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Hunter Leveling Guide for WotLK Classic 3.3.5a


In the early expansions of World of Warcraft, when certain classes outperformed others significantly with regards to there ability to level efficiently and quickly. Hunters have always been one of the fastest to level, which is no different in WotLK iteration of the game.

This is due to the classes unique and intense connection to animals and beasts, that allow the class to have a beast of their choosing which they can tame to fight by their side. Some Hunter pets focus on dealing damage, whilst others focus on maintaining threat and performing a tank role, which allows the Hunter to deal damage from a distance.

The Hunter class is able only to play damage-dealing roles, and as such the class is excellent at killing targets and enemies efficiently and effectively. This makes the class a great one to level, especially as a solo player, because Hunters can solo pretty much every quest that the game has to offer when appropriately leveled.

This can provide players of the class an unrivalled solo leveling experience, as they can progress through quests and zones the fastest out of any class in the game usually when taking on a quest-focused leveling strategy.

The following Hunter leveling guide will be a beginner-friendly guide for players of the Hunter class to follow, which will provide information and guidance for players who seek to improve their leveling experience.

The tips and recommendations covered will be aimed at making the leveling experience more efficient, so that you can level in a smoother and faster way. What this guide will not cover however is a quest-per-quest route for players to follow, nor will it focus on anything non-Hunter related. This guide will be strictly for Hunters only, and also it will be strictly for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

Hunter Leveling Tips

  • Pick your pet wisely. You should not choose a Hunter pet based on if you think it is cute or cool, as pets come in three different specializations much like the class that influence their role as your companion. Ferocity focuses in dealing damage, Tenacity focuses on holding threat and tanking, and finally Cunning focuses on providing utility that is usually only relevant in PvP situations. For the smoothest leveling experience, usually pets in the Tenacity spec are used whilst solo leveling, as they can hold threat on multiple targets which allow you to deal damage from a distance without being interrupted.
  • Ferocity pets tend to be beasts in the Cats, Wolves, and Devilsaurs families. Whereas Tenacity pets tend to be much larger beasts in the Bears, Turtles, and Rhinos families. As well as the spec, each beast brings with it unique species-specific abilities that manipulate how it performs its role, making certain beasts a stronger companion for the Hunter to level alongside. You can definitely level effectively with any pet that you choose, however each has its advantages and disadvantages to be aware of.
  • The Feign Death ability can get you out of sticky situations safely and easily. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have maybe pulled too many mobs and find your health drastically low, using the Feign Death ability will make your character play dead, which will lose all threat and focus that targets have on you. You can then stand up and leave the area to recover once the targets have lost interest in you.
  • When focusing on what gear to choose in upgrades, always focus on the stats that the gear provides (excluding your main ranged weapon), as you shouldn’t be interested in defensive stats as your pet should be doing all of your tanking. This allows the Hunter to focus solely on damage output with regards to gear and items.
  • As such, your main ranged weapon should be the priority to upgrade in all scenarios, as this is where the majority of your damage comes from. Always make sure you prioritise upgrading your weapon over any other piece of gear, as this will have the most benefit with regards to your leveling efficiency and speed as it dictates how quickly and effectively you can down enemy targets.
  • As mentioned in the cons of playing a Hunter class, make sure you always have food available in your inventory for your pet. Micromanaging your pet can challenge and seen as an obstacle towards leveling your Hunter, however a happy pet deals more damage and ultimately makes your leveling experience more efficient. Different pets prefer different foods also, so make sure you choose food that your particular pet likes. 

Best Hunter Leveling Spec

Hunters feature three different specs that have varying degrees of differences between them – each focusing on a different aspect of the classes’ playstyle. There are also differences with regards to leveling speed and efficiency depending on the spec that you have chosen to level as.

The first of the three Hunter specs is Beast Mastery, which as the name implies, revolves around utilizing your pet as opposed to other ways to damage opponents, such as by your marksmanship abilities. Beast Mastery makes your pets take less damage whilst at the same time deal more damage, thus allowing it to hold more threat easily. This makes Beast Mastery the preferred leveling spec, as your pet can deal significant amounts of damage whilst holding the focus of your targets, while you remain at a safe distance from your foes and deal your own share of the damage. This results in a safe leveling experience, that with the right pet, can offer smooth and efficient progression through solo quests, making it a recommended spec for players to choose if they want to level optimally in Wrath of the Lich King.

Marksmanship on the other hand is also a viable spec option, that relies on using your ranged weapon for the majority of your playstyle. This spec however opens you up to enemies as it makes you more vulnerable as your pet will be much weaker both in damage output and tank performance. The weaker damage output of your pet compared to you will cause you to take threat of targets much more often.

Survival, the last of the Hunter specs, is another less viable option to level as compared to Beast Mastery. Survival is a very gear dependent spec, unlike the other specs in the class that seem to focus more-so on ranged weapon damage or pet selection, however the advantage of Survival being so gear dependent is that it performs the best AoE out of any of the three Hunter specs. This makes this spec much more favourable in grouped settings, predominantly in a dungeon focused leveling strategy, as the higher AoE damage output will allow you to progress through dungeons much faster. However, in solo questing situations, Beast Mastery still outperforms this spec.

In general, the best solo leveling spec for Hunters is Beast Mastery, as it provides players with a safe playstyle to progress through quests whilst dealing great damage and survivability. This is the recommended spec for new players of the game and the class to take in Wrath of the Lich King.

Quests vs Dungeons

In Wrath of the Lich King, a dungeon-focused leveling strategy is one of the preferred leveling playstyles, especially in the WoW Classic iteration of the expansion, as the vast majority of players are experienced WoW players that do not wish to level from 1-80 via quests as this process is most likely very repetitive for players that have done it so many times.

Under certain circumstances, such as if you have an optimal group to dungeon grind with, spamming dungeons can be an efficient way to accumulate experience, however for the Hunter class it is not an advised leveling method. Hunters, when in the Beast Mastery spec, perform exceptionally well when solo questing, and offer unmatched capabilities and utility when progressing through quests and zones. As such, choosing to focus on dungeons can actually result in a less optimal leveling strategy, especially when considering that Beast Mastery does not perform well in dungeons at all, and managing pets can also be a large issue as they often pull mobs and can cause more issues than they solve.

The exception being Survival Hunters, that contrastingly do not perform as well in solo questing as opposed to Beast Mastery Hunters, whereas this spec performs well in dungeon settings as it has the best AoE damage out of all the three Hunter specs. If you really wish to focus on dungeons for the majority of your experience gain, then Survival is the go-to dungeon grinding spec in Wrath of the Lich King, but it is still recommended to focus on quests when leveling as a Hunter, as this leveling strategy provides the most efficient experience gain method, especially when leveling as a Beast Mastery Hunter.

Hunter Professions

As with many damage-focused specs in Wrath of the Lich King that lack self-healing abilities, First Aid is an exception profession for Hunters to select whilst leveling, but also at max-level as the class lacks any self-healing even then. As such, to improve your leveling experience significantly and reduce downtime spent consuming food in between fights, First Aid is a recommended profession to choose when leveling your Hunter. This profession is a must have for Hunters, and although some may say that leveling professions whilst you level is a waste of time, this profession is the exception as it can greatly improve your leveling experience.

Other great professions for your leveling experience are the gathering professions, as they provide a great source of bonus gold for rather little work when leveling, which can come in very handy when purchasing items, consumables and even your epic mount. Also, in Wrath of the Lich King, the gathering professions provide you with passive abilities that increase various stats of your character, such as Skinning that provides the Master of Anatomy passive that increases your Critical Strike Rating incrementally as you progress through the profession. This can be a great profession to choose when leveling, as a higher Critical Strike can increase your overall damage output as a Hunter.

Alternatively, if you wish to begin considering an endgame crafting profession, Engineering is a solid choice for Hunters that allows you to craft grenades and bombs, as well as lots of other fun and useful niche items that can enhance your experience as a Hunter and provide utility. Leveling Engineering can be greatly improved by selecting the Mining profession alongside it, as this allows you to gather much of the materials you will require yourself. Mining also offers Stamina in varying degrees of effectiveness, which although is not a massive concern for Hunter specs such as Beast Mastery or Marksmanship, Survival Hunters may find more usage out of this passive at max level if they choose to PvP.

Important Class Quests

The Hunter class does not feature many class-specific quests that are essential to the leveling experience or gameplay of the class, unlike other specs in Wrath of the Lich King that do so. This makes leveling as a Hunter a bit simpler and smoother as you do not need to worry about micromanaging your class quests on top of your zone quests. There are still two class quests however that are highly recommended not to delay, or skip. These are as follows:

  • At level 10, Hunters gain access to the Training Lesson quest chain that will teach the Hunter how to tame various beasts, eventually giving Hunters access to tame and train a pet of their choosing permanently. This quest is very important for Hunters, as regardless of your spec, and especially at such a low level when spec is irrelevant, pets will deal most of your damage and provide most of the utility of the class. As such, it should not be delayed at all, as not having a pet will significantly slow you down at these levels, thus resulting in a much less efficient acquisition of experience.
  • The level 50 Sunken Temple class quest that all classes receive in Wrath of the Lich King is also very useful for Hunters, as it provides the class with some great items that can be very useful in gearing the Hunter and can often last well into the middle of Outland when these items will be replaced by The Burning Crusade gear. The three options are Hunting Spear, Devilsaur Eye, or Devilsaur Tooth, each of the three items benefiting one of the three Hunter specs. Devilsaur Tooth is the standout choice for Beast Mastery hunters as it increases your pets Attack Power significantly on effect, and as with all Trinkets, will last you the longest as Outland does not reward you with many Trinkets to replace this while strictly questing.

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