Beast Mastery Hunter guide to the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch

The pre-patch is almost here!

Today the Beast Mastery guide I’ve been working on was published over at Wowhead. It covers pretty much everything for Beast Mastery in 8.0. If you haven’t been following/playing the beta closely, it should give you an idea of what to expect with the pre-patch this week. A lot of work was put in to this one!

Here’s links to all the individual guide pages:

Closer to Battle for Azeroth launch the guides will be updated for level 120, including gear and Azerite traits.

Wowhead also has Marksmanship and Survival pre-patch guides which are definitely worth checking out, especially since they’ve seen even more changes than BM (these guides were not written by me).

Also be sure to check out the BFA pet guide on Wowhead to learn about the pet changes and some new pets to tame (though most of this info is on the pet guide I posted here).

If you’ve got any pre-patch questions, feel free to ask them here and I’ll answer what I can. 🙂

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62 thoughts on “Beast Mastery Hunter guide to the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch”

  1. While I really think the changes to our pets are exciting, I’m a bit worried I’ll now constantly have to log around a full set of pets in order to feel fully prepared. This is a problem already when I’m out taming, I never have enough slots for all the pets I want as I have at least 3 always with me for various purposes. For instance, I don’t yet have the Water Strider mount, meaning I have a Water Strider pet on me which grants water walking. Does anyone else see this as a dilemma or am I reading too much into the need for pets with different abilities?
    Oh, and 10 more slots is like a drop in the ocean with all the new gorgeous pets, which I’ve already found at least 7 I -must- have >_>

    1. I agree with you on that. 10 slots is nothing, especially since it seems that pet utility will be a thing during BfA, not only because of Blood Lust but also because of stuff like dispelling enrage effects like Bendak pointed out in the Wowhead guide.

      We should get a LOT more stable slots, and possibly a couple more slots on summonable pets as well.

        1. Absolutely. Having a UI to list pets just like battle pets would be ideal. A point could be argued that there is some merit in carefully choosing which pets you’re going to take with you when you go out into the world, but it’s a fragile one. After all, we already kind of summon a pet from the stable with Animal Companion anyway.

      1. The mobile stable isn’t engineers only, anyone can use it. It is a one-time use and they do NOT stack. The mats aren’t horribly obnoxious to make it, at r2 it’s 8 Monelite Ore, 5 Storm Silver Ore, and 8 Insulated Wiring from the Trade vendor.

    2. I wouldn’t be too worried about it. There’s room for your water strider. One or two good dungeon/raid pets, one good soloing pet, one good pvp pet (if you’re into that), plus one extra slot for whatever. And as Joonces mentioned, engineers can craft a portable stable master. Though I’m pretty sure its a consumable so it won’t be cheap to use.

      And yeah, the 10 new slots will fill very quickly. I think it’s a bandaid solution and hopefully Blizzard has bigger plans in the future.

      1. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just mimic the Battle Pet UI layout for Hunter pets. Just list them all on the side, let us rearrange them at will….and give us 400+ slots. 😉

    3. there is a mobile stable master consumeable item from engineering in BfA. You don’t need engineering to use it.

  2. Hey Bendak! I have a few points I would like your opinion on.

    1. Is Kill Command affected by frenzy stacks on the pet? If so, would it be better to open with a Barbed Shot then KC, or just KC right off the bat?

    2. From what I’ve seen in the beta our shots will need to be weaved between Barbed Shots, which should be 4-6 seconds apart from each other, which amounts to 3-5 global cooldowns. Does that make sense? To me this seems to be a positive point of having (almost) everything on the GCD, because that simplifies rotation management. Do you agree?

    3. A point of concern to me is that we’re going to need to be very careful with spells like Bestial Wrath, Aspect of the Wild, Exhilaration and so on, especially when survivability/utility is involved, since we’ll be sacrificing a GCD which means a DPS loss.

    4. How do you feel about focus management? I’ve a bunch of heroics in the beta and it hardly was an issue, but I’m not sure about our performance on the damage meters right now; the only one I got working was Details and I don’t trust the numbers it gives me.

    5. How is the Animal Companion doing these days? I’ve been away from Beta/PTR for at least a week and last time I checked it was buggy; it had a tendency to die and not come back, not respond to commands like the main pet and usually it was just a major annoyance. Hopefully it’s going to behave?

    6. (This is more of a comment than anything else) I’m a bit worried about Hati. I look forward to seeing what’s going to happen to our artifact weapons, but I worry about Hati’s fate. I mean, his life became liked with Titanstrike after we acquired it, and I would hate to see him sacrificed =(

    1. 1. No it’s not. You actually can open with Barbed Shot instead of KC if you want. It won’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. The ideal opener is sort of up for debate right now and what’s in the guide could change.

      2. I would look at the rotation more around Kill Command. It’s a bit easier to digest that you’ll be casting about 3 abilities (GCDs) between each one. Usually it’s 2 Cobra Shots plus 1 other ability/talent. As for everything being on the GCD being a positive, I still don’t like Bestial Wrath on there, but I’ll manage.

      3. No need to be careful with those spells. BW and AOTW should be used pretty much as soon as they come up in most cases, just look at them as longer cooldown rotation buttons. Exhil being on the GCD means you may have to sometimes hold off on casting something else if you know you’re about to take a lot of damage, so that the GCD is free for Exhil to heal back up. At least Turtle is off the GCD.

      4. Focus is easier to come by in BFA for sure. The downtime of the spec is reduced (there will still be some, probably around 10%). And yes Details was wonky on beta. But BM is doing pretty nicely with current tuning.

      5. I spoke about it in the guide quite a bit. It’s got a few remaining bugs and its damage isn’t tuned properly yet, but it’s a lot more than we initially thought. It does almost everything the main pet does.

      6. I agree. I remember Blizzard hinting at the fact we’d have some sort of send off for Hati, even if it was just “he’s back now with his former master” or something. I haven’t seen anything yet. I’d also like to be able to tame his appearances for actual pet use.

      1. Thanks for the replies! It looks like I wasn’t so far off after all. About #5, yeah I found that part of the guide right after I posted my last comment! =P


  3. Has anyone seen any Weak Auras scripts for handling barbed shot stacks or focus capping in 8.0? I am sadly horrendous as writing these, so I’m hoping to find someone more talented than I to lead the way. Thanks.

    And as always, Bendak, I appreciate your writing! Thank you.

    1. There is one in the guide for barbed shot. Check the rotation section then go to “mastering beast mastery.” As for focus capping, do you mean a second weakauras focus bar?

      1. The guide should have a separate addon/macro page for BFA launch, but in the meantime I’ll see if I can post those here later today.

      2. Actually, I kind of mis-labeled it b/c what I meant was actually a script to tell you to hold off spending focus if you wouldn’t have enough to cast kill command when it was up again. I copied a script at the start of Legion that would put a symbol near my character if I fell below (I think) 60 focus and KC was x-time away from being ready. Mostly, it was just a back-stop to always make sure you could always have your heavy-hitter available (and you were free to infill with cobra shots if everything else was on cooldown and the symbol wasn’t present) and no, it wasn’t foolproof with KC resetting and whatnot. It sounds like it might have more variables in BFA given the possibilities to reduce KC intervals. Sorry for my mistake!

  4. Has you considered using the legendary Unseen Predator’s Cloak or Zevrim’s Hunger as BM hunter? Both give flat +3% damage and I think they are working on BM too.

    I consider using The Apex Predator’s Claw and Zevrim’s Hunger while leveling because the shoulders will be replaced by an higher level Azerite piece very soon.

    1. Yeah, both are fine to use since they both increase pet damage. I just don’t have them in the guide since they’re not BM legendaries. For leveling you will want to consider the gloves though (unless you don’t care about going fast).

  5. Once again, Bendak, thank you for the work you put into these. This looks like it’ll be hugely helpful for my WoW play, and I appreciate the heck out of it.

  6. Thanks for making a blog post here so we hunters can have a civil discussion, on wowhead there are too many grumpy guys to have any constructive discussions.

    I am hoping for Animal Companion to be on par or at least very close to the other options. I like having 2 pets and unless its more than 5% overall damage difference, I won’t mind losing some to have a 2nd pet along my side.

    Also fingers crossed BM won’t be at the very bottom like pretty much throughout the Legion. Somewhere in the middle is fine by me since we do have the luxury of casting while on the move and plenty of utilities but at the very bottom by a big margin just seems unfair 🙁

    Will keep checking your wowhead guide and your blog to see how things unfold. Happy hunting fellow BM Hunters!

  7. I really hope Animal Companion gets the little bump it needs. Right now it’s not too big of a loss to take it, but like I said it has a couple of quirks remaining (no Mend Pet and Play Dead). I mean I’ve already tamed a couple of extra copies of some of my favorite pets in anticipation (since you can’t duplicate your main pet anymore).

    But for a guide, especially on a site like wowhead, it has to mostly stick to the facts with very little feelycraft. People come wanting to know what the “best” is for everything. Do I think it’s that huge of a deal to take AC even if it’s a slight DPS loss? No, because it’s slight. If you’re not chasing ranks or progressing on Mythic it hardly matters.

  8. I’m not going to miss having two pets, and don’t have the attachment to Hati others do, but it’s crazy that Hati himself isn’t back at the Temple of Storms and that we don’t have all the Hati skins out there in the wild as spirit beasts to tame. Get crackin’, Blizzard!

    For once, my desire for a celestial bear spirit beast (like the Celestial Ursa mount from HotS) takes a back seat to something else.

  9. I see that Icy-Veins guide is updated as well and suggest using Mastery gem/food instead of Haste. Is there some inconsistency between stat simulations? I agree that this is just a general guidance and we should always sim ourselves at the end, but was surprised that there are different results in this matter. Anyway, keep up the good work, tons of useful information as usual!

    1. My guide was updated for the Mastery nerf, not sure if IV was yet. Also the stats may change a bit at 120, and the guide will be updated for that. On the top of each guide page, there’s a changelog link. If you click that I write a note any time I do a major update.

  10. I see that my Quilen still has the Eternal Guardian ability for rez. Have Blizz backflipped on removing rez pets?

  11. If you have war mode on do pvp talents activate in instances like dungeons and raids, or is in only where pvp combat is possible?

  12. Thanks for the weak aura barbed shot / frenzy code. It’s helped a lot. It’s just a shame that now we have a vulnurable like thing to keep track of. It sure doesn’t line up perfectly very consistently does it?

  13. Bendak, I submitted a bug report about aspect of the wild, but have you noticed that it doesn’t show up on your character screen that you actually get the +10% crit when using aspect of the wild? I’m seeing the extra crit from other sources, but not aotw.

    1. AOTW grants all your abilities with 10% crit rather than a blanket 10% crit to your character sheet. The end result is the same, except now it can’t buff things like trinket procs or Azerite damage procs. Bestial Wrath and Thrill of the Hunt works the same. They did this to lessen the power gap between various classes when it comes to trinkets or other procs. Before a trinket might be amazing on one spec because their cooldowns benefited it, now it’s equal for everyone.

  14. anyone notice about weird backpedaling movement bug when you stare at sides while shooting?
    its just unplayable, completely destroys my playstyle, i cant even enter on combat, just cant stand it.

  15. Have a question about OWTP talent. Won’t it be more beneficial to have it for extra Barbed Shot procs which in return will make having Dire Frenzy x3 stacks on pet almost all the time?

    Does Chimaera Shot’s damage is more than having pet with fully buffed DF? Also Barbed Shot generates 20 focus over 8 secs compare to Chim Shot 10 focus on each hit upto 2 targets max and for most of the raid encounts it will always be just one target.

    I did the sims for both and Chim Shot is 110 DPS ahead. Not sure if raidbots’ nightly build takes into account for Chim Shot hitting 2x targets or just one.

    1. When you sim a single target fight, it only accounts for 1 target being hit by Chimaera Shot, so it’s working properly.

      The extra damage from chim shot more than makes up for the extra barbed shot casts you get with OWTP. I think if they made OWTP back to 30% like it was in Legion, it would better compete. As it stands now, it’s not too far behind though.

  16. Thanks bendak,

    As I am very fond of having 2 pets around, here’s the current diff between Killer Instinct and Animal Companion. Looks like about 2.5% diff and with bad pet UI it probably will be little more in real game environment.

    With KI = 4996:
    With AC = 4870:

    I won’t mind within 5% to keep using AC when doing random H or farming runs. For any progression, I might switch around and fingers crossed Blizz will bring the gap even closer or at least fix the damn weird pet UI with LoS or No Path Available errors.

    1. Yep, for single target there’s not a lot of gap. You can also shave off another percent or so by using Killer Cobra. The main problem for Animal Companion is AoE. In AoE, it’s actually a small DPS loss to use it over *no talent at all* — no talent should be like that, so hopefully they fix it.

  17. Didn’t think of Killer Cobra. All my sims in Legion always put AotB ahead for me but since the bleed affect is now gone from that, Killer Cobra is probably better option. Time to get back to sims 😀


  18. I don’t have enough barbed shots to maintain 3 stacks, even with OWTP I can’t keep it up all the time.
    Am I doing it wrong ?
    Or should I just accept that 3 stacks is a rare situation and stick with Chimaera ?

  19. Killer Cobra was still little below than AotB for me. Maybe it will change in BfA at 120 with raid level gear.

    About keeping 3 stacks of Frenzy up, yeah it’s a challenge for me as well. Specially since I played Stomp build 2/3 of the Legion and never really got used to DF build at the start to begin with. I’ve been making silly mistakes like casting Barbed Shot as soon as it comes off CD even when Frenzy stacks fell off a sec ago. I should learn to hold off to it until it has full 2 charges once Frenzy is gone to start building it up again properly.

    Need lots of practice for that! Using TellMeWhen to track those stacks but one unlucky no proc moment and it all disappears.

  20. Probably a stupid question, but should I be prioritising Kill Command over refreshing Barbed Shot if KC is coming off CD but frenzy stacks are about to drop as well (and I have a charge of Barbed ready to use)?

  21. Bendak – Many thanks for the always incredible work. Quick question (and yes, I know to always sim myself for the best answer but to the best of my knowledge, this specific function isn’t available yet) – Do you have any feelings as to what might be the Azerite traits we should be shooting for? Clearly several of the traits stand out (Primal Instincts, Feeding Frenzy, Serrated Jaws, Pack Alpha, Haze of Rage, Dance of Death) over the others. Do we know which head, shoulder and chest pcs we should be grinding for? And to compound that, do we even know if for example (made up) Motherlode drops the helm with Primal Instincts or is it all random? Hope what I’m asking makes sense. And again, thank you for all you do for the BM Community.

    1. Ignore the second part of my question. The Dungeon Journal pretty much answers that. I would be very surprised if what is in the journal changes….

      But my initial question remains – Do we know which traits we should be targetting?

    2. The guide will be updated shortly before launch with an Azerite section that should answer all those questions (and all the other sections will be updated for 120 including gear). But as of today, Haze of Rage is looking to be the best BM specific trait. Pack Alpha is good with Animal Companion. Traits are set on each item and not random.

  22. Many bugs. Does anyone know what the dash autocast criteria are? Because I’ve seen it autocast exactly once since patch launch. Otherwise, if KC and barbed are on CD, it’s slow-walk to new targets unless I manually mash it. Also, pet assist stance seems broken- very inconsistent as to whether the pet actually attacks when you begin attacking a new target, sometimes it waits for a kill command. I think someone else mentioned the pet leech seems weird and inconsistent as well. Have to admit I’m feeling discouraged. All my mates seem enthused about their class changes… hunter feels thinner on gameplay, and broken on pets.

  23. Not sure about dash autocast but about pet attacking, there’s a pet bug section in rotation part of updated wowhead guide with macro. You should macro this with each ability / shots, I think old /pet attack doesn’t work anymore.

    /cast Claw(Basic Attack)
    /cast Bite(Basic Attack)
    /cast Smack(Basic Attack)

    This will somewhat solve the pet attacking very slow and will slightly increase DPS on a long boss fight.

  24. My Beast Mastery hunter is my pride and joy of many years. However, I feel the BFA changes have made BM almost unbearable to play.

    I understand that Blizzard has tried to increase the complexity of the class, but now with so many active talents/abilities and changes to the GCD, there’s no flow in our rotation and we’ve lost the oomph that made us competitive with other classes. Our opening sequence is TERRIBLE to say the least, which I could get past if there was balance in our rotation but unfortunately, even when taking passive (and less competitive) talents, I feel it’s difficult to really get into a steady flow. Don’t even get me started on pet AI.

    It seems like everything is centred around trying to maintain 3 stacks of frenzy (which currently is hard to do since the buff only lasts 8 seconds and the cooldown of Barbed Shot is 12 seconds, less with haste) and using Kill Command as often as possible. But then when you throw in Aspect of the Wild, Bestial Wrath, and Cobra Shot, along with active talent choices like Murder of Crows, Dire Beast and Chimera Shot… it’s feeling very clustered! There’s so many abilities on the GCD and not enough time/focus to use them all to make a smooth rotation. And to top it off, all that effort to try and make all of these abilities work together doesn’t seem to be paying off in the DPS aspect.

    I’ve always taken pride in being good at my class but now I feel like I’m struggling. I’m a bit sad because I find it very difficult to enjoy my much-loved hunter and honestly I’m looking at other characters to play as a main in BFA. I’m curious to know how many other passionate Beast Mastery players feel the same, or even if you disagree and can give me some insight on how I could get more enjoyment out of the class, I’d be happy to hear from you.

    1. Well, I have a few points of advice here.

      1. It’s all still new, you will get more familiar with it as time goes on. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s probably not as bad as you think.

      2. Maintaining Frenzy stacks is indeed important to maxing out your damage, but it’s probably worth noting the difference between playing Barbed Shot perfectly (like a sim would) or just using Barbed Shot on cooldown and ignoring Frenzy entirely. Here’s a secret: The overall difference is only about 3% in single target, and about 4% in AoE. It’s easy to see this in a sim by changing the APL, in this case I just changed it to use Barbed Shot on cooldown and ignore Frenzy stacks. Now, this is not something I’d ever encourage in a guide, because those are designed to guide players towards the best performance possible. But it’s worth mentioning here (and maybe in another blog post).

      I mess up my Frenzy stacks sometimes if I get distracted by mechanics or just hit the wrong button at the wrong time, but I don’t beat myself up because I know how little of a difference that one mistake makes in the grand scheme of things. I do my best to maximize 3 stack uptime, and that’s it.

      3. Active talents… yeah there’s a lot now. It can get pretty jumbled. For most people, I would advise against using Dire Beast + Chimaera Shot + AMOC all at the same time. I would say Chim Shot is really good right now, so use that if you can. I find that Chim Shot makes me feel less focus starved in general. Just treat it like another Kill Command. Use it whenever it comes up. Dire Beast doesn’t really have a niche right now. In BFA it will be Killer Instinct or Animal Companion depending on your azerite traits (though DB is viable). AMOC I find a little less intrusive since it’s only once per minute, and it’s a pretty nice gain for only hitting that button every 60 sec.

      4. GCD/Opener stuff: It may feel awkward and slow, but that’s just how the game is now for everyone. You’re not doing anything wrong if it feels like it’s taking a long time to get everything rolling… that’s just how it is.

      5. The most important thing is to just be casting something whenever you can, even if the priority isn’t perfect or you mess up Frenzy stacks. Wasted GCDs are going to be your biggest DPS loss.

      6. Have you given Marksmanship a try? IMO it’s pretty easy to play aside from the standing still for Aimed Shot (everything else can be done on the move), and if pets are your concern, they are totally viable to use as MM. There’s also Survival, which, if you’re OK with melee, is fun to play and also really simple since a lot of the optimal talents are passive.

  25. Thanks for your feedback! I have been putting a lot of effort into maintaining 3 frenzy stacks, because I felt like it was punishing my DPS a fair bit when they fall off (either due to me messing up or not getting Wild Call procs and the CDs not lining up). I’ve probably been prioritising it too much. For example, putting other abilities on hold because I really need to get that Barbed Shot off to keep my stacks going. Maybe I should relax a little with that and not get too stressed if I lose it. And as you said, with practice it will get easier.

    I have also avoided using Dire Beast, simply because Murder of Crows is pretty much a must and Chimera Shot is currently performing well, and I didn’t want to add yet another active talent. I’m using Killer Instinct right now but I’m really hoping that Animal Companion gets tuned a bit better because I would love having that instead! It would improve the class fantasy for me (I too have tamed a second pet of my favourites like Skoll and Loque Nahak for this very reason). The only reasons I’m not using it currently is because of the AI issues and Play Dead not working with it. I’d be happy to use Animal Companion and take a slight DPS decrease if the talent gets fixed.

    I know it’s still early and there will be tuning and changes made, so I haven’t given up. I hope that once BFA launches and I get to 120 that things won’t seem so bad. I’ve always felt that if you are passionate enough about getting the most out of your class, you will perform well, and I’m hoping that will remain true for me into the next expansion. Thanks again!

    1. Yeah, if you find yourself sitting there not casting anything for a couple of GCDs because you’re worried about Frenzy, that will be a bigger loss in the long run. Also, a GCD is pretty short and most of the time you can probably fit one in before refreshing Frenzy even if you think you can’t. You’ll get a feel for it eventually… its harder to pick up if you didnt spend any time with Dire Frenzy in Legion.

    2. Just like you, I’ve felt punished in our rotation and especially in the opener. I think we feel it especially hard because BMs could outburst pretty much anything before whereas now we’ve got GCD on buffs and are left with this ‘twiddling of thumbs’ feeling to the beginning of many fights. It takes a bit getting used to ^^

      For normal Pve I’m still trying to figure out which rotation feels natural but I’m slowly getting into the swing of things with bosses now. I’ve been running a lot of plain mythic dungeons (for the Balance of Power quest and I joined a lot of groups for the weekly 4 mythics quest last week) and it’s really been good for me. Practice does help a lot and I can feel it slowly getting worked into muscle memory – even if my fingers do sometimes fall back to the old key pattern when I’m in tight situations ^^

      1. I do miss that burst! And definitely getting used to the GCD changes takes practice. The muscle memory thing resonates with me too; I was using the zoo build before the patch and was so used to throwing out dire beasts all over the place, then along comes Barbed Shot and I found myself using both charges without even thinking about it! Facepalm!

        Getting accustomed to Barbed Shot wasn’t hard to do though and honestly I think it’s probably the easiest change to grasp. The hard part for me is the amount of active abilities and trying to work them in to create an ideal rotation while prioritising the best cooldowns. A lot of the passive talents just aren’t really worth taking in most situations and I was starting to feel like if I wanted to be competitive, I was being kind of forced into a complicated and messy rotation that didn’t feel comfortable.

        But I have learnt that in this case aiming for the best talents can actually be a disadvantage, because biting off more than you can chew is ultimately going to hurt your DPS, not raise it. Just because it works best in simulations, it doesn’t mean it will work best for YOU. And there will be changes and improvements in the future, so it’s like this now but soon it will be different again (and hopefully smoother!). So I’m gonna wait it out and see what BFA brings, until then I’ll keep on shooting!

        Thank you all for the discussion! <3

  26. How long do people on average get 3 stacks ?
    On a dummy it dropped off for me all the time but in a raid it feels (I did not measure) that I can keep it at 3 stacks for about 50% of the time (with Chimaera)
    Would that be about right ?

    Only part I still need to learn is that when it drops off I need to wait till it’s almost back to 2 stacks before I start applying it again. It’s very tempting when it drops off to immediately hit barbed the moment it’s available but then getting it back to 3 stack is a tall mountain to climb.

    1. @Canardo

      It varies A LOT. If you happen to get no/or very few procs from Wild Call, the frenzy buff might drop off after about 30 seconds. If you get very lucky with the procs, and if you do the delaying of further Barbed Shot uses properly, you can keep it up 100% of the time.

      The better you play around with delaying Barbed Shot usage to maximize the uptime on each Frenzy buff, you will have to rely less on the RNG behind Wild Call procs.

      So far in the pre-patch with the level of gear we have now, I tend to get an average uptime on the Frenzy-buff of around 1-2mins before it eventually falls off and I have to start building it up again. However, this is still very dependent on RNG that, the best thing you can do is really:

      – Delay uses of Barbed Shot until the Frenzy buff is just about to fall off. As much as you can safely manage ofc.

      – If you get a Wild Call proc, make sure you do NOT reach 2 full charges of Barbed Shot. If you need to refresh it early to avoid capping on charges, do this.

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