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Guide to playing a hunter

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Hunters combine elements of nature and crafty artifice to scout, confound, and destroy their foes. A well-played Hunter makes everything easier for the group with very little maintenance. This from a combination of ranged DPS, threat manipulation, safe pulling, and the most versatile crowd control in the game.

No other class uses ranged weapons with real effectiveness. Hunters can send in a flurry of arrows or barrage of shells for solid raw damage, but also command a variety of special Shots and Stings. These can daze, disorient, silence, sleep, poison, drain mana, or cause clumsiness in their targets.

Hunters have the only permanent, personalizable pets. Almost any species of beast in a wide array of colorings can be tamed. Pets make soloing much easier, as your own pocket tank. Tuned damage dealing pets can significantly boost your DPS. And they allow for certain distraction tactics.

One of the best reasons to have a Hunter around is the ability to keep a mob of any type occupied indefinitely with Freezing Traps. With a little patience and certain talents, additional mobs can be sidelined for a brief, critical time.

Overall, this is one of the classes which scales most dramatically with player skill. You get out what you are willing to put in.


Frequently Asked Questions

I want to do a lot of damage. Is this a good class for me?

Certainly a good class, but not necessarily the best fit. Depending on how you prefer to play, the complexity of pet management and split second timing for optimal shot rotations may sound interesting or like too much hassle. Same goes for having to deal with your ranged attacks not working against targets within 8 yards. But put in the effort and you will deal serious damage with relatively little maintenance required.


I want to be helpful to my group. Is this a good class for me?

Can be! A Marks or Survival spec Hunter has the best crowd control potential in the game, but takes practice to achieve. Pets can offtank in a pinch. Hunters are uniquely able to "safe pull" every thirty seconds by aborting tricky-pulls-gone-wrong with Feign Death. Misdirection allows Hunters to send extra threat to specified tanks. Finally, each of the three trees has either a group or raid damage buff.


Is it possible to play a Hunter without using a pet?

Possibly. But neglecting pet use even as a Marks or Survival Hunter will make your overall damage subpar. Pet attack power scales by its master's ranged attack power, which Marks Hunters have in abundance. Extra Focus regen from crits courtesy of the talent Go for the Throat is especially high for Survival Hunters. All three trees are "pet trees" in their own way. In a today group for a raid or instance, you would be looked down upon for not "knowing" your class.


Is it possible to play a melee-oriented Hunter?

Again it is possible but neglecting ranged attacks and utility is even worse than neglecting your pet and is looked down upon. Hunter melee is designed around delivering a heavy burst of damage while snaring or rooting your opponent with the goal of moving back to range. Hunters have no facility for sustained melee damage.


What difference does race make?

Draenei - Gift of the Naaru: decent heal-over-time on a 3 min cooldown. 1% Hit aura to party. 5 Jewelcrafting skill. 10 Shadow Resist.
Dwarf - Stoneform: 8 seconds of Bleed, Poison, and Disease immunity/removal on a 3 min cooldown. 5 Gun skill. Can track treasure chests. 10 Frost Resist.
Night Elf - Shadowmeld: can stealth when standing still out of combat. 1% Dodge chance. Faster ghost speed. 10 Nature Resist.
Blood Elf - Arcane Torrent: instant AoE Silence on a 2 min cooldown. Mana Tap: drains enemy mana slightly and gives it to you during the next Torrent. 10 Enchanting skill. 5 all-school Magic Resist.
Orc - Blood Fury: self-buff to increase Attack Power but cut received healing in half for 15 sec on a 2 min cooldown. Pet melee damage increased by 5%. 5 Axe skill. 15% stun and knockdown resistance.
Tauren - War Stomp: instant AoE stun on a 2 min cooldown. Health increased by 5%. 15 Herbalism skill. 10 Nature resistance.
Troll - Berserking: 10-30% Haste buff for 10 seconds (more when activated at low health) on a 3 min cooldown. 5% damage bonus against Beasts. 10% Health regen allowed in combat. 5 Throwing Weapon and Bow skill.

Orcs and Draenei are especially good for PvE; Dwarves and Tauren for PvP. But every race has interesting perqs and can be effective in any environment. Don't let races with +Gun or +Bow skill make you feel locked into those weapons. Weapon skill doesn't make much of a difference nowadays.


What talent spec should I be?

Any of the three trees can be effective when played well, though strengths differ:

Beast Mastery - Best personal DPS. Stacking party damage buff works on magic users too. Strong soloing. Favored for 2v2 and 3v3 Arena. Poor crowd control.
Marksmanship - High PvP control and burst damage. Favored for 5v5 Arena. Strong soloing and crowd control. Mediocre non-stacking physical party buff. Tends to be lowest sustained damage among well geared Hunters.
Survival - Good personal damage. Potent non-stacking raid buff for physical attackers. Excellent crowd control. Poor soloing.


What's the spec for leveling?

Both Beast Mastery and Marksmanship are solid leveling specs, especially once you have either 31 point talent. Survival requires a lot of talent points and appropriate gear for the synergy to kick in. It pays to do your pet research early. Some looks are only available early on; leveling a lowbie pet later on is a pain.


What are some good, specific talent builds?

If you need to adapt from someone else's builds, I recommend using the Armory to look at top PvE guilds and Arena teams. That said, here a few examples of a raiding-oriented Beast, Marks, then Survival build:

http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=mVbR0gxRwuVoVVbRV
http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=VVbZVViRVzGestMh
http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=VZVVbRVZIu00xcrhVbAo

Please do not complain or try to tweak these builds in this thread. They are provided as samples only that are -- incidentally -- currently in use by specific Hunters in highly progressed guilds. Take the time to understand what talents do, then make your own tweaks to fit your style and raid composition. For instance, I use this heroic/raiding Survival build:

http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=VZVgboVzhZIu0MdfMhVuh


What gear should I use? Which enchants and gems?

I recommend using the Gear Choice Calculator linked at the end of this guide. Right now, Agility gems and enchants tend to be the best for all specs thanks to their Attack Power/Crit synergy.


What's the best pet?

See "Choosing a Pet" later in this guide. Short answer is that only the beast family matters and current popular beast families are: Cat, Ravager, Raptor, Wind Serpent, Boar, Scorpid, and Owl.


There are too many Hunters. How do I distinguish myself?

Improve yourself in four areas: Trapping, Kiting, Low Maintenance, and DPS.

Take the time to hone broad skills and you will be noticed.


What is "double trapping"?

While it may seem like a Hunter can only trap one mob at a time, the restriction is only on unactivated traps. Lay down one trap and wait until your trap cooldown is complete or nearly so. Pull two mobs toward yourself. As soon as one mob hits your first trap, drop the second trap. Two ice cubes.


How does Misdirection work?

Misdirection is a 30-second buff cast on a group or raid member. Your next attack will trigger a 4-second countdown, in which, all actions taken will cause threat to generate on your Misdirection's target rather than yourself. On a pull, shooting one mob will aggro every mob onto your group member just as if she pulled the group instead. Use Misdirection to give a tank (or your pet) an extra burst of threat.

If another Hunter casts Misdirection on the same friendly target before your charges are consumed, your buff will disappear. It's also possible to abort Misdirection by right clicking the linked, twin buff on your own character. Smart when you accidentally Misdirect a healer. Misdirect->Volley does appear to work on AoE pulls.


How does Track Hidden work?

Unlike other Tracking spells, Track Hidden does not automatically show you every hidden creature within range. Minimap dots will only show for "hidden but visible" things like friendly Druids or really close enemy Rogues. The real value is that your stealth detection is also boosted considerably. A level 70 Rogue will be detected as a level 64 Rogue. Track Hidden is three times more potent than Catseye Elixir and cancels out Master of Deception/Feral Instinct talents twice over.


Does Humanoid Slaying work in PvP?

Yes, if your player targets are in Humanoid form. Anything that shows up on your minimap during Track Humanoids will work for Humanoid Slaying. Druids and Shaman in form will track as Beasts and so Monster Slaying (and Scare Beast) will work on them. "Undead" players are actually classed as Humanoid, not Undead.


How do I do more damage?

See the Damage Optimization section in this guide.


When is my gear good enough to switch to [some particular] spec?

Any time. Despite some real differences, forum posters over dramatize the concept of gearing to a spec before actually switching.


Which is better: Crit or Attack Power?

Neither. The two have a synergistic relationship. The value of X amount of Crit scales up when you add Attack Power. The value of Y amount of Attack Power also scales up when you add Crit.

There is a common misconception that -- for any particular spec and ranged weapon combination -- Y amount of Attack Power is better than X amount of Crit until a certain Attack Power threshold is reached, thereafter X amount of Crit will always be better. However, if you keep stacking Crit past such a local threshold, Y amount of Attack Power will soon become optimal once again.

Best thing to do is use a tool like the Gear Choice Calculator linked at the end of this guide.


Battle Elixir? Guardian Elixir? Flasks, oh my! What does all this mean?

A fully prepared Hunter may have one food buff, weapon oils, and:

One Battle Elixir AND one Guardian Elixir
or
One Flask.

The advantage to a Flask is that it persists through death and lasts two hours. Elixir of Major Agility tends to grant the most ranged DPS, but feel free to use the Gear Choice Calculator at the end of this guide to help choose.

Beyond buffs there are three other separate consumable timers.

  • Potions (Health and Mana, primarily).
  • Bandages
  • Other stuff (Healthstones, Fel Blossom, Nets, etc.)


Which is better for DPS: Blessing of Might or Blessing of Kings?

Until you have about 1100 Agility before Kings, untalented Blessing of Might will grant more damage. Marks Hunters with Careful Aim transition at about 900 Agility. Of course the Hunter applying Exposed Weakness will probably contribute more to a large raid with Kings at any point.

Might is better for pets.


How does kiting work?

Depends whether you are in an instance. Inside, mobs will follow you until you zone out, one of you dies, or you evade bug them. Just smack the mob with any Shot and run away. Use Aspect of the Cheetah if the mob doesn't have ranged attacks, otherwise wear some kind of run speed enhancer. Cheetah does not stack with run enhancers.

Outside instances, you must strike the mob with a new attack regularly or it will lose interest and run back to its spawn location. Upper limit is about 15 seconds. It helps to use the Mouselook function: hold down the right mouse button and spin the mouse to look around instead of turning with the keyboard. Sensitivity is adjustable in Interface Options. Shooting sideways is one way to keep running away at full speed. Jumping locks in your direction and velocity while in the air, so jumping then twisting around (180 and back or full 360) to shoot is a popular way to kite. Arcane Shot Rank 1 is a cheap way to hold a mob's interest.

To actually kill a kited mob use Serpent Sting, Traps, Arcane Shot, and possibly quick stops for Auto/Multi. After building up some threat, have your pet attack too. Telling it to Stay while you and the kited mob run away will zero out your pet's threat. Then just call it again. Mobs vulnerable to Freezing Trap can be alternatively shot and trapped until dead.


What are "linked mobs"?

When you shoot one mob out of a pack there are two ways the surrounding mobs can be aggro'd: hard link or proximity link. A hard link means if one is in combat with you the others are also forced into combat. Proximity link means the only reason the others attack is that they were close to the one you pulled.

Most Outlands packs are hard linked and a lot of old world packs have been retrofitted with hard links, but not all. It's possible to split proximity linked mobs by initially pulling them all, then Feigning Death. Another player can strike just one of them just before you Feign to keep that one in combat. Alternatively, slowing effects can stagger the pack's return. First one to get back is pulled again while the rest are still evading back to the start location. Splitting techniques can still be useful when two separate groups of mobs path near each other.


The tank keeps pulling. I thought Hunters were a pulling class?

For regular, no-frills pulls it is usually handier for the tank to pull. This even makes it easier to peel off a target (or two) into your traps. Hunters make the tricky pulls safer. Ask your party to stand back so you can feign if a second group aggros. Whenever healing threat might cause a problem, try pulling with a Misdirection.


Where can I find ammo, food and stables?

Stables are usually next to Inns. Use an item database website and search for Jagged Arrows or Accurate Slugs to find nearly all NPCs selling arrows and shells in both Azeroth and Outlands.

There is also a certain level of food low enough to be for sale in Azeroth and high enough to be for sale in Outlands. Search according to type:

  • Bread - Homemade Cherry Pie
  • Cheese - Alterac Swiss
  • Fish - Spinefin Halibut
  • Fruit - Deep Fried Plantains
  • Fungus - Dried King Bolete
  • Meat - Roasted Quail


Why does my pet mysteriously die around Netherwing Ledge?

You dismount momentarily when switching from your own flying mount to the Netherdrake illusion. This causes your pet to reappear and fall to its death.

Pet Basics

"Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - Mary Ann Evans

A Hunter's pet is a constant companion, weapon, and shield. Almost every situation can be improved by intelligent pet use.

Taming a Pet

At level 10, you will be directed to a particular class trainer depending on race.

Dwarf - Grif Wildheart in Kharanos, Dun Morogh
Night Elf - Dazalar in Dolanaar, Teldrassil
Draenei - Huntress Kella Nightbow south of The Exodar, Azuremyst
Orc/Troll - Thotar in Razor Hill, Durotar
Tauren - Yaw Sharpmane in Bloodhoof Village, Mulgore
Blood Elf - Lieutenant Dawnrunner in Silvermoon City, Eversong

This trainer will give you a series of three quests called "Taming the Beast." For each part, you are provided with a Taming Rod which will only work on the indicated quest beast. Turn in the third part to learn a new skill 'Tame Beast'. You will then be sent to a more advanced class trainer who will teach you 'Feed Pet' and 'Revive Pet'.

At this point you can tame nearly anything with 'Beast' on its tooltip. There are some exceptions such as moths and fish. You must also find a beast at your own level or below.

To tame a beast, simply select it and click 'Tame Beast.' Several things will happen. The beast will attack you, your armor will drop to zero, and you will start a 20 second spell channel. If any other player pulls aggro on the beast, taming will fail.

Taming tips

  • Clear the area of any other mobs or hostile players.
  • Start at max taming range: 30 yards. Farther if pulling with a Shot.
  • Once you have Freezing Trap, lay one down before starting.
  • Concussive Shot will slow the beast's approach.
  • Scorpid Sting and Aspect of the Monkey reduce damage taken.
  • Have some food ready to use right after taming. Otherwise it may run away.

Sometimes taming will still fail for unknown reasons. Run away or Feign Death to reset the mob and try again. Once taming succeeds, you can rename your pet once by right clicking its portrait and selecting 'Rename'.

Happiness

Pets have a special type of status: Happiness. There are three levels of Happiness shown by the face icon next to the pet's health bar:

  • Happy - green smiling face. Pet does 125% of normal damage.
  • Content - yellow neutral face. Pet does normal damage.
  • Unhappy - red frowning face. Pet does 75% of normal damage.

Increase Happiness by feeding your pet. Happiness is lost when your pet dies (big amount), when you cast Dismiss Pet (small amount), or just by having it out at all (slow trickle). Tell your pet to stay then run away from it or simply mount up to cause a no-penalty dismissal.

Feeding

Depending on your pet's family (e.g. a Boar or Serpent), it will only eat particular types of food. Usually one to three from the following list: Fish, Meat, Fruit, Fungus, Cheese, Bread. At level 24, you'll learn a new spell 'Beast Lore' which lists the kind of foods the targeted Beast likes. Nearly every kind of pet will either eat Meat or Bread.

The simplest way to feed your pet is just to drag the food item out of your inventory and drop it on the pet. It will gain a 'Feed Pet Effect' buff that will last 20 seconds. Notice how your Combat window shows Happiness gains. Food with a high enough level compared to your pet will grant 35 Happiness/tick. Cooking tends to raise food level. Wait the 20 seconds out before feeding again, food just goes to waste.

Having to open your bags all the time would be annoying. Most Hunters use a macro like this:

/cast Feed Pet
/use Skethyl Berries

Alternatively, designate a particular bag slot. See the macro links at the end of this guide for details.

Leveling

When you gain combat experience, your pet gains experience. Just be sure to kill non-gray mobs.

Pets don't benefit from the rest bonus or quest experience. Nor can pets start working on a level you haven't finished gaining yourself. For these reasons, it isn't practical to level multiple pets simultaneously.

Leveling a pet below your own level is a challenge. Small groups (not raids) and soloing caster mobs is the best way to go at first. Remember, kill mobs that are green or higher to yourself. It is safe to take lowbie pets to instances. Pet aggro radius is based on your level, not the pet's level.

Physical pet size scales to pet level. When you tame a pet it will automatically scale down (sometimes up) to the same size as any other Hunter's pet with the same beast model. As it levels up, it will slowly grow. It doesn't matter how big it was in the wild or at which level you tamed it. For example, any tarantula model Spider you tame will end up the same size at level 80.

Focus

Instead of mana, pets use Focus which is very similar to a Rogue's Energy bar. Focus ticks up by 24 points every four seconds. Normal attacks don't consume any Focus. It may be worthwhile to make a chart of automatic pet skills, e.g.:

  • Growl - 15 Focus every 5 sec
  • Bite - 35 Focus every 5 sec


50 Focus per 5 sec...which is 40 Focus spent per 4 sec with only 24 Focus coming in. The talent 'Bestial Discipline' bumps up regen to 36 or 48 per tick. And 'Go for the Throat' grants your pet an extra 25 or 50 Focus every time you get a ranged crit. For a basic Growl/Bite setup, maxing out these talents is overkill. But consider these:

  • Gore - 25 Focus with no cooldown
  • Claw - 25 Focus with no cooldown
  • Screech - 20 Focus with no cooldown
  • Lightning Breath - 50 Focus with no cooldown

Such pet skills are called "Focus dumps" meaning any amount of extra Focus will be turned into damage. There is further synergy for Beast Mastery Hunters who can have Frenzy or Ferocious Inspiration proc from the extra attacks. 'Go for the Throat' is a useful addition to any build.


Universal Pet Skills

All pets know Growl, Cower, a focus dump, and a unique family skill.

Growl costs 15 Focus on a 5 second cooldown. Growling generates extra threat but does not force mobs to attack your pet. Each rank of Growl generates a base amount of threat. If your pet's Attack Power is beyond a certain threshold based on its level, bonus threat is applied. A level 70 pet with top rank Growl goes by:

GrowlThreatBonus = 5.7 * (PetAttackPower - 734.2)
GrowlThreat = 664 + GrowlThreatBonus

This means once your pet's Attack Power reaches 734, every point of pet AP beyond that adds 5.7 threat to Growl. Only Attack Power showing on the pet's paper doll counts; target debuffs like Expose Weakness and Improved Hunters Mark do not scale Growl threat.


Cower costs 15 Focus on a 20 second cooldown. It does the opposite of Growl: lowers your pet's threat against its target. Rarely useful since turning off Growl is enough to keep your pet from pulling aggro off player tanks.

Focus dumps are Claw, Bite and Smack.

Family Based Pet Skills

Each pet family has its own unique skill.

(For now, see http://petopia.brashendeavors.net/html/skills/skills.html#family )

Pet Control

Any time your pet is out, a new action bar will appear: the Petbar. Keybinds are listed as 'Secondary Action Button' 1-10. Slash commands also work in macros: /petattack, /petfollow, /petstay, /petaggressive, /petdefensive, /petpassive.

Set easy keybinds for /petattack and /petfollow. An important part of keeping your pet alive is pulling it back out of dangerous AoE pulses.

Most of the time -- particularly in PvE -- your pet should be set to Follow and Passive. Passive pets only attack when you order them to attack. Defensive pets will attack anything that strikes either of you. Aggressive pets will automatically attack hostile targets in range. Aggressive pets can be useful in PvP for spotting and smacking stealthed enemies. Twisting around while stopped will even result in your pet watching behind your back.

Take care when jumping down ledges, crossing bridges, or climbing stairs in PvE. Pets sometimes path oddly and can aggro a bunch of mobs. Pets can be Dismissed temporarily or moved around with Eyes of The Beast followed by /petstay until you catch up. Keep in mind your pet will prefer to follow on your left side. When trying to skirt mobs, running sideways or walking backwards can keep your pet on the side away from danger.

The middle of the pet bar is reserved for pet skills. Drag skills from the Pet tab of your spellbook and rearrange to your convenience. Right-clicking a skill in either place will toggle automatic mode on and off. Be careful not to leave a low Focus skill on Automatic if you want a high Focus skill used as often as possible. Order on the pet bar makes no difference.

Choosing a Pet

"This is my pet. There are many like it but this one is mine." - Full Metal Jacket, modified

Pet choice has two factors: performance and aesthetics. This section will focus on performance. I highly recommend browsing Petopia to see the variety of beast models and skins (coloring): http://petopia.brashendeavors.net

As mentioned in the last section, physical size scales by pet level. Not a bad idea to check out another Hunter's level 70 pet with the same model -- meaning same shape, not necessarily coloring -- to preview proportion.

Beast Family

The key to pet performance is beast family. Beast family is now the only distinction between pets. "A Cat is a Cat," as some like to put it. Things which do not affect performance:

  • Level at which it was tamed
  • Stats revealed by Beast Lore before taming
  • Whether it was an Elite, Rare, or named mob
  • Whether it already knew some skills when tamed
  • Model or color

Beast family matters and that's it.

Family Multipliers and Skills

Each family can have a positive or negative multiplier for pet Damage, Health, and Armor. For instance, Scorpids have a -6% Damage multiplier, no Health multiplier, and a +10% Armor multiplier. Certain families like Spore Bats have no multipliers at all.

These multipliers affect everything, not just base stats.

As mentioned in 'Pet Basics', many skills are tied to a certain family or set of families. Skills available to a particular family have a profound impact on that family's total damage and utility, beyond what the multipliers alone might suggest.

Warning: a few specific beasts have so-called "caster stats." Their mana stats are high while physical stats are low. Avoid taming beasts with a mana bar. Happily, all pet families are available in non-caster versions.

Beast Family Reference

Families listed below are ordered by Damage modifier from highest to lowest and alphabetically for matches. Thanks to Petopia for specific multipliers. Spot checks matched up very well.

Name Damage Health Armor Skills
Cat 10 -2 . Dash, Bite, Claw, Prowl
Raptor 10 -5 3 Bite, Claw
Ravager 10 -7 5 Dash, Bite, Gore
Bat 7 . . Dive, Bite, Screech
Owl 7 . . Dive, Claw, Screech
Spider 7 . . Bite
Wind Serpent 7 . . Dive, Bite, Lightning Breath
Nether Ray 3 10 -10 Dive, Bite
Gorilla 2 4 . Bite, Thunderstomp
Carrion Bird . . 5 Dive, Bite, Claw, Screech
Crocolisk . -5 10 Bite
Dragonhawk . . . Dive, Bite, Fire Breath
Hyena . . 5 Dash, Bite
Serpent . . . Bite, Poison Spit
Spore Bat . . . Just Universals
Tallstrider . 5 . Dash, Bite
Wolf . 5 . Dash, Bite, Furious Howl
Crab -5 -4 13 Claw
Scorpid -6 . 10 Claw, Scorpid Poison
Warp Stalker -6 . +5 Bite, Claw, Warp
Bear -9 8 5 Bite, Claw
Boar -10 4 9 Dash, Bite, Gore, Charge
Turtle -10 . 13 Bite, Shell Shield


Dash/Dive - 20 Focus - Instant - 30 sec Cooldown "Increases movement speed by 80% for 15 sec." Lower rank Dash & Dive don't boost speed as much, but do cost fewer Training Points.

Bite - 35 Focus - Instant - 10 sec Cooldown "Bite the enemy, causing 108 to 132 damage." More focus efficient than Claw, but does not function as a Focus dump.

Claw - 25 Focus - Instant - no Cooldown "Claw the enemy, causing 54 to 76 damage." Effective Focus dump available to many families.

Prowl - 40 Focus - Instant - 10 sec Cooldown "Puts your pet in stealth mode, but slows its movement speed by 40%. The first attack from stealth receives a 50% bonus to damage. Lasts until canceled." Popular among PvPing Night Elves.

Gore - 25 Focus - Instant - No Cooldown - 5 yards "Gores the enemy, causing 37 to 61 damage. This attack has a 50% chance to inflict double damage." An effective Focus dump a bit more efficient than Claw. The reason for Ravager popularity among raiders.

Screech - 20 Focus - Instant - No Cooldown - 5 yards "Blasts a single enemy for 33 to 61 damage and lowers the attack power of all enemies in melee range by 210. Effect lasts 4 sec." Focus dump with utility. Makes a noticeable impact on your pet's ability to hold aggro. This move stacks with different ranks. A nearby stealth unit will be broken out of stealth if they are in the AOE range of this spell. It does not break any CC.

Lightning Breath - 50 Focus - Channeled 'Instant' - No Cooldown - 20 yards "Breathes lightning, instantly dealing 99 to 113 Nature damage to a single target." Effective Focus dump and ranged pet attack. Wind Serpents pause to cast it which can interfere with Kill Commands and PvP pursuit. Scales with pet Spell Damage <by how much?>.

Thunderstomp - 60 Focus - Instant - 1 Minute Cooldown - 8 yards "Shakes the ground with thundering force, doing 115-133 Nature damage to all enemies within 8 yards. This ability causes a moderate amount of extra threat." Decent AoE snap threat, but annoyingly long cooldown. <does it scale?>

Fire Breath - 50 Focus - Channeled - 10 Second Cooldown - 10 yards "Targets in a cone in front of the caster take 111 Fire damage over 2 sec." Pet AoE with a more reasonable cooldown. Careful around crowd control. <does it scale?>

Poison Spit - 35 Focus - Instant - 10 Second Cooldown - 30 yards "Spits poison at an enemy, dealing 120 Nature damage over 8 sec." Similar to Lightning Breath, but not a Focus dump.

Furious Howl - 60 Focus - Instant - 10 sec cooldown - 15 yards "Party members within 15 yards of the wolf receive an extra 45 to 57 damage to their next Physical attack. Lasts 10 sec." Bonus damage is calculated like a random 45 to 57 +damage weapon enchant (or scope), so total impact on special attacks will vary. The 15 yard range forces Hunters to stand close to targets for full benefit of pet damage and the buff.

Scorpid Poison - 30 Focus - Instant - 4 Second Cooldown - 5 yards "Inflicts 40 Nature damage over 10 sec. Effect can stack up to 5 times on a single target." This is actually Rank 4. The top rank is less effective despite higher base damage because it only lasts 8 seconds. Rank 4 allows your pet to miss once and not break the stacking. Each stack scales up <?>% with Spell damage. Use Bestial Wrath and other temporary buffs right before applying the first stack and the whole thing will stay high-damage until the entire debuff falls off.

Warp - 25 Focus - Instant - 15 Second Cooldown - 30 yards "Teleports to an enemy up to 30 yards away and gives the pet a 50% chance to avoid the next melee attack. Lasts 4 sec." Good for catching up to PvP targets.

Charge - 35 Focus - Instant - 25 Second Cooldown - 8-25 yards "Charges an enemy, immobilizes it for 1 sec, and adds 550 melee attack power to the boar's next attack." Valuable in PvP for snaring (but not stunning) opponents. Also makes for powerful burst threat for soloing when used in combination with Gore.

Shell Shield - 10 Focus - Instant - 3 Minute Cooldown "Reduces all damage your pet takes by 50%, but increases the time between your pet's attacks by 43%. Lasts 12 sec." Can help with soloing elites, or offtanking in a pinch.

Popular Families

Ravagers, Cats, and Raptors are all excellent DPS families. They share a 10% Damage multiplier and have either Claw or Gore as Focus dumps. Gore is slightly more Focus efficient than Claw, meaning Ravagers nose ahead of other two in the long run. Raptors lack Dash, which cuts their PvP appeal. Dash is usually skipped anyway for raid spec'd pets.

Wind Serpents and Scorpids have lower multipliers, but dish out potent magical damage. How this compares to physical attacks like Claw and Gore depends on target armor. Wind Serpents can be used to attack from a distance, though this is less of an advantage than it used to be thanks to Avoidance. Currently, Scorpid Poison stacks in a particularly strong way. See that skill's description for details.

Owls and other Screeching families along with Wolves score lower on actual damage, but bring extra group utility. Screech reduces damage done to tanks while Howl increases group damage, at least for those in range.

Boars are fantastic for leveling and solo farming. The threat burst of Charge+Gore against each new mob lets you cut loose from range sooner than with other pets.

Stats

"When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it." - Lord Kelvin

Quick Reference

1 Stamina -> 10 Health
1 Intellect -> 15 Mana

1 Attack Power -> 1 Ranged Attack Power & 1 Melee Attack Power
1 Weapon Skill -> 0.2% Hit & 0.2% Crit vs. +3 mobs
1 Strength -> 1 Melee Attack Power

1 Agility -> 1 Ranged Attack Power
1 Agility -> 2 Armor
25 Agility -> 1% Dodge
40 Agility -> 1% Crit

3.9 Weapon Skill Rating -> 1 Weapon Skill
15.8 Hit Rating -> 1% Hit
10.5 Haste Rating -> 1% Haste
22.1 Critical Strike Rating -> 1% Crit
39.4 Resilience Rating -> -1% chance to be Crit
39.4 Resilience Rating -> -2% damage taken from Crits (all these at level 70)

Rating System

Hit, Haste, Critical Strike, and Resilience are represented in both rating and percentage form. The conversion formula from rating -> percent changes based on your level. The higher your level, the more rating you need to achieve the same percent.

Under this scheme, low level items can provide substantial percent bonuses to low level characters without tempting high level characters. AddOns like RatingBuster can show rating -> percent values automatically on tooltips.

The Ranged Combat Table

Ranged attacks can either crit, hit, or miss. The decision among these three outcomes is decided with a single random roll. Imagine a 1-100 numbered list. Each line has "Crit," "Hit," or "Miss" penciled in. If your Hunter has a 20% crit chance and a 5% miss chance it would look like this:

Lines 1-20 - Crit
Lines 21-95 - Hit
Lines 96-100 - Miss

Each shot picks a random line and there is your result.

Here's where it gets interesting. What happens when you raise crit by 1%? Line 21's "Hit" gets erased and "Crit" written in its place. What happens when you raise your chance to hit by 1%? Line 96's "Miss" is erased and "Hit" written in its place.

1% Crit -> 1% Crit instead of 1% Hit
1% Hit -> 1% Hit instead of 1% Miss

This is called table-based combat. When there are thousands and thousands of swings, shots, and spell casts happening on the server every few seconds this is more efficient than generating a series of random rolls for each one. The big implication for Hunters is that -- with Mortal Shots or Slaying in play -- 1% additional crit is a larger boost (a crit instead of a hit) than 1% additional hit (a hit instead of a miss).

It also means your crit chance and your miss chance have absolutely no effect on each other.

Eliminating Misses

In PvE, missing is more of an annoyance than a disaster. But while increasing your Crit is better for overall damage than increasing Hit by the same percent, Hit stat is 'cheaper' in gear design so you shouldn't have trouble finding a bunch of it. That's why Hit is very worthwhile until you stop missing and further Hit becomes useless.

Chance to miss your target depends on relative level. The talent Surefooted adds 3% Hit. Notice this 3% is not reflected on your paper doll stats which only show Hit Rating. At level 70, you max at the following amounts of Hit Rating:

142 Hit Rating vs. mobs three levels higher
95 Hit Rating vs. mobs three levels higher, with Surefooted

Even with a full measure of hit rating, shots can very occasionally miss, if you get a De-buff from a boss - for example Attumen the Huntsman. Otherwise once you are hit capped you will never miss a shot, thereby increasing your DPS in boss fights!

Attack Power and Crit Synergy

Attack Power increases the damage of your hits and your crits. Crit chance increases frequency of crits. Both stats become more valuable as the other stat improves.

1% Crit means more at 2000 Attack Power than at 1500 Attack Power. 100 Attack Power means more at 30% Crit than 20% Crit. Many Hunters have trouble seeing both directions at first. This misunderstanding can make those with really high Attack Power continue to favor Attack Power, or those with really high Crit continue to favor Crit. Best results come from favoring the lacking stat.

It can be hard to tell which combination of Attack Power and Crit is best, given your current stats and talents. I recommend a tool like the Gear Choice Calculator linked at the end of this guide.

Attack Power

Attack Power is the stat that makes individual hits and crits show big numbers. The exact contribution of Attack Power for any particular attack varies by that attack's formula. See the 'Shots and Stings' section of this guide for details.

You may have different Attack Power values for your ranged and melee attacks. Aspect of the Hawk, for example, only adds to Ranged Attack Power (aka RAP). When 'melee' or 'ranged' is not specified, an item or buff adds to both equally.

Critical Strike Chance

Crit stat increases frequency of crits, not damage done by individual crits. The Crit percent shown on your character sheet is valid for even-level targets. Dramatically higher or lower level targets are either harder or easier to crit based on Defense stat. In PvP, Resilience stat will both work against your Crit rate and reduce damage done by crits.

This is a convenient time to explain the damage bonus of crits themselves, just remember Crit stat has no effect on the damage bonus.

Untalented, crits deal double damage compared to normal hits. With Mortal Shots, they deal 2.3 times normal damage. If either of the two Slaying talents are active, things become more complicated. Normal shots are increased by 3%. The Mortal Shots bonus is increased by 3%. Finally everything together is increased by another 3%. Crit damage formulas and examples follow:

Mortal Crit Damage = Normal Hit * (2 + 0.3)
Slaying /w Mortal Crit Damage = (NormalHit * 1.03) * (2 + 0.3 * 1.03) * 1.03

1000 - Normal Hit
1030 - Normal Hit /w Slaying

2000 - Crit
2300 - Crit /w Mortal Shots
2122 - Crit /w Slaying
2450 - Crit /w Mortal Shots and Slaying

Agility

Review the Quick Reference above to see how Agility adds to Ranged Attack Power, Crit chance, Dodge, and Armor. Great for ranged damage because it adds to both Attack Power and Crit simultaneously, taking advantage of the synergy between those stats. This is why +8 Agility gems are superior to +16 Attack Power gems for all talent builds.

Survival Hunters gain an extra 15% total Agility from Lightning Reflexes and 1/4 of total Agility becomes Attack Power for the entire raid (melee and ranged) thanks to Expose Weakness.

Observant Hunters may notice 61 of their base Agility is not turned into Crit chance. This was intentionally changed for the expansion and justified an improved Agi->Crit ratio.

Haste

Haste reduces the time between Auto Shots and the cast time of non-instants like Steady and Aimed Shot. Divide current time by Haste to find the new time. For example, a 3.0 sec cast with 20% Haste increase:

3.0 / (1.20) = 2.5 sec

Multiple Haste effects are multiplied together. Let's apply Serpent's Swiftness (+20%), Rapid Fire (+40%), and Improved Aspect of the Hawk (+15%) to that same 3.0 sec cast:

3.0 / ( 1.20 * 1.40 * 1.15 ) = 1.55 sec

Haste does not change damage done by individual Shots. When a Shot's formula calls for ranged weapon speed, it's asking for the unchanging speed listed on that weapon's tooltip. This is a very good thing because hitting faster for the same damage means DPS goes up. Beast Mastery Hunters rely on the Haste from Serpent's Swiftness to make up for lower Attack Power and Crit.

One snag: Haste can make it hard or impossible to fit an instant after Steady without delaying the next Auto Shot. You need a certain amount of Human reaction time after Auto to tap Steady, then after Steady to tap Multi or Arcane.

Spell power

Labeled "Increases spell power by X", spell power is not a very important Hunter stat.

Over their full durations, Serpent Sting and Wyvern Sting receive a damage bonus equal to total spell power. They have a 100% spell power coefficient. Volley by contrast has a 14.3% spell power coefficient. So if you have 100 spell power, your Volley will only do 14 more damage spread among the ticks.

Arcane Shot and Traps operate as magical attacks, but spell power does not enhance them. Same with Mend Pet. A few family-specific pet skills benefit from your pet's spell power, not your own.

Stamina

Stamina is the primary survivability stat for all situations. Each point of Stamina adds 10 Health (aka hitpoints). The major advantage to Health is the fact it handles all damage types: physical, environmental, and all schools of magic.

Stamina is not the only source of Health. Depending on level, you'll have a certain amount of base Health. Level 70 Hunters of all races have 3388 base Health. The talents 'Endurance Training' (up to +5%) and 'Survivalist' (up to +10%) along with the Tauren racial 'Endurance' (+5%) are multipliers on total Health, not Stamina. So in general:

Health = (BaseHealth + TotalStamina * 10) * Multipliers

Armor

Armor reduces physical damage received by a certain percent. Hunters are allowed to wear Cloth, Leather, and (at level 40) Mail equipment. Mail provides the most Armor stat, but many Hunters wear Leather items when other stats are higher. Particularly in PvE, it just doesn't make much of a difference. For level 70:

DamageReduction = Armor / (Armor + 10557.5)

Magical Resistances

Resistances reduce damage from a school of magic by a certain percent. Useful when the whole party or raid is taking large amounts of unavoidable magical damage. In most encounters, resistances can be ignored entirely. For some, stacking the proper type is essential. Your raid leaders should let you know about any resistance expectations.

For those interested in mechanics details, two separate rolls are involved when a spell is cast at a target.

Level-difference roll The first roll is based on relative level between caster and target. There is small chance of lower level targets resisting on this roll; a high chance of higher level targets resisting. The attacking caster can wear Spellhit gear to reduce her chance of being resisted on this roll. Any resist on the level-based roll will result in total spell failure. Resistance stats are not involved in the first roll.

Resistance-stat roll The second roll is based on the attacking caster's level and the target's resistance stat in the appropriate school of magic. The maximum effect of resistance gear is to reduce incoming damage by an average of 75%. This requires 5x[attacker's level] resistance. (350 resistance against level 70 casters; 365 against level 73 casters which includes many raid bosses.)

AveragePercentResisted = 0.75 * ResistStat / ([Attacker'sLevel] * 5)

Intellect

Each point of Intellect adds 15 to mana capacity. Not too interesting until Aspect of the Viper is active. You will gain 2.5 MP5 (see below) for every 10 Intellect. Plus, Marks Hunters with Careful Aim gain 4.5 Ranged Attack Power every 10 Intellect.

MP5

Seen on gear as "restores X mana per 5 sec", MP5 is a steady source of mana regeneration. It doesn't matter if you are casting lots of spells or no spells at all. MP5 gives the same benefit. The only odd thing is the mana is actually delivered in two second intervals equal to 2/5ths of your MP5.

Some weapon oils and raid buffs add to MP5.

Spirit

Almost entirely useless for Hunters. Spirit-based regeneration turns off for five seconds every time you spend mana, including every Shot and Sting. Some classes receive a portion of spirit regeneration even inside this "Five Second Rule." Hunters get nothing while keeping up a proper shot rotation.

Spirit also provides a slight buff to out of combat health regeneration.

Pet Scaling

To keep pets in pace with Hunter gear upgrades, pets receive a bonus for some stats equal to a certain percent of their master's stats:

22% of your Ranged Attack Power -> Pet Attack Power
12.5% of your Ranged Attack Power -> Pet spell power
30% of your Stamina -> Pet Stamina
35% of your Armor -> Pet Armor
40% of your Magical Resistances -> Pet Resistances

These are beyond any skill or buff bonuses your pet already has. Buffs which affect you and your pet at the same time have a 'double dipping' effect. Aspect of the Wild grants both of you 70 Nature Resistance. Then, your pet gets a 70*0.4 = 28 Nature Resistance bonus for a total of 98 more resistance with than without the Aspect.

Shots and Stings

"Boom! Headshot!" - FPS Doug

Quick Reference

Auto Shot
BowMax + (AttackPower / 14) * BowSpeed + AmmoBoost + ScopeBoost

Steady Shot
2.8 * BowMax / BowSpeed + 0.2 * AttackPower + 150

Steady Shot (Dazed)
2.8 * BowMax / BowSpeed + 0.2 * AttackPower + 325

Multi-Shot
BowMax + 2.8 * (AttackPower / 14) + AmmoBoost + ScopeBoost + 205

Aimed Shot
BowMax + 2.8 * (AttackPower / 14) + AmmoBoost + ScopeBoost + 870

Arcane Shot
0.15 * AttackPower + 273

Silencing Shot & Scatter Shot
AutoShotMax / 2

Volley Tick
105 + 0.15 * spell power

Substitute 'BowMin' for 'BowMax' to find lower bounds. Multi, Aimed, Arcane, and Distracting Shots have a rank based bonus. Formulas given above reflect top rank bonuses.

Note: Above formulas are before general multipliers like Ranged Weapon Specialization, Focus Fire, and Armor mitigation. Multipliers can be applied in any order.

Weapon Tooltip Stats

The min damage, max damage, speed, and DPS listed on a ranged weapon's tooltip are all used in Shot formulas. These are fixed values not to be confused with actual damage and speed. For convenience -- whether Bow, Crossbow, or Gun -- Bowmin, Bowmax, Bowspeed, and BowDPS.

BowDPS is really just the average of BowMin and BowMax divided by BowSpeed.

Scopes and Ammunition

ScopeBoost and AmmoBoost represent how much each is raising damage per shot. Sniper Scopes, for example, have a ScopeBoost of 7. Crit and Hit scopes have a ScopeBoost of 0.

Shells and Arrows also boost per-shot damage like a Sniper Scope, but their boost scales to BowSpeed. Warden's Arrows state, "Adds 37 damage per second." This really means 37 weapon damage per second of BowSpeed. So for a 2.9 second bow: 37 / 2.9 = 12.76 ScopeBoost.

Notice how Steady Shot and Arcane Shot ignore both of these damage boosts. As if you needed another reason to prefer a Crit scope.

Sting System

Four ranged attacks apply a Poison debuff to targets. These are known as Stings and are subject to stacking limitations. You cannot personally apply two different Stings to a single target at the same time. If you try, the first Sting will be replaced by the new one. Stings do not benefit from crit, attack power, or Ranged Weapon Specialization. They do benefit from Improved Stings.

Serpent Sting

A 15 second DoT for 660 damage at level 70. Any spell power gear is added to this total, e.g. 100 spell power will cause it to deal 760 damage over 15 seconds. Improved Stings multiplies this total damage by another 30%.

Many level cap Hunters avoid Serpent Sting most of the time. Other attacks tend to cause more damage and for less mana. However, Serpent Sting can be shot on the run when other instants have already been used and it does impede stealthing. Multiple Hunters may DoT the same target.

Scorpid Sting

A 20 second non-damaging debuff that turns 5% of the target's ranged and melee attacks into full out misses. This includes most special attacks. Look at it as buffing the tank (and everyone else) with an extra 5% Dodge. If a tank is doing fine with threat and healing isn't trivial, keep Scorpid Sting up. Use a timer mod to know when to reapply.

Multiple Hunters cannot stack Scorpid Sting on the same target. Improved Stings has no effect. As the only non-damaging Sting, use it to replace any other Sting to prepare a target for crowd control.

Viper Sting

An 8 second 1368 mana drain on a 15 second cooldown at level 70. Improved Stings takes it to 1780 total drained. No damage-increasing stats or talents have an effect on it. Viper Sting will break crowd control such as Freezing Traps. Multiple Hunters cannot stack Viper Sting on the same target.

Wyvern Sting

A 12 second sleep effect followed by a 12 second DoT for 942 damage at level 70. 1.5 second to cast on a 2 minute cooldown. As with Serpent Sting, spell power gear is added to the DoT portion. Improved Stings multiplies this total damage by another 30%. Though short, extra crowd control is always welcome.


Damage Optimization

"For much use maketh men shoot both strong and well, which two-things in shooting every man doth desire. And the chief maintainer of use in any thing is comparison and honest contention." - Toxophilus

Focus on three elements of damage: shot damage, shot frequency, and pet use.

Shot Damage

Let's say your Steady Shot hits for 1066 and crits for 2526 on average (without counting armor). Your crit rate is 20% and miss rate is 5.6%. That leaves a 74.4% normal hit rate. Shot damage takes all this into account and comes up with one number.

ShotDamage = CritDamage * CritPercent + NoncritDamage * NoncritPercent

In this case: 2526 * 0.20 + 1066 * 0.744 = 1298

When haste can be safely ignored -- such as when comparing equipment within a spec -- maximizing shot damage will maximize overall damage. The Gear Choice Calculator linked at the end of this guide can help you with this.

Most of the time an item choice will help all your Shots more than the alternative item. Easy. But sometimes one Shot will go up at the expense of another. When this happens, you will need to weight results by the ratio of how much you use each Shot. Choose what favors Multi-Shot over Steady Shot in PvP, for example.

Shot Frequency

A flurry of weaker attacks can match or exceed a few, strong individual hits. Shot frequency forms the other half of ranged damage-per-second.

Frequency optimization consists of two related elements. Haste reduces the time between Auto-Attacks and speeds up Steady cast time. Shot rotation is the way you order your Shots to fire off as many in a given timeframe as possible. The two are related because Haste -- and ranged weapon speed -- can affect the best way to order your Shots. More on this below.

Pet Use

Pets are necessary for optimal damage. In a large raid your pet can easily make the difference of a few ranks on the meters, even as Marks or Survival. See the 'Choosing a Pet' section of this guide for details on high damage families.

Make sure it knows Cobra Reflexes and Avoidance. Be sure you spec Go for the Throat to take full advantage of its Focus dump skill. Unless the encounter calls for a large amount of magical resistance, train your pet for high Stamina. Armor is great for solo farming pets, but not raiding or PvP pets.

Turn off Growl, Bite, Dash, etc. Just leave the Focus dump skill like Claw or Gore on auto cast. Have comfortable keybinds to send your pet in and pull it back away. These binds shouldn't interrupt or start your own ranged attacks. This will allow you to start it walking to mobs before tank have aggro and pull it out of AoE easily. For long fights only you may want to move around so your pet approaches a mob from behind to avoid parries and cleaves.

The Auto Shot Cycle

Time for the nitty-gritty on Shot rotations. Basic idea is to let Auto Shot fire unhindered while firing a Steady between each one. If there's still enough time -- depending on weapon speed and Haste -- squeeze in an Arcane or Multi-Shot after the Steady.

Auto Shot has two vital properties: it costs no mana and its 'cast time' continues during other Shots. Well, usually. Aimed Shot will actually reset Auto's full cast time. Steady Shot is meant to be used instead.

The other hitch is that Auto requires you to do nothing for the 0.5 sec before it fires. Try starting combat by turning on Auto Shot; notice the delay? Same happens if you move around, fire an instant, or are still completing a Steady Shot 0.5 second before the next scheduled Auto Shot. This half-second 'cast time' is absolutely fixed, regardless of Haste.

Steady Shot should be started immediately after each Auto fires. Steady is mana efficient and scales with Haste. The only real danger with Steady is that you might press the button too soon, effectively skipping an Auto Shot. This is solved with a macro:

/castsequence reset=target/3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot

Use this macro in place of Steady Shot. Castsequence simply ensures an Auto between each Steady. No extra button pushing required. If you press this macro too soon, nothing will happen and that's a good thing. The part about resetting allows you to lead off with a Steady Shot if you switch targets or stop for at least three seconds and resume firing on the same target.

Rotation Gaps. For the moment let's ignore human reaction and ping time. Assume Steady Shot begins immediately when Auto fires. How much of a gap is there between the end of that Steady and the start of Auto's 0.5 sec cast time? Depends on ranged weapon tooltip and total Haste. Take a 2.9 sec bow with a 15% quiver, 20% Serpent's Swiftness, and 2.5% Haste from a Crystalweave Cape:

2.9 / (1.15 * 1.20 * 1.025) = 2.05 sec between Auto Shots
1.5 / (1.15 * 1.20 * 1.025) = 1.06 sec Steady Shot
2.05 - 0.5 - 1.06 = 0.49 sec ideal gap

Emphasis on 'ideal'. In practice there will be a reaction time and ping delay between Auto Shot and the start of Steady Shot. Some Hunters use the Quartz addon to send the Steady command to the server early so by the time it arrives Auto will have just barely completed. This risks the command arriving slightly too soon and skipping that Auto.

Another reaction time and ping delay between the end of Steady Shot and the start of Arcane or Multi-Shot. All this varies significantly among players and their Internet connection. Theorycrafting ideal time to fit in extra shots will often make it sound like things should work out when they don't in practice. Spend some time with an Auto Shot timer (LittleTrouble, Quartz, etc.) to see if you are delaying Auto Shots. Hands on testing is best.

One note on global cooldown: Steady Shots can only be cast every 1.5 sec even if the cast time is becomes faster than one second thanks to high Haste. Some Hunters assume this means a 2.0 sec Steady/Auto rotation is the fastest ideal. Nope, the Auto Shot 'cast time' is unaffected by global cooldown. In theory you could have a Steady cast time <= 1.0 sec and fire both Shots every 1.5 sec with a sufficiently fast bow. Good luck on that. Actually firing both shots every 1.8-1.9 sec can be reasonable under good conditions.

Arcane and Multi-Shot will fit nicely after Steady Shots for Hunters with low Haste and slow ranged weapons. Again, use an Auto Shot timer mod to find out how well this is working for you. If additional Shots just won't fit after a Steady you can still replace Steadies with another Shot. If an Arcane Shot will do more damage than a single Steady and you have the mana, use a replacement cycle. When multiple mobs are in range, Multi-Shot instead. Mend Pet, Scorpid Sting, etc. can also replace a Steady when needed.

Kill Command

Kill Command can be added to any Shot rotation without interference. Think of it as extra, very efficient damage. The secret? Kill Command is independent of the global cooldown. You can't use it in the middle of casting Steady, Multi, or Aimed Shot but you can cast it immediately after or before an instant like Arcane Shot.

Binding an extra key for Kill Command can work, but most Hunter prefer some kind of macro. The most popular macro puts it on the same key as Steady Shot but does require a second press any time Steady isn't still casting:

/castsequence reset=target/3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot
/castrandom [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command

or substitute things like '/cast Arcane Shot' for the first line.

The 'castrandom' command alters the priority of Kill Command to make the macro work correctly. The bracketed options cause you to momentarily switch to your pet's target or skip the Kill Command attempt entirely if your pet is dead or not attacking anything. You may still experience problems if your pet is running towards a target but not yet in range.

Some Hunters don't like pushing extra buttons. The following macro will fire Kill Command and Steady Shot simultaneously when both are available. Just be careful: extra tapping will stop your ranged attacks.

/stopcasting
/castrandom [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command
/stopcasting
/castsequence reset=target/3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot

Error messages annoying you? Turn off vocals in Sound Options and add this line to the end of any macro:

/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Mana Management

DPS takes a nosedive when you run out of mana. Best solution: don't. Between Judgement of Wisdom, Blessing of Wisdom, Mana Oil, and Mana Potions you should be able to last on long boss fights. Efficiency and Thrill of the Hunt talents help tremendously. Just make sure at least one reliable Hunter has Improved Hunter's Mark for 25 man raiding before everyone grabs Efficiency. Take turns occasionally if need be.

Aspect of the Hawk vs. Viper can be a tough question. Viper is fantastic between bosses or even during easy boss fights when you really don't want to be drinking potions. But using Viper on new boss fights almost always reduces your damage potential. That said, Hunters with a very mana intensive rotation may get more out of Viper. Particularly Marks Hunters who budget Intellect as part of their damage.

Shadow Priests are fantastic if you can snag one. Plenty of mana and constant healing on both you and your pet. Beast Mastery Hunters with Ferocious Inspiration have an easier time finding a spot in such groups.


Beyond DPS

There is a tendency among damage-role classes to equate group value with damage meters alone. This is an incomplete picture. Hunters are low maintenance DPS with great threat manipulation and crowd control tools.

Being Low Maintenance

"Healing Taken" is a Hunter metric. Aim for last place.

Stand back. Simply standing far away from mobs will save a lot of damage from AoE. The first thing that should cross your mind when hit by AoE is, "Can I out-range this?" The Hawk Eye talent sometimes makes a difference increasing max range from 35 to 41 yards. Of course, it doesn't do you any good standing at 25 yards in the first place.

Use avoidance. If someone other than a tank does need to take physical-attack mob aggro, Hunters are very well equipped to step up. Dodge and Parry mean zero damage taken. Mail armor means less taken when hit. Be capable of switching to Aspect of the Monkey and back easily. Keep in mind you can only Parry attacks from your front; adjust positioning if necessary.

Deterrence is by far the best talent investment to increase avoidance, but at least consider whether your build can support points in Deflection, Improved Aspect of the Monkey, or Catlike Reflexes. Also consider Agility based gems and enchants. These are often the best choice for overall DPS with a bonus of increasing Dodge rate.

Be pet-responsible. Pets can be used to great effect without requiring healer attention and mana. Make sure to have comfortable keybinds for /petattack and /petpassive. The idea is to pull the pet back to avoid AoE pulses, then send it right back in. Just because pets can off-tank in a pinch does not mean they should do so unnecessarily. Don't let sloppy pet usage turn you into a high-maintenance Hunter.

Bring food and drink. During pulls, your job is to crowd control and rain havoc. Between pulls, patch yourself and your pet up. It may seem 'faster' to expect the healer to res your pet and heal both of you, but when several other party members are expecting the same service it slows everything down. Remember you can eat and drink simultaneously. Don't be afraid to ask the vending machine, er, local Mage for conjured goods.

Run back after wipes. If the rezzer(s) are dead, don't be lazy: run your own ghost back to the instance. This makes an incredibly good impression on your healers, trust me. Bonus points if you use Aspect of the Pack to run people back to the wipe location and type /train, but only if you remember to turn it back off.

Strip! Use a gear addon like ItemRack to define a 'naked' set. When a wipe is in progress, Feign Death and strip down. That way if you get pulled back into combat or can't un-Feign safely, your repair bill stays low. This is called being low maintenance to your own pocketbook. (And no one likes repair bill whiners.)

Use crowd control and threat manipulation. Protect yourself with the tools explained in the next sections.

Don't be extreme. Sometimes throwing yourself into danger is the right move over avoiding damage. Good Hunters work for a "low maintenance" reputation, but will not hesitate to reverse this habit when needed to maintain DPS, crowd control mobs, or take aggro off another player. Use your judgement to be of best value to the group as a whole.

Threat Manipulation

Oversimplified view of threat is that a mob will aggro (target and attack) the player who has done the most damage to it. Heals generate threat toward the healer on all mobs involved. There are many modifiers and exceptions to this system. Read Kenco's guide for details: http://evilempireguild.org/guides/kenco2.php


Hunters are uniquely capable of dropping all threat they've built up on all mobs every 30 seconds by using Feign Death. With such a short cooldown, you should generally try to Feign before pulling aggro so mobs never leave the tank. Why?

  • Tanks generate extra threat based on how much of a beating they are taking. While it may save them some bruises to pull mobs off them, it can also cause problems with threat generation.
  • Tanks do most of their damage and threat production in melee range. Making them chase a mob around is a bad thing, especially if it isn't the only one being tanked.
  • To pull aggro, it takes having 10% more threat than a mob's current target if you are in melee range. It takes having 30% more threat than the current target if you are outside melee range. This means a healer or other vulnerable player may be hovering in the 10% to 30% range safely, until you pull a mob away from the tank and feign next to a squishy player. If you feign, first pull the mob away from others or -- better -- back to the tank.

It's possible to develop a rough feel for your threat production. To be safer and to know when it is safe to skip Feigning, use an addon like KTM Threatmeter. Such addons tend to work better as more in the group have it installed and synched up.

Sometimes it's a good idea not to Feign yet. Tanks have Taunt or a Taunt-like ability which not only forces a mob to attack them for a few seconds, but brings their threat up equal to the highest person's. One way to pull a mob is to hit it with heavy shots, wait for the tank to Taunt, then Feign. This allows the other DPS to start earlier because the Tank starts out at your elevated threat.

Misdirection is another way to provide tanks with an initial threat boost. After casting Misdirection on another player (or pet!), your next three attacks will be considered to come from the other player. Even if you pull one mob in the middle of a group, all mobs will start out running at the other player. Advantage over the Taunt method is that Taunt is still available and in multi-mob pulls it can help the tank with initial mob gathering.

Safe pulling eschews Misdirection in favor of Feign Death. Some pulls involve groups of mobs pathing around such that pull timing and which mob is hit makes a difference between bringing 5 mobs and 10 mobs to the group. The key to safe pulling is very simple, yet difficult to convince some players to do:

"Everyone else, stand back a room."

That way, if you see 10 mobs whip their heads around and go, "Hruhh?!" hit your Feign Death button and try again in thirty seconds. Beats Feigning only to have the rest of the party close enough for the mobs to stay aggro'd and cause a wipe. If Feign fails, your healer can res you in a jiffy. Other classes pulling just have to hope they get the pull right the first time.

Growl is best left toggled off by default unless soloing. The Focus is better used for damage abilities until you want the pet to grab aggro. Right-clicking Growl will toggle it to auto-fire as the cooldown and available Focus permits. Doing so can help pull mobs off healers. Intimidation talent is for snappier aggro gain along with a stun.

Crowd Control

A well-played Hunter is the best pick for a group's crowd control needs.

Freezing Trap can be chained indefinitely on one mob of any type vulnerable to crowd control at all. Once you lay a trap down, it will not become active for two seconds and will last for one minute or until activated. You may not have two unactivated traps of any kind up at the same time; dropping the second will cause the first to vanish early.

However -- and this is vital -- activated traps don't count towards this restriction. The easiest way to take advantage of this is to drop the first trap, then wait for your trap cooldown to almost expire. Pull a mob into the first trap, activating it. Drop a second trap and pull a second mob into it. Two ice cubes up at once! A great aid on certain pulls.

Most of the time, chaining Freeze Trap on a single mob safely and for as long as it takes is preferred. Drop the first trap and wait a few seconds or nearly the whole trap cooldown, depending on how much safety is needed. Pull a mob into the first trap. Drop a second trap between the frozen mob and where you will be standing when the first trap breaks. Careful not to drop the second trap on top of the frozen mob or the new trap will overwrite the old trap. Why is this more 'safe'? Sometimes traps break early. Being ahead on cooldowns allows for an early break or two. The Trap Mastery talent greatly reduces, but does not eliminate early breaks.

Plan ahead each fight. You don't want your traps to be right in the middle of other mobs being killed; easier for other players to break it. Re-trapping the same mob will cause a slow shuffle of trap-move-trap-move. Make sure your shuffle path will be in line of sight with the group's kill zone and neither too close nor too far for your ranged attacks. After the pull, the only interruption to your DPS output should be one global cooldown for dropping each trap.

Communicate with your group. Ask the leader to use raid markers so you and everyone else knows which mob will be trapped. Because of cooldowns, traps are less forgiving than broken Polymorphs. A clearly marked mob directs blame at the breaker, not the Hunter. Ask for melee mobs to be marked in preference to casters; they are easier to coax into traps. Casters must be handled with line-of-sight pulling and Silencing Shot (if available) which cuts down on your DPS time and often means you'll take damage. And communicate on trap position vs. tanking position as needed.

Talents and gear can greatly impact trap timers:

60 sec - Unactivated trap time

20 sec - Base ice cube duration
26 sec - Duration with two points in Clever Traps

30 sec - Base trap dropping cooldown
26 sec - Cooldown with two-piece Beast Lord set
24 sec - Cooldown with three points in Resourcefulness
20 sec - Cooldown with both Resourcefulness and the set bonus

Readiness instantly resets trap cooldown.

With more forgiving timers, recovering from early breaks and multi-trapping (even beyond two) becomes easier. Yet no trap talent or bonus is strictly necessary for effective trapping. Waiting longer before the first activation, increasing distance between traps, and other crowd control techniques can close the gaps at the cost of time and effort.

Other traps can briefly impede mobs. Frost Trap slows all enemies moving across its area of effect. Useful on some pulls because it gives more time for group members to split off particular mobs. Snake Trap will grab the attention of mobs without significant aggro on any players; especially slow attacking mobs which take longer to kill off all the snakes. Snakes can proc Crippling Poison (slower movement) and Mind Numbing Poison (slower casting), lengthening the distraction. These two traps along with the two fire-based traps all have a chance to root mobs in place for a few seconds with the Entrapment talent.

Scatter Shot is a staple crowd control tool. It only disorients a target for 4 seconds or until that target takes damage, but it is instant-cast and hits anything from melee range to 15 yards out. Did a mob just peel off at the healer? Scatter Shot to stop it dead for the tank to grab. Do you need a few more seconds to drop the next trap and have it activate? Scatter Shot buys you that time. Do you need to get back to range? You guessed it.

Even against assist-targets, the split second disorientation will cause spell interruption.

Wyvern Sting can't be chained like Freezing Trap, but an extra 12 seconds on another mob is an extra 12 seconds. Like Scatter Shot it can be used to stop mobs in their tracks to be delt with shortly. The DoT effect seems like it would prevent Hunters with Readiness from using two Wyvern Stings in a row or go from Wyvern into a Freezing Trap. It doesn't. Just fire off a Scorpid Sting to overwrite the DoT early.

Concussive Shot and Wingclip slow targets or even have a chance to stop targets with the respective "Improved" talents. Another way to keep mobs from rushing away from tanks toward vulnerable group members or fleeing toward other groups of mobs. Both of these work just fine if your target is taking damage.

Kiting is a form of crowd control. You can kite as many mobs without special attacks as you want, allowing the rest of the group to finish off the remainder. Feign Death then chase them back to help kill the kited mobs.

This method is more time consuming than others, but can be very useful in heroics or when a trap breaks early. See the Frequently Asked Questions section of this guide for more information on kiting mechanics.

User Interface

"The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Personalizing your UI for maximum appeal and ease-of-use can go a long way toward making your play comfortable and dexterous. By their nature, personalization tips I share here won't necessarily reflect what's best for you.

Built-in Options

Before downloading any Addons or writing macros, here are some particularly useful Interface Options to adjust:

  • Mouse Sensitivity changes how quickly your mouse moves around the 2d interface. It should be easy to move all the way across the screen without being hypersensitive. Mouse Look Speed changes how quickly your character rotates when holding down the right mouse button to steer. I set this so it's easy to do a 360 turn without twirling around three extra times (for me, under the space). I also set Camera Following Style to 'Never' to stop the camera from doing strange things on its own. Sliding Max Camera Distance to 'High' allows farther zoom out.
  • Secure Ability Toggle will prevent you from activating an Aspect then immediately removing it by tapping the button again, even while the animation is still finishing. Stop Auto Attack will stop Auto Shot when you switch targets. Tabbing to a crowd controlled mob or one in a separate group then shooting it is no fun. Auto Attack/Auto Shot when checked will automatically switch you between ranged and melee attacks based on proximity to your target. Most Hunters turn this off to avoid breaking their own Freezing Traps.
  • A good way to reduce screen clutter is to turn off Player Names. If you leave one or both of the suboptions checked, that information will still show up when selecting a player. I prefer to leave Buff Durations off, since mousing over them works to check time left. And don't install a buff mod that takes up 1/5 the screen showing the names of every active buff.
  • Useful clutter to add includes Floating Combat Text. Seeing numbers scroll on top of your character when taking damage is a great alert when you're watching everything but your own health bar. Turn on Show Target of Target and Show Enemy Cast Bar for more situational awareness.
  • I find it very useful to set up my mouse's scroll button to Toggle Autorun when clicked (in Key Bindings). This lets me move around with just the mouse.
  • Keybindings in general will increase the dexterity of your controls. Bind your most frequently used spells to the easiest keys to hit around the movement keys. If you want to get extreme, use Shift (or alt or ctrl) versions. See the Sample Keybinds at this end of this section.

Interface Addons

Standard options are meant to make the game playable, but Blizzard gave players access to a very rich programming interface to allow much deeper customization. Addons are really just glorified macros with thousands of lines of text instruction instead of a few lines. Legitimate Addons are just a Folder with a bunch of text (and maybe image) files that you place here:

C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\AddOns

and the WoW program itself reads in to handle how it likes. In other words, you never 'run' Addon files yourself. If a supposed Addon comes as a .EXE file, don't run it because it could literally do anything to your computer...including stealing your WoW password (or worse). Having to open a .ZIP file and just copying the folder to your Interface\Addons folder is the standard way of installing Addons. Start or restart WoW and click the AddOns button on the character selection screen. Here, make sure the mods you want running are checked and not showing any problems. If there dependency errors, mouse over the affected mods to find out what other mods must be present. Then search Addon websites or Google to download and install them.

Some of the main AddOn websites:

http://ui.worldofwar.net
http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads
http://wowace.com/wiki/Category:Addons
http://wow-en.curse-gaming.com/files/addons

Action Bar Mods

Twelve buttons not enough for all your class abilities? You can either open up 1-3 more bars in the built-in options or replace the whole bottom bar with something like Bongos, TrinityBars, or Bartender.

Inventory & Gear Mods

Bagnon is by far the best inventory Addon in my estimation. Install it and create a macro for the command "/bgn bags". Now one icon on your action bars will let you see what's in all your bags. "/bgn bank" keeps track of what's in your bank, if you've viewed the bank after installing it. Play around with the item type buttons along the top because they make finding all the herbs in your inventory, all the vendor junk, etc. quite easy.

Itemrack is likewise the best equipment set Addon I've used. Beyond setting up normal gearsets, you can do things like define Riding Crop as a set by itself and set it to the "Mount" set on the Events tab to automatically ride at full speed and switch back to whatever you were wearing before when you dismount. Itemrack is also handy for stripping after Feigning in case of a wipe.

Unit Frame Mods

'Unit Frame' refers to those little windows showing player/mob health (and other information) that you can click on to target those 'units.'

For now I prefer a very stripped down version of X-Perl, which includes a frame for your Focus target. I set a keybind for 'Focus Target' to my '~' key to do things like track a CC assignment. When pulling two mobs into a trap it helps to set one to Focus, start firing at the other on the pull, then easily retarget the Focus mob.

Hunter AddOns

Kharthus's Hunter Timers aka KHunterTimers displays time left on Hunter's Mark, Traps, Stings, and a few others. Type /kht for a list of options. Chronometer is similar, but aimed at all classes.

Feed-O-Matic from fizzwidget.com adds flair and intelligence your standard feeding macro lacks.

ICU will display more information and let you click to select dot targets on your minimap. bc_TrackingMenu and TrackerDial manage your pile of tracking abilities with a neat array of icons by your minimap.

Hunter Range, Nudge, and Distance display your range from a target, but only as precisely as you can discern manually from Shots buttons lighting up. Good for those without Shot buttons on the screen or for easier visuals while kiting.

ZHunterMod is made up of several specific mods that touch on some of the above, and more.

Raiding AddOns

Deadly Boss Mods, BigWigs, CT_RABossMods all read boss emotes and track time between special events to give you a heads up during scripted fights. It may not be necessary to run one of these yourself if someone else is broadcasting announcements.

KLHThreatMeter watches all threat producing actions by raid members and displays a graph of estimated total threat. Helps to know whether a Feign Death is really necessary. This mod's accuracy grows as more raid members have it installed.

SW_Stats is the most detailed healing and damage meter. It can show who healed a particular player of the course of a raid and for how much. Or it can break down the amount of damage or healing you've been doing by shot. Accuracy also grows with installs.

Other AddOns

There are about a zillion other AddOns to try out. CT_MailMod which lets you send many stacks of items through the mail at the same time is the one I can't live without. Tooltip Wrangler Continued lets you set tooltips to any spot on the screen. RatingBuster converts combat ratings to percentages on item tooltips and helps in other ways to compare to items. Take some time and cook up the perfect UI for yourself.

Sample UI

http://xs216.xs.to/xs216/07254/nsui.jpg

This is my group UI featuring Trinity, X-Perl, KHunterTimers, simpleMinimap, and vBagnon. Most visible icons are either consumables or abilities on a timer. My raid UI looks almost the same, except KLH ThreatMeter takes the place of group unit frames.

Sample Keybinds

Here are my custom keybinds which I designed while leveling, then refined as I played all aspects of the game at the cap. There are plenty of ways to set up good bindings, but if you're unsure how to get started these will work.

Key - unmodified; shifted; alted

F1 - Hunter's Mark
F2-F5 - Raid Markers
~ - Gathering Macro; Set Focus

1 - Auto Shot; Volley
2 - Aspect of the Hawk
3 - Aspect of the Cheetah
4 - Aspect of the Monkey

Q - Arcane Shot; Concussive Shot; Distracting Shot
E - Steady Shot; Multi-Shot; Serpent Sting
R - Scatter Shot/Intimidation; Silencing Shot/Wyvern Sting; Viper Sting
F - Freezing Trap; Frost Trap; Scorpid Sting
Z - Pet Attack; Pet Passive; Mend Pet
X - Feign Death; Mount; Shadowmeld
C - Wing Clip and Raptor Strike Macro; Mongoose Bite
V - Flare; Disengage; Scare Beast

Example Combination Macro

/cast [modifier:shift] Concussive Shot; [modifier:alt] Distracting Shot; Arcane Shot


Hunter Talents

Beast Mastery Talents

Tier One

Improved Aspect of the Hawk - "While Aspect of the Hawk is active, all normal ranged attacks have a 10% chance of increasing ranged attack speed by [3%, 6%, 9%, 12%, 15%] for 12 sec."

The haste applies to all ranged attacks for a healthy overall DPS boost. Stacks with other haste effects as explained in the Stats section of this guide. Some Beast Mastery Hunters do skip this talent on purpose because it can mess with shot rotations with already-fast ranged weapons.

Endurance Training - "Increases Health of your pet by [2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%] and your total health by [1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%]."

Notice this is total Health not Stamina. This means no matter what other talents or buffs are active, you and your pet will have the stated percent more hitpoints with this talent than without. Meaning it does stack with everything else that increases health. Since pets scale by your Stamina, they will not get 'double dip' benefits; just the stated 5% boost.

Tier Two

Focused Fire - "All damage caused by you is increased by [1%, 2%] while your pet is active and the critical strike chance of your Kill Command ability is increased by [10%, 20%]."

A 2% boost to personal damage just for having a pet out? Yes please. More frequent Kill Command crits is just gravy.

Improved Aspect of the Monkey - "Increases the Dodge bonus of your Aspect of the Monkey by [2%, 4%, 6%]."

Normal Aspect of the Monkey adds 8% Dodge. This raises it to 14%. Substantial, but only helps in the slightest when Monkey is actually in play.

Thick Hide - "Increases the armor rating of your pets by [7%, 14%, 20%] and your armor contribution from items by [4%, 7%, 10%]."

Great for soloing and helpful against cleaving mobs. Your pet's armor will be 20% higher with than without, but your own boost only counts armor from gear, not buffs.

Improved Revive Pet - "Revive Pet's casting time is reduced by [3, 6] sec, mana cost is reduced by [20%, 40%], and increases the health your pet returns with by an additional [15%, 30%]."

Normal Revive Pet takes 10 seconds to cast. This brings time down to 4 seconds. At level 70, it costs 2706 normally and 1624 with this talent. Makes pet recovery much more convenient, sometimes even justifying a mid-combat Revive.

Tier Three

Pathfinding - "Increases the speed bonus of your Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack by [4%, 8%]."

Both Aspects normally grant a 30% speed boost. This raises them to 38%. Very welcome before purchasing a level 40 mount. Most Hunters don't consider it worth the talent cost at later levels.

Bestial Swiftness - "Increases the outdoor movement speed of your pets by 30%."

"Outdoor" usually coincides with places that allow you to mount up. Since most PvP takes place outdoors and most group PvE indoors, this is generally considered a PvP talent. Reportedly stacks with Dash.

Unleashed Fury - "Increases the damage done by your pets by [4%, 8%, 12%, 16%, 20%]."

Works fully as advertised. Your pet's damage will be 20% higher with this talent than without.

Tier Four

Improved Mend Pet - "Reduces the mana cost of your Mend Pet spell by [10%, 20%] and gives the Mend Pet spell a [15%, 50%] chance of cleansing 1 Curse, Disease, Magic or Poison effect from the pet each tick.

Both attributes are very nice for leveling and solo farming. Even in groups and raids, the ability to more easily keep your pet alive and remove debuffs is a godsend. Unusual in that the second point grants a far greater effect than the first when it comes to debuff removal.

Ferocity - "Increases the critical strike chance of your pet by [2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%]." Required for Frenzy.

More crits are both a pet damage enhancement and a proc increaser for Frenzy and Ferocious Inspiration.

Tier Five

Spirit Bond - "While your pet is active, you and your pet will regenerate [1%, 2%] of total health every 10 sec."

Seems small, but makes a noticeable difference when soloing. Adds up to quite a bit of health in longer PvE and even PvP encounters.

Intimidation - "Command your pet to intimidate the target on the next successful melee attack, causing a high amount of threat and stunning the target for 3 sec." One minute cooldown. Required for Bestial Wrath.

Staple leveling talent typically available every other mob. The stun effect can be used to both interrupt and gain distance from mobs and players. For full Beast Master Hunters, it becomes a substitute for Scatter Shot.
The pet attack must actually cause damage or the stun will not apply, meaning things like Power Word: Shield counter it.

Bestial Discipline - "Increases the Focus regeneration of your pets by [50%, 100%]."

Focus normally ticks up by 24 points every four seconds. This talent raises this to 36 or 48 per tick. Best used with pets who have a "focus dump" attack, i.e. one which has no cooldown. Bestial Discipine and Go for the Throat together are overkill without the ability to put extra Focus to use.

Tier Six

Animal Handler - "Increases your speed while mounted by [4%, 8%] and your pet's chance to hit by [2%, 4%]. The mounted movement speed increase does not stack with other effects."

Primarily a pet DPS talent. This will nearly eliminate misses against equal level targets and help substantially against higher level targets. Especially important when leveling because your pet will tend to lag behind one level.
See the Stats section in guide for an explanation why Hit stat does not increase Crit frequency. In other words, this will not help with Frenzy and Ferocious Inspiration procrate.

Frenzy - "Gives your pet a [20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%] chance to gain a 30% attack speed increase for 8 sec after dealing a critical strike."

A full 30% Auto Attack DPS increase that tends to stay up after the first crit. Stacks with other haste effects. See the Stats section of this guide for details on haste stacking. Faster attacks also mean more spell pushback against your foes. No caster likes a frenzied pet in the face.

Tier Seven

Ferocious Inspiration - "When your pet scores a critical hit, all party members have all damage increased by [1%, 2%, 3%] for 10 sec."

Tends to stay up most of the time after the first crit. Applies to both players and their pets/minions and boosts both physical and magical damage. The buff is to your five person party, not the whole raid. Stacks with multiple Hunters in the same group. For example, a 1000 damage attack turns to 1030 with one buff; 1061 with two buffs active.

Bestial Wrath - "Send your pet into a rage causing 50% additional damage for 18 sec. While enraged, the beast does not feel pity or remorse or fear and it cannot be stopped unless killed." Two minute cooldown. Required for The Beast Within.

Massive pet DPS boost with crowd control immunity. Traditionally called the "I win" button for Beast Mastery Hunters.

Catlike Reflexes - "Increases your chance to dodge by [1%, 2%, 3%] and your pet's chance to dodge by an additional [3%, 6%, 9%]."

Staple leveling and solo farming talent. Your pet will take 9% less damage from physical attacks. Your own dodge boost is not tied to Aspect of the Monkey use -- but does stack with it -- and slightly increases Mongoose Bite availability.

Tier Eight

Serpent's Swiftness - "Increases ranged combat attack speed by [4%, 8%, 12%, 16%, 20%] and your pet's melee attack speed by [4%, 8%, 12%, 16%, 20%]."

The haste effect applies to all ranged attacks and stacks with other sources of haste. See the Stats section in this guide for more details. Serpent's Swiftness is what really makes Beast Mastery more than a "pet improvement" spec. On-hit or on-crit procs for both yourself and your pet are also increased.

Tier Nine

The Beast Within - "When your pet is under the effects of Bestial Wrath, you also go into a rage causing 10% additional damage and reducing mana costs of all spells by 20% for 18 sec. While enraged, you do not feel pity or remorse or fear and you cannot be stopped unless killed."

A nice boost to PvE damage and a significant advantage in PvP skirmishes. You may neither be sidelined by crowd control nor have your kiting spoiled by snare effects.


Marksmanship Talents

Tier One

Improved Concussive Shot - "Gives your Concussive Shot a [4%, 8%, 12%, 16%, 20%] chance to stun the target for 3 sec."

Any time you want to slow an enemy, stunning them is extra juicy. Can pay off as a spell interrupt on a stationary target when nothing more reliable is available.

Lethal Shots - "Increases your critical strike chance with ranged weapons by [1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%]."

Probably the single most popular Hunter talent. Unskipped since 1973.


Tier Two

Improved Hunter's Mark - "Causes [20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%] of your Hunter's Mark ability's base attack power to apply to melee attack power as well."

At level 58 and up, this means all melee attackers gain an extra 110 Attack Power against your Marked targets. This does not build up with the ranged bonus. The only advantage to multiple Hunters in a group specing this is to place Imp. Mark on separate targets.
Significantly improves soloing pet damage but not the Growl threat bonus.

Efficiency - "Reduces the Mana cost of your Shots and Stings by [2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%]."

Big impact on mana endurance for long fights; completely useless for short fights. A must have for 25 man raiding so long as someone brings Improved Mark.


Tier Three

Go for the Throat - "Your ranged critical hits cause your pet to generate [25, 50] Focus."

If your pet has a no-cooldown attack such as Claw (as opposed to Bite) known as a "focus dump," Go for the Throat will significantly boost pet damage for any build. It also helps your pet hold aggro against crits while solo farming.

Improved Arcane Shot - "Reduces the cooldown of your Arcane Shot by [0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1] sec."

Normally, Arcane Shot has a 6 second cooldown. This brings it down to 5 seconds. Mostly a PvP option where standing still is death. Can help tweak a heavy PvE Arcane Shot rotation.

Aimed Shot - "An aimed shot that increases ranged damage by 870." Required for Mortal Shots.

See the Shots and Stings section of this guide for details on Aimed Shot mechanics. Mostly useful in combination with Misdirection and for a surprise attack in PvP. Aimed Shot resets the Auto Shot timer when it finishes.

Rapid Killing - "Reduces the cooldown of your Rapid Fire ability by [1, 2] min. In addition, after killing an opponent that yields experience or honor, your next Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot or Auto Shot causes [10%, 20%] additional damage. Lasts 20 sec."

Normally, Rapid Fire has a 5 minute cooldown. This brings it down to 3 minutes. Decent boost for any situation. The next-shot bonus requires you personally to have gotten the killing blow on a "green" or higher mob or player.


Tier Four

Improved Stings - "Increases the damage done by your Serpent Sting and Wyvern Sting by [6%, 12%, 18%, 24%, 30%] and the mana drained by your Viper Sting by [6%, 12%, 18%, 24%, 30%]. In addition, reduces the chance your Stings will be dispelled by [6%, 12%, 18%, 24%, 30%]."

At level 70 this takes Serpent Sting from 660 damage to 858 damage. Wyvern Sting from 942 damage to 1225 damage. Viper Sting from 1368 mana to 1778 mana drained. Serpent and Wyvern Sting scale with any active spell power. This talent will grant the 30% bonus on any such bonus damage as well.
Hefty boost to Serpent Sting efficiency in PvE. The damage/drain gains are especially worthwhile in Arena PvP.

Mortal Shots - "Increases your ranged weapon critical strike damage bonus by [6%, 12%, 18%, 24%, 30%]."

Normally crits cause twice the damage of hits: a 100% bonus. Mortal Shots turns this into a 130% bonus which is another way of saying crits will do 2.3 times the damage of hits. See the Stats section of this guide for details on how Slaying talents stack with Mortal Shots.


Tier Five

Concussive Barrage - "Your successful Auto Shot attacks have a [2%, 4%, 6%] chance to Daze the target for 4 sec."

Would be a welcome bonus if it weren't so deep in the Marksmanship tree. Hard to justify giving up points in other available talents at this point.

Scatter Shot - "A short-range shot that deals 50% weapon damage and disorients the target for 4 sec. Any damage caused will remove the effect. Turns off your attack when used." Required for Trueshot Aura.

One of the most popular and useful Hunter talents. The only 'ranged' attack that can be fired point blank. Scatter Shot allows escape from melee attackers in PvP or a disorientation long enough to force another player into a Freezing Trap. Even if your target is under attack, a split second disorient interrupts spell casting.
In PvE, Scatter Shot buys time to lay traps, stops runners, and saves healers. The difficulty many Hunters have taking 41 point talents in Beast Mastery and particularly Survival are testament to the utility of Scatter Shot.

Barrage - "Increases the damage done by your Multi-Shot and Volley spells by [4%, 8%, 12%]." Required for Improved Barrage.

Multi-Shot is an important DPS component in both PvE and PvP even against single targets. Volley is just extra.

Combat Experience - "Increases your total Agility by [1%, 2%] and your total Intellect by [3%, 6%]."

Sounds great, but do yourself a favor by calculating the actual Agility and Intellect gain first. At this point in the tree, few Hunters decide the gains from Combat Experience are worth the loss of points elsewhere.

Ranged Weapon Specialization - "Increases the damage you deal with ranged weapons by [1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%]."

All ranged attacks will do 5% more damage with than without this talent. With the exception of particular PvP only builds, no Marks Hunters should skip it.


Tier Six

Careful Aim - "Increases your ranged attack power by an amount equal to [15%, 30%, 45%] of your total Intellect."

Get more from Hunter oriented gear as opposed to Rogue oriented gear. Helps justify the dual wield Int-enchant style of Marks play.

Trueshot Aura - "Increases the attack power of party members within 45 yards by 125. Lasts 30 min."

Does not scale with gear or stack with another Hunter's Trueshot Aura. Restricted to your 5 person party, not the whole raid. However, it does boost both ranged and melee attack power. Your pet included. Boosts the Growl threat bonus.

Improved Barrage - "Increases the critical strike chance of your Multi-Shot ability by [4%, 8%, 12%] and gives you a [33%, 66%, 100%] chance to avoid interruption caused by damage while channeling Volley."

As with Barrage, this is considered worthwhile for the Multi-Shot improvement alone.


Tier Seven

Master Marksman - "Increases your ranged attack power by [2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%]."

No matter which other talents are buff are in play, your Ranged Attack Power will be 10% higher with than without this talent.


Tier Eight

Silencing Shot - "A shot that deals 50% weapon damage and Silences the target for 3 sec."

Excellent in PvP to shut down and kill casters. Many non-boss mobs can be Silenced to spare your group some damage. Boss mobs which are affected by Counterspell and Kick are, unfortunately, not vulnerable to full Silence effects. Silencing Shot is subject to travel time.


Survival Talents

Tier One

Monster Slaying - "Increases all damage caused against Beasts, Giants and Dragonkin targets by [1%, 2%, 3%] and increases critical damage caused against Beasts, Giants and Dragonkin targets by an additional [1%, 2%, 3%]."

Does not increase crit rate, but does increase the damage of all normal hits and crits. If you have Mortal Shots (and you should), Slaying is like having a 45% Mortal Shots bonus instead of 30%. A very set of talents. See the Stats section of this guide for details.

Humanoid Slaying - "Increases all damage caused against Humanoid targets by [1%, 2%, 3%] and increases critical damage caused against Humanoid targets by an additional [1%, 2%, 3%]."

See Monster Slaying. And yes, Humanoid slaying works in PvP. Check your target's tooltip or what kind of tracking shows'm to determine creature type. Druids in form and Shaman in Ghost Wolf show up as Beasts which means Monster Slaying (and Scare Beast) work on them.

Hawk Eye - "Increases the range of your ranged weapons by [2, 4, 6] yards."

Increases ranged attacks from 35 to 41 yards. The degree of 'need' for this talent is controvesial. Certainly it helps in many PvP situations and makes pulling/kiting easier. Does not make a huge difference outdistancing raid boss AoE like it used to.

Savage Strikes - "Increases the critical strike chance of Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite by [10%, 20%]."

The massive percentage boost is balanced out by how infrequently you should be using melee specials. Very worthwhile for making your Wingclip/Raptor Strike combinations pack a punch in PvP.


Tier Two

Entrapment - "Gives your Immolation Trap, Frost Trap, Explosive Trap, and Snake Trap a [8%, 16%, 25%] chance to entrap the target, preventing them from moving for 4 sec."

Staple PvP talent, especially combined with Frost Trap. You need range to function optimally and Entrapment helps you maintain or gain it.

Deflection - "Increases your Parry chance by [1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%]."

Expensive but can be worthwhile in combination with Counterattack if you have having trouble surviving melee foes in PvP.

Improved Wing Clip - "Gives your Wing Clip ability a [7%, 14%, 20%] chance to immobilize the target for 5 sec."

Another staple PvP talent for similar reasons as Entrapment.


Tier Three

Clever Traps - "Increases the duration of Freezing and Frost trap effects by [15%, 30%], the damage of Immolation and Explosive trap effects by [15%, 30%], and the number of snakes summoned from Snake Traps by [15%, 30%].

Makes chain trapping significantly more convenient. Extended Frost trap is good for PvP kiting and additional snakes increases your chance of valuable Mind Numbing and Crippling Poison procs.

Survivalist - "Increases total health by [2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%]."

As with Endurance Training, this is an increase to total Health not Stamina. This means your hitpoints will be a full 10% higher with this talent than without. It also means your pet's hitpoints will not scale up with it. Stacks with Endurance Training and any other health increasing effects. The combined effect with Endurance training will be 1.10*1.05 = 15.5% more Health with both than with neither.

Deterrence - "When activated, increases your Dodge and Parry chance by 25% for 10 sec." Five minute cooldown. Required for Counterattack.

Tend to be available when needed despite the long cooldown. A life saver when a mob gets loose from the tank or when melee classes attack in PvP. Synergizes with Counterattack and Mongoose Bite.


Tier Four

Trap Mastery - "Decreases the chance enemies will resist trap effects by [5%, 10%]."

Do you have problems with traps not activating or breaking early? This largely solves them. If not, don't bother.

Surefooted - "Increases hit chance by [1%, 2%, 3%] and increases the chance movement impairing effects will be resisted by an additional [5%, 10%, 15%]."

Review the Stats section of this guide for details on Hit mechanics. For reference, the amount of hit rating needed to virtually eliminate misses against targets of level:
Level 70 - 88.48 hit rating
Level 70 /w Surefooted - 41.08 hit rating
Level 73 - 135.88 hit rating
Level 73 /w Surefooted - 88.48 hit rating

Improved Feign Death - "Reduces the chance your Feign Death ability will be resisted by [2%, 4%]."

A decidedly unpopular talent. A pure PvE raiding spec might consider it worthwhile over alternatives since occasionally Feign resists mean you have to slow DPS. Also useful when pulling raid mobs.


Tier Five

Survival Instincts - "Reduces all damage taken by [2%, 4%] and increases attack power by [2%, 4%]."

More valuable per point than Marksmanship's 'Master Marksman' Talent, thanks to its dual role nature.

Killer Instinct - "Increases your critical strike chance with all attacks by [1%, 2%, 3%]." Required for Wyvern Sting.

Staple Survival build talent.

Counterattack - "A strike that becomes active after parrying an opponent's attack. This attack deals 40 damage and immobilizes the target for 5 sec. Counterattack cannot be blocked, dodged, or parried."

Excellent against melee opponents, but is mutually exclusive with Silencing Shot. Choose which type to specialize against. Synergizes with Deflection and Deterrence.


Tier Six

Resourcefulness - "Reduces the mana cost of all traps and melee abilities by [20%, 40%, 60%] and reduces the cooldown of all traps by [2, 4, 6] sec."

The cooldown reduction stacks with other trap bonuses. See the Beyond DPS section of this guide for more details. Mana cost reduction is gravy.

Lightning Reflexes - "Increases your Agility by [3%, 6%, 9%, 12%, 15%]."

Staple Survival Hunter talent. More damage per hit, crit chance, and avoidance. Agility enchants and gems are already a good choice even without Lightning Reflexes.


Tier Seven

Thrill of the Hunt - "Gives you a [33%, 66%, 100%] chance to regain 40% of the mana cost of any shot when it critically hits."

Multiply ranged crit chance by 40% to get an idea of total mana reduction. For instance, a 20% crit chance makes Thrill of the Hunt approximately equal to an 8% mana reduction on Shots. Can be considered to 'stack' with Efficiency multiplicatively. Very helpful in long raid fights.

Wyvern Sting - "A stinging shot that puts the target to sleep for 12 sec. Any damage will cancel the effect. When the target wakes up, the Sting causes 300 Nature damage over 12 sec. Only one Sting per Hunter can be active on the target at a time."

See the Shots and Stings section of this guide for more information on the Sting system. Wyvern Sting is helpful as one more crowd control tool in both PvE and PvP. The DoT isn't half bad either.

Expose Weakness - "Your ranged criticals have a [33%, 66%, 100%] chance to apply an Expose Weakness effect to the target. Expose Weakness increases the attack power of all attackers against that target by 25% of your Agility for 7 sec."

A powerful raid buff for all melee and ranged attackers. Only one instance of Expose Weakness will boost attack power against a particular mob at a time.


Tier Eight

Master Tactician - "Your successful ranged attacks have a 6% chance to increase your critical strike chance with all attacks by [2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%] for 8 sec." Required for Readiness.

Works out to be roughly a 3% crit chance increase over time if you're able to stand still and fire consistently. The burst crit is fun when it is active. A decent talent but not a 'must have' by any means.


Tier Nine

Readiness - "When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on your other Hunter abilities." 5 minute cooldown.

Its own long cooldown and the loss of Scatter Shot make Readiness a hard sell to most Hunters. However, a more frequent Rapid Fire, an extra Feign Death and Deterrence, a second Wyvern Sting, and an instant trap reset are nothing to sneeze at. Multi-Shot and Arcane Shot twice in a row can help with PvP burst. Good utility all around.


 

Icon-shortcutSee also: Hunter talents

Tamed Skill Reference

Main article: Pet Abilities

"Gotta catch 'em all!" - Pokémon

Keep your pet's skills up to date as it levels! Stable your pet and tame one of these beasts. You must be at least the level -- listed in square brackets -- of the beast. A plus symbol in the bracket denotes an elite mob. Once tamed, fight other mobs in the area using the skill. Eventually you'll learn it. Discard that pet, retrieve your real pet, and teach away.


Links

Hunter Gear Choice Calculator

My Priest Class Guide

Other Authors

Cheeky's Spreadsheets (more involved than my own)

Norwest's /castsequence Thread

Hunter Websites

Talent Calculator and NPC/Item Database

Interface Addons

Macro Intro & FAQ by Cogwheel

Guide to Macro Options by Neuro

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