Hunter Community Expansion Revamp Project

Purpose & Method

To make reasonable suggestions for the revamp of Hunter Specs in a way that is aligned with Blizzard’s design philosophy, with the eventual intent of spreading this article among the community and game developers.

This article may include my own ideas, but they are not just my ideas, and are pulled from various members of the community that I have spoken to through this site or on the Hunting Party Podcast.

Lowest Common Denominator (LCD)

The LCD is, hopefully, the “bottom line” that we can all agree on. The details and specifics will differ, as will our opinions on them, but if we can agree on the general premise, it helps us move forward.

Spec Differentiation LCD: While opinions differ on what roles each spec should fulfill, the hunter class will be improved when each of its three specs fills a unique and valuable role, and when the play style for each spec differentiates it from the others.


We don’t expect Blizzard to implement all or most of this. But we do hope they consider these ideas and incorporate those that make sense within their design philosophy.


Nobody agrees on what the specs should do. More than any topic, this is the one with the most varied opinions. How to solve that problem? Provide options and templates for Blizzard to consider and choose from, rather than saying “here is the one way we want it”

Spec Templates

Ranged AoE

Pros: It removes the need for a catch-all dps spec that is harder to balance, and lets Blizzard focus on balancing for multi-target fights. This wouldn’t preclude decent single target dps, but it wouldn’t be optimized for it.
Cons: Limited use.

Single Target DPS

Pros: Removes the fuss over which spec to bring on the Patchwerk-style fights. This wouldn’t preclude AoE dps, but it wouldn’t be optimized for it.
Cons: Will remove some overall dps utility that we enjoy now in all of our dps specs.

PvP Spec

Pros: Removes complaints of PvP changes affecting PvP balance, and vice versa. Allows a dedicated PvP spec to maximize that aspect of the game for hunters. This wouldn’t preclude PvE use, but wouldn’t be optimized for it.
Cons: Way more people play PvE than PvP. This effectively cuts them off from 1/3 of our specs.

Melee DPS (or Melee PvP) Spec

Pros: Vastly changes the feel of the spec/class, in a way that could reinvigorate hunters. An emphasis on other elements of hunting other than simply shooting a gun or bow.
Cons: Backlash from those who play hunters to be the premiere ranged dps class of the game. Fundamental design change to the class.

Pet Tanking Spec (or Tanking/DPS hybrid)

Pros: Wouldn’t necessarily have to be at the expense of dps, if baked into the spec properly. For example, a BM ability to become our pet (or ride them, merge with them, etc.) could give us an either/or option, much like Druids’ Feral spec can be dps or tank.
Cons: If we’re made a true tanking class, it would almost definitely have to be at the expense of dps. Since BM is the likeliest candidate for this, backlash from BM hunters would be intense, despite the increased utility.

Catch-All DPS Spec (AoE and single target)

Pros: This is essentially what we have now. Blizzard wants all specs to be ok at everything. And they are. If we ever get a spec that isn’t pure dps – say, tanking or PvP – one of our other specs will likely need to stay catch-all.
Cons: Might not feel unique; same issues as current specs.

Soloing/Leveling Spec

Pros: Can give players leveling perks to make things smoother. Removes the need to make the leveling spec raid-viable.
Cons: Limited use after you hit endgame.

Accentuate the Current Strengths

Pros: In this template, our specs would stay roughly the same, but their particular strengths would be enhanced. BM? Bigger pet damage. MM? Physical damage and emphasis on hunter shots. SV? Nature damage and DoTs or AoE. In this way, we can stay roughly the same with no major changes, but can make each spec seem more unique.Cons: No major changes, which won’t please everyone.

The Myth of “Pure”

Despite the slight tendency to believe that “pure” dps classes should be tops, this has almost never been the case in practice. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, but we won’t suddenly stop seeing good numbers if we inherit a non-PvE-dps spec.

Further, as a pure class with three dps specs, when have we wanted to bring all three to a raid or PvP? The answer is never. At best, we’ve had two that serve every purpose we might need. Right now, for example, it’s BM and SV.

I say that to say this: We should want a 3rd spec that does something other than dps. I don’t want a worthless spec, knowing that another spec could do it better, regardless of the task. And at most points in the game, we’ve had a worthless spec.


Traditional DPS

Specs: Single Target DPS + AoE DPS + Catch-all DPS
Reason: Say Blizzard wants to keep us entirely ranged dps. Ok, fine. But this will give us a spec for any occasion. Single target fight? Multi-target? Or Mixed? Each will serve a purpose if Blizzard stops trying to make every spec good for everything.

The 2-and-1

This has multiple options, because it’s where two specs remain dps. Maybe it’s Aoe + Single Target + PvP. Maybe it’s Catch-all + another Catch-all + Tanking. The point is the same, though the permutations vary.

Super Utility

Specs: Tanking Spec (or Tanking/DPS hybrid) + Catch-all DPS + PvP Spec (or melee PvP)
Reason: While definitely the least likely, this will give us crazy utility and make every spec feel very unique.

All Ranged w/PvP

Specs: DPS (any variation) + DPS (any variation) + Ranged PvP
Reason: This is the compromise solution to me. Because Blizzard may not want to give us a full tanking spec, and may want to keep us entirely ranged. This is all ranged, all dps, but gives us a dedicated PvP spec, so that the other two can be balanced for PvE only.

Spec Differentiation and Button Bloat

One of the reasons the specs all feel same-ish right now is because we’re casting many of the same shots. While there are varying solutions to this, one possible solution is to emphasize different abilities.

What follows is an example, written by longtime WHU member (and WHUBBQ attendee) Flint. I don’t want you to focus on the abilities per se, but how all of them combined would create an entirely different feel for the class.

A Melee heavy Hunter with traps; less emphasis on pet DPS.

  • Raptor Strike: Strikes at an enemy, inflicting increased melee damage.
  • Wing Clip: Inflicts damage and reduces the enemy target’s movement speed by 60% for 10 sec.
  • Mongoose Bite: Inflicts damage
  • Savage Assault: Attack that does X Damage to a single target or X damage spread of multiple targets.
  • Gut: You attempt to finish the wounded target off by gutting causing 420% weapon damage. Gut can only be used on enemies that have 20% or less health. 
  • Immolation trap: Place a fire trap at the feet of your target that will burn the target for (Attack power * 0.02 + 638) * 5) Fire damage over 15 sec.
  • Explosive Trap: Place a fire trap at the feet of your target that explodes, causing 216 to 277 (+ 5.46% of Attack power) Fire damage and burning all enemies within 10 yards for (32 * 10) additional Fire damage over 20 sec.

Maybe you hate the idea of a melee hunter. Maybe Blizzard has no intention of ever making a melee spec for us. But the larger, general point, is that such a change would make each spec feel unique and give it a very defined role in the larger world of raiding and PvP.

There are ways to do this with every single template I listed above. It probably involves less tier-based ability choices and more spec-specific abilities (I’d personally be ok with all tier abilities being passive and/or utility choices, not dps ones).

What If We Stay the Same?

Some of this is admittedly outlandish. I doubt we’ll see much of this, ever. Chances are, we’ll get changes to our existing specs in a way that keeps all of them as both single target and AoE ranged dps. And that’s fine. It make differentiation harder, but there are still ways to do that. We talked about one (Accentuating Current Strengths template), and we’ll tackle some in later articles.

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  1. Rayne says:

    I don’t believe it would be considered by Blizzard and I’m sure the majority of hunters out there wouldn’t like it either but I’ll say it anyway.

    The only way for Blizzard to address the issues with PvP/PVE dps balance is to drop the pure dps classes all together and give every class exactly 1 dps spec. This way, they only have to balance 1 spec per class and be done with it. If adjustments need to be made, then they don’t have to worry about ability x being too strong for this spec vs. the spec they want to nerf. They have continuously struggled with hunters (and probably a couple other classes as well) and this would fix it.

    Give hunters a dps, tank and healing spec. No reason why we can put some healing mojo on our bullets and arrows… same as every other healing spec. Tanking we already do to some degree so no big deal there and of course we can have a dps spec.

    All this removes the concerns about specs being different and gives Blizzard 1 dps spec to balance against the others. It also opens up the multi-function options for us (need an off tank? Covered. 3rd healer… can do, etc…)

    This isn’t what I want out of the game… I just don’t see how else they are going to fix the biggest problem they have which is the need to continually change how players have to play simply because they failed to do their job.

  2. Andrew Farrell says:

    I think one of the questions you’ll have to answer is: Why would Blizzard do differently for you than they did for Warlocks (other than that you are the “premiere ranged dps class” – good luck with that)? They were quite similar and got different play feels without budging from their spot as ranged DPS – Blizzard have been basically saying “Warlocks went well, Rogues and Hunters will be next” – it would seem pretty likely that you’ll get your rotations tousled, possibly a new resource or so, nothing major.

    (I mean, “Why?” is a good question for this entire HERP endeavour, but start small, I guess)

  3. Garfurion says:

    I think at this point in time Blizzard will not be drastically changing any of our specs. As you point out for the Pet Tanking Spec there would be a huge backlash on the forums if they change spec X into something other than a ranged all-round DPS spec, unless there current system of any-spec any-where any-time.

    Why should a Shadow-priest be all-round (aoe, single target, pvp, solo, etc…) and a pure DPS class have to respec between pulls (and thus be forced to have certain specs).

    However, even if all 3 specs are all-round dps specs they can still be different in terms of playstyle (as demonstrated with the warlock revamp).

    I’m not in favor of a secondary resource mechanic per hunter spec but I think you can differentiate the hunter specs in other ways.

    Beast Master:

    “A (warrior) Hero, able to call forth the creatures of the forest to serve him(/her). These lone wandering forest dwellers come from all backgrounds and cultures, seeking the essence of combat through the mimicry of wild beasts. The Beastmaster is the master of Summonable units. The Beastmaster can have multiple summonables of each type at once. The Beastmaster is cool because he can have a Bear, Quilbeast, and Hawk at the same time (making him the Beastmaster!). The Beastmaster’s ultimate ability summons a stampede of exploding lizards!”


    BM Hunters should get
    * 2 pets out instead of 1 (instead of exotic pets)
    * Murder of Crows, DireBeast and perhaps even Stampede as unique abilities
    * Lynx rush as unique ability
    * Instead of Serpent-Sting a disease dot applied by the pet
    * Focus Dump: summoning an extra guardian pet

    The Marksman is a Hero skilled in precision shooting, using ranged weapons to eliminate their targets from long range. Focused on camouflage and stealth to track down their targets, the marksmanship hunters are among the most elite and professional sharpshooters on Azeroth. The marksman’s extensive training allowing him/her to target their prey’s vulnerabilitiies and strike with deadly precision.

    MM Hunter should get:
    * longer range han other hunters to make them the real marksman.
    * Serpent sting replaced by a bleed dot effect
    * Rapid-Fire, Barrage, Powershot, Multi-Shot could all be unique MM abilities

    The Survival Hunter is a more primitve hunter. He uses poisons and venoms extracted from animals to hunt. Apart from their ranged weapon traps are an essential part of their survival strategy.

    SV Hunters should get:

    * more poisons/venoms/stings (maybe make it more of a dot based spec like affliction)
    * traps as unique ability (Bear Trap, Snake-Trap, Serpent-Trap).
    * Glaive Toss as unique ability

    Button Bloat:
    I think one of the mistakes Blizzard made this expansion is that they gave us too many active new abilities as talent choices. We really didn’t need Glaive-Toss or DireBeast as part of our rotation.

    In my opinion the different hunter specs should share less abilities. Other classes have a different AoE mechanic for each spec. We have Multi-Shot for all specs, maybe they do damage a little different but do you really notice that ?

    Blizzard should re-use the current talent options to give some flavor to the different specs and instead should only add talent choices which change/upgrade exisiting rotational abilities or add utility/situational abilities.

    As a final note I like to say I hope Blizzard removes/replaces some of the abilities from our Mana-resource past like Arcane Shot, Freezing Trap, Ice Trap, Explosive…. etc.. At one point Bliz already designed a bear-trap which could replace freezing trap and snake trap can be used for serpent-spread or an AoE slow…or actually do damage instead of explosive trap (it’s very hard to eat anything after you’ve killed it by blowing it up with an explosion.

    • Valaruin says:

      I like the idea of talents and abilities being what differentiates the specs -> it would create a different feeling for each spec instead of a functionality difference.

      In addition to the changes listed above, I would strip Cobra Shot of it’s healing and maybe even give Spirit Beasts a different second ability other than healing (?), and give SV some selfhealing instead – making it the actual SURVIVAL spec…

      It could be a short HoT ticking 3 times – like a drain life version of Explosive Shot – on the same cooldown making it a DPS loss.

      However, I think it is highly unlikely Blizz will split the talents and abilities now that they have merged so many of them – and the idea with talents, is that they are the same for all specs. 3 specs so different – with different abilities – will give designers a grand headache when trying to balance the dps. The difference we are looking for with the idea above, will almost make hunters like 3 different classes in terms of unique abilities. Not the road I expect Blizzard to take…

  4. Aadyn says:

    I don’t seem to see spec differentiation as a big issue. Sure we use the same shot but the way we each do dps is totally different. For example as BM i have to watch cooldowns which i dont like to do. For MM i have to watch my haste value which i also dont like to do. So i went SV just to make it easy on myself.

    I cant as a SV hunter step into a MM shoes and do the same dps without changing my mindset and shot rotation. I think that is what they were going for with spec differentiation and they got it. I am with you all for aspect changes and everything else tho.

  5. pete says:

    the problem with having a spec just for pvp is that blizzard would have to give every class a spec just for pvp or it wouldn’t make sense. and then a third of the players for every class would be upset that their favorite spec wouldn’t be viable for raiding anymore. and what about the hybrid classes then? how would they decide which spec would go pvp with them? or would they just add a 4th spec? and a 5th for the dps/heals or dps/tank hybrids? and a 6th for the druids and shamans so they can go heal or ranged or melee for pvp? actually, make that an… 8th spec for druids who wanna pvp as a bear? who is to say they shouldn’t be allowed to?

    i don’t know which way they should take a spec differentiation, though i agree having some more of it for hunters (and rogues, too, i guess…) would be good. i just really feel that saying “this. this is what you have to pick if you want to kill other players. this spec is designed for it, and your other choices will make killing horde damn near impossible” is for sure the wrong way

  6. Sev says:

    “We should want a 3rd spec that does something other than dps”

    The question is, which spec would you change? I’ll hazard a guess: it’s whichever one YOU like the least in its current state. However, all three have their die-hard fans who would not want to be stripped of their DPS role. I maintain that if hunters ever got a tanking spec (not that this is likely), it would have to be a 4th spec.

    I also feel that making a dedicated “AoE spec” or “PvP spec” is an idea doomed to failure for the same reason. Nobody wants to download a patch only to find their favourite spec is now ONLY usable in those particular situations.

    I essence, I think a lack of spec differentiation is the lesser evil compared to changing specs so much that they are unrecognisable.

  7. Lirithiel says:

    I agree that the idea of a dedicated pvp spec should be ditched and I’m saying this as a predominantly pvp player. Since I first stepped into bg’s at lvl 70 I have always had two BM specs – for for pve and one for pvp. I have dabbled with both SV and MM albeit briefly and I have never enjoyed them nearly as much as old trusty. BM just feels right to me and I’d hate to see it become either one or the other.

    @ Garfurion: I like your ideas mate. I don’t agree that exotic pets should give way for 2 pets though. Blizz will rue the day they take away my Loque’nahak!

    One suggestion for all specs, though, is that Arcane Shot should be removed from the game. It has no place in the hunter arsenal since our resource was changed from mana to focus. We are not a magical class so why are we firing a magical shot? I propose that each class should be given its own unique focus dump. I haven’t given much thought into what the 3 should be, I just don’t feel that Arcane Shot should be retained for hunters in the revamp.

    I also believe that by reducing the amount of shared abilities and integrating some of the talents as unique for each spec again will help solve the button bloat. Binding Shot, Wyvern Sting and Intimidation spring to mind.

    All 3 specs play with pets but should have a different feel to them by having slightly different mechanics, whether it be different dots or different focus dumps. Having Kill Command/Aimed Shot/Explosive Shot doesn’t add much variation to the 3 specs imo. I like the idea of Disease for BM, Bleed for MM and Poison for SV. Whether they can be refreshed via shots is up for debate.

    • Garfurion says:

      I didn’t mean that exotics pets should be removed, just that they shouldn’t be restricted to BM but that’s just my personal preference so I can use Loque’nahak as MM or SV as well ;)

    • f0nZi3 says:

      @ Garfurion:

      I really like your ideas there for breaking the specs up and peeling pieces that we have out and making them spec specific. I’d say that what is removed would need to have something unique to replace it, but I like your ideas.

      @ Lirithiel:

      I totally agree with everything you stated.

      I’ve actually given the Arcane Shot (focus dump) replacement some thought. Tell me what you think.

      Beast Mastery:
      Blood Shot (Instant – xx Focus – 40 yd range) – An instant shot that fires a blood soaked projectile inflicting X% weapon damage. The added sight of blood causes your pet to go into a blood frenzy causing an additional X damage.

      Toxic Shot (Instant – xx Focus – 40 yd range) – An instant shot that fires a poisoned projectile inflicting X% weapon damage plus X as nature damage.

      Head Shot (Instant – xx Focus – 60 yd range) – An instant shot that fires a well placed projectile inflicting X% weapon damage and causing the target to hemorrhage for X physical damage.

      I was trying to keep in line with what the specs are currently and what I think most of us would like to see them become in relation to the name of the shots as well as what those shots do and what type of damage is inflicted.

  8. Asterism says:

    I just thought it would be nice to make the 3rd possibly useless spec a true ranged spec. Maybe MM could be a dual wielding ranged with no pet. The extra weapon could make up for missed pet damage and buffs and it could lead to a completely different play style.

    • f0nZi3 says:

      I kind of like that idea but I always think of the Marksman spec as being more along the lines of a sniper (so dual wielding – John Woo style – just never came to mind for me). But I do agree, I think MM should be “THE” ranged spec.

      For example: max range of shots increased; emphasis on targeted shots; emphasis on stealth (maybe instead of Feign Death, MM uses something along the lines of a ghillie net allowing you to blend into the surroundings and disappearing for X seconds – dropping agro and becoming untargetable); perhaps, a damage increase granted to your shots if you have remained stationary for X number of seconds.

      I am not entirely opposed to losing our pet for the Marksman spec, but I would hate to lose it entirely. I was thinking, instead of always having the pet out for the Marksman spec, we could have an ability (active or passive) that call our pet out. Maybe call it, “Sic ’em!”. This calls the pet and causes it to immediately leap to the target, biting and clawing them for X damage for X seconds (or you know, something like that). Once “Sic ’em!” is over, the pet disappears until the next time it is cast or proc’ed.

      Again, just throwing out ideas here… see where they land. ;-)

  9. Skarn says:

    Spec options that are EXTREMELY unlikely:

    PvP spec
    Leveling spec

    The Leveling spec should be obvious. Blizzard isn’t going to make a specific spec for leveling when it’s already so easy anyway. Complete waste of development time.

    The PvP spec is slightly more possible, but not by much. The big problem with a PvP spec is “what if that is someone’s favorite PvE spec” or “what if another spec is their favorite PvP one.” There’s a huge risk there of removing a major part of spec appeal: Choice.

    A Melee spec is substantially more likely than either of these other two, but still on the low end. A Tank spec has an even better chance, but both still run the high risk of “I’m quitting now, you ruined my favorite spec to play.”

    Most likely is that Blizzard will try to leave all specs as ranged DPS, but attempt to differentiate them. Focus hunter efforts there is likely to have the biggest impact on design.

    • f0nZi3 says:

      Meh, as I’ve recommending in the past, just make a third option added to the existing two spec choices that is PvP only (so you would have Main Spec, Off Spec and PvP Spec). Let people choose what spec of their class they want to use in PvP and make all abilities and glyphs for that spec tailored to PvP (none of the abilities or glyphs would be different other then what those abilities and glyphs do in PvP). Make the spec mandatory for Arenas and BG’s and be done with it.

      That way, if you like MM, you can use MM in PvP. You like BM in PvP? You can use BM in PvP. World PvP would obviously be different. Other than existing abilities that have limitations if the target is a player versus an NPC; in World PvP you could either use your Main Spec, Off Spec or your PvP spec. When entering a Dungeon, LFR, Flex or Raid, if you were in your PvP spec, it would be automatically deactivated and you would be forced to choose either your Main or Off Spec (and if you entered any of the above while the party was in combat, the system would have to allow you to activate one of those specs upon entering without denying you just because the party you joined was in combat).

      Anyways, back to the topic… PvP Spec – changing one of our existing specs to a PvP spec. That’s just a REALLY bad idea IMO and I really don’t see Blizzard EVER doing this for ANY class. I mean, what about the Hybrid classes? What if they made the PvP spec for Priests only Disc – no Shadow or Holy choice? Blizzard would be loosing subscribers across the spectrum of classes because they couldn’t just pick out a spec and make it PvP only just for Hunters… they would have to do it for everyone.

      So a single spec that is PvP only?? Destined to failure from the start.

  10. Kheldul says:

    One of the problems with Hunters is that most all talent choices make reasonable sense for all three specializations. This is partly from us having three dps specializations and partly because the talents are so interchangeable and without too many synergies.

    We need more spec distinction. BM needs more beast. Survival needs more survivability. Marksman needs more sniping.

    I also think we should have the tools to pet-tank and even QUEUE AS A TANK. Mount the pet. Fight as one. Row one of the abilities is replaced with the abilities you’ve set up for tanking just like warriors, druids, etc when they flip aspects/stances. This ability might be an aspect if they stay around.

  11. LittleYeti says:

    People always seem to point towards BM as the tank spec of choice if such a chance were to happen, but I’ve always fancied SV as the better candidate. I mean survival is the name. Turning SV into a tank spec wouldn’t even take that much work; just add a tanking aspect (if aspects as a whole aren’t discarded) that increases health, mail armor contribution, and aggro generation. We have traps for aoe aggro. Distracting shot is already a taunt. Unless I’m missing something, we would be pretty much ready to go.

    The other reason I would choose SV over BM as the tanking spec is that a lot of hunters seem to be far more sentimental for BM. Back when it wasn’t good at dps, you would see people play it because it’s the spec they like. You rarely hear anyone say that’s the reason they play MM or SV back then (or really today even). Since hunters having a tanking spec is already relatively controversial topic in the hunter community, I would hazard a guess that making SV a tanking spec would lead to the least amount of community backlash.

    • Lirithiel says:

      @ Little Yeti:

      The least amount yes, but still a considerable backlash I’d wager. BM and SV are the two raiding specs atm, which means those who don’t fancy BM (can’t imagine why!) are SV as MM has performed poorly in MoP. SV would make for a good tanking spec if Blizz decides not to change it up completely and give it a name more in tune with what the spec is actually about.

      @ Kheldul:

      I agree that each spec should have more flavour and be more like their names suggest. When has SV ever been about survival? MM has tried to be all snipery but has failed imo with BM the closest to it actually being about the pet although I’d like to see a bit more ‘beast’ incorporated into the spec and like some of the idea floating about.

  12. Jork says:

    I think an interesting mechanic for melee would be for Beast Master to Control the animal. The player controls and plays the bet and the hunter becomes a standing DOT, but the game of this would be if the hunter dies the player’s character dies despawning the pet. So Switching between beast and hunter would be a part of the spec. Might be disorienting for high movement fights.

    • Zourn says:

      Considering they don’t want us aspect dancing, the prospect of control switching seems like it would be very distasteful to Blizz.
      Also, would be a huge PITA.

  13. Rapine says:

    A trap revamp would be nice. Unfortunately since they’ve been usable in combat since just before BC any major buffs or utility improvements threaten to make them mandatory rotational abilities. I think that I saw mention in an MMO-Champ thread about moving them back to only being usable out of combat. It lined up with what I’ve been thinking, too.

    Making traps only useable out of combat makes increasing damage, duration, or utility (I’m looking at you Snake Trap) much easier to balance. It also feels like it makes more sense flavor-wise that traps are something you use to prepare the ground before combat.

    Similarly, this also opens up some relevancy for Camouflage. Camo could gain utility if it lets us drop traps (of a diminished duration/potency?) while in combat. They could alternatively make it so we have to be stationary and fully stealthed, so that traps are just inconvenient enough to be unattractive as rotational abilities.

  14. Canardo says:

    Oh almost forgot to mention (will anyone still read this ?)
    I like the spec difference for mages because of the graphics.
    Fire, Ice or arcane has totally different visuals.
    I think they tried this with cobra shot (the yellow snake going around the arrow) and totally different visuals could be fun as well.
    Fire arrows for SV, Ice or iron arrows for MM with a different sound, things like that.