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Caperfin's Guide to the Melee Hunter
by Caperfin • 14th April 2019

Hi, my name is Caperfin and welcome to my guide! Every possible subject that comes to mind will be dissected to answer any lingering questions you might have. In the likely situation a subject is not addressed or poorly please bring it to my attention. I expect the same amount of scrutiny from readers as I have put into writing this guide, so don't hold back.

Traditionally, hunters were designed and relegated to be played as a ranged class and the legitimacy of a hunter in the melee role was never considered. However, with a game that has been theorycrafted for over a decade this dated notion has now been buried with the advent of modern tools. Therefore, our wild animal taming friend can retire his projectile launching weapon days and opt for spending his glory days in the heat of the battle alongside other melee classes.
Gear + Enchants


Before continuing, its important to remember you are not only going a certain route but also playing a class that demands a great deal of effort for players to recognize. A melee hunter in a raid has the ability to not only provide a decent amount of personal damage but also the capability of supporting other teammates. However, you must choose which path to take and invest all effort into it, for it to be effective. This enables the hunter to go down two separate paths.


Races play a big part as we are grasping for any amount of extra efficiency possible. Hunters are available to 5 races: Night Elf and Dwarf for the Alliance. Tauren , Orc , and Troll for the Horde. This section will talk about the most popular and efficient races for our goals. Let's begin by taking a look at the most efficient faction as both provide different benefits for us. In our rigorous testing, the Horde faction claims victory as the tools provided by them heavily trumps what the Alliance has to offer. An example, of one of these tools is Windfury Totem, which, is a massive contribution to our overall melee damage. Next, lets see the most beneficial race within the Horde. As previously mentioned, we are gifted with three possible races: Orc, Troll and Tauren but sadly our bovine friend doesn't yield any racial benefits. Therefore, our eyes are mostly set on Orc and Troll. There is no clear winner as both races excel under different scenarios. Lets breakdown both to better illustrate the differences.

Throwing/Bow Specialization: Skill with Throwing/Bow Weapons increased by 5.
Regeneration: Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat.
Beast Slaying: Damage dealt versus Beasts increased by 5%. Increases your casting and attack speed by 10% to 25%. At full health the speed increase is 10% with...

What does this mean?: Ultimately, if a boss can be vanquished in ~2min or less and your intention is to solely perform well on bosses that are categorized as "Beast", Troll is the correct decision. It should be noted, Berserking also increases range attack speed. Contrary to popular belief, melee hunters do use the occasional ranged ability. In conclusion, going Troll might not be the route for everyone as its very situational and inconsistent.

Orc Increases base melee attack power by 25% for 15 sec and reduces healing effects on you by 50% for 25...
Hardiness: Chance to resist Stun effects increased by an additional 25%.
Command: Damage done by Hunter and Warlock pets increased by 5%.
Axe Specialization: Skill with Axes and Two-Handed Axes increased by 5.

What does this mean?: Similar to the previous race, however, Orcs are the better damage option. Regardless of the boss type your are facing. Ultimately, Orc should deal the most damage. However, this is contingent on how Blood Fury is coded. Servers in the past have treated the spell differently, some will have BF scale with attack power and others with Strength. This is the main cause for the indecision between both races but BF's coding is made glaringly apparent within few minutes of the server opening. Regardless, I suggest Orc because the talent spec we will be choosing later synergizes well with and the bonus to skill with axes and two-handed axes is nothing to scoff at either.

Other Races

If you are dead set on affiliating with the Alliance, I suggests Night Elf as they have the highest agility. This isn't to say you should be forced to play a certain race, rather that you should be aware of the differences and make the according decision that aligns with your preferences.

Hunters have the advantage of taming and acquiring a pet at level 10. Our little companion help us not only level at a ludicrously fast speed but also provides some decent damage in raids once we are level 60. Since this is not a leveling guide, we will be skipping pets that help with leveling and go straight to pets that are used for raiding. It should be noted, if you do not cater to the survival of your pet it will be a detriment to your overall dps. Therefore, it is not only necessary to move out of the "giant fire" on the ground but also managing the position of your pet. Players who master this notion, should heavily consider investing into buffs for their pet. This section will highlight the pets most suited for our needs. Let's begin!
Firstly, on the list we have a wind serpent that resides in ZG named Son of Hakkar This winged creature has access to the very rare rank 6 Lightning Breath which scales with buffs that bolster spell damage. Not only that, but they are able to deliver damage from a relatively safe ranged position without receiving damage from melee elements.

A downside is the lack of the Dash spell, which, sees some usefulness on occasion. However, on average, this pet is ideal for most bosses. There is the occasional fringe boss fight that might force you to use another pet race or this winged creature and it place of origin ZG is simply not available to players yet.
Second on the list are cats and wolfs. I apologize for the generalization and lack of a precise pet name or race, but they are clumped together because the best one constantly fluctuates in conjunction with the server's coding and treatment of their attack speed. In general, wolfs are favoured because of Furious Howl. However, this advantage is negligible as a slightly faster attack speed from cats is nearly equal in damage. You will need to ask around the best cat/wolf pet to bolster dps.

Disclaimer: I should point out, we are noticing that on most servers a pet's focus regeneration is slightly inflated.

During the harsh and lengthy process of leveling, select Herbalism and Alchemy. A valid case can be made for also having a lvl 5 alt stationed permanently in a major city to disenchant unwanted items through mail and store items at a bank for later use. Back to the subject at hand, herbalism contributes convenient reagents for alchemy and a strong source of revenue for our eventual endgame professions. It also prevents players from spending an exorbitant portion of time pestering strangers in Orgrimmar to craft potions. The objective is straightforward, gather a substantial supply of gold and a bank chock-full of fruitful potions the raid might need.
Down below are a few notable potions:

Next, I advise dropping Herbalism once the quantity of gold in one’s bags is overflowing and adopt the late game profession: engineering to scoop up a few useful tools, such as:

Finally, for secondary professions, I urge grabbing all of them as they all provide valuable assets. The most notable is cooking, since its able to provide a sheer delight as it not only scales with spell damage but also alongside the trinket: Arcanite Dragonling fire increasing debuff. The fire debuff scales with Goblin Sapper charge as well. All these items nicely combine into a decent boost in damage.

As you probably know a character can have a theoretical cap of 32 beneficial buffs. The limit may differ from server to server or what is acknowledged as a buff. Also, some buffs are unobtainable due to certain patch restrictions or unable to stack with others. On a side note, I suggest installing NirkBuffRemover/NBR and Buffalo to help with overall buff management and ease of mind. Down below is a table of relevant buffs, separated into sub groups to better highlight their usefulness. Although, there is no strict order, you should still prioritize getting world buffs before obtaining other buffs.
Damage Increasing Buffs +140 Attack power, +10% spell crit & +5% melee. +200 Attack power +50 Attack Power. +185 Attack power for 2 min. (increased by warrior talent & T2 warrior set equipped before casting) +40 Attack power. +10% Agility or +10% damage. (A damage version of this buff also exists) +25 Agility. +25 Agility, +2% Melee Crit. (the agi stat will not stack w/Agamaggan's Agilitiy but the crit part will) +10 Agility for 30min. +77 Agility (effect is increased through a shaman talent) +12 Agility for 30min. (non-repeatable Horde quest reward item) +10 Agility for 10min. (does not stack with other food buffs) +77 Strength. (effect is increased through a shaman talent) +10 Strength for 30 min. +10 Intellect for 30 min. +20 Intellect. +31 Intellect. +5% Attack Speed for 4 min. +15% Melee Haste, +300 Hp, 10 mana regen every 5 seconds. Grants 25% haste to the party for 8 sec. +3% Attack Speed for 20 sec. +10 mana every 2 sec. +12 mana per 5 sec. Increases Mana regen by 400% for 20 sec. Deals 50 Fire dmg to target within 5yds every 3 sec for 15 sec. +150 damage done by magical spells & effects for 2 hr. Only 1 flask effect can be active at a time. +20 dmg dealt from spells & abilities. +5% dmg to melee, range and spell damage dealt. The target receives +20% spell damage & healing for 15 sec. Increases a melee, ranged, or spell to crit by 5%, +15 all stats. 2% chance when struck in combat of increasing all stats by 25 for 1 min. +10 move speed, +15 all stats. +384 armor, +162 all attributes,+270 all resistance. Increases spell fire damage by up to 40 for 30 min. Increases intellect and spirit by 5 and frost damage done by 15. Increases spell frost damage by up to 15 for 30 min. Often deals ~68 dmg at targets in melee. (scales with spell damage) (does not stack with other food buffs).

Mind Control Buffs

I wouldn't be thorough if I didn't mention the wonderful world of Mind Control buffing. It is possible for an alliance priest to use their basic shadow spell: or someone with the engineering to create and use the head slot item against players of the opposing faction. For that duration the mind controlled Horde character is now considered an Alliance player. This allows the character to receive buffs from paladins. In the many guild raids I’ve taken part, we'd have 2-3 players log onto to their lvl 60 pallies and level 60 priests and stationed themselves near the raid entrance or zone for mind control buffing. Before undertaking this endeavor, be sure that the server allows for the Mind Control possibility and find out its exact limits. The fun doesn't stop there. It is also possible for a priest of any faction to Mind Control certain mobs which can be controlled to dish out beneficial buffs to all raid members. In order, to fully utilize the duration of these buffs, its advised to have warlock be ready for immediate summoning. +45 mana per 5 seconds. Icon vanishes if mana totem casted, but the effect is still present. +222 melee attack power for 15min. (Grants more attack power than Strength of Earth Totem.) +10% to all stats for 15 min. Comes from Twilight Emissary in BRD, he increases the magical damage dealt by an ally by 25 for 30 min. Increases the Shadow damage dealt by an ally by 35 for 10 min. From Scarlet Medic in Plaguelands, increases Arcane resistance by 78 for 1 hr. (tooltip assumes a lvl1 toon) Scarshield Spellbinder in BWL, he increases an ally's Fire resistance by 81 for 1 hr. (tooltip assumes a lvl1 toon) Gordok Mage-Lord in DM, increases an ally's attack speed by 60% for ONLY 30 sec. Hamhock in Stockades, increases an ally's attack speed by 30% for ONLY 30 sec.
We can also get buffs from special events/holidays. An example, is The Midsummer Fire Festival a seasonal event that celebrates the hottest season of the year. It starts on the (earthly) northern summer solstice, and lasts about two weeks (mid-late June to early July, usually). The next ones are Love is in the Air, Lunar Festival, Wickerman Festival that all feature some useful buffs for tanking. It is possible for the Love is in the Air Capital Gift Collection buffs to be stacked with each other, ask around to find out its exact limits. The following buffs are separated by their event. Increases Intellect by 30 for 1 hour. Increases Intellect by 30 for 1 hour. Increases Agility by 30 for 1 hour. Increases Agility by 30 for 1 hour. Increases Stamina by 30 for 1 hour. Increases Stamina by 30 for 1 hour. (stack with the stamina buff above) Increases damage done from spells by up to 23 for 1 hr. 30% chance to deal 60 Fire dmg on any melee, ranged, or spell attack. (works outside only) Improves your chance to hit by 2% for 1 hr. Increases critical strike percent and spell critical strike percent by 3% for 1 hr. Increases damage done from spells by up to 23 for 1 hr. Improves your chance to hit by 2% for 1 hr. +10% to all stats for 30min. All stats increased by 10% for 1hr. Increase health & mana regeneration by 25% and Stamina by 25%. Increases melee attack power by 90 but reduces armor by 640 for 2 min. Only one Curse per Warlock can be active on...

Having as many debuffs on the boss as possible is of paramount importance to deliver as much damage onto the boss as possible. Therefore, our interests are heavily tied to the release of patch 1.7, due to its extra 8 debuff slots introduction totaling to 16 debuffs. All debuffs on the list below benefit us. - 290 armor but bolsters melee attack power by 45. Only 1 warlock curse can be active on any 1 target. Reduces target's armor per combo point. (might not stack with Sunder Armor but reduces more than Sunder Armor) Reduces armor by 450. Can be applied up to 5 times. Lasts 30 sec. Reduces an enemy's armor by 200. Stacks up to 3 times. Reduces armor by 505 for 40 sec. While active, the target cannot stealth or go invisible. Increases the Ranged Attack Power of all attackers against that target by 450 for 7 sec. (Warlock): Shadow Bolt critical strikes increase Shadow damage dealt to the target by 20% until 4 non... Reduces Shadow & Arcane resistances by 75 & increasing Shadow and Arcane damage taken by 10%. (Priest): This vulnerability increases the Shadow damage dealt to your target by 3% and lasts 15 sec. Stacks... This vulnerability increases the Fire damage dealt to the target by 3% and lasts 30 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. (Arcanite Dragonling): Inflicts Fire damage to an enemy and increases the Fire damage it takes by 40 for 45 sec.       Stacks 5 times. (The numbers in the toolitp are possibly not exact) -75 resistance to Fire & Frost and increase Fire and Frost damage taken by 10%. Only 1 Curse per... The enemy has a 30% chance of being inflicted with disease that increases dmg taken by 8 for 3 min. Lasts 30 min. Spell damage taken by target increased by 15% for 5 sec.

Luckily, the gear we desire is similar to a ranged hunter's. However, a hunter's melee weapon will dictate his role in a raid. is the earliest we can start our venture into the world of melee'ing. This weapon imposes the supporting position within a raid as its mainly used to bolster the damage output of casters. is the soonest weapon a hunter can acquire to start melee'ing a boss for the purpose of doing personal damage. It's life steal effect scales with spell damage buffs and gear alongside shadow damage increasing debuffs. Also, it is common to enchant Neretzerk with due to its similar scaling. is the best in slot weapon for a melee hunter revolving around personal damage. It shares the same scaling similarities as the previous weapon.

Down below is a url to a spreadsheet with a plethora of options for proper gearing:
Gear SpreadsheetShow
Updating for Classic WoW
Enchants similar to gear need to be tailored for our purposes.
Enchant SpreadsheetShow
What is FD? or refereed to as "FD" is similar to the rogue spell: FD grants us the capability to leave combat but because bosses ever so often, pulsate an aura that automatically puts nearby targets in combat, we must be fast with our fingers. The amount of time it takes for the combat aura to effect the hunter depends on the boss. A few of the many actions, we can do while out of combat are: eat food to regenerate our resources, cast hunter trap spells, reset our threat on the target and equip different gear. Its recommended, installing the addon: Item Rack to automatically equip items the very second combat is dropped.

For the sake of generality and simplicity these talents setups assume a server between patch 1.9 - 1.12 and taking part in a serious guild who are confidently clearing raids. There are several talents you can choose from that fit multiple scenarios. The default
talent-build centered around boss fight that last less than ~2min. Points can be withdrawn from Trap Mastery and deposited in Improved Feign Death depending on the bosses reaction to traps. Points can also be withdrawn from Endurance Training, if your pet rarely approaches death and placed in Improved Aspect of the Hawk for the occasional fight that requires you to move around and stand away from the boss. This talent setup reaches higher damage if the player is an Orc. It is imperative to keep you pet alive for as long as possible. In the situation, this is not possible, consider another spec.

Image Considered the upgraded version of the talent setup above. It offers more damage, but it requires a 7% to 8% hit chance to be effective. This can be resolved through hit increasing buffs, such as: Dark Desire or Fire-toasted Bun

Image This talent-is the solution for players not able to keep their pet alive for whatever reason. However, it is considered an "End game" talent build because later raiding content provides the required agility from gear to make this build optimal. This build is also a solution for boss fights that involve a lot of moving around or keeping a distance.

Be prepared to fill most of your action bars with spells and different ranks of ced spells. World of Warcraft as a default only offers a few action bars, so consider installing an addon to increase the numbers of bars available to you. Typically, should be casted by anither hunter with the talent But in the unlikelihood no one has the talent version, throw a normal version up to be courteous. Remember, it only lasts 2min, so keep an eye on it and make sure to reapply it. A straightforward spell, that share the same similarities as the previous spell. Typically, I suggest the rank 1 version of this spell, unless you posses a plethora of mana regenerative item, than you can go for its maximum rank Wing Clip. A skilled hunter should aim to end a fight with nearly no mana left. or commonly known as "MS", sees some usefulness when travelling from one point to another. This spell is the most common "shot" within our repertoire and can cause devastating damage when paired with the debuff Expose Weakness. Typically, a permanent ranged hunter has the responsibility of applying this debuff. Weirdly, it scales with spell damage and fire damage increasing effects such as Flame Buffet from an AD. However, we can only cast this trap spell out of combat, we can rectify this problem with the help of FD. A standard damage increasing spell that is commonly used. : Because this spell shares a cooldown with JuJu Flurry. I only recommend to use this ranged ability in the rare case JuJu Flurry is not available and you are forced to move enabling you to use your ranged weapon for a brief moment. Mostly, known around the community as FD. There are clever tricks you can pull, such as: granting us the ability to consume food, change gear, place traps, etc... Please refer to the section: What is FD? to learn more about it. Although our main goal is to deal as much damage as possible, we can't afford the boss to enrage, so we take it upon ourselves to use it when asked.

Pre-Pull: Before the raid starts, make sure you and your pets get the most buffs out there in the world. I suggest you dismiss your pet after acquiring each new buff to avoid using up the time on the buffs.

Pulling: Summon your pet and ask the raid for the remaining last few buffs on it. Equip and, cast MS. Immediately, reequip your hand slot item and melee weapon and run to the boss alongside other melee classes. You can increase the chance for the Primal Blessing effect to trigger by attacking an before engaging the boss. If you are unaware of the rat item, refer to the Dig rat video and Doomguard video on how to take advantage of these weird items.

Combat: Activate JuJu Flurry and Oil of Immolation and wait 1-2 seconds until sunder armor and similar debuffs are applied. You will be constantly using Oil of immolation but be cautious it resets your swing timer, so install a swing timer addon to optimize it. Once the majority of damage increasing debuffs are on the boss activate 2 damage increasing trinkets and hit the boss with WG in conjunction with RS. Once the effect from both trinkets are gone cast FD and equip 2 passive dps trinkets, if mana permits it, you can place an Immolation Trap. Throughout the entire boss fight, simply repeat the normal rotation of RS and WG.

Situational: If you need to run to another target, sneak in an Arcane Shot as you run, either on the boss or the target ahead of you. (If the distance is long enough, you can equip Primal Blessing + a faster ranged weapon such as:, activate Rapid fire and sneak in a MS. Afterwards, requip your normal gear.)
And that's it for now, hope you enjoyed reading!

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This guide is amazing, not a Mainchar for me, but maybe a twink :p?
Thank you much for that!

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Caperfin wrote:
3 months ago
Neretzek, The Blood Drinker is the soonest weapon a hunter can acquire to start melee'ing a boss for the purpose of doing personal damage
When the first weapon that makes your build somewhat viable is from AQ40 trash and the other recommend weapon is Ashbringer, I kind of lose interest. I've always wondered if melee Hunter could work, but this portion of the guide is quite disheartening. Melee Hunter could be great fun, but I don't know if it is truly viable. I always wanted a legolas style dual wield melee Hunter to work in Vanilla, but I think that will remain a fantasy.

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hit the boss with WG in conjunction with RS.
Excuse me if I missed an obvious point anywhere, however, what is WG?

Expect the worst. Hope for the best.
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Selexin wrote:
2 months ago
Caperfin wrote:
3 months ago
Neretzek, The Blood Drinker is the soonest weapon a hunter can acquire to start melee'ing a boss for the purpose of doing personal damage
When the first weapon that makes your build somewhat viable is from AQ40 trash and the other recommend weapon is Ashbringer, I kind of lose interest. I've always wondered if melee Hunter could work, but this portion of the guide is quite disheartening. Melee Hunter could be great fun, but I don't know if it is truly viable. I always wanted a legolas style dual wield melee Hunter to work in Vanilla, but I think that will remain a fantasy.
Yeah, the primary argument for a melee hunter would be having the highest potential for nightfall uptime. I have seen some theorycrafting while using ravager and sapper charges for AoE pulls that seems to yield some high numbers as well (on private), but this will be another fringe spec that requires a lot more gear than is realistic for most players.

As soon as you drop the nightfall to increase your own personal DPS you decrease the throughput of the entire team, meaning someone else will need to pickup a nightfall. It is typically just better to let the guy who has always wielded the nightfall to continue doing so.

Nightfall is one of those ace in the hole items that can validate A LOT of fringe specs. If the boomkin could equip this item, it would be used to validate playing a boomkin. If the shadowpriest could wield this item, they would use it to add a value argument to their spec. Unfortunately for many would-be meme specs, there can be only one nightfall wielding player in the raid.

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