PVE Survival Hunter Guide

wotlk pve survival hunter overall final

Survival Hunters are all about cunning, possessing the ability to lay down a host of traps before entering the battle and unleashing a torrent of magical arrows. Unlike other Hunter specializations, they don’t rely on their cooldowns in order to deal damage — they are ready to enter the battle at a moment’s notice.

Survival Hunters go from a primarily support-oriented spec in TBC, to a DPS powerhouse in WotLK — in fact, they were seen as the #1 pick for Hunter specializations at the start of the expansion for raiding. This may or may not hold true today, as they have seen a fair share of nerfs compared to their peak days of early WotLK, but some of their strong points still remain: they can function very well with weaker gear from earlier phases, and will always stay close to other the other specs in term of damage. There is no denying however that our Marksmanship counterparts have superior scaling.

The Survival Hunter’s field of expertise lies in passive AoE / cleave damage. We’re also one of the better specs for fights where you frequently have to swap targets, as our primary shot, Explosive Shot, does not rely heavily on debuffs in order to deal its full damage. Survival Hunters are among the top AoE classes for WotLK.

This guide will teach you about playing Survival Hunter in PvE content, mostly focused on raiding but also dungeons, as dungeons are a place where Survival AoE really shines. assuming you are using the right tools! We will cover talents, equipment, glyphs, macros, and all the goodies you need to become an expert Survival Hunter.

Survival Hunter Strengths & Weaknesses


  • Very good early game damage
    Survival Hunters don’t need exceptional gear in order to deal good damage. This means you’ll shine early on, and not be reliant on rare items for your damage.
  • Minimal loot competition
    The only loot competition you’ll face is from other Hunters, and a lot of your gear isn’t very contested at all. This makes gearing your Survival Hunter exceptionally easy, and you will help ease your guild’s loot distribution to boot.
  • Simple yet fun to play
    While simplicity may be considered a negative term by some players, it should not be perceived as such at all. Survival Hunters simply don’t need 150-page essays in order to perform well — in fact, our guide is all you’ll need in order to deal great damage! Moreover, the priority system that Survival Hunters use with their various procs is very engaging — you’re never doing the same thing over and over. You even get to use your traps, while other Hunters don’t!
  • Solid mana efficiency
    Survival Hunters do not blow through their mana pool rapidly like BM and specially Marksmanship Hunters do. This makes them a very strong spec for some of the longer fights early on.


  • Lack of damage cooldowns
    Survival Hunters do not rely on cooldowns like other Hunter specs do, which helps their damage be more consistent. On the flip side of that, however, this means you don’t have a lot of strong cooldowns you can use in order to quickly burst a target down when needed.
  • Relatively weak scaling
    It’s no secret — Survival Hunters don’t scale as well as other Hunter specializations do. Our scaling isn’t terrible by any means, but our main DPS ability, Explosive Shot, lacks the great weapon damage scaling that other specs’ main nukes have.
  • No interrupt
    This is not a major downside, but Survival Hunters do not have an interrupt — that perk is unique to Marksmanship Hunters. As a result, this means you can’t really help out when something needs to be interrupted quickly.

Survival Hunter Utility

Besides their damage, Survival Hunters bring the following raid buffs & debuffs to a raid:

Our threat misdirection is back in WotLK and it’s still great! It has been changed slightly since TBC, giving you a 4-second window of threat redirection after your first shot, which is honestly great. Survival is arguably the best specialization at using Misdirection thanks to Explosive Shot, the hardest-hitting shot in the game. With a Survival Hunter using Misdirection on the main tank, you can be confident that your tank won’t lose aggro on the boss!

Replenishment (does not stack with a shadow priest and ret pala replenishment)Hunting Party provides this buff.
Survival is one of the many specs in the game that can offer the must-have Replenishment mana regeneration buff. You will typically not need to be the one providing this buff, as some of the more popular specs (such as Shadow Priest and Retribution Paladin) already do it, but it’s still good to have, and you may in fact end up being to one to provide it in 10-man raids.

Scorpid Sting3% physical hit chance reduction (does not stack)
This often-ignored debuff helps your tanks survive a little bit better by causing the boss to miss more often. Your Balance Druids can also provide it with Insect Swarm, which is part of their DPS rotation, but they typically do not keep a 100% uptime on it. This means that if necessary, you can step up and debuff the boss, helping your raid out a little.

Sting (Pet Ability – Wasp) – 5% armor reduction (does not stack)
In a slightly peculiar twist, Hunters of all specs gain access to the same 5% armor debuff that Druids can offer with their Faerie Fire & Warlocks with Curse of Weakness. In 25-man raids it will nearly always be applied by Druids, so you generally don’t need to bring a Wasp pet for this debuff. In 10-man raids and dungeons, however, you can bring the Wasp in and help out your raid’s damage a little.


We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if Survival Hunter is the class/spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems, etc, to get more information on how to improve your performance as a Survival Hunter in WotLK!


About the Author


I played this expansion hardcore for 10 years
Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Uh, Survival Single target was best in WotLK until you had every AP piece through RS. Even then, the top 6 hunters in the world were running survival spec….and it wasn’t for AoE at all. It was for BA,LnL, and ExS.

Scroll to Top