Beast Mastery Hunter DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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Beast Mastery Hunter Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Beast Mastery Hunter core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Beast Mastery Hunter.

The other pages of our Beast Mastery Hunter guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Roger Brown, one of the best Hunters in the World and the raid leader of Method. You can watch his stream on Twitch and follow him on Twitter.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The single target rotation for a Beast Mastery Hunter is based on the following priority system.

  1. Apply Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark on the target.
  2. Cast Kill Command Icon Kill Command on cooldown.
  3. Cast Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot (only available below 20% health).
  4. Apply and maintain Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting to the target
    • it will be refreshed by Cobra Shot Icon Cobra Shot so it only needs to be done once, normally.
  5. Cast your Tier 6 talent (normally Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss).
  6. Cast your Tier 4 talent (normally Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast).
  7. Cast Focus Fire Icon Focus Fire when your pet's Frenzy Icon Frenzy reaches 5 stacks (the icon will glow)
  8. Cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot to dump any excess focus.
  9. Cast Cobra Shot Icon Cobra Shot.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

When facing 2 enemies, maintain your single target rotation, while using Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot to apply the Beast Cleave Icon Beast Cleave buff on your pet. Unlike in the situation when you are facing 3-4 enemies (discussed below), you do not need to worry about maintaining 100% uptime on Beast Cleave (for example, you should never delay a Kill Command Icon Kill Command for this purpose). Additionally, you should try to keep Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting up on both targets.

When facing 3-4 enemies, maintain your single target rotation, while using Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot once every 4 seconds to keep up the Beast Cleave Icon Beast Cleave buff on your pet.

Against 5 or more enemies, you should abandon your normal shot priority and instead use the following priority instead:

  1. Cast Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shot as often as your focus allows.
  2. Cast Kill Shot Icon Kill Shot.
  3. Cast Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss in such a way that it hits all enemies. If AoE damage is of paramount importance, you should choose Barrage Icon Barrage instead of Glaive Toss.
  4. Cast Cobra Shot Icon Cobra Shot whenever you have insufficient focus for Multi-Shot.

If you can ensure having 5 or more targets in the area affected by Explosive Trap Icon Explosive Trap for its full duration (20 seconds), then using Explosive Trap in such a way is a DPS increase.

3. Cooldown Usage↑top

In this section, we assume that you have taken Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast, A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows, and Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss from your tier 4, 5, and 6 talents, respectively. This is because we deem them to be best talents for your DPS (in fact, Blink Strikes Icon Blink Strikes is actually slightly better than A Murder of Crows, but since Blink Strikes is passive, there is no recommended usage for it).

In short, this is how you should make use of your DPS cooldowns.

  • Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire, Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast, A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows, and Stampede Icon Stampede should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Stacking Rapid Fire and Bestial Wrath provides no real benefit.
  • Rabid Icon Rabid (an ability your pet gains if you choose the Ferocity specialisation) should be used intelligently, and never on auto-cast. You should try to stack it with Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath whenever possible. If you have the Assurance of Consequence Icon Assurance of Consequence trinket, make sure to line the two abilities up without wasting too much time on their cooldown.
  • Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss should be used on cooldown.

More details about cooldown usage, as well as information about the other talents (that we do not deem optimal at the moment) can be found in our detailed cooldown usage section.

4. Aspects↑top

You should always have an Aspect active. As a Beast Mastery Hunter, you should always be using Aspect of the Hawk Icon Aspect of the Hawk.

Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack Icon Aspect of the Pack are generally not advised during combat because of their negative dazing effect, but can be useful for speeding up your raid's running after a wipe. Note that in the case of Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Aspect of the Cheetah, you can remove the dazing penalty by using Glyph of Aspect of the Cheetah Icon Glyph of Aspect of the Cheetah.

A hunter's aspect will persist until removed by the hunter or until the hunter's death. Aspects can be changed in combat, but they cannot be changed while a cast is in progress. Aspects are on the global cooldown.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Beast Mastery Hunter↑top

While the rotations we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Beast Mastery Hunter to its full potential. You will need to understand all the subtleties, pertaining to your abilities, rotations, and cooldown usage, that we present below.

5.1. Focus

Hunters and their pets use a unique resource, called focus. Focus works in much the same way as other class resources, like rage and energy, in the sense that some abilities grant focus, while others cost focus in order to be used.

A Beast Mastery Hunter's focus has a maximum capacity of 120, and regenerates at an innate rate of 4 focus per second. This rate is increased by Haste Rating. In addition to this, certain abilities such as Steady Shot Icon Steady Shot (Marksmanship-only) and Cobra Shot Icon Cobra Shot (Beast Mastery and Survival-only) also grant focus.

Most of the abilities in the hunter rotation cost focus to use, and some talents decrease the focus costs, or offer other ways to gain additional focus.

Hunter pet focus works similarly, and is of no concern to you as you cannot do anything to modify it, nor will you be casting pet abilities manually.

As a general rule, you should always have enough focus to cast your shots as soon as they come off cooldown, but also to never have 120 focus (as any extra focus you generate would then go to waste).

5.2. Auto-shots and Special Shots

Hunters do the majority of their damage through the use of shots. The rest of the damage is made up of pet damage and DoT damage.

Auto Shot Icon Auto Shot is the default Hunter attack, which works similarly to melee classes' auto attacks or "white swings". It is affected by your Ranged Attack Speed, and it continues to work while moving.

The other hunter shots are of all varieties: instant cast or with a cast time, costing focus or granting focus, and some are utility shots which cost no focus and deal no damage.

One of the most important aspects of doing competitive Hunter DPS is to make sure your shots are always used without delay.

5.3. Pet Contribution

The greatest contribution to your DPS is your pet's damage, both through its simple melee attacks and through Kill Command Icon Kill Command. For this reason, it is imperative that your pet is always on the target, stays alive, and that you always cast Kill Command on cooldown. Keep this in mind, otherwise your DPS will plummet.

There are a few useful things to remember regarding pet movement.

First of all, when you are switching targets, if you simply target a new enemy and use Kill Command Icon Kill Command, your pet will cast Kill Command on its current (your old) target. Therefore, you must always make sure to tell your pet to first change target (through the Pet Attack command), and then use Kill Command.

Secondly, if you need to have your pet move to a target that is far from it, you can help close the gap faster by having the pet use Master's Call Icon Master's Call on a friendly target that is located between the two enemies.

5.4. Detailed Cooldown Usage

5.4.1. Focus Fire

Focus Fire Icon Focus Fire should be used as soon as your pet's Frenzy Icon Frenzy reaches 5 stacks. When that happens, your pet's buff of 20% increased attack speed will be transformed into a 30% ranged haste buff for you. The duration of the buff is 20 seconds, and it takes between 25 and 30 seconds for Frenzy Icon Frenzy to reach 5 stacks on your pet again. This means that while you usually will not be able to maintain 100% uptime on Focus Fire.

You should never use Focus Fire while Bestial Wrath is active, since this is basically a wasted global cooldown, and during Bestial Wrath you must make every global cooldown deal damage.

5.4.2. Bestial Wrath

Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath should, as well, be used as many times as possible during an encounter. In addition to the aforementioned interaction with Focus Fire, it's also advisable to delay your Bestial Wrath so that its duration lines up with Kill Command Icon Kill Command cooldowns in such a way that you can use two Kill Commands during Bestial Wrath. You should ensure that you have a fair amount of focus when casting Bestial Wrath, and you should spend its 10 second duration casting Kill Command and Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot, and as few Cobra Shot Icon Cobra Shots as possible (ideally none).

You should make sure that Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting has enough duration before using Bestial Wrath so that it does not drop off while Bestial Wrath is active.

If you have the Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast talent, then you should ideally summon the Dire Beast a few seconds before using Bestial Wrath.

5.4.3. Rapid Fire

Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Stacking it with Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp is entirely viable (do not worry if your Cobra Shot cast time is lower than your global cooldown). It is advised to stack it with any other procs, on-use trinkets, potions, and fight mechanics that cause you to deal increased damage.

Note that if you have the 2-Part Tier 16 Set Bonus, you should use Rapid Fire as often as possible, and not attempt to delay it in order to stack it with anything else.

5.4.4. Rabid

Rabid Icon Rabid increases your pet's attack speed by 70% for 20 seconds, with a 90-second cooldown. You should use this ability as many times as possible during the encounter. For maximum benefit, it is ideal to stack it with Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath.

5.4.5. Stampede

Stampede Icon Stampede's 5-minute cooldown means that it will most likely only be used twice during the vast majority of encounters. Your only concern is to make sure that it is cast as many times as possible during the fight. If there are moments when the boss takes increased damage, or when burst damage is important to your raid's strategy, you should save Stampede for such a time.

Note that Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire does not affect your Stampede, since it does not give you Haste, but rather Ranged Haste (which does not affect the attack speed of the beasts).

It is recommended to use your second Agility potion together with Stampede.

5.4.6. Tier 4 Talents

Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast usage is very simple. It should be used on cooldown, and ideally before using Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath whenever this is applicable (since it will generate extra focus for you while Bestial Wrath is active).

Fervor Icon Fervor should also be used on cooldown, with the mention that you should only use it when neither you, nor your pet, are at or above 50 Focus. It is also good to use it during a Bestial Wrath to give your pet some extra focus during this burst of damage.

Thrill of the Hunt Icon Thrill of the Hunt will sometimes provide you with a focus cost reduction for your next 3 Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shots or Multi-Shot Icon Multi-Shots. You will simply benefit from this reduction passively, although you do have to be careful not to reach maximum focus.

5.4.7. Tier 5 Talents

A Murder of Crows Icon A Murder of Crows should be used as many times as possible during the fight. The damage done by A Murder of Crows updates dynamically with your attack power, so there is no need to wait for trinket procs before using it.

Lynx Rush Icon Lynx Rush should be used on cooldown. It is beneficial to stack Lynx Rush with Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath, but do not go out of your way to delay either of the two spells in order to accomplish this, as that would indeed be a DPS loss. There is no benefit in stacking Lynx Rush with anything else.

Blink Strikes Icon Blink Strikes is a passive ability, so it requires no explanations.

5.4.8. Tier 6 Talents

Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss should be used on cooldown. In case there are additional targets in the fight, you should position yourself in such a way that the glaives hit the other targets too.

Barrage Icon Barrage should be used on cooldown, ideally with Focus Fire Icon Focus Fire active. Moreover, using Barrage while there is a Stormlash Totem Icon Stormlash Totem active is extremely beneficial.

Powershot Icon Powershot should be used on cooldown.

In the case of Powershot, you should follow the same positional recommendation that we issued with regards to Glaive Toss.

It is interesting to note that you can change where Barrage is directed by turning your character while channeling the spell. This allows you to hit more targets than those you were initially facing.

5.5. AoE Pets

As a Beast Mastery Hunter, two exotic pets have AoE abilities of their own. Using these pets for AoE will yield a DPS loss over following the multiple target rotation we gave at the start of this page, but we mention these two pets for completeness.

5.6. Opening Sequence

We will provide you with an example of an opening sequence that maximises the gains from abilities and cooldowns:

  1. Make sure that Hunter's Mark Icon Hunter's Mark is applied to the target.
  2. Cast Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath, Kill Command Icon Kill Command, and Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire.
  3. Cast Stampede Icon Stampede.
  4. Cast Dire Beast Icon Dire Beast.
  5. Cast Glaive Toss Icon Glaive Toss.
  6. Cast Serpent Sting Icon Serpent Sting.
  7. Cast Arcane Shot Icon Arcane Shot (until Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath is over).

Rapid Fire is used early not because of any synergy with Stampede, but simply because it is best for it to be active as soon as possible, while your potion and other buffs and procs are active.

Naturally, whenever we suggest the use of an ability that comes from a talent, it assumes you have taken that talent. In most cases, these are also currently the best talents.

The influence of your opening rotation on your overall DPS is generally quite small, so do not spend too much time stressing over it.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 02 Mar. 2014: Made several updates, especially regarding cooldown usage and the opening rotation.
  • 19 Nov. 2013: Updated the multiple-target rotation, as well as the opening sequence. Added a mention that Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire is best on cooldown with the 2-Part Tier 16 Set Bonus.
  • 10 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • Removed all mentions of Readiness, since this ability has been removed from the game.
    • Removed all mentions of the usefulness of stacking Rapid Fire Icon Rapid Fire with Stampede Icon Stampede. Stampede beasts now no longer perform basic attacks, so there is no benefit from Rapid Fire anymore.
    • Updated the Opening Sequence to account for Readiness being gone.
  • 24 May 2013: Fixed an incorrect mention of Rabid Icon Rabid's cooldown.
  • 23 May 2013: Moved the AoE pets to their own section, and mentioned that using them is not a DPS gain.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update.
    • Mentioned that Blink Strikes Icon Blink Strikes is now passive and does not require any kind of management.
    • Removed mention of Rabid Icon Rabid's cooldown being lower (since this aspect was removed, and it is now on the same cooldown as for the other two Hunter specs). Added mentions that Rabid should be stacked with every other Bestial Wrath Icon Bestial Wrath.
  • 20 Apr. 2013: Corrected the innate focus regeneration rate from 6 to 4 per second.
  • 13 Apr. 2013: Made several important updates.
    • Refined the single target and AoE rotations.
    • Improved the recommendations for cooldown usage in the case of almost every cooldown.
    • Added emphasis on focus management and using your shots without delay.
    • Added more details about how to best manage your pet's movement.
    • Added a mention that you can change the facing of your character while Barrage Icon Barrage is being channeled, which affects where you are shooting.
    • Revamped the Opening Sequence section.