***The information contained in this guide is currently out of date.
Please check out our Hunter Guide
for more up to date information concerning your Hunter needs!***
Survival is one of the most popular specs for Hunters looking to do
some serious raiding and some serious damage. Even if you
didn’t choose Survival because of it’s popularity,
you still chose it as the spec for you, and like most other World of
Warcraft players you want to be the best possible Survival Hunter you
Playing a Hunter of any spec can be a ton of fun, but despite what most
people think there is a lot more to Hunter’s than simply
pressing one button or face rolling on the keyboard. This guide will
attempt to extend a helping hand and walk you through the basics of
playing a Survival Hunter allowing you to steer firmly clear of Huntard
Survival Hunters, like their Beastmaster and Marksmen brothers, are
firmly entrenched in ranged DPS and as such will be expected to provide
their group with high end DPS. To achieve this DPS Hunters use a series
of shots (usually in some sort of rotation) which cost mana, have
various cool downs, and various affects. While pushing out the most DPS
possible Hunters are also expected to watch their aggro as pulling off
the tank could mean game over for the entire raid. To help them on the
way Blizzard has provided Hunters with Feign Death which causes the
Hunter to appear dead and allows the Hunter to drop all aggro, and
Misdirection which should not only be used at the beginning of boss
fights to help the tank gain aggro, but will also help divert aggro
from the Hunter back onto the appropriate target.
Besides worrying about their shot rotation and not pulling aggro
Survival Hunters like all other Hunters need to be aware of their pet.
Pets can be a huge advantage to any Hunter, but if mismanaged they can
easily become a liability. The Hunter will be expected to know how and
when (and when not to) use their pets against the various mobs that
will be encountered. They will also be expected to be aware of their
pets, and to be sure to keep them from pulling at random. Hunters
should expect to select a pet that will benefit the raid in some way,
even if another pet is more appealing.
While almost never used in a raiding situation, during 5 mans, Hunters
may be asked to make use of their ability to trap or kite. Trapping and
Kiting take some finesse and practice to learn, but once learnt can be
invaluable to a group. A skilled Hunter of any spec should be
able to keep a target crowd controlled for any amount of time. Survival
Hunters have the advantage of Scatter Shot here, which will delay a mob
long enough for your trap cool down to come back up.
While Hunters do have the disadvantage of having to remain at a slight
ranged distance to do any real damage, they can still manage to top the
DPS meters if played correctly.
Stats and Bonuses
Your first and foremost goal as a Survival Hunter should be to reach
the hit cap. Currently the hit cap for Hunters is set at 8% or 263 hit
rating. Less hit is needed depending on how many points you have in
Focused Aim. Below is the amount of hit needed for each point in
0/3 Focused Aim - 8% or 263 Hit Rating
1/3 Focused Aim - 7% or 229 Hit Rating
2/3 Focused Aim - 6% or 197 Hit Rating
3/3 Focused Aim - 5% or 164 Hit Rating
If you have the luxury of constantly being in a group with a Draenei
you can subtract another 1% from your needed hit. It should be noted
that if you are far below the hit cap it is a far better idea to break
down and spec into Focused Aim than to try to gem for the needed hit.
Survival Hunters, like Marksmen Hunters also want to reach the hit cap
in order to bring their Steady Shot cast time down to the Global Cool
Down. This will help your reach your full DPS potential. To reach this
goal the Hunter will need to have at least 522.7 haste rating, unless
specced into Improved Aspect of the Hawk. While Hunters tend to use
Steady Shot much less now it is still a much needed filler shot. Once
Steady Shot reaches the GCD the Hunter will be able to fit more
Explosive Shots into their shot rotation, further improving their DPS.
This should be fairly easy to reach, but until you do your DPS will be
lacking. Missing your target is never a good thing.
Agility is probably one of the best stats to stack as a Survival
Hunter. Not only do Survival Hunters gain extra bonuses from Hunting
Party and Lightning Reflexes, but with every critical strike Expose
Weakness will proc, converting all that extra agility into attack power
letting you go into a DPSing frenzy. While Agility is no
longer quite the coveted Survival stat it used to be thanks to the nerf
to Expose Weakness (no longer affects the entire raid), Survival
Hunters should still value Agility slightly higher than most other
Crit is probably the next most important stat, and if you read the
previous paragraph closely you will already know why. To make the best
use of the Survival Hunter’s proc on crit talents (such as
Expose Weakness) Survival Hunters should ideally have 30% hit, but the
more the better. You can’t really go wrong with this stat.
While Survival Hunters do need sufficient amounts of Attack Power to do
any real DPS, a rather large portion of that Attack Power should and
will come from your Agility. That being said, never sacrifice a large
amount of Attack Power for a small amount of Agility; it’s
simply not worth it.
While Intellect on Hunter gear may seem unimportant and simply a way to
be able to tell Hunter and Rogue gear apart, I can assure you that is
simply not the case. Survival Hunter’s Careful Aim (with 3
talent points) gives 1 Attack Power for every Intellect, and a larger
mana pool means a higher return from the Replenishment Buff from
Hunting Party. Not to mention a larger mana pool leads to fewer mana
problems while raiding. Like it or not, Intellect on mail gear is not
just for Shamans anymore.
As a Survival Hunter you will need to dump most of your points into the
Survival tree (duh). One of the most common specs is 0-15-56,
with some slight variations from Hutner to Hunter. Killer Instincts,
Master Tactician and Thrill of the Hunt are all must haves without
question for the Survival Tree. Here are some other prime choices from
the Survival Tree:
Lock and Load - Since Explosive Shot is the Survival Hunters damage
mega bomb so to speak, this is an excellent talent to pick up, as when
it procs it causes your next two Explosive Shots to trigger no cool
down, cost no mana, and consume no ammo. Obviously when Lock and Load
procs Explosive Shot should be spammed until the proc is gone, but try
not to cancel out the last tick of the Explosive Shot effect with a new
Expose Weakness - As talked about earlier this ability has recently
been nerfed and is no longer raid wide, but still is a valuable talent.
Activated by your crits, Expose Weakness will increase your Attack
Power by 25% of your Agility for 7 seconds. Three points in this talent
gives you a 100% chance to proc this ability, however if you stack
enough crit you may be able to drop to two or even one talent point(s).
- There is no reason
why every single Survival Hunter should not have all five points into
this talent as with each point it increases your Agility. Agility still
remains one of the most important, if not most important stat for a
Survival Hunter, and any boost to that is just icing on the cake.
- Second only to Kill
Shot, Explosive Shot is another one of those must haves for Survival
- This talent provides
two benefits:, it increases your total Agility and also provides mana
regeneration for 10 of your party/raid members. While a great talent,
most Hunters will only drop two points into it instead of three.
Not all of your points will be going into the Survival tree, as there
are some mandatory talents in the Marksmen tree that every Survival
Hunter needs including Lethal Shots, Careful Aim, Mortal Shots, and at
least 1 point in Go for the Throat. Improved Aspect of the Hawk from
the Beastmastery tree is also an option for those Hunters looking for a
talent to reduce the Haste they need to get Steady Shot to the GCD.
have eight aspects that they can use, with only one aspect
being able to be active at one time. The aspects currently available to
Hunters are: Aspect of the Monkey, Hawk, Cheetah, Beast, Pack, Wild,
Viper, and Dragonhawk. You may be thinking how will I ever know when to
use each of these Aspects, but don’t fret as you will only
have to worry about two of them in a normal raiding situation: Aspect
of the Dragonhawk, and Aspect of the Viper.
Aspect of the Dragonhawk increases your ranged attack and chance to
dodge. You will be in this Aspect most of the time, only coming out to
use Aspect of the Viper when you are low on mana. Aspect of the Viper
regenerates mana back each time the Hunter uses a ranged attack and is
equal to twice the base speed of the Hunter’s weapon. As soon
as you have gained a reasonable amount of mana back you
should quickly switch back to Dragonhawk and continue to DPS
Now that you know what stats are best for you, have your talent build
picked out, and are in the correct Aspect, you are ready to set out and
try your hand at DPS. But what shot rotation should you use? Does it
As a Survival Hunter your shot rotation will be based off a priority
list. Each time a GCD comes up, attempt to fire the ability nearest to
the top of the list, however, mana cost should also be taken into
account as the more mana you use, the more time you will spend in
Aspect of the Viper. The list is as follows:
The only time this shot rotation will vary is when Lock and Load procs,
in which case you will spam Explosive Shot, allowing all DoTs
to tick before the next is applied. So for maximum damage your shot
rotation during Lock and Load will look something like this:
Explosive Shot - 0.5 seconds - Explosive Shot - 0.5 seconds - Explosive
However if you have a lag issue, or simply don’t want to
worry about the timing this rotation can be used with only slightly
less damage resulting in:
Explosive Shot - Serpent Sting or Black Arrow - Explosive Shot
Once Lock and Load fades your shot rotation should return to the normal
Commonly used Major Glyphs for Survival Hunters are:
Glyph of Explosive Shot
Glyph of Serpent Sting
Glyph of Kill Shot
Glyph of Steady Shot
The Minor Glyphs currently available to Hunters are rather poor,
however there are some that are not entirely useless including:
Glyph of Mend Pet
Glyph of Revive Pet
Glyph of Feign Death
Pets are for any Hunter a vital part of their class, and with the right
pet that is used correctly they can vastly increase the
Hunter’s damage and usefulness. Currently there are several
Pets that are viable for raiding:
Furious Howl which boosts the Hunter and Pet’s Attack Power.
Considered to be the pet with the most damage.
- Has a Sting ability that deals damage and reduces the
target’s armor. Does not stack with other similar debuffs,
but if you have no one in the raid doing an armor reducing rebuff this
pet could provide that extra DPS booster.
- Has a Rake ability, which puts a bleed dot on the target. While
the Wolf and Wasp are probably better choices this is an option for
those who dislike both.
All three of these pets are in the Ferocity class, which means they all
provide Call of the Wild. While it no longer is raid wide, it can still
provide a damage boost for the Hunter, especially when timed with
Once you have picked out your pet you must set to the task to learn to
control that pet. This means turning growl off unless your pet is
actually supposed to tanking, keeping your pet off aggressive so that
it doesn’t pull random mobs, and being sure that your pet is
attacking when it’s supposed to be. A good Hunter will make
their pet seem like an extension of themselves.
All Hunters have five different traps. Some are crowd control, while
others can be used to do damage. All traps are instant cast and have a
30 second cool down and as of patch 3.2 now stay active for 30 seconds.
Traps have three separate cool down categories: Fire (Immolation,
Explosive, and Black Arrow), Frost (Freezing, Frost) and Nature (Snake
Trap). Only one trap from each category can be active at any one time.
As a Survival Hunter you will be using Black Arrow in your rotation, so
using any of the other traps in the Fire category will put your Black
Arrow on cool down, possibly costing you valuable DPS and therefore
should not be used. Survival Hunters can use all other categories of
trap with impunity.
asked for in 5 mans and rarely if ever asked for in raids,
Hunters can be very efficient at crowd control. To do this effectively
the Hunter should lay a Frost Trap just before the pull, standing
behind the Trap the Hunter should shoot the mob they are to crowd
control as the pull is made. When the mob steps on the trap it will
become frozen in a block of ice. If the mob needs to be kept crowd
controlled for an extended period of time the Hunter simply moves a
little distance away and lays another Frost Trap as soon as the cool
down is up. Once unfrozen the mob should run at the Hunter again, and
become frozen in the next Frost Trap. Repeat until the mob is ready to
In some cases due to AoE damage, or bad luck, the frozen mob may find
it’s way out of your trap before your next cool down is up.
Don’t panic! Scatter Shot the mob, so it becomes confused for
4 seconds, move a little ways back and lay your next Frost Trap as soon
as possible. If things go well you will have your Frost Trap down well
before the mob reaches you.
ability to keep a mob (or other player)
at a distance, while
pulling it along in the direction desired by the player is perhaps one
of the hardest Hunter skills to learn. While no longer as important as
it once was it is still something that every Hunter should know and
learn. Some tips for kiting are:
- Be sure to gain enough threat initially on the mob
- Use all slowing effects available to you (Frost Trap, Concussive
Shot, Scatter Shot etc)
- Use Aspect of the Cheetah depending on your confidence level.
Rememeber, while this lets you run faster, one hit and you will become
-When in a pinch let your pet take over
-Outside of an instance mobs will return to their spawn area if they
are kited too far without taking damage
-Be prepared to Feign Death to allow the tank to pick up the mob
These are just a few of the tactics employed by kiting Hunters. This
skill is something that is learned through real trial and error by each
individual Hunter rather than any definitive strategy. So if you kite
and fail, try, try again. Eventually you will proudly be able to say
you have mastered the fine art of kiting.
You will find while playing a Hunter that you will be the butt of many
jokes, even if you happen to be an excellent player. You may even have
people shy away from taking you in groups simply because you are a
Hunter. This is because there have been many Huntards before you, and
others still out there that are so full of epic fail that it has
possibly forever tainted the Hunter class. To get an idea of what you
should avoid doing to prevent yourself from being labeled a Huntard and
for a good laugh, visit my How
to be a Huntard in 10 Easy Steps article.