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WoW Hunter Guide: Beastmastery Guide

Updated Sat, Feb 23, 2008 by Messiah

How to play a Beast Master Hunter

Many people say that the class of hunter is WoW on easy-mode. Perhaps it is, Hunters are an all-around good class. They do decent damage, they get to wear mail armor (after level 40), and have a helpful pet sidekick. This class could be called the best of all worlds. Because of all these great abilities Hunters are arguably the easiest class to play and level. However, it is also amazing how hard it is to gear and play one well (er, ok, maybe just rare). Because playing a Hunter appears so easy, many players never experiment enough to fully understand the class. That's where this guide steps in.

Beast mastery is one of the talent trees available for this class. This tree takes the hunter's pet and turns him into a deadly weapon, feared by all enemies. It is widely believed that the beast master tree is the best tree for a hunter who is looking for the best talents while leveling. This tree allows your pet to become an excellent tank, allowing you to maximize your damage with your ranged weapon. One thing that many hunters don't realize is that this just happens to be the best tree for raid damage as well, due to the damage output from your pet and the increased attack speed. This tree can quickly move you up the raid DPS charts.

Talents

This tree is quite effective for a hunter who is leveling and for PvP. Your pet becomes a great tank, and it is hard for you to pull the aggro away from it. The 41 talent ability, The Beast Within, is very useful in PvP. The main draw for this talent is that you go into a ferocious rage and cannot be stopped unless killed.

Skills such as Endurance Training, Spirit Bond, Ferocious Inspiration, Catlike Reflexes, Serpent's Swiftness and The Beast Within are advantageous to both your pet and you. These skills reflect the bond that the Beast master hunter shares with his/her pet. In addition, Ferocious Inspiration not only helps you, but also increases the damage done by everyone in your party.

In addition to having talents that benefit both you and your pet, the Beast master tree provides many talents to increase the holding aggro and attack power of your pet.

A very typical Beast Master build is a 41/20/0 beast master / marksman build consisting of the following:

Beast Mastery Talents - 41 point(s)

  • Endurance Training - rank 5/5
  • Focused Fire - rank 2/2
  • Thick Hide - rank 3/3
  • Unleashed Fury - rank 5/5
  • Improved Mend Pet - rank 2/2
  • Ferocity - rank 5/5
  • Spirit Bond - rank 2/2
  • Intimidation - rank 1/1
  • Bestial Discipline - rank 1/2
  • Frenzy - rank 5/5
  • Ferocious Inspiration - rank 3/3
  • Bestial Wrath - rank 1/1
  • Serpent's Swiftness - rank 5/5
  • The Beast Within - rank 1/1

Marksmanship Talents - 20 point(s)

  • Lethal Shots - rank 5/5
  • Improved Hunter's Mark - rank 5/5
  • Go for the Throat - rank 2/2
  • Aimed Shot - rank 1/1
  • Rapid Killing - rank 2/2
  • Mortal Shots - rank 5/5

Read more about the different talents in the Skills and Talents List section of the hunter's guide.

Pets

Finding a pet is that fits with you is one of the most exciting challenges a hunter faces. Some prefer the quickness and high damage of cats, others may prefer a pet with prowling abilities, while others prefer a pet that tanks quite well. Whatever you choose, your pet can be one of your most valuable assets. It can hold an enemy off you, allowing you to get to safety or to ranged distance. You can use it to scout locations using the Eyes of the Beast skill. For the Beast master hunter, your pet is your other half. It is the ying to your yang. A Beast master hunter is not very effective without his/her animal sidekick.

As a Beast master hunter you will likely want your pet to be of the damage variety so that it does enough damage to hold aggro. This means picking up a Cat, Ravager, Raptor, Boar or some other higher damage pet. My favorite is a Ravager due to gore for general play or a Cat or Boar for PvP.

For more information on pets, see our Hunter Pet FAQ & Guide.

Basic Combat Techniques

Always remember, hunters of all specs are fully equipped with aggro-dropping or misdirecting spells. These can be powerful weapons in your arsenal. They enable you to stand back and shoot much easier. These spells include Disengage, Feign Death (FD) and of course misdirect. Feign death is your friend, remember it and use it.

The best technique for a hunter is to let someone else (ideally your pet if your solo or the tank if your grouped) take the hits while you just stand back and release deadly arrows or bullets into the target. Since the Beast master's pet specializes in holding aggression off of you, then the best technique is to let your pet attack first, while you damage the target from a safe distance. Once your pet or the tank has aggro you can start opening up with shots. If you are running a threat meter (such as Omen or KTM), then any time you get to 100% threat you should feign death to drop aggro. Then start DPSing again. If you are really over geared compared to your pet or the tank, then dropping a frost or freezing trap in front of you will help if you don't have FD up in time.

How to unleash shots is critical though, as just spamming normal shots will not do all that much. Your rotation depends on who and what you are fighting but a normal PvE rotation is as simple as marking the target, sending your faithful pet into attack, then putting up a serpent sting, and start using steady shot and kill command. Make sure that you wait until an auto shot has happened after a steady shot so that you maximize DPS, a simple delay macro can make a huge difference (check the macro section below). While you can mix in arcane shots and other shots, once combat begins, steady shot is your most mana efficient / damage efficient shot, so use it almost non-stop.

In PvE your shot rotation or priority changes drastically. Now you really need to mix in viper sting to drain mana on casters, concussion shot to stun players briefly, arcane shot to remove buffs and properly timed aimed shots to reduce healing done to the target. In short, in PvP combat it is not nearly so much about a rotation as about the right shot at the right time, and learning what to do takes a lot of time.

Trapping

Even though as a Beast Master you have a reduced need to trap (since when soloing your pet can take and survive quite a beating), you really need to learn to trap. It is critical to always have a trap of some sort out and ready to go. Trapping in general is described in our Hunter guide and won't be gone into in detail here. Just be aware of it and keep a trap ready.

A focus macro is handy when in combat so that you don't need to manually switch between targets to hit and re-trap the target. Check out all the macros in their own section below.

Gear

As opposed to a marksman hunter where attack power (AP) is your prime concern, agility is going to be the first stat you look for in terms of gear. Agility increases your attack power, your critical strike chance, and your armor. However it is even more important for a beast master hunter as it improves your pet as well. While AP gives more direct damage, it does nothing for your pet. Stamina is also useful, as it increases your health, and your stamina increases your pet's stamina as well. Other stats that will help a hunter are +Intelligence (increases your mana and your spell critical hit percent), +critical strike rating and +attack power. Remember as well, that your gear reflects on your pet. A beast master hunter will want to find the best possible gear to maximize the durability of the pet.

While stats will vary from player to player due to individual preferences, the following is a minimum that I would aim for before attempting to help with either heroics or the early bosses (pre Curator) in Karazhan.

Stat Heroic / Karazhan Min. Value (Unbuffed)
Health 7,000
Mana 5,000
Attack Power 1250

Critical Strike Chance

20%
To Hit 100

I have compiled a suggested gear list of items available pre-Heroic to get you close to those numbers. There are several pieces that are better, that could be added but are very difficult to get or create, but this list will get you ready for heroics and / or Karazhan and you can then fine tune with other gear to get raid ready. An excellent option once attuned to heroics is to collect the badges that drop from heroic bosses and the heroic daily quest to turn in for the amazing badge reward items. Several of the reward items are some of the best per slot items you can get short of the very hardest Burning Crusade raids.

Heroic Gear Prep List

Level 70 Pre-Heroic / Raid Gear Wish List
Slot Name Drop Location
Head
  • Beast Lord Helm
  • Stalker's Helmet of Second Site
  • The Calculator in Mechanar
  • Quest chain in Shadowmoon Valley
Neck
  • Necklace of the Deep
  • Jagged Bark Pendant
  • Crafted by Jewel Crafters
  • Warp Splinter in Botanica
Shoulders
  • Beast Lord Mantle
  • Towering Mantle of the Hunt
  • Warlord Kalithresh in Steamvaults
  • Commander Sorannis in Botanica
Chest
  • Beast Lord Cuirass
  • Laughing Skull Battle-Harness
  • Warp Splinter in Botanica
  • Temporus In Black Morass
Waist
  • Blessed Scale Girdle
  • Revered Reputation with the Sha'tar
Back
  • Cloak of Impulsiveness
  • Cloak of Malice
  • Lieutenant Drake in Old Hillsbrad
  • Grand Warlock Nethekurse Shattered Halls
Wrists
  • Auchenai Bracers
  • Quest Reward
Hands
  • Beast Lord Handguards
  • Gauntlets of Desolation
  • Warchief Kargath Bladefist in the Shattered Halls
  • Warchief Kargath Bladefist in the Shattered Halls
Finger 1
  • Naliko's Revenge
  • Quest Reward
Finger 2
  • Band of Anguish
  • Quest Reward
Legs
  • Beast Lord Leggings
  • Greaves of Desolation
  • Warlord Kalithresh in Steamvaults
  • Talon King Ikiss in Sethekk Halls
Feet
  • Outland Striders
  • Zereketh the Unbound in Arcatraz
Trinket 1
  • Abacus of Violent Odds
  • Pathaleon the Calculator in Mechanar
Trinket 2
  • Hourglass of the Unraveller
  • Temporus in the Black Morass
Weapon
  • Hellforged Halberd
  • Revered Reputation with Honor Hold
Ranged Weapon
  • Crystalline Crossbow
  • Exalted reputation with Ogri'la

Gems and Enchants

Gems and enchants will play an important part in getting you to the numbers you need be at to be of meaningful help in heroics.

Starting with the easier topic of gems. In general you should be putting +Agility gems into everything you can. Anything that has a socket bonus that is helpful, can have a mix of Agility, To Hit, To Crit and Attack Power.

Now onto the more difficult topic of enchants on your gear. Proper enchants can add a ton of stats to your already good gear.

Gear Enchants
Slot Bonus Notes / Source (if not from an enchanter)
Head +34 Attack Power, +16 To Hit (Glyph of Ferocity) Revered Reputation with Cenarion Expedition
Shoulders Aldor or Scryer Inscriptions Exalted with Aldor or Scryer
Chest +6 All Stats May sub with mana or health if you want
Back +12 Agility  
Wrists +24 Attack Power Can get +6 mana per 5 seconds if you need mana regen
Hands +15 Agility May sub with +26 Attack Power
Legs +50 Attack Power, +12 Critical Strike Chance (Nethercobra leg armor) Can go for the cobrahide version as its cheaper
Feet +12 Agility May sub for +10 hit if you need more hit instead of agility
Weapon

+35 Agility

May sub with +70 Attack Power

Ranged Weapon

+28 Critical Strike Chance (Stabilized Eternium Scope)

 


Consumables

There are several consumables that you should while going into any instance, and especially heroics or raids. They are:

Ammo - Kind of obvious, but nothing is more annoying than a hunter that runs out of ammo mid instance. Fill your bag before you join any group.

Kibbler's Bits - Raises your pets strength and spirit by 20 for 30 minutes.

Superior Mana Oil - Grants +20 mana per 5 seconds for 1 hour, this lets you keep up damage longer in fights.

Warp Burgers - Grants +20 Agility and Spirit for 30 minutes.

Spicy Hot Talbuk - Grants +20 Hit Rating for 30 minutes. Use this if you are low on hit rating as it will add allot more damage than agility.

Elixir of Major Agility - Increases your agility by 25 for 1 hour.

Elixir of Mageblood - Increases your mana regeneration by 16 mana per 5 seconds for 1 hour.

Super Mana and Healing Potions - Bring at least 10 of each, just in case...

Macros

There are several very common macros that every Hunter should use (assuming they haven't started already) to simplify their life. The most common are:

Focus Macro

Due to everything going on and having to switch targets often, it is very handy to have a set focus macro.You can either use this to either set focus on the enemy and switch back to them, or focus on the tank and assist them. Also, you should have the reverse macro so that you can pick up that target at any time.

/focus target

/target focus

Assist Focus

If you use your focus macro to set your focus on the tank or the groups main assist you can then use the following macro to switch targets to your focus and then assist them and attack their target.

/target focus
/assist target
/petattack
/cast auto shot

Distract and Trap

If you use your focus macro to set your focus on the target you want to keep trapped you can use this macro. Just place your trap first and then use your macro, you'll switch over, attack them pulling them into your trap, then switch back.

/target focus
/cast distracting shot
/stopcasting
/targetlasttarget
/autoattack

Mark and Attack

This simple macro can be made to replace your hunter's mark button so that you can mark and attack all at once.

/petattack
/cast Hunter’s Mark

Steady Shot Macro

If you sit and spam your steady shot attack you will end up clipping standard attacks, that is interrupting a normal attack sequence. To get around this, many beast master hunters combine your kill command pet attack with a steady shot macro that times the attacks for you. Many players will find a 5-10% dps increase by this simple timing.

/cast [exists,target=pettarget] Kill Command
/castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot


Things to Avoid

All specs of hunters should be careful with their pets. A pet on aggressive (and sometimes even on defensive) will wipe a group quicker than you can shout "INCOMING!" When in a tight area (such as found in dungeons), it is best to have your pet on passive, so that you can send the pet to attack only what you tell it to.

While a Beast master hunter's pet does hold aggro well, nothing replaces the aggro held by an actual player-tank (such as a warrior or paladin). Therefore, the Beast master hunter should ensure they turn off their pets taunt in a group, unless requested to do otherwise.

Be careful when using the Multi-shot and Volley abilities. These can cause damage to multiple targets and can draw aggro from more than one enemy. This can easily cause you to die quite quickly as the one you are targeting stays where it is, while his buddies come and beat you senseless.


For general Hunter questions, check out our Hunter's Guide.!

Questions? Comments? Email me (Messiah@tentonhammer.com) or post in our hunter forums!

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