The Rise of All Hunter Specs

Posted: by Frostheim

Note: you can see a full updated list of all 5.2 hunter changesĀ here.

The 5.2 hunter buffs that Ghostcrawler told us about were released in the patch notes, and I’ve had the chance to do some initial playing with the numbers.

I have to say — this looks very good for every hunter spec.

From what I can see it looks like MM, SV, and BM will all be incredibly close to each other in damage potential. This is of course theorycrafting damage potential, which exists in a single-target averaged vacuum. And the good news for the BM hunters is that it looks like BM may technically eek out a wee tiny bit ahead (though it’s so close it’s hard to say for certain). I don’t see a significant difference between SV and MM, though the MM math is a little funky with aimed shot hardcasts.

I doubt FemaleDwarf has been updated yet, so I haven’t had the chance to confirm whether Zeherah’s numbers match up with mine, but from what I’m seeing now it does not look like MM surged ahead of everyone.

This could in fact be a golden age of hunter spec balance even better than what we saw in Cataclysm (which, at the time, was the best balance in the history of the game).

What This Means for the Specs

First of all, if you have a spec you prefer, go ahead and play that spec as long as the boss mechanics don’t call for a specific spec.

  • BM will continue to have the best burst dps, and will be the go-to spec for boss fights with burn moments, and for most Brawlers Guild fights.
  • SV will continue to have the best AoE, and a SV Thrill of the Hunt build will be preferred for AoE boss fights, trash, and most heroics.
  • MM will continue to not excel in any one point. However, with Aimed Shot now worth hardcasting while under any haste effects, and with 5.2 buffs, it’s possible that skilled MM hunters could beat the theorycraft numbers with great proc/pot stacking in the first 20% of the fight and during big haste effects.

Personally, I cannot wait to see these buffs in action. I promise that you’re going to see a huge wave of new MM DPS records on World of Logs, as tons of hunters go back to the spec.

Now the real question is how we hunters are going to hold up against all the changes made to other classes. Will the class balance equation also become even better than Cataclysm?

I think we have reason to hope.

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  1. Pichu says:

    They have already undone some buffs:

    – Chimera Shot damage +25% (was +50%).
    – Black Arrow and Explosive Shot damage +10% (was +15%).

    Not a big change whatsoever, but it means that BM will still be the best single target spec, SV being 1-2%, and MM 2-3% behind. But who knows what do they change tomorrow

  2. Chapayuki says:

    I may be completely off, but how is BM the best spec for the Brawler’s Guild? The later level bosses demolish my pet and BM without a pet is gimped as heck. I had to switch to SV to progress through those.

    Is there a hunter guide using BM for Brawler’s Guild I can check out because I’m probably doing it all wrong as BM in the later levels if it’s supposed to be the most effective spec. Help!

    • Arth says:

      BM is preferred for many fights in Brawler’s because of its burst. By killing some bosses in, say, 30 seconds less than another spec, we’re able to avoid several boss mechanics.

      On bosses that destroy your pet, you’ll want to keep top aggro and kite. Or blow their defensive cooldowns, let them die, then rez them with Heart of the Phoenix and keep top aggro from there on out. I rode BM into Rank 7 with no problems, and with largely LFR gear. I may switch once 5.2 hits, but it’s possible to make Rank 8 as BM without crazy gear.

      Here’s my youtube page, with videos on all the bosses up to Dark Summoner. It’s not intended as a complete tutorial, but I do try to provide ideas or advice along the way.

  3. Jyger says:

    Is there one spec that is least of the button watching? Being a Hunter in MoP takes up some much more mental bandwidth than before (and I hit the level cap when Gruuls was end game). I don’t want to go back to Stead Shot macros from BT, but the MoP hunter is a little overwhelming.

    • Arth says:

      SV is probably the easiest from a “hit this now” perspective, but there’s still more than in the past. You can also do yourself favors by not taking Thrill of the Hunt instead of Dire Beast, though it’s probably a tiny dps loss single target.

  4. Onslaught says:

    Perfect, all of these buffs are excellent!

    I’d still like MM’s mastery to be changed, and I’d like Black Arrow to get some dispel protection, but these changes are a great start.

    Also worth noting it seems as if the glyph of chimera shot is being made baseline?

  5. Ril says:

    a few quick tests on target dummies suggested that SV ends up on top of BM, even in single target. i’ll have to verify this in some sort of raiding environment, but the older lfr raids didn’t work. MM can’t be tested on dummies because careful aim.

  6. Ril says:

    one change that really bugs me is this:

    Dismiss Pet now has a 3 sec cast time (up from 2 sec). This is to discourage swapping pets in the middle of PvP to get a different form of CC.

    i see that they view pet swapping as problematic, alright. but when will they finally lift the LoS requirement for dismiss pet? bugs and many situations where the pet just happens to be out of los when i want to swap them (like an emergency brez) are SO annoying. surely there’s nothing speaking against a quality of life improvement like this?

  7. Taira says:

    Update from GC:
    DPS Tuning
    We overshot the mark on […] hunters a little […]. All of this may change tomorrow as we look at different situations, so don’t overly freak out about anything.

    Dismiss Pet now has a 3 sec cast time (up from 2 sec). This is to discourage swapping pets in the middle of PvP to get a different form of CC.
    Powershot now cancels Camo when the cast begins rather than the shot landing. Powershot is much more effective in 5.2 since it is so reliable now.
    Chimera Shot damage +25% (was +50%).
    Black Arrow and Explosive Shot damage +10% (was +15%).

  8. Hirogen says:

    Most boss fights now and have been multi-target fights. Therefore blizz is making SV the op spec again! I can not tell you how many guilds will not accept anything but a SV spec. Blizz has made MM a thing of the past. What makes me more sad is the hunter community seems okay with this. Even blizz on the spec menu labels MM the best spec for ranged damage. BS! It is now the worst. Now saying even a really skilled hunter will excel at MM is BS too! Why because a really good hunter would be exceptional at SV. Why be great at a crappy spec when you can be better at a “easy” spec. When I do LFR I rarely ever see a BM yet alone a MM. Because as a hunter you do not want to be “A master archer or sharpshooter who excels in bringing down enemies from afar.” I mean that’s not a hunter is it?

  9. Lokrick says:

    SimulationCraft has been updated for the changes. This includes the command line tweaks for the latest changes from

    381304 100.0% Raid
    128577 33.7% Hunter_MM_T14H
    126741 33.2% Hunter_BM_T14H
    125986 33.0% Hunter_SV_T14H

  10. Zeherah says: is also updated with the latest. If you’re ever wondering if I’ve added support for the latest changes you can always check the version history in my FAQ. Also you can subscribe to my site on twitter if you like, I mostly use it for version update announcements.

    • Frostheim says:

      Ah, thanks for the heads up on that! I do follow you on Twitter, but I don’t actually check twitter as fast as it it all flies by. Come to think of it, I should really go there and start unfollowing some people.

      So with the latest round of scale-backs on the buffs, how are you seeing the spec balance?