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Hunter Guide - and Discussion
I thought we might find a comprehensive guide useful for DPS discussion and ideas.

Warning: Long.

- Phoronid.


Hunter Guide:

(Thanks to Zlinka for the idea and some of the format/language.)

Disclaimer: Feel free to debate, argue, and otherwise discuss. I have tried all these specs, but I am not omni-anything.

This is a PvE guide. I don’t arena, where split second details matter.

Hunter class choices:

Play what class you would most like to stare at and roleplay. Seriously.


The most popular can change day to day, it seems.

Play what you most enjoy and perfect it. Also, have a second spec available and practiced for sake of raid wide buff balancing, and for some fights that prefer a specific spec.

Highest DPS? Really depends on the type of fight, length of the fight, and the RNG (random number generator).

Marksman and Survival are “Stand and shoot” above BM, but can highly depend on your lag, movement requirements, the RNG, and how perfect your shot rotation is able to be.

BM is regarded as 10% below the other two in raw “stand and shoot” DPS, but has advantages in movement fights and “often out of range” fights.

Each spec supplies key raid wide buffs - so my typical recommendation is to try and get one of each per raid if possible.

(I personally am BM / MM dual specced, as I dislike the RNG aspect of survival *grin*).

A few examples, though I would use the links at the bottom of this post to see the differences and therefore the choices to make.

53/13/5 - <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#ctbMzgxRfu0est0emoZx:Afi">http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#ctbMzgxRfu0est0emoZx:Afi</a><!-- m -->
53/18/0 - <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#ctbMztxRfuoest0eVooh:Afi">http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#ctbMztxRfuoest0eVooh:Afi</a><!-- m -->

Survival - Main differences tend to revolve around need for Hunting Party (Replenishment):
6/14/51 - <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://ptr.wowhead.com/?talent=cxoZ0eVoZx0ci0cIhxdAhsz">http://ptr.wowhead.com/?talent=cxoZ0eVoZx0ci0cIhxdAhsz</a><!-- m -->
0/14/57 - <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://ptr.wowhead.com/?talent=cZ0eVoZx0ci0cIhedAhsu">http://ptr.wowhead.com/?talent=cZ0eVoZx0ci0cIhedAhsu</a><!-- m -->

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cxbZ0eVsRhzGIkguAox00b">http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cxbZ0eVsRhzGIkguAox00b</a><!-- m -->
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cxbZ0eAsRhzGIktuqox00b">http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cxbZ0eAsRhzGIktuqox00b</a><!-- m -->
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cxbZ0eVbRhzGIsguAox00b">http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cxbZ0eVbRhzGIsguAox00b</a><!-- m -->

Gear: What stats to go for.

Hit: 263 – This can be tweaked by Focused Aim and other bits and pieces, but 263 is the best number to aim for universally and to not spec Focused Aim. For your pet, the hit rounds down, so make sure you get to 263 and not even one point below that, or your pet will be 1% missing!

Agility / Attack Power. Different specs will quibble back and forth as to which is better in what quantities. Generally, go for Agility. This is the preferred gem for MM and Survival currently, and is still very good in BM. It also allows you to more easily spec-swap without needing to worry about the best gems.

Armor penetration: To be very honest, I have read a lot of theory crafting on armor penetration and it still confuses me. I never gem/enchant for it, and tend to just enjoy it on my Blizzard-given gear. The biggest point of figuring it out is trinkets, in which case I double check on femaledwarf.com and see what the number-crunchers say. The general thoughts right now is to aim for 600 ArP, or ignore it and let the gear just give it to you when it is there. ArP does not scale to your pet, so is much less useful in a BM spec.

Crit: Get it from agility and don’t gem for it.

Intelligence: Many hunter specs convert this to attack power, and it adds to your mana pool and mana regeneration in a long fight. A good raiding choice for many specs. Intelligence does enough for all hunters that almost always, using rogue leather gear is a major DPS decrease. (Unless it is a disturbingly big upgrade in gear level)

Haste: Still on the list, but not anywhere close to a priority. I like it as BM to get my Steady Shot to the GCD, but only as a secondary thought.

Dodge/Block/Expertise – Ignore these. Really. Ignore them.


Meta: Relentless Earthsiege Diamond
To fulfill your meta: Nightmare Tear. Personally, I like to put this in my hat with the meta.

Red: Delicate for agility
Red: Bright for attack power
Yellow: Only if you need hit, and these can be made orange to micro-manage.
Blue: Use a red choice in most cases.
Some MM hunters like to make these Intelligence gems for raiding to great effect.

Ignore the socket bonuses.


Head and shoulder enchants are reputation rewards from the Knights of the Ebon Blade and the Sons of Hodir, respectively. These are bind on ACCOUNT, so only one of your toons needs to get to exalted with them.

- - -

Enchant Weapon - Massacre. You can slap the lower level one on for leveling or temporary weapons.

Head: Arcanum of Torment. This is the revered rep reward from the Knights of the Ebon Blade.

Shoulder: Inscriptionists should use Master's Inscription of the Axe. Everyone else use Greater Inscription of the Axe which is the Sons of Hodir exalted reward.

Chest: Enchant Chest - Powerful Stats is the best. It's very expensive, however, so if you are going to replace the chest soon you can use Super Stats which is almost as good and much less expensive.

Waist: All belts should have an [Eternal Belt Buckle], which gives you a free socket.

Legs: Leatherworkers should use Nerubian Leg Reinforcements, everyone else use Icescale Leg Armor.

Feet: Engineers use Nitro Boosts, everyone else use Icewalker. If you don't need the hit, +32 AP.

Wrists: Leatherworkers use Fur Lining - Attack Power, everyone else use Enchant Bracers - Greater Assault. In addition to the enchant, Blacksmiths should add a socket to their bracers for a free gem.

Hands: Enchant Gloves + 20 Agility. In addition to the enchant, Blacksmiths should add a socket to their gloves for a free gem.

Ring (enchanters only): Assault

Back: Tailors use Swordguard Embroidery, Engineers use Flexweave Underlay, Everyone else use Major Agility.

Ranged Weapon: Heartseeker Scope


Minor Glyphs should be obvious (Hint: Mend Pet)


Kill Shot - Kill shot is your hardest hitting shot and if you can buff it further with your cool downs, you can do serious burst damage.
Serpent sting - It gives you more GCDs to fire off better shots during the fight.
Steady shot - This is your most fired shot so buffing it is good.

Bestial Wrath has been replaced as a BM glyph due to a recent change.

Serpent Sting, increases the duration of your serpent sting by 6 seconds, this glyph is 100% required for MM.

The other two can be by personal choice and style: Kill Shot, Hawk, Chimera Shot, Aimed Shot, True Shot Aura, Hunter's Mark, Steady Shot.

Explosive Shot - Increases crit rating on Explosive Shot by 4%.
Kill Shot - Reduces the cooldown on Kill Shot by 6 sec. Valuable on longer fights where you spend more time at sub20% health.
Choose: Steady Shot is better on short fights, Serpent Sting on longer fights - Overall the difference is small and you should really make the decision based on how often you like refreshing Serpent Sting.

Get the epic arrows or bullets. They are dirt cheap to make once you find an engineer that can make them. I am always happy to make the arrows for anyone. 2 crystallized shadow per 1000 stack.

Flask – Endless Rage. Some folks like to burn through haste potions in a complex rotation of 15 second potion buffs instead, but that really looks like too much work (and money) vs. the DPS increase to me!

Food – Fish Feasts are fine. Thank the chef. Be the chef sometimes.

Pet food – Don’t forget the pet food! Pet buffs to stamina and strength can be significant. Go farm those mammoths!


1. Before the fight – Hunter’s Mark. Possibly done by another hunter who is talented /and/or glyphed into it.

2. As the tank is running up: Misdirection (use focus macro). If the group is PUG, you might need to tell them that you are misdirecting your threat to the tank and not just “going off early”. Don’t ever pull for the tank if they haven’t asked you to, but feel free help once the tank chooses to engage!

3. As the tank engages (and the Misdirection begins): have the command /petattack macroed to your opening shot. This gets the pet moving as the shot is released, not after the shot lands. With some pet charge or dash, the pet will arrive with your shot.

I tend to macro combine /petattack to my kill shot, since I know it will only turn on my auto-shot at the start of a fight, and not interrupt my chosen misdirect choices via the global cooldown.

4. BM: If your pet dies, that takes full priority over any other DPS actions, besides emergency situations.

5. Shot priority. Quite simply, shoot as close to the front of the priority list as possible.
If you place your shots on your bar in this order, you can easily visualize your shot priority.

5a. Adding the long cooldown abilities.

Those would include anything at a minute or longer: Bestial Wrath, Trinkets, Blood Fury (Orcs), Rapid Fire, Preparation, Call of the Wild, etc…

I have not included the longer cool downs in the shot rotations except for in the case of the Marksman rotation. Typically, blow cool downs whenever they are up, keeping in mind the tank aggro, life of the target, and whether a boss fight is coming up. They tend to work well in clusters, combining trinkets with BW, for example. This will take practice.

You typically want to use the cooldown ASAP and together, so they can recharge. I like to blow cooldowns as I misdirect, to both increase my DPS and increase tank threat. (Be sure that misdirect worked before you rip away aggro, though!)

Save rapid fire for bloodlust!

Feign Death – As BM I tend to only use it during wipes. Other spec will need to practice their use of FD specific to their own threat and the specific tank. Remember to let the death animation complete, or the FD has a good chance of not working.

5b. BeastMaster: Buff that pet!

Kill Shot, Arcane Shot, Aimed Shot or Multi-Shot (depending on circumstance), Serpent Sting, Steady Shot as filler.

Beast-master hunters should switch to Aspect of the beast for the ten seconds of Bestial Wrath (while you are red), and then switch back to Dragonhawk. It may seem odd, but is worth the extra button push. Often, blowing AP cool downs will also help, as the pet gets bonuses which matter more to DPS then your shots for those ten seconds.

BM is no longer the steady shot spam spec. It got a lot more complex recently (beyond pet management) and a lot more fun. We are (debatably) the only hunter spec that cares about haste, since we still cast a lot of steady shot, but more on that in another section.

Note: Arcane Shot is in there for only when you have no mana issues. In most raids and short fights, this will be true.

5c. Marksman: Free silences with every shot!

This is all about Rapid Fire management and the joy of the ‘global cool down ignoring’ Silencing Shot.

* Silencing Shot should be macroed into all other shots, as it ignores the global cool down.

Serpent Sting (Once – it auto renews), Chimera Shot, Kill Shot, Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot,
Steady Shot

Arcane shot can be dropped with enough ArP – so that will take some research and practice.

Your DPS boosting cool downs should be used as often as possible during a boss fight, with the Rapid Fire > Readiness > Rapid Fire chain getting the most use.

There are a few schools of thought regarding the exact timing of the cool downs, so I would highly recommend practice and research.

5d. Survival: Explosive Shot Dancing!

This is all about watching for when Lock and Load procs. Welcome to being an indentured servant to the RNG!

Shot Priority:
Kill Shot, Explosive Shot, Black Arrow, Serpent Sting, Aimed or Multi, Steady Shot

If you have the set buffs to Serpent Sting, this will likely take priority over Black Arrow.
Serpent Sting and Black Arrow have durations which should be taken into account for when they should be shot. Watching the boss de-buffs and/or using a shot length cooldown could be very useful

During a Lock and load proc:

Don’t just hit Explosive Shot many times in succession. Due to the Explosive DoT effect and shot travel time, you want to pause between the explosive shots.

1. Explosive Shot
2. (wait 2 seconds) (GCD + .5 sec)
3. Explosive Shot
4. (wait 2 seconds) (GCD + .5 sec)
5. Explosive Shot

(recently edited due to excellent comments, below)


Unless you are soloing or PvPing, use a ferocity pet. Period.

When soloing lower level stuff, realize that a ferocity pet self-heals in combat, so still might be the preferred pet.

The choice of a pet really boils down to choosing the “bonus” pet-type ability.

I personally would rather sacrifice the minor DPS boost of a Wolf, Devilsaur (BM), or cat for the sake of giving the melee a little more breathing room (via my tallstrider), but every hunter is different.

The self-healing pet abilities are mostly wasted due to the self-healing talent in the ferocity tree.

I hear great things about many of the flying pets as well, but have not researched these to a great degree due to the endless flapping bugging the heck out of me.

Choosing your specific pet talents is often debated, but generally aim for the ones that increase DPS. I really like Blood of the Phoenix, since most of our damage is pet-based and it saves 1-2 seconds of pet resurrection time, though many would rather grab another point in a DPS skill.

I recommend <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wow-petopia.com">http://www.wow-petopia.com</a><!-- m --> for all of this, and as long as your pet is talented for DPS and is a ferocity pet, go for it.

An example talent spec: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com/?petcalc#cud00fc00hoRb">http://www.wowhead.com/?petcalc#cud00fc00hoRb</a><!-- m -->


I find a macro to cast misdirect on your focus target to be key. Absolutely a DPS must is to get the tank as much aggro as possible - so you can get more shots in without pulling aggro!

Also, combining abilities into one button can also be useful, like /petattack and Silencing Shot.


Get all the typical raid add-ons.

Omen threat meter – To time your Feign Death and determine your best Misdirect shots.

Deadly Boss Mods – Makes life in raiding much easier

Recount - *not* to determine how elite you are compared to your companions’ raid DPS, but to double check your rotations and personal strategies. Can be brutally annoying if the RNG hates you that day, (especially when survival)

Beyond that, much in the way of add-ons are based on player preference. There are lots of add-ons that give visual clues for aspect, range, mana, pet control, and stings. Look at what you tend to forget to do, and check the add-ons on curse.com and see what pops up!

Websites (In case you want to ignore this guide and do the research on your own):

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowhead.com">http://www.wowhead.com</a><!-- m --> – search for abilities and talents and read the comments

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.worldofwarcraft.com">http://www.worldofwarcraft.com</a><!-- m --> – the stickies in the class forums can be very useful, the non-stickied are usually not as useful, and sometimes horrid.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wow.com">http://www.wow.com</a><!-- m --> – always read the comments to see if there were any clear errors in the article

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.femaledwarf.com">http://www.femaledwarf.com</a><!-- m --> - Hunter specific gear DPS check. Very thorough and all math. A great site for gear upgrades or figuring out the funkiness.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.hunterloot.com">http://www.hunterloot.com</a><!-- m --> – All loot is hunter loot, but some loots are better then other loots. This another loot site. Each uses different ratings, so good to look at many.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowwebstats.com">http://www.wowwebstats.com</a><!-- m --> - Raidwide stats, often done by one raid member and posted for analysis

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wow-petopia.com">http://www.wow-petopia.com</a><!-- m --> - Best site on the internet for hunter pets.

elitistjerks.com/forums.php - Theory crafting at it’s most complex. Amazing, but not for the new theory crafter

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.worldofraids.com">http://www.worldofraids.com</a><!-- m --> - General raiding database

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowpopular.com">http://www.wowpopular.com</a><!-- m --> – Popular talent builds. A key look for polishing your build.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wow-heroes.com">http://www.wow-heroes.com</a><!-- m --> – Proceed with caution as far as gearscores go, but clicking on other hunters can give good loot goal ideas.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.codeplex.com/Rawr">http://www.codeplex.com/Rawr</a><!-- m -->). Rawr can add some good gear-comparison knowledge.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://gear-wishlist.appspot.com/">http://gear-wishlist.appspot.com/</a><!-- m --> - Also for gear ideas.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wowwiki.com/Hit">http://www.wowwiki.com/Hit</a><!-- m --> - Wow-wiki in general is a great resource. (Especially for lore!)

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.maxdps.com">http://www.maxdps.com</a><!-- m --> – Another gear site, also give the basic rotation reminders. Their math is a little odd, but nice for planning where to instance next.

edit: fixed a few typoes and a couple of enchant suggestions.
Awesome guide, Phoronid! My poor, benighted little hunters will have to peruse it more thoroughly.

One thing for all classes to consider is that if particular fights demand particular types of min-maxing, there's no reason not to get a stack of various glyphs to swap in and out as needed. As you point out, Serpent Sting might be great in one situation, but maybe Aimed Shot or Freezing Trap would be key in the next fight.

Glyph mats are extremely cheap. Dump your crappy Tiger Lily, Fireweed, and Deadnettle on your guild scribes to mill out and make inks. All inks can be obtained through trading Northrend ink, so you don't even need to hunt down specific herbs to mill for different recipes. My scribe has every single trained and glyph mastery book recipe, and is on the last 15 or 16 daily discoveries, so between IST's scribes and mine, everyone should be covered. Take a look at your options, and don't just dismiss the glyph slots as a static buff.
Nganga Nyeusi
He is fast and is the danger.
What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
Very, nice guide, Phoronid! Well put together and easy find exactly what you need.

I would like to offer a few observations about survival hunters.

The spec for Survival I prefer is this 0/15/56 http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#cZ0eVooZx0ci0cIhedAhsd

This spec is very similar to the second spec you have linked. The main difference is with this spec you give up one point of hunting party for aimed shot. I prefer to have aimed shot because, for me, it seems to be better dps on single targets over multi-shot. I believe this is because aimed shot gains a 6% damage buff from sniper training where multi-shot does not. The aimed shot de-buff is also nice for some fights as well. Obviously, in a multi mob situation, you would fire multi-shot over aimed shot. For me I like to have that option for both shots. Giving up one point of replenishment (hunting party) for aimed shot is worth it in my opinion.

The other thing I would like to add is about Lock and load procs. This is the most important mechanic for a survival hunter. As Phoronid has stated, it is absolutely essential that you don't just spam explosive shots when lock and load procs so you don't clip the explosive shot DOT. One way of achieving this is to shoot another shot in between your explosive shots to avoid clipping your explosive shot DOT. That method works fine and is quite acceptable. It is actually preferred to not shoot another shot in between explosive shot. It is considered to be a bit of a dps boost not to shoot another shot in between your explosive shot. Instead, you should fire explosive shot then wait two seconds and fire another explosive shot. This article explains it better than I can. http://www.warcrafthuntersunion.com/2009...hot-cycle/ What I do is just fire explosive shot and look at the target debuffs and locate the explosive shot DOT ticking down. When the DOT is just about to expire I fire my next explosive shot. Some use the addon quartz to keep track of it, I do not. I don't find it too bad to keep track of.

Also, here is a pet talent spec for non-beastmasters.

Lastly, here is a macro for misdirect that I use. It's very handy so you don't have find a target then cast misdirect. Just set focus on your tank and have fun.

#showtooltip misdirection
/cast [target=focus] misdirection

Keep hunting!

Stalkinghoof, 85th level Tauren Hunter
Krinar Cloudcleaver, 85th level Tauren Warrior
Zerthis Waterwalker, 85th level Orc Shaman

Yeah, Survival is the spec I am roughest on, so I expected I might need some detail on that one. I appreciate it.

I use aimed shot in my BM spec as well, just since multi-shot is sometimes a bad idea and I fear breaking mage sheep/turtle.
My spec is different then both of the linked ones, but I figured I would link the more popular ones. Wink

I use the same macro. Love it. Would have linked it, but was at work. (on break! *hides*)

Another hunter link, thanks to a wow.com link:

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.thehuntersmark.net">http://www.thehuntersmark.net</a><!-- m -->

Hey, every perspective helps!

- Phoro.
While I don't agree with all of the tips here, this is another set of BM hunter opinions.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wow.com/2010/02/01/scattered-shots-beast-mastery-101/">http://www.wow.com/2010/02/01/scattered ... stery-101/</a><!-- m -->
Brutal, but with good information about BM.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.wow.com/2010/02/11/scattered-shots-can-beast-mastery-raid/#continued">http://www.wow.com/2010/02/11/scattered ... #continued</a><!-- m -->

EJ has a new Survival writeup which was very useful.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://elitistjerks.com/f74/t90607-survival_hunter_3_3_a/">http://elitistjerks.com/f74/t90607-surv ... ter_3_3_a/</a><!-- m -->
Added to the stat advice: Ignore the PvP stats! They are useless for hunters in PvE!

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