Welcome readers to this week's Build Shop. I know you haven't seen this feature since the middle of last June, and that's because most viable talent specs have been covered for each class. Not a lot of additions or enhancements have been added since then but that will surely change when Wraith of the Lich King arrives. So this week I thought I would try a "theme" talent spec, one designed for a particular task, leveling a Hunter. Many people agree that the Hunter is one of the easier classes to level, but for fellow WoW Insider blogger Matthew Rossi and others, it's taking longer than expected. Let's see if this beast mastery spec can give him a boost!
I'd like to prefix this by saying that talent specs are a hot topic of debate, and I don't expect everyone to be 100% in agreement on the intricacies of such builds. The scope of this particular build is to level fast by minimizing downtime and making the pet the best tank it can be so the Hunter can sit back and do their thing. If you have suggestions or feedback you'd like to make I welcome you to leave a comment, but please keep the tone civil. Let's get to it!
The Thought Behind the Build
This particular talent spec is built in mind for leveling a Hunter with minimal downtime. As the pet can be healed by bandages, spells, and food, we're gunna use a beast mastery spec of 41/20/0. Unlike the prior Build Shop on the same spec, the point distribution will be different as this is meant for a solo/grinding roll rather than a group/raiding one. For those wondering how much choosing the right pet makes a difference for leveling, in my experience it doesn't much. Get the pet you plan to use at max level, or if you're on your toes about swapping pets in and out, you can potentially level two different ones if your persistent about it. I invite you to open this WoW Head talent planner in a new browser window or tab so you can refer to it as I break down the build.
The Build Analysis
Our purpose here is to turn the pet into the best tank it can be while maximizing damage and efficiency. There is an argument that Improved Revive Pet can be handy during those "Oh crap!" moments, but hopefully with the tanking prowess imbued by our talent choices and pet training, and use of Mend Pet and bandages, those occasions won't rear their ugly head very often.
- Improved Aspect of the Hawk (5/5): Leveling up this will be your main aspect. The haste proc added with this talent is the cherry on top of the proverbial sunday of usefulness.
- Focused Fire (2/2): You should have your pet out at all times so you might as well get 2% extra damage for doing so. And the extra crit on Kill Command will make the 60s go by smoother.
- Thick Hide (3/3): This will help turn the pet into the ultimate damage sponge.
- Unleashed Fury (5/5): Upping manaless/focusless passive damage is always good!
- Improved Mend Pet (2/2): Making the primary heal for your pet more efficient means less time drinking. Plus being able to cure debuffs off the pet means no more waiting around for that annoying curse to fade.
- Ferocity (5/5): Gotta take this as it's a prereq to one of Beast Mastery's best talents.
- Bestial Discipline (2/2): Extra focus means more special attacks done by the pet, which means more damage and agro.
- Intimidation (1/1): Perfect for stopping casters and runners, and securing agro from your pet.
- Spirit Bond (2/2): A constant manaless regen, slight though it may be, keeps us topped off in between fights meaning less downtime spent eating.
- Frenzy (4/5): If you feel you need to max this go ahead and move around a point you feel is worth it, but even at the 80% chance this effect procs like crazy!
- Bestial Wrath (1/1): Big Red time! A trademark BM talent that's good for any occasion.
- Catlike Reflexes (3/3): This will help as you enter Outlands and mob damage is higher. The extra dodge means less mana for healing and more for special attacks all adding the benefit of less downtime.
- Serpent's Swiftness (5/5): Another hallmark of the BM tree, adding passive haste to the hunter, increasing damage in the process.
- The Beast Within (1/1): The King of BM talents. With proper use of this talent and maybe a potion or two and some luck, you'll be able to solo some elite quests for big exp and loot!
For the remainder of the points, I feel that Marksmanship has the best bang for the buck, and pairs the best with our Beast Master emphasis. The choices made here won't vary as much as it did in the Beast Master tree when compared to a BM raiding specs. Hey, there's only so many good low tier talents to go around!
- Lethal Shots (5/5): A no brainer, more crit equals more damage and more procs of Kill Command and Go for the Throat.
- Efficiency (5/5): Making your shots more mana efficient means less down time spent drinking.
- Go for the Throat (2/2): With a name this awesome how can you pass it up? Your pet will be rolling in the focus with this talent.
- Rapid Killing (2/2): With this you have a reason to go from mob to mob as fast as you can. And as a bonus you can use Rapid Fire more often.
- Aimed Shot (1/1): What use to be the pinnacle of Hunter shots have been nerfed into near uselessness since it now clips auto shot. It's still not a bad opener move when used in conjunction with Rapid Killing and Intimidation.
- Mortal Shots (5/5): One of the biggest reasons you dip into the Marksmanship tree, this talent really adds to your DPS potential.