Tag Archives: hunter spec

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.


Beastmaster Off-spec for tanking and soloing in 3.1

Still no live realms up /sigh.  I am sure it’s all very complicated, but you’d think there’d be some way of foreseeing whatever glitch has caused their complete failure to get their game working on this, one of the most anticipated game days since the launch of WOTLK.  

Edit (The morning after): I was able to play a little last night – I kept getting thrown off – but I managed to sort out my dual-spec.  I’ve thrown in a couple of edits here noting some of the current bugs I encountered.

Anyway, while we are waiting, I have be whiling away the hours writing a couple of articles.  In my previous article, I looked at my main spec Survival Hunter – round 3 – patch 3.1 for raiding.  In this one, I consider my off-spec.

Any character level 40 or over with 1,000G to spend can visit their class trainer and learn the ability to dual spec.  The new talent window will allow you to assign both specs, and will also allow you to plan you proposed spec, and confirm it before you buy (Edit:  this is what was promised anyway, when I assigned my talents yesterday, I didn’t see anywhere to change them if they were wrong.  I did put a talent point in the wrong place on my Raptor and had to respec him, which didn’t cost anything, but didn’t try that with my hunter to see whether they had wavered the 50G respec fee).

It each of your pets will have one spec, however you will be able to access your stable remotely.  If you are not changing spec this has a 30min cooldown.  This means that if I want to swap my cat for my raptor whilst remaining a survival hunter, I can do so anywhere in the world without having to find a stablemaster (so long as I am out of combat), but I have to wait another 30 mins before I can swap them back again.  However, the 30min cooldown resets when you respec to your dual-spec.  So if I am raiding and need to be SV with my raptor for one fight, and then BM with my bear for the next (as an extra off-tank is needed), I can switch specs and grab my bear from the remote stable, then I can switch back again after the fight and grab my raptor again, even though it is less than 30 mins since I summoned my bear. 

Edit:  The stable seems buggy, both the remote stable and visiting a stablemaster.  I lost my beloved bear (major panic!) and got two copies of my raptor.  To get my bear back I had to stable both raptors and get another pet out of the stable, then the second raptor disappears and some hokey-kokey swapping pets in and out of the stable (at a stablemaster) made the bear reappear.  Happened again with my gorilla.  I am a bit worried that I could still lose a pet altogether (I seem to remember BRK mentioning a bug like this on the PTR, will need to go back and check what it was).  I am wary about using my black lion in case I lose him (those elite wolvar guarding him don’t like me very much), and would be even more worried if I had a really rare pet.  I think I will also avoid the remote stable for now.  Also, each time you  switch specs, using dual-spec, your pets talent points seems to be wiped and you have to reassign them. 😦

I intend to go with the following Beastmaster spec, with its emphasis on pet survivability and damage as my off-spec.  It is not a raid spec.  It loses a couple of points in talents such as mortal shot to pick up points in cobra reflexes.  It also picks up endurance training and thick hide in preference to Improved Aspect of the Hawk.  A beastmaster spec for raiding would look something more like this.  (You could argue a point or two, but the latter is more aimed at DPS, the former at pet tanking.)

For my pet I am thinking of  this spec on my bear.  Silverback (your pets growl heals it for 2% of its total health) should be a great new talent for pet tanking.  I decided to spend my final point in the new Wild Hunt instead of in Avoidance or Greater Resistance, but am not sure what is better.

 I will be saying goodbye to my gorilla now that all tenacity pets can get thunderstomp.   The Gorilla’s new family skill Pummel is not an AOE skill, whereas the bears swipe combined with thunderstomp makes it one of the most powerful tanking pets in the game, especially for multiple mobs.

To fill my empty stable slot, I will go get Hamfast my wolf back, he’s a level 80 Cavedweller Worg from Stormpeaks, the kind that changes color between white and grey.  Every time my stable is full he gets released into the wild for a time, with my knowing I can pick him up again without having to level him back up.  I wish Blizz would introduce more level 80 trainable pets like this.

I intend to use my off-spec when soloing and grinding.  I also hope to run some easier instances solo or with Anelf.  We previously duoed Nexus (which was pretty simple as a BM hunter and resto druid pair), we are even better geared now, and the new option for a tanking spec should open up more options for soloing and duoing.  I might also go back and grind some old world rep for those Argent Champion, Guardian of Cenarius and other titles, as well as mount grinding for some rare mounts.  Heck, I might even spy me an exotic pet!  There’s the new spirit beast or the purple parrot.  Though I guess I better get in line for those two.

Survival Hunter – round 3 – patch 3.1

Edit:  I have edited this post slightly in response to people’s questions in the comments (thank you to everyone who left a comment), and to my couple of hours play time on buggy patch night.

Patch 3.1 is going live today, the realms are currently down as I write this post, so I haven’t had chance to try out the new spec yet.  When I wrote Survival Hunter Round 2, I expected it to be relevant for a couple of weeks before the patch hit, but now the info in there needs updating.  I am writing a quick update now, as I do my own reading, and I will further update this post once I have tried it out.

1.  Spec

The front runner for the top DPS spec from people over at Elitist Jerks, who have been trying out the new talents on the PTR and the hunter spreadsheet, appears to be a 1/15/55 spec.

There are a couple of changes worth noting.  Firstly, the spec takes Aimed Shot.  Previously some hunters used this, others did not take the point and used Multi Shot in their rotation.  However, the redesigned Sniper Training now increased the damage of Aimed Shot, but not Multi Shot, therefore Aimed Shot should be your instant cast of choice.

The build takes Sniper Training but not Hawk Eye.  This is due to the redesign of Sniper Training.  Previously Sniper Training gave the hunter bonus damage if they were standing 30 yards or more from the target, hence the need for Hawk Eye.  Now however, Sniper Training gives a 15sec bonus damage buff if you have stood still for 6secs.  Hawk Eye is still nice to have for the extra range, but no longer part of the raiders max DPS talent build.

Trap Mastery is now 3 points and has been moved to Tier 2.  It is worth having because it gives an extra 30% bonus to the period damage from you new key talent Black Arrow.

Similarly, 3/3 in Resourcefulness are taken because of its effect on the mana efficiency and cooldown of Black Arrow.

2.  Shot rotation.  

The Survival hunters biggest shot (after Kill Shot common to all hunters) is Explosive Shot, which does the following:








Shot rotations are based on a priority list:

1.  Kill Shot

2.  Black Arrow

3.  Explosive Shot

4.  Serpent Sting

5.  Aimed Shot

6.  Steady Shot

(If your raid is fighting 3 or more mobs at the same time, you are probably going to be gathering them up and AOEing them down using volley.)

3.  Lock and Load

If Kill Shot is not available, you want to fire Explosive Shot whenever that is available.  To give yourself even more Explosive Shots you want to get Lock and Load to proc whenever possible.  Currently Lock and Load does the following:








*Note Arcane Shot also uses up a lock and load proc.  In addition, it shares a cooldown with Explosive Shot.  Explosive Shot does significantly more damage.  Survival hunters almost never use Arcane Shot.  Just take it off your toolbar.

You will now be using the new talent Black Arrow to proc your Lock and Load.  Black Arrow does the following:








Other talents like Trap Mastery and Resourcefulness also improve Black Arrow.  Fire Black Arrow whenever it is off cooldown (only Kill Shot takes priority).  It’s the period damage that has the chance to proc Lock and Load.  With Resourcefulness the cooldown is reduced to 24secs.  It lasts 15 secs, so there are 9 secs in between when it is not possible to get a Lock and Load proc.  Black Arrow counts as a trap and shares a cooldown with your other traps, so you cannot use traps to cover this gap.  Serpent Sting no longer procs Lock and Load.  However, Serpent Sting still does a reasonable amount of damage, so keep it in your rotation.  In addition, Noxious Stings, means that ALL your damage is increased by 3% to a target affected by your Serpent Sting, so don’t forget your sting.

When Lock and Load Procs you want to change your rotation slightly.  I used to get this wrong.  I would just spam my Explosive Shots.  This is a no no, and lowers DPS, as it overwrites the DOT the explosive shot leaves on the target.  Instead, I now fire explosive shot > aimed shot > explosive shot > steady Shot, or something to that effect.  Watching the explosive shot DOT, to make sure it has finished it’s last tick before applying the next one.  My DPS is a lot higher since I worked this out.


As I said before, Sniper Training has changed, so that you now do not need to be 30 yards away to get a damage increase, instead you need to have periods where you are able to stand still for 6secs at a time.







I am sure there’re going to be some fights where this will be hard to do, and other fights where you will want to try and time the periods in which you stand still i.e. make sure you stack the buff on you just after a tsunami in OS, or in good time before another is due.

5.  Addons for the survival hunter

I will write a separate article on addons.  I turned all my addons off when logging in for the first time to 3.1.  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.

I am a great fan of PowerAuras.  I will write an article on Power Auras, which is quite a complicated addon, but well worth it.  I use it for several things on my hunter and level 77 pally, but the big one for a survival spec is a big flashing Lock and Load Icon which shows when Lock and Load is available.

If you are familiar with PowerAuras you can use my Lock and Load Icon.  You will need to import the following text into lock and load:

timer:bofalse;customname:stLock and Load;target:bofalse;
unitn:stOnly for raid/group.;bufftype:nu1;
texture:nu13;buffname:stLock and Load;anim2:nu0;opt1:nu0;r:nu1;

To do this, install powerauras, copy the string of blue text above, open powerauras in game by typing /powa, click the import button, paste the text string into the window that pops up, then click accept.  (Hope this works, I had to put returns in to fit the text in.)

I intend to set up power auras to show clearly when the Sniper Training buff is active and when it has worn off, as well as when Black Arrow needs to be reapplied.

6.  Kill Shot

Kill Shot will still do more damage than explosive shot, and so should still be fired when it is available as a priority.  As you know, it has a long cooldown and can only be fired when the target is less than 20% health, but then you want to maximize it.  Previously I hot keyed it separately and macroed in with my steady shot, so that if I go to fire a steady shot when Kill Shot is available, I would fire a Kill Shot instead:

#showtooltip Steady Shot 
/cast kill Shot
/cast Steady Shot  
Edit:  This doesn’t work anymore 😦  Thanks to the reader who pointed out why.  Kill Shot is now on the Global Cooldown (GCD) and you cannot have two spells in a cast macro that are on the GCD or not instant cast.  A cast sequence macro might work.  But as I always had kill shot hot keyed to the button next to steady shot in anycase, I will just have to move if I find myself firing steady shot as kill shot becomes available.

7.  Glyphs for survival hunters

Up till now I have been using the following glyphs:

Steady Shot

Serpent Sting

Improved Aspect of the Hawk

I didn’t change these from when I was MM specced.  However, there are now some new glyphs added to the game, and the one for Kill Shot looks interesting for all hunters, while the one for Explosive Shot looks pretty mandatory for Survival Hunters.

I might go with glyphs of:

Steady Shot

Explosive Shot – Increases the critical strike chance of explosive shot by 4%

Kill Shot – reduces the cooldown of Kill Shot by 6secs

These new glyphs are available from books of glyph mastery found as drops from nothrend monsters.  Reading one learns a new random glyph.  The patch notes do not say whether these books are BOP or only lootable by inscribers, or whether that can be traded, farmed for alts or sold on the ah.  I hope it is the latter, my inscriber is level 70 and just sits in Dalaran making glyphs for the guild.

8.   Gear Stats

Gear is about balance these days.  Gone are the days when survival hunters ran around in rogue leather.  Agility is still very important to us, but not quite as important as it once was, and Intellect is more important than it was, and is not something rogue gear comes with (you don’t need to be smart to be a rogue, just sneaky.)   Look carefully at your talents, you agility, stamina and intellect will buff other talents, such as your attack power.  Go with balance, and don’t forget the hit cap.  Armor penetration has been buffed in this patch somewhat, and haste has been buffed for some melee classes, but not for hunters.

9.  Raiding pet for survival hunters

The raptor used to be the number 1 DPS pet for the survival hunter.  The raptors DPS may still be the highest, but changes to the wolf’s furious howl means that it might contribute more to the pet and hunters overall DPS.  The wolf’s furious howl now only buffs the hunter not his party.  However, it now stacks with other AP buffs such as Commanding Shout and Blessing of Might (previously these overwrote it).  It is now like getting a double Blessing of Might, although the longer cooldown does mean it will not be up 100% of the time.  The jury is still out on whether this will constitute more DPS than the raptor, but it could well do.

10.  Other changes worth noting

Remember ammo now stacks to 1,000 in any bag slot.  Ammo pouches and quivers no longer give haste.  The 15% haste from them has been applied to all shots, but via auto shot.  Most hunters will disgard their ammo pouches.  The only reason to keep on is if you really intend on carry around 32,000 bullets.  I think I might collapse under the weight of all that ammo.  An added advantage of this is that you can now carry both arrows and bullets around with you, and swap between a gun and a bow/crossbow on the fly.

Some of the changes to Mana Regen may effect hunters –

“Mana Regeneration: The amount of mana regeneration derived from intellect and spirit has been reduced by 40%; however, talents that allow for mana regeneration while in combat have been increased. As a result, in-combat regeneration for classes with those talents will stay the same, while out-of-combat regeneration will be lower.”

I cannot see mention of them increasing maan regen from Aspect of the Viper, so I am not sure whether this is an undocumented change or not.  However, they do say,

“Viper Sting redesigned: Stings the target, draining 4% of mana over 8 seconds (up to a maximum of 8% of the caster’s maximum mana), and energizing the hunter equal to 300% of the amount drained. Only one Sting per hunter can be active on any one target.”

Given that Serpent Sting is no longer causing Lock and Load procs (although remember it does give a 3% damage increase with Noxious Sting talents), it might be worth experimenting with applying Viper Sting if you have to go into Aspect of the Viper during a fight, in order to regen mana quicker and get out of Viper sooner.  Without testing it, I don’t know if this (possibly shorter) period of Aspect of the VIper would yield higher overall DPS, than a slightly longer period with Serpent Sting remaining up (remember Serpent Sting does damage so also refunds mana from Aspect of the Viper).

Read the patch notes for the rest, there are a lot of changes both for hunters, and more generally.  Don’t forget to go respec all your alts and visit your profession as well as class trainers to learn any new recipes or skills.  Edit:  I had to visit my trainer for extra ranks of explosive shot, aimed shot and black arrow (I think this was another bug, especially in the case of explosive shot, and one that cost me gold.  It didn’t happen with my pally, low level warlock, or my friends on other classes.)

Check out the new Argent Crusade Tournament up in Icecrown on your level 80s, and the Dalaran fishing dailies on you fishermen or fishergnomes.  If you are a hordie you can go buy some new mounts if you have faction rep, or get yourself a westfall chicken from the cluck quest (there is a guy in Brill selling the chicken feed).

Apparently they have fixed the cooldown on cower so that it displays correctly – shame they haven’t actually fixed the cower bug!

9.  Concluding thoughts

It looks like survival is till going to provide the highest raid DPS, although MM should be closer than it was, with better mana efficiency and buffs to Piercing Shots and Wild Quiver.

I am now pretty comfortable playing all three specs, so I will pick the highest DPS one for raiding, and a BM tanking spec as my off spec.  As it looks like SV is currently the higher DPS spec, I will be sticking with it, despite enjoying MM a lot.  As for my off spec, well that’s another post, but I intend to go rep and mount farming in some old instances with my trusty bear, Beren, thunderstomping his way through the mobs – fun times 🙂

Testing a Marksman Hunter Spec in 3.0.8

In the past I have been a Beastmaster hunter, Survival hunter, and Surv/MM hybrid for pvp, but I have never tried a deep MM build.  I was a BC baby, and between BC and Wrath, MM was weaker than Beastmaster in most circumstances.  Now don’t flame me for saying that.  There might be lots of legitimate reasons why you personally preferred to be a Marksman, and you pay your money to have fun, so I am not telling you how to play.  But there was lots of data, which showed that, for most players, BM was the higher damage build for raiding, best for leveling, and pretty much the best for BGs too.  Only for arena was it sub-optimal.  In raiding, one Survival hunter in your raid was a boost for the raid buff expose weakness, but you didn’t need more than one.

Now everything has changed.  BM has been nerfed more than the other specs, Survival buffed up with improved Explosive shot.  As yet, there seems to be no cookie cutter spec and no firm ‘best’ build or tree.  One might emerge over time, but one thing is clear, the three trees are a lot closer than they once were, and each is much more viable for raiding and soloing.

So, instead of lamenting the big nerfs to BM, I decided to try out several specs and see which I liked, which suited my play-style and which provided good DPS in the groups I run with.  We are not raiding that much at the moment, so most of my testing is in heroics.  There are too many variables to be completely scientific about it, I will report the numbers, but I am not going to decide on one spec because it shows to produced 100DPS more than another in two different heroic runs.  Anyway, enough rambling, on with the show, I picked Marksman first, partly because of the interesting BRK podcast with Nassira from Diaries of a Marksman, and partly because this was the spec I had not tried before.

My 3.0.8 heroics/10-man raiding Markman Spec here.

About the spec:

Some of the talents are essential – a couple are optional, and a couple of nice optional talents are missed.  You could play around with these optional ones but stick to the core.

The Marksman talents:

Tier 1

Lethal Shots (essential) is a must have (in fact I would take this in pretty much any spec I built)

Focussed Aim (semi-optional) is only needed if you are not at the hit cap (263) – put as many points in this as you need to reach the hit cap.  I changed my hit trinket to a haste one for this build, as well as some of my gear recently so need all 3 points again.  Essential if you are not hit capped.

Don’t take Concussive shot it is a weak pvp orientated talent.

Tier 2

Careful Aim (essential) again for any hunter build.  100% of your intellect as AP.  So if you have 450 intellect, then you get an additional 450 AP.

Improved Hunter’s Mark (optional) – you don’t get as much bang for your buck as with Careful Aim, but it is one of the three places you could choose to move those points from Focussed Aim as you get hit capped, or move other Optional points (e.g. Survival Instincts).  (The other 2 places being Efficiency and Barrage.)

Mortal Shots (essential) – this used to be part of the cookie cutter build for any hunter and it still gives a lot of umph.

Tier 3

Go for the Throat (essential) – you pet is weaker than a BM pet, but he still does a chunk of your damage.  He needs focus for his special spells, you need to take this, at least one point, and preferably two.

Improved Arcane Shot (essential) – in 3.0.8 Blizz lowered the mana cost of arcane shot to match that of steady shot.  It is no longer a mana drain, does a lot of damage, and should be fired whenever it is off cooldown.  Take the points.

Aimed Shot (optional but recommended) – I have this in my rotation currently.  It does a lot of damage and gives you a second (with arcane) truly instant cast shot, you can use while moving.  It also put a debuff on a mob, reducing the healing done to it.  Not many mobs I have come across in heroics and raiding thus far need this, but you never know.  Useful in pvp.

Rapid Killing (essential) – at least one point to reduce the cooldown on your rapid fire.  The other proc seems to go off on mobs that would have given you experience if you weren’t 80 (e.g. mobs that are green or above to you.)

Tier 4

Improved Stings (essential) – you are going to be keeping Serpent Sting up most of the time and refreshing it with Chimera sting, so you want to maximize it’s damage.

Efficiency (optional) – very nice to have, especially if you find yourself running out of mana a lot.  Probably less needed in 25-mans where there will be more chance of shaman and pally mana regen buffs than 5- and 10-mans.

Tier 5

Don’t take concussive barrage, pvp talent.

Readiness (essential) – ooh I love readiness!  a reset on all your cooldowns every 3mins for just 1 point, what’s not to like?  Double rapid fires, double kill shots, an emergency Freeze Trap when your first one gets resisted.  Pop that point!

Barrage (optional) – this is one of the places I would have liked to put some extra points.  Volley used to be a joke pre-WOTLK, it was then overpowered pre-3.0.8.  It has been nerfed back, but is still a good aoe for trash.  Would be nice to buff it back up a bit.  Also, note the increased damage done by Aimed Shot if you are using it in your rotation.  I think this is where my Focussed Aim points will go when I can pull them out (if I choose MM.)

Tier 6

Combat Experience (recommended) overall increase of 8% in ranged AP (if you have Careful Aim), as well as some crit and mana.

Ranged weapon specialization (recommended) 5% damage increase.

Tier 7

Piercing Shots sounded tempting but experience MM hunters like Nassira don’t recommend it, so I resisted.

True shot aura (Did you even need to think about it?  Of course it’s essential, your not an MM hunter without it.)

Improved Barrage quite a weak and more pvp orientated talent and not really recommended.

Tier 8

Master marksman (essential) – more crit and reduction in the mana cost of Steady Shot.  SS might have been nerfed big time, but it is still one of your main shots.

Rapid Recuperation (recommended) – when you really need to bring down a mob, at the end of a long boss fight, you pop rapid fire, now you have more mana to play with kill shot and other shots are much more mana efficient.

Tier 9 

Wild quiver (weak optional)  I have heard and read that this one is underwhelming, there are stronger points around it so I have skipped it.  Up to you if you choose to take it, but remember the essentials.

Silencing Shot (optional) – a lot of raiders won’t take it. A lot of bosses are immune to silence.  However, I have always wanted this one for BGs and for trapping casters.  I still use my Freeze Traps a lot in heroics and even in our Naxx forays.  I am known for being able to trap well.  But trapping casters is always a problem, silencing them to make them run towards you makes it much easier.

Improved Steady Shot (essential) actually it improves your other shots not your steady shot, but you have to be firing steady shot in front of them to get the effect to proc.

Tier 10

Marked for Death  (essential) strong talent.  Just remember to keep hunters mark up on all targets.

Tier 11

Chimera shot (essential) unlike the BM 51 point talent, this is a very strong talent, you wouldn’t go deep marksman without taking it.

Over in the BM tree

Improved Aspect of the Hawk is a strong talent for MM and Surv builds as it gives you bursts of much needed haste.

1/5 in Endurance training is a filler talent, but the best place to put it.

Focussed Fire gives you a straight 2% damage increase, as long as your pet is alive, while also making his crits under kill command more frequent.

Improved Revive Pet is a very useful talent to have for raiding.  Perhaps more so for a BM than MM hunter, because of the huge chunk of your damage you lose if you pet goes down, but still useful for MM.

Aspect Mastery – this is why we are dipping into the tree.  An incredibly strong talent.  Giving 30% boost to Aspect of the Hawk and giving you Aspect of the Dragonhawk.

Unleashed Fury (optional)  – I chose to take Improved Tracking and Survival Instincts over in the Surv tree.  However, another option would be, not to dip inot the Survival tree but to take 5/5 in Unleashed Fury instead and then drop the 2 spare points into optional talents such as Barrage in the MM tree.  This might give slightly higher DPS, and I am tempted to try it if I settle on MM.

Shot rotation/play-style and macros

A typical long tank and spank boss fight might go something like this.

1.  I start by misdirecting onto my tank (who is my focus target) with the following macro:

#showtooltip Misdirection 

/focus [modifier:alt] 

/cast [target=focus,help][help][target=pet,exists,nodead] Misdirection 

/clearfocus [button:2]

2.  I then hit Serpent Sting, Aimed Shot and Arcane shot, to get the sting up there and the misdirected threat onto the tank.

3.  I send my pet in with the following macro, which also applies hunters mark:


/cast Kill Command

/cast hunter’s mark

4.  I then use the following shots:

  • Arcane and Aimed shots whenever they are off cooldown. 
  • Chimera Shot when it is off cooldown to refresh Serpent Sting.  
  • Serpent Sting if for any reason it was not refreshed by Chimera (e.g. I was incapacitated by the boss) – Steady Shot glyph and Chimera Shot damage mean this is essential.
  • Steady shot in between cooldowns.  
  • Reapply Hunter’s Mark in fights longer than 2mins (remember Marked for Death).  
  • Recast Kill Command every minute for pet.  
  • Let the pet autocast rabid and call of the wild (even as a BM I was not sure if I should be controlling these or not to max damage; I suspect this would lead to more targeted use of them, but them being less often used, so I let him autocast).  
  • Use rapid fire and trinkets whenever they are off cooldown and try and time a rapid fire/trinket use to when the boss is at able 25% health, then pop readiness and use another before he is dead.  (I guess I might be able to use readiness at the beginning and end of longer fights, but I usually save it till the end unless I know in advance how long the fight will take).
  • Use kill shot every time it is available, readiness allowing an extra one. 
  •  I will also be watching my aggro using Omen, and pop more misdirections onto the tank throughout the fight, plus a feign death if needed to dump aggro after a big crit.  
  • Need to watch pets health and even maybe through in a mend pet if he’s suffering, I will recall him to my side sometimes to heal up rather than letting in carry on dying under aoe damage, before sending him back into the fight.


To make it simpler I have been trying out the following macro:

/console Sound_EnableSFX 0

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()

/cast kill shot

/cast kill command 

/castsequence , steady shot

/castsequence chimera shot, arcane shot, aimed shot

/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

It will weave Steady, chimera, arcane and aimed shots, casting kill shot and kill command as priorities when they are available.  It seems to work very well.  However, I am not sure whether it gets the priority right, or whether it clips shots at all.  Sometimes I find myself on the beginning of a Steady and I see Kill Shot has just become available, so I move to cancel the start of the steady and manually cast the kill shot.   You have to start off with a Serpent Sting and then watch the buff careful to ensure it has got refreshed every time by Chimera shot.  If you don’t have lag and aren’t incapacitated it does refresh, otherwise you need to weave one in again.


My gear is not optimized for a marksman build.  I have chosen Armor Penetration whenever I could over haste.  I don’t have particularly high intellect, and I have shoved +32 attack power gems in every socket I can find.  I am not going to re-enchant and re-socket while testing, but if I stuck to the MM build, I would want some more haste and intellect on my gear.


I took the build for a test drive on target dummies, while soloing, and to heroic Utgarde Keep, Utgarde Pinnacle, Violet Hold, and Culling of Straholme.  

First of all, I have to say how much I liked the build.  It seemed to suit my play style, allowing some macroing, and some manual weaving of shots.  Instant shots for when a lot of movement was required, readiness to throw in some big damage or help with trapping, and silencing shot for pulling those pesky casters.  I enjoyed the big crits, over 11,000 on some Kill Shots, and my damage looked pretty good.  Compared to beastmaster, I missed the stun of Intimidation, and of course my Bestial Wrath, but BM hunters don’t really have a lot of tricks and gimmicky shots to miss.  Soloing did not seem a problem, my bear and gorilla and even cat held aggro well most of the time, and if I did pull a couple of major crits and pull the mob, it was virtually dead by the time it reached me so I just sliced its head off with my sword.

Mostly my damage seemed just about 2,000DPS.  Sometimes it hit around 2,200DPS.  With my gear and previous BM build, I was seeing damage of similar figures with a top end in 5-mans of 2,400DPS (and 2,800DPS in 10-mans).  My cat, Gilgalad, seemed to contribute around 300DPS to my 1,700 – about 15% of our total DPS.  As a BM hunter he had been 35-40% of our total DPS before the patch.

I recorded some of the recount info as screenshots, but I just want to post this one, so that you can see the breakdown of the main shots, and the high crits you can get with the build:



I have to say I really liked MM.  It seemed to suit my play-style, I was glad my pet didn’t feel totally useless, and I felt with more practice and some tweaks to my equipment and gems, I could squeeze more damage out of it.

Any comments from serious and experienced MM hunters on how I could improve my chosen spec or shot rotations would be much appreciated.

Next up is a survival build.