The Raiding Hunter: Beast Mastery

Attention: This guide is quite old as you may have noticed by the screenshots. 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.

See this post in the Hunter Forums for a more up-to-date Cataclysm Beast Mastery PvE guide.

Beast Mastery is without a doubt the king of leveling and soloing specs. While it doesn’t have potentially the same degree of damage output as the other two Hunters specs, it still can be a very effective spec for raiding. If you like the idea of having a very powerful pet who can dish out almost as much damage as you can, then Beast Mastery may be the spec for you.

The Pros and Cons of Raiding as a Beast Mastery Hunter

The Pros:

  • Easy to play – Beast Mastery is the easiest to play of the three specs and has the smallest learning curve. Sometimes the highest DPS spec is the build you are most comfortable with, not the one with the highest spreadsheet damage potential.
  • Good for fights that require a lot of movement – Since about 40-45% of the spec’s damage output comes from the pet, Beast Mastery excels in fights that require a lot of movement. Regardless of how much downtime you incur as a result of having to move during the fight, your pet will always be attacking (unless it’s dead or feared, of course).
  • Ability to tame exotic pets – Although there are really only a couple of options for pets, as far as the highest possible DPS is concerned, being a Beast Master will allow you to tame exotics. This is especially important for those who wish to collect Spirit Beasts.

The Cons:

  • Beast Mastery is the lowest DPS spec – Marksmanship and Survival both have Beast Mastery beat by a decent margin. Until pets start inheriting crit and haste from the Hunter, expect Beast Mastery to take a backseat to the other two specs in terms of DPS.
  • Pet unfriendly fights are a problem – Because a large percentage of the Beast Mastery Hunter’s damage comes from the pet, pet unfriendly fights are a big problem. Marksmanship and Survival Hunters can still produce a good amount of damage when their pets go down, but Beast Mastery Hunters take it in the shorts. Chances are, if your pet dies once during an encounter, it will likely die again. Dead BM Hunter pet = massive DPS loss for the BM Hunter.

Beast Mastery is a good option for players who want to play a less complicated spec with a simpler shot priority. Although it trails the other two specs in terms of DPS, it’s not as difficult to maximize the damage potential of the spec. Doing a better job of playing a lower DPS spec may be a better option than underachieving with a more complicated, higher DPS spec. Which ever spec allows you to produce the most damage is the spec you should go with. If you’re able to crank out more DPS as a Beast Master, then so be it. Raid as a Beast Master.

Beast Mastery Raiding Build

Beast Mastery Raiding Build

This is the BM talent build I would suggest provided you are hit capped and decently geared. If you are not hit capped through gear, then I’d recommend dropping the necessary points from Improved Tracking and placing them in Focused Aim in order to reach the PvE hit cap of 8% (263 Hit Rating).

Patch 3.2.2 introduced a pretty major change to the Beast Mastery tree when it altered the mechanics of Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within. Hunter damage was buffed, while pet damage was lessened. As a result, my suggested BM raiding build puts a little more emphasis on Hunter damage than builds I’ve suggested in the past.

You may see some recommended builds that sacrifice points in Mortal Shots in favor of Survival Instincts. While this was the preferred choice prior to 3.2.2, all of my analysis shows a higher DPS gain when opting for 5/5 Mortal Shots and skipping Survival Instincts. Although, in cases where your unbuffed crit rating is below say… 25%, I could see merit in placing points into Survival Instincts in order to buff your proc rate on Cobra Strikes.

Beast Mastery Entry-Level Raiding Build

Alternatively, I’d suggest a build like this one for BM Hunters who are just hitting end game and/or lack the necessary crit to maximize the damage of the aforementioned build. This spec sacrifices a few points from Mortal Shots and places them into Survival Instincts and Cobra Strikes. This build provides a little added insurance for your Cobra Strikes and Frenzy procs.

Beast Mastery Glyphs

  • Glyph of Bestial Wrath – No BM Hunter should be without this glyph. Combined with 3/3 Longevity, Glyph of Bestial Wrath will reduce the cooldown on Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within to 1 minute, 10 seconds.
  • Glyph of Steady Shot – As long as your Serpent Sting is active on the target, this glyph adds 10% damage to the BM Hunter’s most often used special shot. Glyph of Steady Shot is another staple glyph for the raiding Beast Mastery Hunter.

For the third major glyph slot there are a few options:

  • Glyph of the Hawk – This glyph provides the highest spreadsheet DPS for the 3rd glyph slot. Even though Beast Mastery is already hasted to the hilt, the highest damage shot for the spec is Auto Shot. Glyph of the Hawk provides an additional 6% haste when Improved Aspect of the Hawk procs. The added haste not only allows for more Auto Shots during the course of a fight, but due to the increased amount of Auto Shots, it also provides a greater chance for the IAotH proc to refresh itself.
  • Glyph of Serpent Sting – This glyph adds 6 seconds to the duration of Serpent Sting. Glyph of Serpent Sting is good for mana efficiency, because it reduces the amount of Serpent Stings that need to be cast during a long boss fight. In addition to the mana efficiency, it also allows for an easier shot rotation. This glyph is a solid option for the 3rd glyph slot.
  • Glyph of Kill Shot – Due to the 10% damage buff that BM Hunter’s received in 3.2.2, Glyph of Kill Shot is a pretty viable option for the 3rd glyph slot. Glyph of Kill Shot reduces the cooldown on Kill Shot to 9 seconds.

All of these glyphs provide around the same amount of DPS. Hawk provides the largest gain, but Glyph of Serpent Sting will make you a little more mana efficient, which in turn can lead to more DPS. Kill Shot provides more finishing power. Choose the one that suits you best.

Gear Itemization, Gems and Enchants

Unless you’re already hit capped through talents and/or gear, the hit cap should be the first thing to consider when looking at gems and enchants. The current Hunter hit cap is 8%, which translates to 263 hit rating. If you’re Draenei or if you bank on always having Heroic Presence available in raids, then you can lower the necessary hit rating required to 7% (230 hit rating).

Once you’ve reached the hit cap, agility and attack power come next.

Even though raw attack power provides a higher DPS boost to pets than agility does, I’m going to recommend agility as the stat to stack. Here are my reasons…

  • Patch 3.2.2 buffed the Hunter’s damage, but lessened pet DPS. Since the overall DPS output has shifted more towards the Hunter, agility is now more valuable for BM Hunters than it has been in the past. Our crits are hitting 10% harder than before, so the more of them we can produce the better.
  • Stacking agility gives you the freedom to switch from Beast Mastery to Marksmanship or Survival without paying a penalty. Unless you plan on staying BM4Life, going with agility over attack power is the way to go, as both MM and SV benefit more from agility than they do attack power.
  • Agility scales better with raid buffs.
  • Zehera’s Online Hunter DPS Analyzer shows me a single digit DPS gain when I swap out my agility gems for AP ones. Going from 6038DPS to 6041 isn’t really worth it IMO.

Although attack power is still a slightly better stat for BM Hunters than agility, the difference is pretty negligible now with the recently changed BW/TBW mechanics. Unless you’re into min/maxing, I suggest gemming for agility over attack power in most cases. Chances are, if you’re into min/maxing, then you probably won’t choose Beast Mastery for raiding anyway. Unless you’re rich and can afford to regem after every respec, just go for agility in most cases. Well, with the exception of your 2H weapon of course. Make sure to throw attack power on your 2H, preferably Massacre if you can afford it. I’m also going to suggest Crusher for your gloves over the 20 agility enchant.

Pet Choice and Pet Build

Beast Mastery Pet Raiding BuildFor maximum Beast Mastery DPS, the two pets to look at are the Devilsaur and the wolf. The Devilsaur provides the highest spreadsheet DPS of all pets, but the wolf is a pretty close second. Furthermore, the wolf is a lot more low-profile and less apt to annoy your raid group and main tank. In fights that involve a lot of movement, the Devilsaur will win out due to its higher personal DPS. In most cases however, both pets are pretty close, so go with whichever you prefer.

This is the build I would suggest for a BM Hunter Ferocity pet raiding build.

Beast Mastery Shot Priority

The Beast Mastery Hunter’s shot priority is pretty basic.

This is what it looks like:

  1. Kill Shot
  2. Multi Shot
  3. Arcane Shot
  4. Serpent Sting
  5. Steady Shot

If you have the two piece Tier 9 set bonus, then I’d recommend switching it up to this:

  1. Kill Shot
  2. Serpent Sting
  3. Multi Shot
  4. Arcane Shot
  5. Steady Shot

Since Serpent Sting not only increases the damage of Steady Shot, but also does a s**t load of damage on its own with 2 pc T9, I’d make it the highest priority shot after Kill Shot, provided you have the set bonus.

The basic idea behind the Beast Mastery shot cycle is to fire Kill Shot as soon as it’s available, and after every cooldown. After Kill Shot, Arcane Shot and Multi Shot are our highest damage specials. When those three shots are on cooldown, you just need to sit back, spam Steady Shot and maintain Serpent Sting uptime on the target.

Note: If you’re finding that your mana pool is pretty shallow and not replenishing quickly enough, simply drop Multi Shot from your rotation. The penalty for spending more time in Aspect of the Viper is a greater loss than dropping Multi from your rotation. It’ll also allow you to swill a Potion of Speed as opposed to a Mana Potion during a long boss fight.

Uber Bestial Wrath Macro

/cast Bestial Wrath
/cast Call of the Wild
/cast Rabid
/cast Kill Command

If you have an on-use trinket that grants attack power, then add it to the beginning of the macro. Just add: /use 13 or /use 14, depending upon which slot you have the trinket equipped. Alternatively, you can use the exact name of the trinket as well. ie: /use Loatheb’s Shadow

/use 13
/cast Bestial Wrath
/cast Call of the Wild
/cast Rabid
/cast Kill Command

This macro helps to maximize damage by combining a lot of synergistic abilities within one macro.

Hopefully some of this info helps those of you who wish to raid as Beast Masters. Feel free to post your comments and questions relating to this guide, and I’ll try to respond to them as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

Up next… The Raiding Hunter: Marksmanship

33 thoughts on “The Raiding Hunter: Beast Mastery”

    • Hi eveshadow,

      It’s not a good idea to macro shot sequences because it removes your ability to make decisions. Furthermore, the BM rotation is by far the easiest.

      All you have to do is look at it as a priority based system, rather than a sequence. You have certain shots that need to be fired immediately once their cooldowns are up.

      Here’s the priority:

      – Kill Shot
      – Multi or Aimed (if you’ve specced into it)
      – Arcane Shot
      – Serpent Sting
      – Steady Shot

      Since Kill Shot doesn’t become available ’til late in a fight, all you need to worry about is this:

      Multi > Arcane > Steady
      Making sure that Serpent Sting is applied each time it wears off.

      If you’re worried about mana during single target fights, you can even drop to an Arcane / Steady Shot rotation (with Serpent Sting too, of course).

      Lastly, depending upon how much armor penetration you have, you can also get away with leaving Arcane Shot out altogether. For most hunters it’s best to keep it in there, but at the higher gear levels, Steady Shot can actually top it.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

  1. very late post – sorry

    but i raid as a BM or MM hunter – (ArP – shiny)

    i can still top in either spec, ill admit MM is better but BM is fun to play sometimes, as for pet choice a wolf. . ..reason i raid as BM sometimes is to be unique and get away 🙂 i roll out Loque (nahak 😉 ) mononoke (skoll) or even barney (MY DINOMASAUR!) . . . .sorry but yes, nice job on the guide gar, BM is viable yet will perform less, end of convo ^o^ and it’s also funny to confuse your feral kitty in 10 mans “who the f**k is firing moonfire O _o we has a moonkin!!!??” =’] good days.

  2. Great information! I appreciate the time you’ve put into this. I finally found Bjam, the white bear I was looking for. He specs Tenacity not Ferocity. Can you please give suggestions for a Tenacity build? He’s lvl 63 with 11 available talents.

    Thank you!

      • Hey Garwulf! Thanks for the reply. Yes, I usually solo quest or with another friend. I also like dungeons. I plan on keeping my bear until around lvl 75 or so then switch to the wolf. Thanks again!!

      • Hey Garwulf! I re-specced my bear and it’s making a huge difference. I can really see the improvement. I’m currently knocking at the door of lvl 70. Can you please post a lvl 70 Tenacity tree?

        Much appreciated,


        • I’d start putting points into Culling the Herd. If you run into situations where he dies or is near-death on a few occasions, then you should stick a point into Last Stand.

  3. I play BM – would never play anything else. My wolf and I go everywhere together. I am always in the top 5 DPS in 25 man raids and usually 1st or 2nd in 10 mans ICC.

    People used to pooh pooh BM but they are pleasantly surprised when they find out I raid only in the BM spec.

    • I noticed Shiilo that you go out of your way to NOT get armor penetration items along with your insanely high amount of hit. Just wondering what influenced you for that set up.

      I raid BM as well and am looking to hear from any other BM hunter who uses an armor pen setup so I can see a comparison.

      • LOL yeah the hit is insanely high and it sucks. I am trying to lower it. I get ArP items when I can but they are not a priority – I prefer AP, then crit then preferably ArP then last of all hit.

      • sorry to jump in, raoky i raid as an ArP BM hunter simply because i have an ArP MM build =’] ive raided with a good freind who was an agility BM hunter with similar gear, (check arvena and huntarolo – turalyon EU) and i was outperforming her by a while on some fights, others we where close literally 150 dps =’], and others i got creamed by 1K or so

        aslong as you know your rotations, and also movement management and all the basic hunter ideals – then it’s personal pref :S always mentioned everywhere but still – as gar said if theres even a slight chance of wanting to go other specs agil.

        o one more point, i have about 1100k ArP (no trinket)(none of my food or flasks) so im a little off but a well, people with 1400 may notice the diff. =’]

  4. I been playing around with a real raiding BM spec on ptr, it does look a lil better, but I can see 25m raids taking one for the straight buff to the raids damage.

    Do you plan on updating this guide for 3.3.3? Or will it even be needed, lol, not sure how many other changes there are just yet.

  5. This is an excellent article and I thank you. I really like the BM spec and am pulling around 2800-3100 DPS w/ a Sprit Beast and mostly Conquest gear in Lich King Heroics. Not sure if thats good or bad but I typically tend to be #1 or #2 DPS.

    Would it be safe to say I could improve those numbers with a wolf or raptor? I really like the Sb’s but maybe I should keep something else in the stable for Raids and ‘roics?

    • Dirrtycraig,

      You could improve on those numbers with a wolf or devilsaur, but it wouldn’t be a jaw dropping difference. However, If you want to get the most from the spec, then I’d suggest a wolf (for heroics) or a Devilsaur (for raiding). Wolves are great for just about everything, but a Devilsaur’s going to scale just a bit better with raid buffs.

  6. Hello, thank you for all of this information, i need it. I have one question right now….. I followed your talent tree and my hit cap is 0nly 72, Could you help with this please. Im a level 80 (just starting) and my gear isnt up to par yet, could that be the reason?

    • Brahmah,

      In that case, pull 3 points from Mortal Shots and place them into Focused Aim. Unless you’re a Draenei (or consistently group w/ Draenei), you need 165 hit rating with 3/3 in this talent. Try to get there via enchants and gems, then as you acquire more gear with +hit, pull points from FA as needed. Each point in Focused Aim is worth about 33 hit rating FYI.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

    • Hi Perceuss. 🙂

      If you plan on staying BM for sure, then go with attack power.

      If you think there’s even a slight chance you’ll want to switch to MM or SV, or if you’re going BM for PvP, I’d say agility. The difference is just so slim now, that I can’t really see the merit in going full AP aside from HC BM raiding.

      My 2 cents.

  7. i am basically a 2 year + noob. i just as a rule state that at the beginning of everything i say to cover me from incoming noob fire from others.

    in your gemming secton i understand the hit/agi/ap part, i am fuzzy on how much crit i need and if i don’t have that do i gem straight +20 gems until i reach the desired amount. i am actually a jc that was fortunate enough to have started saving titanium ore as soon as whispers that in 3.2 we could prospect it so im getting near to having all the new epic designs. so i have the combo cuts that are partial crit and something else. should i go that route or like i said, straight crit?

    i’m way over on hit and i just pretty much finished a complete gear upgrade but have many sockets that need gems but i’m really thrifty with my gems even tough b/c of honor pts and prospecting i runneth over with every color uncut gems. im just still not willing to make a best guess and just throw gems in hoping for a good outcome because all of the time, gold, effort that went into getting so many uncut gems is still painfully entrenched in my mind. so if you can make sense of the jibber jabber and can provide any insight i would very much appreciated.

    i heart playing bm so much that even though i’m dual bm/surv for that very reason so that for pve doing dailies etc stuff i can stay bm but when i raided i switched to surv but i truly HATED it so much, i don’t raid much now. that is why when i saw this post i lit up like a xmas tree i know as of now m not going to be as high on the dps chat, but if i can just get to the sot that i’m carrying my weight it would be so awesome. i apologize for the lengrh of the post but i’m a riter; i have just accepted my long-windedness


    • @ Doramor would be my first choice unless you need hit. In that case, I’d recommend

      You could also go with the 20AP/10 crit or 20AP/10 hit instead, but I like agility. As I’d said, it makes it easier to switch between specs, plus the DPS loss is pretty negligible now due to the 3.2.2 changes.

      AP is much more important than crit as a BM Hunter. In fact, I don’t really recommend for any Hunter to gem straight crit in yellow slots. Unless the set bonus is worthy, you should probably jam 20 agility (or 40AP for BM) into any and every slot (unless you’re below hit cap), provided you don’t mess up your meta requirements.

  8. Hey Garwulf. Just wanted to clarify by mentioning that the EJ spreadsheets are saying that if you have 5/5 serpents swiftness an 5/5 imp aspect of the hawk, the serpent sting glyph comes out on top, especially if you have the 2 pc. T9

  9. Great guide! Just a few things I’ve noticed as a perma-BM hunter. Granted these are mostly heroics experiences and in raids they might not be issues.

    1. Like Kazador said, CHECK YOUR PET ABILITIES. Cower on, Growl off. But also check to make sure that your Bite/Claw hasn’t turned itself off, or Rabid, or etc.

    2. If you pop Bestial Wrath immediately at the start of the fight, you may pull aggro depending on your tank & their class. BW time is as bursty as you’ll ever be, it might be too much right off the bat.

    3. Speaking of aggro, there may be times when sadly you have to pull your pet back. This shouldn’t happen…but sometimes it does. Even with cower on. You can feign to wipe your aggro but unfortunately your pet has no such luxury, and losing some DPS while your pet is at your side is better than losing some DPS because your pet pulled aggro and got crushed.

    4. Since your pet is so important to your DPS, BM hunters have to be extra aware of their pet’s health and ready with Mend Pet. Same goes for fights with lots of dmg being tossed around to all targets, void areas, etc…toss a pre-emptive Mend Pet so you don’t lose your beastie. It’s almost as important as keeping yourself alive.

    5. Strategic use of BW’s immunity can be very helpful in boss fights where the entire party/raid are incapacitated. Two examples are the mass fearing Paletress’ memory-thing uses, and the perpetual stunning that Ymiron does in Utgarde Pinnacle.

  10. Good stuff Kazador.

    It’s tough to remember to include everything in these guides, which is why I’m glad I have you guys to fill in the gaps. 🙂

    I’ll likely go back and make a few updates, adding some of your tidbits. I tend to take some things for granted until another player mentions them. Then I realize, oh yeah… I should probably have included that.

    Thanks again.

  11. Thanks for putting this together Garwulf. I raid as a BM hunter, and can typically outperform most other hunters just by doing BM as well as possible (despite the inherent DPS disadvantage it has). I’d just like to vote in favor of everything you propose here, and add a few quick things:

    Gemming: If Crit transfers to pets in 3.3, as promised, then Agility will certainly surpass AP as the gem of choice. Yet another reason to start gemming Agility.

    Pet Abilities: Blizzard likes to turn your pet’s abilities on and off. You’ll need to check the autocast settings on all pet abilities at the beginning of each raid. I suggest leaving Call of the Wild OFF of autocast, so you can be sure to sync it with Bestial Wrath using your BW macro.

    Pet Grooming: Since pets are more important to BM raiders than other hunters, giving your pet boosts really helps. Feed your pet Spicy Mammoth Treats, and add a Scroll of Strength VIII if you don’t have raid buffs that overwrite it. Also always check to make sure your pet has the right Pally buffs (Might and Kings, in that order of priority).

    DPS burst: The advantage a BM hunter has over other hunter builds is the ability to do a powerful burst (see the Bestial Wrath macro). Usually you’ll want to fire this off the instant your pet first reaches the target, and then use it again as soon as it is off cooldown. To open a fight like this use Arcane Shot (while your pet runs to the target), then BW macro and Serpent Sting (so your sting benefits from the +10% damage). However, in many boss fights the burst is best used at strategic moments. In Trial of the Crusader, for example, the burst is extremely effective during Icehowl stuns and against Twin Valkyrie Shields. Any fight with pauses in it allows you to get BW off of cooldown and gives you a strategic advantage (e.g. Twin Jormungar, Anub’Arak)

    Even more DPS Burst: To get even more DPS out of your burst, add the following to your macro:
    /cast Rapid Fire
    /use Potion of Speed

    The extra shots from Rapid Fire also get 10% more damage on them during Bestial Wrath. Potion of Speed will likewise increase the number of shots you fire while that 10% bonus is in effect. However, I often prefer to use a potion of mana instead of a potion of speed, so I put this into my macro only on key fights where the burst is more important than mana maintenance (like on Icehowl).

    Divide and Conquer: It is not always best to have your pet on the same target as you. In some fights be prepared to have your pet attacking one thing while you attack another. An example of this is the Onyxia fight, where you’ll need your pet to attack the Guardians while you shoot Onyxia in phase two (during which your pet can’t reach her because she’s flying).

    I hope these suggestions are helpful to everyone!


  12. I’d take one point out of improved revive pet and put it into Aimed Shot personally, but that’s my personal preference, good write up!


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