These expert marksmen drop foes dead in their tracks with flawless shots from a bow or rifle. With the ability to wield two weapons simultaneously, hunters can unleash a flurry of blows against anyone unfortunate enough to stumble into close combat with them. The art of survival is central to the isolated life of a hunter. Hunters track beasts with ease and enhance their own abilities by attuning themselves to the feral aspects of various creatures. Hunters are known for the lifelong bonds they form with animals of the wild, training great hawks, cats, bears, and many other beasts to fight alongside them. Source
Updated for Mists of Pandaria, patch 5.2- Abilities, talents, gems, etc.
Other Hunter Guides
Pandaren Hunter Wants YOU
The Hunter Overview
When I think of hunter, I think Beastmaster. No, not the actual talent build I mean the movie. It’s just that instead of commanding a pair of ferrets we get our pick of a few slightly larger and more powerful specimens. This change makes the pets more useful for killing mosters and players, yes, but they lack the inherent likability of ferrets. Leaving us instead with lean, mean, destruction machines – A regrettable downgrade.
However, pets provide us with an amazing synergy between what is the greatest non-player tank and what may be the highest solo DPS class in the game. A Hunter and his pet being almost the equivalent of a priest/warrior leveling team, just packed into a single class.
With proper mastery of their capabilities Hunters become one of the most powerful classes in the game, possessing numerous abilities dedicated to keep us both alive and continually capable of retaliating in any number of PvP and PvE situations.
Being as effective as they are some might argue that Hunters have it all “too easy.” Your Hunter might have to work a bit to set herself apart from the vast flock of players more aptly named “Huntards” by the majority of players.
The good news is that if you truly are a Hunter of exceptional skills it’ll be easily visible within, at most, a fight or two. This is due to difference between good and bad hunters being so dramatic as to divide them into almost entirely different classes, namely the huntards who bring ‘leet melee dps’ and those who actually take the time to lay traps and stick to their proper field of ranged combat, if at all possible.
The “Buffs and Nerfs ” Game
Class “balance” has always been something that the WoW developers strive for, but sometimes it’s a hit and miss thing. Especially after an expansion or big patch the balance between classes, or even builds within the same class may become a little iffy.
With the 4.0 patch this was certainly the case. With everything supposedly “balanced” at level 85 the balance at other levels became… interesting. Once day class A is in god mode, the next day it’s in the dog house. For example, today, Survival is the top DPS tree. Next week it may be different.
Mists of Pandaria is more of the same.
The point is that we’re not going to play a “flavor of the moment (FOTM)” game here. We’ll present info that will make you a better Hunter and we’ll leave the balance dance to Blizzard and the FOTM game to the forums.
The 5.2 Patch Notes
Tier 2 Talents:
- Binding Shot no longer has a Focus cost.
- Wyvern Sting no longer has a Focus cost, and its cooldown is now 45 seconds (was 60 seconds.)
Tier 6 Talents:
- Targeting for Glaive Toss and Powershot has been improved. These abilities will now always hit the primary target and are much more responsive about which secondary targets they hit.
- Powershot now cancels Camouflage when the cast begins.
- Aimed Shot cast time has been reduced to 2.5 seconds (was 2.9 seconds.)
- Aimed Shot also now deals 10% more damage, which will go nicely with your Careful Aim.
- Chimera Shot now deals 25% more damage and heals the Hunter for 5% (was 3%) of their total health.
- Bestial Wrath may now be activated when there is no line of sight to the Hunter’s pet.
- Beast Cleave now causes the pet to strike all other nearby targets for 50% damage (was 30%).
- Silencing Shot now has a 24 second cooldown (was 20 seconds.)
- Glyph of Marked for Death has been removed and its effects are now baseline for all Hunters.
- The Fetch ability from Glyph of Fetch no longer requires a target. When activated, the pet will automatically choose a nearby corpse to loot.
- Dismiss pet now has a cast time of 3 seconds (was 2 seconds.)
- Steady Shot now deals 20% more damage.
- Stampede now has a range of 40 yards (was 30 yards.)
- Glyph: Glyph of Liberation. This glyph now causes Disengage to heal the Hunter for 5% of maximum health when used.
With Catalclysm Gnomes became the only race that could not be hunters. This is also true in Mists of Pandaria. Probably because they’re too busy repairing their city or they’re too short to use a bow. Actually, they probably let the Dwarves do the hunting and just trade with them.
Yes, Pandarens can be Hunters.
The best racial choice for a Hunter is one that you enjoy playing. It doesn’t matter if one race has no special abilities if you like playing that race more than others. None of the racial abilities make that much of a difference. Your skills will far outshadow any racials.
If you’re interested in the details then here’s the racial rundown:
Pandarens are listed here since they get to choose, once they leave the starting area, whether they will join Horde or Alliance.
- Can stun enemies with a strike of their hand
- Rested (as from an Inn) XP lasts longer, for faster leveling than other races.
- Increased benefits from food buffs, expecially nice for raiding.
- Good at Cooking.
- “Bouncy,” so take less falling damage. Great for cliff jumping.
Draenei - I suppose it’s reasonable that space squids that crashed their spaceship should pick up crossbows and start hunting the local fauna, right?
The Draenei are an all round good hunter race to choose due to a couple of reasons. First would be the presence of a small HoT, Gift of the Naaru, giving you a viable method of reducing downtime after tough battles.
Second, and also useful, especially for end-game play, is the +1% hit racial. You only need 3% Hit for PvP (same level,) but will want 7.5% for raiding, so this definitely helps.
They also have an increase to Jewelcrafting skill, which will get get a Draenei jeweler into those nice self-only gems that much sooner.
Night Elves - They just look the part, ya know?
The Nelf Shadowmeld racial comes in handy for ambushing unsuspecting players in both world PvP, Battlegrounds, and Arena. Additionally it can be used for hiding from higher levels/gank squads while leveling. It will drop aggro in PvE environments, allowing the tank to grab those mobs back, and will break incoming spells if you time your ‘meld just right. A very useful ability. Note: Shadowmeld does not stack with your Camouflage, but you can ‘ meld (dropping combat) and then go Camo.
Night Elf hunters also gain the benefit of a 2% dodge chance increase, another bonus to stack with Aspect of the Monkey when forced into melee. More often times this’ll happen in PvP, as opposed to PvE. Since ranged attacked can now be dodged this will make things just a bit harder for those spell casters hunting you.
Dwarves - Yes, short rock munchers like to hunt, too.
Dwarf hunters have ranged weapon expertise in Mists of Pandaria, which is nice now that your ranged attacks can be dodged.
Additionally the stone form ability washes away certain effects and reduces incoming damage by 10%. This will be useful at times.
Archeology skills and frost resistance have their uses, but there’s nothing there specifically for the Hunter.
Human - They should have been Hunters since day 1.
With Cataclysm Humans finally got to be hunters (it’s never made sense that they couldn’t be Hunters.) They have nothing that’s specifically useful for Hunters, though their escpape ability is quite nice and their diplomacy skill will help with the rep gains with the many factions of Azeroth, the Outlands, Cataclysm, and the new Mists of Pandaria zones.
Their expertise with Mace and Sword is no longer interesting since you won’t be equipping those weapons, though you can use them if you actually want to, for some reason.
Worgen - One word: Fleas. Ok, another word: Snuffling.
All snark aside, Worgen are fine Hunters. It certainly makes sense that were-wolf type critters could be Hunters, what with their legendary sense of smell, not that said sense appears in-game (maybe it could as some form of enhanced tracking?)
They have a general 1% increased chance to crit, which is nice for any Hunter, and they can “periodically move more quickly,” which definitely has it’s uses.
Blood Elves - Best hair of any Hunter race, especially the males.
Of the horde races we’ll begin with the Blood Elves, a rather “meh…” race, as far as Hunters are concerned. Their big ability is Arcane Torrent, which can be used as an AoE silence/interruption when forced into melee range, with, for example, Paladins and Death Knights. Ideally Hunters want to avoid “melee range” like the plague.
But, at least they look good.
Tauren - Big, fuzzy, lovable. Until they pin you head to their wall…
Tauren are yet another generally PvP viable Hunter race, gaining a 5% bonus to health that is always valuable in the realm of massive PvP burst damage, where every point counts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t scale well at high level. even so, it’s the equivalent of several Stam gems. Think upwards of an addition 10-15k health at 90.
You’ll also gain the benefit of Warstomp, an AoE stun that may allow you to gain range from melee classes, but like the Blood Elves, you don’t want to be in melee, so War Stomp isn’t as useful as it if for a Warrior or other melee class. Still, it can help you escape from trouble.
Herbalism provides a nice little heal and a Haste effect, both of which are nice for Hunters and the Tauren’s increased Herbalism skill will get you into that heal just that much faster.
Trolls - Winners of the “Best Tusk” competition.
Trolls are probably the best of all the races for Hunters. Trolls possess the Berserking racial, a potent DPS increase for sustained DPS.
Trolls also get a ranged weapon expertise, which is quite nice for you.
Their best ability, for leveling, is the +5% damage to beasts. Given the number of beasts in the game this makes a small, but nice, increase to killing efficiency whicle leveling and in some raiding situations.
A somewhat useful PvP ability is the reduced duration Trolls get from movement reducing effects.
Orcs - Like dwarves, but not short. And they’re green. Ok, not like Dwarves.
Orcs, on the other hand gain, are also a contender for “best Hunter race.” They get the benefit of Blood Fury, another great DPS increaser, as well as 5% more pet damage via Command. Also useful is a 15% resistance to all stuns with Hardiness, useful in PvP situations due to the prevalence of Rogues and other classes with stuns.
The Orc expertise with axes is useless to you.
Undead (Cataclysm) - Well… Sylvanas is a Hunter (Ranger,) so why not?
Naturally the Undead start with a giant spider as a pet. They have no special Hunter abilities, but their “Will of the Forsaken” can wipe off sleeps, charms, etc., a very nice abilitiy to have, especially in PvP.
Touch of the Grave drains life and is a passive ability. It’s automatically triggered from your shots and it will add a bit to your overall damage and heal you at the same time.
Goblin (Cataclysm) - These guys obviously must have bribed their way into the Hunters guild…
Rocket Jump has definite uses at times, especially as “gain range” ability in PvP. An increase to Haste is generaly useful and an increase in Alchemy skill, along with a greater effect from your own healing potions, is also nice.
My recommendation for tradeskills/professions is to pick any two of: skinning, herbalism, or mining. This is a great way to earn a decent amount of gold throughout your career. Gather a bunch of herbs/ores/skins and send ‘em off to your banker to sell.
Generally, crafting skills should be avoided unless you have that excess cash, since those skills are very expensive to level. Besides the obvious benefits, each of the profession skills offers a special perk, such as increased crit rating from skinning. (All of these perks will be much higher in Mists of Pandaria.)
While Agility is, by far, the best stat for any Hunter you might still take note of the Blacksmithing skill. It allows slotting two extra gems and gems in M of P have twice the value for secondary stats that they do for Agility. This makes it easy to cap off your Hit or Expertise. If you like what Haste does for you then check out the Herbalism skill.
- Leatherworking - for some decent gear, especially at high level, but it’s expensive to level. The bracer enchant provides 500 agility in M of P. This lets you replace an enchant that would otherwise be haste or crit with pure agility.
- Skinning - to make money and support your leatherworking skill. Skinning also adds 480 rating points to your crit rating.
- Mining and Herbalism are great cash grinding skills. Mining will add 480 to your Stamina and Herbalism will give you a small heal and a 2,880 Haste rating buff for 20 seconds, which isn’t bad at all.
- Inscription You can make some money with it, but it takes some work. If you just want your glyphs then, on most servers, it’s cheaper to buy them all than to level this profession. Very nice shoulder enchant provides 520 total Ag and 100 Crit.
- First aid is essential. Keep it maxed at all times, even if you’re raiding.
- Cooking is useful as many of the foods you create will have interesting buffs, as well as allowing you to regain health and mana. The top foods provide 300 Ag.
- Alchemy has lots of useful potions and you get 30% more effect and an additional hour duration from your own flasks and elixirs.
- Jewelcrafting can provide two self-only gems that are better than other gems, in addition to various sorts of useful jewelry.
- Blacksmithing can provide two extra self-only gem slots to hold those nice Agility gems that you can make with Jewelcrafting.
- Enchanting provides two +160 Agility enchants to your own rings for a potential 320 Ag gain, in addition to a whole slew of useful enchants. .
- Engineering has a number of engie toys that are useful (even when balanced against the failures and side-effects.) Synapse Springs will add 1,920 Ag when you need it.
- Tailoring: swordguard embroidery cloak enchant sometimes procs for 4,000 Attack Power (for 15 seconds.)
- Need to get more gold? Check out Tycoon.
Hunter Abilities, Pets, and Leveling
Hunter abilities are distributed about 2/3’s into our own powers and such with the remaining 1/3 being the slew of pet specific talents such as mend pet, revive, etc. This number of pet abilities increases should you specialize into Beast Mastery.
Properly using a Hunter, of course, depends on the efficient usage of our pet, whether that be for tanking, as beast mastery, additional DPS as marksman, due to declining threat gain without talent tree buffs, or simply a distraction, as Survival in PvP.
Cataclysm made the whole taming and training system somewhat easier and added the ability to have several pets on call and store many more in the stables. Nowadays pets gain levels more quickly than ever before and their Happiness became much easier to maintain. In 4.1 happiness was gone. You no longer had to keep your pets happy or loyal.
In Mists of Pandaria it’s even easier. There is no pet maintenance of any kind. Feeding your pet heals it, but that’s about all.
Beast Mastery Hunters can train more exotic pets, such as the T Rex’s wandering around Ungoro Crater. In Mists of Pandaria this ability will remain with Beast Mastery, but will be called Exotic Beasts.
With Cataclysm the Hunter uses Focus instead of Mana, which makes sense since they were never spell casters. Focus is regenerated through several talents and works very much like a Rogue or Druid’s Energy. Mists of Pandaria doesn’t change this.
The Hunter’s Pets
In Mists of Pandaria any pet can become either Ferocity, Cunning, or Tenacity. Yes, this means your bat can take the tanking tree. In addition you can change pet specs on the fly, just like glyphs and talents. Your tanking Bat pet can DPS the next fight as Ferocity and be Cunning for the one after that.
- Pets automatically get their abilities, there are no more talents to learn.
- Pets immediately become your level when you tame them.
- No happiness or loyalty to worry about, no talents to buy or train.
- Each pet can pick from one of the three specs: Ferocity, Tenacity, and Cunning. They will automatically learn that set of abilities when they “learn” that spec, just like you do.
- The spec abilities are in addition to the regular pet abilities, such as Growl.
- You can swap pet builds whenever you want to. Ferocity to Tenacity to Cunning when you need it, then back again. At will.
- There is a pet tab in your spellbook, check all the pet abilities there.
Pets have three overall “builds/specs:”
- Ferocity is for DPS pets. They can tank a couple of mobs just fine, but their main job is damage. Generally, in raids, your pet will be Ferocity. Past level 60 or so they don’t hold aggro as well as they do at earlier levels, but your skills should be such that this won’t matter. Much.
- The Ferocity abilities are:
- Rabid: Increases pet’s attack power by 50% for 20 seconds.
- Dash: 80% movement speed increase for 20 seconds.
- Combat Experience: Passive, increases all pet damage by 50%
- Heart of the Pheonix: When used you pet returns to life with 100% health.
- Spiked Collar: 10% increase to basic attack damage, attack speed, and crit chance.
- Tenacity is the build that your tanking pets will have. These pets will keep the attentions of several mobs, and survive, while you burn them down. A few Hunters even tank dungeons with these pets and then make the boss into a pet, such as with King Dred.
- The Tenacity abilities are:
- Last Stand: Your pet gains 30% health for 20 seconds.
- Charge: Your pet charges, stunning the opponent for 1 second, and gaining 25% Attack Power for the next attack.
- Thunderstomp: (level 20) Shake the ground doing minor damage to all enemies within 8 years and causing a moderate amount of threat.
- Blood of the Rhino: Pet gets 40% more healing, 20% more armor, 6% less chance to be crit from melee attacks.
- Great Stamina: More stam for better tanking.
- Combat Experience: Passive, increases all pet damage by 50%
- Cunning pets have certain special abilities that are useful in particular situations.
- The Cunning abilities are:
- Roar of Sacrifice: For 12 seconds your pet can make a target immune to crits, but the pet takes some of the damage done to the target.
- Bullheaded: Break free of all effects and take 20% less damage for 12 seconds.
- Dash: 80% movement speed increase for 20 seconds.
- Combat Experience: Passive, increases all pet damage by 50%
- Cornered: At low health your pet becomes resistant to crits and does more damage.
- Boar’s Speed: (Passive) Your pet moves 30% faster.
Under each of these classes there are a number of pet families. Each family will have certain special abilities and will cover a number of similar citters, such as “bears.”
Which one is “best?” That depends on you and how you like to play. As you level you will gain the ability to train additional pets, which you can swap as necessary. Additional pets can be kept in the stables. Pretend they’re Pokemon and catch ‘em all.
Petopia has lots of info on Hunter pets.
Different pets require different foods. Some want veggies, some want meat, and you get to provide the food. (Sorry, but other players don’t count as “meat.”) You’ll have to either kill stuff, go fishing, or buy the food from the various vendors (such as fruit or meat sellers.) See the links above for pet lists and which foods they require. Higher level foods heal your pet for more than lower level foods.
All that the food does is heal your pet, out of combat. It does nothing else. Food used to do more, but that’s all gone now.
Other Pet notes:
- Pets inherit 100% of the Hunter’s hit, haste, and crit, and scale considerably from AP. All 3 pet types inherit the same AP scaling, so differences in DPS come from the pet’s basic abilities and their talents.
- Pets inherit nothing from your Strength
- Pet specific consumables are no longer available.
- If you’re Draenei your pet will inherit your hit racial.
Hunter Specs, Abilities, Talents.
When done right, Hunter Leveling can be compared to the pleasure of slowly sipping down a nice glass of (insert cold beverage of choice here) on a hot summer day, pleasurable and luxuriously easy – Just the way I like it to be when I level.
Of course not all players take it the right way, many over emphasize equipment, others forget to train pet skills (don’t forget to pick your pet’s spec,) but all of this takes away more time in the long run than you might gain from skipping it temporarily.
Thankfully, all three styles of Hunter builds are viable for leveling, catering to those who prefer to snipe from a long range or sick enraged cats on people. Not to mention the smaller, yet equally capable crowd, that likes the tactical challenge of survival from start to the level cap.
This section is only an overview of hunter leveling, check out our Hunter Leveling Guide for more information, talent builds, and stuff. If you need a step-by-step guide to go from 1 to the level cap (or starting from any level) then check out our recommended leveling guide, below.
Each Hunter specialization (spec) will get from 10 to 13 abilities that none of the others get, such as Marksmanship’s Aimed Shot. These are in addition to the regular abilities that are shared by all Hunters and the talents.
Most, not all, of these abilities have been tweaked from their Cataclysm versions. A couple are new, some were talents. Hover over the links for descriptions. Remember that you can still use the Dual Build ability (learned from your trainer.) As with the regular abilities you will learn these automatically as you level.
Beastmastery fulfills yet another crucial role in the hunter class, the improvement of our pets. These talents will take the pet from being just an assitant to something far greater.
Not only does this tree maintain the pet’s effectiveness at tanking, but also brings massive amounts of improvement in DPS, regeneration, and a variety of other abilities – via multiple talents that apply increases to both the Hunter and the Pet, notably The Beast Within.
The marksmanship tree is the namesake tree for hunters, due to the spec’s emphasis on ranged combat. In this spec the pet is an accessory, not as much of a partner or tank as it is with Beastmastery.
Most of your abilities are oriented towards making your shots faster and/or more effective. For example, your Careful Aim (lev 20) will make your opening Aimed Shot much more effective.
This tree holds one key element of the entire class, traps. Improvements to traps result in a massive increase of our survivability, making it much more likely that you’ll prevent a multiple mob pull from getting out of hand. Some of the latter talents making you almost tank-like due to HP increases and dodge.
Your Forte is Traps and Stings. Both are more effective than other Hunters and your Lock and Load ability gives you free Explosive Shots on trapped targets.
Burn ‘em down, baby.
|Kill Command||10||Aimed Shot||10||Explosive Shot|
|Go for the Throat (Passive)||20||Careful Aim (Passive)||43||Lock and Load (Passive)|
|Intimidation||30||Concussive Barrage (Passive)||50||Black Arrow|
|Beast Cleave (Passive)||45||Bombardment (Passive)||55||Entrapment (Passive)|
|Frenzy (Passive)||46||Rapid Recuperation (Passive)||63||Viper Venom (Passive) – New|
|Focus Fire||58||Master Marksman (Passive)||64||Trap Mastery (Passive)|
|Bestial Wrath||60||Chimera Shot||68||Serpent Spread (Passive)|
|Cobra Strikes (Passive)||63||Steady Focus (Passive) – new||70||Improved Serpent Sting (Passive)|
|The Beast Within (Passive)||72||Piercing Shots (Passive)||80||Mastery: Essence of the Viper (Passive)|
|Kindred Spirits (Passive)||80||Mastery: Wild Quiver (Passive)||81||Cobra Shot|
|Exotic Beasts (Passive) – Used to be part of the Beast Mastery talent.|
|Mastery: Master of Beasts (Passive)|
Hunter Talents in Mists of Pandaria
Talents are pretty simple these days, much simpler than they have been before. You have six “tiers” of talents, each with three choices. Any spec of Hunter can chose any one talent from any tier. Six total talents at level 90. You’ll note that each tier covers a certain general type of enhancement, such as Tier 1, which alters your Disengage ability.
Talent details are below the image.
Details on the new Hunter Talents
Again, you can pick one from any one row, regardless of your spec.
|Posthaste - Your Disengage breaks free from movement impairing effects and increases your movement rate.||Narrow Escape - When you Disengage you leave webs, snagging all targets for a few seconds.||Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera - Reduces cooldowns of Disengage and Deterrence.|
|Silencing Shot - Silences and interrupts.||Wyvern Sting - Puts the target to sleep for awhile.||Binding Shot - Enemies are tethered to your arrow and stunned if they move away.|
|Exhilaration - Heal yourself and your pet.||Aspect of the Iron Hawk - Increase ranged attack power and reduce incoming damage.||Spirit Bond - You and your pet regenerate.|
|Fervor - Restore focus||Dire Beast - Summons a mighty beast to attack your target.||Thrill of the Hunt - Chance for next Arcane/Multi-shots to be free.|
|A Murder of Crows - A flock of crows will attack your target.||Blink Strike - Pet shadowsteps to target and does damage.||Lynx Rush - Your pet charges from target to target, attacking each.|
|Glaive Toss - Throw glaives to slow target and increase their damage taken.||Powershot - A mighty shot that knocks back opponents.||Barrage - A spray of shots that damages the target and enemies between you and the target.|
Marksmanship Hunter Leveling
Marksmanship leveling follows the much loved style of nuking the opposition from orbit (or at least a fairly large distance,) as it’s really the only way to be sure of victory. To make things even better, you’ll likely kill your target before it even reaches you, making it fairly easy to continually pull mobs without a single second of downtime. Aimed Shot + Careful Aim is a brutal opener.
So, if that’s not enough to convince you, Marksman is both entertaining and easy. Try it if the image of a lone-gunman suits your playstyle. Of course, that kind of ranged damage will make you a valuable team member, as well.
For more , see our:
- Marksman Hunter DPS page for Raids, instances, and dungeons, including rotations, tips, gems, enchants, and more.
- Marksmanship PvP page for mowing down those players who chose the wrong faction.
- Also see our Hunter Leveling Guide for lots of leveling info.
Beast Mastery Hunter Leveling
Despite all praises I may have for Marksman as a method of leveling, Beast Mastery somehow manages to surpass even this, setting a new bar for soloing capabilities only matched by Demonologist Warlocks with a Felguard in tow.
The majority of Beast Mastery’s overwhelming leveling speed comes from the fact that many Beast Mastery talents not only improve the pet, but the Hunter himself (to a lesser extent.) More pet damage equals more Hunter damage, not equaling the level of marksmanship necessarily, but still more than enough to make you an even greater killing machine than ever before.
Finally the pet’s tanking ability becomes almost unstoppable with beastial wrath and intimidation, allowing you to run from fight to fight, even with elites, without ever taking a scratch and wasting barely ten seconds healing the pet from any damage taken. Having the pet as your tank eliminates the potential for mistakes and helps to make the pair of you into a very efficient killing machine.
Click Here and get leveled to 90, Fast
Survival Hunter Leveling
Survival, unlike marksmanship or beast mastery, seems more apt for providing a fun distraction from the usual grind of leveling while still maintaining speeds generally unreachable by any aside from Rogues or Fury Warriors.
The concept of spending more time on the tactical approach to combat via traps, as opposed to a run n’ gun style of play, appeals to both myself and many others, despite its relative slowness compared to the other styles of hunter leveling.
I’d recommend the Survival Tree for players picking up a Hunter to level for perhaps the second or third time. It provides a reasonable change in combat and overall playstyle and is a refreshing experience without becoming truly tedious at any time.
Stay out of melee - While Hunters can dish out enough melee damage to function for leveling it doesn’t work so well for PvP. Any other melee class will lock you up and shut you down. Use your abilities to get out of melee ASAP and get back to your strength, ranged devastation.
Hunters can be very effective at PvP, but like any other class they have to play to their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Hone the skills that keep the opposition controlled and away from you. Learn the skills that apply the highest burst damage for those times when you can just blast away.
Your damage is fine, your control is fine, your ability to escape is fine. Your #1 question is how well you can stay out of melee and the #2 question is how well you can keep casters interrupted and/or silenced or otherwise out of your hair.
While your pet will be completely unable to tank another player it can be a very valuable DPS addition. It can also initiate an attack, allowing you to get several shots in before the other player finds and targets you. Some pets, such as those with large wing spans, can obscure the vision of the other player. Other pets have special abilities which can also be useful. Monkeys (rude manners) and Spiders (webs) come to mind. Those special abilities are the reasons you’ll see so many of those pets in PvP.
Traps laid down in bottleneck areas, such as the tunnels in Warsong Gulch, or the entries to either base in Atarac Valley, or right next to (or on top of) a flag can be very valuable. Crowd Control abilities can be every bit as useful as raw damage.
Arena – There are plenty of Hunters in the top arena rankings, especially in 3s.
Hunter PvP Gear
Gear, Stats, and Numbers
Focus is the “resource” that Hunters (and their pets) use for all of their attacks. It works very much like a Rogue’s Energy and it makes resource management something to keep an eye on. Every attack, that isn’t an “auto-attack,” will require X amount of focus. Various talents will either restore Focus or increase its regeneration speed, for both you and your pet.
Once upon a time Intelligence was an important Hunter stat, but that went away with Cataclysm and the introduction of Focus. Agility is now the #1 stat and Stam only has value for situations where you will be getting hit (such as PvP.)
- Agility -Your #1 stat. Adds to your ranged DPS, your crit chance, and your dodge. Agi is, by far, your most important stat for DPS.
- Hit rating: You won’t need much for leveling or PvP, but it is important for raiding/PvP. The hit cap is not hard to reach. Excess Hit is useless.
- 3% for same level mobs
- 4.5% for +1 level
- 6% for +2 level
- 7.5% for +3 level, such as Raid bosses.
- Expertise - Your Ranged attacks can be dodged and your Expertise %, that you want to try to get, is the same as your Hit %. For the end-game you will want to be expertise capped, just as you will be with Hit. Also, as with Hit, excess expertise is useless.
- Attack Power – Directly increases your damage, but only appears with certain enchants.
- Crit rating – Just as important as Attack Power
- Haste – The affects both the speed of your shots, cooldown timers, and focus regeneration.
- Mastery - this stat is trainable at level 80. Its value will vary with your build and gear. Typically this is a weaker stat for Hunters.
Intelligence- with 4.0 & Cataclysm Hunters have no need for brains. Hunter attacks are now based off of “Focus.” Strength- You don’t need strength. Pets inherit nothing from your Str. Spirit- Useless
- Stamina – Keeps you alive . You need more for PvP than either Raiding or Leveling.
- Resilience – Very important for PvP, completely useless outside of PvP. If you’re PvPing then get as much as you can without gimping your other stats.
- PvP Power replaces Spell Penetration and is a straight up damage add. If you PvP then PvP Power is second only to Agility (and it’s close) for effectiveness. If you don’t PvP then it’s useless.
So, in general, you want to look for…
- Agility >> Hit and Expertise to 7.5% (for raiding, 3% each for PvP) > Crit & Haste > Mastery
- This means you should consider reforging Mastery and any other off stats into better stats. Excess Hit and Expertise should be reforged away.
- Stamina and Resilience and PvP Power as needed.
A note on caps:
A cap is just the point at which a stat becomes less valuable, or even worthless. You need a 7.5% Hit rating to hit a raid boss (which is 3 levels higher than you) 100% of the time (he can still dodge.) Any Hit rating over 7.5% adds zero value to you and is a waste of points. Therefore there is a hard cap of 7.5% for Hit Vs raid bosses. For same level PvP it’s 3%.
7.5% Expertise means that the boss will be unable to dodge your shots, so you will want both Hit and Expertise. Any Expertise over 7.5% is worthless to you.
By comparison, any and all Crit and Haste have value.
To hit opponents of the same level as you, whether you’re both level 48 or both level 90, you will only need 3% Hit and Expertise.
You can also check out our page on soft and hard caps for more on how this works.
- At level 40 you get to wear mail armor and at level 50 you will get a bonus if you have mail armor in all appropriate slots.
- In Mists of Pandaria you can use any ranged weapon and most melee weapons, but you cannot equip them at the same time. Your bow/gun has zero minimum range, so skip the melee weapons. You will have to do a weapon swap to change from ranged to melee weapons and back again, so you will not be able to benefit from the stats on your melee weapons while using your bow.
- Level 70: If you like PvP then do enough before level 70 so that you can buy the level 70 epic PvP gear from the arena vendors.
- Level 77: By your Cataclysm green gear at 77 and put all your heirloom away until 81. The Cata gear is vastly better than any other gear you’ll find at that level.
- Mists of Pandaria gear starts appearing at level 80 and is way better than Cata gear at that level. Keep an eye on the AH for your stuff.
- At 81 put your level 85 heirlooms back on (they upgrade to Cata stats at that point,) but keep an eye open for the M of P gear if you’re interested.
- At 85 you will venture into the lands of M of P. You will eventually (well before level 86) find a vendor who will sell you all of your item level 377 gear, if you haven’t upgraded by this time. Higher level gear in on the Auction House.
Gems and enchants for Hunters
Being a Hunter you’ll want enchants with Agility and Crit.
Head enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants all come from the Inscription profession.
Short on gold? Most of the enchants below have similar enchants available, of lesser value, for less cash. We’ve linked to a couple of these. Check with the rep vendor or the Auction House for others. If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Tycoon Addon can do about about improving your situation.
The chest item is the only Resilience enchant, there are no PvP Power enchants.
|Ranged Weapon||Lord Blastington’s Scope of Doom: Sometimes add 1,800 Ag for 10 seconds.
Living Steel Weapon Chain- Reduces duration of disarm effects, 200 Expertise.
|Weapon||You don’t use no stinkin’ melee weapons.|
|Shoulders||Secret Tiger Claw Inscription 520 Ag, 100 Crit, requires Inscription 575
Greater Tiger Claw Inscription: 200 Agility, 100 Crit
|Cloak||Swordguard Embroidery: Sometimes pops 4k AP for 15 sec. Requires Tailoring.
Enchant Cloak – Accuracy: 180 Hit rating
Enchant Cloak – Superior Critical Strike: 180 Crit rating
|Chest||Enchant Chest – Super Resilience: 200 Resilience
Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: 80 to all Stats
|Bracers||Fur Lining, Agility: 500 Agility, requires Leatherworking.
Enchant Bracer – Greater Agility: 170 Agility
Socket Bracer: Self only, Blacksmithing, pop in a nice Agility gem.
|Gloves||Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste: 170 Haste
Enchant Gloves – Superior Expertise: 170 Expertise
Socket Gloves – Self only, Blacksmithing, pop in a nice gem.
|Belt||Living Steel Belt Buckle: put a nice gem into this slot.|
|Leggings||Shadowleather Leg Armor: 285 Agility & 165 Crit rating|
|Boots||Enchant Boots – Blurred Speed: 140 Agility and Slight run speed increase.|
|Rings||Enchant Ring – Greater Agility: 160 Agility, Requires Enchanting 550|
Note that Mists of Pandaria gems have twice the value for the secondary stats than they do for the primary stats, for example: 320 Crit Vs 160 Agility. Agility is still much better for any Hunter than any other stat, but with the high value of secondary stat gems it might be worthwhile to match Agility socket bonuses.
For PvP, the PvP Power gems are better than Agility gems since PvP power is nearly as good as agility and you get twice as much for those gems. It will definitely be worth matching socket bonuses for Agility, PvP power, or Resilience.
You can drop the orange gems into yellow sockets and purples into blues and still match socket bonuses.
|Meta||Agile Primal Diamond: 216 Agil & 3% Increased Crit Effect|
|Red||Delicate Primordial Ruby: 160 Agility
Precise Primordial Ruby: 320 Expertise
|Yellow||Mystic Sun’s Radiance: 320 Resilience
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: 320 Mastery
Smooth Sun’s Radiance: 320 Crit
|Blue||Stormy River’s Heart: 320 PvP power|
|Orange||Lucent Vermilion Onyx: 80 Agility, 160 Resilience
Deadly Vermilion Onyx: 80 Agility, 160 Crit
Adept Vermilion Onyx: 80 Agility, 160 Mastery
Crafty Vermilion Onyx: 160 Expertise, 160 Crit
Tenuous Vermilion Onyx: 160 Expertise, 160 Resilience
|Purple||Assassin’s Imperial Amethyst: 80 Ag, 160 PvP Power
Glinting Imperial Amethyst: 80 Ag, 160 Hit
Accurate Imperial Amethyst: 160 Expertise, 160 Hit
Shifting Imperial Amethyst: 80 Ag and 120 Stam
|Green||Vivid Wild Jade: 160 Res, 160 PvP Power|
|Prismatic||Delicate Primordial Ruby: 160 Agility|
|Cogwheel||Smooth Tinker’s Gear: 600 Crit – requires an engie helm, such as this.
Precise Tinker’s Gear: 600 Expertise
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: 600 Mastery
- Practice your rotations on a practice dummy, using a DPS meter like Recount. Make sure you maintain your routine for at least a few minutes on the dummy. This averages out the high and low spikes in your damage and gives you a better number. The more disciplined and automatic your routine is, the higher your DPS will be. See our Hunter DPS pages for rotation details (Marks, BM, Survival.)
- If you’re PvPing then you should mix in any abilities that might help even though they don’t increase damage, such as Concussive shot. Crowd Control will be a huge help in laying waste to the opposition.
- If you’re clicking your buttons, rather than using hotkeys, you’re at a disadvantage. Zuggy has a pretty good guide to hotkeys.
This video is really old (before Cataclysm,) but covers trapping basics nicely.
This video is oriented towards Arena PVP and is quite a bit more advanced. It’s a Skill-Capped video and there are a lot more Hunter PvP videos and guides on that site.
Hunters in Mists of Pandaria
This section covers the basics, but you’ll find more detail and the new abilities on our Hunters in Mists of Pandaria page.
- Contrary to some early rumors, Hunters in Mists will be able to equip melee weapons. They will have to do a weapon swap to use ranged weapons. So while you can use them, you won’t really want to.
- The third weapon slot is gone for all classes. This means that you will have to weapon swap to use melee weapons, but…
- There is no minimum range for your bows and guns, so the need for melee weapons is pretty much nil.
- Hunters bows now have strings!
- Talents, as they were in Cataclysm, are gone.
- All Hunters get the common set of abilities, plus a set of 10 to 13 abilities specific to each tree.
- All Hunters will be able to pick from a common pool of talents (see video, below.) There are six tiers of talents (obtained at levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90,) with three choices in each tier. Any Hunter can pick any one of these talents. At level 90 you will have six talents.
- There are no points to spend in any one talent or ability. You get the whole thing when you learn it.
- You no longer have to see the trainer to learn abilities, they just appear as you level.
- Your trainer can wipe your talents if you want to respec. You can also change talents on the fly, just as you can with glyphs.
- Pet talents have changes, as well. Any pet can spec to any of tenacity, ferocity, or cunning and can switch specs at any time.
- You do not get to pick pet talents, they just have them.
- There are some other changes, but those are the bigger ones.
This video is from BlizCon 2011, where Blizzard introduces the new talent system for Hunters. Some of the talents will have been greatly updated since the video was made, and with 5.2 some may be wrong, but the description of how the new system works is still good.
See above for the current talent details.
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