The pre-Mists of Pandaria patch 5.0.5 will hit on Tuesday, August 28th, bringing with it many of the Mists of Pandaria hunter class changes. This patch 5.0.4 guide covers the big changes you need to know to optimize your hunter for the month between 5.0.4 and the actual release of the expansion, including new hit and expertise caps, best hunter specs, as well as talent, glyph and other changes.
See the Wow Insider Mists 85-90 hunter leveling guide for leveling info — but let’s be honest, hunter leveling is easysauce.
Patch 5.0.4 Hunter Changes Overview
As soon as patch 5.0.4 hits, your talents will be wiped. The new talent system will be in place, the new glyphs will be available, your shots will be able to be dodged,minimum range will be gone and you’ll no longer be using a melee weapon. Your ranged weapon will have lots more stats and do more damage.
The good news is that if you’re BM or SV you should end up doing more damage in patch 5.0.4, though you’re rotation will be more complex. You’ll also positively be drowning in focus until Mists of Pandaria releases and you level up away from your Wyrmstalker gear set bonuses. If you’re MM however, you’ll be respeccing.
Okay, we got a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s get to it!
Patch 5.0.4 Hunter Hit and Expertise Caps (level 85)
The first thing you’ll need to do after the patch lands is reforge for the new hit and expertise caps (wait until after the patch though — your gear will be changing slightly with no melee weapon / buffed ranged weapon). Starting in patch 5.0.4 hunter shots can be dodged, even if you’re hit-capped. You need expertise to prevent these shots (and your pet attacks) from being dodged. You can read the WHU Hunter Expertise Guide for more details.
The hit rating conversion is changing, and the hit cap is lowering. Both the hit and expertise caps against a raid boss are 7.5%. Here’s what you need to know for level 85 patch 5.0.4:
102.446 hit rating = 1% hit
102.446 expertise rating = 1% expertise
769 hit rating to be hit-capped against a boss (7.5%)
769 expertise rating to be expertise-capped against a boss (7.5%)
PvP hit cap = 308 (3%)
PvP expertise cap = 308 (3%)
Draenei hit cap = 666 hit rating vs raid boss / 205 PvP
Dwarf & Troll expertise cap = 666 expertise rating vs boss / 205 PvP
Your pet should inherit both hit rating and expertise rating from the hunter. Every 1% hit will give your pet 0.5% hitand 0.5% expertise. Thus if you are both hit and expertise capped, then your pet will be as well.
Note: your pet attacks will also be able to be parried. In Cataclysm if the hunter was hit-capped the pet could not be parried; starting in patch 5.0.4 that is changing. Your pet can only be parried when attacking from the front, which only happens when your pet is tanking. If someone else is tanking, your pet will attack from behind, and attacks from behind cannot be parried. So this will affect PvP & solo huntering, but not raiding.
Getting hit-capped and expertise capped shouldn’t be that hard if you’re rocking the Wyrmstalker set (chest & hands provide hit). That alone gets you most of the way there with 437 rating on Raid Finder, 499 normal, and 570 heroic. Add Zeherah’s Dragonskull Crown (no heroic version) and you’re already over the new hit cap and can reforge away into expertise. Even without Z’s helm you should be looking pretty good. And of course if you can get your hands on the Seal of Primordial Shadow you can have some expertise to start off — though it’s a very low drop rate from any DS boss.
Best Hunter Spec in Patch 5.0.4
[Updated 9/1] Right now it’s looking like at level 85 BM is getting a substantial DPS boost out of the patch changes. BM is the top DPS spec right now, with SV just slightly behind and MM just slightly behind that. You can indeed play as the spec of your choice now; however, BM and SV are probably going to bring a bit more dps than MM.
Best Hunter Talents in Patch 5.0.4
Patch 5.0.4 will introduce the new hunter talent system, where we have just six tiers of talents and must choose one of three talents at each tier. If you want you can go look at the full hunter talent list. In patch 5.0.4 we’ll have access to the first 5 tiers of hunter talents. The first 3 tiers offer no DPS benefit, and you can take the talent that you think works best for your play style: shore up your weaknesses or take talents that work well for the raid content that you’re working on.
The next two tiers both offer DPS gains, and once we have DPS gains we can do some math to calculate the best talent choice for a given hunter spec. Tier four is the focus regen tier, and tier five is the extra DPS ability tier. Here’s a rundown of what you might want to consider for each tier, depending on your spec:
- Level 15 Talents: the Disengage tier. Lots of awesome things that happen when you Disengage. Take what works best for your playstyle (for raiders this is really a choice between disengaging more often, or having the speed boost after disengaging).
- Level 30 Talents: the CC tier. For PvP Silencing Shot remains the obvious choice, and for 5-mans Wyvern Sting is going to be what you want. Note that Wyvern Sting no longer applies a DoT when it breaks, making it better CC than ever.
- Level 45 Talents: the self-heal tier. Spirit Bond offers the most overall healing, while Exhilaration offers the best burst heal (and is probably the PvP option of choice). Aspect of the Iron Hawk is better for raids where you’ll be taking lots of unavoidable damage.
- Level 60 Talents: the focus regen tier. I recommend Dire Beast for all specs. With the ridiculous focus regen we’re going to have at level 85 with the new Steady/Cobra shot focus regen levels plus our set bonus, it’s incredibly hard to get maximum use out of Fervor. In fact, you’ll usually end up doing nothing but casting Arcane Shot and your signature shot during the Fervor focus over time, and your Serpent Sting will fall off. If you use a Cobra Shot to keep it up, you’ll cap on focus and lose some of the benefit. MM’s pairs of Steady Shots are even harder to maintain.
- Level 75 Talents: the pet tier. I recommend going with A Murder of Crows for SV or MM, and taking Lynx Rush for BM. Keep in mind that Lyx Rush will hit multiple targets if there’s more than one target: this is good for AoE but on fights where you don’t want to hit side targets Blink Strike is a better option.
You can change your talents anytime you aren’t in combat by spending 1 Dust of Disappearance to remove one talent. Alternatively you can still visit the trainer to wipe all the talents for a gold cost, and you’ll need to visit the trainer to wipe out a spec to let you choose a new spec, also for a gold cost.
Patch 5.0.4 Hunter Rotations
All hunter specs have a more complicated rotation in patch 5.0.4, and indeed in Mists of Pandaria, due to the fact that our best talent choices give us additional buttons to push in our rotation. The core rotation doesn’t change; however, we’ll want to toss our A Murder of Crows / Dire Beast / Lynx Rush/Blink Strike below our signature shot in priority (don’t push back your signature shot for the shiny new buttons).
Here are some spec specific rotation notes:
- BM Rotation: Use Dire Beast and Lynx Rush on cooldown, but don’t delay your Kill Command to do so. Note that Kill Command is ridiculously more awesome in patch 5.0.4: you can hit Kill Command when your pet is up to 25 yards away and the attack will register, and furthermore your pet will charge in at your target super fast after hitting KC. So Kill Command works better and works more often. It is a joy to use.
- SV Rotation: Use Dire Beast and A Murder of Crows on cooldown, but don’t delay your Explosive Shot or Black Arrow to do so. Note that Lock and Load is much more awesome: the new mechanics of the proc mean you can no longer clip ticks of Explosive Shot no matter what. So when you get Lock & Load, just spam those Explosive Shots. Of course with your crazy focus regen, you may want to weave in an Arcane Shot between the first and the second Explosive Shot just to prevent focus capping.
- MM Rotation: Use Dire Beast and A Murder of Crows on cooldown, but don’t delay your Chimera Shot to do so. Note that Improved Steady Shot is being replaced by Steady Focus, which is much better. In addition to boosting focus regen, Steady Focus also means you only need to hit Steady Shot pairs every 10 seconds, rather than every 8 seconds. I recommend using an Arcane Shot rotation and only hardcast Aimed Shot while under haste effects. The MM rotation is harder than ever to manage: things like the free Aimed Shot proc, the free Dire Beast every 30 sec and Kill Shot all disrupt the rotation making it incredibly focus rich when you need to hit those buttons — which in turn makes it harder than ever to keep up the pairs of Steady Shot without focus capping. It’s a lot more work to do substantially less damage than the other specs. At level 90 it’s a bit better, though the damage is still low.
Hunter Glyphs in Patch 5.0.4
Glyphs are once again undergoing an overhaul. The general design goal was to put choice back in glyph selection by removing glyphs that increase DPS. On the glyph front, they did a better job of making that happen than with talents. There are no longer any Prime glyphs: just Major and Minor. And the minor glyphs are minerer than ever, often providing nothing more than a cosmetic gain (of which I’m a big fan).
You can hop over and check out the complete list of Mists of Pandaria Hunter Glyphs and choose the ones you like best. There are certainly going to be glyphs that work best for specific fight strategies, and the new glyphs make PvP hunter giggle with glee, but for the most part take the glyphs that you like — there isn’t any single “best” glyph choice.
Here are a handful of glyphs that probably make the short list for raid glyphs:
- Glyph of Animal Bond
- Glyph of Chimera Shot
- Glyph of Disengage
- Glyph of Endless Wrath
- Glyph of Marked for Death
Hunter Pet Changes in Patch 5.0.4
Along with hunters, our hunter pets are going to get some substantial changes in the patch. You will get to choose whether to make any pet Ferocity, Cunning, or Tenacity. Pets no longer have talents: instead their abilities are determined by the spec that you choose. Ferocity are the best DPS pets, Tenacity are for tanking / soloing, and Cunning are for PvP.
You can change your pet’s spec at any time just by opening the pet window in the talent pane and choosing a new spec (out of combat, of course).
In general pets have lost a tiny bit of health, and a more substantial chunk of armor, as well as a touch of avoidance for tenacity tank pets. Pets are also pretty focus-starved (non-BM in particular) making it sometimes difficult for the pet to use abilities that cost focus other than their basic attacks (like Dash or Thunderstomp).
Very Important!! — the pet’s Growl ability has changed so that it is now a true taunt! This means that if your pet growls at a mob, that mob will be forced to attack the pet! While this ability typically doesn’t work on bosses, it does mean that you absolutely must have growl turned off at all times unless you really want your pet to be tanking. It also gives us a nice new tool to pull aggro off a healer with a pet taunt. This is a powerful improvement of the pet ability: use it wisely.
Hunter Buffs in Patch 5.0.4
Raid buffs and debuffs are once again being overhauled and streamlined even more, and hunter buffs along with them. Trueshot Aura is now a default hunter ability that all hunter specs get automatically. Some buffs/debuffs have been removed and a new mastery buff has been added — this also changes which buffs hunter pets bring.
The following raid buffs are being removed in 5.0.4: 30% bleed damage, armor, mana regen, 6% spellpower, 3% damage done, Str & Agility, Intellect. You can see a full list of raid buffs in the Mists of Pandaria Raid Buffs article.
Other Hunter Changes
Above are all the really big changes, but it’s worth highlighting some of the other hunter changes coming in 5.0.4 that don’t require their own section:
- Shots that are missed or dodged now only cost 20% of the focus that they would otherwise have cost. So it still hurts to be dodged, but not quite as much.
- Readiness is turning into a default hunter ability, that all hunter specs will have without having to spend a talent on it.
- Steady Shot and Cobra Shot will generate 14 focus per shot, rather than the 9 focus per shot of Cataclysm.
- Trap Launcher is awesomely cooler — it now toggles on or off. If it’s on every trap is launched; if it’s off every trap drops at your feet.
- Hunters are getting a couple of knockback effects in Mists. One is a level 90 talent, Powershot, but with the Glyph of Explosive Trap we can also turn our Explosive Trap into a sweet AoE knockback. Do not use in groups/raids without raidleader okay, or they’ll hate you for it and rightly so.
- There will be no more resistances, and no more spell penetration
- Helm enchants are going away entirely — as will your existing one. There is nothing to replace this with and that’s just find.
- Worth stressing again: minimum range is going away
- Your ranged weapon will appear on your back
- You will find your menu for mounts and vanity pets under its own icon (a horse head) on your main toolbar (down by the game menu).
- Buffs and Debuffs have been consolidated into a single dropdown. The game will tell you what buffs you’re missing if you’re in a raid.
- Really, if you remember just one thing remember to turn off growl!
Whew! I think that’s everything hunters really need to know for patch 5.0.4. Can you guys think of anything substantial that I missed that should be included?