Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Which Hunter Spec Is Best? (OMFG!)

Despite my inner voice yelling, "OMFG! Don't go there!" I'm feeling the need to "help".  Sure you wouldn't want to "help" a random stranger and suggest things they should be doing in a 5man or PUG raid.  It won't be taken constructively.  My rational side however is telling me that people visiting a site called "Hunter DPS" want to know these things.

The below graphs show the average DPS of hunters of a given talent tree over the course of the last 180 days.  The data comes from all the public combat logs uploaded to worldoflogs.com and is parsed and prepared by raidbots.  This data is from all raid bosses.  DPS increases as gear increases over time. The graphs are a breakdown by raid size.

I include the 10-man and 25-man raid data here.  I'm excluding all the heroic raids.  There isn't enough data there to be fair to beast mastery.  And for the most part, heroic raiders have already leveraged information like this and skew the scales.

In the 10-man normal raid DPS chart we can see that all the specs were very competitive with each other in patch 4.0.x and 4.1.x.  But then 4.2 happened.  MM and SV received nice benefits from 4.2 in talents and gear.  BM continued to plug away on its previous course without much benefit.

When looked at in 25-man normal raids, we see a different picture.  SV appears to be at the same level it is in 10-man normal raids.  It appears to receive no significant synergy benefit from being in a larger raid with every buff covered.  BM however does benefit significantly more in 25-man.  But far and away MM leaps to new heights.

Then I looked at what T12 fights MM is not top dog.  I was surprised.  MM is top on every fight even the AoE-heavy ones like Beth'tilac and Lord Rhyolith.  10-man or 25-man ... it doesn't matter.  Mind you, SV is close and very much able to top a particular MM hunter, but the majority of MM hunters do better than the majority of SV hunters in the parses.

Then I looked at the main stand-and-fight boss, Baleroc.  SV hunters are doing about 4k DPS higher than BM hunters.  And MM hunters are doing about 4k DPS higher than SV hunters there:


Take Aways

  1. It was true that BM, SV, and MM were all quite close in damage dealing back in the end of June.  
  2. Since July, taken as a whole, MM hunters are topping SV and BM.  Often by a lot.
  3. MM hunters can pump out enough AoE damage to top SV hunters on AoE-heavy fights.
  4. If you're looking at spending time with a target dummy, you might try swapping out one of your talent trees and try MM.
  5. But as always, you should always play what you know best and feel best playing. On normal fights, the boss is going to die if everyone is playing well and you are doing reasonable damage.


  1. I think there's a caveat missing here. Parsing logs is all well and good, but it doesn't account for the fact that people swarm to what is perceived to be the better spec. Most people who are interested in the highest possible DPS are going to be all over MM, some will stick with SV, and most are going to abandon. What you're left with are the people who normally aren't able to top the charts with any spec.

    An overall sampling of logs isn't as clear-cut a picture as people like to make it out to be. Logs are only part of the picture. There are fight mechanics to account for, and to be complete in your analysis you should also include simulations. This shows what the specs are capable of with all bias and variance of skill removed from the equation.

    You might also consider showing what the top (insert number here) results are for each spec, so that you can see what the best players of each spec are doing.

    Showing overall results is just showing what everyone is doing, not what the specs are truly capable of, and are not a true representation of what spec is the best.

  2. There are problems and caveats with all the ways to slice and dice numbers. The simulators do all have problems. I love femaledwarf but it does averaging of effects instead of simulating effects. So one legitimate way of getting around this is looking at the real-in-game performance.

    One could certainly argue the highest performing dps hunters all swarming onto MM and leaving the
    lesser people with other specs. There may be some truth in that. That was one of the two reasons I specifically didn't include the heroic encounter data.

    That said, I think there's a lot value to looking at the data of hundreds of good SV hunters who really know their $%#! behind the keyboard. And then seeing that they fell vastly behind with the launch of 4.2.

    I don't believe that everyone who is MM knows what they are doing, and everyone that is BM or SV is clueless.

  3. Another caveat: if (IF) indeed the top hunters all switched to MM, that leaves lower geared hunters, with less experience, for the other specs. Of course they do less dps, dps is a factor of gear and experience as much as it is of potential (and even more so when we're within a few percent of top numbers).

    I'm certainly no top hunter, but I do notice that on dummies my MM dps is about 3k higher than BM. In dungeon encounters, that evaporates to where there's hardly any difference mainly because BM continues to do damage while I'm moving around to avoid AOEs etc. while MM doesn't.
    I can only conclude then that for me at least there's little practical difference. That for moving fights BM is probably the better option where for static fights MM is to be preferred.

    1. well that would be a given due to Careful Aim talent. your crit chances are increased by 60% on a dummy that's always above 90%. so for MM its not going to be an accurate display on dps.

  4. a good hunter would use aspect of the fox when moving so moving shouldnt really damage your dps in MM and would aslo change spec's and pet's in certain encounters