Until Cataclysm comes and changes life as we know it, listed below are the talents available to hunters for levels 10 through 14. Once you hit level 15 the next tier of talents are unlocked (assuming you have put all five points into one talent tree). I’d recommend picking one tree and sticking to it, at least until you get a better feel for which one best fits the way you play.
Beast Mastery is the default leveling spec for soloing hunters, when you are dual-boxing you have the luxury of being able to mix and match. I’m sticking to cookie cutter BM talent builds for now, but I may look into broadening my range when I hit the ability to dual-spec (Dual Talent Specialization) at 40. Comments here are thusly focused on talent usefulness when looking through the BM spec, but I may update them if I go back and try leveling a different way.
Since it only costs 1 gold to change things around, I have a feeling I’ll be playing with the build a lot as I go along.
Improved Aspect of the Hawk : Beast Mastery
While Aspect of the Hawk or Dragonhawk is active, all normal ranged attacks have a 10% chance of increasing ranged attack speed by 3/6/9/12/15% for 12 sec.
This talent increases your speed, thus increasing your DPS… but only 10% of the time. I wasn’t reading the talents carefully enough whiles leveling and I picked this talent over Endurance Training because of the theoretical increase. After reading around a bit, I found that it wasn’t worth the points until I’m at a level where a speed increase 10% of the time would make a significant difference. Level 10 is not that level. (Nor is 22, which is when I started paying attention to my builds. *sighs*)
Endurance Training : Beast Mastery
This is the talent I respec’d into. While increasing health isn’t something that gives a direct DPS increase, it does factor into keeping the pets alive longer… which means keeping the mobs out of melee range and from Om Nom Nom’ing on my tasty hunters. Since I’m choosing to focus around a melee-phobic playstyle for this dual-boxing team, I’m finding that talents and abilities that focus on the pets rather than on my hunter’s DPS tend to be more useful.
Increases the health of your pet by 2/4/6/8/10% and your total health by 1/2/3/4/5%.
Improved Concussive Shot : Marksmanship
Increases the duration of your Concussive Shot’s daze effect by 1/2 sec.
This was one of the talents I was tempted to take early on, but since I have the luxury of being able to land alternating Concussive Shots, I didn’t take it. From the comments I’ve found online, it was really only a useful talent pre-nerf when it gave up to a 20% chance of stun instead of an increased duration. There are notes in the Wiki that it could be a useful PvP talent, but since daze only affects movement and not spellcasting… it’s not that useful there either.
Focused Aim : Marksmanship
Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Steady Shot by 23/46/70%, and increases your chance to hit by 1/2/3%.
Everything I can find online about this talent is in relation to it’s affects on Steady Shot which is a level 50 ability. While the increase in hit percentage is nice, it looks like this talent is focused primarily on folks looking to reach hit cap… which makes little sense considering this is a first tier talent.
I’m very glad things are getting such a shake-up when Cataclysm rolls around, there are just too many odd talents that are either useless or placed oddly in the tree.
Lethal Shots : Marksmanship
Increases your critical strike chance with ranged weapons by 1/2/3/4/5%.
This is a must have talent for final builds, no matter what set of comments you look at. Since a critical strike causes an additional 100% physical damage (plus causes other things to proc) it’s definitely something you want to pick up… just probably not yet. Most leveling guides I’ve found for Beast Mastery have us coming back to pick up this skill somewhere between level 50 and 60.
Improved Tracking : Survival
While tracking Beasts, Demons, Dragonkin, Elementals, Giants, Humanoids and Undead, all damage done to those types by the Hunter is increased by 1/2/3/4/5%.
While a 5% damage bonus would be nice, none of the BM leveling guides seem to recommend taking this talent. It does seem to pop up in raiding builds, but it appears to be something I can safely skip for now.
Hawk Eye : Survival
Increases the range of your ranged weapons by 2/4/6 yards.
Extra range is nice… but not nice enough to put points into. From the comments online this is primarily a PvP talent, but I can see where it might be useful when raiding or PvE’ing. Right now, I’m looking for the most bang for my buck and this just isn’t interesting enough to sink points into.
Savage Strikes : Survival
Increases the critical strike chance of Raptor Strike, Mongoose Bite and Counterattack by 10%.
Since I’ve banished melee spells from my action bars, I can say with 100% certainty that this would be a useless talent for me. Depending on your own build, you may disagree.