Scattered Shots is your weekly guide to improving your Hunter skills, brought to you by Jessica "Lassirra" Klein of The Hunter's Mark, covering a variety of Huntery topics. Today, we'll be diving into what hunters will have to look forward to from the world of dual specs.
So far the uproar about the dual spec feature coming to us in patch 3.1 has been predominantly from classes that are able to fill multiple roles in a raid environment, giving them more flexibility to swap between tanking, healing and dealing damage based on the needs of their group at the time. The 1000g price tag on this feature may seem a bit daunting to some, but the benefits of being able to swap between tanking and healing at a moment's notice without costly respec fees or inconvenient trips to the nearest not-so-nearby trainer are obvious. This all begs the question, though: what's in it for us pure DPS folks?
The easy answer to that is being able to swap seamlessly from a PvP build to your raid build when invites start going out for the night. And lets not forget that Survival Hunters are the new Shadow Priest, right? If you're missing one of your friendly neighborhood mana batteries one night, you can swap into a spec for that at the drop of a hat. There are also plenty of opportunities for enterprising young Hunters looking to farm old world raid bosses solo, and there's a spec for that, too. There's plenty of fun to be had for us Hunters, and this new dual spec feature will make the transition from conquering the wilds of our world as a lone tracker to wiping the floor with the deadliest of raid bosses that much easier.
So, we'll kick off today's festivities with a couple of the most popular activities in-game and the builds that make them possible: raiding and PvP. Of course, these builds are bound to change once the final touches are made to the patch 3.1 talent adjustments, but for now we'll work with what we've got just to get the ball rolling.
Survival (PvE - Raiding)/Marksmanship (PvP)
Since patch 3.0.8 thwacked the Beast Mastery tree with the nerf bat something fierce, the Survival tree has become the "flavor of the month" for raiding and one of the most popular builds currently making the rounds is this 06/14/51 build. This build takes advantage of the superior damage output of Explosive Shot along with some standard boosts from the early Beast Mastery and Marksmanship trees that are essential for pimping out your pew pew, such as Improved Aspect of the Hawk, Lethal Shots and Mortal Shots. When you're ready to make the switch into battleground or arenas, there's a definite advantage to sporting this 0/51/20 Marksmanship build for some serious burst damage with both Chimera Shot and Lock and Load.
Beast Mastery (PvE - Solo)/Survival (PvE - Raiding)
A few enterprising young Hunters have braved the depths of old world raids alone for fun and profit (or snazzy tiger and raptor mounts), and dual specs will make it that much easier for you to take on the bosses of old before running in to challenge the new bosses on the block. If you're looking to solo ZG, for example, there's definitely a build for that. The folks at Elitist Jerks have suggested this 57/14/0 Beast Mastery build for taking down good ol' Thekal and his pals, along side a trusty Gorilla sporting this Tenacity build geared towards maximizing your pet's survivability through talents like Pet Barding and Blood of the Rhino. If you've got them, pull two pieces of your Tier 5 set out of the bank to help keep your furry companion alive and kicking. You can pair this spec with the 06/14/51 Survival build to bust out when you're ready to bust heads in more contemporary raids.
Survival (PvE - Raiding)/Survival (PvE - Mana Regen)
I'm sure you're noticing a pattern here. As the "next big thing", the 06/14/51 Survival build is getting a lot of love all of a sudden, so it's no surprise that it has been featured so prominently here. This time, we'll be pairing it with a variation for mana regeneration for those occasions when you're sans Shadow Priest or Retribution Paladin. This 5/14/52 build with 5/5 Hunting Party will give your raid a much-needed boost to mana regen when you find yourselves short on more traditional mana batteries.
Pet (PvE)/Pet (PvP)
As you swap specs, you'll want to swap pets to suit the occasion. According to Ghostcrawler, in patch 3.1 the talent respec cost for pets will be completely removed, making it that much easier for us to tailor our pets to suit our needs. Cats have long been a favorite for Hunters seeking high damage pets, and this Ferocity build is great for maximizing your pet's raid DPS through talents like Spiked Collar and Spider's Bite. Scorpids have proven their worth in the arenas time and again, and this Tenacity build sports some great utility for all types of PvP with talents like Charge, Boar's Speed, and Lionhearted. So far the details pertaining to how pet talents will behave when we swap specs are unclear until we see more information coming from the PTR, however, with the new Call Stabled Pet ability we'll be able to switch pets with relative ease.
Of course, that's just for starters; I'm sure there are as many possible combinations for specs as there are Hunters out there to use them, but this should serve as a solid jumping-off point. There are a ton of Hunter and Pet talent changes coming in patch 3.1 so for now, in the words of Blizzard, everything is "subject to change". We should have more information coming as new information is released from the PTR, including new Pet talents to spice up our bestiary. What two builds are you most looking forward to using when dual specs become available?