Tuesday Chat: Agility, Attack Power and Pets

It’s Tuesday morning, the servers are down and some of you even have extended maintenance. Whether you’re at work or at home, there’s a good chance you’re bored. Never fear, Pike is here! To answer a few huntery questions I’ve been getting relatively frequently in comments/e-mails/Google searches/postcards. Except without the postcards. All I get in the mail are bills. /sob

But don’t take it from me. See for yourself what tragedy lies ahead when the paths of star-crossed lovers meet. And now: On with the show!

How much Attack Power does Agility give you as a hunter?: This is a flat 1:1 ratio. One Agility is one attack power. If you heard differently somewhere, you heard one of two things: either that Agility actually is worth more as Survival (which it is) so in a roundabout way, you do get more AP for it– or somebody who used to play a hunter a long time ago and then probably rerolled shaman/paladin in BC informed you that Agility gives you two attack power. Important: This stopped being the case with Burning Crusade. It’s 1 Agi = 1 AP now. A surprising number of people out there still aren’t aware of this. Don’t worry if you were led astray! Totally not your fault. *nods*

As a Beast Master hunter, should I be focusing on Agi gems or AP gems? Your “Stats for a Hunter” guide says Agi, is that still true?: That particular guide was written during the era of Burning Crusade and as such, while the basics of it are still correct, not all of it entirely is anymore. This is one of those points that has changed. At this time last year Agility was sort of the stat du jour for gems and enchants; AP and crit were still both very good, but “real hunters picked Agi”, so to speak.

These days, with your pet doing a bigger percentage of your damage (probably about 45-50% of your total DPS on a Patchwerk-style fight, as opposed to 30-35% of your total DPS in Burning Crusade) and Kill Command no longer having anything to do with your crits (and Cobra Strikes in general not proc’ing enough to justify stacking tons of crit), Attack Power is worth a lot more to you as a Beast Master than it was before, because it does, in fact, affect your pet’s Attack Power. Combine that with the fact that, for example, there have been no upgrades to Agility-based two-handed weapon enchants but some yummy AP ones, and you can see why AP is coming out the winner for Beast Masters these days.

Now remember, none of this means that agility or crit is bad. We still love them both. Just that AP gems are going to get you a bigger bang for your buck. Oh, and if you are dual-spec’d BM/Survival, I’ll say figure out which one you play more and gem for that. (Agi for Survival, and AP for BM).

So which pet really is the top DPS pet for Beast Masters?
: There is some confusion here and I think it comes from the fact that there are some discrepancies on the list between “top DPS pets alone” or “top DPS pets when combined with the hunter”. Here’s the deal:

Devilsaurs are the current top DPS pet for Beast Master hunters.

Fortunately, for those of us who don’t like the large size/wonky hitbox/etc. of the devilsaur, we have some options.

Wolves do not do particularly high amounts of DPS alone, but in conjunction with Furious Howl applying to the hunter they are the second best DPS pet– yes, even for Beast Masters— last I checked the theorycrafting sites. Remember, combined with Longevity, that buff is gonna be up some 66% of the time for us. That’s pretty good.

However, they are only a smidge ahead of Raptors, the third best choice. Raptors on their own do rather more DPS than wolves do, but they lack the buff so the combined hunter-pet DPS theorycrafts out to be a little lower. They are still a top-notch pet especially for Beast Masters: Savage Rend crits a lot which self-buffs the Raptor and I have personally found it makes a big difference. I have both a wolf and a raptor at level 80 and I usually bring the raptor to raids. I find, in my situation, that I tend to perform slightly better with him (aside from the fact that I am more attached to him >.>). So remember, the theorycrafting numbers aren’t always everything, you have to see what works for you.

“But Pike, I love my Spirit Beast/Cat/etc.”! Good! Please keep using the pet you love. Cats and Spirit Beasts are still quite viable, they just aren’t in the current “top three” on paper. But “on paper” is just that, on paper, and in my humble opinion it’s not as important as raiding with a pet you have had since level 10, or took forever to find, or just love dearly.

Well, hopefully all of that cleared up some confusion. As always, this site would not be complete without the comments, so feel free to leave ’em!

23 thoughts on “Tuesday Chat: Agility, Attack Power and Pets”

  1. Yay! Thanx a heap for this Pike. I have been wondering about just what u write here. Excellent. Not sure if I should let all my agi gems go. Spent mounds of gold changeing all my +AP gems for agi gems when they nerfed the BM tree.
    After playing Surv for a while I have been coming back more and more to the good old BM. Surv seems like such a BE fiddely specc. Playing an orc I like the no nonsense BM style better.
    And plz keep the site going Pike! With BRK gone you’re the only hunter blog I read these days. Even thinking of clicking on the PayPal button! You might want to move to a more visible place.
    I know you’re not BRK, but it would be nice with some “hunter guide movies”.. But maybe that stuff is really hard to do. Not sure..
    Any who! Great work, keep it up 🙂

  2. I have a devilsaur that I’m still slowly leveling, but I’ll never give up my frostsaber. Heck, I created a hunter after my first character (a paladin) got to Winterspring and I saw the frostsaber pride watcher for the first time and knew I had to have one. 🙂

  3. Hey Pike/all

    Good article. I think it’s worth raising this issue every time a patch comes out. Early 3.0 as a BM spec I saw a lot of gain in gemming AP. BUT having gained some Ulduar gear my crit% has taken a nose dive (but I do have Hit rating coming out of my ears = no hit gems for me)! So I wacked my new gear in to a certain hunter spreadsheet and said “Calculate Attributes” and it showed 1 AGI being worth a lot more than 2 AP. I found it hard to believe but being a JC I gemmed AGI anyway and guess what? A huge DPS increase.

    Now the spreadsheet tells me that future gains are much closer in terms of 1AGI vs 2AP and I know that this is all down to Crit%. I reckon that unbuffed the tipping point is something VERY ROUGHLY something like

    lower than 29% Crit rate = 1AGI better than 2AP
    29%+ Crit rate = 2AP better than 1AGI

    Nothing beats trying it for yourself, and different raid buffs will change it of course, but this is what I have found.

    I am fully expecting a “omg that n00b BM hunter is stacking AGI instead of AP!111!1!!” one day in game….but I’ve tested both and know that the AP gems aren’t giving me as much bang per buck where I am sitting at the moment.

    Hope that helps

  4. @ Ritalian – you are of course correct, balance is important. It is definitely possible to “over-focus” on AP, as one can do with any stat, really.

  5. @ Klinderas
    I assume for Cunning you are hoping that the mana regen will pull back enough mana to save viper time and thus more DPS….I did try it in theorycraft only once but the raw DPS loss was too massive!

    Just to confirm – I wasn’t taking anything away from your article. It is a perfect thought provoker. Regarding pets – I saw an older screeny with my cat in and I am thinking of stabling my wolf just because the cat looks so much better 😉

  6. I have always stacked AP up the wazoo…even in TBC <.<

    I had a wolf but realized i never used her, so off she went into the wilds…I have a devilsaur but BigSis isn’t 80 yet so I can’t bring her to raids…so that leaves the raptor and the Spirit Beast…which I use more. ^_-

  7. @ Ritalian – Nah, I <3 your comment. It reminded me that I was going to have a section in this article about "stat balance" but I completely forgot!

    @Klin - I'm not sure actually. I know some research has been done using cunning pets and Feeding Frenzy, for example, but from what I understand the outcome didn't exactly look good for the cunning pets.

  8. Thanks for this. I’d been wondering what was best for BMs.
    Personally, as a MM, I heart my wolf so. Even on those “pet die now” fights, a wolf on passive still howls, and I still get the dps boost. Plus you can get a lvl 80 one from Storm Peaks.

  9. @ Pike – Okay that’s cool 🙂 I love your site btw. I normally just read the articles through RSS but the site is nice eye candy too 🙂

    @ Shtradanie – Pike’s right. The Devilsaur is king at the moment. But is just too vulnerable in fights due to their hitbox. I would recommend trying a wolf 🙂 Theorycraft spreadsheet shows a 120dps drop if I switch from Wolf->Cat 🙁

  10. Great post! Also like to say that Ritalian hit the nail on the head. I was stacking AP gems for the longest time but I was struggling to get my crit% over 20% (my personal unbuffed benchmark for all my dps toons) The second I replaced my Ap with Agi gems my dps skyrocketed.

    I read quite a few blogs and skeletonjack.com made a post a while back that holds true to all classes. Stat/gear priority is personal, the best in slot gem/enchant/item/buff is the one that increases your dps the most.

  11. I too am not very fond of my devilsaur. He was quite a taming experience and I still like to parade him around SW. Hahaha. But in instances, I find his size obstructive for my viewing and his running animation is a joke. Also all the stomping around gets kinda old. I much prefer my Bloodtail Raptor. Named her Cayenne to mach her fiery red temper as she shreds my enemies apart. RARRW!
    I use her when I am in BM mode. However lately I been running as MM for heroics and then my wolfie comes out to play.

    You mentioned that for BM > AP gems are the way to go and for Surv > Agi. How about MM?

    thanks a bunch

    – Hung

  12. As a survival spec hunter, I’m finding the agility-attack power tradeoff very confusing.

    If i have a choice between an 8 agility gem and a 16 attack power gem, and 1 agility ~= 1 attack power or 1 agility ~= 1.15 attack power at best, then the 8 agility gem would be the equivalent of 8-9.2 attack power. Even with the benefits of increased crit, doesn’t the 16 attack power gem win every time? Because of this understanding, I have started opting for AP over agil.

    As an aside, I was speculating that the existence of attack power gems at twice the agility gem numbers was a relic of the days when 1 agil = 2 ap.



    Aloysius, The Underbog

  13. Saw a great post on WoWhead that suggests cats actually out dps Devilsaurs! The guy’s methodology looked sound, so take a look and share your thoughts. As a night elf, hard to beat cat being able to hide with you while soloing. And prowl for scouting, prowl for dps burst to help grab and hold threat…


    Cats rule.

Comments are closed.