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Scattered Shots: PvP basic stats and specs

Brian Wood

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week, Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the hunter class. Got hunter questions? Feel free to email Frostheim.

After a long and frustrating night of progression raiding, you may find yourself thinking, "You know, screw this dragon. It's my teammates that I wanna kill." There are few sensations in this life quite as satisfying as slaughtering other players, kiting weepy melee and glorifying in the lamentations of their menfolk (because believe me, it's the menfolk who do the lamenting in PvP).

We're going to start paving the road to lamentation today with a look at how our stat priorities change for PvP and an overview of how the three hunter trees look in a PvP environment. And yes, we'll have some sample PvP specs, too. Join me after the cut as we learn to exalt in the misery of others.

PvP stats: not quite the same

Put simply, your stat weights change in PvP, and it's not just about resilience and stamina. You know all that ArP that lets you pwn the meters on Festergut? Yeah, not so useful in PvP.

In PvP, you are rarely standing still for long. In battlegrounds you can sometimes hide in back and shoot away, but most of the time you're running, jump-shotting, strafing and disengaging. As a result of all this running around, you are rarely going to be able to sit there and fire Steady Shot, and you're going to lose a lot of your Auto Shots. What this means is suddenly haste and ArP are far less useful than they are in a stand-still environment. We also introduce some new stats that we don't really pay much if any attention to in raids: resilience, stamina and ... spell penetration?

Here's our stat rundown:
  • Agility, crit, attack power These are our go-to DPS stats for PvP.
  • Hit rating The hit cap for PvP is 5%, which is 164 hit rating. You want to be there, and you don't want to be far over.
  • Haste An exceptional poor PvP stat. Here, we're taking our worst PvE stat, tearing it into tiny pieces and throwing them in the toilet. Any scraps caught on the rim is the amount left that is useful to us.
  • Armor penetration Much less useful in an environment when we can't always use the majority of our physical shots (Steady Shot and Auto Shot). It's not nearly as bad as haste, and BM likes it more than other specs, since they just don't have a whole lot of choice but to use physical shots.
  • Stamina Suddenly much more useful to us, but still not something that you are going to gem for. If you're collecting PvP gear, you'll get the stamina that you need. Stamina talents are also more attractive than ever.
  • Resilience The big PvP stat, resilience is a double-edged sword, because it eats up a lot of the itemization budget on our gear that could otherwise be spent on DPS stats. When I'm in my full PvP gear (1,100 resilience), my DPS is half what it is in my raiding gear. On the other hand, it's still a lot more than when I'm dead.
    Resilience is required to survive in PvP, and you'll enjoy your BGs and arenas much more once you have a good amount of resilience. The amount you need depends on what you're doing and your playstyle. If I'm in Alterac Valley, I just use my raid gear. I'll sometimes use my raid gear in Eye of the Storm as well (which usually guarantees me number one for damage done, killing blows, kills and deaths). But in most BGs, I use some amount of resilience gear -- more for Warsong Gulch than EotS, and more still if I wanted to arena. As a rough estimate, you probably want around 700 resilience rating for most BGs, and over 1,000 for arenas. Remember, your skill is what will keep you alive, not your resilience. The resilience just buys you those few seconds to give your skills a chance to do their stuff.
  • Spell penetration If a mage came up to me in my raid and offered me 1,000 gold to gem for spell penetration for one night, I'd spit in his face, pull his dress over his head and hand him over to the tender mercy of the warlocks. But in PvP, life's a little different, especially for SV. Our magic damaging shots are vulnerable to Mark of the Wild, pallies with Fire Resistance Aura, etc. Having 75 spell penetration will blow through this. BM doesn't really need to worry about it. SV really wants the pen for Explosive Shot, and MM is a bit on the fence.
Hunter PvP specs

For me, one of the delights of PvP is getting to make use of all those talents that we ignore in PvE content. In PvE, the situations we face are very, very similar from a DPS standpoint. We move out of fire, we attack the boss thing. We are not getting attacked. Keeping us alive is someone else's job, aside from dodging void zones.

One of the important things to stress in PvP is that there is no "best" talent build. Because PvP is focused as much on survival as DPS, your talent selection is going to depend a lot on your playstyle. You want to compensate for your personal weaknesses and enhance your strengths. Your talents are also going to depend on your teammates if you run with a regular group, especially for arenas.

I'm going to give some nice PvP sample talents builds for each spec. They should serve you well, but feel free to experiment. Take talents out of something you don't think you need and put them in something you like more. Find the build that suits your strengths and weaknesses, the build that's best for you and your team. Anyone who tells you there is a "best" build for PvP is wrong.

Beast Mastery

As a PvP spec, BM has the ultimate answer to the rogue stunlock, and that answer is "RAWR!"

BM brings great survivability and steady DPS pressure with a nice, little big-red-burst of DPS. Kindred Spirits gives BM a great built-in speed boost that's better than the enchant run speed increase. Add in Intimidation for an on-demand stun, and BM is a flexible and forgiving PvP that is probably the easiest to play of all the trees. The downsides of BM PvP are that you can feel pretty vulnerable when your big red pet is on cooldown, and you don't have the instant shot assortment of other specs, forcing you to try to stand in place to use Steady Shot (that, or just run and wait for another instant to come off cooldown). For this reason, I think the range increase of Hawk Eye is more important for BM (though not so much in arenas, with their tiny maps).

BM is a great spec to use if you're new to PvP and grinding up your resilience gear, since big red pet is a fantastic reset button if you get yourself into a mess. Here is a nice BM PvP Spec.


Marksman hunters bring the largest toolbox to PvP, and scrawled across the top of that toolbox is "Readiness."

Silencing Shot is one of the great joys of MM PvP and it always delights me to see a tree across the battlefield. No other spec can so easily destroy a healer. The MM PvP specs also enjoy stealing the tasty goodies from the top of the SV tree, including Entrapment and Scatter Shot to further strengthen their arsenal.

But the biggest strength of MM is Readiness. Get caught in a pinch? Pop Readiness and instantly get your Deterrence, Disengage and traps all back. That healer taking a bit of time to go down? Readiness and re-silence him and keep burning him down until there's nothing left but blackened and charred bark and roots. MM is very often specced to fill a specific niche in a PvP team. The disadvantage of MM is it probably has the lowest general survivability, though Readiness helps extract you from those pinch situations.

MM isn't the most welcoming spec for those new to PvP, if only because of the sheer number of buttons and options you have available at any given time. Here is an excellent MM PvP Spec.


Survival hunters love kiting, they love multiple opponents, but most of all, they love blowing stuff up.

SV is one of the most well rounded PvP specs with good survivability, excellent crowd control and the biggest short-term burst DPS in the form of Lock & Load Explosive Shot chains. The extra CC from Scattered Shot and Wyvern Sting gives a skilled SV hunter a much stronger ability to deal with multiple opponents than other specs. SV doesn't really have any significant disadvantages, beyond the weaknesses of the hunter class itself. The flexibility of this spec can be an intoxicating thing indeed.

It can take a bit of time to get used to all the different ways SV has to handle other players, but if you want a well rounded spec that can perform equally in all BGs and be good for arenas, SV just may be for you. Here is a nice SV PvP Spec.

You want to be a hunter, eh? You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive DPS. Scattered Shots is the column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. See the Scattered Shots Resource Guide for a full listing of vital and entertaining hunter guides, including how to improve your heroic DPS, understand the impact of skill vs. gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101, and even solo bosses with some extreme soloing.

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