Survival and Beast Mastery hotfix buffs compared

Last night, after a month of patch 6.2, Blizzard finally threw some table scraps at poor old Survival hunters. Of course we told them how broken it was time and time again on the PTR, but I guess these buffs are better late than never. Beast Mastery also received a smaller buff, which is more beneficial to it in older T17 gear than it is in newer T18 gear (boo).

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Official Forums)

  • Beast Mastery
    • Bestial Wrath now lasts 15 seconds (up from 10 seconds).
  • Survival
    • Black Arrow, Explosive Shot, and Serpent Sting damage increased by 25%.

I’ve seen a lot of hunters ask if this means Survival and Beast Mastery are “viable” again.

Here’s the short answer: Beast Mastery has always been “viable,” it’s just not been ideal for Hellfire Citadel because of fight mechanics. The fights simply favor Marksmanship. Survival, on the other hand, was not viable. These buffs don’t really change that, but they do make it “less wrong” to play at a non-progression level.

Simulation Craft recently put out an update with the hotfixes so I ran some numbers. Please don’t use these numbers as the sole basis for choosing what to play in HFC. I’m simply using them to illustrate the change these hotfixes have.

Update: The T17 4-piece bonus pet still only lasts 10 seconds even though Bestial Wrath is lasting 15. This will reduce BM’s buff in old T17 gear slightly.

DPS compared in T17 gear

(mouseover or tap the bars to see numbers)

In T17 gear, the buffs result in a roughly 5% boost to Beast Mastery and 15% boost to Survival.

The Bestial Wrath centric set bonuses from Rylakstalker get a nice little benefit from the duration extension. Survival moves up but is still below the others.  This is T17 gear though, which is rapidly being phased out for some (except for me, who will apparently be stuck at 3p of T18 forever).

Now to the real numbers.

DPS compared in T18 gear

(mouseover or tap the bars to see numbers)

In T18 gear, the buffs are less of a gain compared to older gear. Roughly a 2% buff for Beast Mastery and 12% buff for Survival.

I must re-iterate that using these simulation numbers as a basis for choosing what spec to play in HFC is wrong. I am simply using them to show what effect the hotfixes had.

The sad part about these hotfixes is that it doesn’t really change the state of affairs:

  • Marksmanship is still the best simply because of how it works. HFC is all about priority target DPS. It also wins out on simulated DPS too, if that matters to you.
  • Beast Mastery gets a little nudge, but nothing serious. I guess the cool thing to me is now you can work 3 Kill Commands into a Bestial Wrath. Ultimately it doesn’t change much, but for those playing BM in HFC it’s a welcome change.
  • Survival is still in the dumps. Even if its simulated DPS was brought up all the way to Marksmanship level, it would still not be a recommended spec for this raid. Flat, sustained DPS simply isn’t desirable in HFC.


I’m not a progression raider, or I only really do LFR and/or casual Normal mode raiding. What about me?

You should feel comfortable playing any spec you want, even Survival. These buffs should put Survival solidly above tanks (yeah, I know how sad that sounds) and make it something that’s OK to play again in more casual situations. But if you’re helping your guild progress on new bosses, I’m sorry to say that you’d be holding back your raid significantly by playing Survival.

As for Beast Mastery, I think it can have a place in any raid… to an extent. It really depends on your raid composition. If you’re somewhat low on AoE burst, or you’ve already got a few Marksmanship hunters or other ranged who are good at single target, then Beast Mastery could possibly complement your raid in a good way.


Hellfire Citadel still has Marksmanship written all over it. Beast Mastery is OK to play in most situations if you absolutely hate Marksmanship. Survival is still not recommended in any form of progression raiding.


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13 thoughts on “Survival and Beast Mastery hotfix buffs compared”

  1. “Beast Mastery is OK to play in most situations if you absolutely hate Marksmanship.” plz convince my guildies of this. We even have 2 other MM hunters.


    1. It’s ok. It’s not ideal, but it’s ok. Marksman IS mostly the better spec. Alright, BM is ideal if you aren’t very good at Marksman. 🙂 You can try sending them here to read Bendak’s post!

  2. My quick opinions for the fights in Hellfire Citadel:

    Assault: Marks or BM. Depends what your guild needs more. Marks for the priority adds, BM for the overall AoE. Both are important.

    Reaver: Marksman, easily.

    Kormrok: I prefer BM for bursting the hands, but if the rest of the group has that covered, go Marks.

    Council: Marksman. If you could stack all then probably BM, but you can’t so Marks is better.

    Kilrogg: Marksman. Lots of priority adds.

    Gorefiend: Marksman. Same as Kilrogg.

    Iskar: Similar to Hellfire Assault, there are AoE adds and priority adds, but I suggest Marksman. The small adds won’t kill you. The Raven and Construct will.

    Zakuun: Either, there is literally only one target.

    Socrethar: Marksman is fantastic for killing the Eredar adds, which are most of the challenge.

    Velhari: Marksman.

    Xhul: Beast Mastery. I find BM substantially better here, since killing the little adds is the priority. Their health is low, so they aren’t in Careful Aim range long. Beast Cleave is great!

    Mannoroth: Marksman. Lots of adds, but way too much running around.

    Archimonde: Don’t know yet.

    The only one I feel is strongly BM is Xhul’horac. A couple flexible ones depending on raid makeup, but I agree that Hellfire Citadel is mostly a Marksmanship paradise.

    1. I’ll add my 2c and say MM for Archimonde by far. I actually don’t play MM, but even I have to admit that there is too much running around and target switching on that fight for BM to be comfortable. I was hoping the buffs would put Surv high enough for me to use it on Archi instead of BM, but possibly not…

  3. I would be interested to see how Survival parses on Assault and Council with the 4 piece. On Assault, you have a plethora of targets to toss Black Arrow on, potentially giving you SoO levels of LnL procs (which you use to burst down the Terrors and Sieges).

    On Council, you should be able to maintain 100% uptime on both BA and SrS on all three targets, again getting three times as many LnL procs, which you pump into whichever target your raid is focusing at the time.

    Still most definitely a Marksman-dominated tier, which is fine by me, as that’s mostly a result of spec and fight design, rather than numbers tuning.

  4. A much needed posting: thank you.
    This last week (after the Lock and Loaded article) I delved into a lot of resources to switch to MM. Seeing the hotfix had me really upset and I’d not even had a chance to try my new spec out!
    Nonetheless — my raid group is a long (long) way from any four piece set.

  5. explosive shot changes didnt go through . A day ago i noted that my Black Arrow did 47k , Ss 18k , Ea 3k . Today i see 60k Ba , 22k Ss , still 3k Ea…

  6. Sorry to disagree @ Skarn. Even AoE Phases kann be handeld better with MM. Place Mirror, place explo trap, cast barrage, lean back and see the tears of any beastcleave. No offense, but Item- and raiddesign favor marks THAT much, that in any kind of progress (which also can be on normal mode) marks is way ahead in any encounter.

  7. Eugh. I played Survival a lot in my earlier years as a hunter, and MM for a little while, but I’ve been BM so long now I’m not sure I’d be at all happy or nearly as capable in the other specs. Good to know if I ever venture into Draenor raids I won’t get rejected right off the bat just for what spec I am, I guess.

  8. Hey! I was just wondering what transmog ur currently wearing as its completely captivated me and i´d like to atain it myself 🙂

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