Early Look at Battle for Azeroth: Pet Changes

The good folks over at Wowhead put together an excellent collection of all the datamined changes to Hunter Pets in BfAz. It represents a big change from the way pets have been done recently, and even a change in the direction that it had seemed Blizzard was taking them. Essentially, pets seem to be going back to having a defined roll, with each pet family being available with one of Tenacity, Cunning or Ferocity.  However, the specs don't really mean what they used to.

Pet Specs


Ferocity Pets give you and your pet 3% leech, and gives you access to the Primal Rage ability, which is a new name for Ancient Hysteria. As they currently exist, there's no real DPS benefit to taking Ferocity pets, however, as Spiked Collar has been added to all specs, which should mean that hunters won't need to exclusively bring Ferocity pets to raid, like in the days of yore.

Assuming the DPS to HP ratio sticks around somewhere around 1:5, as it currently is (remember, the relative amount of HP was roughly doubled in our last stat squish), then 3% Leech is a little more than half a percent of your total health each second, then even less than that for SV/BM hunters, as leach doesn't work as you'd expect it to with pet damage.


Cunning pets provide an 8% movement speed buff, as well as giving you access to the Master's Call ability, which has been exclusive to PvP all through Legion.  I love movement speed anywhere I can get it, though we're still yet to see if this will stack (there's no reason to believe it won't, from the information we have so far), assuming it doesn't, this may be a nice little boost for MM hunters who will be hardcasting Aimed Shots, and need to get where they're going quickly.  

Master's Call will be enough to keep this as the primary spec for PvP Hunters, as they tend to always need access to root breaks.  In PvE, as long as we have Post Haste, it's hard to imagine many situations where Master's Call will really come in handy (though back when it was available in PvE, I do recall a few raid bosses where I used it).


Tenacity pets give the pet and Hunter 10% increased max HP, and gives us a new ability, Survival of the Fittest, which is essentially the Druid ability Ironbark, but with half the duration and twice the CD. 

At the moment, I'm quite frustrated by how squishy Hunters are in the live version of the game (if you haven't recently, take a look at this, where both BM and MM make up the very bottom of the list, by a huge margin); so it could be that I'm just reacting to that, but I'm fairly excited by both of these abilities.  Of course, we don't know how damage will be balanced in the new expansion, but right now, I'm often dying to slight over-kills that I could have survived with 10% more health.  This won't give us crazy high HP like a warlock, and the SotF DR isn't enough to cheese mechanics, but still, I'd love to have these right now.

The Biggest Complaint

The biggest complaint I've heard so far in the various discord channels that discuss this sort of thing, is that Spirit Beasts are now Tenacity spec'ed.  To anyone who's raided as a Hunter at any other point in the game, the notion of raiding as anything other than Ferocity is nearly inconceivable, so it sounds like this change means that you'll no longer be able to raid with a Spirit Beast.  

It's hard to guess what direction Blizzard is going with the pet specs this early in the alpha, but I my prediction is Ferocity will not be mandatory for Raiding.  If it is indeed the plan to make Spiked Collar and Dash apply across all three specs, just like Combat Experience, then there won't be any DPS gain by going Ferocity.  You'll essentially be choosing your spec based on the buffs it gives to you, and/or your party (in the case of brez'ing or Primal Rage).  

That should mean that not only will your Spirit Beast still be allowed in raid, or anywhere else you want to use it, but it will likely (from what we can see so far), be the best option, with an extra Tranq Shot-like ability, it's usual heal, and the survivability abilities that all Tenacity pets are going to bring.  

The Real Issue

The real problem is, I think, that there isn't really any sort of benefit to going Ferocity.  I mean, ok, 3% leech isn't nothing, but it's not really great.  If you've got a healer with you, I'd take 10% more HP and a DR any day. There's really no identity for Ferocity with the new specs: Cunning is still the PvP spec, Tenacity is still the tankiest, and Ferocity is now... I don't know, really just "the one with Bloodlust".  

I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or not.  I'd like to see some sort of meaningful utility added to Ferocity pets, but maybe having higher DPS than the other specs isn't the right answer.  

While I can't say I disliked the convenience of being able to change any pet to any spec I wanted in Legion, it was still a bit of a mess.  We saw many pet families that didn't have any unique abilities after the Ability Prune, which remained a problem for waaaaaay too long.  And really it took away all of the RP aspect of pets.  While during raid, I am of course willing to play with an untextured cube if it does the most damage, I don't necessarily think that's what's best for the game.  A huge number of people play Hunter for the relationship they have with their pets. I'm not advocating that we go back to the days of Hunter pets acting like in game Tamagotchis,  but it doesn't really make sense that they're so well trained they can swap back and forth from their specs the way players can.  What I'm saying is, I like the idea of each class family being stuck with one specialization.  

However, once you give players a convenience like we've had with being able to swap specs, you can't just take it away.  So the only option left, is making the specs not affect your DPS out-put, which seems to be what they're trying to do.  

I find it hardest to decide between Arcturis and Loque'nahak

It's fully possible this will change in the next build, or that I've misunderstood the abilities from the datamining, in which case I'll have to eat my words here, but I think we're moving in the a decent direction. I, of course, fully support everyone making their opinions on this known in forums or wherever it is that people attempt to influence the devs, but at least as far as I can tell, they're not going to stop anyone from using Spirit Beasts.  

If all of that is past us, what I'm really curious about is how they're going to keep Lone Wolf Mark Hunters from having access to everything. Because we will be able to call pets, and just lose our Lone Wolf buff, in BfAz, there's nothing currently stopping us from keeping our pets stacked to give us access to whatever we need in just a couple seconds.  If all the Mages and Shamans die before Bloodlust, pull out a Ferocity pet.  If everyone who can battle-rez is dead, pull up a brez pet.  Perhaps it's enough of a handicap on having more options to lose a sixth of your damage and have to waste time summoning and dismissing a pet, but I'm kind of counting on someone much more creating than I to come up with some way to use this to cheese something. 


  1. You sound way more optimistic about these changes than I am. Hopefully this is just a case of everyone yelling that the sky is falling without really looking into what's going on. I just dislike the removal of choice. I had a crow from Stormheim as my ferocity pet for Legion, and it now sounds like I'd be stuck with that in Cunning spec. It feels a bit like if Blizzard decided to remove the ability to transmog helms; you can still upgrade your headpiece but you no longer have the option for it to look exactly like you want it to look. In that regard, its a step backwards, and along with BM's losing their second pet, I'm really starting to feel a bit down on BfA.

    1. I don't think there's any reason to be upset about your crow being stuck in cunning, though. It's possible in the future they'll add a DPS benefit to one of the specs, at which point that spec will become "mandatory", but for now, Master's Call is pretty good, and the speed increase is a huge survivability buff. Perhaps not quite as big as 10% max HP, but it's a good buff. So if you want to play with your crow, you're not only allowed to, you get some cool benefits for doing so. Yeah, you'll get more benefits from playing with a spirit beast, but that's always been the case.

      As for losing a second pet, well yeah. I don't know how anyone hasn't been expecting that to happen all xpac. But yeah, if you really like having two pets, and to you Hati feels like whatever pet you've reshaped him to look like, then that is a loss. I feel like all expansion I've been hearing everyone complain about Hati and his poor pathing/AI, but I'm sad to see him go, regardless.

      I have no idea what kind of quests we'll be getting to give up our Artifacts, but like, for MM, we're just giving Alleria her bow back. I may have enjoyed using it, but I've known all along that it was her bow, not really mine. For BM, we're not just giving back a weapon, but the weapon that embodies the spirit of a real creature. Surely they can't ask me to sacrifice Hati's life to destroy the blade of sargeras. Or at least they can't without making me really sad... :-(

  2. Would love to get your take on just how this formula change will affect hunters, especially BM hunters. Thank you!


    1. There's a ton of data to collect and process, so I'm still working on updating my spreadsheets. I'll do a full article on it once I get pets figured out.

      I imagine that they're going to treat pets similar to casters, so that for BM hunters, weapon damage will be more important than it will be fore a caster, but less important than it would be for an MM hunter, just like it's been many xpacs. Though it's possible they'll adjust that so that all hunters scale the same.

      Hopefully we'll know more soon, either from me finishing testing, or NuoHep will finish all of his testing before I get around to it and I can just copy his work. :-P

    2. That last line really made me LOL. Thanks!