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Starym

Beast Mastery Hunter in the Shadowlands: Class Recommendations and Spec Highlights

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Update: the BM pre-patch guide is ready and you can check it out here:
Beast Mastery Hunter Shadowlands Guide

It's time to hunt, as we take a look at what Shadowlands might be like for Beast Mastery with our resident Hunter expert Azortharion. From Covenant abilities to QoL changes, baseline spells, talents and legendary effects, this is your primer for the spec up to this point! You can also check out all current Hunter class changes here.

Exciting Changes for Beast Mastery Hunter in Shadowlands

For our Hunter Class overview threads, we are starting off with Beast Mastery, historically and currently the most popular Hunter spec by far. Like the other specs, the fundamentals are the same and you will find almost everything very familiar if you are coming back from Battle for Azeroth or even Legion, but there are a few new baseline abilities, some talent changes, and some quality of life changes to the baseline spec. In addition, there are Covenant Abilities and Legendary Powers that interact with the spells' toolkit and transform it into something completely different.

General Hunter Quality of Life Changes

  • Several abilities, namely DPS cooldowns, are now no longer on the GCD!
  • Misdirection Misdirection now only starts working after your first attack. A very welcome Quality of Life change that will stop you from ever wasting your Misdirect when you thought the tank was about to pull but they didn't!
     

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Interesting New Baseline Hunter Spells

  • Eyes of the Beast Eyes of the Beast is back! This spell lets you see through the eyes of your pet as well as controlling it for 1 minute. It is probably not very useful in a competitive setting, but it has been a dearly missed flavor ability for years.
  • Kill Shot Kill Shot is back and baseline for all Hunter specs. It is a powerful execute ability that is usable on targets below 20% health.
  •  Hunter's Mark Hunter's Mark is baseline for all Hunter specs and works just like the Marksmanship Hunter talent did in Battle for Azeroth. However, it now has a 20-second cooldown, but its cooldown will reset if the target dies.
  • Arcane Shot Arcane Shot is now available to both Ranged Hunter specs, becoming a signature ability of the Hunter class as a whole. It will probably not be used much for Beast Mastery Hunter, since Cobra Shot Cobra Shot is going to be a better button to press in almost all cases.
  • Tranquilizing Shot Tranquilizing Shot is back! We no longer need to rely on pets to do offensive dispels. This even gives you 10 Focus when you use it to dispel successfully!
  • Freezing Trap Freezing Trap is now baseline for all specs!

Interesting Beast Mastery Talent Changes

  • Bloodshed Bloodshed is a brand new talent! It is an ability on a 1-minute cooldown that applies a strong DoT and increases your pet's damage to the target by 15% for 18 seconds. It seems like it is designed around single-target nukes.
  • Aspect of the Beast Aspect of the Beast now explicitly increases the potency of pet healing by 30% as well. This was already the case in BFA, namely for Spirit Mend, but now there's no doubt!
  • Scent of Blood Scent of Blood now causes Bestial Wrath Bestial Wrath to instantly give you 2 charges of Barbed Shot Barbed Shot when activated.
  • Spitting Cobra Spitting Cobra has been totally redesigned. Now, when Bestial Wrath Bestial Wrath ends, you summon a Spitting Cobra for 20 second that deals damage over 15 seconds. In addition, for every Cobra Shot Cobra Shot that you used during Bestial Wrath Bestial Wrath, this Spitting Cobra deals 10% additional damage.
  • Stampede Stampede now only has a 2-minute cooldown! Maybe we will use it more with the shorter cooldown helping its flexibility.
     

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New Covenant Hunter Abilities

Night Fae Ability - Wild Spirits Wild Spirits - 2min CD

Applies Wild Mark to all targets within a chosen area for 15 seconds and increases damage done to them by 5%.

This ability might remind you of the Sentinel ability from Legion, a niche but extremely fun and sometimes OP talent for AoE!

  • Wild Spirits: Each damaging attack you do to an enemy in the Wild Spirits effect does an additional 45% Nature damage.

It's like a 50% damage buff for 15 seconds every 2 minutes, and it affects multiple targets! Not too bad and tuning pending, it could be a good burst AoE option.


Necrolord Ability - Death Chakram Death Chakram - 45s CD

Throw a deadly chakram at your current target that will rapidly deal (50% of Attack power) Shadow damage 7 times, bouncing to other targets if they are nearby. Each time the chakram deals damage, its damage is increased by 15% and you generate 3 Focus..

A cool flavor ability that might remind you of Glaive Toss Glaive Toss (or the Survival Talent Chakrams Chakrams which I think maybe 2 people have ever used?). Besides looking and feeling cool, it does not seem all that special and most of its effect happens automatically after you press the button. Not the most fun in my opinion!
 

Venthyr Ability - Flayed Shot Flayed Shot - 30s CD

Fire a shot at your enemy, causing them to bleed for (250% of Attack power) Shadow damage over 20 seconds . Each time Flayed Shot deals damage, you have a 15% chance to gain Flayer's Mark, causing your next Kill Shot to be usable on any target, regardless of their current health.

Basically, a DoT that sometimes lets you use Kill Shot Kill Shot on a target regardless of their health. Unfortunately, it is entirely RNG and a fairly low chance at that, making this perhaps the most boring of the Covenant abilities.
 

Kyrian Ability - Resonating Arrow Resonating Arrow - 1m CD

Fire a resonating arrow to the target location and fills the area with echoing anima for 10 sec . The effect causes your attacks to ignore line of sight to enemies in the area, and you have 30% increased critical strike chance against them.

Perhaps the coolest of all the Covenant abilities, the creative use of the LoS effect can have massive implications for Marksmanship Hunter and on top of that, it is simply cool in my opinion! My fingers are crossed that this will be our go-to Covenant as I think it is by far the most exciting.


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Legendary Effects

While there are other generic Legendary effects, I'm only going to touch on the ones specific to Beast Mastery Hunter (although you can check out the rest of the Hunter ones here and generic ones here).

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Conclusion

Beast Mastery has long been the most popular Hunter spec in spite of its fluctuating viability. Blizzard are going with a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach which I think is fine. At the end of the day, how fun the spec will be is going to depend on the Covenant and Legendary meta, and that stuff is just not really knowable yet. My fingers are crossed for a Qa'pla, Eredun War Order Qa'pla, Killer Cobra Killer Cobra, and Bloodshed Bloodshed meta combination with tons of Kill Command Kill Commands and hefty pet damage, but we will see when Shadowlands launches!

Check out Azortharion's other content here:

You can also check out our current full Beast Mastery guide, especially since the basics will be the same.
 

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Other Spec Highlights:

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As someone who hasn't played since 8.1.5, and almost always solos in WoW - only PUGing when they have to - this got me hyped up to dive back in. Might have to dust off the old WoW directory soon.

 

*goes back to stardew valley ?*

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It's good and all, but the gameplay is largerly unchanged, I take it? Was kinda falling asleep playing BM in M+, not sure if Killshot back will spice it up enough.

At least rapid reload is gone ._.

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