Hunter Leveling Guide From 1 to 70 for TBC Classic
On this page, you will find our level-by-level Hunter leveling guides for all specializations in TBC Classic. We particularly recommend the Beast Mastery Hunter leveling guide, which focuses on making you and your pet more powerful together, which is perfect for leveling. We also have a Marksmanship Hunter leveling guide and a Survival Hunter leveling guide for players who enjoy those specializations as well!
While leveling, your time spent can be put into three categories: combat, downtime, and travel. Hunters are widely considered to be one of the strongest solo-leveling classes because they excel at all three in unique ways. Once you get your pet at Level 10, you will notice your kill speed increase and your downtime drop drastically. By using your pet to tank, you can kill enemies with Serpent Sting and Auto Shot. This allows you to kill enemies without spending much Mana and only your pet losing health. If you keep your pet fed and use Mend Pet frequently, your pet will stay healthy and loyal, allowing you to keep fighting with little-to-no downtime between enemies. Additionally, you will get Aspect of the Cheetah at Level 20, which will cut down your travel time until you get your first mount.
Even in Outland, your leveling speed jumps once more. Specifically, at Level 62 you get your end-game filler and primary damaging ability: Steady Shot. This will boost your kill speed significantly, which should propel you through Outland all the way to 70.
General TBC Leveling Advice
Providing non-Hunter leveling advice is outside the scope of this article and is covered in our general TBC leveling guide.
Choosing Your Leveling Spec
While we propose leveling builds for all 3 Hunter specialization, Beast Mastery is clearly the best leveling spec for Hunter. As Beast Mastery, your pet will take less damage and deal more damage, allowing it to hold threat more easily.
Marksmanship is viable, but you will be more vulnerable to doing too much damage compared to your pet and making it harder to let your pet tank enemies. Beast Mastery also has important movement speed talents, along with Bestial Wrath, an extremely powerful damage cooldown.
Survival is the worst of the choices and will be outperformed by both of the other specs in all areas. We do not recommend it for leveling, but if you are up for a challenge, we have a guide for it.
Leveling in a Group as a Hunter
Contrary to popular belief, leveling with a partner or as part of a group is not a terrible thing. In fact, for most classes, leveling with a partner is actually better than leveling solo. Hunter is the exception; your leveling speed in a group as a Hunter will not be better than by yourself, if you have experience with leveling. Hunter is the best solo class in the game, so leveling with one or more people will be neutral at best. That being said, grouping with friends could help them level faster while not slowing you down much, which could be worth doing if you want to help them out.
The major exception to this rule will be in Outland. Currently the optimal way to level from 60-70 in Outland is by dungeon-cleaving with a 5-man group just to farm XP. Even as a Hunter, with a coordinated group this should be faster if you can consistently clear and do not need to constantly wait around for new group members to join.
Hunters have lots of different abilities to learn, some more useful than others. Gold is going to be scarce while leveling and it is incredibly important to be saving gold for your first mount at Level 40. Thus, you should not train every rank of every skill. It is important to have an idea of what skills are worth having and what you can live without.
Recommended Skills to Upgrade as a Hunter
- Track Beasts
- Raptor Strike
- Aspect of the Monkey
- Serpent Sting
- Arcane Shot
- Hunter's Mark
- Concussive Shot
- Revive Pet
- Aspect of the Hawk
- Track Humanoids
- Mend Pet
- Wing Clip
- Scare Beast
- Mongoose Bite
- Aspect of the Cheetah
- Freezing Trap
- Rapid Fire
- Frost Trap
- Feign Death
- Explosive Trap
- Aspect of the Pack
- Steady Shot
- Kill Command
- Aspect of the Viper
If you are playing on a PvP server and are concerned about fighting other players, you can also choose to get Viper Sting for fighting casters or Flare for fighting Rogues and Druids.
Serpent Sting and Arcane Shot make up the bulk of your ranged damage, combined with your Auto Shot. For AoE, Multi-Shot, Explosive Trap, and Volley can all be great tools for killing multiple targets, but you always have to be careful to make sure you are not the one picking up threat; either your pet or a party member should be holding threat if you are trying to AoE.
This is mainly until you either pick up Aimed Shot from talents, or you learn Steady Shot at Level 62. These will both be extremely strong while leveling, and should be used regularly as soon as you learn them.
Concussive Shot, Wing Clip, Freezing Trap, and Scare Beast are all valuable disengage and crowd control tools for both PvP and PvE.
Feign Death is one of the single most important buttons in your toolkit and is a unique mechanic to Hunters. Use this any time you need to get out of a bad situation and need to leave combat or drop threat.
Auto Shot is your most basic attack and your primary source of damage. Auto Shot in TBC is very different from modern WoW, however, and is more like a spell that needs casting. If your bow has a 3.0-second attack speed on it (shown in the tooltip), then you will shoot an arrow every 3.0 seconds while attacking your target. However, Auto Shot does not take a full 3.0 seconds to shoot; it only requires that you stand still and do nothing else for the first 0.5 seconds of that 3.0-second window. For the remaining 2.5 seconds, you can move, use other abilities, or do whatever you want without costing you any potential attacks. This 0.5 second “cast time” for Auto Shot is consistent for whatever weapon or weapon speed you end up using. Part of maximizing your damage on a Hunter is never “clipping” your Auto Shots, which means ensuring that you are always shooting as soon as it is back up. It is also worth noting that Auto Shot is affected by Haste. So, if your weapon speed is 3.0 seconds, but you have 40% increased ranged attack speed from Rapid Fire, then the time between Auto Shots will be reduced by 40%.
Leveling Strategy as a Hunter
As stated above, time spent leveling can be broken into three distinct parts: travel time, downtime, and combat.
Travel time is when you have to move between quests, towns, or zones. You will spend a significant amount of time traveling in your journey from Level 1-70, which is why movement speed increases like your mount are very important. Getting your first mount at or close to Level 40 can reduce travel time significantly, which will greatly improve your leveling speed. Aspect of the Cheetah is a great ability to help with this, allowing you to run 30% faster whenever it is active. Once you learn it at Level 20, it is important to remember to activate Aspect of the Cheetah whenever you have to move more than a few steps.
Downtime is the time that you are forced to wait to regenerate health and Mana in between killing mobs. If your goal is to level quickly, minimizing downtime is just as important as maximizing your damage. This is why using your highest-damage rotation is not always the best idea. Most of the time, you will want to use your most-efficient damage rotation, with the goal being to maximize damage while minimizing your Mana spent. For a Hunter, this means opening with Hunter's Mark, then keeping up Serpent Sting while letting your Auto Shot do most of the damage. Arcane Shot is an expensive ability and should be used sparingly to deal more burst damage when you have the Mana for it.
The last portion of your time will be spent in combat. Again, it is important to figure out your most optimal rotation based on your Mana pool and what skills you have. The goal is to kill mobs quickly while spending little Mana and not losing health. If you spend too much Mana too quickly while killing mobs, you will end up having to drink too much, which adds significant amounts of downtime, slowing down your overall leveling speed. If you let your pet tank and let Auto Shot be the bulk of your damage, you will not have any issues.
Kiting as a Hunter
From Level 1-10, you will have to kill enemies without your pet to tank them. This is where Hunters can struggle the most, due to their low melee damage. The key to leveling before you get your pet is proper kiting while using Auto Shot.
Kiting is when you move between attacks to put more distance between you and your target. For Hunters, this means moving during the downtime between Auto Shot hits. You start by casting an Auto Shot on your target, which takes 0.5 seconds (the animation time). After getting the shot off, you are free to move backwards or use other abilities until your Auto Shot comes back up. Once it is back up, you will want to stand still for another 0.5 seconds to get another Auto Shot off. At low levels, this usually looks like Auto Shot -> Move -> Auto Shot -> Move, and so on. You can also cast other shots like Serpent Sting and Arcane Shot while moving in between Auto Shots for extra damage.
Kiting before Level 10 is extremely important because it allows you to do as much damage as possible before the target enters the “dead zone.” Hunters have a minimum range of 5 yards on our ranged abilities and Auto Shot. Inside that 5 yard zone, you cannot use your ranged weapon to attack or cast abilities on a target. Most of the damage Hunters deal is with a ranged weapon, with their melee damage being significantly weaker. Killing targets quickly is all about getting as many Auto Shots off before they make it into your dead zone, and you are forced to use melee attacks and Raptor Strike to finish them off.
Advanced Tactic: Melee Weaving
If you are looking to push your leveling speed to the limit, then melee weaving is the skill to master. Hunters are unique in that they are the only class that has two separate basic attacks, both of which have a short “animation time” with down time in between each attack. The most important thing is that these attacks, your melee auto attack and your ranged Auto Shot, do not share downtime. This means that you can attack a target with your bow, immediately turn and attack a different target with your melee weapon, and then turn back to use your bow once the Auto Shot's downtime is finished. While this can be difficult to do due to the quick target swapping required, it allows you to effectively kill multiple enemies at once.
In practice, this translates to a slightly different goal, which is to always be using your Auto Shot. As you kite around an area with enemies, you should always be using your Auto Shot on a target from the moment you first attack to the moment it enters your dead zone and you can no longer shoot it. Once the target is within the minimum range you can finish it off with melee attacks. Melee weaving means that you weave those melee attacks on the closer targets in between Auto Shots on new targets that are farther away.
As an example, say that there are multiple boars that you would like to kill. You start by shooting boar 1 while kiting backwards, using Auto Shot as much as possible until it enters your minimum range. Once inside that range, you would immediately use a Raptor Strike to melee it. Once you get the melee attack off, you would switch your target to boar 2 and use an Auto Shot. Immediately after the Auto Shot, you switch back to boar 1 and melee it again. This process repeats back and forth exactly like that until boar 2 enters your dead zone and you can no longer shoot it. At this point, boar 1 should be dead or close to dead, so you can finish it off with more melee attacks as you start to use Auto Shot on boar 3. You can repeat this process over and over, effectively killing 2-to-3 enemies at the same time. It is also worth noting that this tactic can be dangerous, and you can easily pull too many enemies and die if you are not being careful.
Professions While Leveling
If your goal is to hit Level 70 as fast as possible, it is not recommended to pick up professions while leveling. However, some professions are very useful for either leveling or at Level 70, and can be worth the time investment while leveling. First Aid is a must-have profession at max level due to Hunter's lack of self healing, and learning it early on can be useful while leveling. Herbalism, Mining, and Skinning all are great choices for making gold towards your first mount, and can also be useful for helping to level other important professions later on, such as taking Mining to help level Engineering.
The single best profession to consider leveling while you yourself are leveling as a Hunter will be Skinning. This is entirely because of how important Leatherworking is to Hunters at 70, which makes Skinning a high-value pairing for getting your Leatherworking up quickly later on. Several of your pre-raid BiS gear choices are from Leatherworking, which makes the pairing quite worthwhile.
- 19 May 2021: Guide added.
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