Survival Hunter DPS Guide — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5

Last updated on Mar 19, 2019 at 16:43 by Azortharion 65 comments

Welcome to our Survival Hunter guide for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5. Here, you will learn how to play as a Survival Hunter in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons: from the very beginning to maximizing your DPS.

1. Survival Hunter Overview

Survival is the Melee Hunter spec. It has a versatile toolkit with lots of Crowd Control potential, very high burst AoE damage potential and good single-target damage.

2. Patch 8.1 Changes for Survival Hunter

2.1. Spec Changes

2.2. Talents, Azerite Traits and Other Relevant Changes

  • Hunters can now tame Crawgs, using the item Blood-Soaked Tome of Dark Whispers Icon Blood-Soaked Tome of Dark Whispers.
  • Up Close and Personal has been removed, and is replaced by Primeval Intuition.
  • Primeval Intuition Icon Primeval Intuition is a new Azerite Trait. It increases your maximum Focus to 120, and causes Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike to increase your Critical Strike chance for 12 seconds, stacking up to 5 times.

3. Patch 8.0.1 Changes for Survival Hunter

  • Before anything else, it is worth noting that Survival is still a melee spec and there is no way to do competitive damage purely from range. Survival has a cooldown, Aspect of the Eagle Icon Aspect of the Eagle, that allows its main melee ability, Raptor Strike Icon Raptor Strike, to be used from a 40-yard range for 15 seconds.
  • Focus now regenerates passively at a much slower rate.
  • Many abilities that were not on the global cooldown before are now affected by it, including main cooldowns like Coordinated Assault Icon Coordinated Assault.
  • All pet specs now do the same damage, but the pet specs now provide different bonuses for defense and utility.

4. Viability of Specs

On this page, we will attempt to give a full picture of what the 3 Hunter specs are good at and when you might want to use them. Generally speaking, all the specs are competitive enough that you can play whichever one you prefer from a playstyle perspective. On this page, we will try to be as objective as possible when determining which spec is the best. To determine this, we will use simulations, intuition and occasionally WarcraftLogs Data to try and get a full picture.

4.1. Spec Viability in Practice, Strengths and Weaknesses

In this section, we will look at some of the perks and downsides of the different specs in raids and Mythic+.

4.1.1. Beast Mastery

  • Extremely mobile, fairly easy to play.
  • Able to bring additional utility and heals like Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend.
  • Short cooldowns make it a consistent Mythic+ performer.
  • Relies on pet AI, which can be inconsistent and buggy.
  • Is able to deal heavy damage to a single target while AoE'ing.

4.1.2. Marksmanship

  • Capable of extremely high burst damage.
  • Unfortunately does not use a pet for multi-target scenarios, costing it utility/survivability.
  • Limited/no reliance on pet AI, more damage is in your hands.

4.1.3. Survival

  • Very high sustained AoE damage.
  • Quite mobile for a melee spec.
  • Relatively simple single-target rotation.
  • Relatively hectic multi-target rotation.

4.2. What Is The Best Spec?

4.2.1. Single-Target/Raiding

All of the specs are close to equal in this respect, with Marksmanship having the highest theoretical maximum and superior gear scaling. In practice, there is very little between the specs from a damage perspective and there is no strictly right or wrong choice.

4.2.2. Cleave/AoE/Mythic+

  1. Beast Mastery;
  2. Marksmanship;
  3. Survival.

4.2.3. Utility/Defensives

Beast Mastery can provide Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend to you and your allies which is a powerful self-heal, and various utility through its pets.

Marksmanship does not often use a pet, and it does not have Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend at all.

Survival lies somewhere between Marksmanship and Beast Mastery. While it does not have Spirit Mend, it can use any pet type for any situation just like Beast Mastery (with the exception of Exotic Beasts, but these do not provide anything uniquely useful).

5. Changelog

  • 19 Mar. 2019 (this page): Updated the Raiding viability/performance comparison section.
  • 15 Mar. 2019 (simulations page): Updated the Racial Simulation to include Zandalari Trolls and Kul'Tiran Humans.
  • 20 Feb. 2019 (this page): Altered the simple spec rankings slightly for Single-Target/Raiding.
  • 03 Feb. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated information about Overwhelming Power/Heed My Call/Gutripper.
  • 30 Jan. 2019 (mythic+ page): Significant updates across the Survival Mythic+ guide.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (simulations page): Added a small Raidbots text guide.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (gear page): Added a Recommended Gear List for Battle for Dazar'alor, and an introduction to the Raidbots Droptimizer feature.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Removed Archive of the Titans and added Treacherous Covenant.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (talents page): Updated guide to no longer recommend Tip of the Spear for Mythic+ and Multi-Target scenarios.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added boss tips for Survival Hunter in Battle of Dazar'alor.
  • 11 Jan. 2019 (enchants page): Updated the optimal food to use.
  • 21 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Trait recommendation for Mythic+.
  • 17 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): Added several new questions and answers.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (talents page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (this page): Added Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary. Primeval Intuition, the new Survival Azerite trait in Patch 8.1, is not very good currently and not worthy of a mention in the guide.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (spells page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (simulations page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (addons page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (easy mode page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (stats page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (gear page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 12 Nov. 2018 (enchants page): Updated potion recommendation.
  • 09 Nov. 2018 (this page): Removed the comparison simulations as they were getting less relevant, outdated, and to clean up the page.
  • 19 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added note about Blur of Talons and its effect on Serpent Sting usage during Coordinated Assault.
  • 19 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added a small section emphasizing that having at least one Uldir trait within the raid is mandatory for optimal performance.
  • 19 Oct. 2018 (talents page): Expanded on some explanations on talent choice for single-target, Mythic+, and the Viper's Venom / Alpha Predator dilemma.
  • 17 Oct. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison.
  • 17 Oct. 2018 (this page): Updated the discussion on spec viability in Uldir and Mythic+.
  • 15 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added Blur of Talons paragraph to the list of contextual descriptions of some traits.
  • 12 Oct. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about Serpent Sting usage during Coordinated Assault with Birds of Prey.
  • 25 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Trait simulation to account for the latest hotfixes.
  • 24 Sep. 2018 (rotation page): Reworded/simplified the Kill Command line of the AP rotation slightly.
  • 20 Sep. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about Alpha Predator changing the rotation.
  • 20 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Restructured the page and added some written recommendations.
  • 18 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 18 Sep. 2018 (rotation page): Added an Alpha Predator section to the rotation, catered towards slightly more advanced players, since we recommend Viper's Venom for most people and the DPS gain is miniscule.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation to include Meticulous Scheming properly.
  • 08 Sep. 2018 (this page): Updated the spec comparison simulations.
  • 08 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 07 Sep. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (simulations page): Fixed another issue with the racial simulation.
  • 03 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Added content to the page.
  • 02 Sep. 2018 (simulations page): Fixed an issue with the racial simulation.
  • 01 Sep. 2018 (mythic+ page): Added content.
  • 31 Aug. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include the recent SimCraft changes to RPPM.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 29 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated the recommendations on Level 90 talents, specifically phasing out the recommendation of Flanking Strike.
  • 27 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Expanded on how to use Latent Poison in AoE situations, and that the /petattack macro is mostly relevant for Birds of Prey users.
  • 27 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Expanded and updated on the Survival multi-target rotation.
  • 27 Aug. 2018 (this page): Added more information about Survival to the "What is the Best Hunter Spec" section.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include buff to the Tiny Electromental in a Jar.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): It is now worth it to refresh Serpent Sting during Mongoose Fury. Updated the guide accordingly.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Removed mention of a trait requirement to refresh Serpent Sting during Mongoose Fury. It is now worth doing regardless.
  • 25 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about not wasting Wildfire Bomb ticks with Guerrilla Tactics.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added Coordinated Assault to the rotation priority list.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Talent recommendation changes.
    • Recommend Wildfire Infusion by default, with Birds of Prey being chosen with the Blur of Talons Trait.
    • Changed Alpha Predator to a "?", as it can be competitive with Viper's Venom. It is a fair bit more difficult to get most out of, however, and it primarily synergizes with Mongoose Bite.
    • Revised the wording on the Level 90 Talents, but we still suggest simming yourself.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include various World Quest trinkets.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (this page): Added a section called "What is the Best Hunter Spec", and updated all the simulations.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Simulation.
  • 23 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added a link to the origin spreadsheet for the simulation chart. Added Blur of Talons to the rotational changes.
  • 23 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Revised the recommendation of Hydra's Bite versus Guerrilla Tactics, as mistakes were made in the simulation methodology that led to the initial change.
  • 23 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Added a link to the origin spreadsheet for the simulation chart.
  • 23 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Significantly altered the recommendation of Guerrilla Tactics versus Hydra's Bite.
  • 21 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Changed the Steel Trap recommendation.
  • 21 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated Trinket simulations.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Expanded further on the rotational impact of some Azerite Traits, and updated the Azerite simulation.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about not attempting to play around Tip of the Spear more than necessary.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Gear and Trinket list updates.
    • Updated the trinket simulation.
    • Changed the BiS list to a more generally useful list of good dungeons to farm, as this will be relevant throughout the entire expansion.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Added note about Wildfire Infusion potentially being better for single-target in some gearsets.
  • 17 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Added the mention of using an Agility gem.
  • 17 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Expanded on the rotational impact of some Azerite Traits.
    • Added a useful /petattack macro for Raptor Strike when using Latent Poison, and added Latent Poison rotation info in general.
    • Added note about refreshing Serpent Sting during Mongoose Fury if you have Latent Poison or Venomous Fangs.
  • 17 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about deliberately extending Coordinated Assault at the end of its duration, when using the Birds of Prey talent.
  • 16 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal healing potion to use.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated Survival cheat-sheet text.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated the usage of Shrapnel Bomb from Wildfire Infusion slightly.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Page created for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (simulations page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (addons page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (Uldir page): Page added (empty for now).
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Page added for Battle for Azeroth launch (empty for now).
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added Survival Hunter Azerite page.
  • 07 Aug. 2018 (addons page): Added an Intimidation macro.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Expanded on the Mongoose Bite talent's effect on the rotation.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (spells page): Added Muzzle to the spell list.
  • 02 Aug. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison which has fixed some incorrect usage of the Blood Elf Racial.
  • 01 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated the single-target spec comparison.
  • 31 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Small additions to some talents' effect on the rotation.
    • Expanded Butchery usage to cover 2 targets, whereas Carve is >3.
    • Added note about not refreshing Serpent Sting during Mongoose Fury.
  • 31 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Fixed Birds of Prey showing an incorrect cooldown reduction value.
  • 31 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Added some missing BfA pets to the pet family overview.
  • 23 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Expanded on single-target rotation using Guerrilla Tactics.
  • 22 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Updated the optimal single-target potion.
  • 21 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Reverted the optimal flask, as the Flask of Falling Leaves was nerfed.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Moved the Gorilla and its Special Ability from Tenacity to Ferocity.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Reverted the optimal gem, as it was nerfed.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Made a few updates.
    • Updated Celerity of the Windrunners' Haste level from 2% to 3%.
    • Added Butcher's Bone Apron to the Legendary ranking.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Expanded slightly on Mongoose Bite's superiority only when not using the T21 4-piece set bonus.
  • 19 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Made several updates.
    • Added a tier-piece alternative to the off-piece Best in Slot helm, if you are using both top Legendaries.
    • Fixed Kil'jaeden's Burning Wish's position in the Legendary rankings, so that it no longer appears twice under the multi-target list.
    • Updated the 2nd BiS trinket from the Shadow-Singed Fang to Gorshalach's Legacy.
  • 19 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Expanded on the impact that Wildfire Infusion can have on your rotation when trying to play optimally.
  • 19 Jul. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison and changed the simulation parameters slightly to fix Troll's extremely low standing.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (enchants page): Various updates with old-world gems, enchants, and consumables.
    • Updated the optimal potion to use.
    • Updated the optimal flask to use. Added note about Belt Buckles to the Enchants table.
    • Reverted the optimal potion to use, as Blizzard has nerfed the old one.
    • Updated the wording on the Healthstones/Healing Potion paragraph to say "and", as you can now use both of them at once.
    • Updated the recommended gem to be purely Haste gems, not the Saber's Eye Agility gem as well.
    • Removed Belt Buckles as they were hotfixed.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Small updates to talent recommendations and descriptions.
    • Updated Terms of Engagement description to note its usefulness in open-world content.
    • Added Aspect of the Eagle to the list of Aspects affected by Born to be Wild.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Updated Golganneth's Vitality to just be an Argus Personal Loot drop. Revised Legendary ranking and added Soul of the Huntmaster and Kil'jaeden's Burning Wish to it.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Added Kil'jaeden's Burning Wish to the bottom of the single-target legendary ranking.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated the optimal talent from Mongoose Bite to Tip of the Spear and updated the stat priority.
  • 16 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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