Beastmaster hunter in 3.1

I touched briefly on the Beastmaster Hunter in my post on my offspec – Beastmaster offspec for tanking and soloing in 3.1.  But I thought I would write a more detailed post for raiding for both Beastmaster and Marksman, similar to my popular Survival post – Survival Hunter – Round 3 – Patch 3.1.  I am starting with Beastmaster, as I have a guild friend and new raider who is raiding beastmaster, so this is for you Svella 🙂

All three main hunter specs are now closer in DPS and viable for raiding, so unless you are in a hardcore min-maxing guild or one which requires you to spec a particularly way, play whichever you like playing and feel most comfortable with, but be good at it.  Here are the basics for a good Beastmaster raider.

1.  Spec

Your spec will be something like this.  

If you have low hit rating (the cap is 263) and low crit I recommend this instead – the difference is discussed below.

There are one or two points you could juggle, but many of the points spent are essential for a good beastmaster raiding spec.  Lets have a look at it in more detail.

First the beastmaster tree:






5/5 in Improved Aspect of the Hawk will give you bursts of haste.  BM hunters have more haste than SV or MM hunters anyway, but this is still a better choice for raiding than Endurance training, unless you really cannot keep yourself and your pet alive, then take the extra stamina until your gear improves a bit.

Focussed fire is a straight 2% damage increase to you as long as your pet is alive – nuf said even without the pet bonus.  Improve Revive Pet allows you to quickly rez your pet in a boss fight.  There are a number of pet unfriendly boss fights, with your pet contributing around half your damage as a BM hunter you want to keep him alive.

1/5 in Endurance training is the best place imo to put your filler point which is required to open up the next tier of points.

The points we haven’t taken are more about pet tanking or soloing, and possibly pvp in case of improved aspect of the monkey.






Aspect Mastery is a great bonus for 1 point.  Unleashed Fury is a no brainer.  15% damage increase by your pet, yes please!  Pathfinding is not useful for raiding.

Ferocity maxed out is a must have, not only for itself but because it opens up frenzy in the tier below.  The 1 point in improved mend pet is optional.  It depends on how good your healers are.  Anelf and Neombra look after the pets in the raid as well as the people, so while I help out with the occasional mend pet, I don’t need to spam it, or get rid of debuffs off my pet.  However, it is useful when you are soloing. If your healers are not healing your pets, first remember that tanks and most players do get priority, but also politely point out that as a BM your pet contributes to 50% of your damage, and does xDPS in his own right, so if they could help you keep him alive it would help the raids DPS.  Some healers using Grid or other addons need to adjust the settings to show pets, so they might not initially see him on their read out unless they think about it.  If you want to put a point in Mend pet take 1/2 in Spirit Bond in the next tier.  If you don’t think you need it, take 2/2 in Spirit Bond.






Spirit Bond regenerates you and your pets health and increases the effectiveness of heals done to you.  Intimidation is one of my favorite BM talents, although be careful using it in raids as it generates a lot of threat and could pull a mob onto your pet.  Good if you are dealing with a stunnable mob as you can take a turn stunning it, but otherwise better for pulling something off your healer in a 5-man or in pvp.  Your pet uses Focus to be able to use his special skills a bit like how you use Mana to cast spells, or more like a rogues energy.  You want to throw focus down his throat, so give him some Bestial Discipline.  

Animal Handler was recently changed and now increases your pets expertise.  Expertise decreases the chance that melee attacks by your pet will be dodged or parried.  A mob can still dodge an attack from behind, although only parry an attack from infront.  Increasing your pets expertise will increase their DPS and damage by improving the number of hits they get on the target.  Frenzy is also good to have – increase your pets haste – yes please.  However, you don’t need 5 points in this.  I usually go with 3 or 4 points.  4 is enough to keep it up almost all of the time, 3 will keep it up a good proportion of the time.







Now we get to some really yummy talents.  Ferocious Inspiration is your raid-wide buff.  It doesn’t stack with other BM hunters, but when your pet crits everyone in the raid gets 3% more damage for 10secs.  We want our pet alive and critting lots, and we will be helping the raid.  It also increased Arcane shot damage by 9%.  I believe this is all the time, not just for the 10secs after the pet crits.

Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within need no introduction.  Take them.  But make sure you use them as much as possible when raiding and at the right times when the extra damage boost is needed (e.g. when a boss engages).

Invigoration sounds nice, but it’s quite a low return for your points, and there are too many other must have points to spare points for it.  Catlike Reflexes aren’t part of a raid build.  They are a must have for a tanking spec, but you are doing something wrong if you or your pet are taking aggro in a raid, and you are not likely to be able to off tank anything for very long unless you have a different spec and gear from the beginning.

Serpent Swiftness used to be one of the main reasons why BM was the higher DPS spec in Burning Crusade.  Without much Haste on gear, SV and MM hunters could not match a Beastmasters haste gained from Serpent Swiftness.  Now SV and MM have been balanced for their lack of haste, but a BM hunter still has the faster draw.

Longevity is a must have – reducing all your pet cooldowns and your Bestial Wrath cooldown – what’s not to like?

Cobra Strikes has a nice synergy with other talents.  When you crit (and we will look at talents in the MM and SV trees to increase your crit in a sec), you increase your pets crits, which in turn switch on Ferocious Inspiration, increasing your damage and that of the whole raid.  Good huh 🙂






Kindred Spirits pet damage and speed.  Nice.  

Beastmastery – the 51 talent.  If you don’t want to tame an exotic pet it might appear lack lustre, however improvements to the pet talent trees have meant that you can now significantly increase your pets damage with the extra 4 pet talents that your get, regardless of whether you have an exotic or not.

Now for the Marksman Tree:







To proc Cobra Strikes we want to crit – therefore we go with 5/5 in Lethal Shots.  I think these 5 points are so good they are pretty much mandatory in any hunter build you make.  As are the next 3 in Careful Aim.  Some hunters miss these, don’t be one of them.  Every point of Intellect you have doubles up as a point of AP as well.  Mortal Shots are great points too, and you would see these in almost every MM and SV build you care to mention, however we have to borrow from somewhere, and BM is more about sustained damage over time rather than burst damage from big crits, so we can pinch a few from here and not max out Mortal Shots.

Go for the Throat is more focus for your pet.  1 point is essential.  If you have a crit percentage of less than 25% it is recommended that you put 2 points in here.

There are some other points in here we need to consider and those are Focussed Aim.

What is your hit rating?  If your hit rating (see your character window) is less than 263 you need to put points in focussed aim.  One of your first priorities as a raiding hunter is to get to the hit cap.  This will significantly improve your’s and your pets DPS and damage.  If you don’t hit, you can’t crit or damage anything, all those fancy talents won’t mean a thing if your arrows keep striking the wall and your cat is clawing air.

Here are the figures for hit rating, so that you can see how many points you need to put into Focussed Aim.  We are going to steal these from Mortal Shots and from the SV tree if we have to.




Hit is one of your most important stats (possibly the most important until you hit the hit cap), if you intend to raid.  The amount of hit you need to face a level 83 boss (in Nax) is huge.  Here are the numbers (thanks to Less QQ, more PewPewfor these):

Hunter Hit Cap = 263

[32.78 Hit Rating = 1% Hit]

1 point in Focussed Aim = 32.78 hit rating

262.24 Hit Rating – 0/3 Focused Aim
229.46 Hit Rating – 1/3 Focused Aim
196.68 Hit Rating – 2/3 Focused Aim
163.90 Hit Rating – 3/3 Focused Aim

A draenai’s racial ability Heroic Presence reduces their hit cap by a further 1% (adds 32.78 hit rating), which is a cap of 131.12.   (Remember Snapper Extreme buff food that will increase your hit rating by 40 for 30mins, if you are still below the cap – which means 91.12 is the minimum from gear your could squeeze out if you were talented, well fed and shackled to a Draenei.)


So lets assume that you are a new level 80 with very little hit and a crit rating lower than 25%.  In which case, I used a MM tree talent selection like this.







Focused Aim was also improved in patch 3.1.  It now applies to your pet as well as to you, so you both get the hit bonus.  As your hit improves you can start to take points out of Focussed Aim.  (These points don’t show up on your char window, unless they fixed it, so you have to calc the difference yourself, I don’t think your draenai racial points do either).  As you remove them, I suggestion you put them into Survival Instincts in the Survival Tree and then into Mortal Shots.

Now for the Survival Tree:

If you are hit capped this is your recommended point spread:





If you are not hit capped, it means you are going to have to forgo the points in Survival Instincts, which is a shame because they improve your crit, but you can’t crit if you don’t hit, so hit takes priority.






2.  Pet

If you want an exotic pet a Devilsaur or spirit beast will provide the most damage.  Devilsaurs, though, are big and noisy, and might not be that popular with your raid members.  There is a new spirit beast available now too – Gondria.

If you want a non-exotic pet, the raptor or wolf are your top contenders in the damage stakes.  The raptor has the top non-exotic pet damage, although it relies and crits and is therefore a bit variable.  The wolf buffs you and itself, and therefore has good combined hunter and pet damage.  The wolfs furious howl was changed in Patch 3.1.  It now only buffs the hunter and pet, not the rest of the the raid/group.  However, it now stacks with buffs like Blessing of Might or warriors shouts, whereas before it was overridden by these.  Making it a much more powerful personal buff than before.

If you want to try a wolf, try one of these.  They are in a cave just off the engine of the makers in Storm Peaks.  The advantage is that they are already level 80 so no need to train them up.  They are also neat in that they change color between grey and white when you dismiss and summon or mount/dismount.  They come in pairs, so trap the one you want to tame, kill the other then tame the trapped one.  My wolf Hamfast is from this cave.

Your pet spec will look something like this or this.

The first one is a higher DPS and Damage build, and is recommended if your pet does not die a lot.  However, it you have problems managing your pet in boss fights you might want to consider the second one, which takes Heart of the Phoenix, giving your pet a self-rez to full health every 10 mins.  Remember, having him alive is buffing you so, even if he is standing at your side, it is better than him being dead (not that I recommend keeping him at your side).

Pet stats (thanks again to Elitist Jerks for these)

Hunter pets “inherit” the following stats from their owners: 
Hit (100%) — including hit from Focused Aim (Hit is rounded down when it is transferred for example, 7.99% transfers as 7%, while 8.03% transfers as 8%, therefore it is important to be fully hit-capped.)
Ranged Attack Power (22%) — the new 3.1 pet talent Wild Hunt will increase this by 20%
Stamina (30%)
Armor (35%)
Magic resistances (40%) — race-based magic school resistances are percent based and do not appear on the character sheet and thus presumably do not transfer to the pet

Pets inherit Agility (and Intellect if you have 3/3 Careful Aim) only indirectly, as it raises the hunter’s Attack Power.

Pets do not inherit Strength, Spirit, Crit, Haste, Resilience, or Armor Pen.
Pets do not inherit the XP bonus found on heirloom shoulders.

3.  Pet Management

Being a BM hunter in raids means PET MANAGEMENT.  If you can’t keep your pet alive most of the time, you may as well spec MM or Survival, because you will be halving your damage.

True some fights are not pet friendly, my pet often dies on the Heigan dance in Naxx, on the flame walls in Obsidian Sanctum (I keep him alive thru some and then alway miss one and he becomes crispy raptor steak), and sometimes on Kel’Thuzad as, the tank has no option but to position the void behind KT so that it doesn’t hit himself or the melee players on either side.

Rules of pet management

a.  Pet is on passive or defensive with growl off and cower on (both growl and cower are on the pets active toolbar, this seems to cut down on cower bugs).  Passive is safest, but defensive leads to highest DPS, and I haven’t found I’ve had any problems with it in Naxx.  Very occassional I turn his growl on, and even turn him on aggressive (e.g. for Gothik the Harvester), but you have to be very careful you turn it off again afterwards.

b.  You have a couple of pet control macros.  I have the following hot keyed.  Pet attack; assist pet; pet heel (i.e. return to me pronto); feed pet (there are addons for feeding you pet, but I like my macro) ; and an all in one mend, call, dismiss, revive pet.  You will find them in my 13 Macros post

c.  Watch your pets health, throw on a heal if you have to, call him back with your heel macro, and let him heal at your side for a bit, if he is taking a lot of splash damage.  Have friendly healers who know to try and keep your pet alive (remember though pet doesn’t take priority over other players, unless a DPS player is doing less damage than your pet, or you pet has a specific off tank or other role, then the pet should 🙂 )

d.  Make sure your pet is assisting the tank or main assist.  If the tank is tanking multiple mobs, make sure you pet is hitting the one the tank or off tank is hitting, not one that is just attacked by AOE tanking or proximity aggro, otherwise your pet might pull aggro and bite the dust.  To do this consider a focus macro, setting your tank as focus, and then an assist macro making sure you are assisting your tank (see my 13 macros again), send you pet to attack that target.

4.  Shot Rotation

Shot Priorities

1.  Kill Shot

2.  Arcane Shot

3.  Multi-Shot/Aimed Shot (see not below – not recommended if you are running out of mana)

4.  Serpent Sting

5.  Steady Shot

This shot rotation looks as if you don’t use Steady Shot much (the old constant companion of the BM hunter), this is not the case, you will be using it a lot as the other shots all have longish cooldowns.  It just means whenever a higher priority shot is off cooldown fire it, otherwise fire the next highest priority shot.  In reality you will probably be firing 2 steadies then 1 special, then back to 2 steadies, or 1 steady and another special, then maybe 2 more steadies, or something to that effect.   The rotation will change depending on where in the cycle you are, how much haste you have, and whether other haste buffs have triggered like bloodlust, heroism, or Improved Aspect of the Hawk. Just keep firing Steady Shot and weaving those other shots in as soon as they are off cooldown, when they are not go back to Steady Shots. 

Edit:  Serpent Sting is low on the priority list, but I would normally open with it and with a hunters mark.  Once it is up and the first has begun, refreshing it follows the priority list.  

If you are new to raiding and don’t have very good gear, if you are in 10 man rather than 25 man raids, and don’t have much replenishment in the raid (i.e. a SV hunter, shadow priest, or ret paladin), you are probably going to be running low on mana a lot.  In this case, I suggest you don’t use Multi/Aimed shot in your shot rotation, except for short burst when everyone is asked to burn down a mob, say a boss on his last few percentage points of health.

Remember to use Bestial Wrath as often as possible, and to use cooldowns on trinkets and pet specials like Call of the Wild.  You can put together a DPS macro something like this that you mash when you need that extra boost (thanks to Elitist Jerks for the Macro):

#showtooltip Bestial Wrath
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] Kill Command
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] Call of the Wild
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] <other pet special>
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Bestial Wrath

<other pet special> is another family or talent skill your pet might have (don’t use intimidation for raiding).

13 and 14 refer to your trinket slots and will activate ‘on use’ procs on trinkets if they are off cooldown.

For groups of 3 or more mobs our raids will usually round them up and burn them down with AOE spells.  A beastmasters Volley is not as good as that of an MM or SV hunter or a mage or warlocks AOE, but it is still pretty useful so use it in these situations.


Always have Aspect of the Dragonhawk up unless you are asked to use Aspect of the Wild to buff the raid.  

If you run out low on mana in a boss fight, use a mana pot (though remember you can only use one mana/health pot per fight).  If you run low on mana a second time switch to Aspect of the Viper, but make sure you switch back again as soon as your mana is topped up.  Use PowerAuras or an addon like ViperWatch or ViperNotify to alert you if you keep forgetting.  Never keep it on during a fight, it halves your damage.

5.  Addons for the raiding hunter

I will write a separate article on addons, and especially PowerAuras.  I turned all my addons off when logging in for the first time to 3.1, although I have now updated and reinstalled most and they are working fine.  However, the ones I would find it hard to live without are:  OmniCC (which counts down your cooldowns on your spells); PowerAuras (which shows your when things need refreshing); Recount (damage meter); Omen(threat meter); and Deadly Boss Mod (raid help – tells me to “run away little girl” when a tsunami is about to hit in OS).  I use a whole raft of other things, including Bartender4 and X-Perl to modify my UI, but I will try and play with the vanilla UI for the first few days of the patch, until I work out how well these guys work with the changes to action bar swapping for dual-specs.

If you are learning how to play with a new spec, OmniCC and Recount are invaluable.  OmniCC shows a countdown number on each of the buttons on your toolbar, showing when a spell is about to come off cooldown.  It’s great for helping you to manage your shot rotation.  Recount is a damage meter, but it is so much more.  You can use it too look at a detailed breakdown of your damage from each of your spells, try out different spec and rotations and see how they affect your damage on recount.  It will show you how much you miss, hit and crit, how much damage or arcane, mutli and aimed shots do, etc.  Get it and then go practice your shot rotation on a target dummy.

6.  Gear

To be naxx ready you want to try to have item level 187 gear in every slot.  To be Ulduar ready you want to have item 200 and above gear, so Naxx, Eye of Eternity, the very best heroics gear, and emblems gear.  For a gear guide for new raiders see my post Pre-raiding Level 80 Hunter Gear Guide – Part 1.


32+ Attack Power Gems are you friends – Bright Scarlet Ruby – shove these in nearly every slot, even many slots that don’t take red gems for their slot bonus.

+16 hit rating – Rigid Autumn glows – for the under hit capped.

For the rest see this useful post.


Glyph of Bestial Wrath

Glyph of Steady Shot

Glyph of Serpent Sting

Are probably your best glyphs.  You might want to check out the new Glyph of Kill Shot.  But I suspect these three will still be your best major glyphs.

For minors there are only one or two good choices, I recommend:

Glyph of mend pet

Glyph of revive pet

Glyph of feign death.

Ammo Pouches

Remember you no longer need an Ammo Pouch.  The 15% haste rating has gone, and is now incorporated into your shots.  Ammo now stacks 1,000 per stack in any bag.  You can carry bullets and arrows with you in case you want to swap between a gun and a bow, and have room in the bag for other stuff.

7.  Concluding thoughts

An equally well geared and played Survival Hunter is still going to out DPS and damage you on most raid encounters, but you will be very competitive, and you should be up close to the top of the damage charts (depending on gear and experience) as a BM hunter.  You bring Ferocious Inspiration to the raid, whereas the MM hunter brings Trueshot Aura and the Survival Hunter brings replenishment.  If you don’t want to dual spec, and still spend a lot of time doing dailies and soloing BM is a good choice as it is easier to grind with, your pet being able to hold aggro much better and AOE tank (if you grab a tenacity second pet).  The shot rotation and play style is also easier as long as you can manage your pet.  If you can’t keep your pet alive, you are better off as a Survival or MM hunter, if you can keep him alive most of the time, BM is slightly easier and more forgiving.


9 responses to “Beastmaster hunter in 3.1

  1. Thanks Tin,
    Very informative, and well put together.

  2. nice info about hit rating and hit cap. gonna have to go respec now. thanks! (^_^)b

  3. Under shot priorities, I notice serpent sting is low on the list. Are you not opening with Serpent Sting anymore as a BM hunter?

  4. Yes actually I would open with Serpent sting, but then refresh it according to the priority list. I should have made that clear.

  5. While DPS is generally our bread and butter, I’ve been leaning towards Viper Sting on mobs that have a mana pool. I OOM very easily, and it’s suprising how much this one little change helps, and I find that the dps I would lose by having to spend time in Aspect of the Viper is more than compensated for.

  6. Great post, well put together, very informative to any bm hunter out their, i will have my spec a little different because it will be a soloing spec but i liked all the different options you have listed for people in different positions.

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  8. Ahhhh, got Gondria as one of the first on my server, Ravencrest. Had been looking for the old spirit beast in Sholazar Bas for months, no luck, except on my Lock, that killed it in front of an ally hunter. (Who spit on me, for killing my own prey 🙂 ) The beas looks soooo nice, very hard to see, and mates often ask about it when they see it. Camped the new locations for a full day, was lucky to get it 🙂

  9. Got Gondria after trying for about 10 minutes…. Must have been my lucky day.

    The Devilsaur still has better DPS though, so it will be my main raid pet.