PvP Survival Hunter Rotations & Cooldowns

pvp survival hunter featured image rotation cooldowns abilities

Player versus Player requires a bit of a different mindset compared to the PvE content. It necessitates fast thinking, fast reactions, and adaptability to each situation. This guide will go over all of your useful spells, and cover how to use them as effectively as possible.

Abilities Overview

In the sections below we will go through each ability and explain how to properly use it. Click a section to expand it!

  • Black Arrow is the most powerful spell in your arsenal. This ability allows you to shoot a ravenous arrow, dealing shadow damage, empowered by your attack power, while also increasing all damage done to your target by 6% for 15 seconds. You will always want to open up the fight with this ability, since it empowers your total damage by a considerable amount! You will also always want to place this debuff on your target, considering that Black Arrow has a 30-second cooldown, you can effectively have this debuff up on your target every 15 seconds! Note that Black Arrow also shares its cooldown with Explosive Trap and Immolation Trap.
  • Explosive Shot is the second most powerful ability in your arsenal, allowing you to fire a projectile that deals direct fire damage to your target while also placing a DoT on the target, dealing two additional instances of damage over two seconds. This is the core ability of your gameplay, being severely enhanced by the Lock and Load talent. You should always use this ability on cooldown! The only exception is the Lock and Load proc, in which you will want to wait 2 seconds between each cast.
  • Steady Shot is an ability that is usually associated with the Marksmanship specialization, however, it still has its use even for a Survival Hunter. It allows you to deal pure physical damage to your target, empowered by your ammo as well as your attack power/armor penetration. However, this ability makes you static, which is potentially dangerous in PvP. You will only want to use this ability when there is plenty of distance between you and your target. You can choose to weave this ability between your Explosive Shot and Aimed Shot casts!
  • Serpent Sting is an ability that places a DoT on your target, dealing Nature damage. This is your second DoT in your arsenal, and you should make sure that you do not forget to place it on your target, even if it does lesser damage than your other abilities. Every bit of damage counts!
  • Aimed Shot is a strong ability that allows you to severely impact your target’s sustain abilities, reducing any healing received by up to 50% while also dealing medium-high damage. This ability should always be spammed on cooldown, as healing reduction plays a huge role in any PvP combat!
  • Arcane Shot is an ability that deals direct arcane damage to your target while also being influenced by Lock and Load. However, this ability is a lot weaker than Explosive Shot, and therefore you should never prioritize using a Lock and Load proc for Arcane Shot! We are noting this ability here just to make sure that you understand that Arcane Shot shares the same cooldown as Explosive Shot, meaning that you will never want to use it!
  • Kill Shot is your execute tool, and becomes available once your target reaches 20% health. This ability deals massive damage! You should always use this spell on cooldown once it becomes available, as it will surely dampen any effort made by your enemy to recuperate.
  • Rapid Fire is an ability that buffs your attack speed by 40% for 15 seconds. You will want to use this ability either at the beginning of a fight or when you plan to burst your target!
  • Viper Sting is an ability that will absolutely demolish any magic caster. It transfers up to 8% of a caster’s mana while rejuvenating the hunter with up to 300% of the amount drained. This ability is absolutely terrifying because it can be cast every 15 seconds! This ability is extremely strong in battlegrounds and arenas, especially when taking into consideration that it can severely impact any healer’s performance when combined with Aimed Shot.
  • Volley is an ability that allows you to deal AoE damage to all the enemies caught in the radius of the ability. This ability is channeled over the duration of 6 seconds and can be spammed at will. You will want to use this ability when you are dealing with a cluster of enemies and you find yourself in the back line with the opportunity to channel it without any penalty.
  • Multi-Shot is an ability that can hit up to 3 targets, making it an amazing addition to your instant cast skills! You can choose to use this ability in both AoE and Single-Target situations. Sadly, this ability shares a cooldown with Aimed Shot, meaning that you can only use one of them at a time.
  • Explosive Trap is an ability that shares its cooldown with Black Arrow, allowing you to place a trap that deals high fire damage to any enemy caught in its radius over 20 seconds. This ability has situational uses in PvP, being useful when you’re able to set a trap for your enemy behind a pillar or other environmental object.
  • Immolation Trap works precisely like Explosive Trap, however, it only deals damage to a single enemy, with the DoT lasting 15 seconds instead of 20 seconds. This trap, just like Explosive, shares a cooldown with Black Arrow.
  • Mongoose Bite is an ability that deals direct weapon damage to your enemy while being in close proximity — you can only use this ability in melee range. You should use this ability for free damage against your foe before attempting to gain distance!
  • Raptor Strike is an ability that deals direct physical damage and requires you to be in melee range of your target. This ability can be used in quick succession with Mongoose Bite to deal some additional free damage to your opponent before attempting to gain distance from your target!
  • Scatter Shot is an ability that deals medium damage to your target while also disorienting your target for up to 4 seconds. This is a strong crowd control ability that can be used either offensively or defensively.
  • Deterrence is an extremely powerful ability that allows you to deflect all ranged attacks and spells targeted at you while also giving you the ability to parry any melee attack used against you for 5 seconds. However, this ability prevents you from attacking — your pet can still attack though! Keep in mind to not use this ability recklessly as it grants you nigh invulnerability, but on a long cooldown.
  • Disengage is an ability that allows you to jump backward, gaining considerable distance between you and your target. You can use this ability in a multitude of ways, either alone or in conjunction with a gadget such as Flexweave Underlay. You will primarily want to use this ability to gain distance between you and any melee attacker, but you can also use this ability to even create a gap between you and a caster, as long as you make sure that you are still in range while they are not.
  • Feign Death is a very interesting ability in your arsenal, as it allows you to basically play dead. However, while this ability has high utility in PvE, it has an entirely different role in PvP! In PvP, you will want to use this ability to effectively force your enemy or even multiple enemies at the same time to drop their target! By doing so, you can cancel any spell that is currently being targeted at you, forcing your enemy to manually target you once more.
  • Wyvern Sting is an ability that allows you to force a target to sleep for up to 30 seconds. If your target wakes up, they will be afflicted with a DoT that deals high nature damage over 6 seconds. This ability can be used as both an offensive ability or a pure crowd control ability. You can use this ability to interrupt a target or burst it down rapidly.
  • Freezing Arrow is an interesting ability as it allows you to place a Freezing Trap anywhere in a specific radius! This ability is very good as it is not tied down to the same cooldown mechanic as any other trap spell in your arsenal, thus, it can be used right after using Black Arrow!
  • Flare allows you to literally place a flare down on the ground, which reveals any stealthed target in the area. You will want to use this ability constantly against Druids and Rogues to limit their movement range!
  • Concussive Shot is an ability that reduces your target’s movement speed by up to 50% for 4 seconds. This ability can be extremely useful against targets that do not possess a gap-close! Alternatively, you can keep this ability as a countermeasure after a gap-close is used on you.
  • Hunter’s Mark is an ability that allows you to increase any ranged damage done to a specific target by a considerable amount. The target that is afflicted by this debuff will also be visible, even if they become invisible or stealthed. You should always place this debuff on the target that you are about to attack. Keep in mind that Hunter’s Mark can only be used on only one target at a time.
  • Frost Trap is an ability that allows you to freeze a large area, slowing any enemy’s movement speed by up to 50% while they are in the area. You should always use this ability against melee assailants if Wing Clip is not available. Additionally, this trap also does not share a cooldown with Black Arrow.
  • Freezing Trap is an ability that allows you to entomb an enemy in a block of ice for a limited duration, preventing them from performing any action for 9 seconds. This trap does not share a cooldown with Black Arrow.
  • Snake Trap is an ability that allows you to place a trap that unleashes a large number of snakes on any unlucky enemy that sets it loose. This trap will deal moderate damage to anyone caught in the snake’s reach. This trap does not share a cooldown with Black Arrow.
  • Wing Clip is an instant cast ability that reduces a target’s movement speed by up to 50% for 10 seconds. This ability does not have a cooldown, being affected only by the Global Cooldown. You should use this ability whenever any assailant gets too close to you!
  • Aspect of the Dragonhawk is an ability that allows you to place a permanent buff on yourself that grants you increased ranged attack power by 300 and an increased chance to dodge by 18%. This will be the Hunter aspect that you will use most of the time.
  • Aspect of the Viper is an ability that grants you 4% maximum mana regeneration every 3 seconds, while also causing all of your attacks to regenerate your mana at the penalty of dealing half the damage you would normally do. You will only want to use this aspect when you are about to run out of mana.
  • Aspect of the Pack is an ability that increases your movement speed and that of your allies by up to 30%! However, if you or your allies are struck, the struck character will be dazed for 4 seconds. You can use this aspect in situations in which mounts are not available and you know for sure that you will not be attacked.
  • Scare Beast is an ability that is very useful against other hunters’ pets, druids, and even shamans! You can use this ability on a druid when he is in bear form or cat form and even on shamans when they are in their ghost wolf form to force a fear effect on them.
  • Tranquilizing Shot is a very powerful utility ability that can be used to remove 1 enrage effect and 1 magic effect. There are only a few classes and pets that benefit from enraging effects: warriors, druids, hunter pets, and unholy death knights. However, there are a very large number of magic effects in the game, and you can use this ability to dispel them! Even if this ability is not as powerful as a priest’s dispel or a shaman’s purge, you can still make due and remove powerful effects such as Avenging Wrath, Savage Roar, and Innervate!

Strategy & Spell Priority

When it comes to possible strategies and the spell priorities that you will want to employ, we must first take into consideration the fact that every matchup is entirely different and requires a different approach. Depending on whether you are fighting a caster or a melee physical damage dealer, your approach to combat will drastically change!

We will now showcase different strategies and spell priorities that you can use depending on which type of encounter you find yourself in.

General Spell Priority

Caster Fights

Hunters have a natural advantage against the caster archetype — whether a player might be a healer or a damage dealer, hunters possess the natural advantage. “Why is this?”, you might ask. Because of their increased range and a large variety of instant cast spells! As a Survival Hunter, you have access to instant cast spells such as Black Arrow, Scatter Shot, Explosive Shot, and Wyvern Sting, further increasing their potential of obliterating caster players instantly.

When fighting casters, the most important aspect is the range difference and the environment around you. Few casters in the game have the same range as you; knowing how to abuse this is the difference between a swift win and a hard and tedious battle. The fact that you have a better range means that you can strike first. Given that most of your spells are instant cast, your enemies will not even get in range to start “casting” before you unleash several instant cast abilities!

The second aspect that we have mentioned is the environment around you, meaning that you will have to constantly employ a tactic named “LoS”. LoS stands for “Line-of-Sight”, a term used to describe a player using the environment around him such as rocks, platforms, walls, and pillars to constantly get out of sight when another player is trying to cast a spell towards them. By doing this efficiently, you can cancel any spell targeted towards you and rain down hell on any caster with your instant cast abilities!

Your spell priority against casters will look like this:

Melee Fights

As a Survival Hunter, melee fights are easier than any other hunter specialization since you are way more resilient and less prone to being deleted by a one-shot macro. Since our spec generally has a massive amount of stamina, we will have a far easier time when fighting any melee class.

In general, most Melee classes have access to gap-closing abilities that help them quickly reach you, however, you have access to a lot of abilities that can slow them down or outright disorient them. Even in melee fights, you have the advantage of striking first before your target reaches you. Still, you cannot properly utilize LoS against a class like Death Knight or Warrior.

The reason for this is that their kit is filled with gap-closing abilities, allowing them to stick to you endlessly. A Warrior has both a spammable slow effect and two different “Charge” abilities while a Death Knight can infinitely slow you while also being capable of using Death Grip in order to displace you and pull you towards him.

Even if your target reaches you, you have many tools to deter their efforts, with spells such as Wyvern Sting, Scatter Shot, Frost Trap, Freezing Trap, Concussive Shot, and Wing Clip. All of the spells listed above can either incapacitate your target or severely slow it for a considerable amount of time.

It is very important to understand that in a fight against a melee class, they will attempt to burst you down as soon as they reach you. Your first thought should be of using one of the abilities listed above to crowd control them. If you see your target attempting to burst you down, you have to keep in mind that you have access to Deterrence! You can use Deterrence in combination with abilities such as Frost Trap or Freezing Trap to safely crowd control your target without being damaged at all!

After you manage to crowd control your enemy, your main objective is to gain distance again in order to burst them down with your instant cast abilities. You can easily do this with Disengage!

The rest of the fight consists of constantly kiting your target and reducing its movement speed while trying to burst it down as fast as possible.

Note: “Kiting:” is a term that refers to the action of attacking your target while constantly moving, effectively forcing the target to chase you while being susceptible to your attacks.

Spell Priority against melee classes


In Battlegrounds, your purpose is quite simple, pure harassment of squishy targets. You will want to always stick with your group and make sure that you target vulnerable targets such as healers or casters. As a Survival Hunter, you have the advantage of being extremely resilient, making it easier for you to survive powerful melee fighters.

Your massive range and instant cast abilities will provide you with many opportunities to either harass or completely obliterate any squishy target, even if they try to hug their group. The fact that we have access to healing reduction and hybrid damage means that our enemies will have a hard time countering our damage output!

Besides sticking with your group, you can choose to become a lone hunter, picking off targets such as flag carriers or pocket healers. Our high stamina will make sure that we will not die quickly while acting out a “guerilla” attrition war on our enemies. However, this tactic works only on teams with less experienced players. Experienced players will quickly notice that their high-value teammates are attacked and will quickly attempt to swarm you in order to eliminate the threat!


Arenas as a Survival Hunter are a bit different compared to duels and battlegrounds, as your mentality has to shift towards long fights of attrition. Since you will often meet DPS/Healer comps, your focus will be on whittling down the opposite team slowly while relying on your massive health pool to survive.

In arenas, you can choose to either pair up with another damage dealer or with a healer. However, you also have the option of pairing up with a hybrid class such as a druid or a shaman in order to benefit from both healing and damage from your partner. Generally speaking, Healer/DPS comps are the best that you can find around, especially in 2 vs 2 arenas. In 3 vs 3 arenas, there will always be a healer, so take that into consideration.

As we mentioned earlier, your job in arenas is withering down your targets slowly and abusing your own survivability combined with that of your healer’s. As Survival Hunters, we value pets that are tanky and that can crowd control our enemies. Your whole mentality should switch from bursting down a target to trying to cripple your targets with spells such as Aimed Shot and Viper Sting. After all, the winner in arenas is usually defined by the team that manages to have a healer with mana remaining!

You will want to make use of both macros and addons to improve the quality of life of your gameplay, making sure that you keep track of what abilities your enemies have at their disposal and which abilities they have on cooldown. One of the most important aspects of the arena is to maintain calm and collected at all times and make sure that you do not end up panicking and randomly using your abilities!


Macros will help you fight your foes more efficiently! You will want to utilize macros in order to trigger multiple spells at the same time or to improve your overall quality of life!

Cooldown Macro

/cast Rapid Fire
/use [combat] 13
/use [combat] 14
/use [combat] Potion of Speed
/use [combat] 10

Start Attack Macro

The start attack macro assures you that your character will attack your target with basic attacks, no matter what spell you will utilize! You will genuinely want to make startattack macros for the majority of your spells!

#Showtooltip Black Arrow
/Cast Black Arrow

Feign Death Macro

You will want this macro to make sure that you cancel any action that you are currently doing in order to perform Feign Death properly

#showtooltip Feign Death
/cast Feign Death

Aspect Change Macro

You will want this macro to quickly switch your aspect. You can customize this macro with any of your aspects!

#showtooltip [stance1] Aspect of the Dragonhawk
/cast [stance2] Aspect of the Dragonhawk
/cast [stance1] Aspect of the Cheetah

Mouseover Macro

You can effectively use any spell in your arsenal with a mouseover macro, it is quite useful when you need to quickly cast a spell without actively switching targets. Fewer buttons to press always makes it easier, right?

#showtooltip Hunter's Mark
/cast [@mouseover,exists] Hunter's Mark

Pet Macros:

Roar of Sacrifice Macro

This macro will help you easily cast Roar of Sacrifice on yourself.

#showtooltip Roar of Sacrifice

/cast [@Player] Roar of Sacrifice

Kill Command Macro

Cast all of your pet’s abilities in one macro, making pet control a small bit easier.

#showtooltip Kill Command
/cast Kill Command
/cast Dash
/cast Rabid
/cast Bite


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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