Hunters opting to spec into an end-game raiding and dungeon DPS role find their talent points spent in skills focusing on damage over time and crowd control. These points tend to focus on three sub-types:
- Base damage modifiers
- Attribute modifiers
- Crowd control and raid utility
Damage modifying talents
These talents focus on directly modifying the base damage of various spells and abilities. They focus on damage coefficients instead of base stats or derived stats such as agility or attack power.
The main damage-dealing talents specific to the tree are:
- Explosive Shot
- Black Arrow
These two attacks provide most of the damage-dealing potential for the class in the form of DoTs.
The primary damage complementing talents in this role are:
- Lock and Load
- Removes the cooldown of Explosive Shot based on certain triggers. Allowing this DoT to be placed more frequently increases DPS.
- Sniper Training
- Increases crit chance percentage of Kill Shot and base damage of the following abilities. These abilities are generally an integral part of the survival hunter rotation, although this varies by talent configuration.
- Aimed Shot (a Marksmanship talent)
- Black Arrow
- Explosive Shot
- Steady Shot
- Increases base damage of fire-based damage abilities: Black Arrow, Explosive Shot, Explosive Trap andImmolation Trap.
Attribute modifying talents
As a survival hunter, the best stats to stack are agility and attack power’. Even though the exchange rate of agility to attack power is 1:1, the amount of agility can be increased through various talents, and in the long run can benefit the hunter’s DPS more than stacking pure attack power. An individual hunter’s mileage may vary, so it is best to experiment with this on your own. The key to remember that agility is an even more important attribute to a survival hunter than to a marksmanship or beast mastery hunter. Agility is more important because the following talents provide percentage increases in agility based on certain triggers:
- Lightning Reflexes
- Increases agility by 15%.
- Expose Weakness
- Increases attack power by 25% of agility.
- Increase in stamina by 10%
- Hunter vs. Wild
- Increase hunter and pet attack power and ranged attack power by 30% of stamina.
Because stamina and agility can directly impact your attack power, they are important stats to stack. Attack power, once it is invested, cannot be converted back into a base attribute. That is why investing in the base attribute and converting it into a derived attribute is more advantageous. Again, your mileage may vary based on gear and augments.
Raid utility and crowd control
One of the most iconic mechanics of the hunter class is the trap system. There are a variety of traps that can either deal damage or control mobs in a raid environment. One of the most critical hunter talents, Lock and Load is most easily proc’d by a hunter’s crowd control traps. Thus, it is important for a hunter in a raid or dungeon environment to force a mob into one of these traps.
Investing in Trap Mastery increases the usefulness of traps by increasing the damage output or snare duration of various traps.
Additionally, the survival hunter has been granted a Replenishment-style talent that increases mana regeneration based on certain triggers. The Hunting Party talent enables this ability, bringing with it increased DPS and raid performance through decreased regenerative downtime (e.g. mana regeneration)
A survival hunter brings the most utility to an arena, battleground, or Wintergrasp siege not from the damage dealing ability, but from the crowd-controlling talents. While the above talents are all still useful in a PvP environment for dealing damage, a hunter can see its survivability increased through crowd controlling enemy players using the following skills:
- Decreases snare duration by 10%/20%/30%.
- Frost Trap and Snake Trap activation immediately results in rooting of the targets in the area of effect.
- Scatter Shot
- Temporary disorientation effect on the target.
- Wyvern Sting
- Thirty second sleep effect on the target (six seconds in PvP).
- Noxious Stings
- Wyvern Sting affects dispeller for 50% of remaining duration.
A PVP-focused hunter can still benefit from several, if not all, of the raiding talents. Bonuses to attack power, agility, and base damage will make you a more deadly hunter, but the talents above will increase your survivability when confronted by targets that require kiting. On the other hand, a talent such as Sniper Training that requires being motionless is essentially useless in a PvP environment, which often requires rapid “turn and burn” maneuvers. This maneuver involves jumping forward (and while maintaining forward momentum) flipping 180 degrees to fire an instant cast shot, and then turn another 180 degrees in the direction you jumped. This allows you to fire direct damage,Concussive Shots, or other crowd controlling attacks if you are being pursued by warriors, paladins, death knights, orrogues.