Welcome to our WoW Classic leveling guide for hunters! Hunters are known for their unique and intense connection to animals, earning the respect of one to fight alongside in combat. Armed with a bow and supported by beast, hunters are fantastic at taking out any enemy, making them one of the best classes to level. As a pure damage-dealing class, hunters excel at killing enemies, but are fairly weak when left to defend themselves.
Leveling up your hunter will be far different than how you’ll end up playing at max level. The biggest difference you’ll notice is your specialization. Most max-level hunters use a marksmanship talent tree build, but you’ll invest heavily into the beast mastery tree for a better leveling experience. This will make most of your damage come from your pet, while also having it take all incoming damage.
This guide will cover several important elements of leveling a hunter. From generalized leveling tips to specific advice for the hunter class, we’ll discuss it further in this guide. While hunters certainly aren’t a difficult class to play, you can make them much more enjoyable if you know how to fully utilize your toolkit.
- One of the strongest soloing classes in the game, clearly making them the easiest to level.
- Excellent survivability with your pet taking the brunt of damage and escaping with Feign Death.
- Low reliance on gear since pet does most of your damage.
- Great at fighting multiple targets.
- Excellent utility and crowd control with the use of traps, Wing Clip, and Concussive Shot.
- Can run out of mana quickly if spamming abilities.
- Higher maintenance than other classes, requiring you to keep a constant supply of pet food and weapon ammunition.
- Need to keep your pet at the same level as you, who also requires training.
General Leveling Tips
Some players view level 60 and the end-game as the entire point of WoW Classic, but that misses the point entirely. What makes the game so enjoyable is the long journey of gradual progression. You start as a weakling nobody, but grow into a fierce and capable champion by the time you’ve hit max level. It isn’t always about winning the race, but more about the friends you make along the way. You should try your best to enjoy the leveling process, because you won’t get to do it again once you reach level 60.
Use these tips to make leveling a stress-free journey:
- Try to plan out the zones you’ll use to level in advance. Many zones are oriented either for the horde or alliance, so you’ll want to ensure you’re picking the right ones for your faction. Furthermore, try to choose zones you’re already familiar with for quicker leveling.
- On the other side of that, don’t be scared to experience new zones you haven’t tried before! Much of the beauty of WoW Classic is in the journey and gameplay experience. Seeing something for the first time and trying to figure it out yourself is a wonder that can’t be replicated. If you ever do really get stuck, you can use online resources to help you with quests.
- Always have plenty of food and water. As a hunter, your pet will take most of the damage, but this will mean you’ll spend mana using Mend Pet. On top of using abilities, you’re going to run out of mana quickly! You’ll also want plenty of food for your pet, so you can feed them to keep their morale up!
- While most classes benefit from playing in a group, there is much less incentive for a hunter. You’re already a fantastic soloing class thanks to your pet. You will kill things faster in a group, but sometimes the process can be faster alone when you don’t have to wait for anyone else to loot corpses and catch up to you.
- Try your best to just fight one enemy at a time. When your pet is actively tanking while you barrage an enemy with auto shots, you’re nearly unkillable unless your pet dies. When you start adding more enemies into the equation, things can quickly get out of hand. Your pet won’t be able to hold aggro on all enemies, meaning they’ll come to attack you!
- When you do fight enemies, try to pick ones that are the same level as you. Both higher and lower level monsters don’t grant their full experience value, but equal-leveled enemies do. They’re also the most-fair challenge in terms of strength, so they’ll serve as a good indicator of how capable your character is.
Hunter Specific Gameplay Advice
- Find an auto shot timer addon: Something you’ll definitely want to consider is finding an addon that tracks your auto shot timer. Outside of your pet, most of your damage will come from auto shot, making it crucial to ensure each shot fires off when it is available. With a timer, you’ll know exactly when you’ll need to stop moving and/or using other abilities in order to fire another auto shot.
- Switch to Aspect of the Cheetah when not in combat: While you’re in combat, your best aspect is Aspect of the Hawk for the increased ranged attack power. Whenever you aren’t in combat, you’ll want to switch to Aspect of the Cheetah for quicker movement speed. This will cause you to become dazed if you’re hit, so be quick about switching it off if you notice an enemy approaching.
- Use traps for crowd control or damage: While leveling you can make great use of hunter traps. These can only be placed when you are not in combat and you can only put one down at a time. Explosive Trap is nice if you’re about to pull multiple enemies and want to damage all of them. Freezing Trap is much stronger, completely freezing an enemy in place for a minute. Alternatively Frost Trap will linger after being triggered, slowing all enemies caught within it.
- Learn to kite!: As a hunter, it is very important to learn how to kite. Kiting essentially means fighting an enemy while simultaneously running away from it and keeping it a ranged distance from you. This isn’t too difficult thanks to several abilities you have. Concussive Shot is a direct, targeted slow, Wing Clip is another slow, but you’ll need to be in melee range. Frost Trap will also work as long as you keep enemies inside the frost circle. These should give you enough time to get back into ranged distance, allowing you to use auto shot and ranged abilities once again.
- Your pet is your main source of damage: The great thing about beast mastery hunters is that most of your damage comes from your pet. This means that your damage is not dependent on gear, because your stats won’t necessarily benefit your pet. However, you will need to be vigilant about keeping your pet happy for maximum damage, the same level as you so they don’t get wrecked by enemies, and trained so they stay relevant.
- Consider pre-applying Mend Pet: Once useful trick you can learn is pre-applying Mend Pet before a battle begins. If you know your pet is going to take a lot of damage, you can mitigate a good deal of this with a pre-applied Mend Pet. Since the ability is a heal-over-time, you’ll be able to benefit right when your pet takes damage rather than waiting for your pet to be damaged first and then casting Mend Pet.
- Use your damaging cooldowns whenever they are available: Unless you’re playing a troll, you’ll have access to just 2 significant damaging cooldowns. This includes Rapid Fire, which increases your attack speed by 40% for 15 seconds on a 5 minute cooldown, and Bestial Wrath, boosting your pet’s damage by 50% for 18 seconds on just a 2 minute cooldown. Feel free to use both cooldowns whenever they are available for extra damage and quicker killing speed. Try to use them on fights where you know you can use them for the full duration.
- Switching to melee attacks: While you’re best suited at dealing damage from a distance, occasionally you’ll be forced into melee range. When this happens, you’ll only be able to use melee attacks. Your priority should be to slow them down so you can run away and kite them, but if you can’t, make use of your melee abilities so you can at least continue to deal damage.
- Agility – Agility is definitely your strongest stat. This increases your ranged attack power, critical strike chance, dodge chance, and armor. Every point of agility is great for helping your deal more damage, but it also provides a slight defensive boost. There’s simply nothing better than agility, so load up on it however you can.
- Intellect – The next most important stat while leveling is intellect. This will increase you maximum mana pool, which is crucial for allowing you to cast abilities. If you cast Arcane Shot too often, you may find yourself frequently low on mana. Having more intellect will make this happen less often.
- Spirit – Another great stat is spirit. This increases your out-of-combat mana and health regeneration, but you can also start regenerating mana if you haven’t cast an ability in the last 5 seconds. When you aren’t actively using Arcane Shot, this is a great way to passively restore mana.
- Stamina – You’re also going to want stamina to increase your health pool. This isn’t as important as it would be for other classes, considering that your pet actually takes all the damage. It is nice to have in case your pet dies or when fighting multiple enemies, so don’t shy away from it.
- Strength – You can also benefit from strength, but it really isn’t too important. Strength will increase your melee attack power, which can be useful for situations when you’re forced into melee range. You should use kiting and your pet to avoid this at all costs though, so you shouldn’t really even need the benefit strength gives you.
To play your hunter properly, you’ll need to understand how combat on a hunter work. If you’re in melee range, you can only use melee abilities. This is generally the case when you don’t have a pet yet (or you’re in the process of reviving it) and you should try to avoid it all costs. If it does happen, cast Raptor Strike for some quick damage. You can then try to Wing Clip and run out of melee range.
Once you have a pet with Growl turned on, you should never really have aggro again. This means you can reliably use your ranged abilities. Your rotation will always begin with Hunter’s Mark for the ranged attack power bonus. You’ll then want to make sure your auto shot fires. After that, apply Serpent Sting for the damage-over-time effect.
After this, you’ll weave between ensuring your auto shot fires and using Arcane Shot/Multi-Shot. You’ll continue this until Serpent Sting expires or your target dies, whichever occurs first.
If there are multiple enemies around, Multi-Shot becomes your immediate priority. Follow the standard Hunter’s Mark > Auto Shot > Serpent Sting > Arcane Shot with that one change.
Once you’ve learned Aimed Shot (in the 50s), use it instead of Arcane Shot.
- Single Target: Apply Hunter’s Mark > Ensure Auto Shot lands > Serpent Sting (keep applied) > Arcane Shot > Multi-Shot
- Multiple Targets: Multi-Shot > Apply Hunter’s Mark > Ensure Auto Shot lands > Serpent Sting (keep applied) > Arcane Shot
- Melee Range: Raptor Strike > Mongoose Strike > Wing Clip
Here is a link to a completed hunter leveling talent tree!
Progression: 5 points Improved Aspect of the Hawk > 2 points Improved Revive Pet > 3 points Thick Hide > 5 points Unleashed Fury > 5 points Ferocity > 1 point Intimidation > 2 points Spirit Bond > 1 point Bestial Swiftness > 1 point Improved Mend Pet > 5 points Frenzy > 1 point Bestial Wrath > 5 points Efficiency > 5 points Lethal Shots > 1 point Aimed Shot > 3 points Hawk Eye > 1 point Improved Concussive Shot > 5 points Mortal Shots
The best way to level a hunter is to go beast mastery. This will put most of your strength into your pet, which is fantastic because it gives you an extra source of damage and a primary line of defense. Not only can you revive and heal your pet, but you can also control how it attacks and moves, giving you plenty to keep track of.
Abilities to Train
- Level 1-20 – Abilities up to level 20 are fairly inexpensive to purchase for the usefulness they offer. Learn every ability up to level 20. Make sure to complete the quest to acquire a pet companion.
- Level 26 – Rapid Fire rank 1, Serpent Sting rank 1
- Level 28 – Aspect of the Hawk rank 3, Arcane Shot rank 4
- Level 30 – Feign Death rank 1, Multi-Shot rank 2
- Level 38 – Immolation Trap rank 1, Arcane Shot rank 5, Aspect of the Hawk rank 4, Serpent Sting rank 2
- Level 40 – Aspect of the Pack rank 1, Mail Armor
- Level 42 – Multi-Shot rank 3, Serpent Sting rank 3
- Level 44 – Arcane Shot rank 6
- Level 50 – Aspect of the Hawk rank 5, Serpent Sting rank 4
- Level 52 – Arcane Shot rank 6
- Level 54 – Multi-Shot rank 4
- Level 58 – Aspect of the Hawk rank 6
Anytime you go to train your own abilities, make sure that you’re also training your pet at the same time!
Class Quest: Pets
Beast Companion: Upon reaching level 10, you’ll gain access to the most iconic part of the hunter toolkit: a pet! While you level your hunter, your pet will deal a good chunk of your total damage. It will also absorb most incoming blows for you. This means that a pet more-than doubles your effective power, rendering you extremely weak without one.
Each race has their own quest to complete, requiring you to tame various beasts found in your home race’s region. Based on the animal family each beast comes from, pets you tame will have varying stats. Some animals, like wolves and cats, are particularly skilled at dealing damage, however are fairly squishy. Others, like bears and turtles, are proficient at taking damage, although compensate by dealing less of their own.
You should attempt to tame a cat whenever you come across one as they deal the highest damage while leveling. Alternatively, a wind serpent is a good choice too as their primary attack is actually a spell.
- Ranged weapon upgrades are always your highest priority. Even though your pet will do a good chunk of your damage, you’ll still spend a lot of time attacking with your ranged weapon. Most of this damage will be from auto shot, which means ranged weapons are huge upgrades for hunters. You should prioritize bows and guns that offer higher weapon damage, attack speed, and DPS over stats like agility and stamina.
- Don’t neglect melee weapons, but search for stats over weapon damage. Hunters actually make use of both a ranged and a melee weapon. Your best option here is to pick a strong 2-hander, preferably one that has a lot of agility. The damage stats (weapon damage, attack speed, DPS) won’t affect your auto shot damage, but they will affect melee attack damage. This isn’t very important, but the stats the weapons have are quite beneficial.
- Always use the strongest arrows or ammo available to you. Ammunition is a bit of a hassle. Not only do you lose out on an entire bag slot to equip a quiver or ammo pouch, but you also need to constantly refill it. Fortunately, you can buy ammo that deals more damage as you go up in level, giving you an incentive to frequently check in and make sure there isn’t stronger ammo available to you.
- At level 40 you’ll unlock mail armor, but prioritize equipment with better stats over armor type. You will unlock the ability to equip mail armor at level 40, but you probably won’t fully deck yourself out in mail until you’re max level. Mail armor does give you more armor, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to better stats. Because of this, prioritize gear that has the better combination of useful stats. This does mean that you’ll often continue to wear leather pieces instead of mail.
One way you can aid in the leveling process is by using professions. While professions are focused on gathering and crafting, taking you away from combat, they can still make the leveling process smoother! You can pair two gathering professions together to give you the greatest farming potential, which will result in great gold generation for you. Alternatively, you can pick a gathering and a crafting skill to make yourself useful equipment or consumables! Either way, professions add another dynamic to your character that will make it easier to enjoy.
These professions are excellent for leveling up on a hunter:
- Skinning – Skinning is a great first profession choice for a hunter. Skinning is a gathering skill, meaning you can make a pretty penny by selling raw leather or you can choose to craft useful gear with it.
- Leatherworking – Hunters make for great leatherworkers. You can craft both leather and mail armor with leatherworking, meaning you can make useful equipment through the entirety of your leveling process! Armor kits never hurt either, making you just an extra bit tankier!
- Mining – You can also pick up mining to pair with skinning for two gathering professions or pair it with engineering. Skinning and mining are great for making money, but you won’t gain any lasting benefits from those professions alone.
- Engineering – Another good choice here is engineering. Besides the typical reasons to pick engineering (bombs and useful gadgets), engineering is also particularly useful for hunters. Not only can you craft scopes to increase the power of your bow/gun, but you can also craft gun ammunition! If you’re using a gun, engineering will make it much easier to never run out of ammo!
Hunter’s Mark w/ Pet Attack – This macro will automatically target your nearest enemy and apply Hunter’s Mark. At the same time, it will also send your pet in to attack, using their Dash ability if it is available.
/cast Hunter’s Mark
/script if GetUnitName(“target”)==nil then TargetNearestEnemy() end
Pet Retreat – Quickly calls your pet back to your side, using Dash if it is available.
/script PetFollow(“Your Name”)
Auto Attacking – This macro will automatically target your nearest enemy. It will also begin your auto shot or melee swing depending on your range. You can press the macro again to cancel your auto shot.
/script if GetUnitName(“target”)==nil then TargetNearestEnemy() end
/run if CheckInteractDistance(“target”, 3) and (not PlayerFrame.inCombat) then AttackTarget() elseif not IsAutoRepeatAction(3) then CastSpellByName(“Auto Shot”) end