Author Topic: Survival Guide  (Read 1135 times)

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Survival Guide
« on: July 12, 2008, 10:03:03 AM »
Reposting this guide from:
Some things have beed removed or modified.

I admit I don't know everything there is about survival hunters, just the basics.

Gear and Stats:

The key stats every survival hunter wants are agility, crit and enough hit to reach the hit cap but other stats are of value as well, the key is to make efficient use of the itemization available. Due to the way itemization works, the more of a stat is on a piece of gear, the more expensive it is itemizationwise to add more. Sockets do not suffer from this limitation so socketed gear will frequently give you the best bang for your itemization buck as survival.
Gear Shopping

Your best bet for figuring out the effects of individual gear choices on your dps is to use Cheeky's Hunter DPS Spreadsheet. Note that the spreadsheet won't reflect the additional benefits the raid will see from your expose weakness buff so going strictly from dps numbers won't give you a complete picture of your best gear choices but it will help you to make informed decisions. Remember to evaluate the total benefit from the stats on the gear you're looking at and not just stack agility blindly- you want to take pieces that give both you and the raid the best balanced dps benefit.

You can view my survival hunter gear guide for a list of gear accessible at different levels of instancing/PvP/raiding to help you in your gear shopping.


Agility is the most critical stat for any survival hunter. 1/4 of your agility provides attack power bonuses to the raid (as well as yourself) via expose weakness whenever the debuff is applied (which should be most of the time). This is the primary reason for the existence of the survival spec in high end raiding. In addition you will gain 26.5% bonus to all your agility in a raid, 15% from the lightning reflexes talent multiplied by the 10% from kings (and about 0.3 AP per point of agility from your expose weakness debuff personally assuming decent uptime). So agility on gear scales very well with survival specs (it also provides dodge and armor on fights where those may be of use like Bloodboil).

It is highly recommended that you do not switch to a survival spec until you have a minimum of 600 agility before speccing into it, which will net you roughly 700 agility with talents. More is obviously better and how much agility is required to make the spec work well depends on the level of raiding you're at. If you are too low on agility, you are better off staying beast mastery spec until you can assemble enough gear to make the survival work, otherwise you are likely to lose more dps from switching specs than the raid gains from you being survival. There is very little gear (outside of ranged weaponry and trinkets) that is good for a survival hunter that doesn't have some decent amount of agility on it.

It is important to note that although agility is critical to a survival hunter, you still need to evaluate each piece of gear for the complete dps benefit as well as the expose weakness benefit to the raid. Small amounts of agility gained for a loss of large amounts of lesser stats such as attack power will not benefit your raid as you will lose more damage than your raid will gain from your expose weakness contribution. For example, the 4 stats enchant to bracers is not as beneficial as 24 AP since you are only gaining 4 agility for a 24 AP loss (and although the 4 int and stam are nice, they aren't enough to make up the gap in value).

Crit Rating

Crit rating is the second most important stat for a survival hunter. You should get a fairly decent chunk of crit from having solid agility but gear that has good crit in addition to good agility is best. Ideally you want to get to at least 30% crit, but the more the better as your crit will affect how much of the time you can keep expose weakness up on a target in addition to the damage benefits. In addition your pet will gain more damage from your crit due to the go for the throat talent and if you have the thrill of the hunt talent you will gain more mana back as your crit improves (each 1% crit you gain is worth 0.13% mana back per talent point in thrill of the hunt).

Hit Rating

If you are below the hit cap, hit is the best stat you can get to increase your personal damage output (note however that hit rating above the cap does nothing for you). For a survival hunter reaching the hit cap is fairly easy at lower levels of gear, but at the T6 level of gear hit becomes more scarce so you may have to work harder to reach the cap. The hit cap for a hunter is 9% but survival hunters get 3% hit from the surefooted talent, which you should pretty much always take unless for some reason you're way over the cap and have a better place to spend those points. So for the standard survival hunter you are looking for 95 hit rating to cap, if your talents differ that may vary (draenei will be getting 1% hit from their aura so their cap is lower).

Attack Power

A survival hunter needs to have sufficient attack power to do good dps, but a large chunk of your attack power should be coming from your agility. You don't want to sacrifice large amounts of attack power for small amounts of agility though. Generally agility is valued at about 2.5 attack power for a survival hunter.

Haste Rating

Haste is a mixed bag as a hunter because you don't want to use too much and mess up your rotation. How much haste you want as a survival hunter depends on the rotation you're using. If you are using a 1:1.5 rotation, you will want no more haste than is necessary to tighten up your rotation so there is little dead space, if you get too much you will have trouble fitting your specials in without clipping autoshot. If you are using a heavy steady rotation (generally not recommended until 4 pc T6 bonus is available) then it is recommended you get the appropriate amount of haste to support the 2:1 or 3:2 rotation you are aiming for.

Note that most haste gear pre-Sunwell has fairly weak other stats, so it isn't really realistic to try to stack enough haste to run a 1:1 rotation and you probably don't want to try 2:1 or 3:2 till you have the gear to support it. You can use the Haste Calculator to figure out how much haste rating is needed to meet your target weapon speed.

Armor Penetration

The more armor penetration you have, the better it will perform for you- it is a fairly solid dps stat that scales with itself rather well. There is no recommended amount of armor penetration for a survival hunter (although at really high amounts it may cease to increase in effectiveness depending on the armor of your target) but gear with good agility and armor penetration is worthwhile. On a level 73 boss with full debuffs, you can expect something along the lines of 1% damage for 127 armor penetration on 6200 armor bosses and 1% damage for 142 armor penetration on 7700 armor bosses. For more detail about the additional damage provided by armor penetration see this thread by Solos of Nagrand. There is also an Armor Penetration Spreadsheet (from the Elitist Jerks forum) and an Armor Penetration Damage Increase Calculator.

Other Stats

You don't really need to go out of your way to gear for intellect and stamina as long as you aren't too bad off. Although having a decent mana pool is useful to a hunter, all int provides you is max mana and small amounts of increased mana regeneration when aspect of the viper is up (which ideally you should be using as little as possible) and once you have used up the extra mana it's gone till you can drink. Many survival hunters wear a few pieces of leather gear with no int, but it's probably best not to overdo it. As a hunter your stamina pool isn't critical since you should rarely be getting hit, but many boss fights do include a lot of raidwide damage so make sure your stamina isn't overly low. Most of the time you will get all the stamina you need from your gear but it may be good to keep a few high stamina pieces around for high damage fights. MP5 is a very expensive stat itemizationwise and although it's nice to have it's not really worth compromising on damage stats for. Strength and spirit are virtually useless.

As a rule you should mostly stick to straight agility gems with the exception of the requirements for the Relentless Earthstorm Diamond meta gem (which takes 2 red, 2 yellow and 2 blue gems). Multi-color gems do count as both colors so it is sometimes easiest to just meet the yellow/blue requirements with 2 crit/stam gems (jagged is the prefix) assuming you don't need the additional hit you would get from the agil/hit gems (glinting is the prefix). You also should probably ignore most socket bonuses unless they are easy to get and are critical survival stats (agil and maybe crit) and just focus on agility gems (delicate is the prefix), but do try to be efficient about how you meet your meta requirements to get as many useful socket bonuses out of them as makes sense. For more details about which gems to use see the Survival Hunter Gear Guide - Gems Section.

There are many valid survival hunter specs. Which one is the best fit for you depends on your raiding and gear level as well as your priorities.
Required Talents

The following talents are required for any viable survival spec:

    * Marksmanship
          o Lethal Shots (5/5)
          o Go for the Throat (2/2) - although survival hunters aren't as dependent on pet dps as BM hunters, the high crit rate provided by the survival spec allows this talent to give a fairly noticable dps boost
          o Aimed Shot - not really an important talent but required to access mortal shots, the key dps talent for all hunter specs
          o Rapid Killing (2/2) - allows for more rapid fires, key for dps
          o Mortal Shots (5/5) - cornerstone dps talent for any hunter spec
    * Survival
          o Hawk Eye (3/3) - allows for pulling and dpsing from a greater range which on some fights may make survival easier and on fights where you will periodically have to move out of range it will allow you to return to dps faster
          o Humanoid Slaying (3/3) - there are plenty of humanoids at all levels of raiding that this provides a dps boost for
          o Surefooted (3/3) - this is technically optional if you're significantly above the hit cap, but as it's an easy way to get hit rating without wasting itemization on it and there aren't other better talents to spend your points on there aren't a lot of good reasons to skip it
          o Survival Instincts (2/2)
          o Killer Instinct (3/3)
          o Lightning Reflexes (5/5) - cornerstone talent for any survival spec
          o Expose Weakness (3/3) - key talent of the survival spec (at high levels of crit 2/3 expose weakness may be enough if you need the talent point for other things and you're ok with sacrificing some uptime). Note that expose weakness does not stack so one survival hunter is the most you want in a raid. On fights where ranged and melee dps is split, the survival hunter should typically follow the melee target to keep expose weakness up

Optional Talents

The following talents are of value to survival but will not be in all specs:

    * Beast Mastery
          o Improved Aspect of the Hawk (5/5) - provides faster shots on proc
          o Focused Fire (2/2) - valuable damage bonus useful if you are already picking up imp aspect of the hawk
    * Marksmanship
          o Improved Hunter's Mark (5/5) - provides a bonus 110 AP to melee when your hunter's mark is on the target, it is best if the hunter with the most consistent attendance in your raid has this talent
          o Efficiency (5/5) - decreases mana cost of shots and stings, useful if you can make room for it in the spec but most survival specs can only fit either imp hunter's mark or efficiency and not both
          o Improved Arcane Shot (5/5) - allows you to tighten up your shot rotations to fit in arcane shot more often, one of the primary survival specs is designed around this- note you may not need all 5 points depending on your weapon speed and latency
          o Barrage (3/3) - increases your multishot damage, usually a spec including barrage skips improved arcane shot and and vice versa
          o Ranged Weapon Specialization (3/5) - some barrage or imp arcane shots go deep enough into the marksmanship tree to get a few points in this talent for extra damage- note that to get this talent you will need to give up on some mana regeneration via thrill of the hunt so it depends on your priorities and mana situation
          o Combat Experience (2/2) - it is actually recommended that you not take this talent over ranged weapon specialization, although it looks very good for survival hunters when you do the math you find the amount of stats gained is rather minimal and the flat damage bonus will serve you better in most cases
          o Scatter Shot - this talent is strictly for utility and most raid oriented survival builds do not include it, but some find it difficult to manage without so it's an option if you can live with a little less mana regen
    * Survival
          o Monster Slaying (3/3) - the proportion of mobs in raid instances affected by this talent is not large, especially at the higher levels of raiding, but there are several free points at the top of the survival tree to spend, so it may be useful to you
          o Entrapment (3/3) - it's generally recommended that you not take entrapment because the nature of the proc can lead to deaths of people close to the mobs it procs on, but it can also be useful for certain encounters so you have to evaluate for yourself whether it's worth getting
          o Deflection (5/5) - some amount of points in this talent might be useful for the occasional time you are getting hit simply due to there being not a lot of other compelling talents to take at this level in the tree, but it's not very important
          o Improved Wing Clip (3/3) - the proc rate on this talent isn't very high, but it can sometimes be handy if you get into trouble, especially since most survival builds do not include scatter shot or wyvern sting, again given the lack of other good talents to choose at this level it may be worth picking up
          o Clever Traps (2/2) - this talent is strictly for utility and doesn't have much direct impact on raiding, but may be worth picking up based on your needs if you prefer it to the other optional talents at this level of the tree. It does have some additional damage benefit provided on explosive and snake traps. There are also some occasions where freeze traps are warrannted on raids (primarily trash but also fights like Magtheridon) and the bonus duration provided could be helpful
          o Survivalist (5/5) - at least some points in this talent is a good idea given that a little extra health never hurts and there aren't a lot of great other talents to use at this level in the tree
          o Deterrence - this talent is of limited use in raiding circumstances but there are times it can save your life or the raid, I recommend picking it up due to lack of competition for better talents but not all survival hunters take it
          o Trap Mastery (1/2) - another utility talent that you probably don't need in raiding but may be handy for other things, just depends on where you want to put your excess points (note that 2 points in trap mastery won't give any additional benefit since 1 point will cap out the resist rate)
          o Improved Feign Death (2/2) - this talent can have a direct effect on your damage output if you suffer from early feign resists on a fight but the amount of resist reduction provided isn't that huge (4% off the base 17% chance). It is the most likely of the optional talents at this level of the tree to provide additional damage benefit.
          o Thrill of the Hunt (3/3) - this talent is the key mana regen talent for the survival spec but how much of it you can afford to get depends on your other spec priorities. You will gain about 0.13% mana returned per talent point in thrill of the hunt per 1% crit
          o Wyvern Sting - this talent is almost never seen in survival hunter raiding specs because the tree is very bottom heavy so it's not really possible to get it without giving up another talent of importance, and the need for wyvern sting in raiding is fairly limited
          o Master Tactician (5/5) - there is much debate on whether this talent is good enough damage to justify its use over other potential specs- some argue it is good only for lower levels of gear where you need the extra crit, but there are some who argue that it is strong at the high levels of raiding as well when you don't have the haste to support an imp hawk spec. It is required for readiness so if you decide to go with a deep survival build you will need it.
          o Readiness - can provide additional dps benefit via an extra rapid fire or feign death, or additional raid benefit via an extra misdirection

Choosing a Spec That Fits

Once you have the key talents, you need to decide which type of survival spec is the best fit for your needs. There are four basic types of survival specs- imp hawk (usually some variant of 7/20/34), barrage (deep enough in marksmanship to get barrage and possibly ranged weapon specialization), imp arcane shot (usually also deep in marksmanship but emphasizes a tighter arcane shot rotation over heavier damage multishots), and readiness (41 points into survival to get the master tactician and readiness talents). Note: all example specs listed below can be adjusted as need be with the optional talents that you prefer, they are strictly examples - in particular you will have to choose whether to go with imp mark or efficiency depending on the needs of your raid.

Imp Hawk

The improved aspect of the hawk oriented spec includes 7 points in beast mastery, in order to get imp aspect of the hawk and focused fire. Then it includes the standard 20 points in marksmanship, which shouldn't really vary except for the decision of imp mark or efficiency, and 34 points in survival, deep enough to get the key talents of lightning reflexes and expose weakness, with a spare point for thrill of the hunt. Some variations of this spec drop the thrill of the hunt point for scatter shot or drop focused fire for more points in thrill of the hunt. 7/20/34 is usually the breakdown, the linked spec is an example but there is variation available in several areas. Usually this spec is not used until the higher tiers of raiding with suitable haste gear to support a heavy steady rotation (as well as the 4pc T6 bonus and a Dragonspine Trophy) but you can also use it with a 1:1.5 rotation if you adjust well to whether imp hawk is procced.


The barrage oriented spec includes anywhere between 23 to 28 points in marksmanship depending on mana concerns and emphasizes the use of multishot in the rotation whenever safe to use over arcane due to the high damage bonus on multishot provided by the barrage talent. The highest damage output version is some variation of 0/28/33 which also includes 3 points in ranged weapon specialization but no points in thrill of the hunt. Depending on your raid setup and mana situation this can be a strong damage spec but if you don't have the mana to support it, it may not be a good fit for you. Note that this spec is only advisable if you are using a 1:1.5 rotation.
Imp Arcane Shot

The imp arcane shot spec is similar to the barrage oriented spec in that it goes semi-deep into the marksmanship tree but it differs in that it uses some number of talent points in imp arcane shot (you need to adjust based on your weapon speed and latency) to allow for arcane shot to fit more smoothly into a rotation so that multishot does not need to be used. Although arcane shot is a bit less damage it is also more mana efficient and can be used in more circumstances than multishot. Like the barrage spec it includes 23 to 28 points in marksmanship depending on mana concerns- the 0/28/33 version is the highest damage output but hardest on mana, adjust as needed to make room for points in thrill of the hunt. Note that this spec is only advisable if you are using a 1:1.5 rotation.

The readiness spec is a deep survival spec which includes master tactician and readiness. This spec is popular at the lower levels of gear where the crit provided by master tactician helps compensate for weaker gear. It can also be used at the higher levels of raiding when you find a heavy steady rotation to be a damage benefit and you don't have enough haste to support an imp hawk spec. Any readiness build will be some varation of 0/20/41, due to the deep survival talents required to reach readiness the number of points is fixed only the optional talents can vary.

Maximum DPS

The best dps pet for a survival hunter depends on your crit. At lower levels of gear, a ravager is the preferred dps pet (cats and raptors also have a 10% dmg bonus and a focus dump but gore lets ravagers pull ahead). When you reach about 33-35% crit raid buffed those pets will not be able to use up the focus provided by your Go for the Throat talent as fast as you generate it so you will benefit more from a wind serpent pet. The one concern with a wind serpent pet however is that if you raid with an elemental shaman as well as an enhancement shaman the wind serpent will consume stormstrike charges and could result in a dps loss for the raid unless there are enough other wind serpents in the raid that the dps gain from them outweighs the loss of dps to the elemental shaman (a boomkin may be affected as well but that depends on what percentage of their spell rotation is nature damage). For more details about the stormstrike concerns see the Elitist Jerks thread Wind Serpents with DPS Shammies.

Note: If you use a windserpent, they are somewhat buggy (they like to move out of melee range to cast if set on autocast) so rather than having the lightning breath set to autocast you should instead put the following in your shot macro:
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] Lightning Breath

Providing Additional Raid Benefit

On certain boss fights where damage on the tank is especially high (particularly in Sunwell), it may be beneficial to use an owl for the screech talent (a bat will also work but carrion birds do not have the 7% damage bonus). Although an owl will do less dps than a wind serpent (somewhere between 40-80 dps depending on gear and other factors), the AP debuff on the boss will allow your raid to more safely run curse of recklessness to benefit the physical dps as a whole, and may allow your warriors to not spec for improved demoralizing shout and spend those talent points in other spots. The maximum amount of AP debuff on a boss is 340 AP, demoralizing shout reduces AP by 300 (5/5 improved demoralizing shout is 420), curse of recklessness adds 135 AP to the boss, and the screech ability that owls have provide a 240 AP debuff to the raid. So you can cap out the AP debuff on a boss with untalented demoralizing shout and screech even with curse of recklessness up.

Pet Training

All pets a survial hunter uses should have cobra reflexes and avoidance trained as well as their primary focus dump talent (gore for ravagers, lightning breath for wind serpents, claw for cats and raptors, and screech for owls). Petopia has an excellent list of where to find pets to tame as well as where to find pet skills and a pet training calculator. Whether you should pick up dash/dive, stamina, armor or resist talents is a personal decision based on your raiding level and needs.

If your pet can learn bite you should make sure to include it in your pet's spec unless you are using a windserpent. For windserpents if you have sufficient crit to keep the pet constantly supplied with enough focus to use lightning breath, there is no benefit to using bite as it will do less damage than lightning breath and eats up a global cooldown. If your windserpent sometimes runs low on focus then it may still be effective to use bite. Any other pet uses a focus dump which is lower damage than bite thus training bite will result in a net gain of damage.

Shot Rotation:

There are two standard shot rotation styles for a survival hunter- a 1:1.5 rotation, which includes arcane/multishot to supplement your auto/steady rotation, and a heavy steady shot rotation (which will be 2:1 or 3:2 depending on your haste and weapon speed) which utilizies just auto and steady shot but with the appropriate macro will adjust properly to haste effects and take advantage of the ability to delay an autoshot without losing it entirely. Which one is the best fit for you will depend on your gear level and spec. For most survival hunters, the preferred shot rotation is a 1:1.5 rotation. At higher levels of gear (4 pc T6 especially) a heavy steady shot rotation becomes preferred.

For more general information about shot rotations, you may want to see the Elitist Jerks Forum: Hunter Shot Rotation Illustrated. Note that the details in the starting page of that thread do not discuss the heavy steady shot rotation since it was not popularized until after the thread was created. But it should give you some idea of the basics of shot rotations and if you read further into the thread there are many more details there about the heavy steady rotation.

1:1.5 Rotation

A 1:1.5 rotation essentially means that for every other steady shot you want to squeeze in a special (arcane or multishot) before the next auto shot goes off. So it should look something like this:
Auto Shot, Steady Shot, Arcane or Multi Shot, Auto Shot, Steady Shot (rinse and repeat)

It's difficult to macro a 1:1.5 rotation well, although macros for it do exist you're better off using a macro to create a 1:1 Auto/Steady rotation and then manually insert your specials as needed. The macro should look something like this:
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/castsequence reset=3 !Auto Shot, Steady Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

The reset in the castsequence just indicates the number of seconds it takes to reset to the first item in the castsequence if you stop hitting the button. You can adjust that to whatever makes sense for your needs.

Note that if you can't use multishot safely on a fight and you don't have imp arcane shot to tighten your arcane shot timer, your rotation may look more like a 1:1.3 (you'll only be able to fit in one arcane shot for every 3 auto/steady shots).

Heavy Steady Rotation

By using a macro that does not include a castsequence (referred to sometimes as a /cast /cast macro), you can opt to clip some autos in order to acheive more total damage through steadies. The macro will automatically adjust to haste effects and tighten the rotation. By default the macro will create a rotation of 2:1 (2 steadies per autoshot) at 2.5s drawspeed and under haste effects it will reduce to 3:2 (3 steadies per 2 auto shots) at 2.1s drawspeed or 1:1 (1 steady per auto shot) at 1.9s draw speed depending on the haste effect and your base shot speed.

The mechanics of how this works are somewhat odd but I'll try to explain it. There is a hidden cast time of 0.5 seconds built into autoshot, but it is automatically started at the appropriate time for autoshot to continue firing, i.e. if your autoshot speed is 2.5 seconds, it will automatically start firing your autoshot at 2 seconds, even if a steady shot is in the process of casting. If your autoshot is delayed it will go through at the next possible opportunity. Haste reduces your steady shot and auto shot casting speeds, but not your global cooldown which is required to start the next steady shot. So the gap created between your steady shots due to the global cooldown is where autoshot (potentially delayed by your previous steady shot) will fire assuming that the hidden cast has completed. Also note that spell haste effects can reduce your global cooldown up to the 1 second cap (such as heroism/bloodlust and drums of battle).

Whether the heavy steady rotation will generate better damage than a more traditional 1:1.5 rotation will depend. Although it is primarily recommended for those with a 4 pc T6 bonus and a Dragonspine Trophy, plus sufficient haste to make the steadies balance cleanly, there are reports that it may also work at lower levels of gear. Note that if you are using a heavy steady rotation you will want to go either with an imp hawk spec or a readiness spec, as you are removing arcane and multi out of your rotation for the most part so deep marksmanship specs are not a good fit. Your latency may also have a significant effect on the effectiveness of this rotation for your dps.

Another thing to note about using the heavy steady rotation is that it is possible to get into a situation where you are chaining steadies without autoshot getting off due to pushback or other factors. If this happens you may need to use an arcane shot to force a global cooldown to allow your autoshot to squeeze back in and steady shots to return to a more appropriate balance. If you find that you are consistently chaining steadies without autohot getting off, you may need to add more haste to create more delay between your steady and auto shot. To calculate your haste requirements you can use the Haste Calculator.

For the heavy steady rotation you should use a macro that looks like this:
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/cast !Auto Shot
/cast Steady Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

A more advanced version of this macro posted by Manito is available at the Big Red Kitty Forums
Kill Command

Whether you should include Kill Command in your shot macro is dependent on your mana situation. It is added dps, but only if the mana consumption does not cost you higher damage shots.

To add Kill Command to your shot macro you should add this line:
/cast [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command

Other Shots

Hunter's mark should be kept up by whichever hunter has improved hunter's mark. If you are putting it up, be sure to refresh it when there's a spot after your steady that you don't have a special up for so you don't have to sacrifice a special to keep it up.

Scorpid sting is useful to keep up on many bosses to reduce the amount of hits the tank takes. It is very heavy on mana consumption however so you should evaluate on a boss by boss basis whether it's needed. On any boss fights that involve silences (such as Azgalor) or non-tanks likely to be getting hit (such as Gurtogg Bloodboil) you should make sure to keep it up. You will have to fit it into your rotation where you can, squeezing it after your steady shots (ideally try to find a spot where your special cooldowns aren't up so you lose less special damage if possible). If you have multiple hunters you can either have one hunter dedicated to the task (usually ends up being the survival hunter since you are already giving up damage for the benefit of the raid) or you can create a rotation to share the scorpid sting duty to prevent the mana drain from being too heavy on any one hunter.

Serpent sting is not really worth the global cooldown or mana consumption to integrate it into a standard shot rotation. However there are times when you are on movement fights where being able to cast an instant shot can add some additional damage- arcane shot is preferred for this circumstance but if your arcane shot is on cooldown you can also use serpent sting.

Aimed shot should never be used in a shot rotation. The only time you want to use aimed shot is at the opening pull or if you need a healing debuff applied that can't be taken care of by an MS warrior or a rogue running wounding poison.

Mana and Consumables

There are many variations of survival specs depending on your mana needs- you have the option of anywhere between 0-5 points in efficiency and 0-3 points in thrill of the hunt, as well as multiple options with regards to your shot rotation which will affect your mana consumption. All survival specs tend to be rather heavy on mana consumption, but if you are in a raid with a retribution paladin or grouped with a shadow priest or a shaman dropping a mana regeneration totem you will be helped out to some degree.

Consumable Buffs

Although the primary purpose of the survival spec is to provide the expose weakness buff for the raid, you also need to do your best to maximize your personal damage output, since there is little point in providing the buff if you lose so much damage in the process that there's a net loss instead of gain. A survival hunter should always be using an Elixir of Major Agility (with the exception of fights where Elixir of Demonslaying makes more sense) and 20 agility food (Warp Burger or Grilled Mudfish). For mana regeneration you should usually also be using an Elixir of Major Mageblood and Superior Mana Oil (dual mana oils if you have 2 1h weapons), although in Sunwell it may make more sense to use the special weapon oils provided by the daily quest there. For extra pet damage when needed you can also use Kibler's Bits. To cap out your agility on fights you really need the extra damage you can use Scroll of Agility V for an extra 20 agility.

Between maximum agility consumables and buffs (20 agil food, 35 agil elixir, 20 agil scroll, 19 agility improved mark of the wild, 88 agility grace of air totem and kings) you can add up to 230 agility in addition to the 10% kings bonus to your unbuffed agility. A fully buffed and consumabled survival hunter with 900 unbuffed agility would gain 320 agility for a total of 1220 agility.

Keeping Up Your Mana

The most important thing for a survival hunter is to be willing to use mana potions early and often- Fel Mana Potions are the best as they provide the most mana and do it over time, allowing you to take them earlier, but regular Super Mana Potions are cheaper if cost is an issue or you have trouble finding someone to make you fel mana potions. If you're an alchemist, Mad Alchemist Potions are great if you're also down on health when you need your mana potion. If you don't need your healthstone timer you can also use Dark Runes, Demonic Runes or Luminous Bluetail. If you are a leatherworker and you need mana more than additional haste or AP, you can opt to use Drums of Restoration
Additional Consumables to Improve Damage Output

If your mana situation is not a problem you can also look into using Haste Potions for additional damage output on fights where that extra damage is needed. If you aren't likely to need your healthstone timer and need even more damage you can also use Flame Cap. If you are a leatherworker you will also want to use Drums of Battle for additional damage if you have room in your rotation to make use of the haste properly, Drums of War are an option if your rotation is too tight to handle the extra haste.


Since survival hunters will typically generate more threat per individual shot than beast mastery hunters, it is usually best for the survival hunter to do the initial misdirect pull on bosses. The best threat shots for misdirect are in order: aimed shot, multishot, arcane shot. However if a boss is moving around it may sometimes be better to start with an arcane shot if timing the pull is critical. Distracting shot will not generate as much threat as an arcane shot crit, but if you need to get another misdirect shot off quickly when moving and you have already used arcane shot, it is sometimes a good choice. Note that you should not use multishot in your misdirect shots if you may hit other mobs with it (unless you are deliberately trying to misdirect multiple mobs to the tank).

For useful misdirect macros see WoWWiki's Useful Hunter Macros. Note that it is useful to have a macro for misdirecting to your focus target, but sometimes you will find it better to have precoded macros for your individual tanks if you need your focus for other things.

On any boss fight where threat is likely to be tight for the dps, you should make sure to keep an eye on your misdirect cooldown so you can put up more misdirects as needed. If threat is not likely to be an issue however, you may want to conserve your additional misdirect cooldowns for emergency situations later in the fight (such as the tank dying and a secondary tank picking up the boss).
Agro Management

Survival hunters have some of the highest threat in the game and usually will not have salvation buffed (it will hurt your misdirect threat and you already have 3 paladin buffs that are more important), but as a hunter you do get feign death on a 30 second cooldown. However as your damage improves you will find that just using feign death when needed and not planning ahead can get you into trouble, especially since feign death has a 17% resist rate (it's based on spell hit) and even with the improved feign death talent you can only get down to a 13% resist. Note that you can get up to 130% threat on the tank before you will pull agro at range (110% if you happen to be 10 yards or closer) but it is still best not to spend any significant time above the tank, especially because threat meters are inexact and feign death is buggy and prone to resists. You should of course make sure to be running a threat meter, Omen is the one used by most guilds.

Generally the rule for a hunter, especially a survival hunter, is to feign early and often. Usually you want to get a good solid chunk of dps in at the start of the fight (after using your misdirect and making sure the tank is in position and hitting the mob) and pre-emptively feign about 10-15 seconds in when you are riding the tank. That way if you get a resist, you will be able to feign again sooner rather than later. You will have to adjust the timing of your first feign death based on your personal threat output and that of your tank. If your feign resists, take it easy a bit, switch to autoshot only or stop shooting entirely if you are too tight with the tank threat and be careful till your next feign death cooldown is up. Even if your feign doesn't resist, you may still find yourself catching back up to the tank before your 2nd feign death, so keep a close eye on threat. Once you have gotten off your 2nd or 3rd feign death unresisted you should be in much better shape on threat, but you should still periodically throw in an extra feign to be on the safe side. There is also a known bug that sometimes a feign will resist but no notification will appear and threat meters will not be able to detect it, so those occasional extra feigns help hedge against that bug somewhat.

On threat reset fights or fights where the tank threat can drop, you have to be especially careful as the traditional hunter benefit of having a complete threat drop is weakened by the high initial threat you will put out and the likelihood of resists on feign death.

The best time to use your feign death is right after your steady goes off (when you would normally fit in a special but ideally when your special cooldowns aren't up) so that your rotation can continue smoothly as soon as you get up. If you find you are having a difficult time tracking your feign resists you should make a habit of staying feigned until you check your threat meter and verify if your threat did in fact drop- it will cost a little dps but it's a good way to train yourself to get into the habit and eventually once you get better at managing it you can get up more quickly.

Expose Weakness Calculations

I have some estimated math for dps benefit from various physical dps classes. Note that these may not all be accurate, I attempted to get useful numbers from class spreadsheets in most cases but it will of course vary based on gear level and other factors.

At a 250 AP expose weakness debuff (provided by 1000 agil fully raid buffed) the following is roughly the dps gained by each raid member:
Class/Spec    DPS gained from 250 AP
Rogue    97.625
Hunter    78.5
BM Hunter Pet    61.75
Survival/Marks Hunter Pet    28.625
Enhancement Shaman    75
DPS Warrior    69.5
Feral Druid    40
Retribution Paladin    27.778
Protection Warrior    17.875
(+22 TPS)

Assuming a raid makeup including 2 rogues, a dps warrior, enhancement shaman, a ret pali, feral druid, protection warrior, 1 BM hunter and 1 survival hunter that's a total of 673 dps gained with a 100% expose weakness uptime. or about 606dps gained with a more realistic 90% expose weakness uptime.
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