Thoughts on the current state of hunter talents in Warlords of Draenor

I’ve been playing around with hunter talents lately to see how things are shaping up for each spec. Before I get started, keep in mind that this information is only up to date as of today. Number tuning is still in progress, but this will give you a good idea of how things are shaping up so far.

These are my personal opinions on the “best” talents for each spec. I’m not claiming them to be perfect choices, but I came to these conclusions through my own testing. I also played around quite a bit with Esoth’s Hunter Tools and the Simulation Craft beta. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments. Remember that even if you’re not in beta, you can test most of this (sans the 100 talents) on the 6.0 PTR!

Beast Mastery
  • Level 60: Dire Beast
    It still seems to be the best option. The extra pet damage affected by BM mastery is just too much to give up over the others.
  • Level 75: Blink Strikes
    Again, more pet damage. The blink component for more pet uptime doesn’t hurt either. A Murder of Crows can keep up with it on a single target fight, but the extra AoE damage from Blink Strikes and its interaction with Beast Cleave is too good. Stampede just isn’t worth it.
  • Level 90: Glaive Toss and Barrage (tie)
    These are very close in single target DPS. Barrage may even have a slight edge right now. Using Barrage is an entirely different play style though. You need to pool up a lot of focus every 20 seconds whereas Glaive Toss is essentially free and used on cooldown. For AoE, I would go Barrage every time, just making sure I pool enough Focus to be able to refresh Beast Cleave as soon as Barrage finishes channeling.
  • Level 100: Adaptation
    For pretty much any situation it will be the highest DPS. The pet damage affects both single target and AoE which means it can still compete with Incendiary Ammo.


  • Level 60:  Thrill of the Hunt
    I would have rather had Fervor than Steady Focus to be honest. I was never a big fan of Steady Focus but I enjoyed Fervor. That being said, I find all 3 of these talents to be pretty darn close for survival. I will probably use Thrill of the Hunt most of the time because you can’t really go wrong with it, even after the changes. It’s also nice to have for Multi-Shot.
  • Level 75A Murder of Crows
    The new iteration of AMoC is really nice. Blink Strikes is still viable as a passive that you don’t have to worry about, but ultimately AMoC will be more damage. Stampede does less damage overall, but if you’re in desperate need of some burst then you may want to choose it in that situation.
  • Level 90: Glaive Toss and Barrage (tie)
    Pooling focus up for Barrage is a little more annoying as survival since you only have 100 focus vs. the 120 the other specs have. Less leg room! However, Barrage and Glaive Toss are again very close in overall damage. I think I will be switching back and forth quite often.
  • Level 100: Exotic Munitions
    I like Exotic Munitions the best for survival right now. The damage is affected by mastery, and it’s just more sources of damage which leads to more multistrikes! I also love the idea of swapping ammo types based on the fight. Lone Wolf is obviously there if you don’t want to deal with a pet, but that’s not for me. Focusing Shot can perform up to par with the others, but you have to enjoy that gameplay and utilize the skill cap there. I feel like it’s not rewarding enough to bother at this point.
  • Level 60Thrill of the Hunt
    I find ToTH very helpful for dealing with the high focus cost of Aimed Shot, but Steady Focus isn’t too bad either if you pair it with Focusing Shot. If you’re using Barrage and AMoC you will end up wasting many ToTH charges. It’s also still very nice for MM AoE of course (free Multi-Shots).
  • Level 75A Murder of Crows
    I feel like it’s the only decent option for MM. Again, you can use Blink Strikes if you’re already having trouble managing MM’s sometimes volatile focus pool. You’ll lose out on potential DPS but since it’s passive it makes things simpler. MM already has burst potential with Rapid Fire + Careful Aim, making Stampede not very attractive to me (ugh, 5 min cooldown).
  • Level 90: Barrage
    The play style is already pretty slow and this seems to fit in with that. Using Glaive Toss amid all these hard-hitting Aimed Shots and Chimaera Shots feels like you’re poking your target with a small stick. Glaive Toss is still viable though.
  • Level 100: Lone Wolf (probably)
    Numbers wise, all 3 talents are all pretty close. Focusing Shot synergizes well with Sniper Training since you’ll be standing around a lot anyway. It does have a higher skill cap than Exotic Munitions, which is a nice set and forget option. Lone Wolf is strong for single target, but I feel like you’d want the extra AoE damage from Exotic Munitions since MM AoE is so weak in the first place and needs all the help it can get. Overall, I’d have to say Lone Wolf is the best fit for MM even though I wouldn’t use it.
A note on the level 45 talents

As it stands now, Spirit Bond is the choice in 90% of cases due to the new larger health pools and healing mechanics (lots of time spent below 100% HP). Iron Hawk will probably still be used situationally. Exhilaration is just plain weak. It has a 2 minute cooldown and heals for what Spirit Bond heals for in just 22 seconds. Over the course of an Exhilaration cooldown, Spirit Bond will heal for 120% of your health. I understand the reason it’s so much weaker is that it’s instant, but I feel like the gap is much too large.

Since Spirit Bond doesn’t work with Lone Wolf, that makes the whole tier pretty mediocre for those hunters. I know it’s probably too late to revamp the tier at this point, but it could be helpful if either Spirit Bond could be changed to work without a pet or Exhilaration could have its cooldown reduced or healing increased. The extra healing could even be in HoT form to not have too much of an instant heal. Just making Spirit Bond work regardless is probably the least risky. I may not be a Lone Wolf hunter, but I feel their pain!

Talents are in a good place!

Despite still having talents you’ll never want to take in PvE, like Powershot, I think the talents are in a good place. There will always be the “best” choice in a given tier, but for the most part they are close enough that you can simply choose what you like best, which is great. Unless you’re aiming for top ranks or taking part in high-end Mythic progression, it’s probably acceptable for most people to reduce their potential DPS by a couple of percent if they enjoy the gameplay more.

I may not be entirely happy with SV and MM as a whole, but the talents are looking pretty good.

Darkbrew also recently gave his thoughts on the talent changes in video form so be sure to check that out.

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16 thoughts on “Thoughts on the current state of hunter talents in Warlords of Draenor”

  1. That’s good to know about Spirit Bond vs. Hawk. I don’t believe this was the case in MoP, but of course that really diminishes Lone Wolf.

  2. I have been testing my BM spec on the PTR and I have to say that steady focus is a decent option for sustained dps so long as you make sure to pull off two cobra shots in a row. It has no cooldown so you can always keep it up or at least have it come up after each cobra shot combo. Dire beast has always been good in theory but in end raiding just falls flat for sustained focus regen. I’ll be testing between ToTH and steady focus in raiding once wod drops. Unless they fix DB to scale properly with gear and stats, I’ll never use it. ToTH was my main stat in SOO.

    As for barrage, it just has too much of a bad rng component when hitting packs of adds in raiding and as such is not worth the risk of pulling tightly grouped adds. Glaive Toss is still the safest bet in raiding.

    I am still furious that they baked in stampede with level 75 talents. It makes no sense except for maybe them trying to throw MM hunters a bone. They need to remove stampede and replace it with something MM hunters could use and give it back to BM hunters for an opening burst of dps.

  3. I finally got around to doing some BM testing with the new barrage last night, and came to a lot of the same conclusions. Barrage seems to fit much better with BM, since there are no large focus users. Also, when pooling focus for BW, I found if I got around 100 before hitting BW, I could do the normal bit of spamming nothing but KC and AS, but then on my very last GCD, use Barrage. it only costs 30 focus and does a crap-ton more damage than a single buffed arcane shot.

    I’ll probably write something up on it once I get through my logs. Also, has there been a change to frenzy regen? is it higher with Adaptation? I was consistently using all getting to five stacks with more than 30 seconds left on my BW CD, giving me the AP and Attack speed buff twice every minute. It seemed ridiculous. Have you heard any results on whether BW is going to be more powerful with our pet having all five stacks of frenzy or if we’ll want the AP buff from consuming it? I’m working on the math behind it, but I need about 5 more hours of BM logs before I’ll have enough info to really feel comfortable saying it’s one way or the other.

      1. MS works with stampede pets also. On your logs it’ll just be listed under the pet’s name and melee, should have a section for hits, crits, ms hits and ms crits. At least in Warcraft logs it’s showing that way, I haven’t tried uploading beta logs to WoL or AMR logs.

  4. I’m pretty concerned about some talents as they are now:

    Exhilaration: Like you said, it’s almost useless and very underpowered, the obvious black sheep of its tier. I’d either:
    – Give it 2 charges and reduce CD of each charge to 90s.
    – Heals 20% and reduce its CD to 45s
    – Make it do the 20% instant healing, plus a HoT that heals another 30% over 15 seconds.

    Stampede: It needs something to make it cooler. Maybe reduce CD to 2 minutes but make the extra pets do less damage. 5 Min. CD is too much.

    Powershot: As it is it can’t compete with the others in its tier. It should be the obvious best option, since it has the largest Cooldown and a cast time, as well as the worst AoE effect. I’d reduce CD to 30s, reduce damage by 20%, but add (between 30% and 50%) extra bleed damage over X seconds to targets hit. Plus, enemies that are immune to the Knockback would take extra damage, to make this an absolute beast against raid bosses.

    Lone Wolf: It should also give a 10% bonus damage to Multi-shot (all other talents in this row increase AoE damage but this one), as well as allow the Hunter to cast a petless version of Master’s Call on himself. Without Master’s Call, this talent becomes too problematic in PvP.

  5. I’ve just checked (for a few minutes) but, right know, I can say I really really miss haste bonus from the double steady shot mechanic.

  6. @ lvl60: Steady Focus is a pity replacement for Fervor. It is even mathematically way weaker than Fervor in regards to focus recovery. So it is more or less out of boat anyway.

    @ lvl75: Looks like Stampede will (maybe) fit into a PvP burst slot. But that’s all what’s left for it. It would surprise me to see it in a raid setup. As long as they don’t reintroduce short dps boss phases which require burst cooldowns (like C’thun)

    @ lvl90: I’m still disappointed that Powershot has a weaker scaling than Aimed Shot. A 45 sec cd talent shouldn’t hit weaker than a ‘focus dump’ (imho that is) A situational ‘hard hitting shot’ would be nice. Hell I wouldn’t even mind the old vanilla aimed shot cast time for it. Not the 6+ second (ranged weapon swing timer +3 sec) cast. I mean the 3,5 sec cast)

    @ lvl100:I don’t know if it’s a flavor of the month issue. But I’ve seen more and more hunters with it recently. Though maybe they are just experimenting with it. To me it feels odd to play without a pet. However it fills a gap that existed for a long time period. I guess we will have to wait several months till blizzard adapts the ‘pet focused’ talents to work with Lone Wolf (similar to the warlock talent tree)

    Off topic. Regarding Glyphs it seems like Pathfinding remains a lackluster. The 10% riding speed still doesn’t stack with Guild Boni and therefore it’s somewhat useless. Outside of battlegrounds that is, but even there it is inferior to passives like Paladin’s ‘Heart of the Crusader’ and Death Knight’s ‘On a Pale Horse’ Despite the fact that we have to Glyph it

    1. I failed to include the information that my feedback for the lvl100 Talents was focused on Lone Wolf.
      In it’s current state Lone Wolf is pointless for Marksman. It still doesn’t work with Aimed shots and a flat 30 % auto attack dmg bonus is not worth giving up your pet


  7. I really do not understand why blizzard would remove fervor and change it out with such a boring talent. In that tier, fervor was defenitly the most engaging talent.

  8. Always was bothered with Exhilaration when readiness was removed. Isn’t even an option pick spirit bond or Iron Hawk! After a little thinking, why not make the talent a DoT remover in addition to a stronger HoT like you said? Waste of a talent for another whole expansion.

  9. Always been a huge fan of Spirit Bond. I used Iron Hawk in raids because optimal, but I always felt I got a better deal with Spirit Bond as a whole. It really saved me on getting rank 10 in brawlers guild!

    Sad though it doesn’t work with Lone Wolf. I want so bad to be a Ranger or Archer or Sniper… but it’s got all these little issues like with Spirit Bond that make it almost unplayable :[

    Heck, I was going to switch from my SV to MM for Lone Wolf! With a BM leveling build of course.

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