My Survival Guide to Surviving in PvP as a Survival Hunter: Part One

Say that five times fast…

I’ve specced Survival for PvP in the past, but never for very long. However, once BM was laid to rest last week, I decided to jump ship and become an explosives expert. Since there may be other displaced BM PvPers like myself, I figured I’d provide a glimpse at my spec, as well as share some of what little knowledge I possess concerning Survival Huntering in the realm of player versus player combat. ;)

Keep in mind that I’m not an elite PvPer. I’m decent and I’m competitive, but I am in no way an authority on hardcore Hunter PvP. I usually do pretty well in both BGs and arena, but I am always out looking for ways to step my game up. Although I’m feeling a lot smoother with it this go ’round, I’ve never remained Survival for more than a few weeks. If anyone has any advice or constructive criticism pertaining to this post, macro suggestions, tactics, and especially arena strategies, then please share.

Well let’s get started…

My 0/15/56 Survival Hunter PvP Build

Survival Hunter PvP Build

This is pretty close to about 90% of Survival PvP builds, give or take a few points.

The following is a brief explanation of which talents I grabbed and why. I even went all WoWHead on the tooltips for you guys. :)

Beast Mastery Talents

No talents are chosen from the BM tree for my build. I could see where some Hunters may want to dip into Endurance Training for a little added insurance, but one hallmark of the Survival tree is added health and survivability. I’m sitting well over 26K health unbuffed, so I saw better use for these points elsewhere.

Marksmanship Talents

Mortal Shots, Lethal Shots, Careful Aim and Aimed Shot are mandatory. Mortal Shots and Lethal Shots are necessary for PvP burst, but most importantly, they get you down the tree to Aimed Shot. For those players new to PvP, know that you absolutely must have Aimed Shot if you plan entering battlegrounds or arena.

I dropped one point into Go for the Throat for a little added DPS, but that’s a matter of preference. I just like the extra 300 or so damage from the pet special that I get with every crit. :D

Another talent worth mentioning in the Marksman tree is Focused Aim. I didn’t pick it up because I’m at nearly 6% hit via gear alone, but if you’re not at the PvP hit cap of 5% then you’re going to want to drop a point or two in here.

Survival Talents

The added range from Hawk Eye is very important for PvP. We can be locked down pretty easily, so the further we can be pew-pewing away from our target(s), the better. Improved Tracking on the other hand, is not so important for PvP. The couple of extra points can make a bigger difference further down the tree.

I only throw one point into Entrapment because ice traps can be resisted quite often, therefore negating this talent. Also, I feel one point is a better value since you still get half the duration with only 1/3 of the points. Trap Mastery is great for added CC, as well as increased damage from traps and Black Arrow. Even if Survival Instincts only provided a 4% crit bonus to Explosive Shot it would be a must have, but it also gives you 4% damage reduction. Gotta max it.

5/5 Survivalist for the added hit points, but also because it’s a prerequisite for Hunter vs. Wild. Survival Hunters have 30% of their stamina converted to attack power. How solid is that..?!

1/1 Scatter Shot… mandatory. Although, it should be *cough* baseline. :-x

Survival Tactics provides a nice reduction to trap resistances, but I like it most for its 4 second reduction to the Disengage cooldown.

3/3 T.N.T. and 3/3 Lock and Load for the sexy burst. Maxing both of these is mandatory.

3/3 in Hunter vs. Wild for the incredible stamina to AP conversion for the Hunter and pet. 3 points here buys my pet and I nearly 600 attack power apiece. :D

3/3 Killer Instinct for an extra 3% crit.

5/5 Lightning Reflexes for the 15% added agility.

3/3 Resourcefulness gets trap and Black Arrow cooldowns to 24 seconds, plus it increases mana efficiency. Also, when combined with the 4 pc PvP set bonus, it brings trap CDs down to 22 seconds! I say max it.

2/3 Expose Weakness is all I need to keep the buff active. With a 66% chance to proc, it’s likely it’ll refresh during the 7 second duration.

1/1 Wyvern Sting… mandatory.

3/3 Thrill of the Hunt for mana efficiency.

When it comes to PvP, I’m not usually a huge fan of talents that have only a 10% proc rate, but Master Tactician is too good for me to pass up. With 5/5 in this talent, it boosts crit by 10% (equivalent to 459 crit rating) for 8 seconds. That’s huge. When combined with Survival Instincts and Glyph of Explosive Shot, this talent puts me well over a 50% crit rate for my Explosive Shot. That helps to cut through some of that pesky resilience. ;)

1/1 Black Arrow… mandatory.

I go 3/3 in Hunting Party mainly for the guaranteed mana replenishment, but the 3% added agility is a nice bonus as well. 2/3 could probably get the job done here, but I like the 100% uptime myself.

Last but not least, 1/1 in Explosive Shot. It’s a good idea to pick this one up. ;)

Rather than go into why I didn’t pick up certain talents, I’ll just leave those answers for comments and questions you may have.

Survival PvP Glyphs

Glyph of Aimed Shot – This glyph is a must have for any PvP Hunter spec. The 2 second cooldown reduction helps us to maintain the uptime on the healing debuff. Don’t leave home without it.

Glyph of Explosive Shot – 4% added crit for Explosive Shot. A no-brainer.

Glyph of Disengage – Along with 2/2 in Survival tactics, this glyph will reduce the cooldown on Disengage to a mere 16 seconds.


Tenacity Spec for a CrabDepending upon your play style and whether or not you like to arena, pet choices can be fairly subjective. However, I feel there are two pets that set themselves apart from all others as top choices. Those being crab and spider.

The reason I recommend these two pets is because they both possess valuable snare abilities. Both can lock down a target for 4 seconds, which is highly advantageous for battlegrounds, and invaluable for arena.

I go with a crab because I like what the tenacity tree has to offer. Crabs are sturdier mainly due to Blood of the Rhino, and possess some great PvP abilities such as Charge and Intervene.

However, spiders have some pretty cool abilities for PvP as well… First off, their snare can be cast from range, allowing the pet to lock down a target without getting into harmful melee range. They are extremely fast, which is fantastic for PvP. They also have a nice ability called Bullheaded, which acts like sort of a pet PvP trinket along with added damage reduction. Depending on how they’re specced, they can also dish out a little added damage over that of a Tenacity pet.

I’m going to advise against Ferocity pets because they’re just too squishy. Although their DPS is good, a dead Ferocity pet puts out a lot less damage than a live and attacking hardy ‘n’ tanky specced Tenacity pet would. Heart of the Phoenix is somewhat of an answer to the problem, but you have to sacrifice DPS in order to get it. Also, Ferocity doesn’t have Roar of Sacrifice, which is pretty necessary for PvP in my opinion. Overall, Cunning and Tenacity just offer a better arsenal of talents as far as level 80 PvP is concerned.

This is how I have my Crab set up… Garwulf’s Crab Spec

I haven’t tried a spider yet, but if I should choose to, here’s how I might talent him up… Garwulf’s Spider Spec

Gear Itemization, Enchants and Gems

Obviously, hit rating is important until you reach the magical PvP hit cap of 5%. There are a few racials and talents that can increase misses above 5%, but I’d recommend against stacking hit in place of another stat once you reach 5%. 5% will get the job done for PvP.

If you plan on PvPing, then resilience is obviously a stat you’re going to need. I like to run with 800 or more, but I’d suggest a bare minimum of 600. If you arena, then I wouldn’t recommend going with anything below 700, since Hunters are nearly always the first focus fire target in any match.

As a Survival Hunter, the one stat you’re going to want to stack above all others is agility. This is due to the synergy it has with Lightning Reflexes and Expose Weakness. Attack power is good for Survival, but always itemize agility over attack power whenever possible.

Since Survival gains 30% attack power from stamina, piling on health is not a bad idea either. While I wouldn’t necessarily advise going all out with the stamina, choosing things like Frosthide Leg Armor over Icescale Leg Armor isn’t a bad call.

Intellect is always a good idea for the 1 to 1 attack power conversion from Careful Aim, in addition to the deeper mana pool.

Crit rating is a decent stat, but I’d put it behind attack power and definitely behind agility in order of importance. Armor Penetration is another stat that’s alright, but don’t go out of your way for it. Survival’s bread and butter is attack power based fire damage which is not affected by armor penetration.

Don’t worry about haste at all for PvP. Haste is a PvE stat, and not a very important one at that.

Last but not least, if you plan on doing some arena, then there is one other stat you need to seriously consider. This is spell penetration. You don’t need a ton, but 75 spell penetration is ideal. This can be obtained by a 35 spell pen cloak enchant and 2 20 spell pen gems, or by slotting 3 epic spell penetration gems. The reason for this is to burn through the 76 resistance provided by the Druid’s Gift of the Wild.

Druids are ever present in arena, and since SV thrives off of fire damage, it is important to be able to neutralize the Druid’s GotW.

Coming Soon… Part Two of My Survival Guide

I started to run out of steam, so rather than delay the post, I decided to break it apart. More on this subject very soon, including mechanics, strategy, macros and addons.


  1. says

    Hi MattLE,

    I agree with you on Savage Strikes for low-level PvP. I’ve had Raptor Strike crits as high as 483 on my 19 hunter. Hunter melee is fairly powerful at those low levels with the appropriate gear.

    The problem is… this skill becomes much less attractive in the 20-29 bracket. It still does alright damage, but the abilities are on long 5 and 6 sec CDs respectively. Savage Strikes is really only useful as a mop-up skill when trying to finish someone – beyond that, it’s usefulness is debatable past level 19.

    If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it… but, were I level 27, this would be my PvP spec:

    All in all though, it sounds like you’re doing quite well and have done some homework. If you’re having success as is, then no need to change unless you’re ready to give up your dream of being a melee hunter. ;-)

    As you level, I strongly advise you go all in for Marksmanship. MM is incredibly powerful in the 30-39 and 40-49 brackets. Readiness and the added burst of Aimed Shot is just insane. If you can amass some decent blues (turn off your experience for a bit if need be), and maybe throw on a couple of enchants, you’ll be blowing people up like nobody’s business.

  2. MattLE says

    I’ve only played WoW for 2 months. I haven’t read through all of the comments posted here but I want to know if anyone else has played with the Talent: Savage Strikes much at low level PvP? Though I have not played with it past level 30 I get crits like crazy with Savage Strikes maxed from level 17 and kept it till now at 27 with my Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite. Once I hit level 20 I’d follow Raptor/Mongoose(macro) with Wing Clip/Disengage(macro), Concussive Shot and then the usual array while they are slowed and my Pet is beating on them. I also think this is a beauty Talent for me when I am out of mana and I am forced into melee situations and or overwhelmed or both. I’m out of mana and overwhelmed or both a lot in BG’s. Maybe I overkill with my casting shots (epsecially Serpent Sting)? I also notice that even casters will run close to me so I can’t shoot and then I pop em with Raptor/Mongoose combo(macro) and they are usually almost dead or dead on the spot providing I crit, and I crit a lot using Raptor/Mongoose with this talent maxed. I am a 27 Troll. This is my current build – – hope link works >=\ – This will certainly change and alter as I continue to level because I’m gonna dig into SV tree soon. I am not twinked. I use the highest 2H dmg weapon I have at my disposal. I try to keep half my gear with STA attributes and the other half with AGI and I think I have a ring that adds a few points to Crit Rating (I have nothing special). I use a Spider and a Crab. So far the Spider seems to be of better value in WG for flag cap / return or defensive reasons. I use the crab in personal duels and AB do dish out a little extra dmg. I usually walk out of the BG’s in the top 5 people for kills and killing blows. Lemme know what you guys think. Maybe I can improve this lowbie PvP build or be persuaded to not go into Savage Strikes at all in Low Level PvP. Thanks to you all in advance who give feedback. Thanks Gar for this awesome site and you probably already know your PvP button at top of page is broke at the moment o.O If not, I hope you see this soon. Take care.

  3. Yagenaud says

    I would like to thank you i am working with your spec you have here and it has made a heck of alot of difference to my game. I actually “Look” like i know what i am doing now. Even got a good job from the son. (hard to get if you knew my elitist son” lol
    thanks again

  4. Tarweed says

    Hey, great guide. re examining my spec as I write this.

    I roll BGs with a carrion bird, The constant AP debuff with damage is something I couldnt resist. any thoughts?

  5. Asarden says

    Hi buddy ive noticed as a BM / SV hunter i take alot of crap from MM hunter because they think we are all wrong and since i havent tried MM i dont know … so my question is do SV hunters have the edge over MM hunters??


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