Survival Hunter DPS Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated Yesterday at 13:40 by Azortharion 61 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

Welcome to our Survival Hunter DPS guide for World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1. Here, you will learn everything you need to know about playing a Survival Hunter in a raid environment and in Mythic+ dungeons.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Azortharion, the main theorycrafter of the spec for many years. He is an accomplished player with dozen of top parses for all specs throughout the game's history. He is also the Admin of Trueshot Lodge, the Hunter Class Discord, and you can watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Class 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 8.0.1 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.

3. 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.

3.1. Single-Target Spec Comparison Simulation

Survival14444+3.54%
Marksmanship13950 
Beast Mastery13564-2.77%
The original results can be found on raidbots.com

As the title suggests, this simulation puts the specs up against each other in an ideal scenario for a pure single-target encounter, with no movement. We use a fight length for the simulation that best reflects the actual fight lengths in current Mythic content.

3.2. Multi-Target Spec Comparison Simulation - 4 Targets

Survival27617+17.01%
Beast Mastery26201+11.01%
Marksmanship23602 
The original results can be found on raidbots.com

3.3. Burst AoE Spec Comparison Simulation - 5 Targets for 45 Seconds - No Bloodlust

Beast Mastery33480+6.0%
Survival33150+4.95%
Marksmanship31587 
The original results can be found on raidbots.com

3.4. Bursty Single-Target Spec Comparison Simulation - 1 Target, 30 Seconds

Survival20761+4.31%
Beast Mastery20653+3.77%
Marksmanship19904 
The original results can be found on raidbots.com

3.5. Spec Viability in Practice, Strengths and Weaknesses

Simulations are all well and good, but they cannot provide the same picture of how the specs work in raids as actually playing them can. In this section, we will look at some of the perks and downsides of the different specs in raids and Mythic+.

3.5.1. 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.
  • Gets its optimal multi-target damage without changing talents much from single-target.
  • Is able to deal heavy damage to a single target while AoE'ing.

3.5.2. Marksmanship

  • Capable of extremely high burst damage, especially AoE.
  • 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.
  • Significantly changes its talents in order to do optimal AoE damage.

3.5.3. Survival

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

3.6. What Is The Best Spec?

Generally speaking, Beast Mastery is the best all-rounder Hunter spec. It provides the best blend of damage in all kinds of scenarios, utility, and defensives, especially through self-heals like Spirit Mend Icon Spirit Mend.

Marksmanship has a higher single-target potential than Beast Mastery does, especially with its MGH Steady Aim build. The problem is that this build's only true strength is single-target damage, and even in Uldir, most of the difficult bosses have target switching, short-term burst. This does not suit Marksmanship well, since its only damage cooldown has a very long cooldown, and it is not as flexible at dealing with multiple different damage scenarios using the same talents. For Mythic+, this inflexibility hurts Marksmanship a lot compared to Beast Mastery.

Survival is a pure damage output powerhouse, and arguably has the highest raiding DPS potential of the 3 Hunter specs. Survival's main downside is that it is Melee, which is generally less desirable than Ranged, and also competes with a different set of classes. Nonetheless, Survival's damage on pure single-target is almost unmatched by any other class. From a damage perspective it has few weaknesses. It has more utility than Marksmanship, but less defensives than Beast Mastery. For Mythic+, Survival is a good damage choice, but it is unlikely to beat Beast Mastery over the entire dungeon and also has less defensive capabilities.

4. Contents

To make it easy to navigate the guide, we have split it into 14 pages:

5. Changelog

  • 17 Oct. 2018 (this page): Updated the discussion on spec viability in Uldir and Mythic+.
  • 17 Oct. 2018 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison.
  • 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 (azerite traits and gear page): Restructured the page and added some written recommendations.
  • 20 Sep. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about Alpha Predator changing the rotation.
  • 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 (simulations page): Fixed another issue with the racial simulation.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 03 Sep. 2018 (bosses 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 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated Azerite Trait simulation.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include the recent SimCraft changes to RPPM.
  • 29 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated the recommendations on Level 90 talents, specifically phasing out the recommendation of Flanking Strike.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include buff to the Tiny Electromental in a Jar.
  • 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.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): It is now worth it to refresh Serpent Sting during Mongoose Fury. Updated the guide accordingly.
  • 25 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about not wasting Wildfire Bomb ticks with Guerrilla Tactics.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (this page): Added a section called "What is the Best Hunter Spec", and updated all the simulations.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated the trinket simulation to include various World Quest trinkets.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added Coordinated Assault to the rotation priority list.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated the Azerite Simulation.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (azerite traits and gear page): Added a link to the origin spreadsheet for the simulation chart. Added Blur of Talons to the rotational changes.
  • 21 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated Trinket simulations.
  • 21 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Changed the Steel Trap recommendation.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Added note about not attempting to play around Tip of the Spear more than necessary.
  • 18 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Added note about Wildfire Infusion potentially being better for single-target in some gearsets.
  • 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 (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.
  • 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 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (bosses page): Page added (empty for now).
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (addons page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (simulations 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).
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 12 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 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 (spells page): Added some missing BfA pets to the pet family overview.
  • 31 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Fixed Birds of Prey showing an incorrect cooldown reduction value.
  • 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.
  • 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 (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 (enchants page): Reverted the optimal gem, as it was nerfed.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Expanded slightly on Mongoose Bite's superiority only when not using the T21 4-piece set bonus.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Moved the Gorilla and its Special Ability from Tenacity to Ferocity.
  • 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 (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 (simulations page): Updated the racial comparison and changed the simulation parameters slightly to fix Troll's extremely low standing.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated the optimal talent from Mongoose Bite to Tip of the Spear and updated the stat priority.
  • 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.
  • 16 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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