Big Red is Back (to Back)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly three years since Beast Mastery held the position as the top DPS spec for PvE. Barring a last second PTR change, BM will once again be the top PvE DPS spec for Hunters in patch 5.04.

Now a big reason for the massive nerf it took in 2009 was the combination of Bestial Wrath and Readiness. In MoP that combination is back, however, it’s the MoP version of Readiness with the Cataclysm version of Bestial Wrath.

With patch 5.04 just days away, BM is sure to be the spec of choice for many Hunters. Let’s take a look at what Beast Mastery has to offer in 5.04 and Mists of Pandaria.

Rotation

Like the other specs BM has a priority rotation. The priority/rotation for BM remains mostly intact, although there are new abilities that will be acquired through the talent system that you will need to fit into the rotation. The common priority according the Zeherah’s DPS Analyzer is as follows.

The list itself is pretty straight forward, however there is some nuance here. Try to avoid using Cobra Shot and Rapid Fire during Bestial Wrath. In addition to a damage increase, Bestial Wrath reduces the focus cost of all of your shots. You want to take advantage of that window and fire as many Arcane Shot and Kill Commands as you can.

Lynx Rush, Blink Strike and Dire Beast should all be used on CD, but don’t delay Kill Command for them. Kill Command is much improved in MoP as it now has a 25-yard range, virtually guaranteeing that your pet will always be in range of whatever it is you wish for it to attack.

The glyph of Kill Shot is gone, and that capability has been baked into the ability. This shot also hits a lot harder now so it should definitely be prioritized when it’s available.

With Bestial Wrath, large amounts of focus, and new instant abilities, having Serpent Sting drop off is a real risk. You’ll want to place close attention to DoT timer as you may have to force a Cobra Shot to keep it rolling.

Readiness

This ability has long been the purview of Marksman Hunters, although all specs have made use of this ability over the lifetime of WoW. It’s available to all specs now and BM Hunters will need to get used to having it. CDs that particularly benefit from Readiness include,

One thing to bear in mind is that you want to avoid casting Bestial Wrath and Rapid Fire at the same time. One of the benefits of Rapid Fire is reduced cast time for Cobra Shot and you won’t be firing Cobra Shot during Bestial Wrath. The cooldown on Readiness is now five minutes, so it’s utility is diminished a bit. But only a small bit; this is still an awesome ability

Key Talents

The “mandatory” talents for BM in PvE are Dire Beast and Lynx Rush. Blink Strike is a viable option, but is probably a much more situational ability. For example, if there is a fight with adds, but you don’t want your pet hopping around from mob to mob then Blink Strike is probably a better option for that situation. The good news is that in MoP you will be able to swap out talents the same way you swap out glyphs.

Useful Glyphs

Some of the major glyphs that might prove useful for BM hunters in PvE include,

  • Animal Bond – While your pet is active, all healing done to you and your pet is increased by10%.
  • Endless Wrath – While Bestial Wrath is active, your pet cannot be killed, but can still be damaged.
  • Marked for Death – Your Arcane Shot, Chimera Shot, Kill Command and Explosive Shot abilities apply Hunter’s Mark.
  • Mending – Increases the total amount of healing done by your Mend Pet ability by 60%.
  • Deterrence – Increases the damage reduction granted by Deterrence by 20%.

Minor glyphs are mainly cosmetic in nature so you can pretty much choose whichever ones you like.

Pets

MoP is introducing several new pet families and exotic pets. Some like Water Striders and Basilisks should be available in 5.04. Others such as Quilen (with their Battle Rez) won’t be available until MoP. Core Hounds of course still bring Heroism, and Spirit Beasts now bring the new Mastery Buff.

Chimera’s special ability is an AoE attack. Given that you can turn them into ferocity pets they may be worth a look to see if that extra damage ability puts them over the top as a DPS pet.

The ability to make any pet a ferocity pet really opens up the available options for BM hunters. Exotic pets are definitely worth looking at since they bring more than one ability to the table.

This is an exciting time to be a BM Hunter. Now we can just hope that Blizzard buffs the other two specs to bring them to BMs level and not the other way around. The only thing that’s constant in the World of Warcraft is change.