Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since patch 6.1 dropped and I can say I haven’t once specced out of Beast Mastery the entire time, and I’m loving it. I don’t know what it is, but I just have more fun playing it. Survival is still strong but it was becoming stale for me. What I like about BM is all of the opportunities to stack cooldowns and trinkets. Focus Fire has turned into its own little mini-game, with a ton of variables to take into account rather than the old method of simply using it when the button flashed.
I feel like having so much DPS potential built into Focus Fire has added an entire new dimension to the spec that rewards you for proper decision making. There is a downside with the RNG component, but that probably helps keep it balanced. If gaining Frenzy stacks was more predictable, it’s possible that Focus Fire wouldn’t be able to have the same power level. And to be honest, the awesome feeling I get when I have a pull with good Frenzy stacks outweighs the pulls where I have bad luck. I actually grin when I get good RNG as I play Beast Mastery. I never did that with survival.
In the first paragraph I said I don’t know what it is, but I guess I just answered my own question.
Focus Fire has become far too valuable to always wait for full Frenzy stacks. The goal is to line it up on top of other cooldowns — like Bestial Wrath, Stampede, and blood lust/heroism — rather than simply “5 stacks” or nothing.
- On your opener, use Focus Fire as soon as you get a Frenzy stack just so you can stack it more with cooldowns/trinkets/blood lust. You could try waiting an extra few seconds to see if you’re lucky enough to get a second Frenzy stack, but the more you wait the more potential damage you lose in your opener where everything aligns.
- If Frenzy is going to fall off (less than a few seconds remaining), you should use Focus Fire. Even if you were super unlucky and only have 1 stack, use it.
- Use Focus Fire right before going into Bestial Wrath, regardless of how many stacks you have. If Focus Fire becomes available during during Bestial Wrath, you can use it there too (if there’s more than a few seconds left on BW to get a meaningful benefit).
- If Stampede is active, use Focus Fire regardless of stacks. Let’s say you pop Focus Fire before Stampede, and halfway through when it falls off Frenzy is only back up to 1 stack. Use it anyway. This is a 5 minute cooldown and you want to boost it as much as possible.
- The only time you would want to delay Focus Fire at 5 stacks is if Bestial Wrath has about 10-20 seconds left on its cooldown. In this case, it can be worth holding onto it until Bestial Wrath has 10 seconds left on its cooldown so that it will gain the full benefit of Focus Fire. Another reason you may want to delay 5 stacks is if you know an important burn phase is imminent, you’re progressing on the fight, and need all the DPS you can get to push a new phase or kill a priority target. But I personally would never delay a 5 stack more than 10 seconds.
- Otherwise, just use it when it reaches 5 stacks.
It is a lot to remember, but as you get better at it, you will reap the benefits on the meters. If you use WeakAuras, I highly recommend this Focus Fire group by Azortharion. It will help let you know when to pop it. The only thing I changed was I added some alert sounds.
I have to wonder if Blizzard even knew what they were birthing when they tied all of this damage into Focus Fire, or if they simply chose it as a tuning knob and this extra level of gameplay was completely unintentional?
Either way, I like it. I hope they keep it as a cornerstone of the spec. The only thing I wish it had was better feedback. For example, when you use Bestial Wrath you know you’re using it. It feels like Focus Fire should have similar impact (at least when used at 5 stacks).
- Single Target: Dire Beast or Steady Focus. I personally prefer Dire Beast because it’s just simpler to use. Steady Focus sims slightly below Dire Beast, but not dramatically.
- AoE: Steady Focus. More pet basic attacks for Beast Cleaving, it’s that simple. Note that you can no longer weave Kill Command in between your two Cobra Shots. I’m not a huge fan of the talent, but it’s hard to deny its benefits.
- Single Target: Stampede, Stampede, and Stampede. It doesn’t matter what the fight length is. Stampede.
- AoE: Blink Strikes whenever you spend a large portion of the fight on 3+ targets. However, if you don’t use Steady Focus there is a lot less benefit to using Blink Strikes.
- There is one fight I found myself using A Murder of Crows, and that was Blast Furnace Heroic. There are many opportunities to reset the cooldown and use it on priority targets. Most important of all is the Primal Elementalists. My overall damage may be lower, but I was often #1 on the Elementalists. Outside of progression, you can pick your poison.
- Yes, even Barrage in single target.
- Adaptation for everything.
- Focusing Shot is competitive in AoE, but Adaptation is simply more versatile.
Beast Mastery Stats
In the last Locked and Loaded, I covered the basics of Blackrock Foundry BiS hunter loot. I would get a lot of random questions (usually about trinkets or when to sacrifice ilvl for set bonuses), so that covers most of those questions. But since I have to cover all 3 specs, I had to be brief.
Looking at Beast Mastery specifically, I have to say it’s pretty easy to gear for. Stats are ridiculously close in value. Here are what my stat weights look like today (for single target).
Pretty much all gear is workable (at least for single target), but you still want to aim for Mastery on as much stuff as possible.
Things become a little more skewed when it comes to AoE weights.
The above weights are from the “Hectic Add Cleave” simulation. The biggest standouts are Haste and Multistrike. The more targets, you have, the better Haste gets and the worst Multistrike gets.
The above weights are sustained 3-target, think of something like Iron Maidens. Sustained AoE is where Haste skyrockets. The reason is simple: more Beast Cleaves.
When you combine all of these together, you get your basic stat priority (putting slightly more emphasis towards single target):
Mastery >= Haste > Multistrike > Crit > Versatility
Blackrock Foundry has 3 hunter trinkets:
And Beast Mastery loves all 3 of them, in any combination. Seriously, they are extremely close. Take what you can get. I enjoy having the on use trinket for extra control, but like I said, they’re all good.
I tend to say the Gruul trinket over the Blackhand one simply because there will be less competition for it, and if another hunter in your raid is MM/SV they will see more of a benefit from the Blackhand trinket over the Gruul one, while BM will take full advantage of either.
The Scales of Doom from Butcher is still very relevant too, but only the Mythic version surpasses any BRF trinkets (including normal mode).
Outside of raids, there are two main choices:
The LDSC has dropped quite a bit in price and it’s a valuable trinket, but not recommended if you have Beating Heart of the Mountain because the two trinkets cannot be stacked (they trigger a 20-second cooldown on each other).
The Stone of Fire is new to 6.1, and was made BoE in a recent hotfix (it also no longer requires Alchemy to equip). This is a strong trinket, even surpassing normal mode BRF trinkets (but not the heroic ones). The proc may look weaker, but it only has a 55 second internal cooldown with a 35% proc chance.
Rylakstalker Set Bonuses
I’m not the biggest fan of the look of this set, but I am really digging the set bonuses. I’m also digging that it’s an actual “stalker” set since I think any hunter tier set without “stalker” in the name is an abomination.
This is RPPM and feels very streaky. On average, you will be using Bestial Wrath every ~40 seconds instead of every 60 seconds, but sometimes RNGesus will bless you and it feels awesome. There’s nothing like 30 seconds of uninterrupted Bestial Wrath on the pull.
The one thing you have to be careful of is to never overlap Bestial Wraths. It’s common for a reset to happen on the pull.
By itself, this bonus actually isn’t worth a ton of DPS, but its value increases as soon as you get the 4-piece bonus.
This is a powerful set bonus. The extra pet summoned works similar to a pet summoned by Stampede (auto attacks only), but it does twice the DPS of a Stampede pet!
It summons pet #1 in your active pet list (and if you’re already using pet #1, it uses pet #2). If Stampede is up, it counts as a 6th pet. If you have Dire Beast, it’s possible to have a whopping 7 pets attacking your target at once.
It’s worth giving up significant item level to complete the 4-piece bonus, so you shouldn’t question equipping normal mode tier pieces in place of heroic non-tier.
The Beast Mastery Hype Train
This post started as a short “Hey, Beast Mastery is awesome guys!” fluff post and somehow turned into some sort of pseudo guide. Well, hopefully you found it useful. 🙂
I’m fully committed at this point. The crafted gear has been changed to Feverflare (Haste/Mastery), everything has been enchanted with Mastery, and all 5 of my active pets are Exotic!
Despite all this BM love, don’t think you can’t play the other specs anymore. Heck, just look at Method’s hunters. Rogerbrown and the other Method hunters are still rocking Survival in 6.1. That should be proof enough that you don’t need to jump on the BM hype train if you don’t want to. It’s a good time to be a hunter!