Hunter Leveling Guide

Hunter Leveling Guide
  • Author: Luxrah
  • Date: May 18, 2024
  • Updated: May 18, 2024
  • Expansion: Cataclysm

Hunters are a pure DPS class with three different talent trees devoted to dealing damage. The Beast Mastery Hunter has always been one of the most effective solo builds in World of Warcraft thanks to the utility provided by its combat pets. In Cataclysm, the other two talent trees are equally viable for leveling, with Survival Hunters bringing strong AoE and Marksmanship Hunters offering powerful burst damage.

In this guide, we’ll go over helpful tips, where to spend your talent points, what to look for when gearing, effective use of your abilities, and other general advice to make the leveling process as smooth and easy as possible!

Pros

  • Simple and straightforward rotations
  • Three viable leveling specializations to choose from
  • Pets bring strong utility and improved survivability

Cons

  • Survivability dependent on kiting and pet aggro
  • Pets add a layer of complexity and micromanagement

General Leveling Tips

The best approach to leveling will vary somewhat based on which specialization you choose. Beast Mastery Hunters are strongest on their own and can quest and farm very efficiently in the open world. Marksmanship and Survival Hunters will do fine in the open world as well but will excel in dungeon groups where they can focus on dealing damage rather than controlling their pet.

As far as which pet to pick up for leveling, a turtle is a good choice for tanking if you’re going to be running solo. If you’re going to be running dungeons, you might prefer a cat or a wolf for damage. Any pet you prefer is probably totally fine, though, so feel free to pick one that you like or just stick with the one you started out with.

Stat Priority

  • Agility
  • Critical Strike
  • Haste
  • Mastery

Rotation

All three builds have relatively simple rotations with slight differences. Your goal will always be to make use of your Focus without completely depleting it. Don’t forget to use your cooldowns.

Beast Mastery

  1. Cast Hunter’s Mark and send your pet to attack the target (you can use the macro at the bottom of this guide).
  2. Cast Kill Shot on cooldown if an enemy is below 20% health.
  3. Cast Kill Command on cooldown.
  4. Cast Serpent Sting if you need to apply the debuff.
  5. Cast Arcane Shot as long as you have Focus.
  6. Cast Cobra Shot once you have it.
  7. Cast Steady Shot otherwise.

Marksmanship

  1. Cast Hunter’s Mark and send your pet to attack the target (you can use the macro at the bottom of this guide).
  2. Cast Kill Shot on cooldown if an enemy is below 20% health.
  3. Cast Serpent Sting if you need to apply the debuff.
  4. Cast Chimera Shot on cooldown.
  5. Cast Aimed Shot to burn Focus.
  6. Cast Arcane Shot as long as you have Focus.
  7. Cast Steady Shot otherwise.

Survival

  1. Cast Hunter’s Mark and send your pet to attack the target (you can use the macro at the bottom of this guide).
  2. Cast Kill Shot on cooldown if an enemy is below 20% health.
  3. Cast Serpent Sting if you need to apply the debuff.
  4. Cast Explosive Shot on cooldown.
  5. Cast Black Arrow on cooldown if the enemy won’t die before it expires.
  6. Cast Arcane Shot as long as you have Focus.
  7. Cast Cobra Shot once you have it.
  8. Cast Steady Shot otherwise.

Talents

Beast Mastery

hunter leveling beast mastery build
hunter leveling beast mastery build order

This build takes the optional talent Pathfinding, which gives a nice movement bonus to help make questing and farming a little less tedious.

Marksmanship

hunter leveling marksmanship build
hunter leveling marksmanship build order

This build skips Silencing Shot, but some Marksmanship Hunters like to take that talent for a little extra utility.

Survival

hunter leveling survival build
hunter leveling survival build order

This build skips Sic ‘Em! in favor of Point of No Escape, since the latter offers a little more control for solo content.

Glyphs

Prime

Beast Mastery

Marksmanship

Survival

Major

Beast Mastery

Marksmanship

  • Glyph of Trap Launcher
    Saves you some Focus when you use your Trap Launcher.
  • Glyph of Mending
    Makes your Mend Pet ability more effective so you don’t have to worry as much about your sidekick.

Survival

  • Glyph of Trap Launcher
    Saves you some Focus when you use your Trap Launcher.
  • Glyph of Mending
    Makes your Mend Pet ability more effective so you don’t have to worry as much about your sidekick.

Minor

Equipment

The old joke that everything is a Hunter weapon is almost true: Hunters are able to use Bows, Crossbows, and Guns as well as Polearms, Staves, Daggers, and One-handed & Two-handed Axes and Swords. For the most part, you’ll want to choose the weapons with the best stats. The damage on your Ranged weapon is important, but your melee weapon(s) serve simply as “stat sticks.”

Weapon upgrades will often be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Weapons are your primary source of Attack Power, and will be a big boost every time you upgrade.

Hunters can use Cloth and Leather armor, and learn Mail at level 40. At level 50 they gain Mail Specialization, and from that point on you’ll want to wear exclusively Mail in order to benefit from the buff to your primary stat. If you’re using Heirlooms, they will automatically convert from Leather to Mail at level 40.

Professions

Your professions won’t really affect the leveling process much, but if you want some useful passive bonuses, you can go with gathering professions like Skinning or Mining. These will be easy to keep up with while leveling and also offer the best gold-making potential. You can also opt to start working on any crafting professions that you want to use at endgame.

Hunters make excellent gatherers since they can have their pet tank any nearby enemies while they quickly harvest the node.

Useful Macros

There aren’t many super important macros for leveling, but there are some that are nice to have.

Hunter’s Mark + Pet Attack

This macro will send your pet in to attack when you cast Hunter’s Mark on an enemy.

#showtooltip
/petattack
/cast Hunter's Mark

 

About the Author

Luxrah

I've been playing World of Warcraft on and off since vanilla, usually as a healer or caster and often as a guild leader. I play both retail and classic. I also love RPGs, sandboxes, and sims.
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