Hunter Leveling Guide From 1 to 80 for WotLK Classic
On this page, you will find our level-by-level Hunter leveling guides for all specializations in Wrath 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 and get you ready for Northrend.
General WotLK Leveling Advice
Providing non-Hunter leveling advice is outside the scope of this article and is covered in our general WotLK leveling guide.
Choosing Your Leveling Spec
While we propose leveling builds for all 3 Hunter specializations, 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 a much better choice than it was in TBC, but is still going to be slightly worse overall than BM. The exception however is if you are leveling while very geared or with a large group, where your ability to deal large amounts of damage quickly becomes much more important for leveling efficiency. Survival has the best AoE out of any Hunter spec, which can make it optimal for leveling in certain situations.
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. That being said, Hunter is still the best solo class in the game, so leveling with one or more people is by no means required or even beneficial depending on how experienced you are with leveling. Grouping with friends could also 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 Northrend. Currently the optimal way to level from 70-80 in Northrend 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. This will especially hold true for Phase 1 of Wrath, since you can expect most questing hubs to be packed with players, creating friction while you try to quest. The most optimal players will still be potentially faster while questing, but only if you are able to quest without many people around.
General Rules for Leveling as a Hunter
Recommended Skills to Upgrade as a Hunter
While leveling, you will be less gold-starved that you might have experienced in TBC. However, there are still plenty of filler skills that you can skip if you wish.
- Raptor Strike
- Aspect of the Monkey
- Serpent Sting
- Arcane Shot
- Hunter's Mark
- Concussive Shot
- Revive Pet
- Aspect of the Hawk
- 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
- Kill Shot
- Master's Call
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.
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. If you played Hunter in original Classic or TBC, you will be thankful to learn that Auto Shot is updated in Wrath. While you still still need to be standing still to get an Auto Shot off, it now works similar to how melee auto attacks work. Auto Shots can no longer be "clipped", meaning you do not need to plan your ability uses around your Auto Shot timer.
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 1-80, which is why movement speed increases like your mount are very important. Getting your first mount at or close to Level 20 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 16, 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. In Wrath however, Mana usage and costs has been significantly improved across all classes. In most situations, you should always use your highest-DPS rotation without worrying about the Mana costs. It is more efficient to use the Mana and drink later if needed as opposed to limiting your damage while fighting. Once you learn it later on, Aspect of the Viper is incredibly useful for earning back some Mana as you travel around during down time.
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 your melee range. Hunters have a minimum range of 5 yards on their 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.
Professions While Leveling
If your goal is to hit Level 80 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 80, 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 Mining. Professions in general are more important in Wrath than they ever were previously, and your two best profession choices as a Level 80 Hunter will be Engineering and Jewelcrafting. These both use materials that come from Mining, making it a great starter profession if you want to prepare for later on.
Progressing your Hunter at Level 80
By the time you hit maximum level, it will be very helpful to read the rest of our guides. Pick Beast Mastery Hunter if you intend to play BM at maximum level, Marksmanship Hunter if you intend to play MM at maximum level and Survival Hunter if you intend to play Survival.
- 31 Aug. 2022: Page added.
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