- Author: Passion
- Date: March 3, 2024
- Updated: March 3, 2024
- Expansion: WoW Classic
Ranged Hunters in Classic are surprisingly unchanged by the Season of Discovery Rune system. While some new additions to their kit will give a significant power boost, the general gameplay will remain mostly the same. This is good for anyone who enjoyed Hunter in Classic, and maybe a little less good for anyone else.
The biggest change will be felt while leveling, with pets actually having the ability to both hold aggro as well as deal a significant amount of damage. If you thought Hunters were strong levelers before…
The primary method of playing a ranged Hunter in Phase 2 Season of Discovery is to buff your pet as much as possible. To accomplish this you’ll want to put all of your points into the Beast Mastery tree and grab runes that elevate your pet even further.
Your critical hits with Shot abilities cause your pet’s next 2 special attacks to critically hit.
If you are focusing on improving your pet’s damage, this Rune is the best option for it. By itself, it is not that powerful, as your Pet tends to hit often not hard. This leads to you quickly burning through the 2 guaranteed critical hits for minimal damage. Combine that with our relatively low critical chance at level 25 and you have a fairly underwhelming Rune.
You deal 25% increased damage with all attacks while you do not have an active pet.
Marksmanship Hunters will very much want to consider this for any group PvE content. As long as someone else can tank the enemies for you, this is an immensely strong boost to your damage, requiring only that you do not bring your pet.
This does not prohibit you from summoning your pet as needed, but the damage boost will be forfeited if your pet is by your side.
Increases your critical strike chance by 5%, and reduces the Mana cost of all your Shot abilities by 25%.
While by themselves these bonuses are very strong, this Rune is almost equivalent to 5 talent points. Your other Rune options are significantly stronger than that, making this a rarely-used option. It does have a niche in solo content though, as the reduced Mana cost leads to less downtime, and Lone Wolf is a no-go for soloing.
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 rough decision for Ranged Hunters, as this slot has some of the strongest Runes available for us.
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 is both an incredible tool for soloing as well as a massive damage boost for Beast Mastery Hunters. You may even find uses for a pet Taunt in raids, potentially allowing your group to skip bringing an off-tank entirely.
In Phase 1, Beast Mastery has proven over and over to be the winning Rune for any type of DPS Hunter. When combined with a Wind Serpent or a Cat you can be carried almost entirely by your pet.
You deal 125% weapon damage, refreshing the current Sting on your target and triggering an effect:
Serpent Sting – Instantly deals 40% of the damage done by your Serpent Sting.
Viper Sting – Instantly restores mana to you equal to 60% of the total amount drained by your Viper Sting.
Scorpid Sting – Attempts to Disarm the target for 10 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once per 1 minute.
If you want to pick up Aimed Shot, you might want to run this Rune. When combined with Serpent Sting, this deals a significant chunk of damage, as well as refreshing Serpent Sting, saving you a global cooldown.
Chimera Shot also offers some strategic choice, Disarming targets with Scorpid Sting, and in later Phases, allowing you to steal a chunk of Mana when Viper Sting is active. Both of these come at the cost of damage, so think before you sting!
You fire an explosive charge into the enemy target, dealing Fire damage to all enemies within 8 yards. The charge will blast the target every second for an additional 2 sec. Cooldown shared with Arcane Shot.
The long-standing favorite of many later expansion players does not function quite how you might remember it. Explosive Shot gives you an AoE focused option to use on your Arcane Shot cooldown. Unfortunately, the damage is very underwhelming, so unless you are fighting a large pack of enemies you will be better off skipping this one entirely.
Give the command to kill, increasing your pet’s damage done from special attacks by 60% for 30 sec. Each special attack done by the pet reduces the damage bonus by 20%.
With the appropriate pet and talents, this can turn your pet into a one-man army. A slower, harder-hitting pet skill like Bite can hit for massive damage with this, even more so if you combine it with Cobra Strikes. The main downside of this is the 1-minute cooldown, which could easily mean you only get one use per fight.
While this could have been very useful, unfortunately, it just isn’t worth bringing, even on AoE pulls.
Your Shot abilities gain 10% increased critical strike chance while you have not moved for the last 6 sec.
This is a strong effect that requires us to trade one of the main Hunter strengths, their mobility, for a significant boost in Critical Chance. Fortunately, 6 seconds is just 2 Aimed Shots worth of waiting, and as long as we can stand perfectly still, we can enjoy this for entire fights. Just make sure you yell at the tank if you have to move.
Your melee and ranged criticals increase your attack power by 40% of your current Agility for 7 sec.
The Expose Weakness rune provides us with a massive attack power proc that will boost our DPS significantly. It lasts 7 seconds and procs off of our critical strikes, which will net it extremely high uptime with decent gear. This rune is a must-have for the waist rune.
When your pet scores a critical hit with a special ability, you instantly regenerate 5% of your maximum mana.
This spec revolves around getting the final Beast Mastery talent, Bestial Wrath. When used, this cooldown turns your pet into an unstoppable killing machine. On our way down through the tree, we pick up several notable talents including Ferocity, which will boost our mana return from our Invigoration rune as well as give our pet even more damage potential.
Key Spells and Abilities
Your simplest shot, Arcane Shot is not a vital ability, but it is an instant cast that deals a bit of damage. This shares a cooldown with Aimed Shot, meaning we will generally not want to use this if we go Marksmanship.
Without a debuff cap, this is a very solid ability that we want to maintain on the enemy as much as possible. You generally do not want to prioritize this over Aimed Shot or Multi-Shot, but this is still a very strong ability.
Your main non-talented ability, Multi-Shot is effectively an extra shot on a 10-second cooldown. The downside is that it can be fairly mana intensive to use regularly, but weaving it in correctly is a massive damage boost.
The best example of “set and forget” Classic has to offer. This does not aggro enemies, so cast it before you even engage, and only refresh it if it is actually going to fall off.
A large part of your DPS involves weaving in Aimed Shot after an auto-shot. This can make or break your performance during a fight, and weaving this in without losing any auto-shots can be the difference between a good or a bad Hunter.
BiS lists can vary drastically from fight to fight. 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.
- Glowing Gneuro-Linked Cowl
- Troggslayer Pauldrons
- Electromantic Chainmail
- Bonk-Maestro’s Handguards
- Electromantic Chausses
- Dark Hooded Cape
- Forest Stalker’s Bracers
- Darkvision Girdle
- Imposing Boots
- Gnomeregan Peace Officer’s Torque
- Protector’s Band / Legionnaire’s Band
- Hypercharged Gear of Devastation
- Gyromatic Experiment 420b
- Avenger’s Void Pearl
Orcs have some things going for Hunters, especially pet-focused ones. Axe Specialization increases our Axe Skill, which is rarely if ever going to matter. Blood Fury is a powerful offensive cooldown for Melee classes, but it does not improve our Ranged Attack Power. The important racial is Command. This increases our Pets’ damage, which synergizes very well with a lot of the Runes available in Phase 1.
Dwarves provide Gun Specialization, one of the few bonuses to Ranged Weapon Skills available. Weapon Skill is significantly less valuable with Ranged Weapon than it is for Melee, but it is still a boost! 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. Berserking offers 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.
Racial skills for Tauren do not bring much to the table for Ranged Hunters. 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.
There really isn’t a lot here for us. Quickness provides 1% increased chance to Dodge, which would be nice — Except we don’t want to be getting hit to begin with. Shadowmeld will probably allow you to pull off some fun roadside ambushes in Ashenvale but has no value in PvE.