Dual Spec Harmony

Survival and Marksman, the Yin and the Yang of my Hunter specs.After countless gold spent on respecs and re-glyphs, I have achieved Dual Spec harmony. In my quest for Patch 3.1 enlightenment, I have chosen to leave the troubled ways of Beast Mastery behind. I struggled with my inner doubts and questioned my devotion to the Tree of Nerfitude. In the end, I unlearned all of the teachings that I once held sacred and stepped boldly into worlds that were largely a mystery to me. As a result, I have re-awoken on a higher plane of Huntery existence…

Alright, lol… enough of the celestial roleplaying. I kicked the BM Tree to the curb.

It was a tough choice, but not a difficult decision to make. Although it was rough for me to give up Beast Mastery, I am a Hunter first and foremost, not a Beast Mastery Hunter.

I’ve always chosen Beast Mastery for my primary talent tree, but no more. While I respect those that keep the BM fire burning and play the spec to its fullest, this Hunter has had it. Well, as I’d said before, at least until they fix what’s wrong with it.

Shortly after my full circle journey through various talent specs, I wound up coming back to what was familiar, Beast Mastery. I’d thought, who am I kidding… I love this tree and it’s the only one I want to dive deep enough within. However, during those experiments with MM and SV I’d seen some things that made me long for something more. For instance, being a winner.

I don’t care how you slice it, right now Beast Mastery flat out sucks. There, I said it. This saddens me, because it’s the tree I’ve always held near and dear. Sure there are players, like myself, that can go into a BG, arena or Raid and show people that BMs can still dish it. Yet, no matter how well you play your BM spec or how hard you try, chances are I’ll smoke you in DPS as MM, and melt your face in arena as SV.

Beast Mastery is fantastic for solo questing and farming, but at level 80, that eventually becomes less important as you get closer to endgame. Because BM is not really ideal for either of my endgame pursuits, I had to abandon it, along with one of my cherished pets. 🙁

Since I am our guild’s only actively raiding Hunter, it seemed silly for me to remain BM, instead of going MM or SV and contributing loads more needed DPS. Secondly, after receiving countless head shots in Wintergrasp from SV Hunters, I figured… if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Usually I could be a force in most BGs as a BM, but vs a skilled SV Hunter, they would win. Beast mastery Hunters are unable to provide the necessary burst needed to be truly successful in PvP, nor are they capable of bringing as much muscle to a raid.

Since I’ve gone MM, I have broken through the 5k DPS threshold more than a few times in 25 mans. My gear is pretty decent, but not great (only 2/5 T7 and still using a crafted gun), and my glyphing and shot rotation still have room for improvement. I would need tons of upgrades with my previous BM spec in order to even come close to the numbers I put up as MM.

As SV in PvP, I am capable of nuking opponents in nothing flat, while also being pretty durable. For PvP, BM has almost become a pesky type of outlast spec. Without the necessary burst to burn opponents down, you’re sort of forced into this role of using your limited snares, big red pet DoT, and you’re 18 seconds of freedom to try and outlast them. It can work a lot of the time, but again… with skill being equal, SV is much more efficient at taking down other players than BM. In my opinion, of course.

Why Marksman and Not Survival for PvE?

Survival has been shown to potentially outdamage MM, but the DPS difference is fairly negligible. I prefer Marksman for PvE for a few reasons. First of all, I just like the tree better. Marksman packs a huge punch when it comes to long boss fights, but it also provides the highest AoE damage of the three trees (if specced that way).

Bringing an extra 10% attack power to your raid is very sexy. Melee and the other Hunters in the raid will love you for your Trueshot Aura. Just don’t be a noob like me and forget to activate it on occasion. I have a Power Aura set up that alerts me for a few seconds when I don’t have TSA on, but sometimes I don’t catch it. I’m getting better about it though. 🙂

The shot priority is easier to follow than Survival, and Marksman is just more comfortable to play – at least for me. Survival has more shots to worry about, a random proc which you have to manage, and a buff that requires you to be stationary for 6 seconds. Marksman just seems smoother to me.

Survival For PvP

On the other hand, I prefer SV over MM for PvP. SV has more tools available that lend themselves better to PvP. Also, the shot priority that I consider to be more of a hassle in PvE, is not a problem for PvP. SV does not require an additional shot to frontload its damage like Chimera Shot does. Also, Black Arrow is not really utilized much for PvP. Traps provide a guaranteed Lock ‘n’ Load plus a snare, so you typically don’t want use that cooldown for Black Arrow.

Survival provides huge armor-ignoring burst damage with Explosive Shot. Being that two of the most difficult classes to contend with (Pallies/DKs) are both plate wearers, it makes sense to go SV. My decision to go SV for PvP is based in large part to 2v2 arena succes. BM can actually be decent in 3v3 and 5v5, and so can MM.

I’m not an authority on what it takes to win in arena, but I’ve been around long enough to know what can work best. There’s a reason why the bulk of successful Hunters in arena are specced SV. While I’ve enjoyed doing arena as a BM Hunter, and have had moderate success with it, I’d like to attain a title higher than Challenger at some point. :-\

My Specs

My MM PvE spec is: 7/57/7, and my SV PvP spec is 0/15/56. I’ll elaborate on them in a follow-up post, but I’m starting to lose steam right now. The effects of having had too many adult beverages last night is taking its toll on me, and I need a nap. 😕

Rather than leave you hanging, I’ll at least link my armory so you can have a looky.

Be back in a bit, after I recharge the battery.

25 thoughts on “Dual Spec Harmony”

  1. I have a thing for looks, so I grabbed one of the frostwolves from Alterac Valley, which please me aestheticly. 🙂 It shouldn’t take too long to get him up to speed.

    We will see how it goes. I played a bit with it on the training dummy, and during my dailies. The hardest thing is going to be retraining my fingers, as I will now have a different set of buttons to react to.

  2. Also, what’s the priority of shots in your sequence? Obviously, you’re weaving them according to cooldown, but there still should be some sort of order. (I’m only starting to seriously research this. The last time I looked at this spec was way back when we were actively raiding Tempest Keep, but I never felt comfortable with it, so I didn’t get very far.)

  3. Thanks for the comments. I’m going to be using your comments above and putting MM as my second spec and start playing with it.

    As the raid leader of my guild, I work very hard to be an example for maximizing your contribution. And I really can’t any longer justify sticking with my beloved BM just because I resent the fact that it’s broken. Sure, I can pull 3500+ dps out of it, but that doesn’t mean I’m putting the best effort on the table.

    This is going to be….interesting.

    A question on pets — I know that MM pets aren’t really as essential a component to an MM spec’s overall damage output. Given that, how crucial is it for me to get any new pet I acquire up to level 80 before actually using him in live situations? (I’m currently using a cat, the same one I’ve had since level 10, so it’s not that I will lose some exotic companion when I swap. I just figure while I’m taking the plunge, I may as well play around with that as well.)

  4. Hi Pryderi,

    The only shot I have a macro for currently is my Silencing Shot. Since it’s off the GCD, I macro it to Steady for a tiny bit of extra DPS.

    Other than that, I don’t have any other shot macros. The shot mechanics of the class are such that you have to manually weave everything in order to attain maximum DPS.

    You could use a /castsequence macro, but it’d hinder your production. Not to mention, it limits your ability to manually adjust when involved in a fight that involves a lot of movement.

    BM is still the easiest rotation, followed by MM, then SV.

    If damage is your thing, then MM or SV is the way to go. If you really like BM, then you can always try to improve upon your build a little to try and boost your DPS. I did very well as a Beast Mastery Hunter, and was almost always first or second in 10 mans, and top 3 in most 25 mans.

    A well played spec is always better than the top spec played by an average Hunter.

  5. This is quite timely for me, because I’m finally ready to make the jump and try a spec other than BM.

    I was BM from level 10. The pet was the reason I rolled a hunter, and naturally I went with the spec that made the pet more cool. I served me well all through my levelling, and through all of the TBC endgame.

    Even now, I’m usually in the top 6-7 DPS for the night, because I’ve worked hard to get the most I can out of my class. But….needs must when the devil drives.

    Thanks for the above. One more thing – you mentioned a macro you use for shots? Would you be willing to share that with me?

    Thanks much. I shall be following your blog from this point onwards.

    Pryderi – The Venture Co(US)

  6. Today I’ve been farming some random stuff (btw I like farming from time to time) using a BM build + Mending Glyph and carefully talented bear. Well let me say that’s a monstrous AoE machine capable of holding aggro (and do huge damage too) to even 10 level 80 mobs. Damn that makes farming *fast* 🙂

    • Hi Dalaila,

      That Glyph of Mending with a Tenacity pet is OP. If we could have a 3rd spec, I’d go for a BM spec where I could have an unbreakable tank pet. Seems like it’d be a blast for farming and soloing old content. I’d still like to try soloing Attumen at some point with that setup.

  7. I don’t PvP, but I have settled on MM/SV for my dual spec.

    For MM I went with an 11/53/7 spec (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#ctbMzZ0eVsRhzGIRthVox00b:0IfMzm). I chose this mainly for 10-man Ulduar, which are guild is now starting.

    Since all of those encounters are new it just seemed like the least “cluttered” build that would allow me to focus on what’s happening and not so much on the meters. As I get more comfortable I’ll make changes.

    I’m definitely starting to like MM over SV though.

    • Hey Darkbrew,

      MM is nice for raiding isn’t it. I have a lot of fun with SV for PvP, but for raiding MM wins out for me.

      That is a good theory of yours to go with the less cluttered build for the newer and more difficult content. That was part of my thinking as well when I went to MM. I didn’t want to have to constantly watch all of my cooldowns, watch out for LnL procs and worry about Sniper Training during intense boss fights.

  8. I gotta be honest Garwulf I think this is the most fun I have had as a hunter in the BG’s. I haven’t tried any Arena yet but I think I am ready to take that step. Question though (big surprise right? Perceuss with a question) I ran into some trouble with the fury warrior last night so is this when the tranq shot comes into play? I only have one spell bar up on the bottom and one on the side I can’t seem to justify putting the tranq in there.

  9. Hung,

    I use a wolf.


    I use Black Arrow in BGs if I’m trying to burn down a target at ranged, while there’s no threat of me being gang-raped by melee.

    I use it in arena if I have the other target CC’d and I want the extra damage and DoT on the focus-fire target. I also use it sometimes if I feel like I’m about to go down for a dirt nap. I try to get the DoT up for my teammate just before I’m about to drop.

    I’m actually using it more than I thought I would, especially in BGs. Like Reylas said, I’ve found it to be very useful vs sprinting Rogues, especially when coupled with Serpent Sting. And if you do happen to get the LnL proc, it’s lights out. 😉

  10. Hung,

    With my MM build I use a wolf for raiding. You can find a cool on in Zul’ Drak but the animations suck on it and annoyed me enough to abandon it, there is also a cool wolf in Hellfire Ramps that you can get which is pretty mean looking.

  11. Black Arrow is a funny one for PVP because it shares the same cooldown as traps. Personally I only use it when there’s a big line of melee infront of me and i’m unlikely to have to kite a mad DK or Pala. On the upside it increases damage of all attacks you do against the ‘enemy’ by 6% and dealing something like 150 shadow damage over 15 secs…. and u know u love 2 see a rogue run off with 15% health and ur serpent sting and black arrow dot’ing him 🙂 Not so sneaky now are you! 😀


    SV Hunter – Azuremyst EU

  12. I tried the crab last night and I have to say …it was a big time difference he helped me keep melee off of me I have been having my way with druids in the bg’s and most rogues. I’ve also realized the importance of trapping and the 100% Lock ‘n’ Load. With that being said…what value does the Black Arrow have if any in the realm of PvP?

  13. Hello Garwulf,

    I hope you find peace with your current talent builds. I too started as a BM talent build and loved it all the way to lvl 80. Now I am trying to squeeze out every point of dps I can get out of this character. I always seem to get beat by those pesky Dks on the recount meter. Anyways, I am willing to entertain another build since I have not upgraded to the dual spec option. I am looking forward to seeing your MM talent specs. Thanks for your insight and advice. I’m always checking your site for updates and applying the knowledge ingame to my character. Btw, which pet do you use during raids and instances?

    best regards,

    – Hung

  14. Crab.

    Get one, you won’t be sorry. I have one at 77 and rising right now. Since I switched from BM to SV, the only PvP pet I have at 80 is a gorilla. He works out nicely versus casters, but a crab’s Pin skill works well vs all classes.

  15. As far as PvP goes though I sure do miss the God mode of BM. What pets are you guys using I just can’t seem to find one I am impressed with yet for PvP.

  16. I’ve not really been having mana problems with this spec. As far as the mana efficiency of Silencing Shot, if you’re not having problems with mana, it’s a nice little dps boost every so often. If mana is an issue, then I’d say to put a modifier on (which I may do) it, and use it when needed.

    I do miss the farming ability of BM, but it’s not that big of a deal compared to what I’m gaining by these two specs. I do however think that SV/BM or MM/BM is grteat for those who want to enjoy some of BM’s benefits, such as taming the exotics. For players who don’t PvP, BM is a great second spec.

    As far as the comment reply notification thing goes… I don’t know. I’ll need to look into that.

  17. Interesting point. Will Silencing Shot plus other points spread around the MM tree be better than those I spend in BM to get Mastery? Will try to study that, even if it’s VERY hard to get “standard” values, damn. Sometimes I raid 10 with no mana problems… while it happened I PUGged a 25 with no batteries and was struggling between viper and hawk 🙁

    Don’t you think that extra shot (Silencing) adds more mana problems to our already low-powered mana regeneration? On bosses with NO mana I have to switch ViperDragon a loooot of times. What’s your experience?

    Side note: a +30% on AP (Aspect Mastery) benefits from Trueshot Aura too. It’s interesting you did more damage without it (new spec posted above). Will try to get deeper into it.

    Last note: I agree on your choice of being MM/SV for raiding/PVPing. But for those who -like me- do not PVP at all and just enjoy the PVE content, I still think BM/MM is the way to go.

    BM benefits from a very good tanking/aoe pet management as well as a very useful speed bonus (+10% on all mounts). Considering the end-game is mostly done of raiding OR grinding (daily quests, herbing, skinning or whatever) that extra speed really makes some difference. Also, Glyph of Mending makes our pet a kind of unkillable god. I was able to tank like 12 level 80 mobs at once, don’t ask me how 🙂

    ### EDIT
    Is there a way to register to your blog and get replies, auto-login and so on? 🙂

  18. My first MM spec contained Aspect Mastery, but I didn’t do as well with it as I do with this one. The problem I have with it, is the 3 useless points I have to spend in order to get it. Improved Revive pet is nice, but situational. Chances are, if our pets die, they will die again, so no bother reviving them. I’d rather keep DPSing for the 4, 8, or 12 seconds I’d spend trying to revive them.

    Currently all my talent points improve my dps. Silencing Shot is a DPS boost, because it is an extra shot not on the global cooldown. I macro it in with steady, so every so often it fires off like an extra Wild Quiver or something. Plus, I like having it in those rare occasions I will need it for PvE. MM just doesn’t seem MM to we w/out it, but that’s just me.

    I really like how you challenge me Dalaila. It’s exactly the sort of think tank type of approach I like to see in these comment threads. And yes, it would be cute to see our children running around together creating havoc. 😉

  19. Dear Garwulf, I’d love to know you in RL just for the fun of seeing our little cute chidlren play together :D.

    Back on topic now ;). You missed something VERY important in the MM spec (raiding): Aspect Mastery. You *must* find a way to get it. Also, Silencing Shot in raids is just useless 🙂

  20. Someone told me to respec to Surv and I hated it. Not enough dps for my liking. I am now BM for soloing, and MM during raids. It’s going to take a while to get used to the new spec, but I’m already impressed with my damage.

  21. Aah, I have been a devoted beastmaster…till the big nerf, and joined the SV spec. I really enjoy it, and after a few tries of noobness (I thought I should only use Explosive Shot when Lock and Load procs /facepalm), I ended up being a decent survival hunter, enjoying the fact that I can still bring dps when my pet would have died, and generally feeling more powerful without being so dependent on it, a fact that I valued high when I was still BM, being so dependent on my pet being alive.

    Now come dualspec (I had a break of playing for a few weeks), and with another spirit beast in the game, I will spec BM/SV, if only BM for the sole purpose of taming the two elusive spirit beasts. As odd as it sounds, I enjoyed nothing more being a hunter than chasing after rare pets, and the whole SV issue stopped me from respeccing to BM just to spend a few days in between raids to look for Loque.
    So, for me, dualspec is going to be enjoyable since I can both be my usual SV hunter for raids etc, and change to BM when the explorer/hunter instinct kicks in. I have never tried MM and probably never will, although your description of it sounds very tempting. RAWR!

  22. I have been trying the SV spec you have. I have seen a big difference in bg’s causing way more damage to DK’s who seem to be the most annoying of the PvP bunch ( I know Ret pallies are OP but I guess I am just used to it by now). I have been doing dailies for the Argent Tournament and there is a DK that camps at a location for one of the dailies. She literally sits there all day and camps people as my BM spec she owned me laughed and spit on me. I respecced to the SV build you have earned some Hateful gear and went back yesterday and raped her (not lieterally) now she gets camped and all I do is mock her foolishness and when she flies over and sees me she turns around now wanting nothing to do wtih me lol. Oh and btw the Hyena for Warsong is awesome the slowing of speed by 50% is great for sicking on Flag carriers. I am still searching for my perfect PvP though. Thanks for the awesome post Garwulf.


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