In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Beast Mastery Hunter rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Beast Mastery Hunter Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Tier 4 talents offer you a choice between Fervor and Readiness (and Thrill of the Hunt, but this is a passive talent). We currently believe that Fervor is the least attractice choice. Which of the other two is a larger DPS gain remains to be determined, but it is important to note that Readiness can also help you reset cooldowns of useful abilities such as Deterrence.
- Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between A Murder of Crows, Dire Beast, and Lynx Rush. At the moment, it seems that A Murder of Crows is the biggest DPS boost. It is interesting to note that your Mastery ( Mastery: Master of Beasts) does not affect A Murder of Crows or Dire Beast, but does increase the damage of Lynx Rush (despite this, Lynx Rush still remains weak).
- Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between Glaive Toss, Powershot, and Barrage. While each of these abilities seems designed for multiple target DPS, we would put forth that Barrage will prove to be the most useful in both single and multiple target situtions. This remains to be determined accurately, however.
- Stampede is a burst DPS ability, that causes all your current pets (all 5 of them - the ones in your stable are not counted) to attack the target for 20 seconds. Due to its 5 minute cooldown, this spell is not affected by Readiness.
- Beast Cleave is a passive ability that enables Beast Mastery Hunters to do competitive AoE DPS. It grants a buff to your pet, each time you deal damage with Multi-Shot, which causes your pet's attacks to deal 30% of the damage your Multi-Shot dealt, to all nearby targets, for the following 4 seconds. It is important to note that this buff duration does not extend past 4 seconds in the event that you cast Multi-Shot again while it is active, making it inefficient to spam Multi-Shot.
- Trueshot Aura increases the attack power of all raid members by 10%. Even though this is a passive ability, it is an important raid-buff that we considered worth mentioning (this was previously only available to Marksmanship Hunters).
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Minimum range has now been removed from the game. You can shoot the target from any range.
- Kill Command no longer requires that your pet be within 5 yards of the target, the ranged having been extended to 25 yards. This addresses a long-standing concern of Beast Mastery Hunters, which often caused Kill Command to malfunction.
- Kill Shot's cooldown is reset if it does not kill the target. This effect can only happen once every 6 seconds. This used to be provided by a glyph, in Cataclysm.
- Cobra Shot now generates 14 focus instead of 9.
- Frenzy has been redesigned. On paper, the ability was greatly improved. Your pet's stacking attack speed buff now grants 10% increased attack speed per stack (up to 5 stacks), up from 6%. It now has a 40% chance of proccing off of each of your pet's basic attacks, and it lasts for 30 seconds. In practice, however, the proc rate seems very low, and the buff often ends up dropping before reaching maximum number of stacks.
- Focus Fire has also been greatly improved, granting you an additional 3% ranged haste for each stack of Frenzy consumed (6%, up from 3%).
- Hunter's Mark now increases damage done to the target, by ranged attacks, by 5%. Previously, it used to increase the attack power of the ranged attackers against the target. Since the attack power increase was fixed, this change allows Hunter's Mark to scale with your gear.
- Aspect of the Hawk now increases attack power by 10%, instead of by a fixed value. This allows it to scale with your gear.
- Call of the Wild has been removed.
- Steady Shot (altough never used by Beast Mastery Hunters) has been removed.
- Ferocious Inspiration has been removed.
Rotation and PlaystyleThe rotation for Beast Mastery Hunters remains practically unchanged from its Cataclysm version. The only differences arise from the integration of the new abilities. However, since these abilities are on rather long cooldowns, their impact is minimised.
- Apply and maintain Serpent Sting on the target. Cobra Shot extends its duration, so you should only have to apply it once.
- Cast Kill Command on cooldown.
- Cast Kill Shot on cooldown. This is only available when the target is below 20% health.
- Cast Focus Fire whenever your pet's stacks of Frenzy reach 5, or are about to expire (less than 5 seconds left on the buff).
- Cast Arcane Shot to dump focus.
- Cast Cobra Shot to generate focus (and extend your Serpent Sting on the target).
CooldownsThe new talents provide you with various choices. In this section, we will assume you have taken A Murder of Crows, Readiness, and Powershot, as we believe these are currently the most beneficial ones.
- Rapid Fire remains your major DPS cooldown. You should make sure to use it as many times during the fight as possible. Ideally, it should be used when the boss is taking increased damage or when you need to do burst damage. It is also ideal to stack it with your potions or procs from other items or enchants. It is not recommended to stack Rapid Fire with Bestial Wrath.
- A Murder of Crows (in case you have chosen it as a talent) should also be used as many times as possible during a fight. You should ideally use it together with Rapid Fire, so that you can reset both their cooldowns with Readiness (see below).
- Bestial Wrath should be used on cooldown. Ideally, you should not stack it with Rapid Fire, and you should try to use when Kill Command is off cooldown, so that you can use two Kill Commands while Bestial Wrath is active.
- It appears to still be beneficial not to consume your pet's stacks of Frenzy when you are about to use (or you have just used) Bestial Wrath. This is because your pet receives a greater damage increase from Bestial Wrath, and, coupled with the greater attack speed increase he gains from Frenzy, will benefit more from Bestial Wrath than you would.
- Powershot (in case you have chosen it as a talent) should be used on cooldown. You should use this before casting Readiness, so that you can reset its cooldown and cast it again.
- Readiness (in case you have chosen it as a talent) should be used immediately after Rapid Fire, Bestial Wrath, Powershot, and A Murder of Crows, in order to reset their cooldown and allow you to use them again.
Multiple Target RotationAgainst 2-3 enemies, you are best off performing a single target rotation. If it is imperative that the targets are AoE'd, you should spam Multi-Shot (though this will lower your DPS).
Against 4 or more enemies, you should spam Multi-Shot. In case the enemies are stationary and in a group, you should place an Explosive Trap under them.
Your Multi-Shot damage is boosted by Beast Cleave. As we mentioned at the start of this article, Beast Cleave has a 4 second duration, and successive Multi-Shots do not extend the duration past 4 seconds, nor do they increase the benefit of it. As such, you should not "waste" Beast Cleave's effect by casting Multi-Shot more than once every 4 seconds. You should weave other shots in between your Multi-Shots, most notably Cobra Shot, which will provide you with the necessary focus to sustain your Multi-Shot usage.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer you a choice between several movement-enhancing abilities:
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between Silencing Shot, Wyvern Sting, and Binding Shot. Which one you pick will depend on the encounter, but for raiders, it seems that Silencing Shot will have the most use.
Tier 3 is centered around survival and self-healing. Your options are:
We have discussed Tier 4, 5, and 6 talents at the start of the article.
GlyphsThe only glyph which can play any part in your DPS performance is Glyph of Marked for Death. This causes your Arcane Shot and Kill Command to automatically apply Hunter's Mark to the target. This will save you a global cooldown at the start of the fight, and it will also save you from having to refresh the buff during the fight.
Of the other glyphs, these can help improve your survivability and they will probably be mandatory for raiders: Glyph of Endless Wrath seems very interesting, and it may enable your pet to tank a boss for up to 10 seconds.
Finally, Glyph of Disengage may prove very useful on some encounters.
This concludes our Beast Mastery Hunter preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!