Welcome to the long overdue latest installment of my series on BM PvP. This post was actually scratched out in December, but never quite finished. Anyway, I revisited it, added a couple things, groomed it a little bit, and voila! A new post! 🙂
So, without further ado… let’s get to it.
While not as cut and dry as PvE shot priorities for hunters, there are some basic fundamentals to the best PvP shot selection. This of course varies, depending upon the encounter, but there are some basic rules of thumb that I want to go over in this post.
My intention here is just to examine the shots available to us BM hunters, and to demonstrate how important and useful they are in PvP situations. There is no “magic kill rotation”, so decisions on which shots to use need to be made on the fly. Hopefully my post will help shed some light on those choices.
BM PvP Shot Priority & Shot Mechanics
The BM PvP shot priority is pretty simple.
BM PVP Shot Priority Quick Reference Chart
- Kill Shot
- Aimed Shot
- All other shots
Unlike PvE, the PvP shot priority is not an exact science. There are some fundamental guidelines that one can follow, but the Beast Master’s shot priority in PvP is greatly influenced by each type of encounter. That said, let’s examine our arsenal of ranged abilities…
Just as in PvE, Kill Shot should be used immediately once your target is at or below 20% health. Once I get the notification that Kill Shot is ready, it usually means good night for my enemy, especially if they’re clad in PvE gear trying to glass-cannon me. Those are the best. BOOM! 😉
While not as noticed in PvE, Kill Shot has another incredible advantage for PvP in addition to it’s high damage. This is of course the added 10 yard range of the shot, which makes it a tremendous ability for finishing off flag carriers and fleeing opponents. 😈
Use Kill Shot as often as possible. This obviously isn’t a revelation, but it needs mentioning nonetheless.
Any time you engage an enemy this should be the first of your hostile attacks. The reason being, you need to get the healing debuff applied as soon as possible. Aimed Shot makes it more difficult for healers to keep themselves or an affected teammate up.
In addition to the reduced healing effect, Aimed Shot is also on the Beast Master’s short list of ranged instant cast damaging abilities. It is very important that you use this shot every cooldown in order to maintain any kind of offensive pressure. As I’d mentioned in a previous post, make sure your glyphed for it as well.
Arcane Shot won’t bring the business like Chimera or Explosive will, but it’s pretty much what we’ve got to work with as Beast Masters. That’s not to say it’s an underpowered shot. It can actually hit pretty hard if you’re properly talented, plus it’s pure non armor mitigated magic damage. The best kind to dish out when it comes to PvP.
Arcane Shot also has a chance to proc Cobra Strikes, which obviously is something you want to get going ASAP. An Arcane Shot crit with an ensuing Cobra Strike proc will get your rumble started on a good note.
Since burst damage is the name of the game in PvP, Serpent Sting doesn’t shine quite as brightly as it does in PvE. However, it’s still a useful shot in PvP. It provides a little added DPS, it can be cast on the run, and it keeps Rogues in check. It’s also a good idea to apply it because enemies will try to dispel it, and if they don’t, well that’s good too. 😀 The more debuffs and DoTs the better, as they not only boost your damage, but also cause enemies to blow mana trying to cleanse them.
The caveat with Serpent Sting is that it can break crowd control, which is obviously a huge concern in PvP. The solution to this is to remove it from your target by applying Scorpid Sting or Viper Sting, in the event that you or another player are about to set up the target for CC. Both of those shots cause zero damage and will overwrite the Serpent Sting.
Steady Shot falls down the priority list in PvP, mainly due to the simple fact that you need to be standing still for a set period of time in order to cast it. However, it’s a fantastic shot for Beast Masters to utilize when we do get the opportunity. It’s fairly easy to settle in and get some steadies off in a a battleground, but in arena, not so much. It’s better to rely upon instant cast shots and auto shot, rather than trying to force a steady only to have your cast interrupted.
A good time to unload some steadies is following an Intimidation, or while your target is creeping through your Frost Trap or slowed by your two headed monster’s frosty breath. In fact, anytime you’re unmolested is a good time to go into steady mode. Steadies have a chance to proc Cobra Strikes as well, so it’s a good shot to use if the situation is right. As I’d said though, don’t stand there trying to force them while an enemy player is kicking your face in and causing your casts to hiccup.
Unless you’re going for most damage done in your BG (which you shouldn’t be really), I don’t advise the use of Multi-Shot in PvP. The main reason for this is simply for the fact that it shares a cooldown with Aimed Shot.
Sometimes it may seem like a good way to clear cut a totem forest, or maybe you just want to fire it into a pack of enemies and watch big numbers fly. The problem with that is, you then prevent the use of your Aimed Shot for another 8 seconds. The healing debuff is critical for PvP, so be very cautious about using Multi-Shot if at all.
Note: Volley can be an effective substitution for Multi-Shot when dealing with enemy totems.
“Helping hunters kite since level 8”.
For obvious reasons, Concussive Shot is one of the staples in the PvP shot selection. I don’t really think you need me to tell you when to you use it, but just to make sure… fire it when you want to slow someone down. If you don’t need to slow anyone, then use a DPS ability instead. ‘Nuff said.
If you’re not using this shot in PvP, then you should be. It’s an important shot to use in order to knock off damage mitigating buffs such as Hand of Sacrifice, Power Word: Shield, Ice Barrier, etc. Since it only “attempts” to remove one magic effect at a time, there’s no guarantee that you’ll knock off an enemy buff, let alone the one you want. That said, I do use the shot quite a bit actually. In order to dispel the key buff, it’s helpful if you can keep the enemy’s buff stacks to a minimum.
Tranq Shot is also nice for clipping a Paladin’s wings and removing Hand of Freedom. It’s not a gimme though, so don’t count on the shot when trying to escape an advancing Ret. It is great when it works though.
The shot does no damage, costs a ton of mana and has only about a 50/50 chance of a random dispel, so use it, but try to use it wisely.
Double DPS 2v2 isn’t about the drain game, so I seldom use Viper Sting. In fact, most BM hunters are probably not going to rely upon this shot too much. For one, it’s not improved in a proper BM PvP talent build. Second, our success hinges upon killing things quickly. Waiting for the opposition to go oom isn’t usually a tactic that bodes well for us.
I do use it on occasion however. I find that in cases where my partner and I have been ineffective at taking down our focus-fire target, yet have hung in long enough to get the healer near oom, Viper Sting is a good finisher. Same goes with BGs. I very seldom use this shot until I see a caster (mainly healers) between 5-10%. At that point, this shot helps them along and makes it easier for me to dispatch them or their teammate. 😈 Before that however, I prefer to use DPS abilitiess instead, as Viper Sting for BM hunters is just not that effective.
This shot is really only good for overwriting a Serpent Sting when you’re preparing a physical damage dealing class for CC. I hardly ever utilize this shot in PvP.
About the only time I use Volley in PvP is when I’m trying to pop out a stealthed target. It is useful for checking out certain areas, or as cover for a teammate when they’re venturing out away from your flare.
It can also be somewhat effective for stomping totems, but again, it’s seldom we get an opportunity to free cast. Generally speaking, Volley is pretty gimmicky for us hunters in PvP since it’s a channeled AoE ability. Apart from using it to pop stealthed targets, I wouldn’t strongly recommend it for anything else.
One of the downfalls of being a Beast Master is that it’s more difficult to maintain serious pressure on your target for any real length of time. Marksmanship and Survival Hunters are both better suited for delivering high damage with regularity. However, the upside is we have the biggest advantage when it comes to delivering high uninterrupted burst, albeit within a small window. The key is to time things properly.
In my opinion, we have three major offensive cooldowns. Bestial Wrath is obviously the first one that comes to mind, as well as being the premier ability for burst damage. Yet, unless I’m in a situation where, “I absolutely need to pop TBW right now or this Rogue is going to own my face” I try to play without it. This allows me to always have the cooldown when I need it most.
Sometimes this can be at the very beginning of an arena match or BG encounter. It’s not necessarily something to always refrain from using right away. Basically if the situation is right, pop it. However, don’t just mash it because the cooldown is up, use it because you need to.
As opposed to PvE, where you want to use every cooldown as soon as it’s ready, in PvP I try to rely upon more of my baseline abilities, leaving TBW as my “Ace in the Hole” so to speak. In other words, I use it very sparingly. I feel this technique not only makes me a more effective BM hunter, but it also gives me the peace of mind knowing that I can cash in on my TBW insurance policy when I need it most.
This style of play will no doubt help anyone get the most out of this spec, while also honing their huntering abilities. It’s so satisfying to dispose of two BG attackers, while still having TBW at the ready for when the 3rd comes at you moments later. 😉
Note: For PvP, whatever you do, do not macro Intimidation with Bestial Wrath. These two abilities are far too powerful independently to just use together without even thinking. Often times they can compliment one another quite well, but make sure you have complete control over that decision. Which brings me to my next bit.
Although Intimidation is a form of CC, I consider it to be one of BM’s offensive cooldowns. Even without Bestial Wrath, a BM Hunter can easily take down a target that’s at say 30-40% while under the effect of an Intimidation. While I do use the ability for hard target switches and peels, I like it best for a kill setup. Having control of this ability independently of Bestial Wrath is a definite advisement.
Lastly, there’s the old hunter standby… Rapid Fire. In BGs I use it whenever I think I’ll be able to stand back and pew pew for at least 8-10 seconds, provided I really need the added burst. In arena however, I usually save this as a backup in case Bestial Wrath wasn’t enough to finish off my target.
I do pop it on occasion while enraged, provided I’m unmolested and not being LoS’d, but usually I try to save it for two reasons:
One, it blows another GCD, which cuts into my burst window of 10 seconds. Two, and more importantly, I don’t like blowing my entire wad all at once. A Beast Master without any cooldowns is one of, if not the weakest DPS spec in the game. If my target’s still standing after Bestial Wrath, at least I know I still have Rapid Fire waiting if I get the opportunity.
Tip: In the event that your target tries to LoS you during TBW, switch to Aspect of the Beast until you can get a clear shot. That way your pet will be dishing out as much DPS as possible while they play ring round the rosies with you.
Managing defensive cooldowns properly is of great importance with any hunter spec, but especially with Beast Mastery. If you can learn to refrain from crutching on the Get out of Jail Free Card (TBW), and instead get by with the lesser tools, you’ll be better able to handle any and all encounters.
So here’s what we got…
An awesome ability for obvious reasons. It gets you out of sticky situations, and fast. However, it can also be used as a preemptive strike or a smoke and mirrors type of play. Once you learn to position yourself properly, and provided you have good situational awareness, you can do some cool things with Disengage. You can swing around and launch yourself right behind an enemy target to lay a clutch Wing Clip, zoom yourself right into LoS and range of your healer, etc.
Just like so many other tools, it’s a great ability but one that needs practice. I’ve read many horror stories about hunters disengaging off of the cliff at the Lumber Mill, or the bridge(s) in EotS. In fact, I may have even done something like that at one time or another. 🙄
Anyway, practice and learn to rely upon Disengage. It’s cheap and has only a 20 second cooldown when glyphed. Explore what you can do with it and get familiar with its cooldown. It is one of our extremely useful baseline abilities.
I sometimes pop Deterrence early on in a match in order to escape enemy burst and to better prepare for my assault. Being that it blocks all incoming spells and attacks, it’s very useful when you think you’re about to be Death Gripped, Dismantled, HoJ’ed, etc. It’s a great tool for when you’re in real danger of course, but it’s definitely something to utilize early in a fight if needed.
Enemies will often burn cooldowns right off the start in hopes of a quick kill, or to at least get you on your heels. Utilizing Deterrence right away can help you escape a huge amount of burst damage, not to mention CC.
One practical usage is to run through an opponent or pack of enemies while laying a trap amongst them. Deterrence should be up long enough for you to attain a safe distance, leaving your assailant(s) snared in a fog of frostiness. Resume pew-pew on said slowed target(s) and profit.
This is a tremendous ability for BM Hunters, as it gives us 10 whole seconds of root and snare immunity. That is huge, especially when used following The Beast Within. If you’re in melee range when TBW is about to wear off, just pop Master’s Call and carry on about your business.
If I pop a Rogue or Feral out of stealth before they have a chance to open on me, I’ll sometimes punch this right off the bat, so as to avoid getting locked down. Just as with Deterrence, Master’s Call is great to use before you get into trouble.
The classic cheap ass hunter pvp move, and a highly valued one at that. I use this all the time, and with the Glyph of Feign Death, we have it available every 25 seconds. This move can save your hide. Usually it’s not going to fool anyone into thinking you’re finished, but once in a blue moon it will. I’ve had opponents switch to my teammate while I’ve snuck around the corner for a few bandage ticks, only to reappear and deliver a fatal assault. 😈
Most important though, is that it causes your enemy to drop you as a target. If you follow this up with a Snake Trap you can set in motion a flurry of cussing for any tab targeters that are after you. By the time they put a bead on you, you’ll probably be 30 yards out with a daze on them. Feign Death is highly useful as a defensive PvP ability.
I referred to this earlier as what I would consider an offensive ability, but it’s also equally as powerful for survival, especially if you’re trying to get distance on a sprinting Rogue. Try to use it for a burst setup, but if need be, don’t hesitate to pop it if you need to create distance quickly.
Intimidation is also a great way to set up for a Freezing Arrow. Unless they’re mouth breathers, most opponents know to avoid Freezing Arrows. The long trap arming time gives players ample time to sidestep them. However, if you preemptively strike with an intimidation, it buys you a few seconds of stun in order to effectively put them on ice.
Another defensive ability I use just about every single cooldown is…
Shadowmeld (Night Elves)
I love this ability for PvP. I also find it amusing that it still catches people off guard. It serves a similar purpose as that of Feign Death. It causes your enemy to drop you as a target, thus avoiding the next melee attack, or cancelling a hostile spell cast against you. It’s gimmicky, but it works.
Another time I use it is at the start of every match in Orgrimmar Arena. Those of you who arena are probably aware of the bugged platform, which causes pets to often become stuck at the start of a match. To combat this BS, I dismiss my pet after he’s been buffed, then Shadowmeld. Once the match begins, I immediately haul ass off the platform, call my pet, then send him in to battle.
This system not only combats the disadvantage we hunters have to deal with in that arena, but it also prevents me from getting CC’d right off the bat. When those walls come down around that elevator, us hunters are sitting ducks for CC in that arena. Shadowmeld buys me a few precious seconds to get positioned, as well as avoid the initial CC and possible follow-up burst. Plus, it also causes our opponents to think my partner has a Rogue with him. 😉 Then out comes Hunter Fury!
Stoneform and Thunderstomp are also outstanding PvP racials, but being that I don’t have any level 80 experience as a Dwarf and have never rolled a Tauren, I’ll leave those comments to someone else. I will say however, that Stoneform seems like it would be invaluable versus Rogues and Thunderstomp is just, well… awesome.
Well that’s it for today. I still have more to discuss, including macros and addons. Not exactly sure when I’ll get to it, but hopefully soon. 🙂