Helm’s Deep Hunter Skills: The Bowmaster


Well, folks, we’ve had some time to absorb the class changes that update 12.0 (otherwise known as the Helm’s Deep expansion) brought to us. To recap, skill traits were replaced with skill trees, and several skills were consolidated, removed or changed as a result. For the hunter, the names remained the same – Bowmaster (red), Huntsman (blue) and Trapper of Foes (yellow), but the way the hunter behaves between lines differs tremendously. In this post, I’ll go over the Bowmaster line and focus on some of the combat skills that have changed or are useful when running in this line.

Here are some of my other hunter skill guides:

Helm’s Deep Hunter Skills: Trapper of Foes

Helm’s Deep Hunter Skills: The Huntsman

The Bowmaster line is built around the strategy of scoring high-damage critical hits at long range in order to fell your foes before they can get close enough to hurt you. Pre-Helm’s Deep, most people played hunters using the Bowmaster strategy with complimenting trait builds, so that aspect of the build should not be new. However, a few new skills and enhanced specializations may require some tweaks to the rotations of even the most seasoned of Bowmasters. The max range of the Bowmaster is 40m compared to 30m for the other two specializations.

Here are a few skills (combat, mainly) that are available to the Bowmaster.

General Skills

Quick Shot

Quick Shot: Chance for additional focus point, up to 50%

Effects of quick shot are dependent on stance:

Precision – additional quick shot crit chance

Endurance – returns morale

Strength –  40% target speed reduction

Brax’s thoughts: Quick shot is pretty much the go-to shot to use when more powerful shots are on cooldown, or when managing focus, power or threat. The Bowmaster seems to be designed to be run in strength stance, and the additional slow applied to your target while in strength stance could be enough of an edge to allow you to burn them down before they reach you. 


Swift Bow

Swift bow – launches 3 arrows in rapid succession


Brax’s thoughts: Not much has changed with this skill, so it’s still a great high-damage shot. It’s also good for focus generation, but a somewhat long induction can be reduced by putting a couple of skill points into the Huntsman line. Use Swift Bow to build focus for your hard-hitting, focus consuming shots like Penetrating Shot or Upshot.


Barbed ArrowBarbed Arrow – Applies a bleed to target every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. 10% target speed reduction


Brax’s thoughts: Barbed Arrow is a nice ranged damage-over-time skill that will generate focus. The 10% speed reduction isn’t as nice as the 40% reduction supplied by quick shot in strength stance, but is a nice little perk if barbed arrow is already a part of your rotation.


Penetrating ShotPenetrating Shot – Big damage, no cooldown


Brax’s thoughts: Penetrating Shot has always been one of the best “bang for your buck” shots when considering damage vs power consumption. Now that there is no cooldown, rotate it in with Swift Bow, Barbed Arrow and Quick shot to consume and then re-build focus.


Merciful ShotMerciful Shot – Big damage, available only if target health is under 50%. Removes up to 3 corruptions. Can be traited to apply additional damage to targets with a bleed.


Brax’s thoughts: I got used to not using Merciful Shot much in the past, due to the 50% health requirement and amount of power it consumes. However, it does do massive damage and the corruption removal is nice. In the bowmaster line, your specialization will allow the use of Merciful Shot when the target is at 70% morale instead of 50%, making it useful much earlier in the rotation.


Distracting ShotDistracting Shot: 10 second daze applied to target


Brax’s thoughts: Distracting shot isn’t as useful in the Bowmaster line as in Trapper of Foes, due to a very long cooldown time. However, it’s always nice to have an extra daze in your pocket.


Bard's ArrowBard’s arrow: Applies 15 second fear to target


Brax’s thoughts: Bard’s arrow can be useful during solo play with a multi-mob pull, or in groups when you want to burn down one target while the other one runs around like an idiot. Fifteen seconds is a long time to not have to worry about a bad dude. When using Bard’s arrow, I most often use it to start a pull. If I’m using it when I’m already in-combat, I’m probably in trouble. But it could be a nice last-second “oh shoot” skill to scare a mob off and give you enough time to either heal up or run away.


BlindsideBlindside:  Mele attack, Interrupt


Brax’s thoughts: Blindside is one of my favorite mele attacks since it not only interrupts inductions, it also generates a good amount of focus. While Low Cut is probably still the most useful mele attack in Bowmaster, Blindside is a close 2nd.


Low CutLow Cut: Mele attack, reduces target run speed, small chance to apply bleed


Brax’s thoughts: This is another great skill to reduce target run speed, and it’s AoE. In the Bowmaster line, Low Cut can also be traited to apply a 3 second root to the target, so if those ugly orcs get too close, hit ’em with a low cut, back up, and finish them off!


Dazing BlowDazing Blow: 5 second daze, removes up to 3 corruptions from target


Brax’s thoughts: Honestly, I always forget that this skill removes corruption. I use it occasionally for the daze, and because the animation is one of my favorite Hunter mele’s 🙂


Set TrapSet Trap: Single ground-target trap that roots and can be used in combat


Brax’s thoughts: It’s nice that this is still a skill that all hunters get, regardless of where we put our points. It provides some element of crowd control no matter which tree you decide to run in. Traps can now be used in-combat, so dust off this skill, you may need it for pulls where you want to burn down an archer while rooting a mele mob!


CamouflageCamouflage: Toggle skill for stealth, movement breaks stealth. Specialization can increase stealth +8 and increase critical chance by 50% when shooting from camouflage


Brax’s thoughts: I used camouflage a lot when I was leveling during solo play where mob density was high and I needed to pick my way through without getting mobbed. With the bowmaster specialization, if you reach the 2nd to last tier, you are awarded a nice 50% critical chance increase when firing from camo. That’s a nice little buff for simply disappearing prior to taking your first shot! 


Bowmaster Specific Skills

Heart SeekerHeart Seeker: High damage, high induction time, Heart seeker is now a part of the Bowmaster line. Heart Seeker can now be traited to apply an 8 second bleed and reduce the target’s incoming healing by 50%


Brax’s thoughts: I prefer to use Heart Seeker in longer group bossfights due to the long induction. When you get to the point in the specialization that Heart Seeker that a bleed is applied, using it in this situation makes even more sense. Just be careful if your build doesn’t include much power, because Heart Seeker will chew through it quickly.


Pinning ShotPinning Shot: Applies a five second root to the target


Brax’s thoughts: This root has a 50% chance to break if the target takes damage after one second, so it’s not a great way to pin a target down unless you need some extra time to hit press onward for a quick heal. It’s only five seconds, so probably not long enough to pin one mob down while you burn a second, unless you’re really fast. Also, auto attacks will break the root, so if your intent is to root them for the full five seconds, make sure you target away from them quickly or stop your auto-attack as soon as you get the root applied. If you do decide to root one mob to burn the other, make sure you root a mele mob and a ranged one 🙂


Press OnwardPress Onward: This skill has been moved into the bowmaster line and restores a moderate amount of morale and power. Press Onward has a 3rd tier red tree enhancement called “perseverance” that has 3 ranks, and can increase the amount of morale and power returned by up to 15%

Brax’s thoughts: While the amount of morale and power returned using this skill is not overwhelming, it’s the only self-heal accessible to the bowmaster. It’s an induction skill, so it can be easily interrupted. As mentioned above, if used in combination with a Pinning Shot or Set Trap, you may be able to buy yourself enough time to Press Onward and save your skin. I find this skill most useful in group play, though, when long boss fights put power at a premium and tanks can keep mobs from hitting you while the induction timer is ticking.


Rain of ArrowsRain of Arrows: Ranged AoE attack


Brax’s thoughts: I use Rain of Arrows strictly in groups when I’m sure the tank has grabbed at least a majority of the targets. Two ranks of Rain of Arrows can increase the critical chance of the skill by 10%. The next tier skill (Hail of Arrows) will reset the cooldown of Rain of Arrows each time it crits. My experience has been that only one of the targets in the group is required to crit for Hail of Arrows to take effect. Thus, the more targets hit by your Rain of Arrows, the greater the chance for a crit and the better chance you’ll have to fire off another Rain of Arrows immediately. In other words, the larger the group of targets, the more effective your Rain of Arrows/Hail of Arrows combination will be.


Burn HotBurn Hot: Increases ranged damage by 20% and decreases bow skills power consumption by 10% for 20 seconds


Brax’s thoughts: Burn hot is a fantastic way to finish off a boss fight in a group when you’re absolutely sure that the tank will not lose aggro. That’s why I like to pop it towards the end of a long fight, provided I have enough power to do so, since Burn Hot requires a hefty amount of power to use. I haven’t really found a need to use Burn Hot when soloing on the landscape. The Bowmaster line burns down mobs fast enough as it is without spending over 1000 power on a 20% damage bonus.


UpshotUpshot (Capstone): Does additional damage for each focus point consumed


Brax’s thoughts: Upshot is a really nice addition to the hunter skills lineup. Not only does it do a good amount of damage that increases with additional focus, but there’s no induction, so you can fire it off any time, as long as it’s not on cooldown. In the linked video, I was able to fire an Upshot from Camouflage and get a crit that was over 10,000 damage…and that was using a level 85 bow. I’ll bet some of the best number crunching hunters will be able to one-shot Westemnet landscape mobs with devastating Upshots using better gear/stats than mine!


If you’d like to see further explanation of the Bowmaster specializations and see the skills in action, check out my video:



Braxwolf Stormchaser


  1. Bloobwulf /

    Good stuff, Brax. I’m at L61 in Lorien/Moria, spec’ed Red. I never have power shortages, so my assessments of the skills is different from yours.

    Beyond that, a noteworthy difference is I use Merciful Shot all the time, and Penetrating Shot rarely; opposite of what I did before Helm’s Deep. Merciful Shot removes corruptions, which flies under the radar in player awareness, but really matters. Also, with proper spec’ing, Merciful Shot takes only 5 focus after Swift Bow use. This means it has a higher damage-to-focus ratio, esp if you trait the Crits up. Then you trait the ability to fire at 70% enemy Morale, and it comes up right after your opening combo, on all on-level enemies.

    Also, I wanted to add to your assessment of Quick Shot. I tried out a Quick Shot heavy rotation. You can trait it to reduce inductions by 10% for the first three shots. And you can trait for Quick Shot to give a chance at no-induction Swift Bow. And Quick Shot gives a chance at Needful Haste, which makes Swift Bow (and all attacks) faster. Then you can legendary legacy Quick Bow up to higher damage and better crit.

    So what I do is lead off with Quick Bow in Strength Stance, then while the enemy is slowed, fire a second Quick Shot, which fires 10% faster. Then a third Quick Shot, which fires 20% faster. These three with traited for extra damage do much more damage than I expected. Now I can fire all induction shots 30% faster. I hit Swift Bow, which has a decent chance of firing w no induction at all, and if not, it has a good chance of firing faster from Needful Haste (plus the 30% decrease), meaning very fast Swift Bow. Sometimes I add bleed arrow here. Now the enemy is near, but even if I started with 0 focus, I have 5-9 focus (I’m traited for crits giving bonus focus), which I burn with my 5-focus Merciful Shot. Some enemies are dead now. Others need Blind Side, Dazing Blow, induction shot (even Heart Seeker traited for extra damage on CC target). Elites then need “Fear” Arrow.

    I also wanted to give a bump to Heart Seeker as a frequent opening shot. I play with using Camouflage, Burn Hot, and Distracting Shot, as my openers, then Heart Seeker (traited for everything available). Most enemies are dead either immed or after being allowed to bleed out while I start in on another enemy.

    Thought on these or your own fav Red rotations?

    Also, I cannot for the life of me find the Chipped Tooth in the Redhorn Lodes, the one you get as part of the Hunter Trapper Quest line, specifically the quest Passage of Foes. I see it on the map, but cannot get there. Did you do this, or remem if there was a trick to it?

    • Awesome feedback, Bloobwulf! I might have to try some of these strategies, myself! Most of what I was doing in bowmaster was “in the name of science” – in other words, for this post, so there was a lot of experimentation with various skills but I didn’t have enough time to settle on very many specific rotations. I did do a couple of quick library runs in Bowmaster, and made good use of the Rain of Arrows/Hail of Arrows combination. Most of what I did on landscape started with swift bow from camouflage, quick shot for the slow, and then an upshot/pen shot. If that didn’t finish them off, low cut for the root and a couple more quick shots usually did the trick. Occasionally I’d sneak a merciful shot in there instead of upshot.

      I like how the three trees result in three totally different ways of playing the hunter class. They did a really nice job with the revamp on the hunter.

      • Bloobwulf /

        Totally agree that they did a good job on Hunter, although I’m saying it way too early. I’m fully comfortable on Red, but only did Blue and Yellow in, as you say, the name of science. But am looking forward to learning to kite and induct, which kiting-attacking will prepare me to try my first RK.

  2. Thaillin /

    Thank you for the guide, my hunter is just coming up on lvl40 but still trying to figure out my skills let alone look forward to new. Thank you for your work on this – just need to get the Champ and Warden guides going from Andang and Pineleaf 🙂


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