The Verdict

Special thanks to Kazador for helping me with a title for this post. Not only have I rewritten this post like 5 times, but I’d cycled through at least ten different titles in the meantime. Today’s just been one of those days where I can’t seem to focus. When I saw your comment, I thought oh… The Verdict… that’s perfect!

Last week I surprised some of you by announcing that I’d respecced to Beast Mastery for PvP. In fact, this move surprised even myself. After all, it had been just three short weeks earlier that I had completely discredited Beast Mastery as a PvP spec. I was so frustrated over what Patch 3.2.2 did to my beloved spec, that I abandoned both of my exotic PvP pets, went and tamed a crab, then immediately switched to Survival.

As I’d mentioned in last week’s post, my 3v3 team comprised of an Unholy Death Knight, Prot Pally and myself, started hitting a proverbial wall in our second week of play. Although we started our team with “fun” being the main concept, I’m not the type of guy who enjoys losing all that much. I don’t care how much you like your teammates… if you’re getting your ass kicked match after match, it starts to get old real quick.

It pretty much got to the point where I’d about had it, but instead of giving up, I decided to give Beast Mastery a shot. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my healer’s inability to keep me up, so I thought that maybe with me as Beast Mastery, I wouldn’t have to worry about things as much. When I say “things”, I mean BoP, HoF, dispels, and of course… heals. Our healer is a solid player, but he’s definitely a PvE guy with very little experience in arena.

So if we couldn’t cut it with me playing either of the two top Hunter PvP specs, what made me think that the recently nerfed Beast Mastery tree would be the answer..? Well… I thought that Beast Mastery would provide me with some additional mobility and survivability. I figured that if I could stay up long enough to keep Aimed Shot up on our focus fire target and just generally be a pest, we could probably win some games. Between the 10 seconds of Master’s Call, 3 second pet stun, increased movement speed, plus the 10 seconds of CC immunity, I felt Beast Mastery would provide me with enough “defensive” abilities to stay up long enough to eek out some wins.

Was I right? Sort of. I was right about Beast Mastery providing me with more survivability and mobility. The part I underestimated was my damage output. Once I respecced to Beast Mastery I started out-damaging our Death Knight in nearly every single match.

Now don’t think that me speccing Beast Mastery set our team on a tear to 2250. We still suck, it’s just that now we don’t suck quite as bad. 😉 More importantly, we started having fun in arena again.

In addition to my 3v3 team, I also have a casual 2v2 with a Ret Pally friend in my guild. We queued for the first time last week and stunk it up bad, winning only 35% of our matches. Since my respec, we went to a 63% win percentage and boosted our rating by 760 points. 🙂 Now that’s what I call a noticeable improvement.

In addition to arena, I’ve also rediscovered the joys of being a Beast Mastery Hunter in BGs. Oddly enough, I feel just as powerful as I did before the nerf.

At this point you’re probably dying to know the trade secrets I’ve uncovered which have allowed me to enjoy success as a Beast Master once again. Apart from a couple of minor tweaks to my spec and play style, the only other thing that’s changed is gear. When I say “gear”, I’m mainly talking about Talonstrike. If I didn’t have such a high DPS weapon, I really don’t think the spec would be working out so hot.

Without at least a 187 DPS weapon, I don’t think Beast Mastery has what it takes to apply enough pressure. That was made evident to me when I first tried a few BGs after the patch. At that time, I was still sporting a 141 DPS crossbow and having extreme difficulty finishing off moderately geared players.

Now that I have a 212 DPS weapon with nearly 700 top-end damage, I’m nuking players. With the high damage weapon, I feel the 10% passive damage increase for the Hunter starts to become more of a factor. As a Beast Master, I’m delivering Kill Shots that are critting in the 10-12K range. 🙂

I’ve also adapted to the shorter duration of big red and have adopted a somewhat more calculated play style. I’m less apt to use The Beast Within for defensive purposes now, and instead I try to pop it strictly for offensive pressure. Unless we get a good strategic advantage right off the bat in arena, I’ll usually wait as long as I need to before popping TBW, and instead utilize many or all of my defensive cooldowns in order to stay alive.

Before, I would be a lot more apt to use TBW to escape CC, knowing that I had a full 18 seconds of enrage. With only 10 a second duration, I find it’s too valuable to waste as a defensive cooldown. This is ironic considering Ghostcrawler referred to it as such. Sure it breaks all CC just like a PvP trinket, but if you have to use it like a trinket while your kill target is bubbled, ice blocked or LoSing you, then it’s going to be an uphill struggle.

One thing that is nice about the new dynamic of TBW is that we actually do more damage for that 10 seconds of the enrage, due to Hunter’s 20% damage increase as opposed to the 10% that it was before. I get some nice kill burst going when I’m able to get a target out in the open, then pop Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire and Intimidation. This works especially well with a Chimaera, because my target will still be slowed by 50% even after the stun wears off. If I get at least a 5-6 second window of pure burst, it usually means good night for my target.

All in all, I’m back to Beast Mastery and loving it. So far it’s worked out well for me both in arena and BGs. Although I credited my ranged weapon with most of the success I’ve had, the other factor has to be my comfort with the spec.

In my case, you can spec the Hunter out of Beast Mastery, but you can’t spec the Beast Mastery out of the Hunter. I love the spec – always have and probably always will. Furthermore, my story is a testament to playing the spec you enjoy, not the one that is supposedly the best. Unless your goal is to achieve a Gladiator title, play the spec you’re most comfortable with and you’ll probably not only be more effective, but also have more fun while doing it.

If you’re surrounded by pro players and are an ace yourself, then by all means go with the spec that offers the best advantage. For more casual players such as myself and those around me, I find it’s better to play to your strengths. If you feel more confident and able playing one spec over another, then go with it. I’m a firm believer in testing things for yourself before you make a judgment call. I’ve retested Beast Mastery and have concluded that it’s what I do best, and what works best for those around me.

I plan on posting my talent spec, pet choice and spec, along with a couple other miscellaneous tidbits of info later on today.

By the way… I’m really looking forward to Patch 3.3 now in case you hadn’t already guessed. 😉

28 thoughts on “The Verdict”

  1. I think one other pet that deserves consideration for BM pvp is a Worm. The ranged sunder is great when you’re fighting plate-heavy comps in arena, and I also find it helps in bgs like AV and IOC where there’s not much room to kite.

    • @ Rance

      I agree. Worms are great. The only reason I’m not using one right now is because I find the Chimaera to be better suited for double DPS arena. Worms are great for BGs, 5v5 setups, and I’d imagine some 3s combos, but I like the higher dps and constant slow that the Chimaera provides. Also, unlike Acid Spit, Froststorm Breath cannot be dispelled.

      For BGs though, the worm is my favorite.

  2. haha what can i say man, i went through the exact same thing. tried PVP with SV and Marks, back to BM with chimeara now. and doing pretty well with my talonstrike :).

    what i love most is against rogues, u can pop track hidden, set ur pet on aggro, and when they pop out use my cds with intimidate and waste them on the spot. our 25 man team has almost cracked togc jaraxxus so licking my lips atm for ilevel 258 talonstrike!

  3. I’d like to ask for your opinion. I find this question pretty important: Chimera or Core Hound for arenas? While I do realize how incredible is Chimera’s slow, the 25% longer cast seems to be deadly especially against healers. I just can’t decide. Any suggestions?

    • @ Cale

      I’m gonna go with Chimaera here. I like the Cunning talents, not to mention Froststorm Breath was just made for PvP. Froststorm Breath cannot be dispelled or removed by trinketing, lasts for 5 seconds, has only a 7 second cooldown, can be cast from 30yds away, is unmitigated by armor, and crits for over 1.2K in PvP. That skill along with the Chimaera’s huge flappyness and the Cunning family talents make it my choice.

      However… I have been giving the Core Hound some thought. In 3.3 Ferocity pets will not be so squishy, which makes me think they could be a viable option for PvP. Of course, a lot would depend upon the combo you’re running.

      To me, a 25% cast speed reduction is not as big of a game-breaker as a 50% movement speed reduction. For one, the debuff isn’t going to affect insta-cast heals. Secondly, I find the slow to be beneficial for not only kiting melee, but for snaring casters that are trying to LoS you.

      I still say Chimaera, but Core Hounds will be worth a look due to the added damage they will bring. Until 3.3 though, I feel they’re just too squishy.

  4. I’m calling it quits on PvP. I have gone into numerous bg’s only to get 2 shotted by hordies wearing 245 PvE gear. Until things balance out there is no point in PvP’n for me.

  5. Two handers with Titanium Weapon Chain will still have better stats than one handers. Holds true for both pvp and pve weapons. The only valid reason I see for going with 1 handers would be to slap a 25 crit/hit on offhand to reach hit cap without talents (with Victory cloak/neck/ring too), but since WG legs are Furious level with like 60 hit, I rather use them instead 😛

    • Marrowstrike would be a better option for me for PvP stats-wise, but unfortunately I need it for PvE. I got lucky with Calamity’s Grasp and Sinister Revenge, since no Rogues that were present needed them.

  6. hi Garwulf!

    I wonder what is your opnion about having a two handler vs dual wielding for pvp. I see that you have a two handler with +110 ap on it. I’ve been having issues with rogues and warriors disarming me, so I am thinking about 2 1-hand weapons with a titan chain on one of them. what is your experience?



    • I use 2 1H’s for PvP. I have Calamity’s Grasp as my MH w/ 26 agil and Sinister Revenge in my OH w/ a Titanium Weapon Chain. It’s definitely a must, as 10 seconds w/ out deterrence can be a huge problem, let alone a 10 second Dismantle. 🙁

  7. @npast

    nothing wrong with MM at all. MM is the king arena spec against casters. Personally I can’t play it well and I prefer SV or BM.

  8. hi,

    I am new to arena pvp. Can anyone explain why you guys don’t even consider MM spec? I know people complain that it is mana intensive, but what if it’s used with a cunning pet and roar of recovery? (and now cunning pets will have more survivability due to resl buff)
    Is MM really hopeless?

    Thank you,


  9. @Dave

    I completely agree. I think it’s also stupid that we don’t get a cheap off hand like every other class. Blizz needs to give us an S3 ax again.

  10. Must be nice to raid. I don’t have a raiding guild, and I am not skilled enough to get 1800 for a pvp weapon. So I am stuck with the iLevel 219 True Aim longrifle.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for you. Just reading this confirms my utter frustration. At least let me get the previous season’s weapon. As you stated, I just do not have the damage output to finish off people with a 147 dps weapon.

    Pvp gear is welfare epics my ******* ass.

  11. @Merckx

    This further supports my point about being able to aviod big red. But this also is answered by Gar’s responce.
    “The key to BW/TBW is to set up for it. Sure it can be avioded, but all you need to do is wait for the right nonent to pop it.”

    However, considering you roll with a ret paladin its going to be hard to get the other hunter to deterrence before you pop TBW due to the shorter fights.

    As far as BM as an arena spec goes, each tree has its Pro’s/Con’s. Since you have to look out for your own survival, a durable spec like BM seems to be the way to go for you. I roll with a druid healer in 2’s, so I can spec into a heavier DPS spec such as survival, without having to worry about staying alive as much.

  12. To me Deterrence looks like a double hit against BM. With the changes to deterrence I can now use it when a BM hunters use BW. I can avoid 5 secs of both yours and your pets highest dmg output. Then with a Disengage and feign death I can avoid the majority of a BM’s dmg (I know this would be an ideal situation and assumes the BM is just standing still firing). If I can avoid BW that takes most wind out of a BM sails. You can avoid 5 seconds of Exploding Shot but I can wait 5 seconds and then use my lock N Load if it procs. If I see BW and then pop Deterrence, BW is waisted.

    I don’t mean to make it sound like its a guaranteed win for a SV or MM against BM, but it is more in a SV or MM favor. A Bm hunter will have to play much smarter.

  13. Come 3.3 your biggest problem as a BM is going to be other hunters. With the change to deterrence, they will eat you alive.

    But I’m happy to hear arena is fun again, really that’s all that matters. When I get bored of SV or find arena no longer fun, I’ll change it up and have fun with BM for a while.

    • Hi Merckx.

      I’m not sure how the Deterrence change is going to hurt BM vs other Hunters. I see it as a welcome change. Being able to avoid Explosive Shots and especially Lock and Load procs is going to be a huge bonus. If that MM Hunter puts SerpSting up on me, then bam… Deterrence before the Chimera.

      I don’t have much trouble with other Hunters as it is, let alone being able to block their damage in 3.3. Once deterrence wears off, I’m either LoS or out of range while my Chimaera is busy chewing on them while they’re slowed. If they trap him, then I just hit Bullheaded and it’s GG.

      I’m curious to know why you think other Hunters who do more ranged damage than BM will have a leg up with the new Deterrence. Maybe there’s something I overlooked.

  14. Oh, another thing. I have tried to download power auras from both your link and the itself on two diffrent comps, but BOTH of them say the addon is out of date and I can’t do anything with it. Is this happening to anyone else, or does anyone know how to fix it?

    • Buhstheman,

      Do you have “Load out of Date Addons” enabled on your addons screen? Make sure to check that before you log in.

      Click the addons button on the bottom left of the character screen, then select “load out of date addons” at the top of your screen.

      Hope that helps.

  15. Heya Gar
    I do respect the fact BM is your favorate spec. It has many advantages in soling content, keeping you on your toes for hours farming, and insane survivability in BGs/arenas. I would however, like to point out a few things

    1. BM has nearly NO CC whatsoever. Yes, the pet stun is nice, but its simply not enough. Freezing trap you could call CC but it is not very consistant, due to its two second arming time and chance to be resisted, which increases if you are not specced surv.

    2. BM doesnt have very consistant burst. Due to the major neft to BM, the amount of burst time has been slashed. In the arena ten seconds out of a minute and ten secounds or so isn’t enough to run a healer oom, or finish off that %@^#ing annoying overgeared warrior… grrrrr.

    3. Big red can be easily avoided. Those people who are !%@^#ing saying BM deserved a nerf due to the insane burst… they are just bad players. A mage can ice block, a rogue can vanish, a pally can bubble to avoid being raped inside out by your giant red kitty.

    If you can answer these then I will be inclined to possabley return to BM. I love your site keep up the good work!

    • @ Buhstheman

      I agree with what you’re saying, but I think it’s a matter of going with what works best for you. BM suits my play style both in BGs and arena. I really enjoy Survival for BGs, but BM is definitely my favorite spec all-around.

      As far as CC goes… I find traps to be pretty unreliable these days. The only one I really ever use with any success is Freezing Arrow. Other than a few of seconds off of the CD, I really don’t notice much of a difference between BM, MM and SV in this capacity. I rarely see Entrapment procs and usually a Freezing Trap is almost always a better option in arena, for me anyway. My pet helps to keep targets slowed, so I find that the pure lock-down of a deep-freezed healer is what wins matches more often than not.

      Now as far as kiting melee targets and locking down casters, tell me of a better ability than Froststorm Breath. Chimaeras are arguably the most OP pets in the game. Having access to them, as well as 4 additional talent points, is a huge reason to try out Beast Mastery. A 50% slow for 5 seconds on a 7 second cooldown..?! Sign me up. Then, toss in the fact that it crits for 1.2K, cannot be dispelled, and trinkets can’t even remove it.

      Intimidation is 100% reliable (unless my pet’s dead, but that would be unusual), has no diminishing returns, and is on a relatively short CD of only 42 seconds. I use it more on offense, but either way, I think it’s usefulness in PvP may be slightly underestimated.

      I can’t argue with you about the lack of consistent burst. As I’d said, if I didn’t have at least an ilvl232 ranged weapon, I wouldn’t even consider Beast Mastery. However, with a 212DPS weapon and the 10% damage bonus we received, I can take down many non-plate targets without my cooldowns.

      The key with the new BW/TBW is to properly set up for it. Sure it can be avoided, but all you need to do is wait for the right moment to pop it. I’ve learned to rely upon it less for defensive purposes, so it works out fine for me. Unless it’s an emergency where I’m going to die unless I break CC, I only use it when my kill target is out in the open and snared.

      I use it a bit more defensively in BGs, but because I refrain from using it just because the CD is up, I almost always have it when I need it.

      I try to avoid using it on a Mage until after he’s blocked. Same with Pally. The time to go big red is after the bubble or when I see wings. Rogues I’ll just pop back out and get on them again.

      All in all, I think Beast Mastery can be quite viable as an all-around PvP spec provided you have a high damage weapon and know what you’re doing. Also worth noting is that pets will be not only seeing resilience in 3.3, but also a slight boost to their DPS. Now, if the devs also decide to get haste and crit implemented in 3.3, then look out…

      I still like SV as an all-around spec for PvP, and I think MM “can” be the most powerful spec in arena, but I like my brawler style, jack-of-all-trades BM spec at the moment. My 2 cents.

  16. I am starting a tab for all the respecs I have done by following your trend Gar. I went back to BM….I am actually relieved you did too. You put that psot up on SV….and tried and tried but I missed the big red mode so much and I just couldn’t master it. I was on the verge of posting my frustrations….then i seen your taking one for the team post….and felt relief rush over me. I have still been using it as a defensive measure…but now looking at it the way you do…I think I will open with it more. Good to be back my blue wolf Garwulf missed me so… bad I can’t solo tame Krush.

    • HaHa Perceuss.

      You should know by now that I am both experimental and impulsive. It’s a good way to be honestly, because if you never tried new things you’d never really know what you like best.

      I really think that my 3+ weeks of intense Survival PvP really helped prime me for my return to BM. If you play a Beast Master as if you don’t possess big red, then it’ll pay dividends.

      Beast Mastery has some other nice abilities and skill sets apart from BW/TBW. For one, we have the most powerful DoT in the game (our pet). Our pet(s) also possess some of the best special abilities in the game (ie: Froststorm Breath, Acid Spit, Venom Web Spray), as far as PvP is concerned.

      We also have a passive heal that also comes with a 10% bonus to all healing effects used upon us. Every 10 seconds I get a passive heal for 550HPs. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, imagine a long 1v1 vs a healing class… over the course of 1 minute, Spirit Bond essentially increases my max health by 3300. Bandages also give me almost 75 extra HPs per second.

      The 3 second stun from Intimidation is incredible for both BGs and arena.

      The passive 10% speed boost from Kindred Spirits makes kiting melee classes so much easier.

      We get 10 seconds of snare immunity from Master’s Call as opposed to only 4.

      Plus, we still have Deterrence, Disengage, Conc Shot, Traps, and Aimed Shot. If you play as if that’s all you’ve got and only utilize The Beast Within when opportunity presents itself, or you absolutely need it, you’ll do fine.

  17. What a wonderful Verdict! Thanks Garwulf, I’m delighted you’ve rediscovered BM. I also do much more damage in PVP as BM, and have some theories as to why, but I’m going to wait to see your upcoming posts on this.

    • @ Kazador

      I think the reason I do more damage as BM is due to a few reasons. For one, my pet is constantly active on its target. Second, my activity and uptime is increased, therefore resulting in more damage overall. Lastly, I’m able to usually pop a relatively unmolested Rapid Fire in just about every single arena match.


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