When you're looking at stepping into the hunter class for the first time there are three key concepts to keep in mind: guns are finely crafted machines of death while bows are primitive contraptions better suited to butterfly-humpin' hippies; dwarves are solidly-built, better looking, and better able to handle the sweet nectar of life (alcohol) than other races; and finally beast mastery is the ideal entry point into the hunter class.
No spec is as widely useful and easy to learn and master as BM. Today we're going to walk step-by-step through everything you need to know to get started on your BM hunter. Don't worry, they're baby steps. Even the aforementioned butterfly-humpin' night elves will be able to understand.
What is Beast Mastery?
In many ways BM exemplifies what it means to be a hunter. BM are all about their pets, be it increasing pet damage, pet survivability, and selection of possible pets. A BM hunter's pet makes up nearly half of his damage output, and a BM hunter without his pet is like a draenei without his spaceship... a sad, sad thing indeed my friends.
Beast Mastery Benefits
- Easy to play.
- Forgiving of errors.
- Larger selection of pets and better ability to bond with your pet. Unlike other specs, your pet is absolutely vital.
- Phenomenal for leveling.
- Can tank instances.
- Can solo lower level instances, including raid instances.
- Does not do as much DPS as other specs. In the endgame BM is significantly behind the leading DPS specs.
- Lower personal hunter damage means less AOE DPS ability.
- Simple rotation can get a bit boring for some players.
- Attack Power: in the itemization budget, you generally get 2 AP or 1 of something else. BM hunters prefer AP to other stats because AP is the only DPS stat other than hit that transfers in part to their pet.
- Hit Rating: you want to reach the hit cap above all else. It will increase your chance to hit, your pet's chance to hit, and decrease your pet's chance to be dodged or parried. At level 80 the raid hit cap is 8% (263 hit rating) and the heroic hit cap is 6% (197 hit rating).
- Agility: gives you a bit of crit and AP, an excellent stat.
- Crit Rating: critting is always fun, but the BM hunter really like to use crits to get more focus for their pets.
- Intelligence: increases your mana pool, your rate of mana regen with buffs like Replenishment, and gives you attack power to boot with the Careful Aim talent.
- Armor Penetration Rating: helps you, but not your pet.
- Haste Rating: this will slightly increase the rate of fire of your auto shots, and nothing else. It will help your DPS, but generally less than any other stat.
Stats to Avoid
Many hunters make the mistake of grabbing rogue gear with high agility, but other stats that don't help us at all. The following stats won't help your hunter.
- Strength: only good for melee, and you should never be meleeing.
- Expertise: only good for melee -- reduces chance to be parried or dodged, and our shots can't be parried or dodged anyway. Our pet gets expertise through our hit rating.
- MP5: a horrible stat for us. Hunters have much better ways of regenning our mana.
- Spirit: not a hunter stat.