Attention: This guide is quite old as evidenced by the obsolete pet trees. I may possibly update it for Warlords of Draenor, but in the meantime, it is here for the sake of nostalgia, or for those of you running older versions of WoW.
The information contained in this guide was relevant to the Wrath of the Lich King era hunter.
For more up-to-date Caclysm PvP pet options, please see this post instead.
What pet should I use for PvP?
This is a question I get asked quite a bit. Being that I fancy myself somewhat of an expert on pets, even though I have my own personal quirky preferences, I figured I’d create a basic guide to choosing a hunter pet for PvP.
In addition to being a pet-obsessed hunter, I also enjoy the thrills, chills and excitement of PvP. The following list contains my recommendations for pets which I feel are some of the better choices for the various specs and why.
Beat Mastery Exotic PvP Pets
The Chimaera receives my highest recommendation as a top all-around pet for Beast Mastery PvP. For one, it has what I’d consider to be thee best pet special of any pet. Chimaeras possess an ability called Froststorm Breath, which not only deals ranged damage, but also slows its target by 50% for 5 seconds. When properly talented, a Beast Master will have a 7 second cooldown on this ability, giving the Chimaera an amazing 70% uptime on the slowing effect.
This ability makes kiting melee a breeze, plus it also helps to keep targets from LoS’ing you. Froststorm Breath delivers spell based damage in the form of frost and nature, which means it ignores armor. Also, it cannot be dodged, blocked or parried, but it is affected by resists. Although the spell can be resisted, the beauty of it is… because Froststorm Breath deals damage from two schools of magic, the attack exploits which ever resistance is lowest when calculating its damage.
Best of all… the slowing effect cannot be trinketed out of or dispelled.
Combine this ability with its sheer size and all of the other goodies from the Cunning family, and what you have is a BM PvP pet made of pure win.
Chimaera PvP Spec
Here are a couple of build options for the Chimaera, my first pick being the one on the left.
Chimaera PvP Builds
Core Hounds may not the be the best pet to take into a battleground, but they are arguably the best choice for arena. Their higher DPS, along with Lava Breath, makes them a great choice for bursting down opponents in arena.
Lava Breath is a ranged spell that deals fire-based damage and applies a 25% cast speed debuff. The effect last for 10 seconds and has a 7 second cooldown (with talents), which means it can be kept up pretty much indefinitely, provided it’s not dispelled. Lava Breath is a great pet ability vs casters, but is also nice vs plate due to it’s armor-ignoring fire-based damage.
The reason I sing the Core Hound’s praises for arena and not battlegrounds, is because it is relatively squishy and does not provide as much PvP utility as that of other pets. A hardier pet that provides less DPS and more utility will be a lot more effective than a dead glass-cannon pet. My two cents anyway.
Core Hound PvP Spec
The purpose of using a Core Hound is for pure nuking power. Because of this, I recommend speccing all-in for damage and pressure. The only exception being if you want to have access to Heart of the Phoenix for arena. These are two builds I’d recommend for a Core Hound – the first one providing the most damage, and the second one sacrificing Culling the Herd in favor of Heart of the Phoenix.
Core Hound PvP Builds
Silithids are more or less an exotic version of the spider. The Silithid’s Venom Web Spray is quite similar to that of the spider’s Web ability, only Venom Web Spray hurts, where as the Spider’s web deals no damage. If cast right after Bestial Wrath, the damaging ticks of Venom Web Spray can easily amount to over 350 nature damage per tick, which is pretty nice.
There is one caveat with this ability however… due to the DoT associated with it, it prevents you from trapping your opponent with a Freezing Arrow during the snare. After using one for awhile, I can confirm that this is not a huge drawback as long as you’re mindful of that fact. You can actually cast a Freezing Arrow just as the DoTs are wearing off, with the arming time of the trap providing a slight buffer.
Silithids are part of the Cunning family, which means they have access to all of the awesome PvP related talents of that tree. Silithids are also pretty huge, especially when enraged. While this provides no benefit beyond, “Hey, that’s a huge bug!”, it can provide for some difficult targeting issues for your opponents if they are trying to mouse target someone in the game field.
Silithid PvP Spec
The PvP spec for the Silithid is pretty much the same as the Chimaera. See the Chimaera builds above for recommendations.
Worms are fantastic pets for use in battlegrounds, as well as with certain arena comps. Although they’re lacking in the DPS department, they make up for it with the increased survivability talents for both the pet and hunter, as well as their damaging armor debuff attack.
Personally, I think a worm is a great choice for BGs. They are very hard to kill, which means you can pretty much always keep them in the fight. A live and active Tenacity pet always provides more damage than a dead high DPS pet.
I wouldn’t recommend a worm for use in 2v2 arena, due to the lack of DPS, but in 3v3 (with a melee DPS) or 5v5 they can be quite viable. Provided you have some melee DPS on your team, a worm can be effective for sitting on a plate wearer and keeping Acid Spit applied.
Worm PvP Spec
The PvP spec for the worm is pretty straightforward. You skip all of the aggro generating talents, and go for all of the PvP related abilities and what little DPS enhancing options there are. The only one to skip being Thunderstomp, as it is an AoE ability and can compromise effective crowd control. The added DPS is nice, but I prefer to stick that point into Last Stand for a little added insurance.
That about covers the suggested pet choices for BM PvP. The only two exotics not mentioned are the Devilsaur and Rhino, both of which are inferior choices when compared with their better-suited, respective family counterparts.
Although… I have been known to wreak havoc in the battlegrounds with a certain green Devilsaur on occasion. It can be fun, but a Core Hound is a much better Ferocity pet option.
And as for Rhinos… they’re broken as all hell. Don’t even bother. There special enhances bleed effects… only problem… Beast Masters don’t have any bleed damage abilities.
Marksmanship PvP Pets
Personally, I like what the Cunning family pets have to offer for Marksmanship PvP. This is not only due to their awesome specials, but also for the Roar of Recovery talent. MM hunters have a few more issues with mana in PvP than SV hunters do, which makes the Roar of Recovery talent a welcome addition to the arsenal of abilities. Roar of Recovery acts as sort of a low budget Innervate for hunters.
Cunning pets are also the fastest of all the pets, and we all know… speed kills. Whether it be running down a fleeing target to apply a snare, or returning to your side to free a snare, Cunning pets will get there the quickest.
As far as builds go, the one pictured here is a good all-around spec for Cunning pets. Bullheaded is a good option as well, but Roar of Recovery or Roar of Sacrifice must be given up in order to acquire it.
Anyway… let’s have a look at the choices…
Spiders are currently a top choice for non BM Hunters. Spiders possess an ability called Web, which can be cast from 30 yards out and prevents a target from moving for 4 seconds. In addition to their awesome Web ability, they also come complete with all of the Cunning family goodness.
What makes spiders such an attractive option is that they can be used as another hunter ability, without the need to remain in combat. Pet damage in PvP is pretty insignificant for both MM and SV hunters, therefore, a pet that can provide a valuable utility skill is much more important than one which provides added DPS.
Because the spider’s Web ability can be cast from 30 yards out, you can effectively keep your spider out of the fray, only sending her in to finish off opponents. Just keep your spider on passive and take the Web ability off of autocast.
Here are a couple of macros you can use:
This will cast the spider’s Web at its current target, but also ensures that it remains by your side.
This macro will help to keep Rogues and Feral druids in check. Spam it if you think one is nearby. It works similar to the above macro, except that it will throw a Hunter’s Mark on the target as well.
/cast Hunter’s Mark
Even though the pet DPS isn’t that important for MM and SV, maintaining a live pet is extremely important. Without a pet, a hunters lose access to Master’s Call, along with all of the other Family pet talents and specials. Since spiders don’t have to enter harmful melee range in order to get their Web off, this makes them a premier choice for a PvP companion.
Ravagers are my personal preference for MM PvP. The reason I like them so much, apart from their awesome look, is their Ravage ability.
Ravage is a 2 second stun, which effectively immobilizes and silences a target for the full duration. Although it only lasts half as long as the spider’s Web, it interrupts and prevents casting for 2 seconds, where as Web does not. Also, web can be dispelled, where as Ravage cannot. Another thing that’s cool about Ravage, is that it knocks enemies on their ass… literally. It’s quite annoying to be on the receiving end of one.
The downside of Ravage is that the pet must be in melee range to use it. I have no problem with this, as I’m a BM hunter, pet-micro-manager at heart, so I keep my pets pretty active anyway.
Serpents… the new Scorpid. Serpents are nice for MM PvP because they apply a nature damage debuff called Poison Spit. This is helpful for two reasons… first, it slows the enemy’s casting speed by 25%. Second, and more importantly, it helps to bury your Serpent Sting or Viper Sting debuffs in the event you’re battling a team or opponent with dispel capabilities.
Having to continually reapply Serpent Sting due to dispels and cleanses will really nerf MM’s damage, as will a Chimera Shot that hits a split second after the sting has been removed. The masking of the Sting, along with the casting speed debuff, makes the Serpent a really viable choice for MM PvP. Because Poison Spit’s damage occurs as a DoT, it’s also nice for preventing bandaging, as well as the ever-pesky Rogue Vanish.
Although they don’t provide a snare of any sort, the Serpent is still a great choice for MM PvP’ers, especially when facing casters.
Before the Cunning family tree was improved, and before Spiders were given a 30 yard range on their Web ability, Crabs were thee choice for PvP pet. Even though they may not be the undisputed top-choice anymore, they’re still a premier choice for many reasons.
For one, their Pin ability is still one of the greatest pet specials for PvP. Second, they’re a Tenacity pet, which means they have access to: Charge, Intervene, Roar of Sacrifice and Last Stand; all of which are stellar abilities for PvP. Third, they’re much harder to kill due to their Tenacity family talents.
Crabs and spiders both offer a 4 second snare, making them pets with a similar purpose; locking down opponents. The downside of the crab’s Pin ability is that it not only requires the pet to be in melee range (and crabs are slow), but it’s also a channeled spell, where as the spider’s is an instant cast ranged ability.
Spider have a leg up over crabs in most cases, but where crabs win is in their ability to sustain more damage, as well as bringing with them Charge and Intervene.
The example build shown to the right is an effective PvP spec for a Tenacity pet.
Survival PvP Pets
For the same reasons that make them top choices for Marksmanship hunters, Spider, Crab and Ravager are my recommended choices for Survival hunters as well. Because Survival hunters don’t rely upon a setup shot like Serpent Sting for their damage, the Serpent is not really a top choice for SV hunters. The snares that the other three pets provide are much more valuable to SV hunters than the cast speed debuff.
Spider gets my vote as a top pet for SV hunters, mainly due to its Web ability. Abilities that lock down opponents are tough to beat, because they work against all classes. Whether you’re trying to escape melee damage, blow up melee, or keep a caster from LoS’ing you, this ability works in all cases.
Were I suggesting an arena pet for SV hunters, spider would be it.
Crab would be a close second choice. In fact, it could also be the best option in a few cases. In BGs for example, where pets are likely to sustain more collateral damage, a crab could be the best choice due to its increased survivability. Other reasons to go with a crab are Charge and Intervene – both exceptional abilities for PvP.
Ravagers get my nod once again, mainly for their awesome Ravage ability. An ability that knocks an opponent out of commission for 2 seconds is always going to be useful in PvP.
Bat, the Wild Card PvP pet
One last pet I feel compelled to mention is the bat. Bats are a Cunning pet, which means they have the same great talent tree as that of spiders, ravagers, etc… but they also have one of the best special abilities of any pet. Problem is, it’s penalized by having a longer cooldown.
Sonic Blast is basically the ranged version of Ravage. It can be cast from 30 yards out, stuns the target for 2 seconds and does a small amount of nature damage. Yet, the reason I don’t list it as one of the top pets is because of the near deal-breaking 1 minute cooldown on the spell. If Sonic Blast shared the same 40 second cooldown as that of Ravage, it would easily be a top 3 choice. As it stands, bats are still pretty decent (and they look bitchin’), it’s just a shame that their special is on a 50% longer cooldown.
Here’s what I’d like to see… Remove the damage component from Sonic Blast, lower the cooldown to 40 seconds and have it daze the target (50% run speed) for 2 seconds after the stun wears off. Is that too much to ask..? I think that’d make bats pure win for PvP.
Other PvP Pets…
As you may have noticed, apart from the endorsement of the Core Hound for Beast Masters, I made no mention of Ferocity pets. It’s not to say they’re horrible for PvP, it’s just that they’re not the best options. Unless you’re a Beast Master, pet DPS is of little concern as far as PvP goes. The little bit of added DPS you gain by way of a Ferocity pet is not worth the loss of survivability and utility.
However, I am never one to judge, and I fully support individuality. If you want to go against the grain, further set yourself apart from the herd, and be the guy that has the opposing team yelling, “KILL THAT HUNTER WITH THE PINK FLAMINGO… HE’S TEARING US A NEW ONE!!!”, then here are a few fun and somewhat practical alternate choices…
Hyena – Hyenas have an ability called Tendon Rip which slows targets by 50% for 6 seconds, and is on a 20 second cooldown.
Tallstrider – Dust Cloud causes all targets within melee range of the bird to miss their next attack. It has a 40 second cooldown.
Wasp – Wasps apply a Faerie Fire type of debuff called Sting. It reduces the target’s armor and prevents stealth.
Bird of Prey – Birds of Prey have a disarm ability that lasts for 6 seconds. Downside… only useful vs melee and is on a long 1 minute cooldown.
Nether Ray – These can cast a damaging ranged attack, which also silences for 2 seconds. Nether Shock has a 40 second cooldown.
Spore Bat – Spore Bats provide a slight armor debuff with a DoT effect.
Gorilla – Gorillas have an ability called Pummel, which silences its target for 2 seconds and has a fairly short 30 second cooldown. The target must be in melee range.
Turtle – Turtles can put up a Shell Shield, reducing all damage done to them by 50% for 12 seconds.
Warp Stalker – Warp Stalkers have a Teleport ability called Warp, which is nice for putting opponents into combat quickly, plus it increases the pet’s survivability.