Patch 6.1: Hunter specs compared [Updated]

I originally did these simulations for my own amusement, but I thought I’d share them with you guys. Again, like most sims I post on this site they are done with whatever gear I’m wearing at the time (ilvl 672). Whenever you see “official” comparisons between specs on the actual Simulation Craft page, or on some other sites and guides, these are almost always done with best-in-slot gear. That’s all fine and dandy, but I don’t have anywhere close to BiS so I don’t really care about those sims. I’d rather see how things look in my own gear. Keep this in mind as you read this, and always remember your results will be slightly different.

The first thing I did was compare the DPS differences between live servers and the 6.1 PTR. I went through all the talent permutations and found the highest simulated talents and used those, so each spec was represented as best as possible. I also swapped gems and enchants for each spec (mastery for BM, crit for MM, and multistrike for SV).

Simulated DPS never tells you the whole story, but I think it’s a good tool for seeing what the impact is from buffs or nerfs. Instead of using screenshots from Simulation Craft, I’m testing out some fancy HTML5 charts. Mousing over (or tapping) each bar should give the actual DPS numbers.

New Post: More information about Beast Mastery in 6.1.


Update Feb 19: Numbers updated again to reflect changes in simulation craft. The pet summoned by BM T17 4-piece does more damage. Also, survival pets inherit multistrike damage bonuses. Both of these changes are now reflected.

Update Feb 15: These numbers are now updated with the latest MM and BM buffs from the patch notes (from Feb 13): Focus Fire now grants 8% attack power per stack, Chimaera Shot damage increased by 30.4%, and Sniper Training effectiveness increased by 25%.

DPS comparisons — Live vs. 6.1 PTR

BM — Live: DB/AMOC/Barrage/Adaptation — PTR: Swapped AMOC for Stampede and Dire Beast for Steady Focus
SV — Live: ToTH/AMOC/Glaive Toss/Focusing Shot — PTR: Swapped AMOC for Stampede (note: Glaive Toss only used in rotation on PTR)
MM — Live: ToTH/AMOC/Glaive Toss/Lone Wolf — PTR: Swapped AMOC for Stampede


  • The gap between Survival and the other specs shrinks to almost nothing thanks to the latest round of BM and MM buffs.
  • Looking at the 6.1 numbers, if Survival uses Lone Wolf instead of Focusing Shot its DPS drops by about 1k and it puts it below the other specs (with heavy movement that might reverse).
  • Thanks to another BM Focus Fire buff, Steady Focus creeps ahead of Dire Beast for single target (but it’s still extremely close).
  • The difference between Focusing Shot and Lone Wolf for MM is quite small, but I still used Focusing Shot because it was the highest.
  • For MM single target, Barrage and Glaive Toss are nearly identical in 6.1. The sims in this post use Barrage but you can easily swap it for Glaive Toss.
  • My average item level was 672 for the sims, but my weapon was only 660. Changing my weapon to 670 benefits MM slightly more than the other specs.
  • The buffed Stampede consistently is coming out on top for single target DPS (see my post about patch 6.1 Stampede). In the real world, target switching and other factors could easily change this. But in terms of raw damage, Stampede is it.
What about T17 set bonuses?

For the following simulations, I took my current gear and changed nothing except I swapped out 4 of my armor pieces for heroic (680) T17 in order to get the 2 and 4-piece bonuses. These sims are for PTR 6.1 only.

BM — Steady Focus/Stampede/Barrage/Adaptation
SV — ToTH/Stampede/Powershot/Lone Wolf
MM — ToTH/Stampede/Glaive Toss/Lone Wolf


  • Beast Mastery seems to get the most bang for its buck from the set bonuses. It’s a little higher than I had here previously, and that’s because sim craft wasn’t using the correct value for the summoned pet’s damage.
  • Unfortunately, even after the buffs, the level 90 talents are still barely worth using for SV in single target. Powershot simmed ever so slightly higher than Glaive Toss.
  • Lone Wolf pulled well ahead of Focusing Shot once the T17 set bonuses were active. It was more significant for MM, and basically a wash for Survival. There seems to be zero benefit to using Focusing Shot in single target once you have the set bonuses (AoE is a completely different story).
  • In most cases, it will be a DPS gain to use T17 pieces to complete set bonuses even if they are lower item level than the piece being replaced, i.e. replace a heroic piece with a normal T17 piece if it will complete a set bonus.
What about AoE damage?

Here we have two different types of simulations. One is a simple 2-target cleave, think of something like Twin Ogron where there is 2 targets in range for the majority of the fight. The other one called “HecticAddCleave” is an option in Simulation Craft that simulates frequent add spawns (in packs of 5) and periods of movement.

These sims use the same gear as the previous ones (my own gear plus 4 pieces of T17).

None of these sims perfectly replicate any fight in T17, but looking at both together you can get a good idea how the specs compare for fights that aren’t pure single target.

BM — Steady Focus/Stampede (2T cleave) Blink Strikes (HecticAddCleave)/Barrage/Focusing Shot (2T cleave) Adaptation (HecticAddCleave)
SV — Steady Focus/Stampede/Barrage/Focusing Shot
MM — ToTH/Stampede/Barrage/Lone Wolf


  • MM is higher on 2-target cleave because Chimaera Shot always has a second target to hit and it also received a 30% buff, but MM is pretty weak for AoE in general (it’s not even worth using Multi-Shot unless there’s 7+ targets). IMO, Blizzard needs to buff MM Multi-Shot to the point where its worth using over Aimed Shot with 3-4+ targets.
  • BM’s AoE is simply killer, especially after the Focus Fire buff. Adaptation and Focusing Shot are really close in all AoE sims. Steady Focus is consistently above Dire Beast because of the extra pet basic attacks it grants for Beast Cleave and faster Frenzy stacks. You’ll also notice I was able to get the most DPS on the second sim by using Blink Strikes. On the 2-target cleave, Blink Strikes wasn’t quite enough to beat Stampede.
  • SV’s 2-target cleave numbers may be slightly higher in the real world. This sim is using Multi-Shot, but theoretically it might be better to manually apply Serpent Sting to the secondary target with Arcane Shot. Delirium’s post about Survival AoE seems to suggest the Arcane Shot method is better for 2 targets, but Simulation Craft doesn’t agree. It’s a bit of a head scratcher.
What about BiS gear?

Fine, you talked me into it. These are sims using the default mythic gear profiles for each spec. From what I can tell, these are reasonably close to BiS if not BiS already (I swapped one of the trinkets for BM). No sockets or warforged.

BM — Steady Focus/Stampede/Barrage/Adaptation
SV — ToTH/Stampede/Powershot/Lone Wolf
MM — ToTH/Stampede/Glaive Toss/Lone Wolf

The specs are really darn close, and I was surprised to see beast mastery pull ahead thanks to its 4-piece bonus. The only time MM is going to really suffer is on fights like Blast Furnace, Beastlord, or Thogar. There’s simply too much opportunity for BM and SV AoE to shine. Things aren’t perfect, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen all 3 specs this close to each other.

Blizzard Watch

If you missed it, I’ve restarted the old hunter column from WoW Insider over at the new site, Blizzard Watch. The response has been really good so far. Columns will start bi-weekly on Fridays, but may move to weekly once everything is settled.

Not to worry, I’ll still be posting more hunter stuff here. This type of self-indulgent post is exactly the reason I’ll continue to need this other outlet.


54 thoughts on “Patch 6.1: Hunter specs compared [Updated]”

  1. Excellent work. I’ve been running Survival in High Maul but changing to Beast Mastery for Tectus. If I understand right, I might be swapping specs between fights in Black Rock Foundry as well.
    Good fun; hunters rule, others drool.

  2. It’s sad to see MM becoming the red headed stepchild of hunter specs once again.

    What’s the point of an MM spec if BM does the same single target dps but 25% more AoE dps and SV is better at both single target and AoE ?

    1. with hard casting aim shot…nothing…let it die a horrible death.

      also….bugger powershot that talent needs to die a horrible death.

      Hunter = instance abilities with 1 cast to generate focus on the MOVE (bugger focusing shot).

      The class needs to get back to that game design. The fact I am missing WOD and CATA because of the game play is saying something.

      1. You say this like hardcasting has never been a Hunter thing…which it has, going all the way back to Vanilla MM.

        Also, what is the issue with a pet-focused spec, an instant/DoT-focused spec, and a hardcast/nuke-focused spec? BM for pets and AoE, Surv for sustained damage even on heavy movement fights, and MM for slower casts with bigger numbers?

        Just because you don’t like the slower cast playstyle doesn’t mean it needs to die a horrible death. I for one love being able to kill most at level mobs in the open world within 2 GCDs of entering combat. And while it is a slower playstyle, and the rotation a bit more difficult to manage, executing it perfectly has (or at least, should have) high reward.

    2. Yeah I think Sniper Training isn’t doing what it was originally designed to do: give you extra damage if you manage it well. Considering these sims are mostly 100% Sniper Training uptime…once you get below that it drops more. Instead of being extra damage, it seems like the devs balanced around it being up all the time.

      1. Even worst when you think about PVP perspective. I am nothing special when it comes to pvp but i always loved pvping as MM. The removal of silence shot and adding sniper training kind of killed it.

        its like what were the developer thinking…lets take a spec that was extremely popular in PVP and give it an ability to force you to stand still and then balance the spec around it? Standing still in pvp = win.

        As i said before, the old saying “blizzard don’t play hunters” is probably true, especially after celesration’s (or however you spell his name) bestial wrath breaking cc comments last summer.

  3. I agree, Garf. I’ve been having fun with MM as my off-spec (BM is my primary spec `natch). I hadn’t used MM for expansions but sniper training + LW was fun and different.

    1. I agree regarding MM slipping slightly however, the gap isn’t huge and MM still looks competitive.

      I guess the AoE is slightly lack luster and as Bendak pointed out – a little buff to Multishot for MM would be enough to round out the specs nicely. Perhaps a variation on the old wild quiver, a 50% chance for multishot to fire twice in MM spec.

  4. Did you change the mythic BM profile to use mastery gems and enchants? I noticed that it is currently loaded up with all multi strike. I might be be looking at an older version. The selection for BM seems a little off to with Captive Micro Aberration as one of the trinkets.

    1. Yeah I did switch enchants, but its worth noting that using the mastery scope was actually a slight loss so stayed with multistrike for that. Mastery vs Multistrike enchants was within margin of error for BM (Mastery won by ~100 dps). Mastery did have a bit more of an effect for AoE. Good call on the trinket though. I was able to squeeze more DPS by swapping the CMA to Beating Heart. I originally didn’t see it because I forgot to add it to the actions list so it was showing up as a loss. Updating the chart.
      Edit: made BM squeeze ahead of MM for the BiS chart

  5. First…apologoies for my not so awsome english. Then..Simulations…phuuu..
    I do believe, that all sims disregard the specifics of the encounters. Therefore I do not believe in the power of Stampede. When we have a look at Blackrock Foundry we know that most of the fights have to handle with loads of ads that either have to die fast or have to be bursted down in AOE (Beastmaster, Thogar, Kar´gaz a.s.o.). All of these fights prefer the combination of Barrage+AmoC to be flexible enough to get the hunters job done. Gruul could be a Stampede encounter or Hans´gar an Franzok…depends on fight length. Our first Gruul Hero kill took 5:35 minutes…almost perfect for 2 stampedes…but with rising gear it will drop under the 5 minute line. Stampede is still a fun and very “hunterish” talent. But i don´t think it will stand the test of this raidtier.

    1. Yeah, I agree if there are opportunities to reset the AMOC cooldown it starts to gain value fast. I talked about this a bit in my previous Stampede post.

      But Stampede is really, really good with this buff. It’s so good that even on a 5-minute fight (where you can only use it once), it still gives you more DPS than AMOC in single target. It’s not insignificant either. Once you start working with ideal fight times (like 6 minutes), the gap is pretty big.

      Stampede does have downsides. It is abysmal if you have to switch targets since you can’t control where the Stampede pets attack. And they run so slowly between targets, losing a ton of attacks. You have to make sure you have 40 uninterrupted seconds on the target.

      So for lots of target switching, or lots of opportunities to reset the AMOC cooldown, I’d say Stampede loses some of its luster. But for raw damage, it’s hard to beat.

      But regardless of all this, the overall comparisons between specs will stand. If you gave them all AMOC you’d see very similar results (just with less DPS), though BM would suffer the most.

    1. It’s Black Scourgestalker, from Ulduar 10 (including some Hardmodes). The helm is the Malefactor’s Eyepatch, from the Baron Sablemane questline in Blade’s Edge Mountains. The bow is either the Njorndar Bone Bow or Zod’s Repeating Longbow, both from Lady Deathwhisper in ICC (Njorndar is from 10m, Zod’s is from 25m). They use the same model, but there are 3 colors available (10, 25, 25h).

      I used the classic Blue Scourgestalker as my transmog from 4.3 to 6.0, and have only recently switched as I love the look of HM shoulders on a Worgen.

  6. SO FREAKING HAPPY about the recent buffs. I was worried that the slight nerf to Careful Aim would offset the Chimaera Shot and Sniper Training buffs somewhat, but I’m very glad to have been wrong.

    One question though – how do Glaive Toss and Powershot stack up for MM in single target given the recent buffs? I have a hard time pooling focus for Barrage, while both Glaive Toss and Powershot are much easier to budget for.

  7. You said:
    “SV’s 2-target cleave numbers may be slightly higher in the real world. This sim is using Multi-Shot, but theoretically it should be more DPS to manually apply Serpent Sting with Arcane Shot when facing 2 targets. We haven’t found a way to accurately sim this yet. See Delirium’s post about Survival AoE.”

    Can you please elaborate this. I am relatively new to the hunter but what is wrong with the simulation of:


    ,with which I replaced the Multi-Shot lines. According to the Sample Sequence Table it seems to work fine. About every 20 s an Arcane Shot is fired at enemy2. In contrast to what you and Delirium are saying this is a DPS loss for my hunter.

    Did I screw up? Is there something I didn’t consider?

    1. Edited to:

      which is better but still worse than using multi =/

    2. I’ve heard that target cycling with Arcane Shot in sim craft isn’t working properly. Delirium’s math seems to suggest you’re better off using Arcane Shot for 2 targets, but I could never get it to sim higher myself. Delirium also looked into it, I’ll ask if he made any progress.

      One thing I noticed was when I used Multi-Shot instead of Arcane Shot cycling, I ended up with more Barrage casts and more Focusing Shots cast. Also way more instant Serpent Sting ticks, which seems to have made up for the lost Arcane Shot damage. I’ll reword my point better to basically say there’s no clear consensus on what’s better. Obviously if the second target is out of range, you have no choice. 🙂

  8. Great work and the news I was hoping for its nice to see all 3 specs around the same lvl while still having their own areas that they excel in.

    1. Yes, same sentiment here as well. SOOOO happy to see BM make a come back as I will be switching to that as often as I can in 6.1. 🙂

  9. Awsome work m8 , is really much appreciated , im going to finally throw the SW spec ( whch i hate ) and take back my both beloved MM and BM =D

  10. Was having a think about MM aoe and I wonder if they should have a bleed effect added to their multi-shot this would then match the ability to the other 2 specs (Beast Cleave and Serpent Sting) but also keep in with the MM lore of being a more archer like spec.

  11. Fantastic resource for hunters! This is my new favorite website! And I am really happy to see that thte BM spec is viable in almost all situations. As it should be, in my opinion. After all, the variety of pets is one of the things that make hunters so fun 🙂

    1. Personally, my take-away from all of this is that the specs are SOOOO close to each other that it literally is “Play the spec you want to play”.

      I don’t think I have ever seen Hunter specs so close to each other… and yet each spec still has it’s own niche. I don’t want to jinx this for us, but I think this is the best spot Hunters have ever been in. 🙂

  12. To clarify on the topic of SV dps w/ the 4 piece t17 bonus, it is more efficient to use lone wolf with the said bonuses over focusing shot, correct? Thanks for any replies.

  13. Love the post and website. Could you do a sim with t17 2pc? I really miss BM and am excited it will be a viable single target once more but its hard to get 4pc. So a 2pc tier sim would be awesome. TIA.

    1. Additionally, there was a bug with SimC and the BM 4pc. It was undervaluing it significantly (about 50% of what people saw on live) and was fixed a day or two ago as well… and after this main post was last updated. Azortharian on MMO champ puts BM ~2k ahead of surv and 1k ahead of MM with 4pc with the most recent sims for single target, with BM maintaining it’s lead for 3+ targets (and of course MM still being the winner for 2).

  14. Does anyone know if the BM stat priorities would change with the BM buff. I was wondering if haste would increase in priority because of wanting to get frenzie stacks as fast as possible.

    1. Maybe? It kind of seems like a wash with mastery. For example, if I enchant with mastery, it shows haste > mastery. if I enchant with haste, it shows mastery > haste. That is for BOTH single target and AoE.

  15. regarding survival, effinhunter of elitistjerks counted through sim that for ST SV its LW>FS… so was that because of the sim bug mentioned above?

    the idea of LW with massive spam of ES(with 2/4 and 4/4) seems legit to me i also gain back full mobility
    will be running my sims sometime this weekend, just looking for other input

  16. I’m a little bit confused here. According to the 2nd graph, Beast Mastery (with 4 piece) is top DPS on single target by a tiny bit?

    Primarily, which two specs do you recommend moving forward?

    1. BM seems to have the nicest bonuses. The extra pet summoned by the 4 piece actually does twice the DPS of a regular stampede pet, which is why it went up since my first iterations of these graphs.

      I’ll probably go mostly BM now if this all works out like I’m thinking it will. The specs I would recommend are whatever your favorites are. Even though MM sucks at AoE fights, as long as you have SV or BM kicking along you should be fine.

    1. I used the default profiles (just imported my character and went from there), except for survival I had to add in Glaive Toss or Powershot into the single target action list to test that. Beyond that it was just swapping out gear.

  17. 3 conclusions from hardcore mythic raiding as survival.

    Scenario 1: Thrill of the hunt proc is up
    conclusion: arcane shot does better than multishot because multi is DOUBLE its cost.

    Scenario 2: Thrill of the hunt proc is not up
    conclusion: multi shot is better because its only 1.25x the cost of arcane and has a higher chance of proccing thrill of the hunt

    And finally, if you are playing Lone wolf, then arcane shot is always better due to its 30% buff from lone wolf, making it do more total dmg than multi shot and having less cost which is a win-win because the focus starve is REAL in lone wolf spec.

    I have no sims to back up my claims, but i am always experimenting during progress and i compare values from logs.

  18. Hi,i also use SC and i realized the results are not always the same,due to the procs i guess,so how did u manage to set ur SC for such accurare data?thx if u reply

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