|Night Elf, Dwarf, Draenei, Orc, Troll, Tauren, Blood Elf
|Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, Survival
Rugged stalkers of the wild, hunters roam the wilderness with their animal companion by their side, to track down and slay their targets with deadly accuracy. Preferring to use ranged weapons to stay a safe distance away and get the first shot undetected, hunters are extremely powerful at locating their marks and eliminating them.
The Beast Mastery talent tree focuses on improving the Hunter's pet's abilities greatly. With these enhanced capabilities, the pet is a foe to be reckoned with for the Hunter's enemies. With improved damage and aggro-holding capabilities, the pet makes a viable tank for solo needs or lower-end instances. Beast Mastery is usually a preferred spec for leveling; on account of the tanking abilities and damage increase.
In PvP the Beast Mastery spec works great against melee combatants; as the ability The Beast Within prevents you from being ensnared for 18 seconds, giving the Hunter the ability to keep his foe at distance. With the addition of Intimidation the Hunter is able to stun the target for 3 seconds. The two talents combined have a deadly effect to whomever stands in the way. On the other hand, this spec is greatly reliant on the hunter's pet, and if the pet dies, the hunter is left to fight on his own at a significant disadvantage.
In PvE, the Beast Mastery spec has been to be one of the highest DPS talent trees out of the three. This tree focuses on increasing the offensive capabilities of the Hunter's pet, allowing it to deal massive amounts of damage in addition increasing the Hunter's (and the group's) personal DPS. A Beast Mastery Hunter also brings great diversity to any raid, Ferocious Inspiration allowing them to be placed in almost any group makeup.
The Marksmanship spec is based around enhancing the ability of the Hunter itself. Usually used as a PvP spec, the spec is popular around all aspects of the game. The spec greatly increases the Hunter's shots and stings, giving the Hunter the ability to drain the life or mana of its foe more then any other spec. The build focuses on increasing Attack Power with such talents as Careful Aim and Master Marksman.
The spec is mainly used for PvP because of its increase in Attack Power and Weapon Damage, thus leading to massive burst damage (A major component in PvP). With such additions as Silencing Shot and Scatter Shot, the Hunter gains proficiency in battling caster-type classes.
The Survival spec focuses on the Hunter's survivability in PvP as well as PvE content. With increased damage to various types of mobs in the game, it becomes a viable PvE spec. The spec also focuses on the improvement of the Hunter's traps with the Trap Mastery talent. Sometimes known to be used in the end-game portion of WoW, the spec is able to show an incredible DPS output with stacked Agility. It also offers a raid-wide buff that increases all physical damage classes' attack power by a percentage of the hunter's agility.
The PvP aspect of the spec comes from such talents as Deterrence, and Wyvern Sting. This spec is usually used to complement Marksmanship, either with a 30(1)/31(0) spec, 5/20/36 spec, or the 11/41/9 spec for PvP. With the hybrid spec, Deterrence and Surefooted add to the survivability in PvP, while Wyvern Sting and scatter are used as a mode of Crowd Control.
Note: As of late (~3.0.8), the Survival spec has been changed so that it is more accessible to the player base, both in terms of PvE and PvP. The changes have made it a very desirable spec in end-game as it has shown great DPS output, sometimes even exceeding that of Beast Mastery.
Hunters are the only class with any noteworthy abilities using missile weapons, as this is their focus in combat. The more distinct feature of their class is the use of an animal companion to fight with them and serve as a distraction for them to maintain range.
See hunter pets
Hunters are superb single-target attackers. Although they lack some of the explosive output that rogues are capable of, they are able to fight from out of harm's way. When they fight alone, their pet takes the brunt of the damage for them. Hunters are said to be the fastest class to level because they have little need to wait for mana to regenerate, nor eat or bandage to recover lost health.
While they are capable in melee, they are not exceptional at it, and would prefer to fight at a distance. Their pet can usually only hold the attention of one target at a time, and none at all in PvP, forcing them to reckon with opponents at close range. Many hunters will use a freezing trap to escape this predicament. In a worst-case scenario, they can Feign Death to get their foes to leave them be.
An additional weakness of the class, ironically, is their fast leveling speed. This often leads many hunters toward not learning proper group etiquette or understanding and respecting other classes in terms of equipment needs.
A well-played hunter in a group can be invaluable, though. In addition to being able to DPS single targets very well, they can crowd control very effectively with freezing trap, their pet off-tanking, and sometimes even kiting targets. Some hunters are also expected to do the pulling for their group.
Hunters have a series of quests at level 10 to learn about how to tame and manage their pets. While it only serves as a starting point, the initial taming quests and the follow-up to learn about feeding and reviving the pet serve as a basis for pet fundamentals.
The other noteworthy hunter class quest is the search for Rhok'delar. Although it is an extremely dynamic quest line that forces the hunter to learn about playing their class without their pet, it is very rare that anyone attempts the quest any more simply because the quest starts in the original first raid zone, The Molten Core, which is seldom visited.