Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rough Survival Levelling Guide for 3.0

What follows is a rough Survival levelling guide incorporating the new talents for 3.0. I still need to do some more testing, primarily of the effects of some of the newer talents on lower level play, but I'm fairly confident in publishing this for the time being.

There also may not be absolutely everything you need to know here, but you will hopefully find it a good start.

This was originally sent via Gmail to someone who asked for a Hunter guide for his own site, and as such, the active HTML links have been lost. Nevertheless, all of the weapons mentioned below in the equipment guide can be accessed from

It is true that of the options that are available for levelling, Survival is certainly not the most rapid path. However, the advantage is that levelling with the tree will allow you to develop a much greater level of understanding of the Hunter as a class than you perhaps otherwise would. For a new Hunter, then, it should be given serious consideration.


The single first thing is addons; I find that when I'm starting a new Hunter, it's good to have a few specific things loaded straight away, and keep them running for the entire time I'm playing. All of these addons are either available from, and I don't run entire compiled UI replacements personally, as I tried a few of those, and found they took up way too much RAM, as well as causing problems with my video card. So instead, I get single addons, and try and focus on things which are minimal in terms of memory/processor usage.

I don't use any bar replacements, either. I was using Bongos3 before the patch, but it no longer works, and the author of that isn't updating it any more, either.

I generally don't run map addons, either, although I do use TomTom, which is a co-ordinate display that is consistent with my own desire for minimalism. There are some good ones around (Metamap and Cartographer are the main two that come to mind) but I find that they actually provide more functions than I really need. Some people might want them though.

Some of these are situational, and I don't keep them running all the time. I only run QuestHelper if I'm questing, Deadly Boss Mods if I'm raiding, or Battleground General if I'm in a battleground.

I also use a macro for both applying Hunter's Mark and sending my pet. I used to use quite a lot of macros, but patch 3.0 has broken the functionality of most of them. Before the patch I would have done a fairly extensive section on macros, but it's sadly fairly pointless now. This macro is:-

/assist (Only when you're in a raid or 5 man instance; delete this line the rest of the time)
/cast Hunter's Mark

The one other macro I would use in 5 man instances is for trapping. Once you've dropped a trap, use a seperate keybind to set the trap target as your focus, which is an additional stored target that you are allowed. Then use this macro to pull it to the trap.

/cast [target=focus] Distracting Shot
/assist (tankname)

I also use a Logitech G15 USB keyboard with six G macro keys, and recommend either that or, ideally, the ZBoard Merc Keyboard if you can get it. Note however that the G15 at least, (and probably the ZBoard) because they are USB, may not work as well with Linux or Mac OSX as they do with Windows.

The primary macro I use with the G15 is one for very low-threat pulling, with lowest level available version of the Rogue's throwing knives, after having learned the Thrown weapon class. I have the keys alt-X bound to equipping the knives, shift-X bound to throwing them, and X bound to re-equpping my bow, and then I have a macro set up for the G15, so with one key, I can use alt-X, shift-X, and X in sequence. This is also not technically against the TOS, as Palehoof on the forum has said that use of the macro keys for relatively simple actions (such as this) while at the keyboard is allowed; what constitutes botting is running long automated scripts unattended.

My addons are:-
  • ArkInventory. (Best inventory addon I've ever found; this mod is a little bloated, but it's worth it)

  • Battleground General (BGs; unload otherwise)

  • DeadlyBossMods (For raiding; unload it otherwise)

  • DurabilityStatus

  • Kharthus' Hunter Timers

  • Mobinfo (Optional; this one takes up a lot of system resources and while useful, isn't crucial)

  • OmniCC

  • Omen3

  • OPie (

  • Proximo (For Arena; unload otherwise)

  • QuestHelper (Only if you're doing quests. Unload it the rest of the time, because it puts a heavy load on the system)

  • RangeDisplay

  • Recount

  • RedRange (from

  • TomTom (from, not Curse; my preferred co-ordinate mod)

  • XLoot (My only purely aesthetic mod, but I like it)

  • X-Perl UnitFrames


So you've just started a brand new Hunter, and probably been given the first quest to go and kill ten boars, or ten mana wraiths, or ten cats, or whatever. Fine and good.

You will find that the abilities you are given build up slowly, and allow you time to integrate each of them into your overall arsenal, and, if you experiment with them, become familiar with their use.

I also don't for one moment recommend taking what I write here as the sole gospel truth, either. Experiment with every ability you get, and find uses for it if you can.

Also consider reading the Hunter forum, as well. It might be something of a social cess pool, but like in real life sewers, occasionally you will find a rare and exceptionally valuable treasure, in amongst all the fecal matter.

Although many possibly don't know this, the first 20 or so levels (particularly the first 10) are actually a crucial time for a new Hunter. The single reason why is because you don't get your pet until level 10, which means that you have the best opportunity you'll get to learn our single most important skill; kiting.

The ability to kite is one of the primary things that allows us to solo instances which some other classes can't. It's also one reason why we can dominate battlegrounds, but our inability to do it there is one of the main reasons why we're so poor in the Arena. In other words, it's a very important skill to have.

While I won't give you instructions as to specific quests, what I will give you is sets of tactics, that will incorporate each new ability, as you get them. The single most important consideration in my view, when soloing with a pet, is careful management of your threat, which can be monitored with the Omen3 addon mentioned above. You do not want your level of threat with an individual mob to exceed that of the pet, because if it does, the mob will switch from attacking the pet, and will then target you, forcing you to either kite, or use our largely vestigial melee abilities.

Some basic instruction on how to kill the very first mobs here, although it's pretty straightforward. These ones don't need kiting.
  • Move to maximum range from the target. Both RangeDisplay and RedRange will help with this. Before you put three points in Hawk Eye, that will be 30 yards.

  • Fire exactly three arrows at the target.

  • By that point, the target will be almost within melee range, but not quite. Press the 2 key to queue Raptor Strike. If you time it correctly, you can sometimes get the swing off and kill the mob without it having hit you once.

Once you've done the first quest, and got yourself to level 2-3 or so, you might find that the mobs you come up against do a bit more damage; more than you'd actually be comfortable with if you had to fight a group of them. This is where kiting starts to come in.

Artanis has put together a video in which he demonstrates kiting, and I recommend it.
  • Again, move to maximum range from the target. This is even more important when kiting, than when you aren't. You need as much room and distance from the target as you can get.

  • Fire one, maybe two arrows at the target if you're daring. If you've got it, (I think you get it at level 6) make the first shot Serpent Sting, as that will keep doing damage to the target while you're moving.

  • Turn, jump 3-4 times forward, and then turn back and fire once, again. You most likely won't be able to get more than one shot off before the target would reach you, but that is fine.

  • Repeat until the target is dead, re-applying Serpent Sting as necessary. Once you get Concussive Shot, you can also use that, when a mob has almost caught up to you, to slow the mob's movement, and get some additional distance from it.

The above two sequences are what you will be using until level 10, when you get your first pet.

I recommend a Boar as the first pet type. They're capable tanks for the early game, with +10% health, and they eat pretty much anything you'll find, so you won't have to spend time looking for rare food for them while you're levelling. You will, however, want to get a Gorilla as soon as they become available, which I believe should be at around level 35 from Stranglethorn Vale.

If you go to your pet trainer, they will tell you where to go at level 10, to get the quests you need for pet training.

At level 10, you will also start to get talent points. The talent specialization I will recommend for levelling is Survival. Pike already has information for levelling with Beast Mastery, so if you want that, her own guide would be the document to see.

The first three points to put in Survival for me are Hawk Eye. This is in keeping with the real-world military proverb that range is life. The more distance you have from a target, the easier it is for you to kite, and if you always start a pull from maximum range, it will normally ensure that even if you do pull threat from your pet, the mob will still be dead before it can reach melee range. A Survival Hunter with this talent also has greater range than any other class in the game, and it is for this reason that Hawk Eye is the one Survival talent generally taken by fellow Hunters, who otherwise put the rest of their points in a different tree.

So at level 20, your spec would be as follows.

The first three points, as mentioned, are in Hawk Eye, with the next five going into Improved Tracking. The next two are in Survival Instincts, and the last one is in Survivalist. Your main priority at this point is to get to Hunter VS Wild, which you will reach at level 34. This will give start to boost your damage, especially considering that gear which specifically boosts Stamina is in greater supply while levelling than in the later game. Later gear usually treats Stamina as just one stat among many.

Note also, however, that the above spec is intended for a Normal or RP server. For PvP servers, putting points in Surefooted instead (the below spec) is advised, since this will offer you a substantial advantage against Rogues in particular while levelling.

At level 30:-
At level 40:-
At level 50:-
At level 60:-
At level 70:-

At level 70 there is the option of going with the above linked spec, or respeccing to the following:-

Although the first of those two 70 specs is still decent, with Resourcefulness and Noxious Stings, it is more oriented towards levelling and farming, whereas the second linked 70 spec is much more burst oriented and will do better in instances, while still being capable enough for levelling. The choice is up to the individual.

Level 80 (deeper Survival):-
Level 80 (hybrid Marksmanship):-

Going back to when you first have your pet at level 10, my standard tactics for single mobs (before Immolation Trap) are as follows:-

  • Get to maximum range. This should be around 30 yards at this point, according to Rangefinder. RedRange will assist you in determining this as well.

  • Have your pet attack the mob, using the macro described above.

  • Wait 3-5 seconds for the pet to establish threat. 3 should be fine if you're in a hurry; you primarily want time for Charge and the initial Growl.

  • Fire Serpent Sting.

  • Use Auto Shot until the mob is dead.

You do not generally want to use Arcane or Multi Shot until much later in the game. Even in instances, before probably Zul'Farrak, using Arcane or Multi will generally cause more harm than good for a tank where threat is concerned, so it will be a good idea to simply use Serpent Sting, Auto, and an Immolation Trap, as if you have a good quality bow, and use these well, you will find that they can still enable you to come top in damage in the earlier instances, while keeping your threat low enough that the other players in the group will not hate you. You will have Immolation Trap by level 16, so one level before the Wailing Caverns.

Once you get Immolation Trap at level 16, outside an instance, my usual sequence for killing mobs changes slightly.

  • Get to maximum range. This should be around 30 yards at this point, according to Rangefinder. RedRange will assist you in determining this as well.

  • Have your pet attack the mob, using the macro described above.

  • Wait 3-5 seconds for the pet to establish threat. 3 should be fine if you're in a hurry; you primarily want time for Charge and the initial Growl.

  • Fire Serpent Sting.

  • Use Auto Shot until the mob is dead.

The above sequence for killing single targets is my staple as a Hunter, and barring unique circumstances, will generally serve you well while levelling or farming for the remainder of the game. The one element in which the above sequence changes, is in the use of Steady, Auto rather than pure Auto to kill mobs, once you get Steady at level 50. While it may be true that the recent patch allows for Steady to be fired constantly rather than needing a Steady, Auto rotation, I still recommend doing that rotation for the purposes of minimising both threat and mana use.

This concludes the section primarily related to levelling, although I will be talking about a few specific instances later as well. The last thing I will mention here, is that you gain Feign Death at level 30, and Misdirection at level 70. These two abilities are probably our two most important as a Hunter, after kiting. In order to know when to use Feign Death, you need to keep a close eye on your threat meter, Omen3 as mentioned above. Misdirection onto the pet, properly used, will allow you to perform many pulls and thus solo many situations successfully, which other classes could not.


We now come to a discussion of five man instances. I want to emphasise the importance of doing these, if a person wishes to become genuinely competent as a Hunter. There are far too many people who simply rush to 70 or 80 as quickly as possible, and then when they get there and are confronted by truly challenging content, panic and are reviled by the other members of the group they are in, because they discover that they have no real skill or familiarity with the class.

The Hunter is arguably the single most complex and versatile class in this game; Hunters often complain about having a greater number of spells and keybinds than most. We have less margin for error than other classes, and given the nature of some of our abilities, can potentially cause far more dangerous consequences to a group if said abilities are misused. Because of this, if you wish to do well in groups, it is essential to obtain as much experience doing them as possible. Do not, above all, wait for raids to be the first instances you walk into. Your progression can and should start with the two instances I mention here; the Deadmines and the Wailing Caverns.

The first thing I will do is make mention of some specific items which a new Hunter will want to obtain from both the Deadmines instance in Westfall, and the Wailing Caverns in the Barrens, as these items are of very good quality for the level, and will make levelling accordingly faster. Given the relatively few damage bonuses early on, Survival as a tree is exceptionally gear dependent, and being able to identify relevant items is thus very important. Because of this, it helps if the Hunter you are levelling is actually an alt, and you already have a high level main which can then be used to finance the Hunter.

I'm not going to go through and do this for every instance in the game, however, the point here is to show you the kinds of stats that you're going to want to look for as a Hunter. Those are Stamina and Agility primarily for Survival, with Attack Power, Crit Rating, and Intellect all taking secondary (but still important) priority. Do not get Spellpower, Strength, or Defense Rating, as those are for other classes and do nothing whatsoever for us.

The weapon classes we want to use (aside from the ranged weapons, of course) are primarily Polearms, with the occasional two handed Axe, and a pair of Daggers for rare, situational use. In my backpack I generally carry both a Polearm or two handed Axe, which is my primary melee weapon and generally worn for the stats while I am shooting, and a pair of Daggers. Daggers are, as mentioned, to be used much more rarely; for sporadic, fast AoE work where you cannot use Volley due to pulling threat anyway, and for offtanking when running lower level characters through much lower level instances. You also do not generally want Daggers slower than 1.6 seconds if you can avoid it, since melee for a Hunter is almost a form of kiting, and you need to be able to jump and move around a lot.

Melee, however, does cause considerable risk for a Hunter, as well as radically reducing our damage output, (particularly against high armor) and should therefore only be used minimally and as a last resort. The Daggers are, however, nice to have, and can occasionally allow for getting rid of a melee urge in rare situations if you know you're not in any real danger. ;-)

Given that the below items are blue, the drop rate can be low, so you might have to run both instances a few times to get them all. That will not hurt you, as it will provide you with valuable experience.

In order to find which items from other instances are good for Hunters, you can use exactly the same method I used here. Go to, and search for the instance in question. It will then show you a loot table.

In the Deadmines:-
The Blackened Defias Armor from Edwin Van Cleef. +4 Strength, +3 Agility, +11 Stamina. Ordinarily we do not want Strength at all as a Hunter; it is the other two stats which are of interest. The amount of Agility is small, but the Stam is good, and it will keep you going for a few levels at least.

The Cape of the Brotherhood from Edwin Van Cleef. +6 Agility, +3 Stamina.

The Buzzer Blade from Sneed or Sneed's Shredder. Although there are no other base stats, the stat of interest here is +5 crit rating, which is exceptional for this early in the game. Hunters can learn to dual wield at level 20, so if you run the Deadmines repeatedly and get two of these, if you have a wealthy main, a suggestion would be to then get both of them enchanted with +15 Agility. This will give you more Agility (30 overall) and crit chance (10 overall) than you can get from just about any other weapon at this level, and they should last you well into the 40s.

The Impaling Harpoon from Captain Greenskin. +12 Agility. If you don't want to go with the above path, this will still serve you well. We do not primarily fight in melee as a Hunter at all, and you primarily want to avoid melee combat if you can, but melee weapons with the relevant stats are still important, and melee is at rare times unavoidable as well.

From the Wailing Caverns:-

The Belt of the Fang. +5 Agility, +6 Stamina.

The Footpads of the Fang. +6 Agility, +6 Stamina.

The Glowing Lizardscale Cloak. +6 Agility, +2 Stamina.

The Leggings of the Fang. +5 Strength, +9 Agility, +4 Stamina.

The Serpent's Shoulders. + 9 Agility.

Venomstrike. A greatly prized bow among 10-19 Warsong Gulch twinks, it will help you level as well.

The above equipment will give you a good set that should last you probably into the mid 30s, and will hopefully give you a beginning idea of what stats to ideally look for. Another place which is a wonderful source of gear for levelling is the entrance to the Warsong Gulch battleground for your faction. You will find the Horde entrance at the Mor'shan Base Camp at the edge of Ashenvale Forest, and the Alliance Entrance in Ashenvale itself. Speak to the quartermaster there, and you will be shown a range of daggers, bows, cloaks, and a few other items, most of which you can get a new version of (with higher stats) around every ten levels or so.

Other standout items to look for while levelling are:-
Julie's Dagger. Among the fastest weapons in the game. Look for these on the Auction House, where they can go for between 60-100g each. Get two of these at level 55 and put a +20 agility enchant on them.

The Ice Barbed Spear at level 51. Enchant this with +35 Agility and it will last you until the Survivalist's Pike, after which you can then get Terokk's Quill. The Quill is the best pre-WoTLK weapon for Survival outside raiding.

The High Warlord's Street Sweeper at level 60. Slap a Stabilized Eternium Scope on this and it will last you until the Gunblade at 65. Then there's Valanos' Longbow from the AH at 70.

Another very important point, is soloing instances. As well as being enjoyable, this is a very good way to stay in practice, and hone various skills and awareness of different elements of our class.

The Scarlet Monastery Cathedral and Zul'Farrak are probably the two best training grounds in the game for Hunters to solo, along with the Scholomance. The Cathedral is where you can first learn about freeze trapping with Multi-Shot, and the importance of pulling mobs gradually an in order, to avoid being overrun. Scholo will teach you about situational awareness, more about correct execution order, and to a small extent, developing your own tactics as the situation demands it.

You can begin soloing the Cathedral at level around level 45 as Survival, and Zul'Farrak at 60, although you will need to be very careful in both at first. The Scholomance should probably not be attempted before 70. Rattlegore in particular is fairly easy at 70, but can be dangerous before T5/S2 gear.

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