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Scattered Shots: Getting started with talents in 3.0.2 as a Beast Mastery Hunter

Welcome to Scattered Shots, where Daniel Whitcomb is doing a special happy dance over that whole Aspect global cooldown removal thing.

Before we get into the meat of this week's column, I have a confession to make. I was tempted to make a very short column that consisted primarily of a recording of me making squealing noises that you would generally only expect to come from a giddy schoolgirl, punctuated by a bit of gibberish that might sound something like "Aspect of the Dragonhawk."

But that said, there's a lot of other things I could talk about, and I won't leave you hanging. It's a busy time in WoW, and Hunters have a lot of stuff to do now that 3.0.2 is out. By now, hopefully, your server has calmed down enough for you to get on, play around with learning all your companions and mounts, and start trying to figure out talent specs. Hopefully by now, you've seen some of our articles on the subject, such as Big Red Kitty's Hunter and Pet Talent overviews, and David Bowers' guide to exotic pets currently available in game. They're great resources, so I'm not going to attempt to replicate them here. Instead, I'm gonna focus on a quick and pertinent question:

You've finally found some time to play WoW, your server's stable enough to let you play WoW, and you've just logged on your Beastmastery Hunter for the first time since 3.0.2 went live. What do you do?

On Talents

Like I said, if you're just looking for a quick overview of talents, we have a few great articles on that already. But we here at WoW Insider headquarters have been hearing quite a few of you say, "Hey man, I think I burned out all of brain cells on BlizzCon and I'm just not up to analyzing talents right now. What specs can you give me that are grab and go?"

We have heard, and now we deliver. Here's a Beastmastery spec that I'm using, and that I think serves pretty well for farming and small group content and will double as a decent leveling spec through Wrath of the Lich King. It gives up a bit of DPS in return for making your pet a bit more versatile and hardier, but it has a lot of good toys too. Invigoration (helped by Cobra Strikes) and Aspect Mastery should help you keep in the mana, and Longevity makes sure your pet is dishing out the damage and the threat as quickly as possible.

If you're more interesting in group DPS... Well, raiding's a little easy right now overall, but you can definitely still go for a more classic raid build, shedding some of the HP and armor talents for something closer to this build. It's worth noting, though, that a lot of Hunters are shedding Improved Aspect of the Hawk lately, myself among them. It's just too easy to cap your Steady Shot cast time at 1.5 seconds flat, at which point you're probably better off getting AP and crit to increase your white damage rather than haste. If you're not much for haste gear yet, you might still find the talent useful though -- and admittedly, it is the only damage boosting talent on tier 1 regardless, if you're not into having more health.

Pet Talents

So now you have your talents done up, you need to deal with your pet, whether it be an old standby, or a new one you tamed just for the patch. If you're still deciding which type of pet to get, I'd recommend again that you check out our Exotic Pet Guide and Big Red Kitty's beta pet videos.

In a nutshell, you have the three types: Tenacity, which are high health and armor pets that will do you good if you like having your pet tank, Ferocity pets, which are great if you just want to tear through enemies and don't mind throwing out a couple extra mend pets, and Cunning, which can get a few nice little utility abilities and does some alright DPS.

Now myself, I'm going with Tenacity for the most part, specifically a worm when Wrath of the Lich King comes out. Those Jormungar are pretty cool, the Acid Spit is a nice DPS boost, and there's level 70 worms waiting to be tamed in the Borean Tundra. For now, I'm sticking with Bonnie, my old Razorfen Kraul Boar, just for old times sake. As far as a good, solid, Tenacity build, here's what I'm going for. This is a nice solid level 70 Beastmastery build that provides a little bit of extra protection for my pet through Great Stamina and Grace of the Mantis. Cobra Reflexes and Spiked Collar mean her damage won't be too low. Guard Dog has cut my food costs down to nearly zero on beta, so that's practically a required talent, and I've put taunt on a hotkey so I can get my pet to peel monsters off me immediately when I get those massive crit strings.

Now I do have my good old Dire Raven Ferocity pet, and I've still been playing around with him a bit too. Here's the level 70 build he's using for those times when I feel like I need a bit more DPS. Dive (Dash for land pets) means he gets to the target faster, and pumping up damage talents means he'll maximize his DPS. Heart of the Phoenix provides some quick emergency recovery, which he may need give his lack of survival-focused talents.

Cunning is honestly not for me. I'm sure there's people who'll like it though, but the talent tree depends a bit too much on too many "if/then" statements for me to be too enamoured of it. Still, it does have its strong points, and if I was looking for a Cunning build, I'd probably go something like this. It takes a bit more maintenance, as you have to remember to use Carrion Feeder to keep your pet happy, but Roar of Recovery should mean you won't have to switch to Aspect of the Viper and lose precious damage so often.

Heading out into the world

So with your talents chosen and your ammo pouch refilled, you should be ready to strike out and start earning achievements, leveling inscription, farming stuff for your Death Knight alt, or whatever else it is you decide to do in the month left until Wrath of the Lich King. Here's a few last minute reminders of other things that might be a bit different:
  • Throw out that Steady Shot/Kill Command macro. Not only does Steady Shot not clip Auto Shot anymore, but Kill Command is no longer triggered on dodge, but is instead a long cooldown ability that gives your pet a temporary damage boost for its next 3 special attacks.
  • Make sure you use Aspect of the Viper sparingly. It cuts into your damage in order to give you mana regeneration, and you're only hurting yourself if you leave it on when you don't need mana.
  • Watch your Auto Shot. I haven't heard for sure if it's been fixed or will ever be fixed, but I have been hearing reports that if you open a battle by jumping straight into spamming Steady Shot, your Auto Shot never gets a chance to start up. So you may want to get an Auto Shot off, then start dishing out your special shots.
And there you have it. With these talent specs under your belt, you should be set to cruise into Wrath of the Lich King. Good luck getting what you want to get done before the expansion comes out, and we'll see you on the servers, if they stay up long enough!

Patch 3.0.2 "Echoes of Doom" has landed and WoW Insider has you covered. From patch notes to talent guides for every class to fixing your addons to 5 easy achievements you can snag right now. Make sure to check out the latest news.

Filed under: (Hunter) Scattered Shots, Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Expansions, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

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