Spell Hunter Overview (Video and Written)

  • Video


    This is an inclusive overview in which I will address Solo, PvP, Dungeon and Raid applications all to an extent.

    So, back in 2006, Hunters had a tonne of different ways of dealing damage. Some of their attacks dealt physical damage, some of them dealt Arcane, some dealt Fire, and some dealt Nature damage. And while their non-physical attacks didn't act like spells in most ways, they still benefitted from the Spell Damage stat that you usually find on Cloth gear. So some Hunters decided to start wearing Robes to turn their Arcane Shots into superweapons.

    This was in opposition to the standards of the time, of course, but if there's anything that Hunters do well, it's steal gear that's intended for others!

    Youtube Video


    Before getting into the specifics, let's go over the benefits: First off, Arcane Shot, Volley, Serpent Sting, and Wyvern Sting all benefit pretty well from Spell Damage buffs. No other Hunter spells do (but Explosive/Immolation Traps may or may not, and Mend Pet benefits from +healing, but that's a build for another day!). Anyway, Hunters can actually get pretty good at damage-over-time (I've even heard some say that they felt more like they were playing an Affliction Warlock with how much damage their Serpent Stings were doing). Volley also becomes much better at handling large groups of mobs with a set of Spell Damage gear, and some Hunters have used this kind of gear to farm up lower-level areas or help lower-level friends speed-level. And because Arcane Shot is an instant-damage attack, it does very well in PvP, where burst damage is king. It also does very well against Plate-or-Mail-wearing enemies (and Druid bear tanks) because it ignores armor, unlike most Hunter attacks.


    Now for the downsides: spell damage gear rarely has any Agility on it, making your regular shots and your physical damage abilities suffer. It's also usually difficult to obtain this gear as a Hunter, as you are now competing with even more classes than normal for your gear (although if you're Alliance, you can try to get your hands on some Shaman mail gear at levels 40+ because you won't any have Shamans to compete with! maybe some desperate Healadins). However, most Spell Damage gear is Cloth (with a few outliers), so you're probably going to take a hit in the survivability department. And last but not least, the average damage-per-second you're going be doing is usually going be worse than the other Hunter builds (unless you've got some crazy robes on).

    Practical Applications

    So in Solo applications, this build is really nice for AoE farming. It's still not as good as what Mages can do, but it wasn't uncommon to see Hunters in Vanilla put together cheap sets of Arcane Damage gear on the side to amplify their Volleys when they needed it. Now, in non-AoE situations, Arcane Spell Damage gear isn't great because of how mana inefficient Arcane Shot is. For mana efficiency, nothing beats a Serpent Sting that's been souped up with Spell Damage, but Serpent Sting deals Nature damage, not Arcane, so it won't benefit from Arcane damage robes until you can get some generic +All Spell Damage on there.

    But the place this build was practically designed for is PvP. And in the testing I've read about and in the videos I've seen, it got that job done fairly well. Usually better than the other Hunter builds against high-armor enemies, and usually worse than the other Hunter builds against low-armor enemies. Although, the application of the damage is also a point of differentiation - you get to be far more mobile with this build than with one revolving around Aimed Shot (which has a 3 second cast time AND which shares it's cooldown with Arcane Shot), and you'll also be getting more of those nifty spell pushbacks against casters because of just how many extra auto-shots are heading their way.

    In Dungeons, you'll probably be going oom in most longer fights. Same deal with Raids, and your overall dps will be lower than most unless you're up against enemies that specifically have arcane weaknesses. Now, there's potential for this here build to overcome such problems through some out-of-the-box thinking, but I haven't seen it yet.


    When it comes to talents, things get a little strange. Arcane Shot benefits from spell damage and ignores armor but in all other ways it acts as a regular ranged attack. This means it gets full benefit from Lethal Shots, Hawk Eye, Mortal Shots, Ranged Weapon Specialization, Surefooted, and the Critical chance from the extra Agility gained by Lightning Reflexes. And when relying on Arcane Shot so much, Efficiency is very handy to have around (less so for PvP when you don't run out of mana as often, but still). Improved Aspect of the Hawk is an interesting consideration because you're putting so many normal shots downrange along with your regular rotation. And last but not least, Improved Arcane Shot and Improved Serpent Sting are both very useful to have around.

    The Math

    So as I said earlier Arcane Shot is treated as a spell for purposes of spell damage increases and enemy resistances. Specifically, it adds 42.5% of "+spell damage" or "+arcane damage" to it's total damage. Serpent Shot and Wyvern Sting gain 100% of spell damage divided evenly over their entire durations, while Volley gains only 33% because it pays the "area damage" tax. Hunters can use most spell damage gear that clothies can, so technically they can get pretty high spell damage. But there's one trick up their sleeve that sets them apart.


    Now, there are two things that DPS casters often use on their weapons: Wizard Oil and Enchant Weapon: Spell Power. Both of these are very powerful buffs to spell damage, but no other caster class can dual wield. Hunters get to apply these buffs on both of their weapons, double-dipping into a very nice boost to your damage. And unlike Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King, there are plenty of powerful Spell Damage weapons you can wield in your off-hand (and are not locked to your main hand). Just remember: greed before need! Oh, and there are still some situations where a Spell power Staff might be better than whatever dualies you have at the time.

    There's also a unique Hunter trinket known as the "Arcane Infused Gem". It Infuses you with Arcane Energy, and grants your next Arcane Shot 100% damage from Spell Power instead of just 42%, and explodes and deals full damage to every enemy within 8 yards. It does come with a 2 minute cooldown, but this Gem is very nice for that AoE farming or powerlevelling, and also for larger-scale PvP and those epic crit montages.

    When it comes to gear and weapons, you have to remember that going full spell damage comes at a steep sacrifice. Arcane Shot still has that 6 second cooldown, meaning that you'll still be auto-shooting people most of the time. If you sacrifice too much agility, which provides much of your ranged attack power, your overall damage is going to suffer. Striking a balance between the two is necessary if you want to avoid putting "all your eggs in one basket", so to speak. Although, if you really just want to dunk on people with a very bursty, on-and-off rollercoaster of a damage build, you do have that option!

    Here's a basic overview of Spell Damage, assuming you're level 60 and only shooting one enemy, without counting for armor, spell resist, or critical strikes:

    1 Spell Damage = .086 damage-per-second when using Arcane Shot every 5 seconds.
    1 Spell Damage also = .067 DPS when using Serpent Sting on one target without talents.
    The total magical DPS gained from 1 Spell Damage is therefore .153 DPS

    Arcane Shot also still gets to miss just like any other shot if your ranged hit chance is low AND it can be blocked by shields. It's crits, however, are double the damage of a regular hit (instead of just 1.5x like other spells), which is another factor making this build very "bursty".

    Final Thoughts

    Well, conclusion time! I'm gonna personally rate this spec "Good for PvP" as it stands now. Again, judging from those who've actually used it back in the year of our lord, two-thousand and six, the Arcane Hunter will be difficult to get going in the damage department in PvE. Also again, maybe there's some weird way it might end up being the optimal spec for PvE. Who knows. I guess we'll find out sooner or later in Classic.

    About the Author

    I make videos about the lesser-known ways you can play the 9 classes of Classic World of Warcraft. I'm also a big fan of level 19 twinking. If you would like a video made about something, feel free to let me know!


  • Wow! Love the guide! I was curious, since I intend on adding spell hunter to my spreadsheet as an option, did you figure out what the optimal gear is in bis? Also do you know what is the cap on possible spell power?

  • @WatchYourSixx That's a tough one to answer, most of the chatter I found on the spec comes from pre-1.12 forums so all the "BiS" back then isn't BiS anymore. Not to mention, most of these guys were trying to be real nice to their guilds and avoid "stealing" from clothies, so there wasn't much min-maxing going on. And as a (presumably) PvP-oriented build, it hasn't received that much attention from the theorycrafting community.

    I don't know the answers to either of your questions, but I'll try to put together some +spelldamage sheets for ya and we can find out together!

  • @WatchYourSixx

    Alright so optimal I can't give you at the moment, but super-duper max burst spell damage I can! It's +860 spell damage passively with just the gear + enchants, not counting temporary damage buffs from trinkets or Power Infusion or anything else. Here's the gear list to get there.

  • Initiate

    So here is my idea...........

    The bad part is this idea requires you to grind out high warlord in order for it to work....

    full haste fast bow troll hunter....

    So picture high warlord recurve and its 1.8 attack speed, then you will dual wield two high warlord spell blades...

    Two spell blades = 72+30 spell power enchant+ 36 spell power oil = 138 spellpower times two = 276 spell power....

    now you will always have to flask so thats 150 spellpower.....

    add in a 2.5 tier set for 42 more spell damage...... (you will use your high warlord armor until you can get 2.5 tier)

    equals 468 spell power...... so you will get roughly 200 damage added to your arcane shot.... 400ish damage arcane shot with talents is 1400ish crits...... and it always ignores armor.... and remember you are firing 12 arcane shots for every 10 aimed shots(actually more like 9 because you are delaying aimed shot casts to not clip auto shots)..... not to mention you are gaining all those clipped auto shots........ (using the fast bow you are losing 3 auto shots every time you aimed shot, and in some cases you are losing as many as five auto shots under haste effects...… one arcane shot plus three auto shots kicks the crap out of a aimed shot everytime)

    factor in 3 min rapid fire, troll haste racial, crazy uptime on aspect of the hawk 30 percent haste because of zero clipping from just using arcane shot and multi shot.... not to mention being able to use serpent sting in 20 mans and five mans..... short fights??? rapid fire and troll haste twice!!! long fights??? rapid fire and troll haste three times!!!! better get two quivers for your arrows though haha!

    Theoretically the build does more damage than any other hunter build (and its not even really close compared to the aimed shot gayness), is a beast in pvp, the downside is major cost of consumables (flask, oils, demonic runes, mana pots to keep mana up)

    however the build is all about fast bows and max haste to maximize white damage.... you are losing hardly any white damage giving up two weapons (basically your mongoose elixir replaces the weapon damage you lose from dual wielding spellblades)..... every other gear piece is still the same agility stacking.....

    so basically you will still have your 1500ish attack power, but you will have 468 spell power and use arcane shot instead of aimed shot...... the only downside is grinding out high warlord and consumable cost....... but when you get 2.5 set and then two pieces of crypstalker for the rapid fire buffs you will own anything.......... according to my calculations, it would put your dps in the 1500 ish range when you have 5 pieces of 2.5 and 4 cryptstalker plus highwarlord bow and two high warlord spellblades...... yes you would open eyes and blow up the hunter community with the bulletin (EVERYTHING ABOUT HUNTER DPS IS WRONG AND THIS IS THE CORRECT WAY TO DO IT πŸ™‚

    I am going to prove it works in classic, so stay tuned πŸ™‚

  • @Azzeus

    Dude that sounds so hype! I've been really hoping that the old comments are true and that weapons like the Hurricane or the Quillshooter scale with +spelldam. All the old tests showed a 10% proc rate, which would be actually really fast when you're a Troll!

    Can't wait for Classic either, see ya on the other side!

  • Initiate


    your bow progression with arcane shot spec would be hurricane, eaglehorn, high warlord bow...... +7 damage scopes of course on them all...

    Its all about getting as much uptime as possible on aspect of the hawk, machine gun arrow flinging madness...

  • @Azzeus

    Depending on scaling, the Hurricane could be BiS forever. With 500 sp at 43% scaling (typical for instant-cast abilities, would = 255 total proc damage) and a 10% proc rate, that would be something like an average bonus 100 Frost dps. The recurve only gives +7 stam, +16 dps, and +36 attack power in exchange for that proc ability.

    Of course the only people who said it scaled with +spelldam back in the day failed to do sufficient testing to find out how much it scaled and those on the beta failed to test any related weapons, maybe they only scale at 10% or less. Just gotta wait and see.

  • Initiate

    to the best of my memory the hurricane did not scale with spell power, I used one for quite a long time back in the day and I just don't remember the numbers.....
    I can't wait to find out though.... I also can't wait to cheat troll haste racial with demonic runes and use the glorious arcane infused gem with trinket swapping lol πŸ™‚
    according to my math if it does scale with spell power you are correct πŸ™‚ if it doesn't you are gaining 12 percent white damage with the warlord recurve. I am also curious to find out if it does scale with spell power will it also scale with warlock curses and nightfall in the raiding environment.... because if it does..... good lord its gonna be crazy!!!!

    if it does scale with spell power that just adds more insanity to the fact that everything everyone says about hunters dps is flat out wrong!

  • Initiate


    do you have any reference material or links towards the hurricane information??? I just am struggling to find data to investigate the theory!!!

  • @Azzeus

    I have a big list of the 10 "on hit" magical damage proc weapons that fall in the Bow, Gun, or Crossbow categories, and I sifted through the combined comment sections of each using Classic Wowhead's "thottbot and allakhazam view". Some of the numbers people were giving, as well as some specific comments, mentioned or implied the distinct possibility of scaling, but nothing super-duper reliable.

  • Initiate

    @GideonAI ok thank you, I have seen those comments too πŸ™‚ I was just hoping you had a video showing it or something!!!!

    This is going to be epic πŸ™‚

  • @Azzeus

    Yeah I should've reworded when I said "maybe it scales at 10% or less", I was trying to include the possibility of 0% scaling which would kill a lot of damage.

  • Initiate

    @GideonAI no problem, I used one for months back at launch, and I honestly just can't remember the numbers..... I think I am getting old haha

    It just cracks me up, if we are correct, there are a million hunter dps posts out there that are flat out wrong..... I can't wait to find out and throw the hunter community upside down πŸ™‚

  • Initiate


    Just wondering, how do you think the affix "reduces spell resistances to target" works with arcane shot?

    like for instance on a sageblade until rank 14 weapons can be obtained?

  • @Azzeus

    Probably the same way other spells work, and from what we're hearing about Rag potentially having 100 Arcane Resistance I wouldn't be surprised if that affix was necessary across the board.

  • Initiate

    Awesome guide. Thank you for taking the time and effort to put some serious thought to the build and getting a general overview of the potential of the spellpower hunter spec (ranged, not melee). I found your post on this spec via accident on Youtube and you've inspired me to fully pursue this spec my entire time in Classic on my hunter NE main. I've read everything I could possibly find on this spec and your guide is the best and the only one that actually discuss the spec without completely labeling it as a "meme" spec with no validity or viability. I've constructed a BIS pre-raid list for phase 1 so far and have also been theorycrafting on the exact talents I would like to take and try out with it once I hit 60. Seems MM/SV is the best way to go with atm with 5 points in BM - IAotH for the white damage/dps increase. I am lvl 35 on my hunter atm and have to say with about half my gear with Arcane Spell Damage on it I have been enjoying this fun, interesting build and noticed very little cons with it so far. If I was to go ham on a mob just like any hunter your mana is depleted just as fast as a regular hunter but if I'm sticking more to my usual rotation leveling I don't really have any issues. I am more squishy but I'm good with that trade off as I'm much more mobile than other hunters... especially even as I'm lvling I'm in the BM tree atm. I wanted to reach out and see if you have any updates or information on the build in regards to the concrete testing of the proc chance on hit guns/bows in Classic. As I'm very invested in this build and interested to the potential I've been reaching out on the Classic Hunter Discord but still no concrete new tests have been performed on the proc gun/bows to test the scaling of SP. I've had feedback from the community on the scaling but it's about a 50/50, of yes they do scale and no they don't and all the yes's have not conducted actual tests to see if it's true. If possible, would you be able to find out? Thanks again for the guide. I'll keep monitoring this forum in the coming days to hopefully get a response back from you on the progress of the build.

  • Initiate

    @Vaporachi full spell hunter will not be viable at all... the only way to make it work is get high warlord weapons and use consumables..... going spell power gear gimps your white damage way to much.... you need to stack agility everywhere except the two weapons........ but have fun πŸ™‚

  • Initiate

    @Azzeus the build I was making isn't full spellpower but instead a mix of the two (agility/spellpower) with hit cap, good crit for my arcane shots, nice SP for starter preraid gear and talents tailored to improve my white damage. I plan on pvping a lot and willing to go the lengths needed to make the push in raids with consumables. Also if the proc weps turn out to scale with SP the decreased white damage should be balanced out with the increased proc damage. https://classic.wowhead.com/gear-planner/hunter/night-elf/AjwOXwUFBSBR8DUAUDEDA_AAS3iBSSdZPAI8M4NI-VhHhS6UTjkGSSGHM3JZPIguLjZCiTObTiiKNotOLAsdgQww_w02jQ4ygo8tZzY6kDaMYiKRNoxiIpIzWlj7
    Have you been able to test the weps out? Your posts months ago showed a lot of interest in the build as well just wondering what changed your mind?

  • @Vaporachi

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I'm ecstatic at your results so far! Unfortunately, even though I have a Hunter at the moment, he has taken the backseat to my Priest and Paladin and hasn't yet acquired one of the chance-on-hit ranged weapons yet. The previously-datamined information has held true so far so I don't expect any of those weapons to scale at all. With that said, there's still testing required for the proc rates on those weapons (some of those procs deal really high base damage!) and whether or not they'll proc off of rank 1 Serpent Sting spam (which doesn't overwrite a max-rank Serpent Sting DoT). Another thing that needs testing is the Blade of Eternal Darkness, and whether that will proc off of rank 1 Serpent Sting spam + Arcane Shots. All in all, I'm more optimistic than I was when I originally recorded this information. One minor deficiency on the PvE side of things is just that we don't have Nightfall until phase 3, which will amplify quite a bit of our damage.