The Best Hunter DPS Spec

Posted: by Frostheim

reviewed and accurate
Reviewed 8/26/10
Patch 3.3.5

Note: this is an outdated Wrath Guide! This information is not current past Wrath.

I am asked very often what the best hunter spec is for the best dps. Very simply, this guide will lay out the best hunter spec of the day. These things change more frequently than ever: in WotLK the best hunter spec was BM, then Survival, then MM or Survival depending on your gear.

Like all WHU guides, this page will be kept updated as patches come out, and the Reviewed and Accurate logo in the top will include the date of the last time the guide was reviewed for accuracy. So you’ll know what the best hunter spec is now, and not what it might have been a few months or years back.

Best Hunter DPS Spec (Level 80)

At lower gear levels – say below 226 – Survival hunters will have the highest dps, using explosive shot to burn their way to the top of the dps charts. (See our Survival Talent Build). (note that at *very* low gear levels, ilvl 200 and lower, BM actually does the most, but then falls off hard and fast as gear improves).

At moderate gear levels MM and SV are neck and neck – there is no statistically relevant difference between the dps they can output. Here we’re looking at gear levels of around 226-245.

At high gear levels MM pulls ahead as the top dps spec; however, it should be noted that it is more difficult to play MM well. A competent player could very likely see more dps from SV than MM even at high gear levels. A very good player is able to stack cooldowns, maximize movement-based dps, and handle multiple-target dps better – and MM gives a greater advantage than SV to the players who is skilled at these things.

And for the record here, spreadsheets are notoriously poor at calculating best dps as we covered in Understanding Spreadsheets. We are able to see the actual damage done by all the top hunters via parses, and MM isn’t just a little bit ahead, not just a few hundred dps – it’s a lot ahead.

I personally favor MM because it just has a larger toolbox that gives a hunter more options to handle different situations. And of course I’m enamored of the dps advantages too :)

Best Hunter Leveling Spec

Beast Mastery is the best leveling hunter spec. Tough pets that can take the damage and hold aggro makes leveling a breeze. After all, the fastest way to level up is zipping through quests without ever having to stop to bandage, eat, or drink!

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  1. code says:

    Awesome Post, I will defiantly keep checking on this one.

    I was wondering if you could maybe add a talent tree to it. Maybe what you think the best MM or SV at the time would be or I could always check the other Posts with that information.

    Thanks Again!
    Matt “code”

  2. zne says:

    A talent tree is what ppl are looking for when the open this post. So it would be awesome if you put together a spec. I’m still survival even in my 2x 8,5 and 2×7,5, thats because i cant fint the perfect mm build.

  3. Reddayhunter says:

    Nice blogg, just a reminder, dont forget to enchant your chest ^^

    Reddayhunter @ Jaedenar EU

  4. heddamazra says:

    i’ve been dreading this swap, i’m so used to SV and been contemplating the swap to mm.
    should get on that i guess.

  5. Anansi says:

    If you really like Survival, stick with Survival, it continues to push out significant DPS that can quite handily top the DPS meters.
    Remember that the theorycrafting is just that, theory, and in practice results may and generally can differ and player skill plays a considerable role as well not to mention player knowledge about gear, gem, enchant and glyph choices.

    Last night I was in a pug for VOA 10 and then VOA 25. In the 10 I (Marksman spec) did consistently top the charts over a slightly better geared Survival Hunter but in the 25s things were a bit more back and forth with both SV and MM Hunters having their time at the top. The Marksman Hunters did take top spot more than the Survival Hunters but I wouldn’t put that down to spec choices really.

    Point is, both specs are solid raiding specs, play what you enjoy the most.

  6. Stokes - Balnazaar (EU) says:

    Sorry if this is something that should already be clear to me but…

    Is switching to MM only a benefit if you have a sufficient ArP rating?

  7. heddamazra says:

    os10 as sv i’m averaging 4600, on the dummies a bit less. under mm the dummies was significantly less than what i was putting out on sv, maybe i just fit the groove and flow of sv better than i do on mm. will have to play on dummies this weekend and maybe some raid action.

  8. heddamazra says:

    @stokes if this is the case i’m screwed. my gear choices lately have significantly killed my arp

  9. Jason D. says:

    Nice article, Frostheim. I read the site a lot but I’ve never actually posted a comment, though I had to chip in on this one.

    My hunter is currently somewhere around the 3rd best geared on our realm. I say this not to brag about it, but to give you an idea of his gear level. In my raiding guild, there are 4 hunters which traditionally are at the top of the dps charts. We all have similar gear, and we’re all very competitive with each other (all of us min-maxers), and compete every night for that top slot. Good fun.

    For a lot of Ulduar, we were all SV, then eventually I switched to MM to keep my interest in the game and to buff the group (some warlocks and a druid were gaining on us also, I couldn’t let that happen! :) After that point, I came to realize that all the hype about MM being superior is — in my opinion — not quite the real story. In Ulduar, MM is definitely superior on some fights, ESPECIALLY relatively stationary fights like Ignus and XT, for example, but seems to lag slightly behind on others. Since then, some of the other guys have dabbled in MM as well with similar results on the same bosses.

    I know this is a small set of experiences to draw from, but I trust our experiences, as we have always been so close in gear sets and skill levels.

    I’d say that you should all take the “MM is superior at high iLvls” hype with a major grain of salt. They are now so close that if you know how to play well, you can be competitive with either.

  10. When I first hit 80 and started heroics I made the switch from BM to MM, and was promptly confused as hell. Not sure why, but I just couldn’t find my rhythm with that spec. After about a week or two we had a patch that made us respec, so I switched over to SV to try that one out. With SV, I was able to find my rhythm fairly quickly. Not sure why this one clicked easier than MM, but it just fit my playing style. At this point, I’m nowhere near the top geared hunter in the realm (not in a raiding guild, so I just pug em), but I’m in mostly 213 or above. 3×8.5 plus most off the conquerers emblems 226 peices. With my SV spec I’m able to compete for the top spot in most raids I pug myself into, if not at least fall into the top 5. I have noticed, however, that when I get out dps’d by another hunter thats not way outgearing me, they’re usually MM. I’ve already been tossing the idea around with switching, and reading your article almost pushed me off the edge. Theres two things that hold me back.

    1) I’m really comfortable with my SV spec. I got my rhythm down pat and it works for me. I remember the MM experiment, and it honestly scares me. I’m sure I’d be able to find a rhythm easier than last time now that I know more than when I was 80. But its still daunting.

    2) Gear. All of my gear has been aimed towards Agility and Crit strikes. My crit is (imho) off the scale, and thats where all my dps comes from. From what I understand, switching to MM would mean that I would have to go back to AP and even start payin attention to ArP. Do you have a guide that I havent seen yet on what stats to buff for each spec? Would I be shooting myself in the foot by switching to MM with my current Crit rated stats?

  11. heddamazra says:

    i really have nothing to compare to, being relatively new to the game and lvl 80 we just mainly do heroics and my guild is casual and small enough we do not have a full 10 man group. i am scared to jump into raids because i do not know the fights and tankspot vids can only teach you so much. that being said i have attempted maly10, os10, os10(+1), 2 plague quarter bosses, and 3 construct quarter bosses, and always topped the charts, but there usually isnt another hunter to compare to

  12. heddamazra says:

    @kraigus yeah, that’s me too, same story

  13. EuripidesOutDPS says:

    Actually, testing and theorycrafting now shows that SV is higher than MM at most gear levels, unless you’re rocking an ArP build. This is because lock and load was massively buffed- it procs like crazy now, and even more crazy if you have adds to trap.

  14. Clete says:

    Yep. My tests show the same results as Euripides. Survival has a higher top end than MM now. I’m seeing an increase of about 900 dps as survival over MM. Even MM with all armor pen gems and at the armor pen soft cap does less dps than survival now.

  15. Ulftar says:

    I dont know, I’ve been rocking the MM raiding spec since 3.1 and I have been surpassing all SV hunters i come across in the meters every time even some that are better geared then me. I dont gem for armor pen, my gems and enchants are the same as SV gems and enchants. Agil is still better for MM then attack power just not as much as it is for SV. I think its all about how comfortable you are with your spec. here is my armory if you want to check it out. Its basically the same WHU spec i just need the extra hit.

  16. Frostheim says:

    At good gear levels MM is better dps than SV.

    On some fights SV will do better (like Hodir) but on most fights MM is *much* stronger because of access to more instant shots so less loss of dps even on high mobility fights. As I mention in the article, SV got a dps buff with patch 3.2 lock&load proc rates, but not enough to pull it ahead of MM, alas.

    And yes, one of the reasons MM pulls ahead is because of the armor pen that’s on the high level gear.

  17. Well, Frost, you’re the great scientist- why don’t you do some testing to support your theory? :)

    I can add the first data point- I’m in T8.5 (with the 4 piece bonus) with a T9 weapon (which should heavily favor MM as MM uses weapon DPS more than SV), and I get more DPS as SV on Ignis now than I did as MM. Also, the simulators and DPS calculator tools available predicted that I would see this increase (which is why I made the change).

    Since 3.2, the data seems to suggest that SV has eclipsed all MM builds other than ArP setups.

  18. Frostheim says:

    Eurip: I have done testing, of course. Endless target dummy tests still show MM in the lead, though by less of a margin. Shadra’s spreadsheet shows MM in the lead with raid buffs. And I did bring SV to one raid, though I quickly switched out because the dps was lower (though as always, annecdotal evidence proves nothing).

    Maybe I can bribe my 10-man into running Patch and wiping on him at 5%, then rerunning with the other spec. That’d be the closest to real-world testing we can do (though I’ve no idea if I can talk them into a half hour detour on raid night).

  19. I think the gap here is in the tools we’re using. I haven’t verified if Shandara has changed the proc rate modeling for lock and load yet- I’ve been using because I know that Zeherah has updated it. I agree that dummy tests might well show MM as being higher, but dispute whether that means it will do the same thing in a raid.

    I suspect another potential delta is that I’ve only been comparing 25 man numbers with “ideal” raid buffs. In any case, I don’t want Hrist to find and kick me for wasting raid time. Please don’t go out of your way to wipe at 5% on patch :)

  20. heddamazra says:

    *popcorn* *soda* *lazyboy*

  21. Chimy says:

    Alright, Frost, I have to ask. Will the balance shift back to Survival with the tier 9, 2 piece bonus?

  22. heddamazra says:

    the 10% bonus or chance to crit on srs? i dont really know which is on which, i have the 10% bonus but not the crit so far, working on that, takes a while then you cant find anyone to do raids with

  23. quivering says:

    i keep hearing that high level gear, the shift is to MM. maybe im doing somethng wrong. i have 3 pieces of t8.5, 1 piece of t8. grim troll, greatness, and banner of victory. my passive arp is close to 376 with the banner, but i am constantly out dps’d by SV hunters with lower gear.

    when you say that the switch happens in high level gear, im assuming you mean the magic number of arp (556 – 619 in your arp vs ag guide). im not at there yet, i would be if i gemmed arp in 8 of my 10 slots of my slots (thats +160 arp) but thats a hefty cost to switch (tho i admit ive been dying to try).

    i switched to SV cuz i was being beat by lessed geared SV hunters. i HATE SV now, and i love MM, yet it wasnt putting up the numbers. arp seems like so much trouble.

  24. Kantsuu says:

    I think the gap between SV and MM *right now* is small enough that raiders can choose the spec they believe they play better and the one they most enjoy. Which, if you ask me, is the way it should be. Another hunter in my guild (SV) and I (MM) are pretty close in gear, though he has slightly better gear than I, it’s really not by much, and we go back and forth on Recount every time I raid with him. Usually he’s a little above me, but I have beat him on occasion, and I can’t switch to SV because I just can’t do that rotation, ha. So really, just pick whichever one you like best! I really hope they stay balanced for a long while, and hopefully BM will be able to get up there soon as well. Although while we’re on the subject, there is a BM hunter in my guild that I haven’t personally run with, but people who have say he can hit 4k consistently. Not bad by any measure.

  25. Chimy says:

    I was referring to the SS crit bonus, although seeing as you only need 2 pieces to get it, it’s possible to have both crits and 10%. I’m partial to survival right now, but that’s only because my gear is not high enough to really be an effective MM. I like both of them, is the thing, so if one of them will benefit my dps, I’ll go with it. I’m just interested in hearing your experiences and perspective, considering the effectiveness of frost and some of the other posters on this blog.

    You only really need 60 emblems of triumph to get the 2 pieces, and that’s 30 days of doing the daily heroic.. providing you don’t have enough people to do raids (which is frequently my problem).

  26. quivering says:

    well i decided to test the whole “switch to mm with high arp.” i gemmed arp in 9 slots, and i now have a passive arp rating of 472 without banner of victor and 556 with it. i found the golden trinket combo for me to be grim toll (tho it soars me over hit cap) and greatness. in one round on the test dummy, i sustained 3.9k (only dragonhawk and aura on me) and spiked to 4.1k. i found i mostly do 3.6 on dummies, give or take a few hundred.

    its definately more since im sitting here nuking, and i used an improvised rotation, no arcane shot. it feels too situational to me though. like has been said, it seems like it may only benefit in certain situations. for me, gemming over wasnt expensive and it was merely to settle my curiosity, so i cant advise anyone to do it thinking its a one way street to leet deeps. im going into toc and ulduar this week with this MM build and arp rating and ill see how it goes.

  27. Wolf says:

    Heres a question does MM rely on ArP to be top damage or can u skip stacking ArP out right and still be high with MM cause personally i dont like ArP too much gear to replace to get to 600+ so does MM need ArP to be good or no?

  28. Armin says:

    I’ve always sticked to MM, even before 3.1.3, because I always liked it more. (It is also because I came from PvP in BC probably.) In my experience though MM, will beat SV in pretty much any 25 man that has static moments in it. This is because MM can control its burst better and in 25 man there should be no mana issues. The famour EJ sheet that we all use, basically is a patchwork style 25 man fight, which explains why MM is on top there.

    However during more mobile fights with target switching, MM can be annoying as one needs to get the mark on, sting on and only then the rotation can start. SV is less dependent on that. Also during 10 mans MM does still run out of mana more than SV if there is no other class to help us from mana. This I consider the two advantages for SV.

    If there is however something to prevent MM to run out of mana, MM will likely outdps SV too. So it depends also on your makeup. This is enforced even further because during many fights the alternatives to True Shot Aura don’t seem to hold the 100% uptime. So TSA will improve raid dps in that case, even if in theory your dps is lower than it would be in SV.

  29. Frostheim says:

    MM does not require high ArP to do high damage — the high ArP route is an alternate MM method (with different talent build and rotation), but you do not have to go that route to top the meters with MM – in fact without a lot of specific gear it’s not possible.

  30. zyperdog says:

    Well . i am playing sv hunter in high end rading gear, having full t8.5 and some gear from totc 10/25 man.

    And i just change my mirror of true trinket with grim troll from naxx, and my dps boost was awsome i really love it…

    But before i change that trinket i have tryed to change between sv and mm in raid . we got over 5 palas in raid at the time so got all paly buff and i do almoste never go oom on boss fights, or almost never under 50 %.

    when i am trying to change to mm to se if that do any good for my raid or my dps but i am seeing myself stading with viper on to much. mm spec use way to much mana i think

    any of you have problems with that ?

  31. Jason D. says:

    “At good gear levels MM is better dps than SV.”

    @Frostheim It’s funny that you repeat this statement. Test dummies and spreadsheets are not necessarily research enough, compared to a “live” 25-man raid experience. The test dummies don’t properly represent how each spec scales with buffs, and the spreadsheets don’t account for fight movement and particular boss abilities.

    Anyway, it doesn’t seem like you want a dialog, you seem to want to declare the Truth(tm) to your readers, so I’ll move on.

  32. Arthemystia says:

    That seems like an unfair statement, Jason. Those who seek to understand, or yes even tweak, Frost’s methodology are usually treated to a discussion on his methods, results, and what might constitute an improvement in those methods, etc. etc. To appear with a condescending attitude, state your displeasure, and move on doesn’t give a chance for this.

    So it seems to me that you are the one who doesn’t want a dialog. Frankly, what else are these comments for? If Frost didn’t want discussion, he could delete them.

    However. It’s not hard to see that there are more variables in a raid than at a dummy, so raid results will vary wildly, whereas dummies provide a more standard environment. Extensive testing can and does produce reliable results, and is usually backed with results in raids. Not always, mind you, but if you see a discrepancy between the two, say so and it will help both you and others try to figure out where the fault lies.

  33. Frostheim says:

    Jason: I have indeed brought both SV and MM to raids since patch 3.2, and in general I’ve found MM to be better dps (not to mention the lone SV hunter is crushed in almost every fight by the MM hunters).

    So yes, I do have annecdotal evidence as well as theorycrafting and dummy testing, but as we all know, your dps from one raid to another can vary wildly depending on the composition and performance of the rest of the raid, not to mention the simple fact that your RNG is not multiplied by many other abilities that are affecting your dps – and even that’s assuming a static fight like patchwerk!

    Imagine you’re fighting Ignis — your dps is going to change based on how often you get tossed in the slag pot — and what if someone else is tossed in the slag pot and you temporarily lose his debuff? (like sunder armor — which has a huge impact on your damage). So one attempt to another attempt with the identical build and identical players will still yield very different dps.

  34. Jason D. says:

    @Arthemystia – I think you take my tone as being a little harsher than I intended. I wasn’t “leaving in a huff” or anything, I was really thinking that it didn’t seem like Frostheim wanted to discuss this, but rather wanted his opinion accepted as fact. The reason that I say this relates to the quote that I put at the top of the post “At good gear levels MM is better dps than SV”. If this had even been prefaced by “In my opinion…” or “In my experience…” it would have been open to discussion, but it was not.

    Now, this is a reiteration of what he said previously, I know. But it was laid out as a statement of fact, despite a few comments after his article which suggested otherwise, or suggested (like my initial post) that actually, it may not be completely true.

    @Frostheim – I understand very well that the variables can shift around quite a bit, week after week. Obviously I’ve experienced my dps swing around quite radically (I’ve hit 8k on XT one week, and struggled to hit 6k the next because the raid composition was totally different), but I can see trends emerge over time. Of course, this is just my experience, though I have noticed that in many top guilds, both MM and SV hunters are still jockeying for the tops spots world-wide, and that I find reinforces the view at least that the two specs are very close to each other, if not equal if you average across different boss encounters.

    I also test my specs on dummies, and tweak my toons on spreadsheets, but I don’t trust either to give me the final word. They are a good place to start, which learning how to tweak your gear and your spec, but they don’t tell the whole story.

    Just one last note though, on the discussion of comparing the two specs… and how one determines which is the max dps. How does one test MM versus SV on the dummies in any accurate way? Are you saying that you keep the same gear set, and switch specs? (ie. use your same gear but a different talent tree?) In my experience, the strongest gear setups for each are quite different.

  35. Frostheim says:

    For determining which spec is strongest, I test in basically three ways: target dummy tests (both an averaged series of full mana tests, and a viper test of 1k shots fired), the spreadsheets, and annecdotal evidence from raids. When all three agree, I consider it conclusive until new compelling evidence is introduced :)

    In fact, after this thread started, I went ahead and brought SV to our Ulduar raid last night to double check again. Not only did it perform worse, but we had a wipe on Razor of all things, after which I switched back to MM for the 2nd attempt and saw a large dps increase. Natrually every boss is different and every attempt is different, but again, every data point I can collect agrees, both scientific and annecdotal. As far as I can determine, far more fights favor MM than SV — since MM is stronger in highly mobile fights it seems to get stronger as encounters get more complicated.

    Since I am not using an armor pen build, the gear for SV and MM is pretty similar (both prefer agility over any other equivalent stat, save hit). I switch talents and glyphs for the target dummy testing, but not gear. Two of my three gear sets are strictly for soloing. Only one is a dps set.

  36. Arthemystia says:

    Jason: implying a tone or intent that is not explicitly stated can be dangerously erroneous with the written word, especially on the internet when it is our only means of communication. I don’t fault your reasoning about theorycrafting, mind you, but that’s not the issue. The vast majority of the time, the perceived arrogance is not actually there and was never intended in the statement. Respectfully questioning the theorycrafting will yield far better results and far less negativity.

    But if your own words came across as more harsh than intended, then no harm done. I hope your question was answered sufficiently, and happy hunting.


  37. Jason D. says:

    @Frostheim – What compelling evidence are you looking for exactly? Isn’t the fact that myself and some others visiting your site, with the same or higher iLvl gear as you have had different observations using more or less the same testing methods somewhat interesting?

  38. Armin says:

    Jason, I’m missing your point. Instead of a ‘does’, ‘does not’ discussion, it would be intersting under what conditions you found SV better.

    I mean, we all can download the famous EJ sheet, which is basically a static fight simulation: patchwork or dummy. You can check various bufs, talents, armour, rotations, etc. You’ll find that MM will beat SV if you have the right gear. Right means a fair amount of ulduar or higher. The guys at EJ, which nitpick on about everything pretty much agree on this. My dps agains the dummy is very much in line with what the sheet prodicts, but if you disagree, check the calculation tab and find the exact error. There is a special thread for bug reports. They would love to hear from you.

    If your point is however, that many boss fights are not static, you are absolutely right. Still most hunters find MM better. Not for all fights of course. I already mentioned earlier, that mana could be an issue depending on you makeup. Also of course the sting/mark thing which canmake or break a MM dps. And of course many specifics. In some fights SV will pretty much always beat MM. During others the roles are reversed.

    So much better would be anexplanation from you, in what fights or what conditions you think SV is better. That would be constructive. Either for us, so we can learn new things or for you because you may get tips, to improve you dps in those fights using MM. ;-)

  39. Jason D. says:

    Ok, just for fun, I’ll try to one more time express the purpose of my original post. To clarify again, I respect Frost.. I can see he’s a good player, etc. etc. it’s not about me saying that he is wrong about his findings.

    I believe that the comparison between Theorycrafting and Science is a good one. Theorycrafting is essentially taking the scientific method and applying it to a complex system which has a lot of unknown variables. Cool stuff! I love it.

    I love science also. To take one example from science, there is the Theory of Evolution. I strongly, strongly believe in this theory. It confirms my own observations, and it’s also a very popular theory in our time. Whenever someone starts going around talking Creationism, it actually makes me cringe because it conflicts heavily with what I believe to be true. However, despite that I believe very, very strongly in the Theory of Evolution, if someone starts declaring in the press or anywhere else that Evolution is no longer really a theory, but “Fact”, then I start to become very uncomfortable. A declaration of fact shuts a subtle but powerful door and implies that the case is closed — this is the way it is people, now you just need to sit back and have faith. Science is about never closing that door. Hammer away at those theories — maintain them through vigorous testing, forever.

    So, Armin, my point was the share my own observations in raid and testing environments, and to suggest that you should take the popular theory that MM > SV with a grain of salt. Saying “with a grain of salt” is my softer way of trying to say that “hey scientific community, I have some observations that seem to contract the popular theory of our time. Maybe we shouldn’t close the book on this one.”

    I suppose we can all agree that the very difficult thing here is that so many of the variables involved in our discussion are things that we can’t share. Also, there are the differences in gear and variations in the spec to take into account. The most difficult thing of all is that at least a good chunk of our deductions include subjective observations (the raid experience, with all its craziness).

    That said, if you ask me to take a guess, on the other hand, at why I observe SV being still slightly ahead on some fights (especially high movement fights), I would say that I personally believe it has to do with SV’s power shot being an instant, while MM reaps the full benefit of all that ArP on physical shots like steadies. Sure, MM does indeed have very hard core instants, and I absolutely love the spec to death, but SV does benefit very slight more in these situations. Then again, I believe this is open to discussion :) Isn’t that great?

  40. quivering says:

    well they just announced that in 3.2.2, theres a possible arp nerf. which is nice considering i just tried out the whole “gem for arp” route with my MM hunter XO. oh well, time to start collecting cardinal rubies again.

  41. Cea says:

    I am SV spec and out dps any other hunter i come across on my server(and usually any other class i meet). I have tried MM but i always revert back to SV as i find it more comfortable to play.

    I have tried using your MM guide on and my own SV spec on Target dummys and i am usually 500-600dps more in SV spec. any explanation?

  42. Frostheim says:

    Cea: it might be your gear, but if you’re seeing 500-600dps difference on the target dummys, that’s definitely because you’re doing something wrong and you’re not hitting your rotation optimally.

    Though for reference, when I go SV in raids, I also outdps the MM hunters. I just do more in MM. However with the armor pen changes it looks like that may soon change!

  43. Moriquendi says:

    My own observations (backed by the tool) are that in an ideal setting I will do a couple of hundred more dps as SV than MM, with my current gear. However, in my actual raiding environment if I swap to SV I lose the TSA and IHM buffs (no other MM Hunter, or indeed anyone else to give an equivalent buff) and the net result of that is about a 400dps drop.

    Because MM has white damage as a higher percentage of its overall output than SV (in my experience at least – autoshot is normally no 2 damage dealer over the course of a fight) it still suffers in High mobility fights, so I’m not sure emperically just how it will really differ from SV in terms of % dps drop due to mobility.

    I’m not stacking ArP, and using the standard MM Agi build/rotation, and I’m pretty happy with my output, but if I did have another MM Hunter providing TSA/IHM then I would probably revert back to SV. It will definitely be interesting to see how the pending ArPen nerf affects things (though I would expect it will really only make a massive difference to MM hunters using the ArPen build/gear/rotation, and will hopefully not hurt Agi MM too much).

  44. Arthemystia says:

    I only out-dps my similarly-geared hunter pal in 25-mans. He’s SV, I’m MM. He beats me most of the time in our 10M raids. And while I could consider this anecdotal evidence to support the “MM passes SV at some point” theory, we really just run both specs to maximize our guild’s raid buffs. Topping meters is great, but the raid comes first, and I’m more comfortable in MM than he is. Regardless of the upcoming changes, unless they’re depressingly huge, I’ll likely be staying MM. So the “which is better?” debate doesn’t affect me a ton. I just like knowing how to maximize either of the specs.

    It also helps that I tank with my off-spec, while he PvPs as SV. I can gem for AP for both. Making the gem-switch back to SV would be awful at this point.

  45. Samhaim says:

    I have tried both MM and SV. On the test dummy i have a pretty equal dmg and dps but in a raid if the pet dies the MM can mantain more dps. Plus my TSA in raids really helps out not only me but the other hunters out who are SV. I guess what I am saying is that if there are no other MM in your raid it is a very good spec for your raid group.

  46. Mike says:

    I was wondering if you give me a better idea of how much DPS we are talking about here.

    For example for a typical Level 80 without Heoric dungeon Gear.

    Would it look something like this.

    BM- 1000 DPS
    MM- 1200 DPS
    SV – 1150 DPS

    or is there a much large difference something along the lines of

    BM – 1000 DPS
    MM – 1500 DPS
    SV – 1650 DPS.

    I am just trying to get a idea of how much DPS each spec gives up compared to the others. If BM is doing a 1000 and SV is beating it my 50 DPS. Then it does not seem worth switching to me but if SV is doing 1600 compared to BM 1000 then it certainly would be worth it.

    Thank you for your time.

  47. Frostheim says:

    Right now SV is only slightly behind at high gear levels – maybe in the 3-5% range. BM is around 10% behind — so if you’re pulling 5k in MM you might only be doing 4500 in BM.

  48. Kazic says:

    Any thoughts or changes DPS wise with MM vs SV in 3.2.2? I was thinking of going MM with most Ulduar 10/25 and about 3 10-ToC items but does anyone think there will be a change in the charts with the ArP Nerf?

  49. hiero says:

    hi looking for some advice lust made 80 and still having trubble fully getting the gear thing and the gear lol . and my dps really sucks top at 1600 on dummy with pet(cor hound) and trinks. dont think its my rotation. is the gear i wearing the best i can get till i start heroics the few iv tried tell me im under geared i know there pvp armor but… im also realy confused at the pvp/pve gear thing and cant find much about it on the web. i guesstimating the difference is more than resistance
    also a hearty thanks for the pet tanking section as my normal group does not have a tank its been a great help

  50. hiero says:

    not gona get much advice with out this
    im thinking i need to regem some hit but due i go ap or crit my crits on the dmmy are realy bad less than 2% i think

  51. Myr says:

    Hi, this is off the topic. I’m just wondering if you guys have a good site for hunter PVP guide. Like guide againts all class.

  52. hiero says:

    ho and i must say that the info on this site checks out more than most others thanks for all the math work you folks due. question is you have said that mm pulls ahead at highter gear levels i have been wondering at what lev that is and please give it in the idem lev the game uses as im not farmiler with the addons or spread sheet units lol

  53. Makaia of Darrowmere says:

    Ok, so last night I logged onto my hunter that I havent played in close to a year. I did run her in about May this year where her dps was still around the 3k mark.
    I ran Gundrak last night and they posted dps and my dps was only 1.5k. Have they seriously nerfed SV that much in only a few months. This was rather weird, I was pulling off the Tank alot of the time. I am seriously thinking that there meter was not set right cos I don’t think my dps would half in that amount of time. I guess I am going to have to get back on the boat and stop playing the Pally and play the Hunter again.
    This is a great post by the way first one I looked at and is extremely helpful.

  54. Moltak says:

    @Frost … i love that u talk about the MM spec …
    but PLEASE show me a talen tree? it doesnt help reading about how IMBA it is, when I cant see it ….

  55. Xavatar says:

    what effect does the 10% att buff given to BM after the latest patch have on BM dps?

  56. varcity says:

    Hey guys, I’ve been arguing with my buddy over what has a better DPS and he won’t believe me. I have been using the SV spec in the guides here for about a month and love it. He uses a 0/15/56 SV build just for aimed shot. Any thoughts?

  57. Vitro says:

    I don’t know about never being a BM spec. I actually do just as much DPS as a BM as I do with SV. I don’t know it might be because I have 3 spirit beasts and use them. Also with the new gear sets lvl 232 and 245 they are geared toward giving your pet more AP. If you have 4 pieces it will give you a chance on hit to give your pet 600ap. So if you like BM and want to turn your Pokemon pets into usable pets feel free to copy my talent tree and give it a try for yourself. Hunters name is Vitro on Boulderfist. You might lose like 200 or 300 dps but it’s worth it if you have Skoll.

  58. Frostheim says:

    For the sake of clarity I should point out Vitro that on equally played specs BM will be about 10% behind at the moment (so around 400-600 dps). Also, the wolf is currently the best dps pet for BM hunters – the spirit beasts look cool, but don’t perform as well, alas.

  59. Vitro says:

    Lol I know that right now BM will never put out as much dps as the other specs but I believe it to be a little more fun and in raids no one will complain about the slightly less dps. But you guys by far have the best hunter forum site that I have yet to see. Not knocking BRK but he just doesn’t keep up as much as you guys. So keep it up and thanks.

  60. violet says:

    hi guys i discover this forum and i am very intersted on your opinion about more dps spec, i am MM but on my guild always complain that i am doing a very low dps average is
    1800 crit is 12000 they say my spec is not right, could you add a tree so i can see and eventualy copy your best MM dps?
    thanks a lot

  61. Bloodbàne says:

    Vitro…BRK’s site closed down like a year ago so…

  62. Dahlyra says:

    Hi, I’ve never commented before but I’ve got something thats been nagging me for a bit. Arm pen, has anyone else noticed that as you get 232 gear and above it is disappearing from you gear? When I was in 226 gear my arm pen was over 400 and no its about 239. So now my dps is falling a bit and to be honest its more of a struggle to keep it up towards the top of the charts. So I am actually considering going back to SV instead of MM but I am reluctant being that it took me the better part of a week to get used to MM and its whack-a-mole rotation style. Basically if anyone else has noticed arm pen disappearing and having the same trouble as I am I would love some feed back cause to be honest I am getting a lil miffed about my failing dps LOL thanks

  63. marcelleus says:

    i got a tough one for you frost obviously when looking at these two specs only self buffed they are the same in high end material, however what if you consider raid buffs if you have a mm hunter in raid and you are survival does the additional trueshot aura and enhanced hunters mark on the boss make a survival hunter considerable better or is the dps change small enough that doesn’t really give a clear winner same applies for survival hunter can’t think of any raid buffs they can give but if you can think of any that allow a mm hunter to be buffed does he then come out on top? i almost never find myself in a situation where only one hunter is brought to a raid our dps is just to damn good so with at least 2 hunters in raid what does any additional buffs they throw out make dps look like? Buffs outside of hunter given buffs are negligible here because both hunters should be receiving the same buffs just interested in difference between surv hunter with mm or surv with another survival per say and what the grouped dynamic does for each of the 2 specs?

  64. Frostheim says:

    In general I was testing with the same raid buffs for each spec. Keep in mind that abomination’s might and unleashed rage provide the identical buff as trueshot aura — so it doesn’t require a hunter to provide that buff to the raid.

  65. solliandra says:

    Can someone help me to find why my dps suck? Is anything wrong whith my talents or my gems? I can’t understand I have read all topics and I am very confused. Here is my caracter:

    Thank you in advance.

  66. Zephrus says:

    I’ve been playing a SV hunter for two years now and never went BM even when leveling. I used to be spec’d 51(sv)/17(mm)/3(bm) but have since switched over to a 52/13(mm)/6(BM), favoring improved aspect of the hawk and focused fire off the BM tree. Is there a better way to spend your ‘hybrid’ points, so to speak? Or is there more benefit if you’re going MM or SV to go ALL MM or ALL SV? I’ve been at a loss as to what talents from the other two trees will best support a SV build. Any help would be appreciated!

  67. Bladewisp says:

    Given the Tier9 2pc bonus (your Serpent Stings may now crit), wouldn’t the optimal SV spec now change by adding 3 talent points in Improved Stings under the MM tree? From which talents would you shift these points? Cheers!

    Bladewisp (Nagrand-US)

  68. Cartar says:

    I am a long time BM hunter and have played this spec if when if fell from grace. Now my hunter is not my main atm but I am bringing him in on 25 man ToC stuff when I want a break from raiding. I am currently putting together a gear set for marks/surv but I will say it is possible to hold your own dps wise in a 25 man raid as BM. I have turned alot of heads as a BM hunter. On patchwerk type fights I can pull between 6600 and 6900 dps. I am curious to see what I will be able to do as Surv/Marks being I have never played them since MC/BWL days.

  69. Oyless says:

    I Love my BM spec especially now that I’ve used this site to make it so I can solo most areas. Though my main spec is MM and I’m glad that you posted that at higher levels it really depends on what you like more. So many people push SV so much and hate those hunters that can out do them with MM and really get annoyed if a BM hunter passes them. Thats when all true hunters call those “Noobs”. Thanks to this site, I can out DPS most hunters with higher gear scores than my own because I understand the mechanics of my spec. Thank You WHU!!! :))

  70. J.o.E says:

    I raid toc 10 hc and 25 hc as MM and im easily hitting 7k dps, if ur going to test ur dps as MM on a training dummy u must take into concideration the fact that armour pen doesnt make any effect but it makes a massive impact fighting real mobs. With MM it also helps to have the soft cap armour pen ( 45%) and if u can get hold of Grimtol or the Hardmode trinket from Thorim 10, when it procs u will have just under 100% which is awesome in PVE and PVP.

  71. Frostheim says:

    It should be noted that armor pen is a very bad pvp stat. In pvp you’re usually on the move and you do not get a ton of your damage from auto shot or steady shot — the two shots that armor pen helps most.

  72. Arthemystia says:

    I don’t even use Steady when I PvP. It’s there on my UI, but there’s always a higher priority instant to fire off (or a trap, or my trinket, or deterrance, or disengage, or scatter shot, etc. etc.)

  73. tsu says:

    I was Surv for quite a while now, but recently i have speced into MM just out of curiousity, so i do lot of research and calculation on where i should spent all my talent points. I have done lot and lot of dummy testing and switch between specs, i found that MM is much better dps even im not stacking Arp or Arp trink. So loved the new spec and gona have fun with it a :)

  74. Dragontooth says:

    I was talking with a MM hunter who is in 25 togc gear about high end DPS. He kind of surprised me with his spec and rotations. He doesn’t use arcane shot or talents and only uses serpent sting, chimera, aimed, and steady. He uses Grim Troll and caps his ArP. His glyphs are: Chimera, Trueshot Aura, and SS. Is this really a big difference between an arcane shot MM spec?

  75. hunterthrall says:

    I find that on test dummies my dps is significantly higher using the 7 57 7 MM build, roughly 10%-15% (trueshot aura anyone). I am in 245 gear with two level 200 trinkets and gemmed/enchanted for agility from my previous Survival build.

    Ideally though, if you have more than one hunter in a raid you should have one of each, one for trueshot aura and the other for replenishment.

  76. hunterthrall says:

    I should note that I average 4500 dps in the typical 16 56 survival tree on the target dummy over 5 minutes (oom) and 5000 dps in the MM spec.

  77. Smaken says:

    Hey Frost, how much of MM surpassing Surv in DPS is based on the 2 pc set bonuses? I know the T9 2pc lets serpent sting damage crit and from T8 2pc you get a 10% bonus to serpent sting as well.

    How will the loss of that bonus impact this? Back to Surv?

  78. Tlord says:

    Hunterthrall, I am no expert but i have been playing a Hunter for a long time now and have been looking into forums and the arp debate aswell as this one. What i have found directly supports your findings in this debate..Yes! if you are standing still for 5 minutes solid going through a rotation then MM should give u the better dps. But as everyone should know, Raid bosses will not let u stand still for 5 minutes let alone 30 seconds ( on many bosses). There may be a few bosses where yes a MM would beat out a Surv Hunter. but when put to the real test of raiding your finding will be much closer between Surv and MM.

  79. Anthony says:

    Hi, new to this great Blog (don’t know how I missed this fantastic resource before) So, if this sort of question is out of line in a thread like this, let me know, and Apologies.

    I have rolled SV since late in BC, and do reasonably well with it by now. As a result, I am quite versed in the (Almighty) EJ DPS Spreadsheet, but really only for estimating my DPS as SV. When I try to estimate DPS changes in an MM spec, I see very large drops in the theoretical DPS in my current gear. Many hundreds of DPS in fact, quite in opposition to what I have been reading here. I can only assume, therefore, that differences are due to errors of mine.

    My gear and such are chosen for SV DPS, so that is obviously a factor. And, I know the Spreadsheet is just a tool, nothing more, and a limited and imperfect one at that. I have read as much of back-content as possible, and I appreciate the effort and empiric testing that generates analyses such as this thread, that suggest superiority of one spec over another based on actual observation as well as “Spreadsheet’ing.”

    With that in mind, am I simply relying too much on an imperfect measurement tool in my decision making, and I just should just go and test on a dummy for an hour or two in both specs before I go live in a raid environment?

    Or is the Spreadsheet still a viable tool, but I just need to learn to “do more” to use the Spreadsheet to estimate MM DPS…changes of settings to account for CD management that is not such a factor in SV DPS, or similar tweaks?

    Not necessarily looking for a specific MM Spreadsheet tutorial, just any general comments rom the wise and knowledgeable here.

  80. Rich says:

    Hello, New to the blog. GREAT STUFF. I was wondering when you were going to give an update, since the new patch was released I have not seen an update on the best DPS SPEC. I’m sure MM and Survival are still on top but BM seems to be putting up much nicer #’s. I would like to see the difference in Survival vs BM now. I would bet it’s much closer then most people think. Thank you.

  81. lostfear says:

    I am having a real hard time getting my DPS up please help this is what I have

  82. Hotsh says:

    Look up Hotsh on Aerie peak. Should I got sv or mm? Check me out in every way.. Make me not suck :P

  83. Jack says:

    MM is for elitists who want max dps for epeen, survival is for raid synergy and for the person that understands your personal dps is less but what you bring to the raid is priceless.

  84. Frostheim says:

    Certainly if your raid doesn’t have replenishment from another source (or more likely, a half dozen other sources) SV will be better for the raid. However, in most situations replenishment is already covered, and as a pure dps class we’re brought to raids to do as much dps as possible (without pulling aggro or standing in void zones, of course).

  85. Snoggi says:


    All three specs will perform more than adequately in a decent or better raid group.

    However, depending on what your raid needs: energy, or a little extra dps just in case, you can decide on your spec. For PuGs, you’d might want to deal as much damage as possible, because it’s safer to compensate for them than to have them compensate for you, where replenishment is almost gurantueed regardless of someone’s dps.

    Or you can simply decide based on what you enjoy.

  86. Cornflakes says:

    Horses for courses if you ask me. I just resently hit over 1300arp after long time trying to hard cap it. Yes i know 1400 is the target, with a good ms and tight rotation i was hitting 9k+ on static(ish) fights, but thats where i was having problems, i’m not the best player in the world when it comes to having to move and dps together, i’d say i was only doing poorly cause alot of the time as MM when i had to move my instants always seemed to be on CD, and say an ICC boss is 5mins i find myself moving for about lets say 45secs on avg, result=about 2k dps loss over the 5 mins ending with only 7k-8k dps.

    So since i’m a JC i thought i’d try Surv and re-gem all agi resulting in 3000+ agi raid buffed and as high as 3600+ with trink procs and even saw 11k AP which was sexy :)
    Anyway it seems for me that even if sniper dropped off i still do better in the moving parts of the fights as Surv and therefore do better overall.

    Yes i know spreadsheets say BiS MM 1400arp out performs BiS Surv by a few 100 dps but in the real world with movement involved Survs shorter CDs is better for ME and so far i’d say in ICC 85% of the bosses available thus far require 10-20% movement, meaning upto 1min in a 5 minute fight.

  87. Zahlo says:

    I realize its been said before. BM is NOT as sucky as everybody keeps saying. My wife and I play together, both BM Hunters. After doing my research i switched to SV, mostly because I wanted to try it out, and see why all of the non-hunters were telling me how n00b I was for playing BM. Yes my DPS has improved. And I enjoy the different style of play. It is also not unusual for my BM wife to out-DPS me in some fights. ( Yes out GS are within about 80 of each other, hers is better of course). My Dmg output also sees a lot more spikes, but also more valleys. Hers is a great deal more stable, overall. But I have considerably higher crit than her also, which could account for that.
    I am currently using Skada and Recount, my wife uses Violation and Skada, so we see the numbers from several add-ons.
    Just some on the ground info for other hunters out there. All told I USUALLY do more DPS in SV, but its no guarantee of performance. Try the specs out and stick with what works best for you. Just ignore All the leetist puck-holes who try to rag on you for your spec choice. Its your game. You don’t pay a subscription to have to play someone else game.

  88. phl0w says:

    So, what about a DPS build for leveling? With the advent of 3.3 most leveling is done in instances, where DPS counts and most of the pet-survival skills from BM are useless (like catliek reflexes or bloddthirsty, heart of phoenix, lick your wounds)
    In short: Is this Survival build good for leveling too or should one stick to the conservative BM leveling build also if one does most of his leveling via dungeon tool.
    Sorry, first hunter, lots of questions, love the class though so far… I’m 44.

  89. Supergrass says:

    Ive been reading your guides and entries for sometime now. Ive been struggling with MM or SV. One thing i cant find is the benefit a raid can have from True Shot aura. Maybe with MM the total dps of a raid team increases while that if the hunter is staying behind?

  90. AJ says:

    Been searching for days to find an answer to this question.

    I’m a fresh lvl 80 hunter, who’s been a BM, what spec should i get into now that i’m looking to do 5-mans, and then onto heroics. (i.e. looking to gear up in dungeons)

    Thank you!! Answer found – SV

  91. Valenshyne says:

    Rightguys, I need a lot of help, am a lvl 80 tauren with a nearly full set of tier 9 gear (helm, shoulders, chest, gloves and trousers) am mainly in SV with a few in MM for aimed shot, my big problem is that my hit rate is barely above 2500, it’s really beginning to frustrate me as I’ve been told that SV is the best talent to go with, yet i used to be hitting close to 4000 using BM until I was told to change. Can ANYONE help me sort my problem?! Am tearing my hair out here!!

    Chamber of Aspects-EU

  92. Alexander says:

    Yup, at icc 10 level gear mm shoots ahead pretty much, and if u get enough arp it’s no doubt who has the highest dps between mm and sv…+mm dps is a lot easier(for me)

  93. Neph says:

    The MM vs SV spec battle has been raging within me for several weeks now. I began playing after the launch of WOTLK, with a hunter as my main. I loved BM and hung onto it stubbornly until I finally convinced myself that I was nerfing my dps to no avail. My devilsaur was not happy. Now I find myself with a MM spec and a SV spec, yet I do not know how to choose between the two. Initially MM, I changed to SV to help down the beasts on the Saurfang fight in my guild’s ICC 10 man. I was having a lot of difficulty killing them in MM, but switching to SV nearly instantly solved any problems I had. I do higher dps on the dummy in SV spec, and about 300 less in MM. I am wondering if the fact that I am gemmed mostly for agility and crit is significantly hurting my MM dps, or if I just do not have the hang of it. My goal is to get the most out of my character: be it in any spec. SV and MM are both enjoyable to me and I was simply wondering about whether my gear and gemming can have such an impact on choosing one spec over the other. Basically: does my gear setup change drastically from one spec to another?

    I always enjoy the posts and information you have, please keep it coming. I have not been able to find a resource nearly as wonderful for any other class.

  94. kiratho says:

    I consider myself a relatively casual player. I’ve only gotten into raids or had the time to do so a few times. I do have most of the gear you can get from daily heroics. The guides I’ve found on this site are amazing. My shot rotations keep getting better and I’m seeing myself back at the top of the DPS charts (even more after the latest patch). Thanks Frostheim! Three cheers!
    Knight Kiratho of Alleria _-Sword of the Morning-_

  95. Alekos112 says:

    I do not understand how everyone is in the 4k dps! Can somone help me out? self buffed (true shot and dragonhawk) i have about 4.5k power, and 41.1% crit. i have decent gear for someone that has been strickly doing heroics around a 3.9k gear score. I have never ever gone above 2.9k dps and thats even being buffed by others. What am i doing wrong? oh yea i have a 7/56/7 build.

  96. Beerstain says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for these guides. I’ve been reading this site/guides, watching videos and putting in lots of practice. I’ve only been 80 since Tuesday, but I find myself on the top of the DPS meters in the Heroics pugs I’ve been doing (grinded out my 4 piece T9 and 245 shoulders in three days). It feels soooo good knowing what I’m doing, having a solid rotation, understanding gems, enchants, gear, etc etc. I can not thank you enough!

    I’m proud to call myself a hunter. =D


  97. Calminaion says:

    Hi Frost! Love the site btw!
    I have always been Survival since I dinged 80. Now days I role with IL 251+ gear all around. I have started to see that the only Hunters that is over my own dps on ICC bosses usually are MM hunters. However only those with the hard cap arp. I almost always lead the dps charts with my SV spec from here and my own rotation modifyed by experience after copying from WHU ofc. However I’m curious on the MM spec but I can’t seem to make it work. I stack agi on almost all slots and use the right glyphs on my MM spec copyed from WHU. But I always lower my dps with mabe 500-1500k depends on situation and boss encounter. I follow the rotation you posted here on the MM guides and tried on the Dummy several times to try to get the rot right. Ser.sting, chi shot, aimed, arcane, steady (silence when free) until something is free to use. It works awesomely in SV but I can’t seem to make it work. can u give a hint of what I can do or something cus I know I could do more dps in MM but the fact for me in my gear says the opposite :/

  98. DragonBane says:

    Hi all, love this site have passed it on to many hunters. I am looking for some feedback on the MM vs SV DPS. I am completely 264 geared out and I’m raiding SV, I pull 14k DPS in 25 man ICC. I would like to hear what MM spec’s are pulling in 25 man ICC’s to see if my DPS is good or am i still behind MM’s.

  99. Leilou says:

    ok i hate to say this but i dont think any tree varies i honestly believe the amount of dps you do depends on your play style.. i have tried going mm and sv and i still end up going right back to bm.. recently i did an instance with 2 other hunters a mm and an sv spec they were both significantly below me in their dps my dps was in the 1100 while theirs were in the 700 and they were a higher lvl than me.. if your afraid as a hunter that your dps is too low then try what i did and try out each spec see which one fits your toon better ..

  100. Brugeth says:

    Not going to change to MM until I find one around the same gs that can out dps me. No one has been close…

    • Aegllor says:

      I get out dps’d by a couple MM hunters that one has a 6k gs, the other has a 5.7k gs i sit in the middle at 5.8k and am behind only by a few hundred dps. now if i tried to switch to mm and raid im always out of focus. i can manage focus as bm better with focus. i will remain bm unless there are fights where silencing shot is more important.

      honestly, i preferred mana. everything was easier for me then.

  101. Aladoren says:

    Nice guide that I used back in 3.3.5, but now it’s old! If there are not any changes (any MORE) in Cataclysm, could you perhaps update this to 4.0.3?

  102. rtyecript says:

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog