Hunters were the absolute kings of single target DPS for the entire expansion of The Burning Crusade doing insane amounts of damage and absolutely outclassing anyone else other than a warlock that got some crazy crits or a warglaive warrior with full BIS gear.
There's almost no one that can contend with a hunter in single target situations but do they stay on top in Wrath of the Lich King? This is just going to be a complete guide for survival hunters.
We're starting with survival but we will also move into all of the other individual specs, it's just most likely that we will be using survival hunter in phase one until we get a little bit more armor penetration and move into marksman for the rest of the expansion.
Now, I don't necessarily want to get into tier lists or anything like that but hunters are basically A-tier throughout the entire expansion being one of the top contenders for DPS on multi-target fights as well as single target fights.
And something that is a massive change actually from Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King is that hunters will have some of the most insane AOE DPS on larger pulls so with that being said, strap up and let's dive right in.
The biggest change going into this expansion for hunters as a class is that we're no longer a rhythm-based class where our rotation completely changes as we get different haste ratings, different haste procs, anything like that. We kind of actually move on to a more priority-based class where we prioritize a couple different spells higher than other ones.
What I mean when I say we're no longer a rhythm-based class is that we cannot clip our auto shots anymore. This is huge. One of the biggest DPS losses in TBC would be actually from clipping your auto shots but now, even if you're casting a Steady Shot or a Multi-shot whatever it actually is, your auto shot will still go off of your ranged weapon timer.
Now we're starting today with survival because survival is the most fun of the specs in my opinion but also it is extremely strong early on in the game you'll probably use this spec from phase one all the way through halfway through Ulduar where you reach enough armor penetration to be able to switch to marksman for your single target DPS.
Pets have been completely revamped with their own talent trees and unique abilities for every different type of pet. Aspects are off GCD but they do share a cd with themselves so you can now actually aspect weave. This is very strong for long fights where you're running out of mana.
Aimed Shot now shares a CD with Multi-shot so whenever you're in a single target situation, you will use Aimed Shot which is also now an instant cast ability and back to Multi-shot if you're ever in some multi-target situations.
Traps also don't all have the same CDs now. They're actually broken into three different categories: fire, nature, and frost and these traps all have their own unique CD for their own category. So Immolation Trap and Explosive Trap have the same CD so on and so forth.
Tracking different mobs is no longer a completely useless thing. We actually do utilize tracking because it will give us 5% increased damage to that type of monster that we are tracking. And actually with the talent Improved Tracking, you don't necessarily need to be tracking the type of mob you're actually DPSing against like undeads most of the time in something like ICC or Naxx.
You can actually track anything within the Improved Tracking talent and you will get the buff for every other type of mob within that talent tree. So this is very useful if you don't want there to be clutter in your actual mini map.
Readiness is now a marksman talent; it's no longer in the survival tree. Misdirect changes to all threat from the first ability for the next four seconds instead of your next three shots; this is a lot more powerful and you can actually kind of snapshot it, so this is huge.
Tranquilizing Shot removes an enrage AND a magic effect so this is actually taking over the ability of Arcane Shot where we're using that to cleanse some random mobs. Nope, we can now use Tranq Shot for that.
And the last important change right now is that Kill Command is on a one minute CD it is no longer basically being spammed. Although a lot of people do actually have it macro’d into all of their abilities, so they're using it directly off of cooldown.
NEW & IMPORTANT ABILITIES
Now let's talk about the new abilities that hunters have. The most important one is Kill Shot. This is going to be your highest priority ability whenever you can use this. This is an execute phase ability.
The next most important new ability for survival hunters is Explosive Shot. This shot will actually be about 35 to 40ish percent of your damage. This is the next highest priority ability and you want it to be on CD at all times. It does instant damage whenever it hits the target and then it also adds a DOT for the next two seconds doing extra damage every one second.
Do note that this is fire damage and quite a bit of the damage from survival is actually going to be from some sort of spell damage. Next, we have Black Arrow; this is on a 26 second cooldown. It increases all damage taken by the target by 6% and it hits the target for a DOT over the next 15 seconds.
Black Arrow does share a CD with your traps so you will actually have to decide on using either black arrow in situations or using traps and we'll get into that when we get into the rotation.
Next up, we have Freezing Arrow which will allow us to actually shoot a target and drop a trap into the location we want it in. This can be very useful in that it can proc Lock and Load, which we'll get into, is a talent but it also is just really nice in both PVP and PVE situations, getting a freezing trap off into any sort of distance.
This of course does share a CD with Frost Trap. So Freezing Arrow, Freezing Trap and Frost Trap all share a CD with each other.
Next, we have Deterrence. A one and a half minute CD that increases your chance to parry by 100%, increases your chance to dodge any ranged attacks by a hundred percent and a hundred percent chance to deflect spells. This is on a one and a half minute CD but you cannot attack while you have Deterrence up so make sure you have a cancelaura for it if you are using it to dodge any specific abilities.
Next up, we have Disengage which is a 25 second CD that will jump your character backwards. This can be useful in an infinite amount of situations. This is a really strong mobility ability.
Then we've got Master's Call, a one minute CD, where your pet will actually choose a target and make them immune to any movement impairing effects for the next four seconds.
Then we have Call Stabled Pet on a five minute CD where you can actually call any of your pets that are in the stables without having to go to a Stable Master and grab your pets from there. This is very useful if you use it to min max, I will get into that during the rotation and opener situation.
Then we have Aspect of the Dragonhawk. This is going to be your primary aspect; it is a stronger version of Aspect of the Hawk and it also gives you a stronger version of Aspect of the Monkey all in one.
And Aspect of the Viper will give you your actual mana back but do note that your damage output is reduced by 50% while you have Aspect of the Viper on.
Lastly, your Volley ability is no longer a completely useless AOE ability but it will cause damage to all targets within an 8-yard range and these arrows can crit. This is actually one of the most powerful AOE abilities in the entire game in Wrath of the Lich King.
LOCK AND LOAD
Now before I even get into talents, I do want to mention one in particular, Lock and Load, which can proc off of Freezing Traps, Freezing Arrow, Frost Traps, as well as ticks of Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap and Black Arrows.
And this will cause your next two Explosive Shots to trigger no CD, so there will be instant cast. You want to try to have this be proccing as often as possible so you can almost be spamming an Explosive Shot but when it does proc, it doesn't clear the CD of your current Explosive Shot.
And also when you have instant cast Explosive Shots, you want to make sure that you are not clipping the end of the Explosive Shot’s actual DOT. So make sure that you're tracking that, I will have WeakAuras set up for hunters very soon as soon as the beta comes out.
Survival does excel with instant cast abilities for mobile fights but one thing that actually does increase your DPS when you do not have to move at all is this buff here called Sniper Training.
So this talent increases your crit chance of Kill Shot by 15% and when you're ever standing still for six seconds or more, you do gain the buff of Sniper Training which increases the damage done of your Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, Black Arrow and Explosive Shot by 6% for 15 seconds.
So you can actually time out moving to make sure that you keep this buff. You just need to stop moving whenever the buff is up to six seconds left, so that you make sure you maintain it throughout an entire encounter.
Survival hunters also bring the raid buff, Replenishment, which also can come from a frost mage, ret paladin, shadow priest or destro lock. But it gives people 1% of their mana back every 5 seconds for 15 seconds.
As for pets, you are always going to be using a wolf pet and your talents are going to be as follows in the background, make sure that you have Call of the Wild, this is going to be a very useful CD but the best or optimal talents are what you're seeing on the screen right now.
You're almost exclusively going to be using wolf pets because they come with Furious Howl which gives you and the wolf 320 ranged and melee attack power for the next 20 seconds on a 40 second CD.
The general talents you're going to use as survival are what you're seeing in the background as well. One other thing to note is that this talent tree also only gives one point into Exposed Weakness. This is specifically because if you have crit cap, you won't need any more points to have a hundred percent uptime but early on in the expansion, you actually do need at least two points in Exposed Weakness to make sure you have 100% uptime of this debuff.
The glyphs we're using at survival are generally Explosive Shot which gives 4% extra crit chance to Explosive Shot. Kill Shot which reduces the CD of kill shot by 6 seconds, which is huge during execute phases and Serpent Sting which increases the duration of Serpent Sting by 6 seconds.
The two other glyphs you can generally look at are Steady Shot and Explosive Trap. Explosive Trap would be utilized most often in AOE situations. And also you might be glyphing into Explosive Trap more often if you're a trap and melee weaving because it makes all of the ticks of your Explosive Trap able to crit, and this is actually going to be pretty huge for overall damage throughout a raid. So I would highly suggest speed runners or anything like that using Glyph of Explosive Trap.
As for your minor glyphs, you can choose for yourself. Usually, we use Mend Pet, Feign Death and Revive Pet.
Now let's look at what the best races are for hunters in Wrath of the Lich King.
Orc is extremely powerful for Horde because you get Blood Fury, a two minute CD, basically an extra free trinket. Orcs also get Command which increases the damage dealt by pets by 5% but pets don't do nearly as much damage in this expansion as they did in The Burning Crusade so this is less impactful.
Next are Trolls which get Berserking, which is their version of a cooldown. It gives you 20% attack speed for 10 seconds on a three minute CD, so it is five seconds shorter than Blood Fury and also one minute longer of a cooldown. They also get Beast Slaying which gives them a 5% damage increase to beasts.
You rarely fight beasts in this game, especially in ICC and also in Naxx, so it's not the biggest damage increase. They also do get Bow Specialization which gives them 1% crit to bows.
For Alliance, Draeneis get Heroic Presence which gives them 1% hit for their party. This is not raid-wide; this is party-wide. This is actually pretty important to note but it does mean that on the Alliance side, you can gear for 1% less hit which is really nice for survival specifically because you don't have as many hit talents as you would in marksman.
Night Elves get Shadowmeld which could be a really useful ability at 2 minute CD, almost like Vanish, but it doesn't drop threat. But this could be really useful in different fight encounters. Something like using Feign Death currently to stop a cast being cast on you so you could actually use Shadowmeld really fast then cancelaura or just go back into your normal rotation.
And potentially a boss or mob might de-target you and de-aggro you with whatever ability they were casting on you. Night Elves do also get slightly higher base agility so they technically have the highest agility in the game.
And Dwarves get both Gun Specialization which gives you 1% crit to your guns, and Stoneform which removes all poisons, diseases and bleed effects on you and increases your armor by 10% for 8 seconds on a 2 minute CD. This is also another very niche ability where some fights; it actually can save you or make sure that you actually kind of cheese different abilities from bosses but it's not really all that often that you get to use this.
You can choose to go with any of these races, whatever you actually prefer, but I generally tend to lean towards Orc for Horde because having a two minute CD of an extra trinket is very powerful and it lines up with a lot of other cooldowns as well as a three minute CD might only get one usage on most boss fights and also, haste is actually the least powerful stat for hunters in this entire expansion.
As for Alliance, I would tend to go with Draenei for the one percent hit for yourself and your party but if not, I would personally go with Night Elf because I could see some really niche uses of Shadowmeld in a lot of encounters that might actually help you min max a little bit more.
Now for gearing and stats, what are your most important stats? Well, as any class in the game, hit is obviously the most important set up to hit cap which is going to be 8% or 263 hit rating. That is the first thing you're going to want to max out. It's also 7% for Alliance like I mentioned because of the Draenei racial.
The next highest stat priority is going to be agility. Agility is massively important for all hunters but especially so for your actual survival hunters. Then you want to get crit up to 60% unbuffed. Crit at 60% unbuffed allows you to put only one point into Exposed Weakness and have a hundred percent uptime when raid buffed.
Then you go into attack power and then we have armor penetration which is less vital to survival hunters because we actually use a lot of magical damage like I mentioned earlier. But auto shot, Aimed Shot, Steady Shot, and melee abilities are actually going to gain damage from armor penetration. Later on, you'll move into marksman when you get more armor penetration.
And then haste is basically a stat that you almost want to avoid. This is by far your least important stat for both survival and marksman so don't look to get any haste on any gear if you can avoid it.
Now let's look at your rotation. Well, like I mentioned earlier, it's kind of a priority-based rotation where the most important thing is to use the most important ability first and then move down the list. That's always going to be Kill Shot whenever you're lower in the execute phase so at any time below 20 percent.
And then it's always going to be an Explosive Shot next. Following Explosive Shot, you want to make sure you keep up Serpent Sting on the target because it also buffs your damage from the Noxious Stings talent.
Then you're going to use either Black Arrow or traps depending on if you're using Black Arrow or traps in that situation, if you're trap weaving or if you're just sitting back and shooting.
Then Aimed Shot is next and then Steady Shot is your filler. So outside of execute phase, which is most of the time when you're fighting things, it is going to be Explosive Shot, Serpent Sting, Black Arrow, Aimed Shot into Steady Shot. As well as make sure that at all times Hunter's Mark is up on the target.
Now moving into Wrath of the Lich King, one thing that's going to feel a little bit weird is that Steady Shot is the lowest priority of your abilities. And if you're actually going to be getting up Explosive Shot, you want to keep this on CD at all times.
So there are times where you could actually Steady Shot but instead of using a Steady Shot, because your Explosive Shot would be off CD halfway through that Steady Shot, you literally just wait. This is very awkward at first but you never want Explosive Shot to be off of CD.
You are always using it the second it is off of cooldown and keeping it up. The only time you are not spamming Explosive Shot is when you have Lock and Load procs where you will use Explosive Shot and then fill in between with another instant cast and then get another Explosive Shot out right at the end of your first DOT of Explosive Shot then fill again with another instant cast if you have one, so that would be Explosive Shot, Black Arrow, Explosive Shot, Aimed Shot, Explosive Shot.
Then your multi-target rotation is going to be the exact same as single target rotations except for you are rotating in Multi-shot instead of Aimed Shot as often as you can. This is up to around four targets. You also want to prioritize making sure you have Explosive Trap down, especially if you have the Glyph of Explosive Trap where it can be critting as it's ticking on the ground.
Anything above four targets, you want to get Explosive Trap down, use your Sapper if you have it and then just be chaining Volley. Volley is, again, ridiculously powerful and it can crit. You will see your DPS shoot up like crazy.
Now that we know our rotation and priority, what does an opener actually look like? In an ideal world, you can get a pre-trap down before fighting a boss but if you can't, don't really worry about that. Just make sure you have Misdirect up as you're starting the encounter.
Before you pull, there's actually two cheeky things you can do to increase your DPS. You can use Call of the Wild and Furious Howl on your pet and then use Call Stabled Pet to summon out a new pet, basically, your main pet for the encounter and you will have those abilities off cooldown definitely a very min max thing to do but you want to have two wolves up so you can get both of those buffs on yourself and then swap pets to start the fight with a little bit extra damage.
You're also going to want to pre-pop a potion during this time because your potion will then be on CD before you actually start the encounter which means you can then use a second potion later in the fight instead of being stuck just using one.
From there, you're going to start using your CDs which would be a macro that procs Rapid Fire, Blood Fury, Kill Command, use 10 which is going to be your glove enchant, the haste enchant on your gloves and any trinkets you also have.
I would suggest holding off on using Call of the Wild in this sort of a macro, your opener macro, because you can then just chain call the wild as soon as it starts falling off of yourself. Also this would mean that you are holding off on Furious Howl right at the very beginning of the fight until that is falling off as well.
Then with your CDs up, you go into your opener rotation. Explosive Shot, Serpent Sting, Black Arrow, Aimed Shot into Steady Shots unless you got lucky and procced a Lock and Load with your Black Arrow, in which case, you are getting off some Explosive Shots, again, making sure just not to clip the DOT on them at the end.
MELEE / TRAP WEAVING
Now one thing that is extremely powerful in TBC and can be extremely powerful also in Wrath of the Lich King is melee weaving. But if you are actually melee weaving in Wrath of the Lich King, you also want to make sure that you're actually trap weaving, dropping things like Immolation Trap or Explosive Trap or also Frost Trap or even snake trap so that you can get procs of Lock and Load.
But melee weaving should be an extremely powerful play style and trap weaving while you melee weave is the way to utilize it and if this is the case, you will actually utilize traps over using Black Arrow.
And lastly, I want to mention aspect weaving. Aspects are off of the GCD, which if you're having a longer fight and you're struggling on mana, you can have a macro like this which you can utilize to weave in when you're doing Steady Shot specifically.
Only do this while you're doing Steady Shot and make sure you're always back in Aspect of the Dragonhawk when you're doing a bigger ability like Explosive Shot, Kill Shot, Black Arrow or Aimed Shot.
Now that you know your rotation, what are the most important professions and consumables for you to have? Now the most important profession for almost every class throughout the expansions of any version of classic is almost always going to be engineering.
In Wrath of the Lich King, engineering actually adds another trinket CD that gives you 340 haste for 12 seconds on your gloves so you're going to be popping this every single minute you can have it macro’d into your Kill Command because those are both off of a one minute CD.
You also get Flexweave to cloak which gives you 23 agility on your cloak, as well as a parachute. This is really useful especially in PVP situations where you could actually macro in your Disengage and your parachute cloak. And you also get a rocket boots enchant on all of your boots so you don't have to swap your boots.
This is absolutely vital for any version of a speed running or serious guild. Almost every single class will have to go engineering in Wrath of the Lich King. The two professions that are kind of fighting for the second spot are either jewelcrafting and tailoring where tailoring gives you Swordguard Embroidery cloak enchant and jewelcrafting gives you extra gems: a 34 hit gem and two 34 agility gems.
Now with Greater Blessing of Kings, jewelcrafting stat bonuses actually equals more attack power gain than Swordguard Embroidery, so I would personally suggest going with jewelcrafting.
As for consumables, we have the Blackened Dragonfin which is 40 agility and 40 stamina. This is a self food buff but also a lot of people will use Fish Feasts so that their entire raid can get a food buff which gives you 80 attack power and 40 stamina. Using the Blackened Dragonfin is actually stronger for you, so I would always suggest using your own food.
Then for potions, we have Potion of Speed as well as Wild Magic which Wild Magic might actually come out on top especially for marksman later when you swap over. But for now, it is suggested that you use Potion of Speed so pre-pop this before every encounter to make sure that you can use it again as your CDs come up later.
As for flasks, you're just straight up going to go with Endless Rage, 180 attack power.
Now last off, let's look at some useful macros for you guys. You can have a cooldown macro that has Rapid Fire, Blood Fury or whatever your racial is, your trinkets, Kill Command, /use 10 which again is going to be your actual gloves, and also Call of the Wild on it.
You don't need to have everything on here but you can have one big pump macro. You have some melee weave macros which will cast Raptor Strike as well as drop a trap in the same time. This can make it so you don't have to press two different abilities whenever you're melee weaving.
There's two Master’s Call macros; one for mouseover that you can use in more PVP situations or anything like that and also one that will just make sure that it casts a Master's Call on yourself if you are ever stuck in any sort of movement impairing effect, you can just use this ability and you no longer have to worry about being slowed.
A Freezing Arrow macro, I would suggest getting a Freezing Arrow macro that does @cursor so you don't have to click.
Also, this is really useful for Volley so you don't have to click a second time when using Volley or any other abilities which you also might accidentally click on a mob which would cancel the cast.
Then there's a disengage macro where it also uses that parachute cloak like I mentioned earlier. I would suggest having a cancelaura macro for Deterrence because you can't cast or attack while you have Deterrence up. You can also macro and just cancelaura Blessing of Protection just in case someone were to BOP you and you Deterrence at the same time and you can get back to DPSing.
I use a Call of the Wild macro just because I like being able to use it on its own without my pet trying to do it. And you will need to use this if you are doing the pet switching at the beginning of a fight like I mentioned earlier.
Also, this aspect dance macro will allow you to just keep pressing the one same ability to either switch between Aspect of the Dragonhawk or Aspect of the Viper. Now you're definitely going to want an MD macro which Misdirects to your focus target for your tanks so you never have to switch off of targeting the boss.
Also, if you use this macro, it will actually Misdirect to your pet if you don't have a focus target, so that's very useful. Or it can actually Misdirect to the target that you're looking at.
An all-in-one pet macro that will call your pet, mend your pet, revive your pet, any of those abilities, all in one whichever one happens. If your pet is dead, it'll revive it. If your pet is low on HP, it'll heal it and if your pet isn't even out right now, it'll call it. I love this macro, it's very useful.
Then lastly, you're really going to want to make sure you have a pet attack macro and a pet follow macro so you can send your pet into any sort of boss fight or situation and then call your pet back if it's gone die to any sort of AOE or other abilities, so it's very useful to always be able to call your pet back and that is with a pet follow macro.
Anyways, guys, those are everything I can think about for min maxing and knowing everything you basically need to know about survival hunters in Wrath of the Lich King. I know this is a little bit longer of a guide but I really wanted to give you all of the information possible.
If you want to see the guides for any other classes or any other specs, make sure to of course like and subscribe to the channel and let me know either in the Discord channel, in the comments or on the Twitch chat what actual specs or classes you want to see a guide for next.
Good luck min maxing out there and enjoy playing hunter, guys.