Tag Archives: hunter kindergarten

Focus Fire and When To Use It: A Beast Master Hunter Guide

Focus Fire.

That little yellow glowy button is one of your biggest boosts to DPS, and learning its nuances is something that you’re going to want to do once you hit max level and start looking into things like raids.  It can be kind of tricky to master, and there are quite a few little variables involved, but hopefully I can help to clarify a bit.  Here, then, is when to use – and when not to use – a Beast Master Hunter’s second best friend (your pet being your best friend, of course):

big focus fire


1. Use it at five stacks, of course.  The button will glow and you won’t miss it.  There is an exception, which I will cover later.

2. Use it with Bestial Wrath.  It doesn’t matter if it’s only one stack.  If you have a build up of it, use it.  It’s also not a bad idea to pop it for other large cooldowns, such as Stampede.

3. Use it when you are about to AoE.  That means Barrage and Multi-shot.  And lastly,

4. Use it if it’s about to expire.  If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, and get no benefit!

Now then, let’s discuss the other side of the coin:


1. If you’re almost, but not quite, ready for Bestial Wrath.  Say you have somewhere between 10-20 seconds left to go before Bestial Wrath is off cooldown, but your yellow glowy button is telling you to click it.  Do you?  Nope.  Because if you do, then it will be expired by the time Bestial Wrath is ready to go!  Instead, wait until your Bestial Wrath is about ready to pop (below ten seconds left on the cooldown.)

2. If a boss is invincible or shielded or otherwise unavailable or something for a short amount of time and your Focus Fire won’t expire by the time you can use it again.  In this case you’ll want to tactically delay it – the same as any other cooldown, really.

…and that’s about the only times you shouldn’t be using it.  Because Focus Fire is just that good.

Okay, that about does it for today’s Hunter Kindergarten Guide!  If you have any questions, comments, or other concerns, feel free to post a comment or bug me on Twitter!


Hunter Kindergarten: Damage Meters and You

Long ago, in a blogosphere far away, a wise man told me that the job of a hunter is to provide Massive Quantities of Sustained, Ranged DPS.  As I said, wise words from a wise man, but this is only part of the story.

Your job, as a hunter, isn’t just to top Recount.

It is also to look stylishly good while doing it.

Althalor demonstrates
Althalor demonstrates

Oh, wait, wrong thing.

Your job is to provide utility to the raid.  Back in the day, this meant things like crowd control, kiting and the like.  These days it usually means either “Don’t stand in the bad,” or “Stop DPS’ing the boss and DPS the adds”

Let’s talk about this last bit.  Say you’re fighting Brackenspore in Highmaul and those plant shooter things straight out of Plants vs. Zombies show up.  Unless told otherwise by your raid leader, your job is not to show Stabbymcstab what’s up by staying on Brackenspore.  Your job is to put both yourself and your pet on that plant shooter thing until it is dead.  Same deal those big tangly plant adds that look like they walked right out of Underbog show up (I’m not good with names, okay.)

For the most part, I think most hunters I see are doing this correctly.  In fact, the better hunters I see are doing this and still showing Stabbymcstab what’s up.

If you weren’t aware of this, though, that’s okay!  You’re probably newer and that’s what my Hunter Kindergarten series is for.

Remember, at the end of the day when you’ve hung up your bow or gun for the night and you’re sitting by your pet at the fire in your Garrison, the damage meters aren’t the only thing that count.

(But they’re up there.)

(So is looking stylish.)

(But I digress.)

Hunter Kindergarten: Dungeons 101

*dusts off desk*

*slowly walks up to chalkboard, baton in hand*

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Pretty sure my last Hunter Kindergarten post was written back during WotLK.  Well, ladies, gentlemen and robots and all others… class is back in session.

serenityguides2So you’re a brand-spanking new hunter in this World of Warcraft and you’ve decided it’s time to do some instances.  Awesome!  That’s the bread and butter of WoW and hopefully you have fun.

Before heading in, however, you do have a couple of things to keep in mind.

(Yes, long time readers: most of these are rehashes of posts I wrote five or six years ago.  But trust me, this is stuff I still see.  IN RAIDS.)

REPAIR: Personally I have this weird quirk where I try to be 100% repaired at all times.  I just default to repairing every time I’m in my garrison or, well, basically next to anyone who can repair.  If you’re not in this habit, you should at least repair before queuing up.  I understand that if you’re in LFG you may be out in the world or whatever whilst waiting for the queue to pop.  But you don’t want to be that guy whose gear is mysteriously red after one single wipe.  Right?

PET SPEC’D FEROCITY: Ferocity is the DPS spec.  It gets you and your pet both all the DPS bonuses.  I’ve just started keeping pets spec’d for different things with me at all time and I swap them in or out as needed.  It’s easy enough to just switch pet specs on the fly, so you don’t have to do that, but this does lead in nicely to my next point, which is…

TURN GROWL OFF:  Ten years later and I’m still seeing hunters with their pet’s growl on in raids.  This messes with the tank and leads to your pet dying, which leads to a severe drop in DPS.  Please, please make sure growl is off before going into the instance!  If you have trouble remembering then pick one of your pets to be an instance/raid pet and keep growl off on him at all times.

BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR AOEs: Barrage is awesome and a stupid amount of fun.  Like, I always wanted to be a human gatling gun.  (Er… elf gatling gun.)  But it’s not for places where you have to be careful with pulls, because it can and will accidentally pull the next pack of mobs – or the boss.  Same goes for Multishot!

BUFF UP: Maybe not a huge deal in low level instances.  Maybe not a huge deal if you’re a Mythic raider dicking around in LFR.  But otherwise you should probably use an agility flask and eat some food.  Oh, and I know Exotic Munitions isn’t the most popular talent in the world right now, but if you do use it, be sure to make sure you’ve just applied it.  (With Poisoned Ammo in most cases).

Okay, that’s about it.  No, really.  That’s it for Dungeons 101, at least.  Oh, there are other things you’ll need to know – things about shot priorities, character stats, and so on.  But those are all subjects for another day!  For now, these five tips should be enough to get you started.

Class dismissed!  Your homework: Play video games!  Hooray!

Instancing Tips For New Hunters

Since my last “Advice for New Hunters” post seemed to go over so well, I figured I’d make one specifically geared toward instancing. Now I made one of these a while back, but it was a.) during Burning Crusade and b.) Aimed more toward 70s/heroics. So, here’s one mostly directed for newer hunters!

See, in doing my random instancing I’ve seen a lot of things like hunters randomly using traps at strange places or complaining about why they aren’t higher on Recount (because, you know, Scarlet Monastery is serious business). So, here are some tips to make your instancing smoother:

1.) Know Your Shots. Until you get Steady Shot at 50, this basically means keeping Serpent Sting up, then Arcane Shot when you can, and Multi/Aimed depending on your spec. Don’t bother with Concussive Shot because it doesn’t do damage (but it does use up mana!). Distracting Shot is another one that you don’t want to use… not only does it not do any damage, but it taunts enemies to attack you instead! (Thank you to Anna for reminding me of this one in the comments.)

Once you hit 50 it means using Steady Shot when everything else is on cooldown. Pretty simple!

2.) Don’t Forget Your Pet. I’m not going to rant about using the wrong type of pet or anything because I do understand– you’re leveling, having a bear actually makes sense if you’re mostly questing and just hopping into LFG every once in a while. However, lemme tell you something I’ve learned when wearing the Tree Suit. 90% of hunters I’ve ran into in heroics– heroics— don’t use Mend Pet. Why? I have no idea. This baffles me. Seriously, read this and then remember that now we have Culling the Herd, too, if you have any questions.

Anyways, the point is that I think Not Using Mend Pet is a very bad habit, and it’s one to break now while you’re still leveling. I know it may seem like a lot to keep track of, but honestly, soon “checking your pet” while doing your rotation will become second nature to you, much like checking your rear-view mirror while driving. So: learn to keep an eye on your pet, bind Mend Pet to an easy-to-remember keybind, and you’ll thank me later! *nod*

While we’re on the subject of pets, turn Growl off while you are in an instance.

3.) Regarding Those Traps… Explosive Trap is acceptable for AoE damage pre-Volley. Once you get Volley (level 40), it’s much superior for instancing.

Most of the other traps involve situational usage. Freezing Trap was, long ago, near and dear to my heart but it’s rare that you’re asked to trap these days, particularly in a low-level instance. However, it’s still useful for things like mobs running at you if Feign Death is on cooldown. No guarantees someone won’t break your trap, though. Frost Trap is a similarly situational one. Immolation Trap really isn’t worth it (I use it in PvP, though.)

So for the most part… don’t worry about your traps.

4.) Viper between pulls. You get Aspect of the Viper at level 20. Learn now to get into the habit of using it between every pull and then going back to Hawk when you’re actually doing damage.

It is acceptable to use Viper during fights if you absolutely have to, but if you’re careful and use Viper between every pull you usually don’t have to.

5.) Don’t forget Hunter’s Mark! Another good habit to get into is using Hunter’s Mark on what you’re attacking. I see a lot of new hunters who forget about it. Binding it to Pet Attack via a macro is never a bad idea, either:

/cast Hunter's Mark

6.) Attack What the Tank is Attacking
: This isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be because so much is just AoE these days, but if you’re in an instance and you’re getting attacked a lot, it’s probably the first thing to look at. “Am I attacking what the tank is attacking?” Make an assist macro if you have to: /assist tank's-name

Sometimes you will get tanks who are just starting out. Learn to compensate.

7.) And I know I’m beating a dead horse here but Don’t Roll On Other People’s Stuff. I know this can be a bit of a tricky gray area especially in low-level dungeons where a lot of gear is bizarrely balanced in terms of stat allocation. And I know that learning “how and when to roll on stuff” is sort of an art form when you’re just starting out. For the most part, if it has Strength on it, don’t roll on it, especially if you have a warrior/paladin/DK in your group. Same deal goes for Spell Power: it does nothing to help you out.

Okay, I can’t think of anything else that is super vitally important to put here, so we’ll call it good for now. Hopefully this will be of some use to you newer hunters/players. Have fun in LFG!

Practical Advice For Brand New Hunters

Note: This post is primarily directed to people who are not just new to hunters, but new to World of Warcraft as well. So if you already have fiftynine-thousand level 80s, you are free to skip this post. Or you can read and offer your own suggestions in the comments. Up to you!

There are a lot of WoW-related communities over at LiveJournal but my favorite, I think, is “WoW Noobs“, where people who are new to the game or to some aspect of it can come ask questions and receive friendly, non-judgmental advice. One of the really neat things about it is that a lot of the members are people who originally joined when they were new, themselves, and now stick around to pass on the proverbial torch. I’m one of those people; long, long ago, a BabyHunter Pike left a post there asking what the heck the meeting stone outside of Deadmines was.

I digress, though.

After all these years it appears that hunters are still the most popular class that new players pick, and it was a combination of a.) the sheer number of questions from new hunters who link their Armories on WoW Noobs and ask for help, and b.) all the hunters I’m running into in my warlock‘s random dungeons who roll need on strength gear, that inspired me to write this post. Remember, not everyone is an alt.

This is for you, new hunter! Welcome to the game! /wave

Here are some handy things to keep in mind as you travel through Azeroth (and beyond) as a hunter.

1.) Strength Is Not For You: If a gear has strength on it, you probably don’t need it. Exceptions are made if it has a ton of Agility on it, outweighing the strength. The fact, though, is that you are a ranged attacker and strength does nothing for ranged: it is a pure melee stat only! /nod

(While we are at it, Expertise is another melee stat that is not for you. Thank you to Argon in the comments for suggesting I add this!)

2.) Spell Power is Not For You: As hunters do not cast spells, spell power does nothing for you either!

3.) Agility IS for you!
: It effects your attack power, your crit, and (in a roundabout way), your pet’s attack power as well. Win-win all around!

4.) Max Out Your Talents: One thing I frequently see new players do is go through every spell in every talent tree and drop one or two points in each talent. If you are doing this, don’t feel too bad. I did it too. Yes, at some point in Tawyn’s long and sordid history, she was spec’d something like 2/5 Improved Hawk, 1/5 Endurance Training, 1/2 Improved Concussive Shot, 3/5 Lethal Shots, 2/3 Hawk Eye… yeah.

However, it is generally much better to max out those talents and to, for the most part, pick one talent tree and stick with it. Now, exceptions can be made to this “rule”, and there are some cookie cutter specs that involve not maxing out talents for various reasons. However, that’s generally not something you will have to worry about as a new player.

5.) Pet Control!: With the new LFG system, more and more people are doing dungeons at low-level, which is awesome. I recommend having your pet at least on Defensive, and if you’re really old-school and curmudgeony like I am you can even put it on Passive. Aggressive is bad.

See, if you are new not just to WoW but to MMOs in general, I can see how this could cause some confusion. It confused the heck out of me when I went into my first dungeon. I figured killing more stuff was good, so I put my pet on Aggresive. Bad idea. In a dungeon, you generally want pulls to be done methodically or at least relatively logically. Stay behind the tank and send your pet in on mobs the tank has aggro on.

While we’re on the subject, be sure to turn Growl off also! It’s your pet’s taunt and you generally don’t want things in instances attacking your pet. (There are situational emergency uses where it’s okay, but that’s more of a 300 level class and this is Hunter 101.)

6.) Massive Quantities of Sustained, Ranged DPS*: You are not a melee class. Do not do it. Leave it for your pet. You are designed to stand far away and unleash damage on things from afar.

I seem to keep running into lowbie hunters who roll Need on 2H axes loaded with Strength, and when asked why, proceed to tell me they are going to “try it out”. This always baffles me a bit. What is there to try out about it? Strength is a melee stat, and you will do much better if you just avoid melee. Trust me on this one. You are not a Rogue With a Pet. Although pretending to be one in PvP is hilarious. But that’s beside the point.

7.) Getting In Gear: Bad pun is bad. Sorreh. Aaanyway, As a hunter, you wear leather until level 40, and then you “learn” how to wear mail. This means a few different things. First of all, cloth is not for you… it doesn’t have your stats on it (minus a few hilarious “of the monkey” exceptions.) Secondly, not all leather/mail is for you. Remember, keep an eye on your stats. You are looking for Agility, Attack Power, and those sorts of things.

Thirdly, just because you’ve hit level 40, doesn’t mean you have to run out and replace all of your leather right away. Let it come to you. It will!

8.) About those shot rotations…: Sometimes I see low level hunters frantically concerned with shot rotations. Some of these hunters don’t even have Steady Shot yet. Here’s the deal: Until you get all of your shots (or at least Steady Shot), shot priorities isn’t something you have to worry about very much. Keep Serpent Sting up, use Arcane/Aimed when they’re not on cooldown, and you’re good to go. It is mostly a “learn as you go” thing, so don’t worry about it too much when you’re still knee-high to a grasshopper. And frankly, it’s a lot more intuitive these days than it was pre-WotLK, so learn it you will!

9.) Pick the Talent Tree You Want: I frequently see two different variants here: hunters who level up as some raiding spec they found on Elitist Jerks, and hunters who level up as Beast Mastery because it’s “the leveling tree”. I’m here to tell you: you can do those things if you want, but you don’t have to. It’s not going to kill you/ruin your WoW career if you don’t do SFK or Wailing Caverns as the level 22 variation of cookie-cutter Survival. And on the flip side of the coin, leveling as Marksmanship/Survival is nearly as easy as leveling as Beast Mastery. And it’s even easier now that you can basically level exclusively through LFG. Trust me. I say this as someone who has ten thousand hunters and has leveled them pretty much every way imaginable. Don’t stress about it too much. Try out what looks fun to you!

10.) There Are Jerks In This Game. Just as there are pretty much everywhere. You’re going to wind up in the group with the guy who is decked in heirlooms and spends the entire instance run talking about his five-million gearscore whatever. You’re going to wind up in the group with the person who tells you rather unkindly that you’re “doing it wrong” (though half the time, they’re doing it wrong themselves, as well.) It’s gonna happen. But you know what? It’s okay. Because you’ll also randomly end up in awesome groups with great people who are willing to help you out. Just have fun!

WELL, this post feels somewhat sloppy and half-completed to me, but honestly I think the best thing to do is get it out there and have you wonderful readers fill in the holes in the comments, since I know I left a lot of things out. A wise man once said “Release early, release often”, after all. And I think you guys would have a lot to contribute to this topic. What’s your advice to new hunters/new WoW’ers?

* Keeping the legend alive with this phrase, fo’shizzle.

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

OldSchool Pike: The Jumpshot Movie

I made this movie waaaay back at level 70, but I just watched it and it still appears to be relevant to us today. So after cleaning up the comment section a bit (the things that pop up on YouTube movies in a year and a half /sigh), I thought I’d share it (again) to those of you who perhaps haven’t seen it. The Jump Shot is a situational hunter move that helps us to kite things or during PvP, and is also a really fun trick to impress people with when you’re on a low-level, pre-pet hunter. It’s always a handy thing to know, I think ^_^

I still sound like a giant dork, but maybe someone will find it helpful nonetheless! =D

Hunter Kindergarten: Intro to Steady Shot

So, you’ve reached level 50 with your hunter. Congratulations! One of my hunters just hit level 50 as well! His name is Althalor, and he’s a very deliciously good looking Blood Elf who lives with Tauren. This is him:


See, told you he was cute!

When you are level 50, you learn Steady Shot, and because this is a very important shot to all hunters, we’re giving it its own special post. Hunter Kindergarten is in session!

History Lesson: Steady Shot was introduced in Burning Crusade and originally you got it at level 62. It had a relatively short cast time, and it had to be used at very specific intervals to avoid “clipping” your Auto Shots, which would gimp your DPS. To get around this, many people made a macro which automated this process. As for me, well, that completely defeated one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed hunters so much, so I always hand-wove my Steadies.

With Wrath of the Lich King, Steady Shot was overhauled entirely. It was removed from being linked with Auto Shot so you no longer had to worry about timing, although its cast-time was made slightly longer. Unfortunately this meant all Beast Masters had to do was spam Steady over and over, which was heinously boring to me just as using the macro was in Burning Crusade, and it almost had me switching specs.

Never fear, Blizz came along with a Steady Shot nerf and an Arcane Shot buff and here we are today!

Today’s Steady Shot: Steady Shot, in and of itself, is not a very good shot, damage-wise. In fact, it’s pretty bad. For a lot of hunters, it does less damage than Auto Shot.

I see you raising your hand there, ready to ask why we use it then. Simple: it’s there to use when you can’t use anything else. And remember, even a little extra damage is still extra damage.

Keep in mind that because Steady Shot does have a cast time, it cannot be used while moving, and in my experience, you will rarely use it in PvP.

How And When: In general, Steady Shot is for use when everything else is on cooldown. Beast Master and Survival Hunters in particular will find themselves using it more than a Marksmanship hunter would, because a Marksmanship hunter has a few more shots to use. You don’t want to use it more than is necessary, though, because it typically does not do as much damage as any of your other shots. There are of course exceptions to the rule; for example, I know of Marksmanship hunters with very high amounts of Armor Penetration who are able to drop Arcane Shot from their rotation in favor of more Steadies, since Steadies are positively affected by Armor Penetration. For the most part, though, Steady Shot should be the lowest rung on the ladder. Basically, you always want to be doing some sort of special shot to fill in your Auto Shots, and since Steady has no cooldown, it fits the bill a lot of the time.

Glyph of Steady Shot is a very good glyph that many hunters tend to use, because pretty much all specs are using Serpent Sting now for various reasons and because a 10% boost to a shot that you are using so frequently is definitely not bad. Keep an eye out for it, and snag it when you can!

Warnings!: For a low level hunter who already has mana issues, Steady Shot is really going to exacerbate them. Some leveling hunters opt to forego using Steady Shot very much at these low levels to avoid this issue. Others, like me, JUST HAVE TO USE IT NO MATTER WHAT BECAUSE SHOT ROTATIONS ARE FUN AND SQUEE.


You try it out for yourself and decide. >.>

Conclusion: Steady Shot has come a long way. It was designed to be a “filler shot”, was inadvertently turned into our main shot, and has finally been tuned into actually being a filler shot. Don’t treat him too badly, though; we may have broken up with him but he’s still a decent friend when no one else is around.

…nice guys finish last, don’t they…? *gently pats Steady Shot*

Straight for the Jugular! Go for the Throat and Company

The discerning blog reader who has clicked around on my links and Armory profiles lately may have noticed something interesting; namely, my two level eighty hunters, while both Beast Masters, are currently sporting (slightly) different specs:



Tawyn is using a 53/11/7 build, and Lunapike a 52/12/7. It may look like a difference of one talent point on the surface, but it’s actually three. Let’s dig deeper and take a look.

Tawyn has: 3/3 Cobra Strikes, 1/2 Go for the Throat, and 0/2 Invigoration.

Lunapike has: 2/2 Invigoration, 2/2 Go for the Throat, and 0/3 Cobra Strikes.

First, we’ll take a look at Invigoration vs. Cobra Strikes.

Why the difference?

Short answer
: Lunapike just hit 80, while Tawyn has been 80 for a while and has thus amassed a relatively decent set of gear.

Long answer: Cobra Strikes is a solid DPS boost. However, Invigoration should theoretically keep you out of Viper for longer and thus could also be construed as a DPS boost. Which one you want to take is situational.

Lunapike just hit 80, as I mentioned. At the moment she is mostly doing dailies, and five-mans and heroics where Replenishment may or may not happen. She also is still mostly in leveling duds and thus has a very small mana pool.

Tawyn has a larger mana pool and is mostly in raids these days, where there’s often a lot of mana regen being thrown around.

Guess who is going to want Invigoration, and guess who’s going to want Cobra Strikes?

Both are, in my mind, acceptable, though in general, I feel a level 80 hunter is going to eventually migrate from Invigoration to Cobra Strikes. Your mileage may vary, as always, so play around with it… but I sorta think this is a common sense one. /nod

Now, let’s move on to Go for the Throat, that lovely, lovely talent that all hunters everywhere of every spec should have at least one point in, because it’s such a DPS boost.

Lunapike has this talent maxed out. Tawyn only has one point in there… the “other” point is going to max out Cobra Strikes.

Why the difference?

Short answer: Lunapike just hit 80, while Tawyn has been 80 for a while and has thus amassed a relatively decent set of gear. (Why yes, I did just copy paste this from above.)

Long answer: Go for the Throat works off of critical strikes. The more you crit, the more focus you feed to your pet. Let’s compare the critical strike chance of our two examples, unbuffed:

Here’s Tawyn:


And here’s Lunapike:


Big difference in stats, huh? Especially in crit rating! Tawyn crits almost twice as much as Lunapike!

This, my friends, is why Tawyn can get away with only one point in Go for the Throat. Because she crits enough that she only needs one point in there. Actually, even Tawyn is barely squeaking by. The online hunter spreadsheet tells me that unbuffed, I could use another point in GftT, if I had one to spare. Fully raid-buffed, though, I’m good to go, so I feel fine with not having the extra point… it’s hard enough to find places to pull talent points from as it is; there are so many goodies out there for us to nab.

But can you imagine if Lunapike, with her mere 17% crit, only had one point in Go for the Throat? If the online hunter spreadsheet could have a stroke, it would. Of this I have no doubt. All the hunter theorycrafters of yesteryear would collectively roll in their virtual graves. It’d be a disaster, I tell ya!

Conclusion? Well, when it comes to Beast Mastery, there really is no set-in-stone spec. 41/20/0 and its rigidness has been nailed tightly in its coffin for some time now and in its place we have a little bit of flexibility. Having mana issues? Invigoration is the way to go. Not so much? Go for Cobra Strikes and scoop up the extra pet crits. Below about 30%ish crit? Two points in Go for the Throat. Otherwise, you can get away with just one.

But above all, remember to try things out, and see what gets you the best results. Heck, you may have the best results by dropping some of the points in Survival all together and distributing them among the talents we talked about today. Research: it does a hunter good.

And with that… hunterbots, roll out!

So You Want to Raid as a Beast Master Hunter

I recently had a comment left asking a question similar to “Is Beast Mastery viable in a casual ten-man Naxx raid?”

The answer is yes, yes, and very yes.

Because I did it once a week for a good few months, and heck, this was before pets had Wild Hunt and Shark Attack available– good ol’ post-nerfs but pre-3.1 Beast Mastery. (Then my Naxx group disintegrated and scientists are still baffled about it. True story.)

Anyways, I would hit 3800 or so on Patchwerk and slightly less on other bosses (Loatheb being the exception of course). Occasionally some rogue would pop out of nowhere and get 4000 and snag “First Place on Recount” from me but I can’t recall ever being worse than second.

If that isn’t viable enough for a “causal ten-man Naxx”, then I dunno what is!


Of course, Beast Mastery is kinda touchy. Because it does the lowest DPS currently of all three hunter specs, it can be difficult to coax DPS out of it. Here is my advice to you:


Have a viable spec. By viable I don’t mean “zomg most top DPS evar, no exceptions!” so much as a spec that isn’t just darts thrown at your talent tree. Back when I first began doing weekly Naxx runs, I was 53/18/0 and I did very well. I respec’d to 53/11/7 and did better, and I’m currently running with 54/12/5 which does the highest spreadsheet DPS in a 25man at the cost of slightly lower DPS in five-mans, as compared to 53/11/7. Both would get you roughly similar numbers in a ten-man. All of these three specs are good, as are specs that are very similar. See which one works best for you.



These go hand in hand together especially for us Beast Masters. You want at least Glyph of Bestial Wrath and Glyph of Steady Shot. Once you have these, your rotation is Bestial Wrath (when available) -> Kill Shot (when available) -> Arcane Shot -> Multishot -> Serpent Sting (when it needs to be refreshed) -> Steady Shot. Use Kill Command and Rapid Fire when they are up, as well. Kill Command works especially nicely in conjunction with Bestial Wrath.

A quick word on Multishot: I used to tell people to only use it when you have mana replenishment, however, I’ve been playing around with Zeherah’s Hunter DPS Analyzer (I am in love with it) and discovered that you should always use Multishot when you can.

I also used aforementioned website to try talenting into Aimed Shot, snagging the Glyph of Aimed Shot, and using that in place of Multishot. While the resulting numbers weren’t bad per se, they were still a fairly moderate DPS loss as opposed to spec’ing something like 53/11/7 and just using Multishot. So, that is that!

You will notice that I haven’t mentioned a must-have third glyph; you have a couple options here. Kill Shot, Hawk, and Serpent Sting are all viable ones. I get the best results with Serpent Sting myself: less having to refresh Serpent Sting, more time to do other shots!



I still say you should use what you love when it comes to pets ^_^ however, Devilsaurs are the proven top DPS pet for Beast Masters at the moment. Raptors and Wolves are fairly close behind; I think Raptors edge ahead of Wolves a bit. Cats, Moths, Spirit Beasts, etc. aren’t bad options either, although they aren’t in the “Top Three”.

The important thing when it comes to pets is to have them spec’d for pewpew!

Following these simple steps will have you more than ready to conquer Naxx10 with a Big Red Pet. How viable is it for other, bigger raids, you may ask? Well, I’ve done OS25, VoA25, and a good portion of Naxx25 as BM and performed rather nicely. You may not be #1 on damage but you will be pulling your weight. As for Ulduar, well, I’ve no idea how you’d do in there, although there are some Beast Master hunters on my blogroll who are in Ulduar and are doing very well. There’s also a thread on Mania’s Forums dedicated to studying Beast Master DPS in Ulduar.

Oh, and did I mention this screenshot of the EU first kill of Yogg-Saron with no keepers? Notice the devilsaur in the picture and the little Ferocious Inspiration icon in the corner? It made me very happy to see that. To be fair, from what I understand, it’s largely because the mechanics of the fight favor DoTs, and your pet is essentially a very large DoT. Still, it’s proof that there is a time and place for Beast Mastery even among the best of the best.

In closing: If you wanna be a Beast Master, be a Beast Master. Most of us aren’t in the hardest of the hardcore raiding guilds and we can get away with it quite nicely! Bestial Wrath away, my friends.