Tag Archives: numberchasing

remarksmanship

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.

hunter efficiency

Earlier today, I had a discussion with Tony about the problems hunters have with mana burnout. They don’t get a lot of mana compared to other ‘caster’ classes and they certainly don’t get a lot of mana regen compared to them.

My general experience is that in instance runs, my hunter would be forced into operating at some sort of really low damage output level because despite mage waters, he’d be perpetually drained of juice. I now have some +regen gear (a whopping +11/5 atm) and am loving it to death – because it’s SOMETHING.

The normal procedure for a hunter in general bombardment mode is to use a big, slow weapon and fire off aimed and multi shots in what some people call the 10 second cycle (even though the cycle actually works out to be much longer than that).

So the question is this. What do I (and most other hunters) do wrong with my mana?

disclaimer

My math here isn’t perfect, in fact, it’s kind of lazy. But, even considering that, the point should be pretty clear and valid.

the ‘experiment’

Supposing 100 spirit on hunter with all the right talents for max damage and efficiency with shots and stings in question and no +regen eq.

Mana regen is 100/5 + 15 = 35 every 2 sec tick. 5 seconds after casting a spell that uses mana, this regen is disabled.

Aimed has a 6 sec cooldown and a casting tim of 3 seconds. Multi has a 10 sec cooldown and replaces your normal auto-shot. Aimed shot fires in addition to auto-shot and does not interrupt the auto-shot cooldown.

We will assume that there is only one target and that there’s no kiting or any other silliness going on, and that the hunter is using a weapon with an approx 3 second rate of fire.

The number in brackets is the approximate timestamp in seconds of the action, the column to the right shows what would happen if multi shot were not used.

So, over a 30 second period, it is reasonable to fire off 4 aimed shots and 2 multi’s for a total of +2745 damage +4 extra normal hits worth of damage (from the aimeds). It cost a total of 1550 mana and the player regenned a total of 140, bringing the cost to 1410 mana.

If multi-shots are removed, the amount of damage inflicted is reduced by 345 and the amount of mana spent is reduced by 434 AND the amount of mana regenerated is increased by 3 more ticks of 35 (105) for a total overall cost of only 766 mana.

verdict

Using multi-shot more than doubles your mana cost over time and if used against a single target, only increases your damage output by the equivalent of one extra normal shot (your normal shots -do- hit for 300-400 damage each, right?).

Just to grind the numbers a bit further… 10+4 shots in 30 seconds for an average of say 350×14 = 4900 damage (barring criticals) + 2745 from the spells gives us a total of 7645 damage (255 dps) for 1410 mana. 5.42 damage per mana.

Removing multi from the mix, we get 7300 damage (243 dps) for 661 mana and a ratio of 9.53 damage per mana.

Figure the average hunter has 4000 mana. Using aimed+multi, he only has enough juice to go for roughly 90 seconds this way (it’s actually a bit less because after the first 30 end, his next shot is a multi, which slows the regen down even more).

Using aimed alone, he can go for 180 seconds of solid bombardment w/o potions or other sources of mana regeneration.

stings

Throwing stings into the mix makes hunter mana efficiency even worse.

Over the 30 second period, assume a hunter fires off two serpent stings (one at 4 and one at 22 seconds). This costs him an extra 450 mana for a maximum of 1221 damage with a few gotchas.

  1. sting damage is nature type, which is subject to resistance.
  2. dots don’t crit, so the 1221 is the absolute max you’ll inflict with a pair.
  3. because sting is a dot, that also means that the mob has to last for the entire duration to take all the damage.

In addition to costing 450 mana in the 30 second period to fire off the two stings, it also eliminates another mana regen tick, effectively costing 35 more
mana.

7645 damage + 40.7x(15+8)=936 from one and a half stings = 8581 damage total in the 30 seconds if the hunter uses sting (286 dps). But it costs 1860 mana to do it, giving us a ratio of 4.61 damage per mana spent and an approximate burn time of only 65 seconds before drained.

+regen/5

As I mentioned earlier, I finally have some +regen/5 eq and I love it. Tony brings up the point that a lot of the endgame hunter gear has this sort of buff on it (not to mention trinkets, etc…).

Most notable among these options would be the new Cryptstalker set (Tier 3 raid gear), almost every piece of which grants +mana/5 (to a total of +26/5). Completion of 6 pieces of the 9 piece set means you get 50 mana back every time you land a crit (which happens a lot since the set has +7% crit in addition to the +283 agi from the entire set for an additional +5.4% crit). Completing 8 pieces of the set reduces the total costs of your aimed and multi shots by 20 mana each…

Of course, I’m never gonna even see a piece of cryptstalker gear, much less ever wear it, much less ever see any of these set bonuses, so why do I care? 🙂

hunters 102 sec 2

I was thinking about the whole improved aspect of the hawk deal a few minutes ago, and realized that I had made a serious blunder in my math. I was making it appear that the slower x-bow was significantly more useful with the speed buff than the regular speed bow was. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.

So, I corrected the math and it turned out that over 5 minutes, the 3.0 second xbow could hope to get an extra 3 arrows. From 100 in 300 seconds to 103 in 300 seconds 😉 So, yeah.

But that also got me to thinking that the speed of the bow really does make an enormous difference in how useful this talent can be. So, I’m going to figure out how good the fastest weapon in the game would be…

According to Thott, they ship a few bows with base attack delays as low as 1.6 seconds, but it looks like there is an epic rifle with a 1.5 second attack speed. So, I will do the math given the unlikely event that you somehow managed to score a Precicely Calibrated Boomstick and are using an ammo pouch that gives +14% attack speed – lowering your delay to 1.32 seconds.

20 shots * 1.32 sec/shot = 26.4 secs
8 seconds / 0.92 sec/shot = 8 shots + 0.64 seconds toward next shot
12 shots * 1.32 sec/shot – 0.64 sec = 15.2 secs until next buff
8 shots/8 secs + 12 shots/12.2 secs = 20.2 seconds for each additional 20 shots

Without improved hawk, the boomstick is delivering 227 shots in 5 minutes. With improved hawk, you’re looking at 288 bullets. That’s a blooming 27% increase in sustained damage output with this baby. Of course, this machine-gun comes with a heavy price tag.

The boomstick in question is an epic world drop – which means there’s no realistic way to get it short of paying 100-200g for it. It is also only a level 43 item (despite its purpleness), which means that there are about 50 other weapons (both blue and purple) that deliver more damage, including a few with only 1.6 or 1.7 second base delays.

The +14% attack speed quiver/pouches aren’t difficult to get. I’ve got one. They’re 16 slot. Apparently, with a bucketload of Alterac Valley reputation, you can buy one with +15% to attack speed, but that one is also still only 16 slots.

16 slots x 200 rounds/slot = 3200 rounds on your person at a time (unless you’re packing multiple quivers…)

3200 rounds consumed at a rate of 288 per 300 seconds? 3328 seconds of combat before you are 100% out of ammo. That’s 55 minutes – iff you don’t actually use rapid shot as well. You’ll be running out of juice during each and every instance you try to run 😉

Back when I was running around with my 1.7 second bow and a 12-slot quiver. I remember having major problems keeping myself from running out of ammo. And this was before improved hawk worked like this (it used to just be a +attack power buff).

My final analysis? I think this would be a very fun toy to play around with in a straight PvP build hunter. Get yourself a Bloodseeker Bat from ZG, move into Alterac Valley and mow down those pesky mages and priests like nobody’s business.

hunters 102

BLAH!

Apparently my last rant was actually too long. It borked out and clipped the last few paragraphs on survival spec talents. So, I’m moving the entire talent section of my hunter essay into this new post.

Talents

When the game launched, the hunter talent tree was terrible. Survival was a complete waste of time, beast mastery was only vaguely tolerable for soloing, and marksmanship was nice, but not wonderful. That all changed a few patches ago, with the new (and much happier) talent tree.

Beast Mastery is now insanely good for soloing and PvP (rabid flying pet of doom == superglue mage killer). Survival is actually quite worth the trouble for endgame play, and marksmanship is still worth your time. Beast talents aren’t very useful in high level groups (where your pet is frequently obsoleted, more on that later).

I used to be marks spec with a bit of beast. I’m now survival with a bit of marks. I can’t really imagine trying to play a hunter without at least some of the marksmanship talents, even if you don’t go in for the higher level abilities.

Beast Mastery

Tier One

The tier one beast talents are both vaguely seductive, and really pretty nice when soloing at low level. More health for your pet can be a no brainer if you’re soloing and your pet is tanking for you – especially if you burn training points on giving the critter even more stam.

Improved aspect of the hawk gives you a 1-5% chance per auto shot of becoming hasted and firing at +30% speed. This is really nice for conserving mana, and if you are already relying on a fast bow to do your dirty work. Even more fun is at level 26 when you get rapid shot and remember to trigger it when your improved hawk buff procs – that turns into 8 seconds at +70% rate of fire and 7 more seconds at +40% 🙂

The problem with improved hawk is that the proc only lasts for 8 seconds – and is thus only arguably useful during prolonged combat. During quick fights, it’s not likely to proc and if it does, it tends to get wasted. Tony and I did the math back when I respecced at 60 and to actually decided to drop this talent.

Let’s assume that since you care about rate of fire, you’re going to be using a fast weapon (1.8 sec cooldown after quiver and stuff).

Over the course of 5 minutes of combat, you will have time to fire off about 166 arrows. With five points spent in improved hawk, that means that your haste buff will proc every 20 shots. So, 20 normal then buff for 8 seconds. Over those 8 seconds, your rate of fire will be increased to 1.26 seconds per arrow for 6.3 arrows in that period as opposed to only 4.4.

Unfortunately, these fractions don’t seem to carry. So when the buff dies, you’re back to normal rate of fire and will have only spent 0.44 seconds recharging your bow of the 1.8 it needs before the next shot happens. The math in summary:

20 shots * 1.8 sec/shot = 36 sec
8 seconds / 1.26 sec/shot = 6 shots + 0.44 seconds toward next shot
14 shots * 1.8 sec/shot – 0.44 sec = 24.76 seconds until your speed buff is likely to re-proc

You thus are taking 36 seconds to fire off your first 20 shots and 32.76 seconds for each additional batch of 20. So, with a 1.8 second bow over 5 minutes, 5 talent points spent in improved hawk will net you a total of something like 181 arrows as opposed to 166 = 9% increase in sustained damage output.

But if you switch to a slower weapon… It is much less impressive. The same math performed with a 3.0 second delay on an end-game crossbow (after quiver):

20 shots * 3.0 sec/shot = 60 secs
8 seconds / 2.1 sec/shot = 3 shots + 1.7 seconds toward next shot
17 shots * 3.0 sec/shot – 1.7 sec = 49.3 secs until next buff
3 shots/8 secs + 17 shots/49.3 secs = 57.3 seconds for each additional 20 shots

103 shots in five minutes as opposed to 100 shots = only 3% increase in sustained dps.

This is sustained DPS. This is not counting time for arrows potentially lost from aimed shots or for running to get back into position. It is also assuming that you’re actually able to stay in combat for a very long period of time. Mobs don’t like it when you shoot them. Eventually, they’re going to try to get out of range (usually by charging into melee with you when your pet/tank loses aggro). This is even less useful in PvP, when nobody’s gonna stick around and let a hunter hammer them with arrows long enough to make the thingy matter.

In more realistic situations, you’re not firing off 20 arrows per kill and when you do proc the haste, it gains you an extra one or two arrows for the duration of the fight. One aimed shot >= two arrows. One serpent sting > one arrow.

So, the only reason to actually rely on improved aspect of the hawk to actually increase your DPS is if you’re expecting to spend a lot of time in long battles where you’re not planning on using any mana… ie, a poorly organized raid or something. Shrug.

My recommendation with improved hawk is that it can be quite worth it for soloing with a tank pet or if you consistently run out of mana. It could even be worth cherry picking with one talent point if you are using a very fast bow and have nowhere else to put it for the 1% chance per shot of getting the haste buff 😉

Tier Two

If you’re spending points in beast mastery, tier two is nice. Improved monkey means +5% dodge potentially means -5% physical damage taken if you’re remembering to use monkey in stead of hawk when you’re getting hit.

A +30% pet AC bonus is potentially incredible – and again, can be made even more brutal by training your critter for even more armour. If you’re burning talents to create the ultimate pet tank, then you probably want to grab all 3 points in thick hide as well as both points in improved rez. Normally, revive pet takes 10 seconds to cast, costs something like half of your max mana, and brings teh critter back with 15% hp. Two talents in improved revive = 4 second casting time, only 30% or so of your mana to cast, and a revived pet with 45% hp. This makes it potentially useful during combat, as opposed to an after battle only sort of thing.

Improved eyes… boggle. Burning two talent points to let you run your pet around for 2 minutes (as opposed to one minute) is kind of beyond me. I guess if you have a cat (which critters can stealth) and really really really want to use it to scout, a lot, it might be worth it? But in all reality, if you’re scouting with your pet, you can just blow through crowds of mobs and keep running – the pet will unspawn if it’s far enough away from you when the spell expires. And any decently fast pet is going to be able to make some good distance in one minute 😉 Sitting around, vulnerable, for two whole minutes in an area dangerous enough that you’re using your pet to scout… yeah.

Tier Three

Tier three offers one of the must-have sort of talents for all beast type hunters. Namely, unleashed fury. +20% pet damage output. When you’re using a dps pet effectively, it will typically account for 25% or more of your total damage production. Using this as a conservative estimate means that your total damage output is consistently increased by 5%.

Combine unleashed fury with bestial swiftness and a fast pet with dash/dive, and you’re on your way to chewing through mages like candy. Note that the swiftness buff only gives your pet the +30% movement rate while outdoors, and most instances are indoor. This is definately a PvP sort of talent and isn’t all that useful if you’re killing mobs (dash/dive are generally more than enough of a boost for your pet to catch up with a runner or something).

Pathfinding is… meh. Two talents to bump your travel aspects from a +30% speed buff to +36%? Shrug. This one’s kind of a rip-off. Druid travel form is 40%, releases them from rooting effects, and doesn’t stun them when they get hit (in exchange for being fairly expensive to cast and having to wait until level 30 for the spell). Shamans also get +40% speed in their travel form that also doesn’t stun them like our aspects do (only vaguely more expensive than ours and has the downside of only working outside – which is where you spend most of your travel time). Yeah.

Our aspect is kind of cruddy. Its only benefit is that like all of our aspects it is exceptionally inexpensive to cast, and it is instant cast. It’s slow, and isn’t useful in combat except with some careful planning (wing clip, get well out of melee range, then pack to increase distance, aspect back to hawk, concuss, resume shooting, etc… sort of deal).

The only real use I can conceive of for this talent is if the preceeding example is your standard mode of operation. Because the only other scenareo I can come up with that would motivate somebody to spend talents on this is if for some reason they’re always using pack to travel with a bunch of slow allies for some reason (aspect of the pack comes at 40 – when people just buy +60% travel speed mounts anyways).

Tier Four

Well, if you’re using your pet to inflict PvP damage, you probably want the +15% crit chance that ferocity gives – and are going to pick it up anyways since it’s a pre-req for the tier six beast talent.

Improved mend pet is kind of neat. It effectively renders your pet immune to most debuffing effects if you’re healing them often, or at least means you can cleanse them between fights. My recommendation if you pick up this talent is that you allocate two action bar slots to mend – one at your maximum current skill rank for healing hp, and one at rank one (only 50 mana – mend 7 costs 480 to cast) specifically to make use of this talent.

Tier Five

Ahh, spirit bond. This is another must-have talent. For two points, it gives both you and your pet 2% hp regen ticks every 10 seconds. This healing continues during combat, so is very nice – especially if you’ve already buffed your pet’s max hp up, and can give you sort of the troll effect of reduced downtime for healing between fights.

Figure the average level 60 hunter probably has around 4000 hp. This turns into an 8 hp per second regen effect. That’s not shabby – it’s the kind of effect people buy epic trinkets and stuff for.

Intimidate is just plain mean. One minute cooldown, 130 mana, long range. Three second stun attack that works like an improved taunt for your pet as long as it’s actually able to hit your victim in melee – which any decent beast spec hunter’s pet would.

This is another mage killer. Three seconds = aimed shot casting time. Aim, send in pet to maul him a bit while aimed cools down, intimidate and aim again. Even if your shots don’t crit (which they probably won’t since you’re beast spec), this is enough damage to put more than a little fear into the heart of your average cloth-wearing finger wiggler.

The other tier five beast talent is bestial discipline, which translates into +20% pet focus regen, which translates into 20% more special attacks from your magekilling little friend.

Tier Six

There is only one ability at tier six in the beast mastery tree. And if you’ve made it this far, you’ve been drooling over it. Five points in frenzy gives your pet an improved hawk style attack speed buff whenever it scores a crit.

Now… I’ve never played with this talent, but the math kind of speaks for itself – especially if you’re PvP and are interested in disrupting spellcasters. More damage, more speed, and you’ve already bought +15% to crit chance per attack… and probably +20% focus regen for more frequent claw attacks with which to crit as well…

Tier Seven

Bestial wrath is the final nail in the proverbial coffin of any caster you come up against from here on out. It requires intimidate, but you already have that. The spell has a two minute cooldown and costs about 200 mana. In return it gives your pet +50% damage output and makes them immune to all forms of crowd control effects for a whopping 15 seconds.

Marksmanship

Ok, unlike the previous talent branch which is 90% PvP oriented, marksmanship is kind of 50/50 PvP/PvE. It contains several talents without which no hunter is really worthy of the name. Several must-have abilities, regardless of the rest of your spec.

Tier One

And, just to make it difficult, since they know that everyone needs later talents, they wave some very confusing talents at you on tier one of the marks tree.

Improved concussive shot bothers me. I tried it for a few months. I don’t like it. Other people seem to swear by it. At least, most marksmanship spec hunters I’ve seen have it. Basically what it does is cost 5 talents to give you a 1 in 5 chance of stunning your target for 3 seconds when you concuss them.

Now, at 8% of your max mana per use, concussive shot is expensive. It is also slow, with a 12 second cooldown. This means that it is generally only usable once or perhaps twice per fight. So… assuming I am in a fight that lasts more than 12 seconds (which means I’ve fired off two aimed shots and still not killed my target), I could have a 40% chance of proccing a 3 second stun on my enemy in exchange for 16% of my mana. Not worth the trouble, if you ask me. Having this talent promotes firing off concussive shots and blowing mana in the vain hope that it’ll proc.

Improved concuss promises an average of one proc worth 3 seconds of stun per minute spent spamming the spell. That’s in exchange for five talent points and upwards of 40% of your mana.

It has been suggested to pick up just one rank in improved concuss, for the 5% chance of proc. This is almost worse than encouraging the waste of mana. This means that for every twenty times you fire off the shot – fully expecting that it will only slow your target down – it in stead roots the critter for a few seconds. This can be incredibly jarring and can totally throw off your groove if you use a complex kiting pattern.

On the other hand, the other tier one talent, efficiency, is totally worth the trouble, yet I’ve seen several people fail to pick it up. Five points to reduce the mana cost of every ranged attack you have by 10%. Sure, on a single shot-by-shot comparrison, this doesn’t make much of a difference. Supposing I only have 3000 mana, aimed shot 6 costs 310 points. With efficiency, the cost is only reduced to 279. Meh, that one shot’s savings wasn’t worth five talent points. But what this talent does earn you is reduced downtime over the course of your entire career.

The only places you’re going to be spending mana other than shots are in switching aspects (fairly trivial costs), spamming raptor strike (all of 16 mana per second), and in laying traps (which usually happens during downtime anyways).

Given the choice of the two talents, I’ll let you guess which one I have.

Tier Two

Lethal shots is a must-have talent for any hunter. 5 points for +5% chance to crit with all aimed attacks.

On the other hand, improved mark is kind of a waste. Lots of people seem to pick it up. But when you consider that 5 talent points earns you a +15% bonus to the attack power your mark gives… that only adds up to an increase of 16 attack power at level 58 when your mark is normally giving ‘only’ 110 attack. That’s an increase of 1.15 dps in exchange for 5 talent points IFF you’re level 58+, otherwise, it’s not even worth that much.

Tier Three

Aimed shot. Buy it now. 6 second cooldown, 3 second cast time. Does insane damage, and when it crits, it can outperform a rogue’s ambush. If you only dig into marksmanship for aimed shot, your trip will have been worth it.

But, as long as you’re on tier three, you really should spend 3 more talents to pick up the extra 6 yards of range that hawk eye gives you.

The other tier three talent is improved arcane shot. For five points, this reduces the cooldown on your arcane shot from 6 seconds to 5 seconds. What they don’t seem to tell you is that arcane shot is on the same timer as aimed shot. So… if you have the talent points to burn, that’s an 8-9% speed increase in your aimed shot barrage 😉

Tier Four

Mortal shots increases your damage output with ranged crits by 30%, and since you’ve already gotten +5% chance to crit to begin with, this really starts to add up. The talent applies to all ranged attacks – including your aimed shot. This is totally worth it if you’re digging this deep into marksmanship.

Improved serpent on the other hand is another kind of wasteful talent, at least at low levels. At level 60, serpent sting does 555 damage over 15 seconds (37 dps). Five ranks in this talent means +10% damage for a total of 40.7 dps from your sting. So, 5 talent points for 3.7 dps increase? Shrug, your call. I dropped this when I left my marks spec, but had it for most of my player’s career.

Tier Five

Scatter shot is the hunter’s only ability that functions inside of the dead zone. It’s a short range attack that confuses your target for 4 seconds. Fairly inexpensive, 30 second cooldown, shootable while running, it is dead useful. But, it also has one major gotcha.

Any damage caused will remove the effect. This renders the ability all but useless as temporary crowd control while in groups and makes it rather difficult while soloing – since both your pet and your dots like to break the effect as soon as it begins.

Generally, if you’re in a situation where you’re gonna be using scatter shot, you are also entirely probably in a situation where you don’t have the enemy dotted, so that’s not usually a concern. The pet however… that stupid little monkey. Or cat. Or whatever. Your pet is going to keep mauling the enemy unless you call them off or something.

Back when I had scatter shot, I had a macro that put my pet back into follow mode before firing off scatter. It seemed to work fairly well. Of course, this also interfered when my pet was dealing with one mob and I tried to scatter an add that got too close… shrug.

Improved scorpid is utterly useless. At level 52, rank 4 of scorp does -68 str/agi to your enemy. In and of itself, that’s already a seriously useful debuff when you consider that the str/agi reduction really equates to -136 attack power = -9.7 dps. To spend 5 talent points in order to temporarily reduce your enemy’s stamina by 6 points… is kind of dumb.

One point of stam = 10 points of max hp. So… 5 talent points for what is potentially a 60 damage attack that could very likely fade away in 20 seconds… yeah.

Barrage is nice. +15% to your two area attacks, multi-shot and volley. Now, volley itself isn’t all that great as far as AoE’s go. It does 80 dps for 6 seconds and has a stinking minute cooldown. Three points in barrage bumps your area dps up by 12, which is useful.

Where I really enjoy the talent is with its increase to multi-shot damage. At level 60, multi-shot replaces one normal attack with one that does +150 damage to up to 3 targets. So, even if you’re only hitting one target with it, multi is a great attack to spam. Suppose you’re hitting for 300 damage with your normal arrows. Your multi-shot is going to do 450, which is increased to 517.5 😉 With a 10 sec cooldown on the attack, that means an increase of 6.75 dps.

Of course, the real reason to pick up barrage isn’t its dps increase. The talent is a pre-req for the tier seven marksmanship talent.

Tier Six

If you’ve come this far, you’re gonna spend the 5 points in ranged weapon spec to increase your overall damage output by five more percent.

Tier Seven

Trueshot aura is the ability I drooled over from levels 10 until I picked it up at level 41. I later learned that it wasn’t entirely drool-worthy. It’s nice. Not wonderful. Not amazing. But nice. At level 60, it gives +100 attack power (melee and ranged) to all party members (and pets) close to the hunter. In a full group of physical damage dealers, that’s pretty nice. 7.1 dps for everyone involved.

The big downside to the ability is that you have to constantly re-cast it. Unlike your aspects, it only has a 30 minute duration. And it it’s expensive. 525 mana to renew at max level.

Survival

When the game first launched, survival was primarily for them dolts as wanted to try to play melee hunters. This has since changed quite happily, and there are several talents in the branch which improve your ranged combat capabilities in a major way – specifically by bumping up your traps and crit%.

Tier One

This is an interesting tier one in that it is possible to spend 11 points here in stead of 10 as is normal. Deflection is a no-brainer, and every hunter with the points to spare should pick it up. +5% to parry is just one more layer of defense, and being a tier one talent makes it exceptionally convenient to grab if you don’t want to dig any deeper into survival.

The humanoid and monster slaying talents each bump your damage and crit damage versus the appropriate critter types by 1% (that’s a plus for base damage and an additional plus for crit). Monsters are beasts, giants, and dragons according to this talent, making elementals, demons, undead, and silithids the only things unaffected by these two talents.

PvP spec hunters should strongly consider humanoid slaying. It means the difference between aimed shots that hit mages for 1800 damage and aimed shots that hit them for 1900. Monster slaying is nice for soloing/grinding. Trolls with monster slaying will be doing +8% base damage to beasts before the extra crit damage gets applied 😉

Tier Two

Tier two of survival is a bit problematic. Savage strikes costs two points to increase the crit chance of your raptor and mongoose strikes by 20%… So, while that is nice if you’re spending a lot of time in melee, it doesn’t help your ranged combat abilities any, so I can’t recommend it.

Improved wing clip is interesting, and is a good tier two choice, especially if you’re not planning on going any deeper. Five talent points buys your wing clip attack a 20% chance of rooting your enemy for 5 seconds. This is in addition to the attack’s snare effect that will continue for a little bit after the root effect fades.

Wing clip is cheap – at level 60 it costs only 80 mana – is instant cast and has no cooldown timer. So you can spam it quite happily for a few seconds in order to guarantee a rooting effect before you run away.

I actually use wing clip for training weapon skills, especially with two-handers.

Entrapment is like the wing clip rooting effect only applied to your traps, with a 1% higher chance of success per talent point spent. I am actually using this talent right now, because it works miracles with your frost trap.

The chance of rooting seems to be triggered every time a mob steps into the ice patch. This means that if your frost trap hits four mobs, you’re almost guaranteed to proc the effect. I use this any time the party is heading into an AoE encounter.

Tier Three

Trap efficiency bumps the damage on your fire traps by 30% and the duration on your ice traps by 30%. This is amazing. At level 60, your freezing trap is a 20 second crowd control effect. This talent bumps that up to 26 seconds.

For comparrison. Level 60 polymorph has a 50 second effect that only works on humanoids and beasts, heals the victim, and leaves them liable to wander into an AoE storm or something (in addition to drawing much hate toward your mage). Level 48 sap only works on humanoids, can only be used out of combat, and lasts for 45 seconds. Level 60 shackles have a 50 second duration, but only work on undead, and level 48 banish lasts 30 seconds and only works on elementals and demons.

So, frost trap has half the duration of the big crowd control abilities, and isn’t targetted like them. It also requires you to be out of combat to use – which isn’t a big deal if you remember how to use your feign button. Frost trap’s big win is that it potentially works on just about everything. If a mob is immune to frost trap, it is likely immune to other forms of crowd control already.

Survivalist is nice. It means +10% max hp. For cows… that’s really happy.

Deterrance is an interesting one. I’m using it right now. It gives you a 10 second buff of +25% to dodge and parry on a 5 minute cooldown. Add deflection and improved monkey to this and you have 38% to dodge and 30% to parry before stats and equipment come into the picture. That’s a pretty decent amount of damage reduction in hairy situations.

The big problem with deterrance is that you can’t just hit it every time you wind up in melee, because the 10 second duration divided by the 300 second cooldown leaves you potentially wishing you had saved it. It is also dangerous when PvPing against warriors – you dodge a warrior and he uses overpower on you (an unavoidable attack for +damage).

Deterrance is also the pre-req for the tier five activated ability, for whatever that’s worth.

Tier Four

Surefooted gives you +3% to hit and +15% to resist roots and snares. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to give you a chance to resist the daze effect that cheetah and pack will hit you with. It also doesn’t help against polymorph or stun type effects. So shrug. But +3% to hit is +3% to hit, and the movement impairment resistance buff is probably pretty cool in addition to the one orcs already get.

Trap mastery makes your traps 10% harder to resist. Not that critters resist traps very much, but I like to think that it helps the entrapment effect proc more often, so I’m using it right now.

The other tier four talent is improved feign, which makes your feign dead ability 4% less likely to fail. This really matters when feigning stuff higher level than yourself. If you’re only fighting mobs your own size, it shouldn’t matter much since they rarely resist the ability.

But… if feign fails, you die. So it’s up to you 😉

Tier Five

Ok. Another must-have ability on tier five in killer instinct. +3% to crit with anything, even swords if you are so inclined.

The other tier five ability is counterattack, an ability that activates off of a successful parry (with mongoose activating off of dodge). Like mongoose, counter doesn’t do much damage. Unlike mongoose, however, counter is unavoidable and procs a 5 second root effect.

I don’t use counter because I’m avoiding melee if at all possible. But more realistically, I’m not using it because I don’t have room on my action bar for it. My 1-3 keys are mongoose, raptor, wing clip respectively. 4 is whatever shot I’m using most frequently, 5-7 are stings.

Even if I did move things around to make room for counter, it’s an ability that doesn’t activate all that often that is now taking up action bar space, and I become in constant risk of wasting it by missing the parry message and forgetting to activate it when the time comes. It is this reasoning that’s been tempting me to actually remove mongoose from my action bar and put an interesting macro on the 1 key. Haven’t done it yet, but I am sorely tempted.

Tier Six

Ok. Tier six is the pinnacle of coolness in the survival tree. This is why you specced survival, after all. Lightning reflexes gives you +15% to your agility. At level 60, suppose you have 300 agility. This talent bumps that up by an additiona 45 points.

45 points of agility means 6.4 more base dps, 90 more points of AC, 1.7% to dodge, and 0.8% to crit. Of course, if your agility is higher… the bonus is even happier.

Tier Seven

The tier seven ability is really pretty useful, howbeit difficult to master. Wyvern sting is a 12 second sleep attack that can only be used outside of combat. When your enemy wakes up, they receive a bigger dot than serpent sting (at level 60 this is 600/12 secs as opposed to serpent for 555/15 or even improved serpent at 610/15). Like most other cc powers, wyvern’s sleep is interrupted by damage dealt.

Wyvern is on a two minute cooldown, so you can’t realistically expect to use it every single fight, much less more than once in a single fight (by feigning). The dot is also sometimes problematic. If you are using wyvern to extend the duration of your crowd control from a freezing trap, you’ll need to remember to hit your target with scorp before they hit the trap – or the dot will turn your potential 38 second field of containment into a 13 second one.

Of course, lay trap, wyvern, wait 12 secs, scorp, untarget so you don’t break the ice with auto-shot, feign, lay another trap means you can keep something out of combat for 64 seconds. So, while much more complicated than repeatedly sheeping something, this is potentially a lot more entertaining 😉

Especially if you realize that feign is only on a 30 second cooldown, so if you’re quick about it, you can probably throw a few more frost traps into the cycle once it’s started, and if you keep it up for very long, wyvern -will- get a chance to recharge.

This can be very mean in PvP if you want to play with your food, especially if stalling for reinforcements 😛