This guide is primarily concerned with hunters who plan to go or respec to Beast Mastery. I won't discuss PvP in this guide, since my experience is limited to dueling tournaments. For those who are already high level and want to know how to use Beast Mastery effectively, scroll past the beginner stuff.
Hunters are excellent soloists and being specced in Beast Mastery can be the best. You'll be able to zip through quests at an incredible speed and many people recommend speccing Beast just for that purpose. Hunters do suffer from a stigma of being a "noob" class, and Beast Mastery even more so. Due to this, lack of a defined group role, and an overabundance of hunters, finding a place in a group may be difficult..
A hunter can be DPS, off-tank, puller, crowd-control, cloth-protector (or all of the above at the same time), but you will almost never see "LF Hunter" in chat. For DPS, rogues and mages are often preferred because they usually bring more damage and have other skills beneficial to a group. For tanking, warriors, shamans, and pallies come first. Most groups prefer a tank to pull, regardless of their skill. Crowd-control is usually left to the mages, rogues, priests, and druids. It's typically the tank's job to protect the cloth-wearers.
Even though a hunter can perform all these roles admirably, there exists one more obstacle: hunter is a popular class. If a group ever does look for a hunter, the spot is quickly filled.
Playing the hunter has a definite trade-off. It is a very fun class, and hunters are remarkable soloists, but they lack high group desirability. There's only one way to counteract this: become the best hunter you can be, fulfill as many of your roles as you can, and people will remember you over the average hunter.
Beast Mastery takes soloing to a whole new level. A hunter's DPS is made at range, and when soloing, it's the pet's job to keep your mob at range. Beast-Mastery buffs your pets health, armor, damage, and crit, meaning they can tank for much longer periods.
This is great on two fronts: first, your pet is doing very good damage itself, and second, you're doing better damage as well. Taking Beast-Mastery does limit your ranged ability a bit, but the fact that your pet should never lose aggro means that your damage remains steady. You should rarely if ever have a mob your pet is on run up to attack you.
With enough points in BM, your pet will most likely have higher armor and health than you, and you'll have much higher DPS. In many cases, your pet will actually be able to tank an elite equal to or slightly above your pet's level (if you heal).
To play a Beast Master well requires good pet control. If this is not something you enjoy then playing a Beast Master may not be for you.
The race you choose isn't overly important. Starting stats are all but irrelevant at higher levels. There are currently seven choices for a hunter: Draenei, Night Elf, and Dwarf on the Alliance; Blood Elf, Tauren, Orc, and Troll on the Horde. Some racials that are noteworthy for a hunter:
This is a somewhat important note, which is why it's up at the top. Hunters are capable of using lots of equipment. This does not mean they should use anything and everything that "upgrades" what they have. You do not need to concern yourself with melee DPS...ever.
Bows and rifles are, obviously, the most important consideration. Ranged DPS is your main focal point where gear is concerned.
When getting melee weapons, you want weapons with stats that help your ranged attack. Agility is a prime example (+1 Ranged Attack Power per point of Agility). Attack Power, +Crit, or +Hit are also good, and become more readily available in later levels. You don't want weapons with Chance on hit: Wound target, or something along those lines, if there's equipment to be had with ranged stats on it. The same principle holds true for enchants.
Armor: The first 40 levels are a pain for armor. You wear leather and because of that you may have to fight off the rogues for it if you're in a group. The primary stat for both classes is agility. Much of the time you're likely to be soloing, though. After level 40, a hunter is able to wear mail armor so you will be in competition with shamans for some of the mail armor drops. Since shaman armor tends to be more common though, hunters can be at a noticeable disadvantage.
However, some hunters will still roll on leather armor after 40. The reasoning is that the stats are often better for a hunter, and the loss of armor is negligible when a hunter shouldn't be getting hit anyway. Be wary if you go that route, you run the risk of causing bad blood with any rogues you roll against in an instance. Be sure to discuss it with the group ahead of time if you plan to roll on leather, as the last thing you want or need is to be labeled a ninja-looter (especially if you're labeled a ninja for just rolling).
Pets: Pets gain a percentage of some of the hunter's stats. These are Armor, Stamina, Resists, and Ranged Attack Power*. This is one other reason not to use leather armor, since it would reduce your pet's armor class.
This is also the reason why Beast Masters will typically have lower crit rates than other hunters. Our pets don't gain a percentage of Agi (though they do gain some of the RAP from it) or of crit%. The most efficient way to boost both your damage and your pet's is to gather AP-heavy gear, and try to fill in crit% on the side.
Hunter abilities are all centered around the ability to deal damage from a distance. Hunters don't have the armor of warriors, or the high evasion abilities of a rogue. They don't have instant damage attacks, or any good stat debuffs.
A hunter's melee abilities are almost all reactionary: when you parry, when you dodge, when someone gets too close. The ones that have status affects universally are made to help you get back out of melee range. Beyond those, hunters' traps (Frost and Freeze), Feign Death, Concussive Shot, and the pet are all developed around the need to keep enemies at range or get out of their melee range.
Damage is the last concern when you're in melee range.
At level 10, a hunter needs to return to their home area to get their taming quests. The quests are simple and self-explanatory. One thing: be sure to do the next quest right away. Once you learn how to tame a pet, you need to do another quest to learn how to train another pet. If you don't do that, you cannot feed your pet, and it will run away.
To reiterate: There are two quests at level 10 and you must do them both or your pet will run away.
You cannot tame a pet that is a higher level than you. Pets level up faster than their owners, but they do not gain exp if they are the hunter's level. This is so that a pet will never be higher level than the hunter.
Pets fit into four basic types: high hp, high armor, high damage, all-around. Scorpids and Turtles, such as the Steeljaw Snapper, are some high armor pets, while Bears, Gorillas, and Tallstriders have high health. Either type is good for tanking. High damage pets include Cats, Wind Serpents, and Ravagers. For pets that are decent across the board, Boars, Carrion Birds and Wolves are the way to go.
When you first tame a pet, it will be at Loyalty level one, and Unhappy. Happiness affects your pet's damage (and if they're Unhappy long enough they will leave). You can feed your pet to raise their Happiness – wait until your pet finishes eating before giving them a second piece of food, or the first piece will be wasted. You can open your character panel, click the pet tab, and hold your cursor over the green icon to see what your particular pet eats.
At Unhappy (red), your pet only does 75% damage. At Content (yellow), they do 100%. When they're Happy (green), they do 125% damage. As long as your pet is either content or happy, he gains Loyalty. Your Loyalty can go up to level six (Best Friend), which is necessary for getting the most training points. The number of training points you have is equal to (Loyalty Level - 1) * (Pet Level) -- meaning the max you can ever have is 5 training points per level.
What's the best pet? There is no "best pet," but there may be a best pet for you. What pet is best for you depends on a lot of things. Do you like looks? Damage? Speed? Would you like a pet that can sneak up on your enemies, or one that gets in their face?
The best advice I can give you is to experiment with lots of pets, and stick with the one you like best.
For many abilities you will have to stable your main pet, and tame other pets to learn new skills. For example, you could tame different spiders until you found one with Bite, tell it to attack until you get a message saying you learned it, then teach Bite to your Wolf. All Passive pet abilities and Growl are bought from Pet Trainers. Pet Trainers can untrain your pet, for a small fee, but in order to train your pet you must use the Beast Training ability under General Skills tab. A pet can not learn more than 4 active abilities, but is otherwise limited only by its beast type and training points.
| || ||Taunt the target, increasing the likelihood the creature will focus attacks on you. Main aggro-management tool.|
| || ||Cower, causing no damage but lowering your threat, making the enemy less likely to attack you. Second aggro-management tool. Best for groups where you don't want to pull aggro off the main tank, but unnecessary if you turn Growl off autocast. Not recommended.|
| ||Bats, Bears, Boars, Carrion Birds, Cats, Crocolisks, Dragonhawks, Gorillas, Hyenas, Nether Rays, Raptors, Ravagers, Serpents, Spiders, Tallstriders, Turtles, Warp Stalkers, Windserpents, Wolves.||Bite the enemy, causing x to y damage. Does more damage than claw, but 10 second cooldown. Better for Focus management.|
| ||Bears, Carrion Birds, Cats, Crabs, Owls, Raptors, Scorpids, Warp Stalkers||Claw the enemy, causing x to y damage. Less damage than bite, but no cooldown. Uses lots of Focus on auto-cast, so only advised if you have Bestial Discipline.|
| ||Tallstrider, Cat, Wolf, Hyena, Boar||Increases movement speed by x for 15 seconds. Very useful. Same effect as Dive.|
| ||Owl, Bat, Carrion Bird, Dragonhawk, Nether Ray, Wind Serpent||Increases movement speed by x for 15 seconds. Very useful. Same effect as Dash.|
|Charge|| ||Boar||Charges an enemy, immobilizes it for 1 sec, and adds x attack power to your next attack. Similar to a Warrior's charge, but doesn't stun (immobilizes).|
|Fire Breath|| ||Dragonhawk||Targets in a cone in front of the caster take fire damage over 2 seconds. Damage scales with pet level.|
|Furious Howl|| ||Wolf||Party members within range receive an extra x to y damage to their next attack. Lasts 10 seconds. Great group buff. Usable in the background even in places where you need to hold pet back.|
|Gore|| ||Boar, Ravager||Gores the enemy, causing x to y damage. This attack has a 50% chance to inflict double damage. Consumes Focus like Claw, and does less base damage. However, with the 50% chance for double damage, this ability outpaces Claw (the attack can still crit on top of dealing double damage).|
|Lightning Breath|| ||Wind Serpent||Breathes lightning, instantly dealing x to y Nature damage to a single target. Bypasses armor, good damage but empties Focus bar quickly. Scales with RAP, making it potentially the most damaging ability with high gear. The only real damage-dealing ability that can be used from mid-range.|
|Poison Spit|| ||Serpents||Spits poison at an enemy, dealing x damage over 8 seconds. DoTs complicate crowd-control, but it's ranged and scales slightly with RAP.|
|Prowl|| ||Cat||Stealths pet, reducing movement speed to x% of normal. The first attack breaking stealth does y% of normal damage. Great for ambushing or scouting with Eyes of the Beast.|
|Scorpid Poison|| ||Scorpid||x Nature damage over 8 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times. Excellent damage when stacked, but DoTs complicate crowd control. Scales slightly with RAP and contributes to a Scorpid being one of the potentially highest damage pets.|
|Screech|| ||Bat, Owl, Carrion Bird||Blasts single enemy for x to y damage and lowers the attack power of enemies in range by z. Effect lasts 4 seconds. Acts something like an area-Growl.|
|Shell Shield|| ||Turtle||Hide in your shell, reducing all damage taken by 50%, but increases time between your pet's attacks by 43%. Lasts 12 sec. (Cooldown: 3 minutes). Might keep your pet alive, but not great for tanking. Since pet's attack speed is reduced it pulls less aggro.|
|Thunderstomp|| ||Gorilla||Shakes the ground with thundering force, doing x to y Nature damage to all enemies within 8 yards. (Cooldown: 1 minute). Causes high threat, bypasses physical armor but high focus cost and 1 minute cooldown. May scale with RAP but cooldown mitigates the effectiveness.|
|Warp|| ||Warp Stalker||Teleports to an enemy up to 30 yards away and gives the pet a 50% chance to avoid the next melee attack. Lasts 4 sec. Similar to Charge and Dash, another method of closing distance. Requires a little extra time for the pet to gain aggro, however.|
|Avoidance|| || ||Increases your pet's chance to avoid area of effect attacks by an additional x%. Minor training cost and goes up to 50%. Highly recommended in endgame.|
|Cobra Reflexes|| || ||Increases pet's attack speed by 30% but damage done is reduced. Very large return for a minor training cost. This ability nets between 11% and 14% dps increase.|
|Great Stamina|| || ||Increases Stamina.|
|Natural Armor|| || ||Increases Armor|
|Resistance|| || ||Increases resistance|
Focused Fire - 2 ranks All damage caused by you is increased by 1% (per rank) while your pet is active and the critical strike chance of your Kill Command ability is increased by 10% (per rank). Despite it's location low in the tree, this may be one of the later talents you pick up. It's definitely worth the investment, however, especially after you get Kill Command at 66.
Improved Aspect of the Monkey - 5 ranks Increases the dodge bonus of your Aspect of the Monkey by 2% (per rank). This is better for Survival hunters, but AotM is hardly ever used after you get your pet.
Thick Hide - 3 ranks Increases the armor rating of your pets by 7 / 14 / 20% and your armor contributions from items by 4 / 7 / 10%. 20% extra armor is great for tanking, and a little extra for yourself is also nice. Highly recommended.
Improved Mend Pet - 2 ranks Reduces the mana cost of your Mend Pet spell by 10% (per rank) and gives the Mend Pet spell a 15 / 50% chance of cleansing 1 Curse, Disease, Magic, or Poison effect from the pet each tick. Excellent talent if you have the points. Although it takes three times as long to remove debuffs, the 20% lower mana cost is worth the talent points on its own.
Ferocity - 5 ranks Increases the critical strike chance of your pets by 2% (per rank). 10% extra crit chance is deadly, combined with the tier 6 talent Frenzy.
Spirit Bond - 2 ranks While your pet is active you and your pet will regenerate 1% (per rank) of total health every 10 seconds. Very minor regen, only once per 10 seconds. Its usefulness is limited, and generally not recommended.
Intimidation - 1 rank Command your pet to intimidate the target on the next successful melee attack, causing a high amount of threat and stunning the target for 3 seconds. Instant cast, 1 minute cooldown. Great ability for protecting casters, catching runaways, extra aggro, and interrupting casting. The stun is not broken by damage, either. Short cooldown. If all that weren't enough, you need it to get Bestial Wrath.
Bestial Discipline - 2 ranks Increases the Focus regeneration of your pets by 50% (per rank). More focus equals more damage or better aggro control (or both). A must-have talent if you're this high in the tree.
Animal Handler - 2 ranks Increases your speed while mounted by 4% (per rank) and your pet's chance to hit by 2% (per rank). The mounted movement speed increase does not stack with other effects. The way this talent is worded is misleading. The important part of this talent is the +hit for your pet -- 4% more hits is essentially 4% more damage. The mount speed is just a bonus.
Frenzy - 5 ranks (requires 5 points in Ferocity) Gives your pet a 20% chance (per rank) to gain a 30% attack speed increase for 8 seconds after dealing a critical strike. Simply amazing, if you got Ferocity, definitely get this. If you didn't get Ferocity, shame on you. This can reproc multiple times and can proc off of special attack crits.
Ferocious Inspiration - 3 ranks When your pet scores a critical hit, all party members have all damage increased by 1% (per rank) for 10 seconds. A great little buff, for groups or for solo. FI from multiple hunters will all apply, and it's active whenever Frenzy is... which is almost always.
Bestial Wrath - 1 rank (Requires 1 point in Intimidation) Send your pet into a rage causing 50% additional damage for 18 seconds. While enraged the beast cannot be stopped by any means. Instant cast, 2 minute cooldown.
The Beast Within- 1 rank (Requires 1 point in Bestial Wrath) When your pet is under the effects of Bestial Wrath, you also go into a rage causing 10% additional damage and reducing mana costs of all spells by 20% for 18 seconds. While enraged, you do not feel pity or remorse or fear and you cannot be stopped unless killed.
The talents you put into Survival or Marksmanship, I'd mostly like to leave to you. However, we will take a look at the first 3 tiers of both trees, to see how the talents relate to a Beast Master.
Improved Concussive Shot - 5 ranks Gives your Concussive Shot a 4% (per rank) chance to stun the target for 3 seconds. This is primarily a PvP talent, and actually has little value to a Beast Master.
Lethal Shots - 5 ranks Increases your critical strike chance with ranged weapons by 1% (per rank). 5% extra crit is nothing to scoff at, but it's not as important to a Beast Master as to other builds. An extra 5% crits does lead to more Kill Commands, but it also pulls extra aggro.
Improved Hunter's Mark - 5 ranks Causes 20% (per rank) of your Hunter's Mark ability effect to apply to melee attack power as well. This talent is useful for buffing your pet's damage on most targets. It is questionable whether it's worth 5 talent points for that increase, though. As a special note, the melee bonus does not increase along with the ranged bonus: no matter how many times the target is hit, ranged or melee, the melee bonus will always be the base amount.
Efficiency - 5 ranks Reduces the Mana cost of your Shots and Stings by 2% (per rank). 10% less mana on shots is great for any hunter, and works well in both PvE and PvP. However, as a Beast Master you tend to use more autoshot DPS than other hunters, and therefore need this talent less.
Go for the Throat - 2 ranks Your ranged critical hits cause your pet to generate 25 (per rank) focus. An iffy talent. Beast Master's tend to have lower crit rates than other hunters, and this talent is no substitute for Bestial Discipline. This is more effective for the Marksman with BM as his secondary tree, who doesn't or can't go deep enough to get Bestial Discipline, and has a stronger focus on crit in his gear choices.
Improved Arcane Shot - 5 ranks Reduces the cooldown of your Arcane Shot by 0.2 (per rank) seconds. Arcane Shot is a high-power shot for a Beast Master. However, it's also relatively high aggro. This is a good talent to have, since it seems to be around a 20% increase to Arcane Shot's DPS over time, but kind of a costly investment.
Aimed Shot - 1 rank An aimed shot that increases ranged damage by x. See Aimed Shot for a Beast Master. Short version: I do not recommend this talent for Beast Masters.
Rapid Killing - 2 ranks Reduces the cooldown of your Rapid Fire ability by 1 minute. In addition, after killing an opponent that yields experience or honor, your next Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot, or Auto Shot causes 10% additional damage. Lasts 20 seconds. A surprisingly good talent for ranged DPS. Not really a priority however, and another costly investment.
Monster Slaying - 3 ranks Increases all damage caused against Beast, Giants, and Dragonkin targets by 1% (per rank) and increases critical damage causes against Beasts, Giants, and Dragonkin targets by an additional 1% (per rank). A pretty simple talent. +3% damage on your normal attacks, and +6% damage on your crits against the listed targets. Note that it only applies to your own attacks, not your pet's.
Humanoid Slaying - 3 ranks Increases all damage caused against Humanoid targets by 1% (per rank) and increases critical damage causes against Humanoid targets by an additional 1% (per rank). See Monster Slaying. This applies in PvP.
Hawk Eye - 3 ranks Increases the range of your ranged weapons by 2 (per rank) yards. Another talent with a clear benefit. This is actually less important for a Beast Master, since the target's attention would normally be on your pet, but becomes very useful in high-end instances in raids. An extra 6 yards can be just enough to avoid being barbecued by some AoEs.
Savage Strikes - 2 ranks Increases the critical strike chance of Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite by 10% (per rank). Not highly recommended. Some like to use it for jousting, but you're often better served to just Wing Clip and get to range. One potential use for it, though, is to promote more Kill Commands.
Entrapment - 3 ranks Gives your Immolation Trap, Frost Trap, Explosive Trap, and Snake Trap a 8 / 16 / 25% chance to entrap the target, preventing them from moving for 4 seconds. This is an example of getting bang for your buck, especially when used with Frost Trap. However, it's of no particular advantage or disadvantage to a Beast Master.
Deflection - 5 ranks Increases your Parry chance by 1% (per rank). A rather simple talent that's actually very useful. Since your pet should hold aggro exceptionally well, though, this is of limited use to a Beast Master.
Improved Wing Clip - 3 ranks Gives your Wing Clip ability a 7 / 14 / 20% chance to immobilize the target for 5 seconds. A good return on your talent points. If you get caught in melee, you should hit Wing Clip and try to get to range. Being slowed gives your pet a chance to grab aggro before the enemy catches up to you, and the bonus from IWC certainly doesn't hurt.
Clever Traps - 2 ranks Increases the duration of Freezing and Frost trap effects by 15% (per rank), the damage of Immolation and Explosive trap effects by 15% (per rank), and the number of snakes summoned from Snake Traps by 15% (per rank). Another good return on talent points, this buffs both your damage and crowd control traps. Has good synergy with Entrapment, but no specific benefit to a Beast Master.
Survivalist - 5 ranks Increases total health by 2% (per rank). More health is always good, but for a Beast Master this may be redundant. Not only do you get hit less, on average, but one of the first tier BM talents already gives you 5% more health.
Deterrence - 1 rank When activated, increases your Dodge and Parry chance by 25% for 10 seconds. Yet again, Beast Masters are adept at avoiding melee, making this a bit superfluous. This may actually be of good use against a Beast Master, though, since you can avoid a good portion of damage from Bestial Wrath.
Aimed Shot is considered by many to be a must-have ability for every hunter. This is not so. While it is certain that many will not agree with this reasoning, I feel the need to put this out there. I must state, however, that this is my own opinion and you are welcome to agree or disagree with it.
Aimed Shot has no synergy with a Beast Mastery build. It's hard to get past seeing the big numbers on screen. However, Aimed Shot draws a lot of aggro that you don't need to pull. The one time most hunters can tell you not to use Aimed Shot is as an opener... the only time you'll ever get good damage from it as a Beast Master is as an opener.
Gear-wise, Beast Masters tend to have lower crit-rates than other hunters. The talent trees buff a lot of the base damage and Auto-Shot DPS in Beast Mastery. Beast Masters need less and even shun downtime.
The first reason that Aimed Shot works against a BM build is that it draws aggro to the hunter -- one of the key focus points of the build is keeping aggro on the pet. Next is that in order to get the full benefit of Aimed Shot and Auto-Shot, you need an attack speed greater than 3.0. However, this invalidates one of BM's key damage talents -- Serpent's Swiftness. Beast Mastery promotes quick shots, but Aimed Shot functions best with slow ones. Since Beast Masters lack some of the better ranged damage buffs, the loss of Auto-Shot DPS is much more noticeable.
The cast-time on Aimed Shot is also a hindrance, even if you think you can use it as an opener. As a Beast Master, you can swiftly go from kill to kill to kill without hesitation. With Aimed Shot, you'd need to kill, pause, kill, pause. The damage gained doesn't truly make up for the time that could have already been used. Some cite that it is useful when combined with The Beast Within. In order to do that, though, you have to sacrifice three seconds of TBW (one-sixth) to get one shot that does 10% extra damage.
Aimed Shot makes it far easier to pull aggro from your pet, works against many of the damage abilities from Beast Mastery, and even mires your grinding capability. It gives little benefit with this talent spec, and in some cases can hurt your gameplay. The usefulness is mostly limited to PvP openers.
Your pet will attack anything in range. You should save this for very limited situations, when the mobs are coming to you and there's nothing nearby that you don't want the pet to attack. A good safety precaution is to always set your pet to Stay when you put it on Aggressive.
Your pet will attack anything that hits it, or anything that hits you. Good stance for lower levels and for soloing. Not recommended for instances.
Your pet will not do anything that you don't specifically command it to. This is the stance your pet should be in most end-game. Your pet should always be in Passive in instances and raids. This way your pet will not run off and aggro random mobs to cause a wipe.
Your pet's group role changes with the situation. When everything is smooth, your pet should be focused completely on damage. Turn Growl off auto-cast, send pet in to attack. When possible, you and your pet should be attacking the tank's main target. In these situations, keep an eye to the rogues for hints on when to pull your pet back.
If the tank is not holding aggro well, turn Growl on auto-cast (possibly turning off attack abilities), send pet to aggro the loose mobs that are threatening the rest of the party. If a mob is on a mage or priest, use Intimidate, no questions asked. Regular Growl is typically not enough to pull aggro off of them.
If the tank is holding aggro well, but taking too much damage, turn Growl on auto-cast and pull one mob's aggro onto your pet (possibly with Intimidate). This spares the tank some beating, and the healer some mana (and aggro). If you choose not to step in, chances are the extra healing will pull aggro onto the priest and you'll have to send pet to protect him or her anyway.
When there's a ranged mob attacking the group, but other mobs that haven't aggro'd near it, keep your pet back, everyone pelt the mob with ranged attacks. This is the place where Passive is necessary. If the tank charges in and aggros everything, then it's ok to send your pet. The group will let a tank slide on that, but if you send the pet in first, they won't be as forgiving.
When you're pulling, put your pet on Stay and leave it with the group. If you're pulling one or a few mobs, keep it on Passive, but if you're pulling a ton of weaker mobs, set it to Aggressive (be sensible about where you use Aggressive, and never do it without your pet on Stay).
A big problem to look out for is jumping off ledges in a group. Not always, but too often, your pet will run around rather than jumping with you. To be 100% sure, dismiss your pet before a jump or use Eyes of the Beast to drop your pet down and click Stay. Other possibilities include telling your pet to Stay a ways back – he will auto-disappear when you get far enough away and you can call him back with no loss of happiness – or if it's a cat, Prowl before jumping and let it walk around. You take a risk with the other two, so try to only Dismiss the pet or walk it around with Eyes of the Beast.
Area-effect spells are often the most troublesome things for pets in endgame instances. Be sure to put some applicable resists on your pet when possible (ie, Fire and Shadow resist for MC). Also, when your pet is at a quarter of its health, click the follow button and pull him away from the fight. Higher health is more important for AoEs than higher armor. Avoidance increases your pet's ability to dodge AoEs by 50% -- this is a must-train ability if you plan to use your pet in high-end raids. Your pet doesn't have to be AoE fodder if you're prepared.
If your pet is going to tank, it's probably a good idea to give them extra armor or health. Depending on how much damage is heading at the mob, you may need to turn off other abilities so that the pet is only using Growl. Scorpid Sting helps against hard-hitting melee mobs, but still watch your pet's health. Start Mend Pet at the start of the fight and try to keep it active at all times. Never expect a priest to heal your pet; some of them will, just don't enter any group expecting them to. Just keep the pet healed and tanking is a cinch.
Which pet you use for tanking isn't as important as what talents you have and what abilities are trained. Pets with tank stats will require less healing, but pets that deal more damage can generate more aggro. It's up to you which you prefer.
Here's what you're probably interested in: how to get the most damage out of your pet. As soon as you start combat, send your pet at the target, followed by an arrow (a Sting of some kind). Activate Bestial Wrath if you have it (it's on a two-minute cooldown, no need to be thrifty with it), deal ranged DPS as usual. When the mob is just about to die, select a new target if there is one, start shooting, then as soon as your pet finishes the first one send him after the second one. Unless they're immune it's probably a good idea to use Serpent Sting on the first mob before you switch targets. Activate Kill Command whenever possible.
You're probably thinking, well that was simple. It is. The hard part is commanding your pet effectively, not squeezing the most damage out of it. You need to be relentless, yet controlled. Can't send your pet after the wrong mob, don't want to pull aggro to yourself before your pet attacks. Activate Bestial Wrath whenever possible (two-minute cooldown, it'll be back in one or two more pulls). As long as there's enough mobs or a strong enough one for your pet to fight 18 seconds then you haven't wasted Bestial Wrath.
Not all of these are strictly Beast Mastery tips and tricks. Some things are either fun or useful.
Scouting: If you have a cat with the Prowl ability, you can use Eyes of the Beast to explore an area. This can be useful if you're looking for a particular room or boss, or just if you want to see what's around the corner (beyond tracking range).
Sniping: A popular (and controversial) trick is to Shadow Meld – and put your pet in Prowl if possible – and wait for an enemy to appear. You can charge up Aimed Shot or Steady Shot, getting a powerful surprise attack. This is considered cheap by many, and it won't work if the person moves too close or just runs out of range. Use at your own discretion.
Stealthing: Another night-elf only trick, this one to get through mob-infested areas solo (prime example would be the blue dragonkin cave in Winterspring). When you can't avoid mobs any further, run until you're in a semi-clear spot, then FD. After the mobs reset, click Shadow Meld, and wait in Shadow Meld until your FD is cooled down, as well as for health if necessary. If your FD isn't resisted, and if pats don't move too close while you're in SM, then you can use this trick to get through otherwise dangerous areas. Other hunters can do this as well, just without the benefit of staying hidden while FD cools down. It's not fast, but it can get you places you otherwise can't solo.
Vicious Wrath: The level 50 Hunter quests end with a choice of 3 rewards. The first is a spear, the second is the Devilsaur Eye, the final is the Devilsaur Tooth. I'd recommend getting the Devilsaur Tooth: it's the only trinket of its kind. The Devilsaur Tooth guarantees a crit on your pet's next attack. If you activate Bestial Wrath and Devilsaur Tooth at the same time, then your pet enters battle dealing 150% damage at 30% increased attack speed, plus an additional 3% if you have Ferocious Inspiration.
AoE Blast Zone: A frost trap can be used to bunch mobs together for mages/locks to AoE. It's even more effective if you have the Entrapment talent and it procs.
Mass Crowd-control: Place a trap and wait 30 seconds for it to cool down. Once that trap goes off, you can instantly drop another trap, having two active at one time. Survivalists can take this even further, fairly easily catching up to 5 mobs with traps, Wyvern Stings, and Readiness.
Rear guard: If you and a group are riding somewhere, watch everyone's back. If a mob starts chasing one of your party and dismounts them, you can ride just a few steps in front of the mob, dismount, Freeze Trap, Aspect of the Pack. Frost trap if there's multiple attackers.
Screenshots: An underused ability, you can use Eagle Eye to get close up screenshots of dangerous things...like angry dragons.
Scorpid Mana Drain: If you duel a paladin or druid, who can both cure poison, wearing them down with viper sting is not all that effective. However, if you have a scorpid pet and poison the target before using Viper Sting, then the player will have to cure the Scorpid Poison first (once for each time it is stacked). They may still clear Viper Sting, but it'll cost them more mana to do it.
Damage Meters: If you use Damage Meters and want to include pets, unselect the option Show Only Group Members. The charts will now show all pets (hunter and lock) as well as trinkets.
Cancel DoT: If you put a sting on a target, such as Serpent, Viper or Wyvern Sting, you can cancel it with a Scorpid Sting. This is necessary if your group needs to use crowd-control on the mob.
Pet Pull: For really long-distance pulls, or pulls around corners, you can use your pet, either with just an attack or by steering with Eyes of the Beast. This allows you to easily pull a mob to a safe zone where your party is waiting.
Pet Pull 2: NPCs, including pets, can go places players can't. You can tell your pet to attack an enemy at the top of a cliff, for example, and he'll run straight up there and do it. When you call your pet back, the enemy comes with him, up or down to the level that you're waiting at.
Pet Pull 3: While Misdirect is active, aggro on your pet goes to the Misdirected target. You can use this with one of the other Pet Pull methods, or simply by running your pet up to a group of enemies, and give the aggro to the tank from the start.
See the Wiki guide to Macros here.
Note: Some of these numbers change with level. Level 70 is assumed here.
|Stat Level||DPS Benefit|
|40 Agility||1% crit|
|21 Agility||1% dodge|
|1 Agility||1 Ranged Attack Power|
|1 Agility||1 Melee Attack Power|
|1 Agility||2 Armor|
|Stat Level||DPS Benefit|
|22 Crit Rating||1% Crit|
|15.75 Hit Rating||1% Hit|
|Stat Level||DPS Benefit|
|1 Intelligence||15 Mana|
|1 Intelligence||0.25 Mana per 5 seconds w/ Aspect of the Viper|
|1 Intelligence||0.45 Attack Power w/ Careful Aim|
|Stat Level||DPS Benefit|
|1 point||+0.04% Crit|
|1 point||+0.04% Hit|
|1 point||-0.04% to be dodged, blocked, or parried by your opponent.|
RAP DPS Ranged Attack Power / 14
Added Shot Damage
Ex. Level 60 with 2500 armor vs. Level 60
Arcane Shot (Ranged Attack Power * 0.15) + Rank Bonus Ex. Rank 9 Arcane Shot with 1000 Ranged Attack Power
Steady Shot (Ranged Attack Power * 0.2) + (Weapon Damage / 2.8) + Rank Bonus + Dazed Bonus Ex. Rank 1 Steady Shot with 1000 Ranged Attack Power, 3.0 Speed Gun 50-100 damage, 25 average DPS