Starting a hunter

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So, you're thinking of playing a hunter? This page is intended to give a short overview of the class, just to get you started on the right path. If you're looking for more detailed information on the class's abilities, see the main hunter page. For more advanced topics, see Hunter Tactics.

Things to consider when picking a hunter:

  • Do I like to attack enemies from far away?
  • Do I mind not being able to fight face-to-face with other classes?
  • Do I like to be able to lay traps?
  • Do I mind managing a pet in addition to my character?

For a more general overview on starting out playing WoW, see the Newbie Guide.

Introduction

The hunter is the only character class in the game that deals primarily with ranged physical damage, using their bow, gun, or crossbow. It is also the only character class in the game that can tame a wide variety of pets to help them and their group.

It is a pure DPS class, which means your role in groups will be limited to damage rather than tanking or healing. A tenacity class pet can serve as a limited tank for soloing or low-level dungeons.

Hunters no longer have to worry about ammo, and they start with a pet from level 1. There has never been a better time to start a new hunter.

Race selection

Every race except gnomes can play a hunter.

Alliance DwarfDwarf Dwarf

  • [Crack Shot] gives +1% expertise with all ranged weapons. This is a great advantage, as hunters use only ranged weapons.
  • [Stoneform] has some use in PvP (in PvE, your pet should be the one taking damage, not you).
  • Dwarf hunters start with a Bear pet.


Alliance HumanHuman Human


Alliance Night elfNight elf Night elf

  • [Shadowmeld] is an interesting and useful stealth ability, somewhat mitigated by the hunter's ability to disengage combat through other means, such as Feign Death.
  • [Quickness] makes it harder for enemies to hit you, but this isn't very important for hunters, since enemies should be hitting your pet most of the time.
  • [Wisp Spirit] minimizes downtime after death.
  • Night Elf hunters start with a Cat pet.


Alliance DraeneiDraenei Draenei

  • [Heroic Presence] gives +1% chance to hit. Having more hit chance is important, especially at higher levels.
  • [Gift of the Naaru] is a heal over time spell. This isn't as important since your pet should be taking damage, not you. [Mend Pet] already does an efficient job of healing your pet.
  • Draenei hunters start with a Moth pet.


Alliance WorgenWorgen Worgen Cataclysm

  • [Viciousness] gives worgen a +1% chance to crit on all attacks.
  • [Darkflight] is a sprint ability with a 3 minute cooldown that can be useful in PvP or PvE.
  • Worgen hunters start with a Dog pet.


Horde OrcOrc Orc

  • [Blood Fury] gives you an attack power boost for 15 seconds every 2 minutes.
  • [Command] is a 2% bonus to pet damage. Depending on your spec, the hunter's pet will be doing anywhere from a third to a half of your overall damage.
  • [Hardiness] decreases the length of stuns, meaning you can get away from enemies faster in PvP.
  • Orc hunters start with a Boar pet.


Horde TaurenTauren Tauren

  • [War Stomp] can stun enemies, which is useful for when enemies get too close for you to shoot. This is especially good for PvP, to escape melee fighters.
  • [Endurance] gives a small bonus to your base health.
  • Tauren hunters start with a Plainstrider pet.


Horde TrollTroll Troll

  • [Berserking] will give you a 20% attack speed buff every 3 minutes.
  • [Dead Eye] gives +1% expertise with all ranged weapons. This is a great advantage, as hunters use only ranged weapons.
  • [Da Voodoo Shuffle] is a passive ability that reduces movement impairing effects and is helpful for getting out of mob abilities that keep you in melee range.
  • [Beast Slaying] increases the amount of damage done against beasts. This is useful for PvE, where you will sometimes fight beast enemies.
  • Troll hunters start with a Raptor pet.


Horde ForsakenForsaken Forsaken

  • [Will of the Forsaken] will remove a Charm, Fear or Sleep effect on a 2 minute cooldown, which is useful for PvP or the occasional boss that fears.
  • [Cannibalize] can be used to regenerate health, but your pet should be taking most of the damage.
  • [Touch of the Grave] gives you additional DPS.
  • Forsaken hunters start with a Spider pet.


Horde Blood elfBlood elf Blood elf

  • [Arcane Torrent] returns 15 focus on a 2 minute cooldown, and is not on the global cooldown. It also silences enemies, which is good for PvP.
  • Blood elf hunters start with a Dragonhawk pet.


Horde GoblinGoblin Goblin Cataclysm

  • [Rocket Jump] is an extra ability to get the hunter distance from enemies. Good for PvE and great for PvP.
  • [Rocket Barrage] is an extra attack off the global cooldown, but does not do much damage.
  • [Time is Money] gives a +1% bonus to haste, which will also increase your damage.
  • [Best Deals Anywhere] is a good ability regardless of class.
  • [Pack Hobgoblin] gives mobile access to your bank for one minute every half-hour.
  • Goblin hunters start with a Crab pet.


PandarenPandaren Pandaren MoP

  • [Epicurean] increases bonuses from food, which in turn will increase your most important stats. Very useful.
  • [Bouncy] decreases falling damage, which can come in handy out in the world, in dungeons, and in battlegrounds.
  • [Quaking Palm] sends opponents to sleep, allowing the hunter time to get away from melee attackers. Great for PvP.
  • Pandaren hunters start with a Dragon turtle pet.

Early leveling

The easiest way to progress through the early levels is to simply complete all of the quests you can find. Not only will you breeze through the first levels, but you'll get useful gear and precious money. Money is particularly important so you can purchase your skills, spells and/or abilities as appropriate for one's class. Money is also important for purchasing personal items such as potions, jewelery, food, armour, weapons, etc.

You should spend levels 1-5 near your starting town. Most everything needed at these early levels can be obtained there from one or the other vendor. Likewise, any inventory loot you've gathered can be sold to these same vendors.

Make sure you get all the abilities and spells you can from your trainer. Between level 5 and 6 you'll find yourself heading off to your second town and a new trainer who can teach you upgraded versions of your skills and abilities. At the second town, repeat the process—do each and every quest you can find. Remember to visit your hunter trainer when you've unlocked a new ability. Now is also an appropriate time to start training in your chosen professions.

Levels 1-3

You begin with auto-shot and [Arcane Shot]. Killing a monster should be as simple as right clicking it, and occasionally using [Arcane Shot]. Your hunter will shoot and your pet will attempt to hold aggro with [Growl]. If your pet dies for some reason, open your spell book (P by default) and use [Revive Pet] from the [Exotic Beasts] tab.

At level 3, you unlock the ability [Steady Shot]. Where [Arcane Shot] costs you 25 focus, [Steady Shot] generates 9 focus. Whether you find it necessary to run to the trainer to train this ability is up to you, because you should still be killing mobs fairly quickly.

Levels 4-5

At level 4, you can learn [Track Beasts]. This ability is probably not worth the time it would take to hoof it back to your trainer.

Levels 6-7

At level 6, you can train [Raptor Strike]. This is a melee ability that you should ideally never have to use, but you might be forced to if a monster is attacking you rather than your pet. It's probably not worth the time to train this right away, you are a ranged class, keep shooting things.

Levels 8-9

At level 8, you can learn [Concussive Shot]. This ability has no focus cost and might be useful as an opener. For runners, consider slowing them down with [Concussive Shot] if they can't be sniped with Arcane Shot.

[Concussive Shot] is one of the staple abilities that underpin Hunter Kiting, so now is as good a time as any to get familiar with it.

Levels 10+

Congratulations on level 10! There are two major changes to your character at this point: [Control Pet] and your first talent point.

[Control Pet] adds a pet bar to your regular action bars. You can set your pet to aggressive, defensive, or passive. You will notice that your pet's growl ability has stars circling it, that means it is set to auto-cast. When you join dungeon groups later on, you will want to right click that ability to disable it, because having your pet pull aggro can be incredibly annoying for tanks.

  • Soloing - Pet's growl ON
  • Dungeon - Pet's growl OFF

At level 10 you also learn [Serpent Sting], which applies a Damage over Time effect (DoT). It is best used as an opener so that the DoT ticks while you use your other abilities.

You also get to decide which talent tree you'd like to spec into, by pressing N on your keyboard. Most leveling hunters will choose Beast Mastery, but any spec should be fine. Each talent specialization comes with a signature ability that is shown on the summary page.

Talent specializations

At level 10, you will gain your first talent point. You can now choose what specialization your hunter will be. If you are unhappy with your selection, you can reset your talents for a fee at any of your class trainers. At level 30, you will be able to buy access to another talent tree, so that you can have two ready specializations to choose from without having to reset talents.

  • Beast Mastery is great for soloing and leveling. This specialization focuses on your pet and provides several abilities that boost pet damage, but your hunter's shots and ranged damage will be slightly weaker. At high levels, the beast mastery hunter will be able to tame exotic pets.
  • Marksmanship is great for doing dungeons. This specialization focuses on the hunters shots and ranged damage, so your pet will not be as strong as with Beast Mastery.
  • Survival is great for doing PvP. It specializes in traps and poisons, which hurt the enemy in more ways than just straight damage.

Armor and weapons

Hunters start in leather armor, which gives more defense than cloth. At level 40 they become able to wear mail, which on average provides the stronger defense. It is recommended that you switch completely to mail armor by level 50 to take advantage of the bonuses given by Mail Specialization.

  • Best stat for hunters: agility.
  • Avoid items with strength, intellect, or spirit, as those stats are useless for hunters.

Hunter Quests

These quests are available only to hunters, and offer unique rewards.

Level 20

Level 50

On soloing and grouping

Soloing

The primary thing you must learn is that your role is not that of a melee specialist. Hunters are lousy at melee, even when specc'ed heavily in Survival Hunter Talents. If melee is really what you're after, best choose a Warrior type so you can go mano-a-mano with all comers. However, entirely avoiding melee isn't a good idea. A good Hunter knows when to stick it out in melee and when to get back into range as soon as possible. Knowing when is part of learning to be a good hunter. If your melee weapons skills are lagging far behind your other skills, it will be harder for you to hit with [Wing Clip] and [Counterattack].

A good way to start is to not get in a rush while hunting and to be as alert as possible to the area of operations you find yourself in at any given moment; in the military, this state of alertness is referred to as "situational awareness". Stop every so often and flip through various camera settings to examine things from all angles (having both sides and a rear view key bound for easy reference might be an idea to help). Terrain looks totally different from the opposite direction if one needs to escape a fight gone bad and beat a hasty retreat. In addition, try alternating tracking modes frequently. This allows positive situational awareness of terrain, beasts, and humanoid mobs in the immediate vicinity.

In addition to the proper tracking being active, always set your traps. Try to watch a target for a minute to get an idea of its route and then drop an immolation trap in the path. When it hits it, nail it with concussive shot and serpent sting. Send your pet before you shoot and then switch over to scorpid sting to protect your pet.

Remember that traps can be set in combat, giving you some crowd control, which can help you and any others with you. The [Freezing Trap] is especially good for Kiting once you get it.

Lastly, It is always better to run away and live to fight another day than it is to go toe-to-toe with a mob that you have no chance of besting. Try always to have a pre-plotted escape route that is relatively free of aggro — one never knows when during the course of any given fight a mob might suddenly spawn nearby and become an add. Plan on having an escape route and you'll stay alive much longer.

Once you reach higher levels if you start getting beaten down don't forget about disengage, feign death, and your frost traps; i.e., you're losing and getting close to dying — either disengage or FD, drop a frost trap, turn on Aspect of the Cheetah/Pack, and then bolt. Alternatively you can place a cold trap behind you that you can pull the mob over to slow them while you run away.

See also: Hunter Tactics

Grouping

The Hunter's goal is to stay away from the mob and shoot at it from range. When you team up with other players this becomes more difficult. When the mob decides to attack other party members it will get within your minimum range if you're standing next to the rest of the party. For that reason, it's best to stay away from other party members during combat. That way, if the mob attacks them or rushes toward them, you can still continue to fire at range.

Also, let party members know that they should never run toward you because that will also bring the mob within your minimum range. Make it clear to other group members that you're going to be slightly away from them during combat to maintain effective maximum range. Another thing to watch out for is other party members pulling the mob. Often it's best to use the Hunter or the Hunter's pet to pull.

For more in-depth information, see: Hunter Tactics

Useful professions

The Hunter can benefit directly and indirectly from many of the professions available.

Primary professions

Commonly, the most useful Professions for a Hunter are either Mining paired with Engineering or Skinning paired with Leatherworking. Certainly one may pursue any of the other professions available. Either of these pairs, however, benefit the Hunter most in common situations.

Engineering requires supplies gathered by a miner. So, it just makes sense for a Hunter who wishes to go into Engineering to also take up Mining. Engineering allows Hunters to make their own bombs, scopes, guns, etc. Another advantage to having Engineering is being able to make [Goblin Jumper Cables] and [Goblin Jumper Cables XL]. Because the hunter has the skill Feign Death, it can be very useful in a situation where your group wipes and there is no soulstone on the main healer. The hunter can simply feign death (if he is far away enough from aggro), get back up, and revive a healer so that they can revive the rest of the group.
Skinning allows one to obtain the raw materials needed to pursue the Leatherworking Profession. This allows a Hunter to make the leather armor a Hunter wears until at least level 40, and mail armor beyond level 40 when Hunters become eligible to train in wearing Mail Armor.
Herbs are required for Alchemy, so as with the above professions, it makes sense to be both. Herbalism provides [Lifeblood], an invaluable heal over time spell. Herbalism can also be a decent source of income while still at lower levels. The more you use this skill, the "better" or more rare the herbs are that you can acquire, as well as upgrading ranks of Lifeblood.
Alchemy is a great way to help buff your abilities, and supplement your armor. There are many potions that can be made; some buff your ability stats, regeneration rates, and armor. As most hunters know, we are not the best at melee, and when caught in a bind (i.e. moving back into another mob while trying to move out of the "dead zone" of your ranged attack), you can use any extra help you can get. Potions also sell quite well at Auction Houses.

Start your profession early! It's usually not too expensive, and you want to ensure that anything you create with your skills is applicable to your Hunter's level.

Secondary professions

This profession allows the Hunter to cook nourishing food for both himself and his pet. The effects of eating cooked food over that looted from mobs is quite obvious for the Hunter himself, however cooking for a pet is only helpful if cooking the food serves to raise its level, hence increasing the pet's happiness more when fed to it.
Some pets will only eat fish and some will eat fish in addition to other dietary supplements. Although the extra fish comes in handy depending upon the current pet, try fishing for loot sometime. It requires much patience, but has its payoffs.
Every class can really use First Aid. You cannot apply First Aid whilst being hit, but you can apply it to yourself while your pet is engaged. This is also great fixer-upper after combat and, in conjunction with potions or foodstuffs, can really make a difference in healing, regeneration of focus and so forth. First Aid can also be used on your pet after combat when you're low on focus but still in a dangerous area.

Heirlooms

If you have access to heirlooms, [Charmed Ancient Bone Bow] or [Upgraded Dwarven Hand Cannon] are excellent weapons for a new hunter.

At level 50, Hunters gain Mail Specialization, a 5% damage increase if they wear mail in every slot. Well itemized leather items might cause you to break that bonus, but if you're trying to maintain it then you will want to be wearing:

If you're not interested in the Mail Specialization bonus or you already have leather heirlooms banked, their stats are perfectly fine for a leveling hunter:

Long-term goals

Hunters are very pet and gear-dependent. Try to ensure your pet is always healed, fed and happy before putting yourselves in harm's way. Also, always use the best armor and weapons available for your level (and budget!) - use Wowhead to search for weapons/armour that you might want to aspire to. Once found, either locate the mob(s) that drop the item, or find one at one of the auction houses that you can afford and meet level requirements.

If you have an option between upgrading your ranged weapon, or upgrading your melee weapon, always take your ranged weapon. It's the one you should be using far more often, but don't ignore your melee completely.

When choosing between similar armor, the ranged hunter should always favor Agility and Stamina bonuses over Strength. This is because the former stats are more effective for the hunter than the latter. At level 40 the ability to wear Mail armor can be purchased but it is not wise to dump all of your nice Leather armor with high Agility bonus simply for the extra armor.

Make sure you keep your armor and weapons repaired at all times, as you'll be taking a lot of hits, regardless that Hunters really aren't melee characters. The better equipment you possess, and the better repair you keep it in, the better the chances you walk away from a given fight alive!

Decide where you want to go with your Hunter Talents, as these can make a big difference. Do you want to be more defense oriented or more offense oriented, for example?

See Hunter Tactics for more advanced information on Hunters, taking you beyond the first 10 levels.

External links