Thinking about starting a hunter..? Maybe you’re considering a race change for an existing hunter?
Want to know which race is the best option for your hunter..?
Well, hopefully this guide will help you decide.
First off… I’ve never really considered myself much of a role-player type, but I think that a player’s choice of race should depend largely upon which race they ‘like’ best. I’m talking about the ‘feel’ of the class… the look, the emotes, the animations, the lore, etc… These are all very important, because after all… you’ll be the one playing this character for countless hours, so you may as well pick a race you’re fond of.
Obviously, faction is just as important as the choice of look and feel, if not more so. Do you want to fight for the Alliance or for the Horde..?
That said, if you’re just trying to decide which races are ‘the best’, then here’s a handy guide that can help you choose which race is best for your hunter, based upon which racial traits are going to help your hunter the most. To keep things simple, I’m mainly focusing on PvE and PvP. I figure anyone looking for ‘the best choice’ is doing so for raiding or PvP, however, if you are looking for the best ‘gathering’ hunters, then I can tell you that Worgen and Tauren are the best.
Alliance Hunter Races
Currently, Gnomes are the only race excluded from the hunter class. This is a bummer for those of you who have an affinity for the brainy little people, because unless you want to farm for Burgy’s hat, there’s no way to permanently run around Azeroth as a Gnome Hunter.
At any rate… let’s have a look at which Alliance races are available to hunters and what sort of racial abilities they bring to the table.
By the way… All racial traits are listed — the important ones noted in bold, with the deciding factors tool-tipped as well.
- Gemcutting – Jewelcrafting skill increased by 10. If you plan to be a JC, then this is nice while leveling. Apart from that… not a racial that should tip the scales in favor of Draenei for your hunter.
- Gift of the Naaru – Heal yourself or a friendly target for 20% of the target’s health, over a 15 second period (3 second ticks). This ability scales based on level, crit, haste and applied buffs that increase healing (e.g., Spirit Bond). A pretty handy ability for all-around play.
- Heroic Presence – This racial gives Draenei a passive +1% increased chance to hit. Because of the added 1% hit, Draenei only have to shoot for 4% and 7% hit caps (4% for PvP / 7% for PvE), allowing them to boost other DPS stats such as crit, haste or mastery. If your gear is optimized correctly, Heroic Presence results in a direct boost to damage.
- Shadow Resistance – Passive resistance to harmful Shadow damage spells. Reduces shadow damage taken at level 85 by 12.64%. Like the other racial resists, the Draenei’s Shadow Resistance does not stack with similar resistance buffs, i.e., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, etc.
- Explorer – Dwarves find more loot at digsites and can survey faster. Cool if you’re into Archaeology.
- Frost resistance – Increased resistance against frost damage. Reduces frost damage taken at level 85 by 12.64%. Like the other racial resists, the Dwarf’s Frost Resistance does not stack with similar resistance buffs, i.e., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, etc.
- Gun Specialization – +1% increased critical strike chance with guns. A great hunter racial… as long as you’re using a gun.
- Mace specialization – Increased expertise with 1h and 2h maces. Totally useless for hunters, as expertise does not apply to us whatsoever, and even if it did… we can’t use maces anyway.
- Stoneform – Removes bleed, poison and disease effects. Also lowers damage taken by 10% for 8 seconds. Excellent talent for removing DoTs, slows and reducing incoming damage — especially in PvP.
- Diplomacy - Reputation gains increased by 10%. A nice perk which enables humans to earn reputation rewards quicker than other races. Also stacks with Mr. Popularity. This talent won’t make your hunter any better, but it will increase the rate at which you earn titles and rewards.
- Every Man for Himself - Break out of all effects that cause loss of control of your character, i.e., stuns, snares, roots, fear, charm, etc… a PvP trinket racial. This effect has a 2 minute cooldown, which it shares with other similar effects. This ability acts just the same as a PvP trinket, which means Human PvP Hunters can enjoy the added benefit of using two DPS trinkets for PvP play – rather than one + a PvP trinket.
- Sword & Mace Specialization – Increased expertise with swords and axes. Expertise does not apply to hunters, so this racial is a throw-away.
- The Human Spirit – Spirit increased by 3%. Pretty so-so for hunters, but adds a teensy bit of added health regen while out of combat. Still… definitely not a reason to roll a Human hunter.
- Nature Resistance - Increased resistance against nature damage. Reduces nature damage taken at level 85 by 12.64%. Like the other racial resists, the Night Elf’s Nature Resistance does not stack with similar resistance buffs, i.e., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, etc.
- Quickness – Reduces the chance that melee and ranged attacks will hit you by 2%. Awesome all-around talent, but especially for PvP.
- Shadowmeld – Allows stealth while standing still. A handy talent for avoiding patrolling mobs, but mostly a great ability for PvP. It causes your target to drop you and also acts as a cast-interrupt. 2 minute cooldown.
- Wisp Spirit – 75% increased speed while a ghost, as opposed to 50%. This makes corpse runs a little faster and also allows ghost flight-form in certain areas where it’s not usually permitted. A minor luxury, but not something to make one choose to roll NE Hunter.
- Aberration – Increased resistance to nature and shadow damage. Worgen enjoy resistance to two schools of magic – where as other classes only get one. The trade-off is that it’s slightly less, but it’s still better, in my opinion. Approximately 10% reduced damage at level 85 for both nature and shadow damage, as opposed to the 12.64% to one school that the other races get.
- Darkflight -Increased movement speed by 40% for 10 seconds, with a 2 minute cooldown. This is a great all-around talent. It’s great for pursuing enemies in PvP -or- for escaping them. Also, it gives you a little added giddy-up when leveling, and it allows for quicker movement and better positioning during dungeon encounters. Speed boosts are great for anything.
- Flayer – Increases skinning skill points by 15, and allows for faster skinning. This is nice for attaining the Master of Anatomy bonuses quicker while leveling, plus it speeds up leather farming. A nice added perk.
- Running Wild – Worgen have no need for a mount… they become the mount. Mostly just an amusing animation. Some players may really like it, while others may not.
- Two forms – Transform between human and Worgen. A seldom-used cosmetic ability, but one that you might like if you role-play. Combat is always in Worgen form though.
- Viciousness – Increases crit rating by 1%. This is one of the most amazing racials in the game. Regardless of weapon, Worgen get a 1% increased crit chance all the time. Very beastly.
Best Races for Alliance Hunters…
Best Alliance PvE Hunter Race: Worgen
While not a runaway in this category, the Worgen’s passive crit bonus edges it past the other races. Draenei (+hit) and Dwarves (+crit w/ guns) both possess passive boosts to DPS, but the Worgen’s racial is just flat-out better. Hit is only needed up to a certain point, where as crit is always needed, making the Worgen racial more flexible and desirable than the Draenei’s. Worgen wins out over Dwarf because they enjoy a crit bonus on all attacks, where as Dwarves only see the benefit from attacks that use guns. In addition to the crit bonus, Worgen also have a the very handy movement speed increase buff — Darkflight. While not a direct boost to DPS, increased movement speed is always a huge plus.
Update: As noted by Whitefyst in the comments below, the Worgen racial is statistically better than the Draenei’s due to the added value of crit over hit – in terms of how the stat points convert. 1% of hit grants approximately 120 hit rating, where as it requires 178 crit rating to equal 1% crit. Thanks for drawing attention to that Whitefyst.
Runner Ups: Draenei, Dwarf
Best Alliance PvP Hunter Race: Human
There’s a reason why most competitive arena hunters are all humans… Every Man for Himself. It offers an advantage over other races, as it allows a hunter to equip two DPS trinkets — one proc based, with another on-use trinket. Given that trinkets provide some of the biggest DPS gains via gear, this allows human hunters to put out some insane damage in PvP.
Runner Ups: All other Alliance hunter races provide some decent PvP racials. I think that for BGs and casual play, any of the Alliance races are great choices for PvP. Humans are a great choice for ‘competitive’ play due to their ability to deliver more burst damage, as previously mentioned, but the other races have a leg up in terms of survivability.
Horde Hunter Races
The Horde have their act together, allowing all races access to the most esteemed class in all of WoW.
- Arcane Affinity – Enchanting skill increased by 10. Another racial boost that’s sorta nice while leveling, but has little use beyond that.
- Arcane Resistance - Increased resistance against nature damage. Reduces arcane damage taken at level 85 by 12.64%. As with the other racial resists, the Blood Elf’s Arcane Resistance does not stack with similar resistance buffs, i.e., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, etc.
- Arcane Torrent – Silences all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds and restores 15 Focus. All enemies affected by the ability also have casting interrupted for 3 seconds. A pretty nice ability for PvP, with other uses as well – including sapping some much needed focus when in a pinch.
- Best Deals Anywhere – Best discount on items, regardless of faction. Goblins always get the deep down discounts.
- Better Living Through Chemistry – Alchemy skill increased by 15. Another racial that’s nice when leveling the profession, but pretty lackluster come end-game.
- Pack Hobgoblin – Call up a pack hobgoblin to allow 1 minute bank access every 30 minutes. This is nice little luxury that enables Goblins to have access to their banks while out adventuring. Pretty handy for emptying out your inventory while on the go, or for fetching something you forgot to bring along.
- Rocket Barrage – Goblins can activate their Rocket Belt to fire a missile that does fire damage. The rocket has a 30 yard range and works like a guided missile – meaning you don’t need to be facing your target. The damage scales based on level and attack power. This is an amusing little ability, but it has a few drawbacks… The damage isn’t so great, its range is only 30 yards, and it’s on the global cooldown. This right here makes it not-so-awesome for PvE content. If Blizz took it off the global cooldown and extended its range to 40 yards, then we’d have something. Rocket Barrage could then be macro’d in with certain shots for a little added DPS. Also, it shares a cooldown with Rocket Jump, which is a much better ability, in my humble opinion.
- Rocket Jump – Use the Rocket Belt to jump forward. Rocket Jump has a two minute cooldown, which it shares with Rocket Barrage. This ability is more or less a forward-facing Disengage. This is a very useful ability for all sorts of times when you need some rocket propulsion, but it really shines for PvP. If used while jumping downhill, this ability can allow you to gain some distance pretty quickly. Handy for escaping or pursuing. It’s worth noting that you cannot use slow-fall effects within 10 seconds after using this ability — unlike how you can use a Parachute Cloak with Disengage.
- Time is Money - 1% increased attacking speed. Nothing remarkable here, but it does provide a tiny boost to DPS during long boss fights.
- Blood Fury – Increased attack power for 15 seconds, with a 2 minute cooldown. Blood Fury provides 1170 attack power at level 85. This is a fantastic racial for burst DPS, especially when used in conjunction with other abilities such as: Rapid Fire / Bestial Wrath / The Beast Within.
- Hardiness – Stun duration reduced by additional 15%. Stacks with other effects, meta gems, etc. Hardiness is a pretty nice PvP ability.
- Command – Pet damage increased by 5%. A very solid racial for hunters. A 5% passive boost to pet DPS is huge – especially for Beast Masters.
- Axe specialization – Increased expertise with axes and fist weapons. Doesn’t mean anything for hunters.
- Cultivation – Herbalism skill increased by 15, plus you can gather herbs faster. This is much like the Worgen’s Flayer racial, only for flower-picking.
- Endurance – Base health increased by 5% — not affected by gear. If this racial was affected by gear and talents – much like it used to be – then it could be a decent racial for PvP or extreme soloing. It scales off level-only and provides a trivial amount of added health, making it pretty bleh…
- Nature Resistance - Increased resistance against nature damage. Reduces nature damage taken at level 85 by 12.64%. Like the other racial resists, the Tauren’s Nature Resistance does not stack with similar resistance buffs, i.e., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, etc.
- War Stomp – Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds. An amazing crowd control ability, especially for setting up traps in PvP, stunning a healer, or for shutting down melee and escaping damage. It’s not quite as great for Tauren hunters as it is for say a Tauren warrior or paladin, but it’s still a nice PvP racial.
- Beast Slaying – Damage done to beasts is increased by 5%. This applies to all beast mob types, as well as hunter pets, Feral Druids, and Shaman in Ghost Wolf form. It’s situational, but a free 5% damage bonus vs beasts is huge – both for PvE and PvP.
- Berserking – Increases attack & casting speed by 20% for 10 sec — has a 3 minute cooldown. This is a very nice racial to use for added burst damage, especially if combined with other damage buffs or abilities.
- Bow Specialization – +1% crit chance when using bows. Same as with the Dwarf racial… this one is great if you’re using a bow.
- Da Voodoo Shuffle – Reduces the length of movement impairing effects by 15%, i.e., roots & snares. Orcs have an easier time against stuns, where as Trolls can get out of slows and roots quicker. A very nice little bonus, mainly a benefit for PvP play.
- Regeneration – Health regeneration rate increased by 10% -with- 10% of total health generation continuing during combat. It doesn’t amount to much, but quicker health regen cuts down on downtime. Considering it ticks every 3 seconds, even the teensiest bit of health regen during combat can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing… Well, maybe 1 in 1,000 fights, but hey… that thousandth one… regeneration might mean the difference!
- Throwing Specialization – Increased chance to hit with thrown weapons. Thrown weapon specialization for hunters..?! Move along… nothing to see here.
- Cannibalize – Feast on a fallen corpse to regenerate 7% health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. Corpse must be humanoid or Undead, and within 5 yards. Any damage, movement or action will break the effect. This is handy for healing up quickly while out questing or in a battleground. It reduces downtime, which is always good. Also, it’s one of the ultimate insults in PvP… nothing else quite says “you’ve just been owned” as well as Cannibalize does.
- Shadow Resistance - Increased resistance against shadow damage. Reduces shadow damage taken at level 85 by 12.64%. Like the other racial resists, the Undead’s Shadow Resistance does not stack with similar resistance buffs, i.e., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, etc.
- Underwater Breathing – 233% longer underwater breathing. Hmmm… yeah… onto the next one…
- Will of the Forsaken – Removes charm, fear and sleep effects. Has a 2 minute cooldown, and shares a 30 second cooldown with other similar effects. This is a decent ability for PvP, but not nearly as good as the human’s racial, which removes all forms of CC – including stuns, traps, etc. The human’s racial is in essence a PvP trinket replacement, where as the Will of the Forsaken is a situational back-up trinket. The downside is that using any similar ability will put an automatic 30 second cooldown on this ability. For example, if you trinket out of a stun or use The Beast Within — Will of the Forsaken cannot be used for at least 30 seconds.
Best Races for Horde Hunters…
Best Horde PvE Hunter Race: Tie – Orc or Troll
This one’s a tough call, ’cause they’re both excellent choices. The only case where I can definitely recommend one over the other is if the hunter is specced Beast Mastery — in that case, Orc wins out due to Command. For MM and SV, I think you can’t go wrong with either one. Both races offer nice boosts to DPS. The Orc with Blood Fury and Command — The Troll with Berserking, Bow Specialization and Beast Slaying (when applicable).
Best Horde PvP Hunter Race: Tie – Orc or Troll
I’m split on this one as well. Again… the same tie-breaker is in effect here, so go with Orc if Beast Mastery PvP is your thing. Both races have resists to movement impairing effects (Hardiness / Da Voodoo Shuffle), and both offer nice passive damage boosts (Command / Bow Specialization) as well as burst damage buffs (Blood Fury / Berserking).
As I stated earlier, your choice of hunter race should be based mostly upon what you like. Racials can provide a slight advantage in various areas of play, but the biggest performance factor is always going to be the player behind the toon. If you love Taurens, and you’ll be much happier representing that race, then so be it… be the best damn raiding Tauren hunter you can be.
Lastly, please note that these choices are based on my own humble opinion… you may disagree and that’s fine. If you have anything to add to the discussion, or if you have any further questions, please leave your comments below.
That said… what is your favorite race for a hunter?