The format and content of this thread owe a great deal to Mattao's Beast Mastery Bible 3.0; I have kept his original wording where appropriate. Thanks also to Nooska, TrevvyTrev, Alienangel and the posters in this thread for their contributions.
For information on hunter basics and game mechanics, please see the following posts on these forums:
Hunter: PvE DPS in WotLK by Garby
Hunter FAQ by Rivkah
BM hunters were the top DPS spec for TBC using the "cookie cutter" build 41/20/0. With WotLK some new mechanics have been introduced that have altered the old school BM approach to raiding, i.e. unlinked Auto Shots, new pet talent trees, increased pet dps and our 51 point talent giving access to exotic pets.
Even more changes came with 3.0.8 (the "nerf" patch) and 3.0.9 (where part of the nerf to pets was reversed). These changes brought a welcome complexity to the shot rotation, as well as reducing the damage done by the cat and scorpid specials, which were seen as overpowered. This, in concert with improvements to talents in the Survival tree, led to Survival becoming the spec favored by the masses -- and to a virtual halt in the discussion around how to optimize Beast Mastery in a raid setting.
3.1 introduced the new pet talents Wild Hunt and Shark Attack which can only be fully accessed by taking Beast Mastery, the 51 point talent in the BM tree. Changes in 3.2 and 3.3 to The Beast Within and pet avoidance, and the addition of the pet talent Culling the Herd increased hunter/pet damage and pet survivability. Despite our best hopes for these changes, BM lags behind MM and SV for raid dps, and the gap widens as gear level goes up. It still produces solid damage and has a useful raid buff for groups that are lacking a retribution paladin or mage. I know there are still hunters out there who prefer to raid as BM or who may want to use BM as a secondary spec, so in the spirit of being the best we can be, I present this collected information.
Relevant Blue Posts:
"The only specs we really failed on in LK raiding were Frost mage, Subtlety rogue, BM hunter and Arms warrior." -- Ghostcrawler 8.7.2010 [source]
"Hellscream's Warsong and Strength of Wrynn now provide their bonuses to player pet health and damage, as well as the absorption amounts of Power Word: Shield and Sacred Shield.." -- PTR Patch Notes 3.3.3 visited 3.16.2010 [source]
"Ferocious Inspiration: This ability is now an aura and provides 1/2/3% damage to all party or raid members within 100 yards and boosts the damage of Steady Shot by 3/6/9%." -- PTR Patch Notes 3.3.3 visited 3.1.2010 [source]
"FI buffs Steady Shot in addition to Arcane Shot." -- Ghostcrawler 3.1.2010 [source]
"We'd like to buff BM PvE damage, but we have to be careful not to buff it too much in PvP where it still has really high burst. This means we can't just do things like boost the Arcane Shot damage of Ferocious Inspiration or the like. The damage would have to be more of the slowly stacking / sustained variety, and that's harder to implement. (Technically, it's not hard to implement per se, but it's hard to get it feeling right without causing weird things to player behavior, the talent trees or causing other problems that lead to a two hour fix taking two weeks instead.)" -- Ghostcrawler 2.19.2010 [source]
"Q. You mentioned pet scaling being added for patch 3.3 but due to time constraints, was delayed. Will this be in the next patch?
A. We'll try to do what we can. Technically it's just more challenging than you might think. For Cataclysm, we have on our list that 100% of stats scale. If they don't then certain stats just won't be as valuable for pet classes. At the very least, we can do stuff like convert your X into damage for the pet so every stat is valuable. Getting everyone to scale with every stat better is a major goal for the class team for Cataclysm." -- Bornakk 1.16.2010 [source]
"It [Beastmastery] may not be great for raiding but is still good for leveling while both Marks and Surv are competitive for raiding. I wouldn't expect any big changes for now." -- Bornakk 12.22.2009 [source]
"We'd love to have every spec viable for all aspects of the game, it just rarely turns out that way since balancing can be pretty tricky. At this stage in the game we aren't planning to make many (if any) big changes to classes since we are already working on doing just that for Cataclysm so that's why I wouldn't expect much in the near future." -- Bornakk 12.22.2009 [source]
"In the end, yes, we do want to get BM competitive with Survival and Marks. We even did some buffs in 3.3 to help them get there but the reason for my comments earlier is that weâ€™d rather have two viable raiding specs than just one so Hunters as a whole are not in terrible shape. Eventually we do plan to get all 3 there. Just remember that when players obsess about 1% differences in dps you can understand why that task is pretty gigantic. There are probably more raiding BM hunters in 3.3 than in 3.2 and probably a lot more than there are Subtlety rogues (sorry for the example rogues, but you/we know it's true). Itâ€™s far from a dead spec. " -- Bornakk 12.22.2009 [source]
Raiding as Beast Master in 3.3 and beyond...
This thread will be reserved for topical discussions for the Beast Mastery raiding hunter...
* Raiding spec
* Major/minor glyphs
* Shot priorities
* Pet talents
* Top dps pets
* Talent reviews
WoWHead Talent Calculator
WoWHead Pet Talent Calculator
WotLK DPS Spreadsheet by Shandara
Zeherah's Hunter DPS Analyzer
WotLK Gem Index for Hunters by Faerdael
How to effectively use this thread...
The development of this thread will be ongoing. It should should be reserved for Q&A based on known (or upcoming) data regarding the BM spec, or to discuss theorycrafted data about talents, spec or shot rotations. If there is information available on a certain topic the best way to locate it is by using the "Search this thread" tool at the top of every forum. Use it or take the time to read through the entire thread before asking questions that have already been covered multiple times.
Download and use the Hunter Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can help to answer questions you may have about your gear choices, shot rotations, spec decisions, etc, before you even have the chance to post a redundant question on the forums. There is a link provided above to download the spreadsheet and an entire thread dedicated to its development. Use the tools available to the hunter community before asking the community to hold your hand to teach you how to play your hunter.
As concrete information is decided by the hunter community on standard practices for the Beast mastery spec (i.e. specs, pets, talents, macros, etc), I will update these pages for quick reference.
Regarding Rowan's Rifle of Silver Bullets [updated 6.15.2010]
Rowan's Rifle of Silver Bullets has been shown by spreadsheet simulation to be a good choice for the BM hunter with high end gear, especially for dwarves.
If you have 2pcT10, the weapon is solidly competitive with (or better than) 251 ICC weapons as MM and SV, and competitive with (or better than) 264 weapons for BM.
To summarize :
[summary condensed from Alienangel]
- 264 quality DPS: scales your autoshot, steady shot, and wild quiver (and to a lesser extent piercing shots) DPS every bit as well as any other 264 weapon
- dramatically higher 2pcT10 uptime: affects all damage you and your pet do - particularly good for BM since the pet component matters more, and the uptime increase appears to be amplified by Serpent's Swiftness
- hit rating is useful: stats on ranged slot always fairly minor anyway so wearing tank stats in the slot isn't a massive loss
- more frequent Imp AotH procs
- benefits from dwarf racial
- Arcane Shot not affected by lower dps from instants due to slower attack speed: mostly hurts MM, since Chim/Aimed/Silencing all affected, while Explosive, Black Arrow, Serpent Sting, and Arcane in the other specs aren't affected by weapon damage
This issue is discussed at great length in the thread for those who are interested in more information.
Raiding Specs [updated 1.28.2010]
This basic build includes all the important BM talents, with floaters that can be assigned at the hunter's discretion:
Hunter self-preservation floater -- 1 point
One point in the lower part of the BM tree can be devoted to slightly improving your chance of surviving if things go wrong:
1/2 Endurance Training -- increase your and your pet's health
1/3 Imp Aspect of the Monkey -- increase your dodge; useful for kiting or when a mob comes for you
Pet health floaters -- 4 points
There are 4 points in the lower part of the BM tree to devote to your choice of pet health-related talents that can be used in the following ways:
2/2 Imp Revive Pet -- highly recommended
2/2 Spirit Bond -- recommended; increases healing to you and your pet
2/2 Imp Mend Pet -- use if your pet is not being cleansed or healed by the raid healers and is dying frequently
1/2 Spirit Bond + 1/2 Imp Mend Pet -- if you just can't decide
2/5 Endurance Training -- useful for solo; not recommended for raiding
2/5 Thick Hide -- useful for solo; not recommended for raiding
Hunter DPS floaters -- 2 points
There are 2 "extra" points in the MM or SV trees to use in damage talents. Use the spreadsheet to determine where these points will work best for your current gear set-up; results can vary as your attack power and crit increase:
2/2 Survival Instincts -- reduces damage taken in addition to increasing crit for Arcane and Steady Shot
4/5 Mortal Shots (2/5 MS is required to take Go for the Throat) -- further increase crit bonus on all shots
2/3 Imp Arcane Shot -- increase damage done by Arcane Shot
2/3 Focused Aim -- if you need more hit than your gear provides
2/2 Go for the Throat + 1 point in any of the above (1/2 GftT is a "must have") -- take the second point in GftT if your unbuffed crit is below 25% or if you find your pet is focus-starved at lower gear levels; with changes in pet focus regen in 3.1, testing is needed to establish a minimum crit level for taking 1/2 GftT
2/2 Invigoration or 1/2 Invigoration + 1 point in any of the above -- if you find yourself spending a lot of time in Viper
NOTE: As gear levels go up, the MM tree talents such as Mortal Shots and even Focused Aim begin to pull ahead of the SV tree talents Survival Instincts and Imp Tracking.
Focused Aim [updated 1.24.2010]
Formerly a huge damage loss for BM hunters as the hit gained was not transmitted to the pet, since 3.1 FA affects the pet, making this a viable source of hit. With T9 and T10 level gear, it is in many cases preferable to get hit from FA and use better pieces of gear -- check the spreadsheet to determine if this is the case for you. (It is also useful for new raiders lacking hit on their gear.)
NOTE: There is a bug with the way that hit from Focused Aim is transferring to pet expertise -- raid logs show it is transferring about half the expertise it should. This bug has existed since the introduction of 3.2 and is persisting in 3.3. I am running some tests to try to further define the effect. [1.28.2010]
Note that only 3/5 points are necessary in Frenzy; adding a 4th point adds almost no dps so this extra point becomes one of the 4 hunter/pet health floaters.
[Other raid damage-focused builds with rationale are welcome and will be added if they emerge!]
The following glyphs are not reserved for the BM spec, but tend to provide excellent synergy for the spec -- try them in the spreadsheet to see what works for you.
Major: [updated 1.26.2010]
Glyph of Steady Shot -- highly recommended
Glyph of of the Hawk -- highly recommended
Glyph of Serpent Sting -- highly recommended
Glyph of Bestial Wrath -- less useful in light of changes to Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within in 3.2
Glyph of Kill Shot -- looks good in spreadsheet, but in actual practice most bosses may not live long enough below 20% health to get in an extra shot
Glyph of the Beast -- situational; not recommended for raiding
Minor: [updated 4.7.2009]
Glyph of Mend Pet --allows the pet to gain happiness in combat -- recommended
Glyph of Feign Death -- allows more frequent aggro dumps -- aggro is usually not a huge issue for BM hunters, but it's better than nothing
Glyph of Revive Pet -- allows a faster pet rez during pushback spells -- not extremely useful but better than nothing
Glyph of Possessed Strength -- recent testing shows that this glyph would not perform well in a raid setting; not recommended
Gems [updated 1.30.2010]
Red gems are typically going to be your best damage boost; Attack Power is usually best at low gear levels, Agility at mid-levels, and ArPen with high end gear. Yellow gems can also be good if you need a yellow socket to complete a good socket bonus. It is almost never worth using a blue gem to complete a socket bonus -- if a bonus requires a blue gem you will almost always be better off socketing all red. The only exception to this is the one blue gem you will need to activate your meta -- use a Nightmare Tear in the blue socket that will give you the best bonus.
See WotLK Gem Index for Hunters by Faerdael for complete gem information and always use the spreadsheet to be sure.
Here are some guidelines specifically for BM hunters:
Relentless Earthsiege Diamond -- requires 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue to activate
Bright Cardinal Ruby -- consider using if you are under 3500 unbuffed AP
Delicate Cardinal Ruby -- best all-around hunter gem
Fractured Cardinal Ruby -- if you are over 550 total ArPen, start checking whether Fractured Cardinal Ruby would be better with the raid buffs and debuffs you usually have
Glinting Ametrine or Rigid King's Amber if you need to make up hit
Delicate or Fractured Cardinal Ruby if the socket bonus is not useful
Nightmare Tear in blue socket that gives best bonus
Delicate or Fractured Cardinal Ruby in all others
Always use the spreadsheet to determine your best gems for each socket.
NOTE: Use common sense -- if your piece has a blue socket and you get higher dps substituting a red gem, then put red gems in any yellow sockets too since the bonus is already lost.
Shot priority [updated 3.1.2010]
[credit to Nooska for original information]
Multi-shot/Aimed Shot (optional)
This priority is suggested by the true damage values of each shot; since we as Beastmasters are only limited by the GCD, always use the highest damage shot available.
Refresh SrS before its final tick if it will drop off before your steady lands, but not if Kill Shot or Arcane Shot are available.
Do not refresh SrS if the boss's Time To Live is very low -- you will lose more damage by using the GCD on SrS than you would by losing the bonus on Steady Shots from [Glyph of Steady Shot].
Leave Multi-Shot out of the rotation if mana is becoming an issue.
When your Armor Pen gets high enough, leave Arcane Shot out of the rotation as another Steady Shot will do more damage. When do you have enough Armor Pen? Check the spreadsheet using your own gear and usual raid buffs.
[If anyone has created a viable spec including Aimed Shot, I would be interested to see it!]
Bestial Wrath should be used as often as it's ready, in conjunction with Kill Command and pet specials with a long cooldown (eg Savage Rend or Serenity Dust). Save Call of the Wild and your "on use" trinkets for the next BW whenever they are ready. Bestial Wrath should also be used with Heroism/Bloodlust whenever possible; usually this will be near the beginning of the fight if your shamans are on the ball. Some bosses will call for burst damage later in the fight and Heroism may well be saved until then; if you know Heroism is coming when the boss is at 35% or whatever, try to save that third BW for it.
If you get Heroism/Bloodlust during your first BW, you can use Rapid Fire during the second one. or is nice for the third one if you didn't need a health or mana potion.
The following "Enrage" macro is useful; use it whenever Bestial Wrath is cooled down:
#showtooltip Bestial Wrath /cast [target=pettarget, exists] Kill Command /cast [target=pettarget, exists] Call of the Wild /cast [target=pettarget, exists] <other pet special> /use 13 /use 14 /cast Bestial Wrath
NOTE: If you are going to use Call of the Wild in a macro, be sure and click it "off" on your pet's action bar.
Spreadsheet modeling has shown that talented, glyphed Aspect of the Dragonhawk will give the best damage. Use Aspect of the Viper only when necessary to regain mana, and spend as little time in it as possible; if the fight is more than half over there is no need to remain in Viper until your mana bar is refilled -- just regain enough mana to finish the fight. Under certain circumstances Aspect of the Beast may be more effective, eg if you are kiting adds while your pet attacks the boss.
It is assumed that a raiding hunter will use a Ferocity pet for maximum raid damage, although there has been some experimentation with Cunning pets for specific circumstances. With the equalization of pets in 3.1 (Cunning, Ferocity and Tenacity pets now all have +5% damage, +5% armor and +5% health bonuses), other types of pets may become viable although spreadsheet modeling to date (v.86c) shows Cunning and Tenacity pets well below Ferocity in damage output.
Non-exotics: [updated 1.24.2010]
Wolves --wolves are an excellent choice for raiding due Furious Howl affecting both hunter and pet, and stacking with other AP-enhancing raid buffs; very close to devilsaur in combined hunter/pet damage
Raptors -- look good in the spread sheet due to assumption that Savage Rend damage will occur under ideal circumstances (ie after a crit) and the damage being averaged out over the fight; streaky damage that may or may not come through when you need it
Moths -- intriguing percent-based special that may scale well at very high gear levels; disappointingly, modeling with v.86d shows the moth will not out-scale the wolf until the hunter has in excess of 20K AP
Cats -- not competitive since 3.1
Scorpids (Tenacity) -- the darling of 3.0 raiding prior to 3.0.8, scorpids' poison debuff no longer stacks; like any Tenacity pet, scorpids have sub-par damage for raiding; not recommended
Exotics [updated 2.4.2010]
Devilsaurs -- highest damage pet. New for 3.3! It's been reported that as of 3.3 the devilsaur hitbox issues have been resolved, the model no longer becomes huge with stacks of Monstrous Bite, and it no longer stomps when walking; with the resolution of these issues, the devilsaur becomes a very attractive pet for raiding.
Spirit beasts -- better damage than in 3.0, though not as much as a wolf or a devilsaur; four spirit beasts currently exist in the game -- there seems to be one added with each major patch. Mostly for looks.
Core hounds -- similar damage to spirit beasts in the spreadsheet
Pet talents [updated 1.24.2010]
To raid as BM it is imperative to take the 51 point talent, Beast Mastery. Whether to use an exotic pet is the individual hunter's choice, but the additional 4 pet talent points will be essential to get all the damage-enhancing pet talents, including Wild Hunt and Shark Attack. You will want a Ferocity pet.
DPS pet spec 1
My personal choice of talents includes Dash for movement speed and 2/2 Bloodthirsty for survivability/happiness.
DPS pet spec 2
Alternative spec favored by Har takes Charge for movement speed, 1/3 Great Stamina for survivability, and has one extra point that should be spent in Bloodthirsty.
Pet stats [updated 4.7.2010]
Hunter pets "inherit" the following stats from their owners:
Hit (100%) -- if the hunter is hit-capped (8% via a combination of gear and Focused Aim points), the pet will be melee hit-capped and spell hit-capped. In theory, the pet should also be expertise capped, however there is a bug whereby the hit from Focused Aim is not fully transferred to pet expertise. Hit from Focused Aim does transfer correctly.
Ranged Attack Power (22%) -- the pet talent Wild Hunt (3.1) increases this by 30%
Stamina (30%) -- the pet talent Wild Hunt (3.1) increases this by 40%
Magic resistances (40%) -- race-based magic school resistances are percent based and do not appear on the character sheet and thus presumably do not transfer to the pet
Resilience (100%) -- New for 3.3
Pets inherit Agility (and Intellect if you have 3/3 Careful Aim) only indirectly, as it raises the hunter's Attack Power.
Pets do not inherit Strength, Spirit, Crit, Haste, or Armor Pen.
Pets do not inherit the XP bonus found on heirloom shoulders.
NOTE: Hit (and thus also expertise) is transferred to pets as an integer, not including any fractions (for example, 7.99% transfers as 7%, while 8.03% transfers as 8%), therefore it is important to be fully hit-capped. [Tested 1.25.2010 and still true in 3.3]
NOTE: Heroic Presence (Draenai +1 hit aura) does not transfer expertise to pets. [1.28.2010]