The following Essence recommendations are based on Rank 3 of each respective essence. This may not hold true at lower rankings due to special effects obtained at Rank 3. Beast Mastery has a couple of different major and minor essence options which change depending on the affixes and level of key you’re doing. As of patch 8.3, we now have a third essence available to use.
Blood of the Enemy - This will be your go-to major essence. It gives a good balance of both single target and AoE. When using it, the goal with Blood is to squeeze in as many Kill Commands and Stomps (Barbed Shots) as possible. In single target, try to squeeze in two Kill Commands during the "increased Critical Strike" window. In AoE, always maintain Beast Cleave but try to fit in as many Stomps as possible. This means that you'll want to refresh your Beast Cleave just prior to hitting Blood to limit the amount of times you need to cast Multi-Shot. Try not to spam Multi-Shot during the "increased Critical Strike" window unless absolutely the additional cooldown reduction from Rapid Reload will benefit you in an upcoming pull.
Essence of the Focusing Iris - Iris can be used situationally, primarily in AoE heavy dungeons. Iris is a loss on single target so you have to have enough consistent AoE each use for it to be worth it (think Freehold, Fortified or Teeming). Generally Iris is better in lower dungeons where trash won't live long enough for Blood of the Enemy to be worth (Blood generally takes us a bit longer to set up due to our ramping damage). Avoid using Iris during cooldowns and try to use Beast Cleave prior to channeling Iris.
Vision of Perfection - Vision of Perfection major can be used in dungeons as a major but it requires a very specific setup. You need 2-3 Primal Instinct traits and the Skitra bow with Whispered Truths on it. Vision of Perfection is much easier to use than the other two essences as it's entirely passive, and it's good in both AoE and single target situations. The downfall of Vision major is that you cannot control your burst due to its random nature. For this reason alone, Blood of the Enemy is generally better for min/maxing purposes.
Blood of the Enemy - Generally you'll have this minor regardless since your default is Blood of the Enemy major. However, in the case that you run Essence of the Focusing Iris major, Blood minor is a solid essence to take. It gives us passive Critical Strike and Haste which we love as BM Hunters. Unlike Iris and Conflict, you typically will not ever drop stacks of Blood of the Enemy.
Essence of the Focusing Iris - Typically you'll want to take this as one of your minors. It's one of our best minors in terms of output. The only downside of it is it's ramping mechanic. Luckily for us, once Iris is fully stacked, we're able to freely swap targets, as long as we're hitting the original target with Multi-Shot. Doing so will maintain our stacks, regardless if we focus that target or not. If you really want to min/max, abilities such as Beast Lore work to stack Iris prior to engaging a boss (typically you won't have time to do so).
Vision of Perfection - Vision is almost a must have in Mythic+. Since we run Blood of the Enemy major almost exclusively, Vision makes our Aspect of the Wild line up with Blood of the Enemy. Timings can get out of whack due to Rapid Reload, but in general it works out well. Additionally, Vision scales with how many Primal Instinct traits you have. Typically Vision will beat other minor essences with 2 or more Primal Instinct traits.
Conflict & Strife - Conflict and Strife is a solid option both offensively and defensively. If you're running higher keys, you should always have C&S equipped. It gives you approximately a 2% damage reduction when stacked, which is nothing to scoff at. DPS-wise, it performs very close to Iris so if you have to choose between the two, always take C&S. Similar to Iris, C&S must be stacked while in combat. Unfortunately, the stacks drop within 14 sec, so it's very easy to drop when traveling in between packs.
Breath of the Dying - Breath is currently our best single target essence in terms of DPS. It falls off a bit in AoE, but it still does fairly good damage. I suggest running this on Tyrannical weeks in place of Iris. At rank 3, it also has an execute component that causes the procs to accelerate by 400% when enemies are below 20% health. Take this into account for bosses like Harlan Sweete that benefit from having increased execute damage.
Our outer traits are fairly predetermined with little variation. Unfortunately, BM Mythic+ is extremely gear dependent to perform well, so try to get as close to the ideal setup as possible. I also list some “flexible” traits, which can be substituted if ideal traits aren’t available to you.
Rapid Reload – One of these is required for Mythic+. For every target you hit (when hitting 3 or more) with Multi-Shot, you reduce the cooldown of your Aspect of the Wild by 1 second, per target. This means that the bigger you pull, the more cdr you gain from Multi-Shot. This also means that you will essentially have AotW available for every pack.
Primal Instincts – At least one of these is recommended, however you ideally want 2-3. This gives you a large amount of Mastery during Aspect of the Wild. Paired with Rapid Reload, this means that you have a huge up time on a large amount of Mastery.
Dance of Death – Ideally, you want 3 of these. This is by far our best trait as it synergizes very well with our high base Crit, One with the Pack and with Thrill of the Hunt.
Haze of Rage – HoR is a solid alternative to Dance of Death or Primal Instincts if you can’t make it work with the pieces you have. It’s good steady damage during every Bestial Wrath window and benefits you in both single target and in AoE.
Blightborne Infusion – BI is an excellent trait that gives us an enormous amount of Critical Strike. It is a good substitute for a Primal Instincts or a Dance of Death if you cannot obtain them. Unfortunately, it is currently only available on the Soul Scarred Helmet from the M+ vendor.
Heart of Darkness – HoD is a pretty solid stat boost, assuming you have more than 25 Corruption. BM also loves secondaries so this is a pretty strong trait, and it’s good in both single target and AoE. It also reduces your overall corruption, allowing you to equip a couple more Corruption pieces.
Overwhelming Power – OP is an extremely potent Haste buff which procs fairly often. It decreases for every hit you take, which isn’t very often lukcily. It is very overtuned and should be taken over any other trait 100% of the time.
Unstable Flames – UF is the second best trait you can pick up in this inner ring. It gives you a fair amount of Critical Strike, which is our best stat. Unlike Overwhelming Power, it doesn’t proc nearly as often and the proc isn’t as strong.
Elemental Whirl – Elemental Whirl is a pretty decent boost to passive stats. It’s definitely the worst of the three suggestions here, but it’s typically better than most of the other options that are available.
Duck and Cover – Duck and Cover is one of our best tertiary traits available. It reduces the cooldown of Feign Death by 5 seconds and it gives you an on demand shield. If used properly, you can Feign Death before large AoE’s or other incoming damage to help your healers out.
Impassive Visage – Impassive Visage is another really strong healing trait. It heals a small bit consistently anytime you aren’t at full health. It’s not something you’ll notice, but it adds up at the end of a dungeon.
Nature’s Salve – Nature’s Salve is a pretty solid trait which increases our healing from Exhiliration and reduces it’s cooldown slightly. It pairs well with the talent Natural Mending.
Resounding Protection – One of Hunter’s major flaws defensively is that we lack damage reduction. We make up for it in healing, however in Mythic+, especially on higher keys, abilities can one shot you. It is much pretty to prevent incoming damage as opposed to healing it back up. Resounding gives us a small shield every 30 sec, which helps with the lack of DRs.
Vampiric Speed – Vampiric Speed is an extremely good trait for Mythic+. Since mobs are consistently dying throughout a dungeon, you gain a fair bit of healing from this trait. It can also help to counteract affixes such as Bursting or to help with bosses such as the Sand Queen in Tol’Dagor.
Below are some suggested Azerite pieces. This is NOT a full list of potential pieces, there are many more combinations available. Use this to get an idea of how you should build.
Corruption has replaced titanforging in patch 8.3. It acts similarly to titanforging in the sense that it’s random which procs (if any at all) a piece of loot will have. Unlike titanforging, the item level of the corrupted piece remains the same. There are several different types of corruptions. Below I discuss the best corruptions for Beast Mastery Hunters, along with some limitations of corruption.
Expedient simply gives flat Haste percent. Haste is generally our second best trait. We don't stack it as much as Crit, but having more Haste is a very good thing, especially in AoE. This increases our Attack Speed, Auto Shot rate (increases Wild Call procs), lowers our overall GCDs and increases our Focus generation.
Masterful corruption can be really good depending on how many Primal Instincts traits you have. If you have double or triple PI traits along with a Rapid Reload, you will naturally have Aspect of the Wild rolling fairly often in dungeons. While its not as consistent as Severe or Expedient, Masterful is very good for a little extra burst.
We LOVE Crit! We already stack a bunch of it so Severe adds a ton of bonus Crit. This is one of our best traits in both single target and in AoE. This also increases our Focus generation, our Dance of Death up time, makes maintaining Frenzy easier and boosts our Stomp damage. Very good trait to have.
Twilight Devastation is a solid trait for AoE. It's fairly mediocre in terms of single target, but it does mega damage for AoE. It generally won't perform better than any pure stat corruption (Severe, Expedient). A big downside for Hunters is that you must stand pretty close to melee (~12-15 yards) and it has a facing requirement to be effective.
Haste is our second best trait and it's very close in value to Crit. Haste also gains value in AoE so we welcome additional Haste in Mythic+. Similar to Honed Mind, Racing Pulse has a very high proc rate compared to most other corruptions and has a very low budget corruption cost. If you don't have any Racing Pulse, Expedient (static Haste) can be used instead.
Aside from random corruption effects, weapons from the new Ny’alotha raid also have exclusive effects on them, which can be quite powerful. Similar to random corruption effects, if you obtain a weapon with a sub-par effect, you can always cleanse it. As a Hunter, you can obtain the Whispering Eldritch Bow which always comes with the corruption effect Whispered Truths.
Your auto-shots reduce the remaining cooldown of a random Hunter ability by 2.0 sec.
Whispered Truths is currently our best “per point of” corruption that we can obtain. It gets better when paired with multiple Primal Instinct traits and Vision of Perfection. It is decent in single target situations, but it truly excels in AoE. Since all we cast is Multi-Shot, Barbed Shot and cooldowns in AoE, it contributes a huge amount of CDR to Bestial Wrath, Aspect of the Wild and to Barbed Shot, which dramatically increases our AoE throughout the dungeon. Unfortunately, the effect not only reduces offensive Hunter abilities, but it also reduces defensive Hunter abilities such as Disengage or Turtle. The bow has a chance to reduce those abilities, in addition to offensive abilities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in Mythic+, but you should be aware that using other abilities will lower your damage potential (don’t be afraid to use defensives!).
In addition to the bonuses, corrupted items also increase the Corrupted stat by varying amounts based on the tier of the effect. Corruption stat incurs penalties that the player must deal with, and while these effects start out rather benign, they quickly ramp up in both potency and impact, to the point where it can be very hard to deal with during a Dungeon, and even become outright debilitating at the highest levels.
There are five effects unlocked at different total corruption levels:
At Rank 6, the legendary Cloak Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve gains an on-use effect which will remove and immune all currently active negative corruption effects.
Grasping Tendrils – As a BM Hunter you should barely notice this effect. If need be, we can talent into Posthaste which will remove the slow.
Eye of Corruption – Hunters can use Disengage and Aspect of the Cheetah to avoid these void zones, though the most important part is making sure to position yourself in such a way that placing the zone does not force you into a corner. The legendary cloak dispel can be used in cases where strategy restricts you from moving.
Grand Delusions & Cascading Disaster – Since the Thing from Beyond disappears when stunned or CC’d, make use of Freezing Trap, Feign Death and Intimidation to successfully avoid their pursuit. Using Feign Death will cause the Thing from Beyond to immediately disappear (it acts like the Irontide on the Harlen Sweete encounter)! Even though Hunters have an amazing toolkit to deal with corruption, I highly suggest staying below 59 corruption as the Thing from Beyond gets mega spooky above 60 corruption and can easily kill you in Mythic+.
Inevitable Doom – Do not go above 79 corruption in Mythic+! The increased damage taken and reduced healing can be detrimental in higher keys. The extra damage generally isn’t worth sacrificing survivability.
Best in Slot Trinkets
Ashvane's Razor Coral
Potentially our best single-target trinket this tier. It is extremely good for bosses and does a fair bit of damage during trash packs. For bosses, save this trinket for your 2nd set of cooldowns with as many stacks as possible. For trash, place on a priority target mob. Once the mob dies (trinket will not incur ICD) place the trinket on another mob and gain the Crit benefit simultaneously. There are certain bosses that Coral is bad on, such as Tidesage Council. Coral is a buff, so any mechanic that will remove buffs or if a boss submerges or dies quickly, it may not be smart to use Coral.
This trinket gives a ton of Haste both passively and based on a proc. The proc also gives your allies a bit of Haste so not only is this trinket good for us personally, but it helps your teammates out. Sadly, this is perhaps one of the only good trinkets from Ny'alotha at the moment for Hunters.
Harlan's Loaded Dice
One of our best passive trinkets. It gives an array of stats throughout the dungeon but has a very high up time. It's a very consistent buff and it's placed on yourself as opposed to enemies like Dead-Eye Spyglass.
(Shrine of the Storm)
An excellent on-use trinket that excels in AoE. The 1 minute cooldown of this trinket pairs well with our frequent cooldowns. The downside is that it places an area-of-effect on the ground and you can easily be forced out of it.
(Siege of Boralus)
A very strong trinket that gives a solid amount of Critical Strike. The downside to this trinket is that the debuff is stacked on enemy mobs. This means that if it procs as a mob is dying, you lose out on the full benefit of the proc.
Humming Black Dragonscale
A solid passive Haste trinket that drops from the first boss of Ny'alotha. It's about on par with a Harlan's Loaded Dice in terms of effectiveness. It has a low Haste value but has almost an 80% up time over the course of the dungeon. This is an easy to use option if you're able to obtain a Mythic version of it.