This post was originally started back on Oct 31, 2006. It has since been rewritten three times.

With the advent of Burning Crusade, I was pretty torn on how to respec my hunter. I’d played up into my 50’s as a heavy marksmanship build before switching to heavy survival. I’d meant to post my build ideas before the expansion landed, but I was otherwise occupied.

Currently, I am back to a very heavy marksmanship build (43 points). I’d planned on spending the remaining 18 in survival, but decided against it when I dinged 61. At present, I have a 1/43/9 build and am planning on spending my remaining points in the recently upgraded low tier beast talents in an attempt to increase my general durability.

== current build – 9/43/9 ==

The general thought behind my current build is reliable damage. I don’t crit nearly as much as I used to, but I hit hard and I hit consistently, and I can continue doing damage even when low on mana.

There’s not a whole lot to say about these talents except that they’re much better than they used to be. Endurance Training and Thick Hide together give me +5% hp and +10% armour from eq and give my pet +10% hp and +20% armour.

The point in Focused Fire is planned as my my lvl 70 talent. It gives +1% damage output and +10% crit to kill command. It might almost be worth getting two points in Focused Fire for the additional +1% damage in exchange for a small loss in defense.

Not a lot to say here. My goal here was to get Silencing Shot. It’s nice. I like it. I wish the cooldown were a bit shorter, but it does still work well as a ranged interrupt (the only reliable ranged spell interrupt in the game, I believe). More importantly, it allows you to pull casters. This has always been a pain, LoS pulls not generally being possible in wide open places 😉

Efficiency is critical. Every build should have it. 10% reduction in mana costs to shots and stings (where 99% of your mana is going in the first place…) are not to be underestimated. Especially for a hybrid class that gets way less mana than full caster types.

Rapid Killing is nice. It’s only two points and it gives you a 20 second buff when you kill something that gives you +20% damage to your next hit. This encourages opening combat with Aimed Shot. In addition, these two points also reduce your Rapid Fire cooldown by 40%.

Rapid Fire is amazing. +40% ranged attack speed for 15 seconds in exchange for 100 mana. So… in stead of firing one arrow every 2.5 seconds, you wind up firing every 1.8 seconds. What that really translates to is an extra 2 shots for 100 mana. The single most mana efficient attack ability hunters ever get.

Concussive Barrage isn’t that impressive initially. Woo hoo. It dazes your opponents. Occasionally. This sort of thing would be nice while kiting… but you’re prolly already using concussive shot and frost traps already… No, what Concussive Barrage is really all about is the new shot that hunters get at lvl 62.

Steady Shot costs 110 mana and can be fired off once a second. It does (RAP * 0.3) + 150 damage and an additional 175 damage to dazed targets. Thus, if you pay attention and spam steady whenever your concussive daze goes off… you can get 3 or 4 hits in on the dazed target for some happy bonus damage.

The nine points in survival go well with any build.

Hawk Eye is absolutely critical, however. With it, hunters have the longest attack range of any class in the game. Without it… shrug.

Monster and Humanoid Slaying give +3% to all damage dealt to beasts, humanoids, dragons, and giants and an additional +3% to crit damage against them. These mobs make up the vast majority of the killable things in the game. You can do a lot worse than to spend points here.

== heavy crit – 0/20/41 ==

The general idea behind this build is to crit hard and to crit often.

Wyvern Sting is great (12 sec crowd control, 2 minute cooldown). Now that you can use it in combat, it’s even better. It’s awesomely fun in PvP, and is one of the only ways I know of to reliably take people down as they fly past you on their epic mounts. If you go anywhere near this deep into Survival, it’d be a crime not to pick up Wyvern.

Killer Instinct is an additional +3% to crit rate on top of the +5% you pick up from Lethal Shots. With the +3% to hit from Surefooted, you will be scoring dramatically more crits with just these few talents alone. Add in +15% agility from Lightning Reflexes, and that crit chance goes up even higher.

Thrill of the Hunt means that any time one of your shots (aimed, arcane, steady) crits, you get 40% of the mana back.

Expose Weakness means that 30% of your crits cause everyone attacking your victim to get a heavy bonus to their attack power for 7 seconds.

Master Tactician means that every time you land a ranged hit, you have a 6% chance of getting a +8% buff to your crit chance for 8 seconds. I’m only grabbing 4 points here because I think the 5th point in Mortal Shots is worth slightly more than it would be here. Ie, that is a +2% to crit chance that is effective for 8 seconds after every 6% of your hits versus +6% to crit damage every time you crit.

== chainmail tank – 11/27/23 ==

This build is meant for hunters who somehow manage to keep taking damage. It’s not enough to make you tank better than, oh, say… a shaman… But it gives you some incredible survivability when you do wind up getting hit. The goal here is to avoid dying long enough to either kill your enemy or to run away.

4% damage reduction from Survival Instincts is not to be underestimated. That’s four percent of every hit from every source you ever take. This is better than getting +4% max hp. Much, much better.

Deflection is a very nice toy. +25% to both parry and dodge sounds like +50% to avoid getting hit to me. It only lasts 10 seconds, and is on a 5 minute cooldown, but 50% damage avoidance for 10 seconds can make an enormous difference. Throw improved monkey and deflection into the mix and you are now dodging at +39% and parrying at +30%.

Add do this the numbers I’ve already talked about from the other low tier beast talents and +10% more hp from Survivalist… it’s still not always enough.

There’s nothing shameful about running into a corner and playing dead.

Feign rarely fails against stuff of your own level or lower, but it frequently fails vs stuff that’s bigger than you. Improved Feign Death pretty much reduces your chance of failure to zero versus mobs of your own level, and gives you a very good chance against things 1 or 2 levels higher.

Scatter Shot is a great stalling tactic when running away. It works within the dead zone and as an instant cast, you can fire it while jumping around a corner.

Finally, the +15% chance to resist movement impairing effects (snares – daze?) from Surefooted can’t hurt when trying to get out of a crowd of uglies in order to find a safer place to fall over.

== machinegun dps – 7/45/9 ==

With the death of the old 10 second cycle and the improvements to arcane shot, I like the idea of a hunter build that can not only keep up with a rogue for burst dps, but can make the rogue look like a paladin by comparison. This is the closest I’ve come up with. Of course, it makes an OOMkin druid look like a Dark Pact warlock, but shrug 😉

As long as you keep yourself well hydrated, load up on mana regen eq and take advantage of Aspect of the Viper between fights and when low on juice, it can work.

We’ve seen most of these talents before in the other heavy marks builds. But the philosophy behind this build is a bit different.

Improved Arcane Shot means a 16.7% increase in the rate at which you can bombard things with arcane damage. In addition to loading up on mana/5 eq, a healthy smattering of +spell/arcane damage eq would not be entirely wasted either. You’re still doing a mix of physical and arcane damage and should be switching over to Steady Shot whenever you daze an enemy, but the arcane shot damage is pretty impressive when you speed it up.

Rapid Killing is also still important in this build, much more so because of the 2 minute cooldown reduction on Rapid Fire. The extra 2 or 3 shots you get from Rapid Fire are two or three chances for physical damage crits on top of whatever you’re getting with arcane. When you have the Rapid Killing buff in place, consider opening fights with arcane in stead of aimed shots, a crit with magical damage can be a lot more impressive than with physical. And it’s faster.

In addition to spamming Rapid Fire and Arcane Shot, the other important part of this build concept is Improved Hawk. I’ve talked about this talent before (in basically every other post I’ve ever made on hunters), but it bears repeating here in context.

Improved Aspect of the Hawk gives you a 10% chance with every normal ranged attack of getting a +15% attack speed buff for 12 seconds. The 10% chance means that this effect should proc roughly once every 25 seconds of combat if you’ve got a 2.55 normal ranged attack rate (that’s a 3.0 second weapon and a +15% speed quiver). 12 second buffs proccing every 25 seconds = 50% of the time 😉 Plus, of course, there’s also the slightly increased chance while the buff is active that the effect will proc again.

With a +15% speed quiver and a 1.8 speed weapon, you get a normal attack rate of 1.53 seconds. Improved hawk should proc roughly once every 15 seconds in this case, ie, it should be an almost constant effect that gives you an attack speed of closer to 1 second. Throw Rapid Fires off whenever you’re under the influence of the improve hawk effect and … your attack speed number suddenly becomes something closer to 0.36 for 15 seconds. That’s 41 arrows.

War Master Voone drops a lvl 55 green 1.6 speed bow. It’s only 36 dps, but…

== animal trainer – 46/12/3 ==

I am strongly tempted to play with this build, and I’m probably going to at least give it a whirl when I hit 63 and catch myself a warp stalker

The goal is to stand back and let your pet do all of the work. Fire normal shots with a fast bow and concentrate your mana on keeping your furry little assassin friend alive.

This is the only beast spec I’m going to discuss, so pay attention 😉

First off, the things I’m not picking up. I’m not grabbing Efficiency, I’m not grabing Rapid Killing, and I’m not grabbing the Human/Beast Slaying talents. You don’t need these as much here. You’re relying on your pet to do all of the work. Firing your own weapon (ideally something fast) is just a way of scoring crits in order to proc the 50 point focus regen bonus from Go for the Throat.

I’m also ignoring the whole Beast Within chain because I see it as primarily useful in PvP. The goal with this build is not to send a pet charging through fear spells to eat mages, it’s to let the pet eat mobs for you.

Ok, grabbing Improved Revive and Mend should be a no brainer for any beast spec hunter. Keeping your pet alive and getting rid of nasty debuffs is essential… Spirit Bond is also incredibly nice, 2% max hp regen every 10 seconds for both you and the pet equates to +40/5 hp regen if you have 4000 hp. This regen continues during combat.

Unleashed Fury means +20% dps. Ferocity means +10% crit rate. Bestial Discipline means 2x the focus regen (+whatever you’re giving your pet from ranged crits). Animal Handler means +4%. Catlike Reflexes means +9% dodge (on top of the +10% hp and +20% armour already mentioned). Improved Hunter’s Mark means your Mark is suddenly quite useful to your pet (increases their damage).

Serpent’s Swiftness means +20% to attack speed for both you and your pet. More attack speed for you means more frequent crits and more +50 focus heals to your pet means more often your pet can use its own attacks.

+20% attack speed for your pet means a vicious feedback circle of destruction. With Frenzy, your pet gets an additional +30% buff to attack speed that lasts for 8 seconds after every crit the pet lands. By giving your pet +10% to crit from Ferocity… the faster attacks are much more likely to crit, which procs more faster attacks, which are likely to crit and maintain the maniac attack speed…

To top it all off, Ferocious Inspiration gives your entire party (self and pet included) an additional +3% to damage done for 10 seconds after the pet scores a crit. This is phenomenally better than Trueshot Aura’s +100 AP (~7 DPS), especially when you consider you don’t have to actively cast it, and that it improves damage for casters as well as physical types.

update – Feb 4th, 2007

I was sick most of this weekend, so naturally I had to do something silly when not curled up in bed. That something silly was a respec to the beast mastery build above. I’m lvl 63 at this point, and have only purchased the one point in Serpent’s Swiftness (so am missing the 4 points in swiftness and 3 points in Catlike Reflexes). And… the build is useful.

I feel much more durable in general than the other build (I’ve got about 5000 hp and 50/5 hp regen). However, not having Aimed Shot or Wyvern or Silence is weird… In fact, I don’t have any abilities gained from talents. My personal DPS (ie, that achieved by shooting arrows into things) has decreased by about 20-30 since the rebuild. However, my pet’s DPS has increased by 40-50 points. Plus the pet’s inspiration buff is almost always active… for +3% DPS to the entire party.

The beast build kills slightly more quickly than my “reliable” build. But it feels VERY different, and takes a very different mindset to play effectively. I am also basically guaranteed to die when my pet dies. I’m planning on trying to stick with this build until 66 or 70, depending on my mood. I suspect that the final 4 points in swiftness will make an enormous difference in my attitude, but I’ll have to wait and see.

3 thoughts on “remarksmanship”

  1. Psh! Hunter keep up with a rogue for burst DPS? Perhaps you haven’t met my “machine gun” specced rogue. With Blade Flurry, Slice and Dice, and Eskhandar all together my offhand weapon speeds are cut in half. A full stack of Deadly Poison (so far) adds 60 DPS, and I’ll off hand an instant poison that adds another 50ish DPS. And Eskhandar works much the same as Ferocity… Since me speed doubles, it frequently procs twice during the time it lasts, giving me about 12 seconds of the fastest speed I’ve seen (unless I grab my 1.3 offhand, in which case I’m sub .7 speed).

  2. For comparison, at lvl 62, with the first spec listed, and equipped mostly in BC greens and using normal lvl 55 vendor ammo and nothing but Hunter’s Mark and Steady Shot, my hunter’s average performance hovered somewhere in the neighborhood of 410 dps (185 base + 225 or so observed from Steady).

    Adding Arcane Shot and Serpent Sting on top of that, we get another 100 dps or so. Add a pet for at least 90 more dps. So, that’s ~600 dps that can be sustained for about 3 or 4 fights (vs even leveled non-elite mobs) before running out of juice. Multi-shot and traps can increase this further… but shrug.

    Add in the ease of starting fights with Rapid Killing + Furious Howl + Aimed Shot vs a rogue having to distract and sneak up if they want to deliver their big opener…

    Rogue wants to talk about dps improvements from expensive poisons? At Revered, Cenarion Expedition sells some arrows that are 15 dps higher than the ones I’m using currently 🙂

    My machinegun spec should perform at least 6-10% higher than that on the burst damage scale. Rapid Fire is worth +70 dps when it’s on. Improved Arcane is worth about another 10 dps, Improved Hawk with a 1.8s bow is worth a permanent ~12% increase to your rate of fire for normal attacks, or another 22 or so dps.

    The real wall you hit is actually with the 1 sec universal cooldown on activated abilities.

    I compare my DPS capabilities to a similarly equipped rogue because I’ve seen it happen plenty of times. I have good memories one time of doing SM at lvl 60 with a lvl 60 rogue (and the lvl 30-40 char we were dragging through) and keeping ahead of the rogue on the damage meter… until I ran out of mana. Then he blew by me 😉

    The place where rogues really shine is their ability to continue delivering punishment long after the other dps classes run out of juice and need to take a drink. The thought behind my machinegun build is that it would be able to outperform a rogue as long as mana lasted (2 or 3 fights).

  3. Thanks for giving a new perspective into the BM spec and those tips on Hawk Eye etc. This was really helpful. Cheers!

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