Oh Pike, How Dost Thou Level?

Veeeeerrrry slowly.

Ahem. Sorry. That wasn’t the point of the post. >.> Although it is quite true.

Any-whotsit, I get a frequent amount of e-mail or comments asking about how one should go about leveling a hunter, and with my latest TreePost I’m also getting some questions on how one levels a Tree. So I figured I’d give it a quick rundown!

Hunter is something I’ve leveled a bajillion times by now and I can toss up a leveling talent spec in my sleep. It typically goes something like this: dump 5 points in Lethal Shots (because I’m a Crit Monster), and then head down a “modified” version of “Beast Master Raid”. By modified, I mean 5/5 Endurance Training (instead of 5/5 Improved Aspect of the Hawk), and 3/3 Thick Hide. I used to also do 2/2 Spirit Bond but at this point I think Animal Handler is the stronger talent, even when leveling, and with Endurance Training and Thick Hide, most things would be hard-pressed to kill your pet anyway, especially if you choose to go all out and nab a Glyph of Mending.

My current casual hunter project is a level 55 hunter named Althalor; here is his talent spec thus far. (Gosh it’s nostalgic to see 41 points in Beast Mastery.)

Now remember, you really can’t go too wrong with a leveling spec. It’s not like Elitist Jerks is sitting around theorycrafting the most efficient ways to kill ten kobolds. Although that would amuse me.

Beast Mastery is obviously not your only option here. Tawyn leveled to 58ish as Marksmanship. Leveling Survival seems to be super in vogue now from inspecting the lowbies I see running around; I worry about potential pet-threat issues once you get Explosive, but hey, it’d make a great challenge I’m sure!

“I’m a level one hunter and have no idea where to start! Help me Pikey-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” is another similar question/plea I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot. My answer here would be to direct you to my 12-part “So You Want to Play a Hunter” series, which will walk you step by step through playing a hunter from levels 1 – 70.

Caveats About Said Guide: This was written pre-WotLK, so a.) it only takes you up to 70, and b.) Some of the stuff regarding things like Auto/Steady shot weaving, certain levels at which you learn things, and a few abilities are not present or are significantly different. Still, most of the lowbie stuff is relatively accurate, and it’s the best I can offer until someone ties me to my desk and kicks me into rewriting the thing for WotLK.

Resto Druid
Most people will tell you to either level Feral and tote around a healing set for instances, or level Balance. Pike will tell you that there is nothing that will teach you to heal the way leveling full blown Resto and living in LFG and healing instances will. This is why if I plan on being a healer at end game, I level as a healer. The experience is invaluable.


I do make a few tweaks here, although it depends rather on your style of how-you-will-(slowly)-kill-things-between-healing-dungeons.

If your style is to nuke things to death as a mini-moonkin, then you may want to stick to your standard resto spec, albeit maybe getting your Balance points out of the way first, or tweaking Balance a bit so you have the shortened cast time on Wrath/Starfire. Completely acceptable.

If you tend to do as I do and play as a RestoKitty, I’ll fill out 5/5 Naturalist and sometimes Furor as well. Neither of these talents are ones you will have at as a level 80 tree, however, they make leveling go considerably smoother. Some RestoKitties have even gone one or two tiers into Feral as well, though I’ve yet to try this myself.

As a RestoKitty, it may be to your benefit to keep some of the Rogue-ish gear you will no doubt acquire in your questing and travels and toss it on when you have to do a quest. When you combine that with a RestoKitty-ish spec, your solo’ing and questing– while it won’t be blazing fast– also won’t be as gimpy as people tend to assume it is, at least in my experience.

A word of warning, however: RestoKitty does become more difficult to pull off as you get higher in levels, so it may be worth your while to switch to the spellcasting method of solo’ing once you hit 60 or 70, or look into dual-specs.

Other options: RestoKin/Dreamstate typically involves going deep enough into Balance for Moonkin Form and then dumping the rest of your talent points into Restoration; something akin to this. This makes you a versatile, Red Mage-styled, jack of all trades who can heal pretty dang well and still kill things relatively quickly. I couldn’t do this myself, partially because I’m too in love with Tree Form and partially because I’m also in love with Wild Growth, however, I’ve heard that it’s very effective and might be something you want to look into.

RestoFeral is considerably rarer, and from what I can tell involves things like Nurturing Instinct and going about half deep in each tree. The lack of overlap between gear and talents would, I think, make this more unwieldy than RestoKin, but some people have done it, and it might be worth a shot if you really like RestoKitty.

Hokays! I hope that helped a bit and/or was able to clear some things up. Lemme know if I made some dire mistake (like saying Naxx boots dropped from Karazhan, not like I’ve uh, ever done that before of course >_>;;), in the meantime, I’m off to go read more Jules Verne <3

18 thoughts on “Oh Pike, How Dost Thou Level?”

  1. It’s not like Elitist Jerks is sitting around theorycrafting the most efficient ways to kill ten kobolds. Although that would amuse me.

    We’re NOT!?

    *runs off to EJ*

  2. I find a Feral/Resto Dual spec to be quite amazing. Your Kitty kills things pretty quick (generally 1 5cp FB will do the trick or close to it). And you can answer just about anything in LFG.

    Need a tank? Sure, no problem.
    Need a healer? Sure, no problem.
    Need DPS? Sure, no problem.

    The only thing you really can’t do is ranged DPS. But while you are leveling people don’t seem to care much whether it’s melee or ranged.

  3. Personally grabbed myself dual spec and a mean offset for healing taking up all my bag space, means the questing part is fast and easy, and I can also heal instances np with my separate resto spec. Though if you can’t afford/don’t want to buy dual spec, your idea sounds pretty awesome too 😀

  4. Thanks for the druid stuff. As I mentioned in another thread, I’m leveling a druid along with my buddy’s pally, and this has given me some good ideas on specs.

    My goal is to be able to heal him enough to keep him up against an elite or 4-5 normal mobs long enough for me to nuke them down…a restokin hybrid like you laid out may be just the thing. But we haven’t gotten going on it yet so it remains to be seen what the limitations might be.

  5. I know someone who’s just starting a hunter and keeps asking me about spec and stuff, I’ll have to send her a link to this post. Awesome! 😀

    I’ve spent most of my Hunter-leveling time as BM, but I leveled my troll hunter as MM in her 40s-50s and then from 75-80, and it was surprisingly fun. I even managed to get my Wind Serpent tanking for me in Northrend–Misdirect + two instants gave him enough threat right off the bat to hold most mobs off of me. I think for my next hunter (I have a few lowbies sitting around in the 20s) I might try going Marks all the way. Hmm…

  6. *pulls out shiney silver tape and stalks a Pike* I could tape you to the desk… I’m not THAT far from you. *evil little grin* I’d even schedule in WoW Breaks and fetch food and drink while you were writing. See, I’d be fair about it.

    Of course, I bet you have friends closer that would just sit on you until you finished it. I’ll just lend them the tape if they ever need it 🙂

  7. I am currently leveling as a Balance/Resto Druid in a team effort with a Prot Paly. I must say it’s the most fun I have had playing wow. I agree there is no substitute for leveling the way you plan to raid. I do however think as a druid or pali, you’ll find yourself raiding in multiple roles; so why not do just that while leveling, play multiple roles. Grettir (my co-author) and I are developing our series on the blog as I type this. Oh, and speaking of leveling slowly… try to level purely as a team effort and rely on being able to both log on at the same time while also supporting a raiding habit on your other toons. LOL.. that’s slow. Always enjoy the read. Triv

  8. Totally agree with level-as-you-plan-to-endgame-play… My priest was levelled a very nice Holy-shadow mix – no idea how I pulled it off, but it worked for everything (at least in my mind….)

    My warrior I levelled just because I needed herbs and mines and what the heck she mind as well get a quest or two done as well. First now at 80 I am trying to learn to tank with her..it’s a hassle – and I would never ever do it if it weren’t for understanding guildies (love my Gothic Dragons!!)

  9. Quote: “This is why if I plan on being a healer at end game, I level as a healer.”

    This, this, this! I am trying out a druid to see how I like healing, having leveled 3 hunters to 50, 60, and 69 so far. My guildies keep pushing me to spec Feral or Balance, and then learn healing when I hit end-game. My argument is that as a hunter, I don’t pay much attention to the entire party’s health bars, as there’s not much I can do other than keep aggro off the healer. Therefore, healing is an entirely new type of gameplay for me. So I need to learn it level by level.

    Thanks for this timely post! I hit level 16 last night with my druid, and was with a group of level 13 clothies in RFC. Not having a ‘real’ tank kept me on my toes, and definitely made me learn to prioritize my heals.

    I appreciate your low-level posts – especially for those of us who have yet to hit end-game raids, etc. Thanks for all of your advice and for the laid-back attitude you bring to the game.

  10. Triv,

    Stoked to find that! That is the exact combo that my buddy and I are gonna use (we both lvld to 50 independently and are gonna take it from there).

    I’d love to see your insights on that.

    Did you try two-manning any slightly below-level instances? That’s what we are hoping to make work. As I said we’re 50, and once we have spent a little time messing around and getting the concepts down, I think we’re gonna try ZF.

  11. To be honest I think Grettir (the paladin) and I could have 2 man’d Ramps at 61/62. We stayed clear of instances while leveling to 58 simply because in our previous experience, questing was king and we were leveling fast enough that gear was not an issue. we’ll be writing more on the subject as we go now that we’ve decided to make it a topic of some focus. Grettir submitted the first article on it today.


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