Leveling guide for Marksman Hunters - Here I will outline various options you have as a Marksman that will make the leveling process a lot easier.
End-game builds - Here I will focus on my Support Marksman build because ... let's be real ... Hybrid Nature is the only pure DPS option you have. If, however, you are not interested in group content, there is an option for Marksman that only uses 4 abilities that I will lay out as well.
Leveling Guide for Marksman Hunters
Firstly, throughout the leveling process there are certain stats that stick out as being more beneficial than others for a Marksman. Here is a guideline you can use when looking at gear you pick up. Note that this ignores crafted gear and the runes you can get from them. Anything not listed is basically worthless (some are good once you start crafting runes or reach end game, but during leveling they are worthless).
Blasting (for grouped content)
Secondly, Marksman are a bit more complex that one might think. They have access to exclusively damaging abilities; so one would think you just spam as much as possible. At endgame this is true to an extent; but in the leveling process, you really have to be careful what you use and when. Pay attention when you shoot stuff and take note of what works and what doesn't.
Lastly, when putting Concussive Shot on your bow, do not worry about its level. You are getting that ability for the area stun and nothing else. The damage is just a happy bonus. Trust me: that 7-second area stun is so powerful that even many hybrid nature builds use it for its effect. It's THAT strong!
Before Red Cloister (levels 1-26)
Stick to the weapon you get from the main quest. It will have solid stats and the abilities you need to make it through the early game. Just make sure you are always looking for better armor, watching for drops with higher priority stats and bigger numbers. You generally want to open up with Slowing Shot to keep enemies away from you and use Splinter Shot whenever you can't do anything else and you have plenty of mana. Some early Clarity will go a long way towards reducing your mana potion usage.
Red Cloister region (levels 26-31)
Here is the first and probably biggest (with the exception of Gortrin Passage) obstacle facing Marksman. If you want a minimalistic build, then get Concussive Shot from the Elder Bow and replace Splinter Shot with it. You will do less damage, but you have just enough crowd control to kill the groups before they kill you. The strategy here is to hit one of the smaller enemies and try to kill it first. When the group surrounds you, use Concussive to buy some time. By the time they come out of the stun you should at least be able to kill 2-3 of the lesser enemies. Then the rest of the fight is the same as before: shoot them before they kill you. If, however, you are willing to spend a single socket, please do so! Having True Shot, Slowing Shot, Splinter Shot, and Concussive Shot will go a long way towards making this nearly impossible area somewhat bearable.
Get to level 31 and craft a rare or better bow ASAP. You can do this by going to The Slopes of Grogul or some other areas you haven't visited and do everything there: quests, bounties, kill mobs on the way. A level 31 crafted bow will slaughter the Red Cloister area, especially if you have both Splinter Shot and Concussive Shot.
Before Pyrron (levels 31-55)
This is identical to the early game, except now you will want to keep your bow as near your level as possible and start crafting them or having someone craft them for you. You will not need the extra abilities, but switching out Splinter Shot for a good Crippling Shot will help against single targets ... especially with the 5-point talent.
Pyrron region (55-75)
This is the second obstacle and it is again because of grouped enemies. At this point you should be ready to spend at least 1 socket on your weapon. In addition to the strategy used in the Red Cloister region, at least two options exist for you depending on how comfortable you are with the Marksman (abilities in parentheses are optional):
Your strategy with these abilities will be identical to the Red Cloister, except this time you have more abilities and tougher enemies. Ideally you will have the 40-point talent maxed for maximum early damage with everything else in Barbed Heads.
Advanced: Slowing Shot, Murder, Splinter Shot, Concussive Shot with a Brutal Force Trinket
Your strategy with these abilities will be very different from anything else you have done up to this point. Max the talent Show Them How to get the passive bonus to Murder. Put everything else into the 40-point talent. Open every group fight with Brutal Force, Concussive Shot, Splinter Shot. After that you will want to kill something with Murder as quickly as you can to refresh your cooldowns. Finish off what is left any way you see fit - just don't use Brutal Fore a second time unless you are reallllly good with Murder.
If addition to these strategies you should look into using Breakfasts and/or a Trinket rune like Conjured Regeneration to help with healing and general sustain.
After Pyrron (75+)
You are home free! The game is a piece of cake at this point except for the mostly optional areas Maldwyn's Tomb and Gortrin Passage. Using the strategies above (in particular the advanced one) you can take on anything that is required for progress.
First, let's get the solo build out of the way. For solo play, you will only ever need 3-4 abilities plus Brutal Force.
Optional: True Shot
The strategy is to use Brutal Force with Crippling Shot and Slowing Shot. After that just make sure you finish any bosses with Murder to keep the kill chain going. As for talents, all you need is the 40-point talent and 20 points into Barbed Heads. Everything else can be changed as you see fit. So, if you want to do solo content even through Blight, you can do it without even using a single socket! Now for the Support build:
The essence of simplicity: Max out everything in the Marksman tree, then 20 points in Barbed Heads, and put the last 5 points wherever you feel like it. I don't even have the last 5 points! lol I will say this, though: For the full build you absolutely must have 120 points. Otherwise you will be missing a tool in your build. You can afford not to get the 5-point talent. And technically you don't NEED the 40-point talent for support, but you would be seriously gimping yourself if you did. So ... you could, in theory, have a variant of this build where you forego the 5-point talent and put 10 points into the Nature heal. That is a legitimate option you have, but it will require all 5 rebirths for the full build to work properly.
Stats are now going to be changed around quite a bit. You now need to treat Basic Stats and Glyph Abilities with the same importance. That is, you want just as much Basic Stats and Glyph Abilities, perhaps even more Glyph. As before, anything not listed is pretty much useless:
High Priority - These should all be comfortably into heroic levels
Expertise - Your most important stat, which will take priority over all other stats because lower cooldowns ...
increase damage (of course lol)
enable you to use your Show Them How abilities more often, meaning more support power.
allow you to use Brutal Force more often as it will be very difficult to take advantage of Murder kills in a group setting with equals.
Savagery - for obvious reasons
Brutality - for obvious reasons
Clarity - increase as high as is needed to completely remove the need for mana potions. You may also add some Intellect to help with Tricks of the Trade mana restoration.
Vitality - only get what you need to survive. As it also increases the damage of Juggernaut, Vitality takes priority over Armor and Magic Resist, though you can get those to around 30% each if you wish.
Haste - This is to be increased when you get to the point where you cannot cast your abilities fast enough.
Intellect - I only need 1-2 runes worth of Intellect total to keep from using pots for about 3-4 minutes of constant spam. Get only as much as you need/want.
Armor - Get only as much as you need to survive physical attacks, particularly Baldok's roar attack.
Magic Resist - Get only as much as you need to survive magical attacks.
High Priority - Glory and Poise are by far your most powerful glyphs. It isn't even remotely close.
Glory - As you will likely be killing stuff (except for longer elder battles) this is essentially a free buff to all abilities AND defenses.
Poise - As you will be far away from damage, you essentially have a free buff to all abilities.
Middle Priority - All are for increasing ability power and damage. Ability Power helps both damage and support; so keep that in mind if you wish to lean more into support.
Berserk - marginal in solo play; nigh useless in all group content save for bosses with area damage over time effects.
Your abilities are basically fixed. This is more a discussion of the roles of each ability.
True Shot - Your basic "spam and deal damage" ability.
Murder - In solo play this is used to kill Blight bounties in record time. In group play, this is another True Shot: Spam and deal damage. When a mob is at less than 50% health, prioritize this ability to restore some extra mana and deal more damage.
Slowing Shot - This ability has three uses:
It is another damage-dealing ability.
It triggers Show Them How. Every time this triggers, it boosts the combat speed of EVERYONE IN THE AREA by 25 percentage points. That means if someone has 110% attack speed and 40% cooldown reduction ... now they have 135% attack speed and 65% cooldown reduction. I cannot understate just how powerful this is!
Whenever you or a friend is in a pickle, use this to slow the offending mob to a grinding halt. It reduces speed by 45%+x% based on your Marksman Mastery. In raids mobs won't even move anymore. rofl
Crippling Shot - This ability has three uses as well:
In solo play and against single targets, this is the first ability you use with Brutal Force as it has the greatest damage per hit.
It is a stun that acts independently of the "Stunned" effect. That means even if a mob has become resistant to the "Stunned" effect, you can still stun them with Crippling Shot (assuming you didn't get the nature heal instead hehe).
It triggers Show Them How.
Wounding Shot - This ability has two uses:
Against tougher mobs, it has damage comparable to True Shot. Use this when you know the mob is going to survive the volley of attacks. Against weaker mobs, use something else.
It triggers Show Them How.
Splinter Shot - Your basic area damage ability. This is used mainly for damaging large groups (larger than 3). Otherwise, it isn't worth casting that often.
Concussive Shot - Your main crowd control ability. This is used primarily to lock a group of mobs down while everyone charges in and pummels them to death.
Brutal Force - Marksman get more benefit from this than any other subclass in the game for one reason: All critical strikes restore 5% of your missing mana. This includes using Splinter Shot and Concussive Shot in the middle of a stack of 10 mobs. MUAHAHA!
(Optional) I use Zephyr's Enclave to reduce the cooldown of Brutal Force, but you can pick a variety of other trinket runes based on what your preferences.
Steady - Use once every 10 minutes or less to give everyone +10% to their Mastery stats. On an individual level you can expect this to give around a 1-2% increase in Masteries. For hybrids, you can expect a more significant increase to their off-mastery.
Dash - Use once every 10 minutes or less to give everyone and additional 15%+x% out-of-combat movement based on your Marksman Mastery. The higher you Marksman Mastery, the higher the speed. I will let you explore the limits of the speed you can attain with this. hehe
Preparedness - The only option here really. Use whenever you can remember it to give yourself some shielding and extra single target damage. It syncs well is used just before Brutal Force.
Dread Bolts - The increase in Masteries is nice ... but only if you can keep it going. The trick is to use it in a situation when you are going to be using a lot - and I mean a LOTTTTT - of abilities, like the 95 elder run. I can use this ability early in the run and keep it up for the entire run.
Yes, you are reading this right! You have THIRTEEN abilities! Have fun spamming everything!
I would have to write a truly long essay on all the different strategies that could be implemented with this build. Follow the guidelines I put for each ability and develop your own strategies over time. This is a class and build that takes quite some time to get used to.
If you have any questions/comments/critiques, feel free to leave them below. I am more than willing to change this guide as needed. I will leave you with pics of my current (as of this post) build:
For context, I didn't use Bandage until I started experimenting with raids. One attempt outside of raids was made to incorporate it into a build, and after not using it for a week I dropped it. This was later into the game, though.
At a lower level Bandage may be okay to use if you are going for a more defensive setup (with Armor, Magic Resist, Shielding, Blasting, Berserk, stuff like that). Even then, if I absolutely had to get some form of healing, I'd spend 10 talent points for the Nature heal or get Conjured Regeneration or healing potions or even the crafted trinket rune to prevent damage. Even without the Nature Mastery, the Nature heal is a better heal (especially if you have some Glory and Poise to boost its power), doesn't take a socket to gnog or waste an ability slot, and provides some mana sustain to balance its cost. If you are willing to use the extra socket, though, go for it. You don't need any further offense at that level - might as well have some extra healing. The only saving grace it has is being a solid heal OUTside of combat. The fact that Bandage does less healing in combat just makes it god-awful in general. Now ... IF you don't care so much about either damage or support with Marksman, you could switch out Wounding Shot with Bandage at end game and have a fair-to-middling Marksman build to use everywhere without worrying if a healer is around.