a Dungeon, and even become outright debilitating at the highest levels.
There are five effects unlocked at different total corruption levels:
At Rank 6, the legendary Cloak Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve gains an on-use effect which will remove and immune all currently active negative corruption effects.
Grasping Tendrils – As a MM Hunter you should barely notice this effect. If need be, we can talent into Posthaste which will remove the slow.
Eye of Corruption – Hunters can use Disengage and Aspect of the Cheetah to avoid these void zones, though the most important part is making sure to position yourself in such a way that placing the zone does not force you into a corner. The legendary cloak dispel can be used in cases where strategy restricts you from moving.
Grand Delusions & Cascading Disaster – Since the Thing from Beyond disappears when stunned or CC’d, make use of Freezing Trap, Feign Death and Bursting Shot to successfully avoid their pursuit. Using Feign Death may cause the Thing from Beyond to immediately disappear! Even though Hunters have an amazing toolkit to deal with corruption, I highly suggest staying below 59 corruption as the Thing from Beyond gets mega spooky above 60 corruption and can easily kill you in Mythic+.
Inevitable Doom – Do not go above 79 corruption in Mythic+! The increased damage taken and reduced healing can be detrimental in higher keys. The extra damage generally isn’t worth sacrificing survivability.
Best in Slot Trinkets
Ashvane's Razor Coral
Potentially our best single-target trinket this tier. It is extremely good for bosses and does a fair bit of damage during trash packs. For bosses, save this trinket for your 2nd set of cooldowns with as many stacks as possible. For trash, place on a priority target mob. Once the mob dies (trinket will not incur ICD) place the trinket on another mob and gain the Crit benefit simultaneously. There are certain bosses that Coral is bad on, such as Tidesage Council. Coral is a buff, so any mechanic that will remove buffs or if a boss submerges or dies quickly, it may not be smart to use Coral.
This trinket gives a ton of Haste both passively and based on a proc. The proc also gives your allies a bit of Haste so not only is this trinket good for us personally, but it helps your teammates out. Sadly, this is perhaps one of the only good trinkets from Ny'alotha at the moment for Hunters.
Harlan's Loaded Dice
One of our best passive trinkets. It gives an array of stats throughout the dungeon but has a very high up time. It's a very consistent buff and it's placed on yourself as opposed to enemies like Dead-Eye Spyglass.
(Shrine of the Storm)
An excellent on-use trinket that excels in AoE. The 1 minute cooldown of this trinket pairs well with our frequent cooldowns. The downside is that it places an area-of-effect on the ground and you can easily be forced out of it.
(Siege of Boralus)
A very strong trinket that gives a solid amount of Critical Strike. The downside to this trinket is that the debuff is stacked on enemy mobs. This means that if it procs as a mob is dying, you lose out on the full benefit of the proc.
Humming Black Dragonscale
A solid passive Haste trinket that drops from the first boss of Ny'alotha. It's about on par with a Harlan's Loaded Dice in terms of effectiveness. It has a low Haste value but has almost an 80% up time over the course of the dungeon. This is an easy to use option if you're able to obtain a Mythic version of it.