This guide is about improving your damage (DPS) as a Beast Mastery Hunter in PvE (Raids and other instances.) If you are looking for info on leveling or PvP check the links just below.
Shadowlands kicked some things around and made a few changes, like all expansion. There were a couple of other, tiny changes, that were hardly noticed: the character level and the item level smashes. Who’d care about going from level 120 to 50, right? But the “how to” remains basically unchanged.
Beast Mastery Contents
|This Beast Mastery Hunter guide is primarily intended for use in PvE and Raids at max level. However, the principals will still apply during the leveling process. If you’re looking for advice on leveling your Hunter, check out our Hunter Leveling Guide.
Other Hunter Guides:
If you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to the level cap as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.
Overview and Notes
This page covers the how to do more damage in PvE situations as a Beast Mastery Hunter. It’ll hit talents, ability notes, tips, consumables, gearing, “How to,” and so on.
For PvP, well, there are other considerations and those are covered elsewhere.
As a Beast Mastery Hunter you’re very versatile. Attack while moving? No sweat. Kiting? Easy peasy. Need your pet to tank for a bit? No problem. Lay down the hurt as well as anyone? Yes, that’s you. This gives you a lot of flexibility in any environment. Single target or groups, you’re good.
Focus is your resource and it drives your better abilities. Some of those abilities will boost your pet’s attacks, reduce cooldowns, etc.
Race? Thinking about a new race or a race change? For some time now, all races can become Hunters. Even the Allied Races from BFA and Legion. If you want to check them out then you can see a complete list, with all the abilities, on our Hunter Leveling page.
As for Abilities, this page will hit the talents in detail and also notes on rotations. A complete list of abilities common to all hunters, as well as those for each spec, can also be found on that page.
Flavor of the Month? Detailed changes as new patches occur? Won’t happen here. The focus will be on what is best for PvE.
One change of note in Shadowlands (there are several) is a target cap on your area effect damage. You can only attack so many of a group at one time. Another is the Diminishing Returns for high levels of Haste, etc. More on that below. Oh, and you can also have up to 200 pets in your stable. Good hunting.
You will also have Covenants to join and Legendary Items to grab.
Beast Mastery Hunter Talents
Our picks are checked, , and descriptions are below the image.
Your talents can easily be changed IF you’re in a “rested XP” area, such as your garrison, an inn, or the big city. No reagents, trainers, or special rituals required.
If you are in the dungeon or out on the world and need to change talents before the next fight? Buy or make (with Inscription) a stack of Tome of the Quiet Mind, which will work up to level 59. From 51 to 60 (you’re raiding now) you can use a Tome of the Still Mind. Either will give you one minute to switch up.
Maybe the next fight has one major boss and insignificant adds. Or a mob scene. Or some interesting mechanics. Or you need to sneak by that one thing. Change up appropriately.
Tier 1 Talents, level 15:
- Killer Instinct is sort of your “Execute” ability. Your target gets under 35% health and your Kill Commands will do 50% more damage.
- Animal Companion is generally the best talent of this set for all situations, from leveling to raiding. It gives you an additional pet, the first one in your stable’s list, which does almost everything your main pet does. No CD or time limit, do your whole thing with the two pets. Decent increase to your total damage and having two attack pets is just cool. Note that the companion does not get the Pet Family abilities. You cannot rename the companion (you can, of course, if you ever make it your primary pet) and you dismiss it by dismissing your primary pet.
- Dire Beast is basically a 5% Haste buff which lasts for 8 seconds. It will attack the target, but falls well behind the others in total damage done (including your buff.) Skip it unless you just like the effect of another beast charging in. 20 second CD, so it can be up fairly often.
Tier 2 Talents, level 25:
- Scent of Blood gives you two charges of Barbed Shot when you use Bestial Wrath. The best general use talent of this set.
- One with the Pack gives your Wild Call a 40% chance (up from 20%) to reset the CD on your Barbed Shot. So you’ll get your extra Barbed Shots randomly over time.
- Chimera Shot fires two shots, hitting your main target and one close to that target. One takes Nature damage, and the other Frost. You also gain +10 Focus for each target hit. A good added shot for leveling, with the weak mobs there. The other two will be better for tougher fights.
Tier 3 Talents, level 30:
- Trailblazer gives you a speed increase (30%) if you have not attacked anything for 3 seconds. Probably not useful in raids, but will be good if you are soloing lower level dungeons.
- Natural Mending will give you more Exhilarations over time. For every 30 Focus you spend the CD is reduced by 1 second. Nice if you’re in a situation, such as raiding, where that heal will be needed more often.
- Camouflage gives you 1 minute of Rogue-like stealth, and you even heal at 2% per second. Need to sneak past something? Sneak into attack position? Then grab this. Note that attacking (either you or your pet) will break the effect, as will certain effects from items (such as the heal on an heirloom trinket.) Don’t get too close when sneaking by and beware of enemies with enhanced senses (detect hidden.)
Tier 4 Talents, level 35:
- Spitting Cobra appears when your Bestial Wrath ends and it will attack the enemy for 15 seconds. Each Cobra Shot you fired during Wrath increases the Cobra’s damage by 10%. It is considered a pet, so your Animal Companion talent will reduce its damage. That knocks the value of this talent down a bit.
- Thrill of the Hunt is a passive talent which adds +3% to your Crit chance any time you use Barbed Shot. Can stack up to 9% and lasts for 8 seconds. A nice general damage increase over the long fight, so is the best of this bunch for most situations.
- A Murder of Crows summons the flock to attack the enemy. 1 min. CD. Lasts 15 seconds. If the target dies while under assault then the CD is reset. Nice burst talent, and fun, but Thrill will do more damage over the course of a long fight (raids and most dungeons.)
Tier 5 Talents, level 40:
- Born to be Wild will reduce the CDS of your Aspects of the Turtle and Cheetah by 20%, from 3 min to a bit less that 2.5 minutes. Is that useful to you? Do you need as many immunities/sprints as possible?
- Posthaste gives you a speed boost when disengaging, adding 50% movement speed for 4 seconds, and also breaks movement impairing stuff. Extra movement is always good and I’m sure you can point your Disengage in the correct direction. The most generally useful talent of this group.
- Binding Shot has a 30 yard range and a 45 sec. CD, 5 yard radius area. Tethers the opponents to that area for 10 seconds and roots them if they try to move away. Can be useful if you need to control some movement.
Tier 6 Talents, level 45:
- Stomp happens whenever you fire your Barbed shot, your pet stomps the ground and does damage to all opponents within 8 yards. The stomp will break various Crowd control effects, so be careful of your targets. Good for single and for group targets.
- Barrage hits up to 8 enemies in front of you, in channeled over 3 seconds, and has a 20 second CD. Not useful for single target fights, but better if you’re doing lots of Area Effect fights, such as when the adds charge in and/or your tank grabs a group. Or when you’re leveling and want to round up a few things.
- Stampede summons up a horde of beasts to trample everything, up to 30 yards away, in the direction that you are facing for 12 seconds. 2 minute CD and is buffed by your Bestial Wrath, so always use the two together. Blizzard once stated the effect this way: “Stampede now summons all pets that your character has ever tamed, all pets that your character has ever thought about taming, all pets that your character’s pets have ever thought might be fun to hang out with, and all pets that the enemy target just really hates being killed by.”
Tier 7 Talents, Level 50:
- Aspect of the Beast buff’s your pet’s damage and healing by 30% and it’s passives by 50%. This makes it generally the best talent of this set. It’s a passive effect, so one less thing to think about.
- Killer Cobra – While Bestial Wrath is active, your Cobra Shot resets the cooldown on Kill Command. Nice if you have the Focus to burn.
- Bloodshed causes your pet to tear a hole in your target, causing it to bleed for 18 seconds. This will increase further damage from that pet by 15% for that time. Works well with Animal Companion. Will make for a nice burst when cooldowns are synced up. 1 min CD. Recommended strictly for single target.
Beast Mastery War Mode Talents
Still leveling? Live dangerously, level with War Mode on. You gain +10% XP, and might get +30% if your side is greatly outnumbered on your server. Max level? If you’re doing the Daily Quests then you might see better rewards.
The talents suggested here are for general questing and outdoor quests and such. They are not optimal for PvP, but are picked for their PvE use. Of course, like any other talents, you can change them whenever you are in a “rested XP” area, such as an Inn. You can also turn War Mode off there. You can turn War Mode on in either Stormwind or Orgrimmar.
Grab them in the order that works best for you. You can choose PvP talents at 20, 30, and 40, though certain talents require other levels. This set of talents all requires level 20.
- Dire Beast: Hawk will circle the area and attack all targets within 10 yards of the selected target. Then you burn them down. How are you at handling groups of mobs? The area effect is visible and the hawk cannot be attacked. 30 sec. CD, 40 yard range.
- Dire Beast: Basilisk may be sluggish, but he hits quite hard. Don’t use on a moving target, only stationary ones. Hangs around for 30 seconds and has a 2 min. CD.
- Hunting Pack: Cuts the CD of your Aspect of the Cheetah in half, which is nice when questing in open world. Also, when you use that aspect it boosts the speed of any allies, within 15 yards, by 90% for 3 seconds.
- Hi-Explosive Trap – Need a little knockback? Set it (40 yard range) and it will explode when the mob runs over it, doing damage and knocking them back. Lasts for 1 minute. Set it, attract something, then watch it fly away as it approaches and hits the trap.
Pets are either Tenacity, Ferocity, or cunning. Ferocity is generally the best choice as it provides the greatest DPS gain, but there may be situations where a Tenacity or Cunning pet might have use.
You can have 200 pets now. Get to work.
Beast Mastery Hunter Stat Priorities
Keep in mind that perfecting your rotations will result in a far better DPS gain than having “exactly the right” stats, esp. in Shadowlands, with it’s Diminishing Returns system. LOTS of practice will do a lot more for your DPS than anything else.
Diminishing returns means that for each point past a certain value you will get less value from that stat. For example:
- Up to 30% = 100% value.
From 30% to 39%, there’s a 10% penalty.
From 39% to 47%, there’s a 20% penalty.
From 47% to 54%, there’s a 30% penalty.
From 54% to 66%, there’s a 40% penalty.
From 66% to 126%, there’s a 50% penalty.
You can’t get more than 126% from gear rating.
I’m sure this will change as time goes on, but the idea will remain the same. This applies to stats from gear, including buff effects. It does not apply to stats from spells like Heroism. So keep this in mind if you’re planning on madly stacking Haste or Crit.
Pet Note: your pets inherit your Haste, Crit, & Versatility. So they will get the diminished value.
- The exact “best stats” (among crit, mastery, haste) depend on your gear level and the exact pieces you have. For example, Haste becomes increasingly valuable as you obtain items that randomly proc agility, as it gets you more procs over time.
- Weapons: Item level pretty much trumps everything. A big jump in iLevel is better, with an Agility item, than anything else.
Agility is your best stat. It adds damage to everything you and your pet do.
Haste speeds up everything you do, reduces all the Cooldown times (Barbed Shot‘s, for example.)
Crit does 2x damage on a successful critical hit. Your Wild Call mechanic has a chance to reset the CD of your Barbed Shot and a higher crit chance will get you more of those.
Versatility increases all damage do, by you and your pet. Also any items, essences, etc. that do damage. Half of its value also applies to damage reduction.
Mastery is a damage add to your pets, including any summoned up through abilities or talents.
- Weapon damage (DPS)
- Haste & Crit are roughly equal
- Versatility and Mastery are roughly equal.
In-Depth Beast Mastery Rotation Guide
Attack from behind where possible. Your shots can be blocked as well as dodged. Attacking from behind removes the chance to be blocked and will increase your DPS.
Aspect: You should have Aspect of the Hawk active at all times unless in a movement intensive fight in which case Aspect of the Fox is your best option. The Iron Hawk talent, if you took it, reduces all incoming damage.
Your first priority in any fight is applying Hunter’s Mark to your target followed by Serpent Sting. Serpent Sting should be maintained, but in this case we’ll be using Cobra Shot to do so therefore you should only have to apply Serpent Sting to a given target once.
- Note that Hunter’s Mark is automatically applied with your Arcane, Chimera and explosive shots as well as with your Kill Command. The Mark can be applied when you are well out of range of those attacks, which has occasional use. If you’re in range then your shots will apply it.
Cast Kill Command on cooldown.
Focus Fire should be used when your pet has 5 stacks of Frenzy for maximum effect to grant yourself a 30% ranged Haste buff for 20 seconds. The only time you wish to avoid doing this is when you’re about to use Bestial Wrath in which case leaving your pet’s stacks of Frenzy going is the best choice for maximum DPS. When Bestial Wrath fades you then instantly use Focus Fire and continue as normal until ready to use Bestial Wrath once more.
Arcane Shot is your focus dump should you have an excess at any point in the fight while Cobra Shot is used to restore Focus. Keep your Tier 4 talents in mind as you will have enough focus, with these, to do more Arcane shots.
Use Kill Shot when your target drops below 20% health.
- All of your DPS cooldowns should be used as often as possible, meaning Rapid Fire, Bestial Wrath, Lynx Rush and Stampede.This includes the Orc and Troll racials.
- Your Pet’s Rabid ability should be triggered as often as you can and if possible stacked with other pet DPS abilities such as Bestial Wrath or Lynx Rush.
Beast Mastery Gems, Enchants, and Noms
Shadowlands brings in a few gems, as always. None are “unique equipped” (yet) so drop is as many as you can. There are no agility gems.
Remember that there is the diminishing returns system, so keep note of where your stats are when you equip these.
- Veiled Augment Rune, requires level 60, +18 Ag for 1 hour. It’s a reward from the mission tables in your covenant, in a Veiled Satchel of Cooperation. It can also be bought and sold on the AH.
- Heavy Desolate Armor Kit goes on your chest item and increases your Stamina by 32 for 2 hours. Requires 51 and can also be bought and sold on the AH. Created with Leatherworking (skill 60.)
For the Shadowlands, All require level 50+. Need some gold to buy them? Check out our gold pages.
- Back: Enchant Cloak – Fortified Leech: +20 Stam and +30 Leech. Or you can take one with +30 Speed or Avoidance, or one with +30 Stam.
- Chest: Enchant Chest – Eternal Stats: +30 to your Agility.
- Rings: Enchant Ring – Tenet of Haste: +16 Haste. Mastery, Versatility, and Crit are also available if you prefer.
- Boots: Eternal Agility adds +15 to your Ag.
- Optical Target Embiggener – it’s a scope that occasionally adds +303 Crit for 12 seconds.
- Infra-green Reflex Sight is also a scope that adds +303 Haste, occasionally, for 12 seconds.
- Enchant Weapon – Sinful Revelation: sometimes the target will take 6% more damage from your attacks.
- Enchant Weapon – Celestial Guidance: Sometimes increases your Ag. by 5% for 10 seconds. Does not stack, but additional procs will refresh the duration.
- Enchant Weapon – Ascended Vigor: Sometimes will get +12% to any healing done to you, for 10 seconds.
- Enchant Weapon – Lightless Force: Sometimes sends out a wave of Shadow Force, hitting up to 5 targets in front of you. Like rounding up the groups?
- Other armor and trinkets:: None
Shadowlands added a couple of nice meals, for you or for the group.
Feasts! Feed the whole group (up to 35 of them.)
One Person Menu Items: The 2nd item will be cheaper. All buffs last for one hour. Don’t die.
- Haste: Tenebrous Crown Roast Aspic (+30, lev 55) and Cinnamon Bonefish Stew (+18, lev 50)
- Crit: Spinefin Souffle and Fries (+30, lev 55) and Butterscotch Marinated Ribs (+18, lev 50)
- Versatility: Steak a la Mode (+30, lev 55) and Sweet Silvergill Sausages (+18, lev 50)
- Mastery: Iridescent Ravioli with Apple Sauce (+30, lev 55) and Meaty Apple Dumplings (+18, lev 50)
- Fried Bonefish adds about 20% speed, for a few seconds, after killing something. (Lev 55)
- Deep Fried Seraph Tenders adds a heal every 5 seconds for an hour. The heal works while in combat. (Lev 55)
- QuietHounds lets you take on a ghostly appearance. Will probably freak out the enemies, right? (lev 50)
- Smothered Shank will let you occasionally breathe fire into the faces of the enemies in front of you. Better for melee fighters than you. (Lev 50)
Potions, Elixirs, and Flasks.
- Elixirs: None.
- Flasks last an hour and persist through death.
- Spectral Flask of Power adds +70 to your Agility. It can be used by any class and will boost their Int, Ag, or Str as appropriate. Alchemists get 2 hours effect. Send some to your alts.
- Potions, for damage, last 25 seconds and are great for burst. All have a 5 minute CD, so use carefully. All require lev 51.
- Potion of Spectral Agility for +190 Ag for 25 seconds.
- Spiritual Healing Potion for +10k healing.
- Shadowcore Oil does occasional damage and lasts an hour. Boosts the effects of damaging potions.
- Potion of Empowered Exorcisms will occasionally damage the target and all enemies within 10 yards of it. Shadowcore oil boosts the damage by 20%.
- Potion of Phantom Fire will occasionally send out a nice burst of fire at your target. Shadowcore oils adds 10% to the damage.
- Heavy Shrouded Cloth Bandage (no, not a potion. Requires 55) heals 11k damage over 8 seconds. No CD. Make with Tailoring or buy off the AH. They’re cheap. Make or grab a stack.
Beast Mastery Videos and Notes
A very basic “How To” for Beast Mastery Hunters. Useful if you have just switched over or bought a boost or something. Does not cover talents, etc, but does explain your shots and cooldowns and how to use them. The discord servers mentioned in the video are Trueshot Lodge and Warcraft Hunter’s Union.
This one is similar to the “Class Course” above, but more in depth and goes into talents, the Legendary, Soulbinds, and Conduits.
Ok, this one is here for the LoLs. Basically says, “How to Double your DPS? Switch to Marksmanship.” Around 3:40. Then covers the MM “How to.”
Now get out there and kill something.
The Fastest Hunter Leveling Guide
So you gonna buy (for $60) an Insta-leveled character? (It only takes you to 50.) Or take a bit more time, and save money, to level your own? You spend more time and get to learn your character, get gold, get reps, etc. Your call. I’m leveling the old fashioned way, with a guide.
A Guide? Now WoW’s in game quest helper is a nifty gadget, showing you where to go and giving you some idea of what to do. What it doesn’t show you is the most efficient path to take among all the bazillion quests and it misses by quite a bit in the “where to go and what to do next” departments.
Zygor’s guides misses nothing and show you the best path to take, whether Horde or Alliance, at all times, and even displays an arrow showing the right way to go. Zygor’s has gemmed for Int and, as a result, it doesn’t matter if you stop your questing to gain a few levels in PvP or the dungeons, you’re brand new to the game or you’re decked head to toe in heirlooms.
Come back to the quests and Zygor will figure out where you should be, based on your new level, and update the guide accordingly. It’ll even let you zap your obsolete quests.
You’re not even locked into any particular build for best results. Zygor’s guide has a talent adviser which will recommend talents for either Marksman, Beast Mastery, or Survival, depending on what you like. About the only way to get to the cap faster is to boost it or buy a character off of ebay, but that will get you banned and Zygor’s won’t.
Check it out, grab your own copy and blast to the level cap.
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