TBC Classic Survival Hunter Guide
Welcome to our Survival Hunter guide for TBC Classic, tailored for PvE content. Here, you will learn how all you need to know to play Survival Hunter proficiently. Click the links below to navigate the guide or read this page for a short introduction.
Hunters are master marksmen and, with the help of a fierce animal companion, can deal damage from range without ever letting their target get close. With special tracking abilities, traps, and a wide range of utility spells, Hunters are a great choice for anyone looking for a strong solo class with incredible ranged damage and unique utility.
Survival specifically is not the top DPS Hunter specialization, but is still incredibly useful in raids. While Hunters may have been off-meta and not sought after in Classic, that all changes in TBC - Hunters are one of the strongest DPS classes for the entire expansion, topping meters with incredible single-target damage output. This is because in TBC pets finally scale with your stats, enabling them to do real damage at max level and scale with gear. While Beast Mastery Hunters will do more damage, every raid will always want a single Survival Hunter for their debuff, Expose Weakness. This debuff is extremely valuable for all physical DPS in your group, and only gets better as you get more Agility.
If you would like to see where Survival Hunters fall in the overall rankings among DPS specs for both PvE and PvP in TBC Classic, we have created pages dedicated to explaining what classes and specializations are the best of the best through multiple factors. However, ultimately, you should not let these lists dissuade you from playing what you enjoy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Strong damage output at every stage of the expansion.
- Strong utility, including Misdirection and Feign Death.
- One of the most desirable classes for raiding in TBC - should be easy to find a raid spot.
- Brings the unique debuff Expose Weakness, which the whole raid benefits from.
- One of the easiest classes to gear early on in TBC.
- Incredible leveling speed and solo-play ability out in the world.
- Pet-based class, which means you will need to micro-manage your pet sometimes.
- Relatively complex rotation compared to other classes.
- Less damage output than Beast Mastery.
- Most raids will strictly want one Survival Hunter and only for Expose Weakness.
- Underwhelming AoE and cleave damage.
- Lack of defensive and self-healing cooldowns.
Best Horde Races for Hunters
The best Horde Hunter race for both PvE and PvP is Orc
For Horde, the choice is no contest. Orc gives you 5% more pet damage from Command and Blood Fury as a nice DPS cooldown. This combination is quite strong, and Orcs will be the best PvE race almost all of the time. Trolls are close in PvE, but in PvP Orc is dominant because of Hardiness. The stun resist is just too valuable in PvP to pass up.
Overview of Horde Races for Hunters
- Beast Slaying gives a 5% damage bonus against Beasts.
- Berserking is a 3-minute cooldown that gives you between 10-30% increased attack and casting speed depending on your health, with the effect being greater the more hurt you are.
- Bow Specialization increases your crit chance by 1% when using a Bow.
- Throwing Specialization increases your crit chance by 1% when using a thrown weapon.
- Regeneration gives +10% passive health regeneration and allows you to regenerate 10% of your total health regeneration during combat.
Trolls are a strong PvE choice, but ultimately are worse than Orcs. Berserking is a strong offensive cooldown, but requires you to use it after taking damage for optimal usage. When used optimally, this is actually a very strong cooldown. Beast Slaying is powerful while leveling, but is only useful for a handful of bosses in raids and dungeons. Bow Specialization is also quite strong, but only if you are using a bow. Luckily, you will use a bow for a large portion of the time in TBC. Throwing Specialization and Regeneration are both ultimately negligible and should not influence your choice of race.
- Axe Specialization increases your expertise by 5 while wielding an Axe.
- Blood Fury is a 2-minute cooldown that increases your Attack Power by 282 (at Level 70) for 15 seconds, but also reduces healing effects on you by 50% during that time.
- Command increases your pet damage dealt by 5%.
- Hardiness increases your chance to resist stuns by 15%.
Orc is the dominant race choice for both PvP and PvE as a Marksmanship Hunter. Hardiness is an incredibly powerful racial and can change the outcome of any fight where you resist a stun, especially against Rogues. Command provides a strong damage bonus to your pet, which is what makes Orc so powerful in PvE with how strong pets are for Hunters in TBC. Blood Fury is also a great DPS cooldown now that the AP applies to ranged attacks as well in TBC.
- Cultivation increases your Herbalism skill by 15.
- Endurance increases your total health by 5%.
- Nature Resistance increases your Nature Resistance by 10.
- War Stomp is a 2-minute cooldown that stuns up to 5 enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds, with a 0.5 second cast time.
War Stomp can be a great ability for PvP and the 5% increased health from Endurance is nice, but Tauren does not give any damage increase. War Stomp is also only situationally useful, as it requires you to be close to your target, which only really happens when you have a melee target chasing you. Tauren is the weakest choice for PvE and only situationally good in PvP.
Best Alliance Races for Hunters
The best Hunter Alliance race is ultimately a personal choice for PvE. For PvP, Dwarf is going to be the best race.
For PvE, Draenai will be the best choice early on because of Heroic Presence. This is incredibly useful in getting the hit cap early, and is even a party-wide aura. However, this just means that each group in a raid only needs one Draenei for the entire group to benefit from the aura. All Shamans will be Draenei for the Alliance, so they usually have that covered. If you did want to play a Draenei Hunter to be useful, that also means you would need to level from Level 1 - you cannot use a 58 boost on Draenei characters. However, Night Elf and Dwarf offer no meaningful PvE benefits other than Night Elf having a slightly higher base Agility, so if you did want to make the investment, you could.
For PvP, the choice is much easier. Dwarf is the best PvP race entirely because of Stoneform. Stoneform is specifically valuable in arenas, where it is an incredible defensive cooldown against Rogues and Warriors. The other races do not bring anything as valuable for arenas, but if you are more interested in battlegrounds and open-world PvP, Night Elf is also an excellent choice because of Shadowmeld.
Overview of Alliance Races for Hunters
- Nature Resistance increases your Nature Resistance by 10.
- Quickness increases your Dodge Chance by 1%.
- Shadowmeld is an ability that allows you to become stealthed while standing still when used, on a 10-second cooldown. This cannot be used in combat.
- Wisp Spirit causes you to transform into a wisp upon death, increasing your movement speed by 50% while dead.
Shadowmeld is a powerful ability for PvP which allows you to stealth in a single spot, potentially giving you the opener if you can position yourself carefully. It is also very useful while leveling because you can macro Shadowmeld together with your food and water to eat and drink while stealthed, reducing the chance that something will catch you off guard. Quickness is also useful in PvP when fighting melee. Night Elf is technically superior to Dwarf for damage, but only because of their higher base Agility, meaning the difference is marginal.
- Find Treasure allows you to sense nearby treasure (chests mainly), making it appear on the minimap.
- Frost Resistance increases your Frost Resistance by 10.
- Gun Specialization increases your crit change by 1% while using a Gun.
- Stoneform makes you immune to all bleed, poison, and disease effects, as well as increasing your armour for 8 seconds, on a 3-minute cooldown.
Gun Specialization would be strong, but unfortunately Hunters almost never use guns throughout TBC. In PvE, the best weapons are almost exclusively bows and crossbows all the way through the expansion. Stoneform is a very powerful ability for PvP and can give you the edge when fighting Warriors and Rogues, as you can immune their bleeds and poisons.
- Gemcutting increases your Jewelcrafting skill by 5.
- Shadow Resistance increases your Shadow Resistance by 10.
- Gift of the Naaru is a scaling heal that will heal your target over the course of 15 seconds.
- Heroic Presence increases the hit chance for everyone in your party within 30 yards by 1%
Hunters do lack self-healing in combat, so Gift of the Naaru can be quite nice to have, especially in PvP. For PvE, Heroic Presence is an excellent party buff that is incredibly strong early on for every group to have. However, only one person in the group needs to be a Draenei for everyone to benefit - this does not stack.
Best Professions for Marksmanship Hunters
Leatherworking is far and away the best profession in TBC as a Hunter. This is primarily because of Drums of Battle and Greater Drums of Battle, but also because of the crafted gear early on. Specifically, the Primalstrike crafted leather set gives you 3 pre-raid BiS pieces early on, as well several other near-BiS options. No other profession offers even close to this level of benefit for a raid group.
The second best profession to have as a Hunter is Engineering. It provides powerful items that you can use in both PvE and PvP content to either deal damage or help you get out of a tough spot.
If you do not want to pick up Engineering though, I would highly recommend picking up Skinning. Skinning will be extremely valuable to start out with, specifically for leveling up your Leatherworking and crafting your 70 gear.
If you would like to learn more about how your profession of choice can be used to supplement your goldmaking, along with a variety of other means to bolster your income, see our full goldmaking guide linked below:
- 06 May 2022 (gear page): Updated for Phase 5.
- 06 May 2022 (Phase 3 gear page): Guide moved.
- 22 Mar. 2022 (gear page): Updated for Phase 4.
- 14 Jan. 2022 (enchants page): Updated for Phase 3.
- 08 Jan. 2022 (Phase 2 gear page): Guide moved.
- 08 Jan. 2022 (gear page): Updated for Phase 3; separated previous Phase 2 list into a new page.
- 19 Sep. 2021 (Phase 1 gear page): Page restored.
- 14 Aug. 2021 (gear page): Page added.
- 25 May 2021 (enchants page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (pre-raid gear page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (stats page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (rotation page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (pets page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (talents page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (this page): Guide added.
- 25 May 2021 (spells page): Guide added.
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