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Hunter Talent Guide
All the credit goes to: Fez from Ahn'Qiraj keep the awsome work up :-)
Listed below are various viable talent builds, mainly to give players who aren't sure what talent build is right for them, an idea on where to put their points. Since everyone has their own playing style, and most talents are fairly balanced out now, there are no 100% correct builds but some may be slightly better than others.
Note that the talent builds and comments are made with the lvl 70 cap in mind and the latest 2.0.6 patch. I will keep the old talent builds as a reference for those without TBC.
--- Solo / Leveling ---
When it comes to leveling and questing, you will be playing solo a lot of the time. For this I can only recommend the BM tree. Your pet can be a great tank, add a good amount of damage, are very gear-independent and make grinding very mana-efficient, decreasing downtime in between fights considerably. On top of that, they are fun and obedient companions to have with you on your journeys, and improving them by talents will let you kill enemies while leveling faster than any other build!
PvE Solo / Leveling build (1-60) - 43/5/3
Mainly improving your pet, this will make leveling and questing solo a lot faster. If you're wondering what pet to get, it doesn't really matter since they are all similar, but some are slightly better than others. Just make sure you take pets you like, since you'll be spending a lot of time with them! Boars/bears are good to start off with since they are quite tough and eat pretty much everything (except gnomes). The boar charge & gore ability is quite nice too. Later on you might want to get a high damage pet like a cat to make grinding faster.
I'll give some advice on in what order you might want to spend your talent points while you are leveling:
Lvl 10-14: BM: Endurance Training 5/5
Lvl 15-17: BM: Thick Hide 3/3
Lvl 18-19: BM: Improved Revive Pet 2/2
Lvl 20: BM: Bestial Swiftness 1/1
Lvl 21-25: BM: Unleashed Fury 5/5
Lvl 26: BM: Improved Mend Pet 1/2
Lvl 27-29: BM: Ferocity 3/5
Lvl 30: BM: Intimidation 1/1
Lvl 31-32: BM: Ferocity 5/5
Lvl 33-34: BM: Bestial Discipline 2/2
Lvl 35-37: BM: Frenzy 3/5
Lvl 38-39: BM: Animal Handler 2/2
Lvl 40: BM: Bestial Wrath 1/1
Lvl 41-43: BM: Catlike Reflexes 3/3
Lvl 44: BM: Frenzy 4/5
Lvl 46-49: BM: Serpent's Swiftness 5/5
Lvl 50: BM: The Beast Within 1/1
Lvl 51: BM: Frenzy 5/5
Lvl 52-56: MM: Lethal Shots 5/5
Lvl 57-59: Surv: Hawk Eye 3/3
Lvl 60: BM: Improved Mend Pet 2/2
PvE Solo / Leveling build (60-70) - 48/13/0
Starts at lvl 60 with:
Lvl 61-62: MM: Go for the Throat 2/2
Lvl 63: MM: Aimed Shot 1/1
Lvl 64-66: BM: Catlike Reflexes 3/3
Lvl 67-69: BM: Ferocious Inspiration 3/3
Lvl 70: BM: Improved Revive Pet 1/2
Ends at lvl 70 with:
Note that the build is mainly BM and starts with a different spec than the lvl 1-60 build ended, so you may have to respec.
A viable build, regardless of gear. I find Spirit Bond a nice HP regen for the player (while solo) so even if you occasionaly take a hit you won't need to worry about your HP, as it will regenerate even in combat. Aimed Shot won't be needed much at all, but it can be a great opening shot (like after you trapped someone that tried to gank you or in instances combined with the Misdirection ability). Hawk Eye is always nice to have, but it does not contribute as well to solo or instance play as Ferocious Inspiration.
--- Raiding ---
Raiding builds are designed to improve your or your guild's overall damage in current end-game content. Following builds try to increase your damage and usefulness in raids the most.
Consider having at least one hunter with you with the Impr. HM talent, for the boost to the melee damage from other classes (ideally this talent is best taken by hunters with a BM raiding build).
For the best use of the GftT ability, get a Wind Serpent, since their Lightning Breath ability has no cooldown and is instant, making it a good focus dump. On top of that Lightning Breath scales the best with the Hunter's Attack Power, making it especially useful for MM builds.
On the topic of Aot Hawk vs Aot Viper, i think AotH might still be useful for fights where mana is not a big issue, doing as much damage as possible in a short time, which could make Impr. AotH still a useful talent to have.
PvE MM raiding build - 4/47/0 - 7/49/5
A decent raid build, mainly focusing on damage. It puts the focus on lots of crits combined with GftT, which will let your Wind Serpent do an additional 200-300 damage with Lightning Breath every time you crit.
PvE MM raiding build (with Impr. HM) - 7/44/0 - 7/51/3
It's a good idea to have a hunter with you in your raid with improved hunters mark for a nice damage boost to your melee classes. Although it would make some more sense to have a BM hunter use Impr. HM, this is good in case there isn't always one of those around.
PvE BM raiding build - 39/12/0 - 41/20/0
This is a bit of an out of the ordinary build, mainly relying on your pet to do a lot of damage. You won't have Hawk Eye, but you'll have GftT and Mortal Shots. Combined with Impr. AotH, Serpent's Swiftness, Lethal Shots and a fast ranged weapon, you will be doing a lot of crits and as a result your pet will be doing damage like crazy. Make sure you have a pet with a good focus dump ability like Lightning Breath (best) or Gore to take full benefit of GftT.
Also this build is ideal to use with Impr. HM, since you don't need Efficiency as much as MM Hunters.
PvE Surv raiding build - 5/5/41 - 5/14/42
Having a hunter (with the most agility) with you in the raid with this build can increase DPS of the other physical damage classes considerably, thanks to the Expose Weakness proc. Most useful in 40-player instances since there are a lot of players that can take advantage of this talent, but in it's current state not as good for the new max 25-player instances in TBC. Readiness in combination with Rapid Killing lets you use the Rapid Fire ability approximately every 90 seconds. Make sure you use a fast ranged weapon for best use of the abilities.
Unfortunately for optimal raid DPS, it does not give much room to put points in useful PvP abilities such as Wyvern Sting or Deterrence.
--- PvP ---
In Player versus Player combat, following builds can prove most effective in killing other players and / or helping your team win.
PvP MM / Surv build - 0/43/8 - 0/41/20
Mainly for Group PvP, this combines very high damage output with some useful talents from the survival tree.
PvP Surv / MM build - 0/21/30 - 5/11/45
Your damage will be lower than the MM / Surv build but you get higher survivability, faster traps and more hit/crit chance. This build is most useful in arenas, although it is upto you to decide whether or not the extra crowd control possibilities are worth sacrificing some of your DPS for.
PvP BM build - 43/5/3 - 43/13/5
In PvP Hunter pets are often underestimated. They can deal a nice amount of damage, and in the meantime interrupt caster's so it takes a lot longer for them to cast spells. Intimidation is a useful 3 second stun, giving you the chance to wingclip your target and get back into range if timed perfectly. With Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within, you and your pet will even be unstoppable for 18 seconds every 2 minutes! Make sure you get a high damage pet like a cat, since the extra armor and/or HP that non-offensive pets bring will have little use in PvP.
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