Here’s my guide on Beast Mastery speccing, glyph choices and rotation for level 85. I’ll be updating it later so it remains current for upcoming patches and changes applied through hotfixes.
- Patch 4.2:
- New spec: Careful Aim replaced with 3/3 Pathing
- Patch 4.1:
- Added some instructions on AOEing and other minor tweaks. No speccing changes to worry about.
- Patch 4.0.6:
- New specc with Careful Aim instead of Pathing
- Kill shot glyph is now recommended over Serpent Sting
My philosophy is not to exclusively maximize single target dps, I’m going for best overall specc with as much utility and AOE without sacrificing more than a minimal amount of single target dps. Having said that, the specc above sacrifices no single target dps whatsoever since there are no interesting utility choices to make.
Talent commentary: The do’s
Once you’ve spent 23 points in the Beast Mastery tree, all on dps talents, you will have to spend 2 points in talents that don’t increase your dps at all. These are your choices:
- Spirit Bond – While your pet is active, you and your pet will regenerate 2% of total health every 10 sec., and increases healing done to you and your pet by 10%.
- Pathfinding – Increases the speed bonus of your Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack by 8%, and increases your speed while mounted by 10%. The mounted movement speed increase does not stack with other effects.
- Improved Mend Pet – Gives the Mend Pet ability a 50% chance of cleansing 1 Curse, Disease, Magic or Poison effect from the pet each tick.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera – Whenever you are hit by a melee attack, the cooldown of your Disengage is instantly reduced by 2 sec. Whenever you are hit by a ranged attack or spell, the cooldown of your Deterrence is instantly reduced by 4 sec. These effects have a 2 sec cooldown.
Out of these Spirit Bond gives you the most benefit in most situations (most importantly, during raiding). The passive self-healing and the increase to all healers heals on you and your pet means more survivability for you and less mana used on you by the healers which benefits the entire raid now that healers’ mana are at the risk of running out.
This talent is also very useful when doing extreme soloing, questing, PvP and dungeons. A clear winner!
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera can only potentially be useful in PvP and has no application in PvE.
Improved Mend Pet can be useful when soloing very old content such as Molten Core, but then again, you won’t need it there either since you overpower it so greatly.
Pathfinding sounds fun but it’s actually terrible since it doesn’t stack with the Guild level 3 perk; Mount Up. All it does is grant you 8% increased movement speed with Aspect of the Cheetah/Pack. That’s cool and all, but not nearly as good as Spirit Bond.
This talent is a massive dps boost for Beast Mastery. It’s so massive that it’s worth spending 3/3 in Efficiency (which isn’t all that great) just to get to it.
One thing to note about this talent is that the only shot you have to trigger it’s effect is Arcane Shot which means it’s important to always be using Arcane Shot in your rotation, if you are trying to go for some build that is exclusively using Cobra Shot then this talent will be worthless. Such a build however would net you less dps.
Also noteworthy is that because of the need to use Arcane Shot often the Careful Aim talent becomes slightly less valuable as well. In fact, since the patch 4.2 nerf, Careful Aim is not worth taking at all for any specc other than Marksman.
Talent commentary: The don’ts
This becomes a useful ability for Marksman because of the combo with Rapid Recuperation which is a talent that Beast Mastery hunters don’t have access to. Because of this, Rapid Killing is pointless for Beast Mastery.
There has been extensive testing to see if it would be worth it for Beast Mastery hunters to use two Steady Shots one after the other in their rotation so that they would see the benefits of this talent and while it is technically possible, it is incredibly difficult on the verge of impossible and not really a dps boost.
The dps-increase from this talent comes in two parts, the first part (Serpent Sting deals 30% damage instantly when applied) exclusively applies to the first and only time you apply Serpent Sting, not when you’re refreshing it with Cobra Shot and thus this is pointless for Beast Mastery.
The second part increases the Critical Strike chance of Serpent Sting by 10%, this is a very minor dps increase and not worth taking over any other option. For comparison, a point in Pathing gives you about three times as much dps as a point in Improved Serpent Sting.
- Arcane Shot – Your Arcane Shot deals 12% more damage.
- Kill Command – Reduces the Focus cost of your Kill Command by 3.
- Kill Shot – If the damage from your Kill Shot fails to kill a target at or below 20% health, your Kill Shot’s cooldown is instantly reset. This effect has a 6 sec cooldown.
Arcane Shot is your strongest glyph, it provides a massive amount of extra dps. Second best is Kill Command which reduces the focus cost of your signature ability. Anything that helps you use that ability just as it comes off cooldown is very beneficial.
For your third glyph you’ll want the Kill Shot glyph. It’s not the best glyph in the world but it is about three times stronger than the next best thing which is the Serpent Sting glyph.
- Bestial Wrath – Decreases the cooldown of Bestial Wrath by 20 sec.
- Disengage – Decreases the cooldown of Disengage by 5 sec.
- Mending – Increases the healing done by your Mend Pet ability by an additional 60%.
- Trap Launcher – Reduces the focus cost of Trap Launcher by 10.
- Misdirection – When you use Misdirection to your pet, the cooldown on your Misdirection is reset.
Beast Mastery is the only specc that has a major glyph that just straight-up increases your dps; Glyph of Bestial Wrath. This is an obvious first choice for any Beast Mastery hunter.
For your second and third slot you should consider the last four glyphs. Disengage is a definite favorite of mine and many other hunters, this will be very useful to you in raids, dungeons and PvP. The Trap Launcher glyph reduces the focus cost of launching traps which can be useful when launching traps in the middle of an encounter (such as Beth’tilac or Cho’gall for example).
I would argue taking Glyph of Mending over the Trap Launcher glyph though, because as a Beast Mastery hunter you are very dependent on your pet (it does 40%+ of your damage!) and losing it is disastrous. Being able to heal your pet a bit more is therefor very valuable.
The Misdirection glyph is essential for soloing and can actually be a good idea to use in dungeons just so you can misdirect your threat on every pull (not to the tank mind you, but away from yourself – you might wanna bring a tenacity pet when doing this). If you want to drop another glyph out for the Misdirection glyph I would suggest removing the Trap Launcher glyph but definitely do not remove the disengage glyph since you’ll have a great use for it in raids, dungeons, PvP and soloing.
- Feign Death – Reduces the cooldown of your Feign Death spell by 5 sec.
- Revive Pet – Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Revive Pet by 100%.
- Aspect of the Pack – Increases the range of your Aspect of the Pack ability by 15 yards.
Not much to say here, since there isn’t much to chose from. All of these only provides a minor potential benefit, which most of the time you could have been without.
If you’re looking to replace any one of them for the terribly underwhelming Lesser Proportions glyph, then switch out Aspect of the Pack since it won’t provide any potential benefit during an encounter. It’s only really useful for shortening corpse runs after wipes.
Beast Mastery has been and remains the machine gun specc which for the most part is spamming away a small number of abilities. However, it’s not nearly as easy to play now as it used to be.
The key to success will be good cooldown management and really understanding your abilities.
Starting an encounter
- Apply Hunter’s Mark before the encounter starts and load up a Misdirect on the main tank
- Open up with:
- Serpent Sting.
- Rapid Fire in combination with Call of the Wild, Bestial Wrath and any other stacking cooldowns (not haste cooldowns).
- Cooldowns such as Rapid Fire and Call of the Wild.
- Bestial Wrath just before using Kill Command, when it’s off cooldown.
- Kill Command as soon as it comes off cooldown.
- Kill Shot when available.
- Focus Fire whenever your pet got 5 stacks of Frenzy (you see it as “Focus Fire!” procc).
- Cobra Shot when none of the above are off cooldown or when you need focus.
- Bleeding off excess focus with Arcane Shot when you have enough focus (60+) to fire off Kill Command right after.
The above probably looks slightly more complicated than what you expected for Beast Mastery. But the reality is that most of the time you will be casting: Kill Command -> Arcane Shot -> Cobra Shot -> Cobra Shot. You weave the other abilities in as quick as you can when they become available.
Just for reference, here’s what Bestial Wrath does:
- Bestial Wrath – Send your pet into a rage causing 20% additional damage for 10 sec. The beast does not feel pity or remorse or fear and it cannot be stopped unless killed
- The Beast Within – While your pet is under the effects of Bestial Wrath, you also go into a rage causing 10% additional damage and reducing the focus cost of all shots and abilities by 50% for 10 sec.
Bestial Wrath will come off cooldown every 70 seconds and you want to use it quickly but not right away. The idea is to use it just before Kill Command comes off cooldown so you will be able to fit in two Kill Commands during one Bestial Wrath.
Also try to have above 60 focus when you start Bestial Wrath so that you don’t have to fire Cobra Shot during the time you have Bestial Wrath up. Because all abilities cost only half of the focus it’s more beneficial to get your two Kill Commands in and as many Arcane Shots as possible before the effect wears off.
This can be a good time to use your Fervor cooldown, if you’re lacking the focus.
As a Beast Mastery hunter you have these abilities to help you maximize your AOE potential:
- Explosive Trap – Lay down a trap using Trap Launcher on top of the mobs just before you move into your rotation.
- AOE pets – The exotic pets, Chimaera and Worm have unique AOE abilities that adds to your own total dps: Froststorm Breath and Burrow Attack.
- Bestial Wrath – Increases your and your pets dps (which makes a big difference if you brought an AOE pet) and reduces the cost of your abilities by half, which means you’ll be able to spam twice as many Multi-Shots during Bestial Wrath.
- Multi-Shot – Your bread and butter AOE spell. Cast it as much as possible, preferably under Bestial Wrath.
And of course, when you run out of focus, make sure to add some Cobra Shots. Try to target the mob with the maximum amount of health left when you cast your Cobra Shot so you reduce the risk of the mob dying before your cast finishes.