How I built my Survival Hunter (with duct tape, duh!)


I would like to say I got most of my information on switching to Survival from two sources. A most excellent 3.08 Survival Hunter Guide Written by Xumio and hosted on the Hunting Lodge forums was one. The other was a couple of posts on Lienna’s Log. I you have not read these yet, please do yourself a favor and check them out.

Seriously, go, I’ll be here when you get back.

Back? Good.

Now I will explain what I did when switching over to my current Survival spec and how my playstlyle changed as a result. I will also look into how the spec I made is just a little borked with my current gear and how I am going to tweak it to wring even more MQSRDPS out of it.

I’ll start in the Beastmastery tree.

I chose to pick up 4/5 in Improved Aspect of the Hawk.

I originally picked this up before I got my hands on the Glyph of Improved Aspect of the Hawk. Now along with the 3% haste I am getting from my gear it is actually overkill. I only need to be sitting at 16% and I am sitting at about 21%. There will be a bit of a respec in order here later today to drop it down to 2/5. That will put me a little light at 15% But I think I will get more bang for my talent points by putting those two into the Marksman tree.

Speaking of the Marksman tree, some really nice talents are to be had there.

I picked up 5/5 in Lethal Shots for an extra 5% crit. Heck yes, sign me up.  The more I crit the more often I proc Expose Weakness, Master Tactician, and Hunting Party.

Careful Aim (3/3) was a no-brainer also. Anything that converts 100% of my intellect into attack power is a beautiful thing. Scales quite well with raid buffs as well. Arcane Intellect just became and attack power buff, sweet!

Mortal shots was another easy choice, I dropped all 5 points into this one, getting me a 30% increase to damage from my critical strikes. Depending on the buffs that I am getting I have seen crit as high as 49% in 25 man VOA this weekend.

Lastly I picked up one point in Go for the Throat. Since I am critting so much I don’t really need both. My cat Shadow still provides a good chunk of Dps when he is not rage starved, and with one point he had plenty.

Now, remember me saying I was taking back those two points from Improved Aspect of the Hawk? well, those are getting used right here. I am going to be putting both points into Rapid Killing. I found that I am even more of a rapid fire junkie than I was as Beastmastery, so the more I get to use it the better. We shall see how it works out, I might end up changing this again later as I get more haste.

Now we move on the the Survival tree.

First I grabbed Improved Tracking (5/5). Now I just have to remember to stop tracking minerals when I am running instances.

Hawk Eye (3/3) makes for a decent filler talent. It does make staying at range for Sniper Training a little easier. Anyhow, I need to spend three points to get to tier three, so here they are.

Survival Instincts  (2/2) is nice in two regards. I get a bonus of 4% to my critical strike chance for Arcane Shot (which is now off my hotbar), Steady Shot, and Explosive Shot when I put two points here. The icing on the cake is the 4% damage reduction. While not worth the points by itself, anything that makes my healers job easier is a win in my book. 

Survivalist (5/5) much the same as Survival instincts. It provides a boost of 10% to my Stamina for 5 points, and later a dps boost through Hunter Verses Wild. Harder to kill, and does more damage. Yes, please!

T.N.T. (3/3) just sounds fun. Seriously, how could you not grab a talent with that name. It’s worth all three points just for that. Even without the cool name it gives Immolation trap, Explosive trap, and Explosive shot a 15% chance to stun targets for 3 seconds. That’s just the icing though, the real bonus is increasing the critical strike chance of Explosive shot by 9%.

Lock and Load (3/3) is another one worth the three points just for the name.  A 100% chance when trapping a target and a 10% chance on each tick of Serpents Sting to cause the next two Arcane or Explosive shots to trigger no cooldown, use no ammo, and use no mana. (note: 30 sec cooldown).

As an added bonus Lienna wrote up a very nice post on how to make scrolling combat text give you an audible cue when Lock and Load procs, personally mine is the sound of a pump shotgun being cycled. Who could ask for anything more.

Hunter vurses Wild (3/3) Increases the attack power of you and your pet by 30% of your total Stamina. Not only does this make Survival Instincts a decent Dps boost, but it just turned every stam buff you get into more attack power. Fortitude buff? Attack power. The extra stam on stat food? Attack power. Got druid buffs? Attack power from this and Careful Aim! ❤ Druids.

Killer instincts (3/3) is pretty straight forward. 3 points, 3% increase in critical strike chance with all attacks. ❤ Crit.

Another straight forward talent is Lightning Reflexes (5/5). My 5 points buys me a 15% increase to Agility. Remember those Druid Buffs I was talking about earlier? Those are applied before the percent is figured out, so even more attack power and crit from those. Still ❤ Druids.

Expose weakness (2/3) has apparently exposed itself, because it is a lot weaker than it was last time I went this route. It no longer benefits the entire raid, but is still a solid talent to have for the self buff. With two points I have a 66% chance for any of my ranged crits to increase my attack power by 25% of my agility for 7 seconds. Even with only 2 points I saw that it procced early in the fight and was up about 90% of the time.

Wyvern Sting (1/1) may seem to be more of a PvP talent, at least it seems that way to me. I suppose having a second form of ranged crowd control to go with the ice trap arrow may come in handy at some point. Either way I need it to get to Noxious Stings, so it gets its point.

Next up is Thrill of the Hunt (3/3) With this build I crit a lot. Anything that will refund 40% of the mana I spent firing a shot that crits is a wonderful thing.

Master Tactician (5/5) Successful ranged attacks have a 10% chance to increase crit by 10% for 8 seconds. ❤ Crit. A 10% chance may not see like much, but this is actually up a good amount of the time.

Noxious Stings (3/3) is the whole reason I took Wyvern Sting in the first place. Besides the PvP aspect of the boost to Wyvern Sting if it’s dispelled, it increases all damage done by me to targets afflicted with my serpents sting by 3%. I am already keeping Serpents Sting up at all times anyway, might as well do more damage because of it.

Sniper training (3/3) seems to be a pretty situational talent to me so far. I have mods installed that let me know when I am out at least 30 yards, but find I can’t often maintain that range due to movement of the target, cave ins, not wanting to stand in the fire… That kind of thing. An extra 6% damage is nice if I can play the range game, I am just noticing it is a little hard to do on most fights. The jury is still out on this one, but it seems better than any of the alternatives.

I have seen some folks that love this and some that consider having it a burden they feel they have to carry to help out the raid. Well I for one actually like Hunting Party (3/5). I only went three points deep in this because my crit rating is so high.  I have a 60% for my Arcane, Steady, or Explosive shot crits to grant me and 9 others the replenishment buff for 15 seconds. I find I am critting so often that it rarely, if ever, expires before refreshing itself. Also being able to fill the “Mana battery” role is quite helpful in finding groups for pug heroics. In short, I play this character in groups, so I spec to benefit the group. If I wanted to spec for running solo I would go back to Beastmastery.

Lastly we come to Explosive shot (1/1). This is the money shot, the whole reason we took the walk this far down the tree. I could get into a bunch of math on this one, but suffice it to say that this shot hits hard, ticks hard, and crits often. I get about 40% of my total Dps from this shot. I can no more imagine going Survival without it than I can running as Beastmaster with only Mr. Pinchy as a pet.

I like this build, I have fun with this build, and I do more damage while bringing more utility. The best part is it is not a cookie cutter build. Just as it is evolving today from a 4/14/53 to a 2/16/53 to reflect the amount of haste I need it will continue to evolve as my gear changes. I think that is what I like about it the most.

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5 Responses

  1. Does HawkEye affect the distance you can fire Freezing Arrow?

  2. @Stupid Mage You caught me before my respec so I was actually able to test for free! Woot, free is good!

    The answer unfortunately is that it does not increase the range of freezing arrow, but I like the way you were thinking.

  3. I’m still BM, for a little longer, although seeing all my favourite bloggers respec on me – and seeing other hunters beat the crap out of me on the meters – is taking its toll.

    I’m just wondering about your haste/aspect of the hawk comments –

    Imp aspect of the hawk has a 10% chance of proccing haste for 12 seconds – but the haste only applies for those 12 sec, so don’t you need other gear-based haste to make up for the time Imp aspect isn’t procced?

    I haven’t actually checked to see how often it procs for me – if it’s up most of the time then fair enough. Look forward to hearing more from you about survival anyway 🙂

  4. @Chapooke Ideally you would be sitting at 16% haste all the time, Improved aspect of the hawk won’t be up all the time, but when it is it is a big help.

    As I gather more gear to support having enough haste to bring my steady shot down to 1.5 seconds for the global cooldown I will be gradually eliminating Improved aspect of the hawk from my spec. As of right now I plan to put the points into improved stings as they become availible.

  5. I will not be respecing from BM. My hunter will just be put on the shelf until then. If I’m going to do ranged DPS, I’ll play a mage. If blizzard didnt want the hunter to count on the pet then why have it?

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