Great guide (from my somewhat limited understanding!), let me get this up on the news.
Hello and welcome to the Tankspot hunter raid guide. My name is Crocstar and in this guide I will cover both the basics and specifics useful in maximizing your potential for success in end game raiding. As this guide is in fact focused on end game raiding I have only covered Marksmanship and Survival raid specs as currently Beast Mastery specs are not optimal in maximizing dps for nearly any end game encounter. This guide is rather extensive and may even be too detailed for certain readers, therefore I have included a table of contents which will hopefully help readers find the specific information they are looking for in a timely manner.
Please keep in mind this information is up to date as of patch 3.2.2 and some of it will almost certainly become inaccurate in the future. Also remember that this guide is filled with mere suggestions on min/maxing your character in a 25 man raid setting and some information may still be up for debate among the hunter theorycrafting community. I apologize in advance if any of this information is in fact incorrect, I will make certain to investigate any potential mistakes and correct them as they are pointed out. Thank you in advance to those hunters that have been crucial in providing me with much of the knowledge I have used in writing this guide (specifically Shandara, Xumio, and Zeherah among many others of course). Your contributions have been of great benefit to the hunter community. I recommend all hunters that use any information contained in this guide to test the impact changes will make to your maximum dps using either Shandara’s spreadsheet at http://elitistjerks.com/f74/t30710-wotlk_dps_spreadsheet/ or www.femaledwarf.com designed by Zeherah and modeled off of Shandara’s spreadsheet. These are absolutely indispensable tools in choosing from the suggestions provided in this guide.
Table of Contents
I. MM/SV raiding specs (including pet spec)
II. Shot rotation and shot priority
III. Proper enchant, glyph, gem, profession and consumable choices
IV. Current itemization priority and stat values
V. Useful add-ons and macros for raiding
VI. Tips for hunter success for each ToGC 25 encounter
I. MM/SV raiding specs (including pet spec)
The following MM and SV specs are currently considered the top specs in order to maximize raid dps. The SV spec listed relies on maintaining the 2 piece tier 9 set bonus in order for it to in fact perform better than other specs, however I will provide a link to alternative specs in the case that you do not have this bonus. In addition there are many floater talents that do not necessarily contribute a great dps increase that can be substituted with other talents which may be more beneficial in certain situations and I will list these talents and potential alternatives.
MM top dps spec: 7/57/7
The following is a list of talents not included in this build can be beneficial in increasing personal or raid dps in certain situations:
Improved Hunter’s Mark: Increases the bonus attack power granted by your Hunter's Mark ability by 10/20/30%, and reduces the mana cost of your Hunter's Mark ability by 33/66/100%.
If your 25 man raid consistently includes 2 or more hunters this talent can be taken by one hunter in your raid to help improve the overall dps of the hunters in raid. The base value of max rank hunter’s mark is 500 attack power for all hunters so this talent increases that value to 650 attack power. Keep in mind that improved hunter’s mark can be overwritten by an untalented hunter mark on the same mob so if there is a hunter with this talent ensure that his hunter’s mark is kept up.
Improved Arcane Shot: Increases the damage done by your Arcane Shot by 15%.
Current theorycrafting shows that if your character has a base armor penetration rating of approximately 350 (again please use a spreadsheet to verify this fact if you are near this rating) or above it is more beneficial to drop arcane shot from your rotation and replace it with steady shot when standing still. Obviously in that case you would not need this talent, however if you do not currently maintain 350 armor penetration this talent can be taken and arcane shot can be kept in your shot rotation. I will provide more information on this in the shot rotation section.
Trueshot Aura: Increases the attack power of party and raid members within 45 yards by 10%. Lasts until cancelled.
In the case that your 25 man raid does not include either a blood DK, enhancement shaman or hunter that has a talent which increases overall raid attack power by 10% this would be a very beneficial talent to pick up both for personal and raid dps.
Hawk Eye: Increases the range of your ranged weapons by 2/4/6 yards.
Although this talent will not be included in any maximum dps talent build it can be very beneficial nonetheless for certain encounters. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking it, however some hunters feel that the additional range is nice in movement-heavy encounters for obvious reasons.
The following is a list of talents that can be dropped in favor of the talents mentioned above in certain situations.
Focused Aim: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Steady Shot by 23/46/70%, and increases your chance to hit by 1/2/3%.
The current hit cap for hunters is 263 hit rating. If your current gear maintains this rating you can replace the 3 points from focused aim. You can also either take 2/3 focused aim (need 230 hit rating to maintain hit cap) or 1/3 focused aim (need 197 to maintain hit cap). Keep in mind that even with 3/3 points in focused aim you should still maintain 164 hit rating to stay at the hit cap (assuming there is no Draenei in raid providing a 1% hit buff). It is generally more beneficial if you have the option to take 3/3 focused aim and replace gear that has hit rating on it with gear that does not, we will talk more about this in the itemization and stat value section.
Rapid Recuperation: You gain 2%/4% of your mana every 3 sec while under the effect of Rapid Fire, and you gain 1%/2% of your mana every 2 sec for 6 sec when you gain Rapid Killing.
This talent does not provide any dps improvement and therefore is replaceable, however it is an excellent source of mana for those longer encounters when used properly with rapid fire. If you find that mana consumption is not an issue for you in a 25 man setting (without using Aspect of the Viper while attacking), any points placed in this talent may be more beneficial used in another area.
As a closing note to this section I will be the first to admit that certain other talents not mentioned in this guide can be beneficial in some way to raiding, however those that are readily accessible in a MM raiding build are not very beneficial in increasing dps.
SV top dps spec: 2/18/51
(Again keep in mind this is the top potential dps spec based on the assumption that you have the 2 piece tier 9 set bonus allowing serpent sting ticks to be critical hits)
The potential SV top dps spec can vary significantly from hunter to hunter depending on current gear and raid buffs brought by the other members of your 25 man raid. Instead of listing floater talent tooltips (many of which are shared with a MM raid spec), in an attempt to make this section slightly more brief I will point out floater talents that may be more useful than others and the situations which warrant these changes. Again as mentioned before experimenting with different specs in your spreadsheet will help you to find the spec that supports your gear and allows for personal maximum dps potential.
The first set of talent points that may be replaced are the 3 points placed in Improved Stings. These points provide much more dps in a SV spec if you currently have the 2 piece tier 9 set bonus, however may be of more use in another talent if you do not.
A second situation that may call for a change in talents is a problem with mana consumption. If you find that you are forced to switch to Aspect of the Viper for more than a very limited amount of time while attacking you may consider taking the one or both talent points placed in Improved Aspect of the Hawk and placing them in Thrill of the Hunt. Although these points in Imp Hawk are certainly a minor dps upgrade for this spec, if you are running low on mana they would be of much greater use in Thrill of the Hunt to avoid using Aspect of the Viper.
A third situation that may warrant a change in spec would be a lack of hit on your current gear. If you are not at the 264 hit cap in your gear then taking points out of either Imp Hawk or Imp Stings and placing them in Focused Aim may be a smart choice. Maintaining the 8% hit cap as a hunter is of great importance in a 25 man raid setting.
Finally a fourth situation that may call for a change in spec would be if your 25 man raid does not maintain 2-3 classes that bring replenishment. Replenishment is an excellent source of mana for the raid as a whole, so if you are lacking in this department you may consider taking one or two points in Hunting Party. In fact because this talent also provides a 1/2/3% increase in agility to your character there is certainly a chance that taking these talents over Imp Hawk or Imp Stings may in fact be a dps upgrade even if your raid does not need the replenishment.
The above situations are the main instances where SV hunters may find it beneficial to deviate from the maximum potential dps spec, however there are also a couple of talents that can be replaced or supplemented for potential benefit. In the top dps spec only 2 out of the 3 points in Resourcefulness are taken because the first two points are worth substantially more dps than the last point, however taking the third point will still be a minor increase in dps. The top dps spec also includes aimed shot because it is very useful for it’s healing debuff and because it can be used while on the move. You can in fact take that talent point out and put it elsewhere and use multi-shot instead as it provides virtually identical damage, however I wouldn’t recommend that necessarily due to the benefits listed above for taking aimed shot. One more change that certain hunters may find beneficial for certain encounters would be taking the 3 points invested in Trap Mastery and placing these in Hawk Eye instead. You would of course lose a relatively minor amount of dps provided by Black Arrow, however the extra 6 yard range on all your shots again can be very helpful for those movement heavy fights where range is an issue.
Pet and Pet Spec:
Currently the best pet for both MM and SV specs for maximum dps is a wolf. This is because the wolf buff Furious Howl is an excellent buff to hunter dps and more than makes up for the slight lack of dps the wolf itself puts out compared to certain other pets. The following is the spec basically unanimously used by raiding hunters to maximize pet dps:
I will forgo an in-depth explanation of talent choices in this section for brevity sake, but basically this spec takes all of the talents best suited to pet dps along with avoidance which is crucial to pet survival on certain encounters.
II. Shot rotation and priority
Shot rotation as a MM hunter varies based on a number of things, most notably glyphs that lower shot cooldown duration. The following is merely a suggested shot priority that will vary as explained below.
Serpent Sting/Silencing Shot/Kill Shot/Chimera Shot/Aimed Shot/Steady Shot
This shot priority first and foremost relies on the fact that the hunter has around 350 or more armor penetration and therefore has dropped Arcane Shot from their rotation. Keep in mind, however, that even if you have replaced Arcane Shot with Steady Shot in your rotation, Arcane Shot is still a very useful ability to use if you are on the move and both Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot are on cooldown. If you are using Arcane Shot in your rotation its priority will be after Aimed Shot but before Steady Shot. This priority is also not dependent on glyphs that lower shot cooldown but rather just using shots that do the most damage before others that do less damage. In reality the following is the actual shot rotation used with the top dps talent build:
Serpent Sting/Silencing Shot/Aimed Shot/Chimera Shot/Kill Shot/Steady Shot
This rotation is used because the top build uses the Aimed Shot glyph that reduces its cooldown by 2 seconds and if used before Chimera Shot will avoid more instances where both Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot are off cooldown at the same time. It also does not use the Kill Shot or Chimera Shot glyphs which if used would likely place Kill Shot as the highest prioritized shot when available, followed by Chimera Shot and then Aimed Shot. I will discuss glyphs more in another section but as always testing out different shot rotations in your spreadsheet will help you find the shot rotation that produces max dps for your character.
The shot priority for Survival doesn’t vary as much as Marksmanship but does tend to change slightly from patch to patch based on changes made to various shots. The following is currently the best shot priority for maximizing dps:
Kill Shot/Explosive Shot/Black Arrow/Serpent Sting/Aimed (or Multi) Shot/Steady Shot
The top SV build uses the Kill Shot glyph which lowers the cooldown by 6 seconds and the talent Sniper Training when maxed out increases Kill Shot crit chance by 15%. This helps to explain why Kill Shot is the top priority in a SV rotation while it may not always be in a MM spec.
As a personal suggestion I have found that from time to time when I use Explosive Shot before Black Arrow just when pulling a mob (without Misdirection up) I have the tendency to almost immediately pull off the tank and be forced to use my feign death cooldown before I would like to (which of course when resisted can be very problematic). Therefore I like to put up both Black Arrow and Serpent Sting to begin an encounter even though it is a slight dps loss to avoid this situation.
A common question is what to use when Lock and Load procs and you have the opportunity to fire 3 Explosive Shots in a row. First it is important not to overlap Explosive Shot ticks as this will be a pretty decent dps loss so instead of firing each successive Explosive Shot when the global cooldown comes around it is much better to wait approximately half a second in between Explosive Shots to allow each tick to go off before a new Explosive Shot tick is applied. Many hunters have tested whether it would in fact be more useful to use this half second downtime to fire a different shot. It is a dps upgrade to use Aimed Shot, Multi-Shot or Kill Shot in between Explosive Shots to maximize dps if those shots are off cooldown, otherwise it is most likely better to wait out the half second.
III. Proper enchant, glyph, gem, profession and consumable choices
Head: Arcanum of Torrent (Requires Knights of Ebon Blade Revered) - 50 attack power and 20 crit
Legs: Icescale Leg Armor - 75 attack power and 22 crit
Chest: Scroll of Enchant Chest - Powerful Stats: Adds 10 to all stats
Hands: Scroll of Enchant Gloves - Major Agility: 20 agi (or 20 hit enchant is acceptable substitute)
Wrists: Scroll of Enchant Bracers - Greater Assault: 50 attack power (or fur lining -130 attack power for leatherworkers)
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe (Requires Sons of Hodir Exalted) - 40 attack power and 15 crit
Back: Scroll of Enchant Cloak - Major Agility: 22 agi
Feet: Scroll of Enchant Boots - Icewalker: 12 hit and 12 crit (16 agi enchant is acceptable replacement if hit is not needed)
2h Melee Weapon: Scroll of Enchant 2h Weapon - Massacre: 110 attack power
1h Melee Weapon: Scroll of Enchant Weapon - Accuracy: 25 hit and 25 crit (26 agi or 65 attack power are acceptable substitutes if hit are not needed)
Ranged Weapon: Heartseeker Scope - 40 crit
The following is a list of acceptable glyphs that may be used, one of which should always be the Glyph of Serpent Sting. In choosing two more glyphs out of the following to be used, your spreadsheet will be the best indicator of potential glyphs that will maximize your dps.
Glyph of Chimera Shot - Lowers the CD of Chimera Shot by 1 sec
Glyph of Aimed Shot - Lowers the CD of Aimed Shot by 2 sec
Glyph of Kill Shot - Lowers the CD of Kill Shot by 6 sec
Glyph of Serpent Sting - Increases the duration of serpent sting by 6 sec
Glyph of the Hawk - Increases the haste bonus of you imp hawk talent bonus by 6%
Glyph of Trueshot Aura - Increases the crit percentage of aimed shot by 10% while Trueshot aura is active
Glyph of Hunter’s Mark - Increases the ranged attack power bonus of your Hunter's Mark by 20%
I did not include Glyph of Steady Shot on this list because it is currently bugged with the MM talent Marked for Death. This talent currently already provides the 10% steady shot bonus the glyph gives and these effects do not stack. This is a bug and if fixed this glyph would be extremely useful.
In addition I would warn against Glyph of Trueshot Aura in certain circumstances. Currently Trueshot Aura is overwritten by the blood dk and enhancement shaman attack power buffs, and when overwritten this glyph will not work. You can, however, make an Aimed Shot /cancelaura macro that will cancel these overwriting buffs and allow Aimed Shot to benefit from the glyph. It has been suggested that if there is another hunter in your raid with Trueshot Aura on this may also overwrite your Trueshot Aura and cause the glyph not to work. The macro is as follows:
/cancelaura abominable might
/cancelaura unleashed rage
/cast aimed shot
This macro will work fine unless you have more than one hunter in raid with Trueshot Aura active in which case my suggestion would be to have the other hunter turn off his Trueshot Aura unless he is using this glyph as well.
The Glyph of Hunter’s Mark is certainly beneficial in conjunction with Improved Hunter’s Mark if you are the hunter in the raid that is putting up Hunter’s Marks, however I would not suggest using this glyph otherwise.
The three glyphs that have generally been accepted as the best to use with a SV spec are Glyph of Kill Shot, Glyph of Explosive Shot (increases explosive shot crit rate by 4%) and Glyph of Serpent Sting. The only glyph that may be worth replacing is the Glyph of Serpent Sting and if so should be replaced by Glyph of Steady Shot instead.
Stat priorities will be covered in the next section, however for both MM and SV the only gem you should use is the Delicate Scarlet Ruby (20 agi) except in a few circumstances.
The first circumstance would be when you have the ability to achieve a gem socket bonus on a piece of gear. For MM especially (SV as well in limited circumstances) a 10 agi 10 crit, 10 agi 10 hit, or 20 hit gem can be acceptable gems for a yellow socket if they are necessary to achieve a desirable socket bonus. However if you must fill multiple sockets on a piece of gear with yellow or blue gems, it is usually best to fill these slots with 20 agi gems rather than shoot for the socket bonus. Again your spreadsheet is your friend, use it, live it, love it.
The second circumstance is when you have a headpiece that has a prismatic gem slot (which should be filled with a Relentless Earthsiege Diamond by the way, 21 agi and 3% to crit damage). In that case you are going to need to use one blue gem of some sort in your gear, and for this slot I would recommend a Nightmare Tear (10 to all stats). This gem is much more valuable than any other blue gem. I would also recommend taking the opportunity to achieve one of your better socket bonuses in your gear by using this gem in the correct blue socket.
The third circumstance is for MM exclusively. If you have very high itemization gear you may find in your spreadsheet that it is actually a dps increase to gem for armor penetration rather than agility if you so choose. If you desire to spec SV for certain encounters, however, I would not recommend this strategy as it at best will only improve your MM potential dps by a few hundred and will severely hamper dps as SV.
Currently the best professions for both MM and SV for increasing personal dps are Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting. Blacksmithing allows you to add a gem socket to both your gloves and bracers while Jewelcrafting allows you to use 3 gems in your gear set with higher stat values than normal epic gems.
Using other professions will not kill your dps by any means, Engineering is useful for PvP purposes and Leatherworking is a nice dps boost as well, however for absolute min/maxing of dps I would suggest Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting.
Generally the consumables that I bring to every raid are Blackened Dragonfin (40 agi and 40 stam food), Hearty Rhino (40 ArP and 40 stam food), Flasks of Endless Rage (180 attack power), Spiced Mammoth Treats (30 str and 30 stam for your pet), Potions of Speed (Increase haste rating by 500 for 15 sec), Runic Healing Potions (Restores 2700 to 4500 health) and Runic Mana Potions (Restores 4200 to 4400 mana).
With my current spec/gear Hearty Rhino is actually a very slight dps upgrade over Blackened Dragonfin and is significantly cheaper on my server so I use that as my food buff. You can of course use a Fish Feast as your food buff as this tends to be much cheaper for the raid as a whole and is only a minor dps loss from Blackened Dragonfin. I also used Spiced Mammoth Treats for progression fights, but they are only a minor pet dps boost and can be relatively expensive to make.
I use a Flask of Endless Rage as well which persists through death and is normally the best option for a flask or elixir combination. There may be (in very rare cases) a slight dps upgrade for a MM hunter to use an Elixir of Armor Piercing (45 ArP) in conjunction with an Elixir of Mighty Thoughts (45 int) rather than a Flask of Endless Rage depending on your current armor penetration rating (and whether you have trinkets with armor penetration chance on hit procs), but these do not persist through death and as I said are rarely upgrades over a flask. An Elixir of Mighty Agility is also a good option, especially for SV, rather than the Elixir of Armor Piercing.
As you know you can also use one potion per encounter. If I do not have any mana issues during the encounter I save my potion use for a Potion of Speed, however occasionally I do run short on mana on longer fights and will use a Runic Mana Potion instead. One encounter in ToGC 25 where a different potion can be very beneficial is Anub’arak. In phase 3 a well timed Major Frost Protection Potion can save your life if you get Penetrating Cold and your healers are a bit slow to get your health up. In addition there may be occasions where you have already used your Healthstone in an encounter and need a Runic Healing Potion to save yourself, however I have found that this is pretty rare for the most part.
IV. Current itemization priority and stat values
When you are trying to put together the best set of gear possible for maximum dps output there will be a variety of times when you must choose between certain pieces of gear, gems and enchants that maintain different stats. As a hunter the following is a list of stats that are in some way beneficial to dps:
Agility, Stamina (for SV), Intellect, Crit, Hit, Armor Penetration, Haste and Attack Power
You will want to prioritize some of these stats over others as a point in each of them will be worth a certain amount of dps depending on your spec and current gear set up. These priorities will shift as you change your gear, but generally this is the order of stat prioritization (in dps per point of each stat) for MM and SV.
Hit (until capped), Agility, Armor Penetration, Crit, Int/Haste, AP
Keep in mind first off that there is usually about double but up to triple the attack power points on gear than other stats, so although attack power is last on the list PER POINT it would be higher in priority than int/haste and possibly even crit (though not likely) when you keep in mind how many more points of attack power are included on gear. This of course applies to SV as well, please do not start dropping significant amounts of additional attack power for intellect or haste J . I have included haste and intellect at the same priority level as these tend to vary in worth (especially haste) depending on how much of that stat you currently have.
As MM I tend to recommend shooting for around 230 haste or so in order to keep your steady shot at around 1.6 sec cast speed without buffs. Long story short, this will tend to keep your steady shot cast times in a raid setting (with 5/5 Imp Aspect of the Hawk) from exceeding 1.5 sec (because you are around the 10% haste soft cap with 3% raid buff) too often and thus not exceed your global cooldown of 1.5 sec. I am NOT saying that you should prioritize haste over any other stat before you hit 230 or at any time really, but haste is worth more dps before the soft cap (about 230, 523 is the soft cap). Even reaching the haste soft cap is not of great importance like the hit cap for example.
As a final note on MM stat priorities if you have a Mjolnir Runestone or a Grim Toll trinket, each of which have a on chance proc of improved armor penetration rating, the soft cap (or the amount of armor penetration rating needed to reduce armor to 0% with the trinket proc) is 735 with Mjolnir Runestone or 788 with Grim Toll. Otherwise the hard cap for armor penetration is 1400 rating. Armor penetration rating will consistently be worth more dps per point as you accumulate it so stacking it above all other stats besides agility is recommended for MM dps.
As with MM the stat priority for a SV spec can change depending on your current gear itemization and spec, however the following priority will generally be correct in many cases.
Hit (until capped), Agility, Crit, Armor Penetration, Haste, Intellect, Attack Power, Stamina
As with MM hitting the hit cap as SV should be your first priority but once this is completed agility is generally by far the best stat a SV hunter can stack. There are three talents in the SV spec that make agility such a great stat. These are Lightning Reflexes, Expose Weakness and to a lesser degree Hunting Party. Lightning Reflexes increases your total agility by up to 15% and obviously the more you have the more extra you will receive from this talent. Expose Weakness is a buff that increases your attack power by 25% of your total agility, so again the more agility you have the more attack power you receive. Finally, Hunting Party also increases you agility by up to 3%. For this reason, agility gems are often used exclusively as a SV hunter (minus one blue gem for the prismatic gem requirement).
In a SV spec, crit is usually worth more dps than armor penetration (different than MM) because more of the damage done as SV is considered magic damage than as MM, and magic damage is not affected by armor penetration rating. You will notice however that it is still valued over several other stats so should not be shunned in any way. Another difference between SV and MM stat priorities is that generally haste is worth slightly more to a SV hunter than a MM hunter because they will not usually take all 5 points in Improved Aspect of the Hawk, a talent that significantly helps to lower the amount of haste needed to keep Steady Shot under 1.5 sec. Without any points in Improved Aspect of the Hawk, a SV hunter will receive decent benefit from stacking up to 13% or so haste (unbuffed) which is around 426 haste rating. It takes about 16% haste to bring the steady shot cast time from 2 sec to 1.5 sec, so assuming you have a 3% haste raid buff 13% is in essence the soft haste cap for SV hunters without Improved Aspect of the Hawk.
Finally you will notice that SV does gain a small amount of dps per point of Stamina (unlike MM) because of the talent Hunter vs. Wild which actually provides you and your pet extra attack power. Stamina will always be the last dps boosting stat in the priority for SV, but it should still be considered when choosing gear pieces.
One final tip that I will throw out there regarding prioritizing stats and forming your best possible gear set is this: don’t overlook leather loot drops, especially if they are a higher item level than your current piece. I’m sure all the rogues and feral druids out there will hate me for even mentioning this but the fact is there is very little difference between leather and mail gear itemization other than leather lacking intellect and having less armor (which doesn’t affect dps). As we’ve seen intellect does in fact provide a dps boost through the talent Careful Aim (which both MM and SV should have) and of course the extra mana helps as well, however because leather pieces do not have intellect those points are generally shifted into other stat categories such as agility, stamina, armor penetration, crit, etc. As an example you may be dropping 45 intellect by replacing your mail gloves with leather gloves, but the leather gloves may also have the same other stats as your mail gloves with those 45 extra points in crit or armor penetration. Since both crit and armor penetration provide more dps than intellect, this can sometimes be a better choice in maximizing dps. Now obviously you cannot drop all your intellect and wear all leather gear, but there are definitely some situations where a leather piece may be a significant upgrade over a mail piece you are wearing.
V. Useful add-ons and macros for raiding
With the thousands of add-ons now available to enhance your WoW raiding experience I cannot nor will I attempt to list all of the beneficial add-ons for a raiding hunter. I will, however, list some of the add-ons that I feel have been pertinent to my own success in end game raiding. I have not included links to each add-on in this guide but two of the most widely known sources for add-ons online are www.curse.com and www.wowinterface.com so I can at least recommend these two sources.
Bartender 4 - This add-on or one with a similar function will allow you to organize your ability bars in an efficient manner without scrolling through bars and has an easy-to-use keybind feature. There are multitudes of abilities that can be useful in an end game PvE encounter and I can not stress enough the importance of binding at least the majority of these abilities to different keys. Generally I use keys 1-5 as well as ERTFGCVZQ as keybinds as well as many of these keys combines with the shift key. In addition I use two buttons on my mouse and the wheel up or wheel down feature as binds as well. Any ability/consumable/etc. that you use in a raid will be better off first on your bars rather than just in your spell book, and bound to a key so you don’t have to find it on your bars and click it.
Xperl and/or Grid - These are unit frame add-ons with a variety of options to both alter and place your raid and player frames, as well as control the placement and buffs/debuffs shown on focus or target frames.
Omen - This add-on tracks the threat level of your current target and provides warnings when your threat is too high and you are close to pulling a mob off your tank. It is also beneficial in being able to tell when your Feign Death ability has been resisted by a certain target as your threat will not drop off this target on Omen. This is also a useful tool in deciding when a tank may need an extra Misdirection mid-fight as you can also see how close other raid members are to pulling off of that tank.
Deadly Boss Mods and/or Big Wigs - These add-ons are used to track certain events in boss encounters and warn you of a variety of situations in which there is danger to your life or those of your raid members. It is especially useful in that it provides timers which let you know exactly when certain boss abilities are going to be used so you can plan ahead.
Recount - This is not an essential add-on but since this guide is so
focused on maximizing dps this add-on will allow you to see how your dps compares to that of your other raid members or to track any improvement/decrease in your dps between certain encounters or between raid weeks.
ForteXorcist - This is another mod that certainly isn’t essential to raiding but is one of my personal favorites. Originally designed for Warlocks this mod allows you to see a list of debuffs (such as serpent sting or black arrow) currently on your target and the duration they have left before they expire. It also includes a bar which informs you of how much time is left on shot cooldowns before you can use them again, depicted by those shot ability pictures sliding across the bar and growing larger when they can be used again. This add-on can help keep you from staring at cooldown durations on your bar rather than your raid environment, definitely has saved me for more than a few potential deaths.
Power Auras - The uses of this add-on are virtually endless but in short I use it to track certain buffs I gain (such as Lock and Load) or debuffs I have (such as the shadow crash aura on General Vezax) that wouldn’t be readily apparent from the default UI. The visual queues that this add-on provides makes it very simple to understand which buffs you have (or don’t but should have) while again allowing you to focus on staying alive rather than looking at bars.
Additional suggestions from other posters:
Watcher - This addon is very similar to ForteXorcist above, however this addon allows you to prioritize your different shots giving you the ability to see which highest prioritized shot is off CD. This looks like an excellent raiding mod and although I haven't used it before, I am certainly going to try it out in the near future.
Edit: I used this add-on last night instead of ForteXorcist and I definitely like it better. The ability to set your shot priority, great timing options, etc. makes this a fantastic choice for any raiding hunter.
ZugZug Huntar/Track-o-Matique - These addons have very similar functions and are used to automatically change tracking to the the type of mod you are attacking. This is used to ensure that you are not tracking a profession resource, etc. and ensure that you receive your 5% damage bonus from the talent Improved Tracking. I would recommend setting these mods to "lazy tracking" so that you are not constantly switching tracking from one type of creature to the next in combat with no benefit as if you are tracking any type of creature listed under the talent Improved Tracking you will receive the damage bonus for any of the other creature types as well.
As I mentioned there are literally hundreds of other add-ons hunters use that I would recommend but it just isn’t feasible to list them all here. Hopefully these suggestions will only be the start of your add-on exploration.
I consider macros to be an absolute essential in end game raiding success. Macros give you the ability to perform several tasks simultaneously through the use of one button that if done manually would require several buttons and require much more focus. As is the case with add-ons I could not possibly list all of the hunter macros that would be beneficial for raiding. Here is a link to some of the most common hunter macros.
Useful macros for hunters - WoWWiki - Your guide to the World of Warcraft
Of this list the macros that I believe are of most benefit in a PvE setting are as follows: Mark + attack, One-button Misdirection, Pet attack/follow toggle, Viper Sting/Focus setter, Master’s Call, and Aspect change. There are several other useful macros for hunters out there that I encourage you to research, but besides targeting macros (which I would recommend for many end game encounters) these are the macros I use the most while raiding.
VI. Tips for hunter success for each ToGC 25 encounter
If you have read the entire guide and made it this far I am both impressed and also sorry for putting you through such an arduous process J This last section of the guide is rather unconventional for a class raid guide, but I hope the few tips I have listed for the following ToGC 25 (hard mode) bosses may help those of you who may be struggling to perform at your peak in some of the more difficult current progression encounters in the game. These tips are merely suggestions and should not be taken as gospel because what works for one hunter in one raid certainly may not work for another in a different raid. With that said, here are just a few pointers for each boss that I feel helped me and my raid succeed.
Beasts of Northrend:
As you probably know the first encounter in Trial of the Grand Crusader is the Beasts of Northrend. The only tips I consider important when fighting the first beast, Gormok the Impaler, is to stay spread out from your fellow raid members and make sure to switch off and kill the adds he tosses out if your raid leader assigns you to that duty (hunters are an excellent class to assign add duty to on this boss). If possible coordinate with the other hunters in your raid so that one hunter keeps a Hunter’s Mark on the boss while another places a Hunter’s Mark on the current add target. This is a fairly basic tank n’ spank portion of the encounter so avoid moving unless necessary and focus on a tight shot rotation and maximum dps. As SV or MM I would also recommend using Rapid Fire and your pet ability Call of the Wild as early as possible as the cooldown on these abilities will be up again for either the worms or at the latest Icehowl.
The second group of beasts are Acidmaw and Dreadscale. Hopefully at this point Gormok is dead and you can focus on this portion of the encounter from the get-go. As with all other initial pulls I would recommend misdirecting the Acidmaw tank in order to help build a bit of threat at the beginning. These beasts also burrow into the ground at certain points during the phase and drop all aggro at that point, I would highly recommend misdirecting the current tank in each time they rise from the ground as well. The one-button misdirection macro that I posted previously is very helpful in taking care of all these misdirects mid-fight. As with Gormok try to stay spread out from other people even though there is raid shifting going on; allowing Acidmaw to spit his poison on several raid members who are clumped up can often cause a wipe.
The final phase of the encounter is the beast Icehowl. If you didn’t have Aspect of the Pack keybound already I would recommend doing so before this fight begins as this talent is very useful for this encounter. Since your raid does not receive the speed buff like normal mode when Icehowl is charging a certain player, I would recommend popping on Aspect of the Pack as soon as Icehowl makes his leap to the center of the room to prepare for his charge. Your raid will be dazed by Icehowl’s knock back he uses before charge, however the daze will fade before the charge begins and the extra movement speed will help whoever is about to be charged and those around him to get out and avoid an early Icehowl enrage. In the case that Icehowl does charge someone, however, this enrage can be cancelled by Tranquilizing Shot so make certain to have that ability ready to fire as a quick Tranq Shot can turn a raid wipe into merely a death or two. I would also recommend keeping an eye on your pet health if he is hit by the frost breath ability Icehowl uses and toss a mend pet out if possible to ensure that your pet stays alive. Finally keep in mind that Icehowl takes additional damage for a short time after he misses his charge so use whatever cooldowns you have available during this time to maximize dps.
My first suggestion for this encounter would be to make two targeting macros for both the Nether Portals he spawns and the Infernal Volcanoes. /Tar Nether and /Tar Infernal will do the trick. In hard mode these two things need to be killed as quickly as possible and these macros will allow you to target them when they appear ASAP. This would also be a good time to use your cooldowns. Tranquilizing Shot can be used to dispel the buff Jaraxxus applies to himself during the encounter, however if you have a mage in the raid spell steal will be a much better way to rid him of the buff.
Other than that I would say this is a relatively simple fight as a hunter, just make sure to switch to add damage when it is called for and make use of multi-shot when the adds are grouped together or near Jaraxxus himself. I should also mention that although you do need to move when you get the debuff Legion Flame, if it is possible to move in a direction that allows you to strafe and keep firing instant shots (and stutter step auto shots as well) rather than facing away from the boss and running far away from him this will help to maintain good dps.
As this encounter contains many elements of PvP in it, I would first suggest that you make sure you have your crowd control and survival abilities keybound before the fight begins (including but not limited to Frost Trap, Wyvern Sting, Silencing Shot, Concussive Shot, Distracting Shot, Deterrence, Master’s Call and Disengage). Many of these abilities can be crucial in saving your own life or that of another raid member.
With that said, because hunters are not a great class to use for crowd control or casting interrupts you will most spend the majority of the fight just maximizing dps on the assigned target. The one crowd control technique that I keep up for almost the full duration of the fight are Frost Traps, they are very helpful for those raiders kiting the melee classes around the arena. Other than that I do use Tranq Shot on this fight as well if I notice any heals on my current target, but generally my main focus is dps and if I am targeted this priority shifts to merely keeping myself alive at all costs.
There are different strategies for this fight but whatever strategy you use as always your first priority is to keep yourself alive if possible so although you will spend the majority of the encounter merely dpsing make sure that you are aware of orbs around the room and dodge them if you can. If two of these orbs hit you without any heals in between you will most likely die so dodge them even if you need to sacrifice some dps. I also make a targeting macro for this fight to ensure that I can switch adds as fast as possible to break their shield, but to be honest this normally isn’t necessary as using the Tab button to target will work as well.
For this fight I would recommend saving your major cooldowns for when you will inevitably get Empowered Light/Darkness as you will deal significantly more damage with this buff. I also make sure to watch my threat closely throughout the fight as you will be doing quite a bit more damage than usual; feign death early and often so this does not become an issue. Other than that this fight is very straightforward for a hunter, just make certain to follow your Deadly Boss Mod and standard UI warnings so you know when to switch between light and dark essences.
The last and undeniably most difficult encounter in the instance is Anub’arak. One of the reasons this fight can be difficult is because there is a fairly demanding need for high raid dps in order to defeat the encounter before you either run out of frost patches or he enrages and instantly wipes the raid. As hunters are not one of the better cleave or area of effect dps classes, maximizing your dps output is especially important here to “earn” your spot for this encounter.
Fortunately in my raid I am not in charge of bringing down frost orbs, but in the case that you do have that job I would recommend making a target macro for these as well. Click targeting the orbs can be a real pain, especially if they are near Anub’arak himself as you will often just click on him instead. If the first frost orbs are being gripped down by a DK and you are in charge of dpsing them down, let the DK know that you would like him to call out over vent when he has gripped the orb so that you know when to blow it up and use a target of target frame to help target the orb he is gripping down.
Another hunter ability that our raid uses often and to great effect is Misdirection. We misdirect the adds that continue to pour out of the walls to our add tank to facilitate him picking up 2 or more adds by himself before the adds aggro on to a healer and kill them.
As I mentioned strong dps is crucial in this encounter and although there are a couple shot rotations that will achieve this end, I am going to give a brief explanation on what abilities I use and when as I feel it is a well prioritized rotation for this fight. During each “above ground” phase Anub’arak will call on a set of 4 adds two times. Before he calls out his first set, continue to dps with a normal shot priority as you normally would on a single target. Once the first set of adds are positioned correctly and the tank has a comfortable threat lead I switch to using Volley while the adds are alive. After the recent buff to Volley it will maintain higher dps on 5 targets than your normal shot rotation likely will. Make certain that you are hitting all 5 targets with your Volley as with two add tanks there may be a wide area you need to cover. As MM I also use Chimera Shot if it is off cooldown in between Volley channels to keep Serpent Sting on Anub’arak. I don’t use multi-shot unless my Volley is not hitting all of the targets for one simple reason - I have found that often times if I multi-shot Anub’arak himself, even if the adds are right next to him, the multi-shot will not hit the adds. This does not mean that you yourself shouldn’t use it, but I would suggest if you do to target one of the adds rather than Anub’arak as you will have a better chance of actually hitting 3 targets.
Once the first set of adds is down I move back to single target dps, but I DO NOT begin immediately using Volley on the second set of adds when they come out.
The goal of this first phase is to get Anub’arak to 30% health before he burrows for a 3rd time because at that point you will either not have enough frost patches to kite him to or you will be too slow anyway and hit the enrage. Therefore because you can kill the second set of adds with relative ease once Anub’arak submerges, it is actually better to focus max dps on Anub’arak until he does in fact submerge before switching to Volley.
During his submerge phase watch out for the pursue warning and if you are in fact pursued, there are a couple of things which MAY be of use if you believe Anub’arak will in fact reach you before you can kite him through a frost patch. You can either use a Swiftness Potion, put on Aspect of the Cheetah or even turn around and Disengage, but each of these options has its drawbacks. If you use a Swiftness Potion than you will not be able to use either a Major Frost Protection Potion nor a Runic Mana Potion later in the fight, both of which can be very beneficial. If you choose to use Aspect of the Cheetah, first make sure that you do not have any debuffs on you from the scarabs running around or that a scarab is going to hit you as these will daze you and almost certainly get you killed. Finally if you choose to turn around and disengage just be certain that you face the correct direction so as to disengage into/over the frost patch you are kiting Anub’arak to.
Other than that this phase is relatively simple, just take down the scarabs while people are kiting around the room and keep in mind that this is a great opportunity to use Aspect of the Viper as this is definitely a mana intensive fight if you are in fact using Volley on the adds (in fact I actually use a Glyph of Volley on this fight to avoid extensive use of Aspect of the Viper, however this is optional and based on personal preference).
Once Anub’arak hits 30% he will begin his Leeching Swarm and needless to say this is where the fight gets interesting. During this phase I continue to use Volley when adds are up while keeping Serpent Sting on Anub’arak using Chimera Shot. I also keep a very close eye on my debuffs and Deadly Boss Mod warnings for the Penetrating Cold debuff. Although healers optimally should be able to keep you alive during this debuff, you have two viable options as a hunter to help them achieve this task. For the first debuff I generally use a Healthstone immediately upon receiving the debuff and if I get it a second time I use a Major Frost Protection Potion to absorb the first tick. My only other tip for this phase is to weave in Kill Shot between Volleys as well once Anub’arak hits 20%, this can be a great boost to your dps.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to read this extensive guide, I sincerely hope it helps a few of you hunters out there to optimize your WoW raid experience. If you have any questions about anything in the guide or something I didn’t cover feel free to contact me in game (Crocstar is my in-game name, Illidan server), I’m always willing to help when I can. Happy hunting.
Last edited by Crocstar; 11-11-2009 at 04:49 PM.
Great guide - thank you.
For Add-Ons I'm surprised you didn't mention Watcher (shot rotation) or ZugZug hunter (auto change tracking); if you're speced into Improved Tracking; ZugZug is great.
For Elixir's I've been using Elixir of Mighty Agility (battle)and, I know this will sound odd, Elixir of Mighty Mageblood (Mp5). The Mageblood is great for the manna burn fights.
The World of Warcraft Armory
Hey thanks for the suggestions Theo, I definitely should have included an auto tracking mod. To be honest I just forgot I even have one since I don't have any gathering professions lol. I haven't used Watcher because I'm stubborn and set in my ways, but I will add it to the list.
An agility elixir is definitely a good call, I will add it in as well. Thanks for the input, hopefully more hunters will continue to add suggestions that I can throw on there.
Watcher works well .... if you set the priorities right.
YOU set what's most important 1-8, it tells you what's the most important available shot.
focused aim is worthless, if you reach near hit cap ( say .5% away ) thru gear/gems....
auto tracking? thought that went away... Doesn't the damage bonus of improved tracking apply to any TRACKABLE type of mob?
a good hunter resource is TKAsomething...
Last edited by Doc309; 11-02-2009 at 02:56 PM. Reason: focused aim
No auto-tracking is still around. ZugZug will change your tracking to the mob if it's trackable.
I'm going to run your Sur spec through Femaledwarf, it's a bit different then mine and I'm curious to see if it ups the dps by an appreciable amount. I just hate losing Hunting Party for a 1 in 10 chance of increasing ranged speed. I guess I just see "increase in Agility" and think damage.
Another good hunter site is OutDPS!; some nice links and some pretty good articles.
I added your suggestions for addons and consumables to the guide as well, thank you again.
Great read. Very informative. Thinking about leveling up my 60 hunter
Last edited by Blasterion; 11-09-2009 at 02:58 AM.
sKsBlaster/Blasterion for Stim Kill Smile and Last Light on Stim Kill Smile and MedivhUS
Very neat guide! To bad it ain't complete and overlooks the Beastmastery spec completely.
I do realize that BM is considered as not raidviable.. and I disagree. I do agree that an equally geared and skilled SV hunter should outdps me but the current situation is the contrary. It seems I'm outdpsing better geared SV hunters quit often. Don't take me wrong, I do not credit this to myself I'm not that good. But it does show me that I can perfectly perform well in a raid, even though I am a genuine Beastmaster.
What I really wanted to say: Despite the great amount of work done (What I certainly do appreciate enormously), can you call a hunterguide complete when you only discuss 2 out of 3 talent trees?
I've considered mighty thought, but was under the impression that it would be overwritten in a raid by Arcane Brilliance or Fel Intellect. If not, then I agree that would be much better then Mageblood. I'm going to give it a try. Thanks.
Great guide croc! The aspect of pack on Icehowl was pretty clever. It will be very helpful in HM and I shall be doing it. One thing might want to include somewhere is how even with the arp to exclude Arcane shot it can still be viable when on the move and other instant cast shots are on cd. Thanks for the guide enjoyed reading it.
However (like frost mages on certain fights), I have myself in fact tried a BM spec for both Yogg 0 and H Anub before and have found that it can in fact compete if you are using volley a great deal during the fight. My personal experience was that I had similar though still slightly lower dps, but if I had been properly gemmed and geared for BM I believe it may have been higher than my MM parses.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't include BM because it does not maximize hunter dps which is generally the goal for our class in end game raiding, however this does not mean in any way that a properly played BM hunter would not be useful sometimes in a high end raid setting (especially if there are no other raiders bringing a 3% damage buff).
I've heard rumors that Heroic Icehowl was untranqable have yet to confirm anyone have any say on this?
sKsBlaster/Blasterion for Stim Kill Smile and Last Light on Stim Kill Smile and MedivhUS
Blasterion, you have my trinket, I want Death's Verdict back....now!
that's the only merit of my character if you take that away I'd be sad
that said Greatness and Verdict work very well with each other
sKsBlaster/Blasterion for Stim Kill Smile and Last Light on Stim Kill Smile and MedivhUS
Edit - I was going to ask why your MM rotation uses Silencing Shot since it seems to be a low damage attack. A Wowhead search explains that it is off the global cooldown. You might add this info to the guide. Great work, most comprehensive up-to-date raid DPS guide I've found.
Last edited by Thulldar; 11-09-2009 at 01:16 PM.