Donorbashed’s Survival PvP Guide 3.3.5a

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction: What is Survival?
  2. Gear + Gems
  3. Talents, and Specs
  4. Explosive Shot
  5. Lock ‘n’ Load
  6. Pets
  7. Tactics; General Gameplay
  8. Scatter Trap
  9. Useful Macros
  10. Anything Else I feel like adding

A. Introduction: What is Survival?
There are three specs in the hunter class. Two of which are both highly mainstream, and very worn out. These two specs are Marksmanship, and Beast Mastery. Nearly 90% of all hunters you see in battlegrounds, and virtually every hunter you see in arenas are one of these two specs. To the general Molten hunter population, almost nothing is known about this mysterious third spec called Survival. It remains part of the hidden knowledge only the elite have access to, and I don’t believe that is right.

Part of the reason that survival isn’t widespread, and mainstream is simply because of the fact that it is hard. Whatever arguments others may put in defense of MM, and BM, any veteran hunter can tell you, it’s just… Hard.

What Makes it so Hard?

Probably one of the easiest ways to answer this question is the fact that the play style is awkward at best. Survival depends a lot of AoE effects. I don’t mean just AoE damage, I mean effects. I’m referring to the traps, flare, Black Arrow, and Wyvern sting. (I know about 90% of you just said in your head that the other specs use all those abilities a lot too, I’ll explain what I mean later.)

We also don’t have the one-shot pew pew spell like BM (Bestial Wrath), and MM (Chimera Shot) has. Survival hunters need to think when they fight, with strategies, and improvisation, or else we won’t do any damage at all.

B. Gear + Gems:

Survival is mostly magic damage (fire, shadow, nature, arcane), so a decent amount of spell pen (75) is needed to cut through a buff that is usually on every enemy in a battleground: Gift of the Wild. And of course, if there are no druids on the enemy side, it’s still helpful against classes that have high amounts of resistance (Mages, Priests, Warlocks, and Paladins.)

For every other socket in your gear, the most appropriate gems are:
Red: Delicate Cardinal Ruby
Blue: Balanced Dreadstone
Yellow: Delicate Cardinal Ruby/Wicked Ametrine

Your best stat as a Survival hunter is agility, because of the AP, crit, dodge, and parry increase, but unlike MM and BM, you should not blindly stack all one stat to get as much agility as possible.

A lot of agility is fine, but having no health is just as bad as having no damage. And as a survival hunter your stamina multipliers are crazy high, as well as the fact that due to the talent Hunter vs. Wild, 10% of all your stamina is converted into extra RAP, and AP for you and your pet.

As for the Wicked Ametrine, I preferred to get a few socket bonuses (+6, and +8 agility only), if the piece does not have those bonuses, always gem a Delicate Cardinal.

Gear: Another way survival differs from MM, and BM is the type of gear we should use by choice. MM, and BM prefer PvE, and PvP pieces used in combination, trading in extra survivability for more pew pew. Survival on the other hand prefers ALL PvP, aside from trinkets, because I mean, even look at the name: SURVIVAL. The purpose of a survival hunter is to take a hit more like a warrior, than like a mage. It’s also the most versatile spec that can be used in close corners. So without any further explanation, the Gear list which is pretty simple:

-Wrathful Gladiator’s Set

-Wrathful Gladiator’s Triumph/Victory Offset

-Wrathful Gladiator’s 1handers (swords, axes, all the same. I think Axes look cooler personally.),

-Either the Wrathful Gladiator’s Longbow, or Falin’thrush, Defender of Quel’Thalas

Trinkets: I find I like the Medallion of the Horde/Alliance combined with a Corroded Skeleton key to be a great combination. Really helps you survive the ArP stacked Arms warrior. But any PvE trinket will do nicely. Deathbringer’s Will, or Sharpened Twilight Scale are both great options.

C. Talents, and Specs:
In most PvP guides, the guide maker tells you to make your own spec and experiment with different combos. But I don’t believe you can do that with survival; at least not when you’re in the guide-reading stage. The specs are just so complicated with so many different options, and multipliers to add up, and also many useless talents that seem to be viable, but in practice aren’t that contribute to wasted points, and potentials.
Below is a basic spec that is viable, and can be used for different things. I use a completely different build personally with my hunter, and I don’t intend to reveal it, as it’s part of my secret .

The build I recommend for beginnersThis is a nice basic build that will do all the things survival is meant to do. However, there are a few key things that can be optimized, and personalized depending on the hunter. This is not meant to be the end-all, be-all of survival specs. Once you have a decent grasp on survival, you should relook at this build and personalize to your needs:….30532133021010

D. Explosive Shot:

Explosive shot is the end-game talent tier spell you get at 50 points. To people that don’t know any better, it seems like kind of a let down when compared to Bestial Wrath, and to Chimera Shot. But let me tell you that it’s one of the best shots the hunter can have. In some ways it’s a lot better than Chimera Shot, and in some ways it is more versatile than Bestial Wrath.

Explanation: Explosive shot spelled out in dumby words is basically a 6 second dot that blasts the enemy for 3-4k every two seconds, for six seconds. Added together, that is from 9-12k damage in 6 seconds. That is 5.5k more than the average end-game Chimera Shot. And best of all, it has 4 second shorter CD than Chimera.

But as with anything in WoW, when you have an extremely useful, extremely powerful ability with a short cooldown, there is always a big downside. In this case, it is the difficulty of use.

E. Lock ‘n’ Load:

One of the major talents of the Survival hunter is called Lock ‘n’ Load.
(Copied from Openwow):

Lock and Load – You have a chance when you trap a target with Freezing Trap, Freezing Arrow or Frost Trap and a chance when you deal periodic damage with your Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap or Black Arrow to cause your next 2 Arcane Shot or Explosive Shot spells to trigger no cooldown, cost no mana and consume no ammo. This effect has a 22 sec cooldown.

As you can see, this is a fairly complicated talent. Basically, when your Freezing, Frost, Immolation traps trigger you gain an effect that lets you spam Lock and Load like a Paladin! But wait! Remember how I said that Explosive Shot was kinda hard to use properly? Well this is what I meant. Alone, Explosive Shot isn’t that powerful, or impressive at all. But when combined with traps, and Lock n Load, you can essentially three shot anything If you can do it correctly.

Easier said than done. Any decent PvPer knows hunter traps, and each class has the very simply tactic of how to avoid them (ie. Walk around them.) so getting people to fall for your, erm, trap can be difficult.

So how do you use Lock and Load effectively, and properly? Once you proc it, and you fire off your first shot, hang back three seconds before firing the next. Use this time to kite into a better position, refresh serpent sting/black arrow, or lay some traps.

Why? Because if you fire off the next Shot immediately after the first, you’ll do something called “clipping the dot”. Because the shot is still essentially a dot. And if you refresh the dot before it runs out, you’ll stop that lack tick of damage, robbing you of up to 8k of free fire damage just because you were impatient.

F. Pets:

Normally I hate guides that advise on pets. I really do, so instead of telling you the “best pet” for PvP, I will do two things.

  1. I’m going to show you this video someone posted on the hunter forum earlier tonight:…est-pet-video/
  2. And two, I’m going to give you a recommendation, along with pros, and cons of each pet, as well as the different play styles involved with using each.

Different viable pets to use:



  • High damage output
  • Two second Stun (Ravage)
  • Roar of Recovery (+30% mana in 3 seconds)


  • Very squishy
  • Low health
  • Stun based on hit rating (able to miss.)

Play style: Playing with a ravager is usually the easiest way to play, very basic for the beginner, yet potent enough to be competitive. But due to the squishiness of the pet, and Focus issues, a very limited style. This pet is best used when facing a melee class, or a melee heavy group of enemies.



  • Hard to kill
  • 4 second pin
  • Very few focus using abilities allows for supreme focus regeneration
  • Bullheaded
  • Roar of Sacrifice
  • Intervene


  • Roar of Sacrifice is bugged. Doesn’t work.
  • Intervene hard, and awkward to use due to pet collision, and LoS.
  • Pin bugged. Misses nearly 30% of the time.

Play style: This is a moderately more difficult play style, which requires a complete mastery of quick and efficient pet management. (Mastering pet management takes months, and months of learning. I haven’t even fully mastered it yet.) The abilities it has to prevent damage to you makes it a very potent partner when used correctly. This should only be used by an intermediate hunter. Very good against close quarter melee that like to stay exactly on top of you as much as possible (Rogues, Enhancement Shamans, and Demo warlocks in demon form.)



  • Roar of Recovery
  • Excellent focus flow (with ½ Go For The Throat).
  • Ranged root (4 secs.)
  • Poison DoT


  • Low Health
  • Ugly
  • Poison DoT is easily dispellable.
  • Ranged Root has bugged LoS in Warsong Gulch, and Blade’s Edge Arena.

Play style: Among the three separate play styles you can use as Survival. This is probably my favorite. This combines the ease of use of the Ravager with the extra utility of the Crab’s pin that doesn’t miss nearly as much. This is also the anti-hunter, anti-pure ranged pet, because you can root a target from up to 20 yards away. But it is also very difficult, because of the fact that you depend on your pet for the root more than you depend on the ravager for the stun. Therefore when they die easily, you’re at more of a disadvantage when the spider dies. You also need to have very advanced pet management in order to successfully use the spider in certain maps of the game. Anti-caster, anti-hunter pet. Best used with an advanced hunter.

G. Tactics; General Gameplay:
I said before that the survival hunter’s tactics are awkward. And that’s because you don’t have any rotation. At all. Not even a recommended order of shots to use. With MM, you have Serpent Sting > Chimera > Aimed > Arcane > Steady when you’re able to stand still, and BM is just Aimed > Arcane spam.

Most of Survival’s damage will come from Explosive Shot Specifically. So, unless you’re facing a Holy Paladin, it is always top priority. The reason Holy Paladins are different is because they only have one major healing spell, and that’s Holy Light. Pretty simple, and easy to counter. But when one missed Holy Light finishes casting, the Paladin can, and will be up to full health again. It’s always important to keep Aimed Shot up on him.

Otherwise, you must master kiting to the point you’ve never mastered before. Always stay on the uphill side of the terrain, and kite in a wide circular fashion, weaving traps when you get close to the enemy. Frost trap, or Snake trap is preferred. As your Lock n Load procs, Disengage downhill to maximize the distance gained, and fire off the first Explosive while in the air. Then lay explosive trap, and hit a black Arrow on your enemy. This increases the damage of your next two explosive shots. Then pop the second explosive.

By now, you should have your enemy down to about half hp through your dots, and this allows for more liberal use of your defensive cooldowns. Run toward your enemy who should still be uphill. As he enters melee range, pop deterrence, and weave in a snake trap to root and slow your enemy. Be sure to get as much running distance as possible. Turn around, pop your third Lock n Load, and lay down Frost trap while you refresh Black Arrow/Serpent Sting/Aimed Shot/Mark. Your enemy will run up to you, triggering the trap, and another Lock n Load. For additional CC, you can always weave in a Wing Clip with the trap, disengage downhill again, and Pop your Lock n Loads.

If you do that correctly, you should be able to beat any warrior, rogue, or Enhancement Shaman. Just repeat this tactic until dead.

For the ranged classes, it’s more about control than CC. As an MM, and BM hunter your survival depends on staying out of range as long as possible while you blast the sorry suckers a new rump. But if you read the name of the spec again, it’s called Survival. Meaning you can take a hit. Quite a few hits actually.

Your key to winning against the ranged classes is to find their deadzones. Every ranged class has a deadzone, and your ability to exploit this fact will hand you victory more often than not. You should stay in a tight circle around then about 5-10 yards away from them, preferably behind them. Stay behind them, and when they start something with a cast time, duck behind, and weave so they can’t cast it at you. Use your full interrupts. Freezing Arrow (Used for a convenient lock n load), Scatter Shot, Feign Death, Snake Trap (Mind-Numbing Poison), and Wyvern Sting.

For classes that are dependent on procs, or preexisting debuffs (Bleeds, Immolate, Devouring Plague/Vampiric Touch/SW: Pain, Scorch, etc.) You want to interrupt these spells above any other spell as they augment the enemies’ ability to kill you. Dispelling is also a very useful tool when considering casters (Stoneform)..

H. Scatter Trap:
If you decide to take up a survival hunter, and you enter the select group that has mastered the spec, you’ll hear of something called a Scatter Trap. It’s used by MM a lot, and is very effective. But in the hands of a survival hunter, it is a very deadly technique that just about every trigger-happy melee, and caster is afraid of.

Scatter trap isn’t an actual spell. It’s the name of a tactic that entails fooling your enemy into using his or her trinket, giving you a free Lock n Load, and allowing you to get to maximum range all at once. While you’re in the middle of a fight, make sure you let any DoTs from you drop off the target, and stop using explosive when your DoTs drop, then use scatter shot. This will disorient the enemy, and if he’s trigger-happy, which admittedly most of us are due to reaction time, he’ll trinket.

Since you’re a hunter and you don’t give a **** about someone’s trinket, you already have freezing arrow selected, and the green circle on the enemy. You shoot him with that arrow, and watch his face as he rage screams, and freezes for the full 8 second duration. You should use this time to gain distance, prepare traps, and think about your next 20 moves in advance, then blast him with a full on Black Arrow – Lock n Load barrage.

I. Useful Macros:
I will add to this as I see fit, Personally I believe that PvP macros especially are a huge secret, and I will use my own discretion revealing these.

J.Anything Extra:
Not right now. Later though.