Thursday, July 17, 2008


Dear Pike,

I am a level 65 hunter named Syaoken on the server of Shandris. Questing and leveling has been going quite well for me, but, I've ran into a small problem... my pet. I tamed a Frostsaber Pridewatcher from Winterspring, her name is Sakura. But, the problem I am having is I don't know the best way to train her with skills. I don't know to give her the best stam or best armor. Of course I gave her the highest growl I could and also claw (rank 9). I don't know if the highest stam, highest armor, or even the resistances, are the most important. I just tried cobra reflexes for the first time and she kills so much faster. But, could you give me your two cents on the matter?

Thank you,

- Syaoken

Heya Syaoken,

The great thing about spec'ing your pet is that a respec is only 10 silver and it resets really quickly. For this reason, many hunters find themselves spec'ing their pet from situation to situation.

This is what I would do in your given situation:

First of all, the active skills. For a cat, I'd say max level Growl, max level Claw, and max level Dash. That is really all you need in terms of the active skills. Growl holds aggro for solo-play, Claw is going to be your focus-dump move, and Dash means you and your pet can kill stuff quicker!

After that, you want the passive skills. Max level Avoidance and Cobra Reflexes are both a must. Avoidance is going to be huge in determining your pet's survivability and Cobra Reflexes does provide higher DPS overall.

Next is stamina. Max that out because in the long run, Stamina is going to do a lot more in boosting your cat's survivability than armor will, because armor only protects against physical attacks whereas stamina protects against magical as well.

Now we have a choice, you can dump your remaining points in armor or spread it out over some resistances. Resistances are very good if you know you're going to be doing a lot of stuff in places with certain types of damage. You can also put some points in resistances and some in armor and it will work out nicely.

This is how I have spec'd my cat Locke for Karazhan/many Outlands heroics:

Growl Rank 8
Dash Rank 3
Claw Rank 9
Avoidance Rank 2
Cobra Reflexes
Great Stamina Rank 11
Natural Armor Rank 3
Arcane Resistance Rank 2
Fire Resistance Rank 2

This uses 349 of his 350 total training points and has worked just fine for me in early raids/heroics.

This is how I often spec Tux, my PvP/solo pet:

Growl Rank 8
Dive Rank 3
Claw Rank 9
Screech Rank 5
Avoidance Rank 2
Cobra Reflexes
Great Stamina Rank 10
Natural Armor Rank 3
Fire Resistance Rank 2
Shadow Resistance Rank 2

Now you will notice that he is a little more complicated because he is an owl, and I've taken advantage of that by training him both Claw and Screech. This is because Screech is very handy in soloing and in PvP but on occasion I will take him into an instance and turn on Claw. (While soloing: Growl/Screech/Dive, while PvPing: Screech/Claw/Dive). The Shadow and Fire Resistance is because you run into a lot of warlocks in PvP who like to DoT everything. =P

You will notice I had to sacrifice a point in Great Stamina to make up for Screech; to me, that is okay because owls by default have slightly more health than cats. Plus, I am usually wearing my PvP gear in a PvP situation, so Tux benefits from my additional stamina. But, it's all a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind that the higher ranked skills cost many more points than the lower ranked ones, so sacrificing the highest rank of something will often get you enough points for something else that you want.

For your Sakura specifically... I would say, first get her Avoidance and Cobra Reflexes, then max out Growl, Dash, and Claw, then max out Great Stamina as much as you can, and then see what you have left and decide whether you want to try and spread the remaining points out through resistances or dump it into Armor.

Again, the great thing about pet-spec'ing is that it's very flexible and cheap to mess around with it, so experiment and see what works best for you.

Good luck!


Reproducing this here because I thought it would make a great guide! I have admittedly edited my reply up a little because I realized that I regrettably sent it on its way with some errors. Good luck to you, Syaoken, and I would check out Petopia and WoWHead's Pet Training Calculator for more on this topic.


Itsnoteasy said...

Shameless bit of self-promotion: does the spreadsheet in my last post look at all useful? I mean, it was essentially designed to answer this exact question for myself. :P

Pike said...

@ itsnoteasy - That does certainly look useful! Armor vs. Stam is a tricky thing, Armor is certainly superior in the case of pure physical damage but I have long opted to stick with Stamina because not all damage is physical. Glad to see more proof for that.

Anonymous said...

Now here's a question. I know Claw is a focus dump ability. I've read before that it's usually more useful to train only Claw for raids/heroic dungeons. In any other case, Bite should be added to the active skills. Would this be better for Syaoken since he isn't at 70 yet? Because Bite does more damage, in theory it should let Sakura hold aggro longer even though the focus cost is slightly more than Claw. (I still use Bite because I haven't respecced to a true raid-worthy setup yet.)

I'm also not always clear about Cobra Reflexes. The problem is, as a marksman, by gimping the pet's damage, it's harder for them to hold aggro if I go do dailies or do some questing. I tried this once and specced Cobra Reflexes. It was pretty bad, and I promptly switched back. I've not tried if it's better for my cat's DPS if I use Cobra Reflexes in a raid.

mister inadequate said...

Wait, avoidance is good? It looked like the biggest waste of pet tp I'd ever seen O_o

Bikutanda of Nazgrel said...

I use pretty much what Pike siggests for Cat/Raptor/Ravager. The only difference is I use level 2 natural Armor.

Boozsha said...


As always, this is great stuff.

Cynra said...

Good topic and very informative!

One of the things that I learned when I first leveled my hunter was that a number of pet abilities start having diminishing returns. For example, as you put more points into Stamina, you get less health per Talent Point spent. If you're looking to maintain a minimum health, knowing how much more you gain per point spent might help you better allot them.

Mister Inadequate: Avoidance might actually be the most important talent to pick up if you want to boost your pet's survivability -- especially if you're looking to raid. The vast majority of the damage that your pet takes in raids is due to Area of Effect as oppposed to direct damage. Think about it: if your pet is taking direct damage it means that he's most likely tanking something, which is very unlikely. However, AoE damage runs ramptant in raids (which is also why Circle of Healing priests and Restoration shamans become significantly more desireable as you progress in Tier gear). As a result, you want to put two points into Avoidance to ensure that your pet stays alive. And this is especially important if you're Beast Mastery, since your pet alone may account for 25-35% of your damage, while its synergy with you adds further damage.

Mister (In?)Adequate said...

@ cyrna: ooooh, that makes a LOT of sense!

(Can you tell who hasn't reached endgame yet? xD)

Thank you very much for explaning. /bow

Pike said...

@ Loronar - I have seen conflicting reports about Bite/Claw, I think you would do best to experiment on your own and find out what works best for you. Some hunters swear by using both, others (myself included) get the best results with just Claw. I'm sure Cheeky has something to say about it.

As far as Cobra Reflexes go, theorycrafting has shown that it does in fact increase pet DPS. My gut instinct is that by increasing DPS it should then increase threat-- but I dunno, if you had a bad time with it, then again, I'd stick with your own personal experience.

Beastmasters in particular are going to like Cobra Reflexes because the faster the pet is attacking, the more chances the pet has to crit and proc Ferocious Inspiration.

@ Mr. (no-longer-In)Adequate, what Cynra said, also, Avoidance = a must while fighting Drek in AV. xD

Stupid Mage said...

I'm another big supporter of Cobra Reflexes and Avoidance.

As far as +Stam, or Armor, I go with Resistances. My reasoning is that maxed rank +Stam provides less life than a single tic of Mend Pet, and if my pet gets one or two shot, he's going to get killed in one or two hits anyway.

Funny, as I write this I realize that in a Raid environment, +Stam would have a much greater effect. I guess it depends.

Maxed rank +Armor is a difference of a few percent in damage reduction.

Magic resistances as long as they are catered to your zone or instance will provide a greater degree of survivability. This is because magical attacks often hit quite hard and the resistance provided by training can reduce this by a large amount.