Season of Discovery (SoD) Hunter Melee DPS Build Guide & Best Runes

season of discovery melee hunter build guide featured image

Despite the attempts of a handful of players, Melee Hunter was never truly a thing until Legion. Luckily for us, Season of Discovery and the Rune system finally allows us to play a Classic Melee Hunter. Results may vary in Phase 1, but there are definitely some great new abilities for us.

Build Summary

Melee Hunter in Season of Discovery flips the script, having us be firmly planted in Melee most of the fight, while weaving in and out of Ranged to fire off the occasional Serpent Sting or Arcane Shot. While in Melee range we use a combination of Raptor Strike, Flanking Strike, Carve, and Immolation Trap to DPS effectively.

We’re still Hunters, and as such bring all the tools associated with that. By level 25 we have the classics like Concussive Shot, Wing Clip, and Freezing Trap. Unfortunately we don’t have access to Frost Trap quite yet. We even have our own version of Blessing of Kings with the Rune Heart of the Lion.

Despite Dual Wield Melee Hunter being the version that was hyped at Blizzcon, we want a meaty two-hander. Big hits are the name of the game for us, and weapon damage is king.



Heart of the Lion

The hunter invokes the heart of a lion, increasing total stats by 10% for all nearby allies, and increasing total stats for the Hunter by an additional 10%.

A late addition to Season of Discovery, Heart of the Lion grants you 20% total stats while giving the rest of your group a pseudo-Blessing of Kings. Having this made available in Chest is a fantastic boon for Melee Hunters, as none of the other options for this slot are all too strong for us.

Master Marksman

Increases your critical strike chance by 5%, and reduces the Mana cost of all your Shot abilities by 25%.

This is an option, but not a fantastic one. 5% Critical Strike Chance is very solid, but it just isn’t enough to beat Heart of the Lion in most situations. The reduced Mana cost also only applies to Shot abilities, meaning none of our Melee abilities will benefit. With that said, there may be a time and a place for this, time will tell.


Beast Mastery

Your pet’s damage and health are increased by 30%, and its Focus regeneration by 80%. In addition, your pet’s Growl now also Taunts the target to attack it for 3 sec.

This allows your pet to become a one-man-army, potentially even doing more DPS than even you. With the strength of this Rune, it would be a shame to bring anything else.


A sweeping attack that strikes all enemies in front of you for 50% weapon damage.

While 50% weapon damage is very low, take into consideration that this is a frontal cleave on a 6-second cooldown. With a 3-second swing time, you can see this as a bonus swing every 12 seconds. The higher your weapon damage, the better this attack will be. Keep this on cooldown always.


Flanking Strike

You and your pet deal simultaneous instant 100% melee damage. Afterward, your Mongoose Bite and Raptor Strike deal 10% increased damage for 10 sec, stacking up to 3 times. Raptor Strike has a 20% chance to reset the cooldown on Flanking Strike.

This is your bread and butter as a Melee Hunter. Despite having a 30-second cooldown, you can reasonably assume this will be responsible for the bulk of your damage. Unfortunately with this ability being as strong as it is, it effectively locks us out from using the Lone Wolf Rune. This also deals weapon damage, meaning you yet again want big-hitting, slow weapons for this.

Flanking Strike also has a bit of an odd snowball potential. Each time you hit with Flanking Strike, you gain a stacking 10% damage buff for Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite for 10 seconds. Unfortunately, without some luck involved, this will rarely go beyond 1 stack, as Flanking Strike itself has a 30-second cooldown. Each Raptor Strike has a 20% chance to reset the cooldown of Flanking Strike, allowing you to use it again instantly. Raptor Strike has a 6-second cooldown, meaning that after every Flanking Strike, you will have two chances to get the cooldown reset, or you will lose your stacks.

Talent Build

season of discovery phase 1 melee hunter talent calculator
Talent Calculator

Vanilla Talent Trees are a bit of a mixed bag. Marksmanship has the qualifier “Ranged” on almost every talent, Beast Mastery very rarely buffs us, and Survival having been briefly intended to be a Melee DPS spec and pivoting into the mess we have now sometime during development. By level 25 we have very few talents that actually benefit us for Melee.

The only talent that is really focused on Melee by level 25 is Savage Strikes, giving us 20% increased Critical Strike Chance on Raptor Strike & Mongoose Bite. Outside of that, Humanoid Slaying & Monster Slaying are both nice flat damage increases against specific types of enemies. Of course, this means you will never be receiving the benefits of both at the same time. We could buff Immolation Trap with Clever Traps, which is always something.

This leaves us having to pick at least something that isn’t going to directly benefit our damage. There are some good defensive options in Survivalist and Deterrence. We also have the option to focus more on our Pet, with Endurance Training or even Unleashed Fury. Finally, by level 25 we are not going to be entirely free of our Ranged Abilities, so talents like Improved Aspect of the Hawk and Lethal Shots do have some value here.

Finally, as there just aren’t that many valuable talents for us, we could opt for some more PvP focused pickups, like Improved Concussive Shot, or Improved Wing Clip. Ashenvale is shaping up to be a dangerous place, so you never know when you might need them. My version of this build opts for a bit of a mix of all the possible options.

Key Spells and Abilities

Raptor Strike

Outside of Runes, this is your primary attack. By itself, it simply increases the damage of your next melee swing by a medium amount. The true potential here comes when combined with Flanking Strike. Flanking Strike buffs Raptor Strikes damage, and in turn Raptor Strike has a chance to reset Flanking Strikes cooldown. Always try to use this on cooldown.

Immolation Trap

An often ignored spell for Classic Hunters, we can take decent advantage of this as we are already up close and personal. Place it during downtime in your usual rotation. This debuff lasts for 1-minute, making it very easy to just set and forget.

Serpent Sting

While we are Melee focused, we will need to take advantage of our Ranged attacks. Most people have heard the concept of “Meleeweaving” for Classic Hunters, but in our case we want to Rangeweave. Whenever this debuff is inactive, and your Melee abilities are on cooldown, pop out for a quick Auto Shot and Serpent Sting combo before going right back into the thick of things.

Arcane Shot

This can be used similarly to Serpent Sting, weaving out of Melee and combining this with an Auto Shot for a bit of extra damage between swings. It is important to never lose a Melee hit to get this off, but if you can effectively weave it in it will definitely be a damage boost.

Example Best-in-Slot

BiS lists can vary drastically from fight to fight, even more so as a Tank. There is rarely a one-size fits all solution for any given dungeon or raid, so you will need to find what suits your needs best.

Below is an example of an all-round Best-in-Slot list that you can tweak to fit your individual needs.



  • Deadly Strike of the Hydra (209562)
    • This weapon is incredibly powerful, but be prepared to have some arguments with the Warriors if you are trying to get this ahead of them.
  • Azshari Arbalest (209534)
    • This weapon is made just for us. It’s fairly slow, high damage, and gives Ranged Attack Power, meaning no other Class cares about it.


Noteworthy Items

Wow Alliance Crest Ancient War Sword

A very solid weapon option, available for Alliance players from the elite quest Defeat Nek’rosh in the Wetlands.

Runic Darkblade

A solid weapon option, available for Horde players from the quest chain Battle of Hillsbrad in Hillsbrad Foothills.

Brutal War Axe of The Tiger/The Bear

While this weapon mostly drops from enemies around level 30, if you can get your hands on one with the right random enchantment, it can easily carry you through Blackfathom Deeps. This weapon is especially strong in the hands of an Orc Hunter.

Race Choice


This is where it’s at for us. Orcs have everything going for Melee Hunter. Axe Specialization increases our Axe Skill, which is an amazing boost, especially with slower weapons. We aren’t meant to be Tanking, so Blood Fury is a powerful offensive cooldown. Finally, Command increases our Pets damage, which in turn increases our Flanking Strike damage. Everything works in our favor, making Orcs the ideal choice for any Melee Hunter.


While Dwarves provide very little for Melee Hunters, Gun Specialization will still get some use with Rangeweaving. Additionally, you never know when Stoneform could come in handy.


Potentially the best Race for Ranged Hunters, especially if they decide to use the Lone Wolf Rune. Trolls are still very strong for Melee, with Berserking offering a very powerful Haste buff, even more so if you can reliably bring your health down for the full 30% boost. Beast Slaying is a flat 5% damage increase against any Beast, and right out of the gate we have at least one boss in Blackfathom Deeps that meets that criteria.

Finally, similarly to Gun Specialization for Dwarves, Bow Specialization gets some use with Rangeweaving, but that isn’t a ton of value.


The actual Racial skills for Tauren do not really bring much to Melee Hunter. War Stomp is good, but it is situational and more often than not unusable on bosses. Endurance is a nice little health boost, but we don’t want to get hit to begin with.

Where Taurens do shine is their increased melee range. This bonus is not listed in their spellbook, but because of the larger hit box for Taurens, they are able to stand outside of the range of some bosses melee spells. We can’t know for sure if this will have any use case in Season of Discovery, but it is nice to know the option is available.

Night Elf

There really isn’t a lot here for us. Quickness provides 1% increased chance to Dodge, which would be fantastic for Mongoose Bite — Except we don’t want to be getting hit to begin with. Shadowmeld will probably allow you to pull off some fun road-side ambushes in Ashenvale, but has no value in PvE.


About the Author


World of Warcraft veteran of 18 years. Ex world first raider and rank 1 healer. Slayer of dragons. Lover of cats.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top