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WoWJul 15, 2016 5:00 pm CT

Locked and Loaded: Patch 7.0 Legion Hunter guide

What Hunter spec should you play in patch 7.0, the lead-in for Legion? What’s the best? Well, it turns out that they’re very close in terms of DPS in the pre-patch. This is a good thing because Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, and Survival are so different from each other that you probably shouldn’t make your decision based on numbers alone. Chances are you’ll like one spec and dislike another. It’s not like it was before where all three specs were the same thing in different clothing.

Use 7.0 as an opportunity to decide what you’ll play first in Legion. Don’t dismiss Survival because it’s melee, and don’t be afraid to try a spec you may not have enjoyed before. It’s all new, so who knows what you’ll end up liking? This Legion hunter guide should help cover the basics.


Beast Mastery

Beast Mastery is now the only ranged spec without a movement penalty, focusing on pet damage more than ever. Most of that pet damage is still controlled by you, so don’t think you can just auto shot your way to victory. It’s probably the least complicated of the three specs, but it’ll still present a learning curve for longtime Hunters. The biggest one for me was learning to stop casting at the right times. It’s easy to overspend your Focus, so consider that your first hurdle. It’s OK to have a second or two where you don’t press any buttons.

We no longer have the old Adaptation talent to turn our pets into super pets, so you’ll have to spec your pet into Tenacity for a decent soloing experience. Sustained pet healing is down across the board, and we’ve lost infinite misdirects on our pets. We’re still decent soloers, but be prepared to take more of an active role in keeping your pet alive.

Core DPS abilities

  • Kill Command: This is your high priority spender that you should use on cooldown.
  • Cobra Shot: No longer a generator, but now a spender and instant cast. Only use this when you’re high on Focus (90+) — if you start spamming it you’ll run dry and not be able to use more important stuff.
  • Dire Beast: This is your highest priority ability. Similar to the old talent, but now a rotational ability with a short cooldown. The beast generates a small amount of Focus while active.
    • Wild Call: Auto shot crits have a chance to reset the cooldown of Dire Beast. Button glows when this happens. Since you can have multiple Dire Beasts at once, use it immediately.
    • Every time you cast Dire Beast, the cooldown of Bestial Wrath is reduced by 15 seconds. If Bestial Wrath only has about 5 seconds left on its cooldown, feel free to delay Dire Beast until after Bestial Wrath. That way you get the full 15 second reduction on the next one, instead of just a few.
  • Multi-Shot: Triggers Beast Cleave for 4 seconds. Don’t spam it, just use it to refresh Beast Cleave when necessary.
  • Bestial Wrath: This has been simplified to a flat 20% damage buff for Hunter and pet. Thanks to the Dire Beast cooldown reduction mechanic, you will spend a lot of time in Bestial Wrath. Use it as often as you can, and try to go into Bestial Wrath with lots of Focus.
  • Aspect of the Wild: A new cooldown that increases crit chance and Focus regeneration for 10 sec. Always save and stack this with Bestial Wrath.

Suggested Talents

Try this as a starting build and go from there. If you feel like you want another ability to use, try out Chimaera Shot. Don’t like Dire Beasts? Then try out Dire Frenzy. Stampede is an entirely different ability now, and the direction of the stampeding beasts is based on your character’s facing direction, not your target.

Gear and stats

All stats are roughly equal for Beast Mastery, with Haste slightly on top. If you currently play Beast Mastery you probably have Mastery gems and enchants — it’s not really worth changing them.  The Talisman of the Master Tracker trinket was changed to increase the duration of Bestial Wrath for both Hunter and pet, but it and all Hellfire Citadel trinkets have lost some value due to nerfs. Stone of the Elements, Infallible Tracking Charm, and Chipped Soul Prism are all among the top trinkets for Beast Mastery in the pre-patch.



Marksmanship has the option of using a pet or not, and you get to make the Lone Wolf decision earlier at level 15. However, the spec was originally designed without a pet and will function just fine without one. The pet option is there to provide utility, and for people who just can’t give it up.

The core of Marksmanship’s gameplay is about marking your targets and making them Vulnerable, which increases the damage of your Aimed Shot and Marked Shot. It’s the only spec to retain an active Focus generator with the re-designed Arcane Shot. Talents can change gameplay considerably, one of the biggest choices being whether to use Sidewinders or not.

Core DPS abilities

  • Aimed Shot: Can no longer be cast while moving. Use this when Marked Shot isn’t available. Damage is low unless buffed by Vulnerable.
  • Marked Shot: High priority, available whenever you have a marked target. It’ll hit all currently marked targets and add a stack of Vulnerable to them.
    • Hunter’s Mark: When your Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot button glows, it means the next one cast will apply a Hunter’s Mark, which enables Marked Shot.
    • Vulnerable: The debuff applied by Marked Shot. Lasts 30 sec and stacks up to 3 times. Significantly increases Aimed and Marked Shot damage.
    • The Sentinel talent lets you apply Hunter’s Mark at will — helpful for marking more than one target. The Sidewinders talent applies Vulnerable without the target being marked, and it can also apply Hunter’s Mark.
  • Arcane Shot: Instant cast shot that generates 5 Focus. Also used for marking.
  • Multi-Shot: Generates 2 Focus per target hit. If Hunter’s Mark is available, all targets hit will be marked.
  • Trueshot: Like the old Rapid Fire, it increases your haste by 40% for 15 sec. It also makes every Arcane and Multi-Shot apply Hunter’s Mark.

Suggested talents

There are almost two completely different gameplay styles available with talent choices. The first one is the base Marksmanship experience, described above. Try this as a starting build and adjust from there.

The second is the Sidewinders + Patient Sniper combo. Sidewinders replaces Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot, and generates a whopping 50 Focus with 2 charges. It hits all targets in a cone similar to Barrage, and applies Vulnerable to all of them (without having to be marked first). Patient Sniper increases your Focus pool to 130 and changes Vulnerable into a non-stacking 6 sec debuff that increases Aimed Shot and Marked Shot damage by 150%. This means you don’t have to stack it 3 times and rely on Hunter’s Mark RNG. Try this as a starting build with Sidewinders plus Patient Sniper.

Gear and stats

Focus enchants and gems on Mastery (Sniper Training has been improved). Mastery is well ahead, with Crit, Versatility, and Haste fairly equal behind it. Most Hellfire Citadel trinkets have lost value with the exception of the Archimonde class trinket. Chipped Soul Prism, Infallible Tracking Charm, and Stone of the Elements are all good options.



The new melee Survival will likely be unpopular with many longtime Hunters. However, I think it’s still worth giving a shot even if you don’t consider yourself to be a melee player. It can be pretty fun to Harpoon from enemy to enemy with your pet by your side. Survival is also the only spec with traps (Explosive, Freezing, Tar) and they’re used regularly, including in the DPS rotation. Focus regeneration is completely passive, so like Beast Mastery you must be prepared to accept periods of downtime.

Core DPS abilities

  • Flanking Strike: Similar to Kill Command, but you attack along with your pet. It costs a lot of Focus and takes priority over Raptor Strike.
  • Raptor Strike: Your standard Focus dump. Should only be used to prevent Focus capping, with two exceptions:
    • If you’re talented into Way of the Mok’nathal, Raptor Strike takes priority over Flanking Strike to keep the stacking buff active.
    • If you’re talented into Serpent Sting, use Raptor Strike to refresh the DoT when required.
  • Lacerate: A high DPS bleed that lasts for 12 sec. Keep this active on the primary target at all times. Very high priority.
  • Explosive Trap: Use on cooldown, even for single target DPS. It drops at your feet automatically.
  • Mongoose Bite: Attack that has 3 charges (12s recharge) and costs no Focus. These charges are essentially a secondary resource for Survival:
    • Hunting Companion causes your pet’s attacks to have a chance to proc more charges.
    • The first Mongoose Bite attack buffs you with Mongoose Fury for 12 sec, increasing Mongoose Bite damage by 50%. This can stack up to 6 times, but additional stacks do not refresh the duration.
    • Use Mongoose Bites consecutively, then if more charges become available while Mongoose Fury is still active, use them for the damage bonus.
    • When Mongoose Fury expires, begin saving charges again.
    • Don’t sit on 3 charges too long, or you’ll waste potential charges and procs.
    • Getting up to 6 stacks of Mongoose Fury requires extreme luck or use of the Snake Hunter talent.
  • Carve: Essentially the melee equivalent of Multi-Shot. When there are 5+ targets, this can replace Raptor Strike as your Focus dump.
  • Aspect of the Eagle: A 2 min cooldown that increase crit chance and doubles your chance to proc Mongoose Bite charges for 10 sec.

Suggested talents

Try this as a starting build. Taking the two trap-focused talents turns Explosive Trap into something formidable, which I really enjoy. I’m not the biggest fan of Way of the Mok’nathal because I feel like there’s enough to worry about already with Mongoose Bite stacks and charges. Throwing Axes is surprisingly good ranged damage, but again, it adds more complexity. If that’s too many buttons you may want to try Animal Instincts instead. Feeling constantly Focus starved? Well, that’s kind of normal, but maybe Spitting Cobra will make you feel better.

Gear and stats

Worried about a melee weapon? Don’t be! All Hunters who log into patch 7.0 will receive an ilvl 655 Survivalist’s Hunting Spear in the mail to get started with. If you have Hellfire Citadel raiding experience, the polearm will be upgraded to 690 for Normal, 705 for Heroic, and 720 for Mythic experience. Beyond that you could pick up a Baleful Polearm in Tanaan and upgrade it to ilvl 695, buy a PVP weapon — may want to spend that honor before the patch — or get one from the upcoming demon invasion events.

Tier 17 and tier 18 set bonuses have been updated to support the new Survival, as has the class trinket from Archimonde. Stone of the Elements, Chipped Soul Prism, and Infallible Tracking Charm are among the top trinkets.

As for stats, unfortunately Survival has different priorities than the other specs. The other specs favor Mastery, but for Survival that’s the worst stat by a good margin. Hunting Companion just isn’t that good. Oddly enough, Versatility and Crit are up there as the top stats, followed by Haste, then Mastery. These priorities may change at level 110.


Hunter pets

There are three new pet families coming in patch 7.0: Scalehides, Oxen, and Mechanicals. Scalehides include mushan, kodos, and stegodons. Oxen includes yaks, shoveltusks, and musken. As for Mechanicals, all but two of them can be tamed before Legion launches. Only Gnomes and Goblins can do that for now, all other races will have to wait for the engineer-crafted Mecha-Bond Imprint Matrix in Legion. None are exotic, so all Hunters can tame them.

Here’s a few of my favorites being added in the pre-patch:

  • Thok the Bloodthirsty (Devilsaur): Yes, the raid boss! Easiest way to get to him is to queue for the Underhold wing of Siege of Orgrimmar LFR (at the Seat of Knowledge in Pandaria).
  • Updated Core Hounds: The orange, yellow, and green Core Hounds have been updated with a new model, skin, and effects.
  • Iron Juggernauts (Mechanical): If you have a Goblin or Gnome, you can collect the pieces to craft and tame your very own Iron Juggernaut (mechanical scorpid) in Siege of Orgrimmar.
  • Friender (Mechanical): A blue mechanowolf found in Gnomeregan. Requires you to solve some puzzles before taming.

Check out all the new pets being added in the pre-patch at Petopia.

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