Typical PVE Talent Spec
A common BM hunter talent spec for PVE would look something like this BM Hunter Talent Spec. Not everything in there is essential. Aimed Shot is a common choice just for the added flexibility of being able to have a second shot that you can fire while on the move, Catlike Reflexes could just as easily be more Spirit Bond, Bestial Discipline, etc.
We're going to take a look here at all the BM talents, and then the top talents in the MM and SV trees that are worth considering.
- Improved Aspect of the Hawk: A nice acceleration to your auto shots, and the only DPS talent in the top tier of the BM tree.
- Endurance Training: Increases the health of you and your pet. Not a big deal in raids, but great while leveling.
- Focused Fire: A flat 2% increase to your damage makes this talent desirable for all hunter specs. Get it.
Improved Aspect of the Monkey:A pretty terrible talent that only affects your dodge -- and it's your pet's job to get hit after all, so your dodge rating is pretty irrelevant.
- Thick Hide: A great talent for leveling, not helpful when you're part of an instance team.
- Improved Revive Pet: Some BM hunters consider this essential for those just-in-case situations. I think your pet is hard to kill and there are better ways to bring it back and this talent is a pass.
- Pathfinding: A fantastic leveling talent that will get you around much faster. A must-have for leveling, and dump it once you're done questing.
- Aspect Mastery: 30% boost to your Aspect of the Hawk or Dragonhawk attack power. Grab it!
- Unleashed Fury: This pet damage boost is where we start to see our BM pet pulling ahead.
- Improved Mend Pet: In general you'll never need more than one rank of this. The real benefit of this talent is the ability to dispell debuffs from your pet, not the mana cost reduction.
- Ferocity: Boosting the crit chance of your pet 10% is a no brainer.
- Spirit Bond: Fantastic for leveling. Not necessary for raiding, but often taken just because there aren't enough DPS talents to put points into at the top of the BM tree.
- Bestial Discipline: Increasing the focus regen of your pet is the same as increasing its damage. In general you won't need more than one rank here once you're at 80. When leveling you may want both ranks.
- Animal Handler: Straight up attack power boost to your pet.
- Frenzy: your pet's crit chance should be high enough that you only need 3 or 4 ranks to have this speed boost up at all times.
- Ferocious Inspiration: A great talent. Though the raid buff is usually supplied by other classes, it's also buffing the damage of your Arcane Shot.
- Bestial Wrath: Big red pet! The quintessential BM hunter ability.
- Catlike Reflexes: This pet dodge boost is very strong for leveling, and pretty useless once you're part of a party with a tank. It has a slightly marginal benefit of lowering the cooldown of your Kill Command, but that's it on the DPS end of things.
Invigoration: This mana regen talent is typically not worthwhile. If you're soloing you don't need peak DPS and can just go into Aspect of the Viper. If you're in a raid you probably have Replenishment and running out of mana isn't a serious danger.
- Serpent's Swiftness: Boosting the attack speed of you and your pet by 20% is the strongest single talent available in the BM tree.
- Longevity: A great talent for both leveling and raiding, this will increase the rate that your pet can use its special abilities and decrease the cooldown of your big red pet.
- The Beast Within: This talent now provides a flat 10% damage boost to the hunter that is always active, and another 10% boost while under the effects of Bestial Wrath.
- Cobra Strikes: The ability to give your pet some guaranteed crits is nice, but not a huge gain.
- Kindred Spirits: A fantastic straight percentage damage boost, with a 10% movement speed bonus to boot.
- Beast Mastery: Gives you the ability to tame exotic pets, but more importantly gives you four extra skill points to spend in your pet's talent tree.
Improved Concussive Shot:pretty much a garbage talent.
- Focused Aim: A good way to help you if you're under the hit cap; however, while this does transfer to your pet for hit, your pet does not get the amount of expertise it should from this talent. BM hunters still prefer to get all of their hit rating through gear and gems.
- Lethal Shots: While not as good for BM as other specs, this is still a very desirable talent. 5% crit chance increases your damage, and combos well with Go for the Throat.
- Careful Aim: A fantastic talent taken by every hunter spec to convert your int into AP.
- Improved Hunter's Mark: a pretty blah talent that does not scale well with your gear. Generally you only want this if you have several hunters in your raid, and one of you is taking the hit for the good of the group.
- Mortal Shots: Increasing the damage of your crits, this is a standard talent taken by all hunter specs.
- Go for the Throat: You absolutely must have at least one rank of this talent. If you have a high crit rating one is all you'll need to keep your pet full of focus. At low gear levels you'll want both ranks.
- Improved Arcane Shot: This talent is good, but not as much of a DPS boost as Improved Tracking over in the SV tree.
- Aimed Shot: Absolutely required for PVP, not necessary for leveling, and a nice option for raiding to allow you a second instant shot that you can fire while moving.
- Rapid Killing: Generally not worth it for BM.
- Improved Stings: A talent you should only consider if you have the tier 9 2-piece set bonus that allows your Serpent Stings to crit. Even then you're likely to get more benefit from Improved Tracking.
- Improved Tracking: The 1% DPS gain per talent point makes this a very desirable talent for all hunter specs. Even though BM gets more of its damage from pets, this talent still trumps other options and is the only SV DPS talent worth taking for the BM hunter.
Hawk Eye:It's worth mentioning that the extended range from Hawk Eye is not essential and generally not worth taking. The only instance where you really want this talent is for extreme soloing, where there are several bosses in Molten Core that you'll want this talent to solo.
As a brief pet overview, Tenacity pets are generally best for soloing or tanking, as they can take the most damage. Ferocity pets are best for DPS, while Cunning pets can fill some odd roles and are usually reserved for PVP. In terms of pure total DPS, the wolf is still the top DPS pet due to the way it buffs your AP. Coming in a close second are devilsaurs, cats, and raptors.
A solid ferocity pet talent build is this BM Ferocity Pet Talent Build. This includes Heart of the Phoenix to give you an instant pet rez, but you can certainly ditch that talent for the second rank of Shark Attack.
Leveling as BM
BM is the single best leveling spec for hunters. Your pet is a beefy tank and killing machine, grinding through mobs, elites, and gnomes indiscriminately. It's going to hold aggro better than the pet of any other specs and live longer. You have the Pathfinding speed buff to get you around faster to boot, and over the course of all your leveling, that really adds up.
While leveling, just fill up your BM tree first, then move over to MM, and finally SV.