When rolling a hunter, your first choice to make is which race to choose? First you need to decide what your priorities are. Do you want to raid? PvP? Mostly just quest and do solo content?
Unless you are looking to really min/max your DPS, you can be successful with any race, but there are a couple of races for each faction that make the most sense for a hunter.
This guide lists the races in order of best to worst as far as racials go.
Overall, I think Draenei racials are pretty solid for the Hunter class. Having the extra agility is like being able to equip extra gear or gems that other races can’t, which is what puts Draenei at the top of Alliance races for me. Having that self heal has made the difference between life and death for me multiple times, and being able to chain that with a Soul Stone, Exhilaration, and Spirit Mend can essentially get you back to full health almost instantly.
Heroic Presence [Increases your Agility]
Agility is the main stat of a hunter, and at max level Heroic Presence gives us a boost of 65 additional agility. This change to Heroic Presence moves Draenei up to the top choice for Hunter on Alliance.
Gift of the Naaru [Targeted heal over time]
The benefit of this is obvious: a pure DPS class with a built in HoT? Awesome. Hunters have amazing survivability, this just adds to one of the things we can do to help keep ourselves alive. It may not seem like a lot, but that little heal could mean the difference between living and dying, especially after the heal was buffed to 5 seconds, down from 15 seconds.
Shadow Resistance [Increases your resistance to harmful Shadow effects]
Like with worgens, having an increased resistance to shadow damage is incredibly useful for current content. Combine this with the hunter ability of Aspect of the Wild and you’ve got your resistances covered.
Gemcutting [+10 to Jewelcrafting]
This is an obvious choice for a hunter since those Jewelcrafter-specific gems are consistently one of the most useful profession bonuses for our class.
Getting rid of gun specialization makes Dwarves a little less special, but it opens them up to so many more possibilities, since the best in slot weapon is almost never a gun. It’s never fun to be punished for your choice of race, so getting rid of that make it a lot nicer to have the flexibility. I also really miss having Stoneform when I’m not playing on my little Dwarven huntress, because this racial is so freaking clutch in PvP. It’s all well and good to have a free trinket, but if you’re DOTted up and covered in bleeds, you’re going to die anyway!
Might of the Mountain [Critical strike bonus]
Since crit is often our number one secondary stat, this is an obvious great racial to have, and since the crit bonus for Dwarves is no longer reliant on a specific weapon, this crit bonus is even better!
Stoneform [Removes DOT effects and reduces damage taken]
This racial is so amazing it’s almost overpowered. I see this as being substantially more useful in PvP situations than in raids, but there are several boss mechanics where having the reduced damage taken while still being able to attack is really, really helpful. Other similar class-specific mechanics like ice block, deterrence, hand of protection, etc either prevent physical attacks from being cast or prevent you from attacking altogether, so this is a really great racial to have when you need some extra defense but don’t want to stop DPS.
Frost Resistance [Increases your resistance to harmful Frost effects]
Very useful back in Wrath, not so useful now in Draenor. Some benefit still remains for PvP when going up against a Frost Mage, though.
Explorer [Find additional fragments when looting archaeological finds, increased survey speed]
Completely useless racial unless you are the sort of person who really wants to level archaeology, which is the absolute worst profession in the game, in which case anything that can make that horrible grind of a profession go faster is something worth mentioning.
I’ll fully admit I had no idea what Versatility was when I first read about this change to the racial, but after looking it up, holy bagoli! What a great racial! Even though this appears to be a stat geared more towards hybrid classes, having a stat that is just straight up damage increase is fantastic. Also, I will fully admit lmost all of my toons are Humans because I simply cannot say enough how much I love Every Man for Himself. This racial is obscene. Even if you don’t PvP, having this personal Hand of Freedom is beyond useful in PvE situations. I absolutely love playing Human Hunters because of this racial.
The Human Spirit [Increased Versatility]
Versatility increases your damage dealt and reduces your damage taken, so having an additional 100 of this stat at level cap is an obvious bonus for us. Especially with the new Marksmanship mastery: Sniper Training, which may have us wanting to stand in AOE damage a hair longer to get off another Aimed Shot cast before moving.
Every Man for Himself [Removes all movement impairing effects]
Humans get a free PvP trinket. Why is this AMAZING for a hunter? Because being able to equip two DPS trinkets gives us a huge, huge advantage in PvP. Hunters are not the strongest class in PvP and every little advantage helps. Having a built in PvP trinket can also help on fights where you need to get out of a boss-induced fear or snare [Blood Queen in ICC, I'm looking at you]. If you’re looking to PvP on your hunter, Human is the way to go.
Diplomacy [Reputation gains increased by 10%]
Useful for getting gear from vendors that require reputation.
Worgen dropped pretty far down the list, not because they were heavily nerfed but because other racials became just SO much better than Viciousness. I’m not personally a big fan of Worgen, I think Horde got a better, more fun race in Goblins, but they get top hats so at least there’s that! I fully admit Worgen is probably my least played race on Alliance, but I’ve rolled a handful of Worgen and I can’t say that I’ve ever fully utilized Darkflight. Disengage + the Posthaste talent seems to be essentially the same benefit, but feels less clunky to me.
Viciousness [Increases critical strike rating]
Crit is usually our number one secondary stat and having a racial that gives you extra crit no matter what weapon you are using is incredibly useful.
Darkflight [Increases run speed]
This ability has an incredible amount of utility in not just PvP situations but in raids, dungeons and even just running around when you’re not mounted. Having that extra burst of speed to get you out of bad situations is amazing.
Aberration [Increased resistance to harmful Nature and Shadow effects]
Increased resistance to anything is helpful, but being that the last couple tiers of content have had bosses that pump out massive amounts of nature and shadow damage, this racial is extra useful for current content.
Flayer [+15 to skinning and increased skinning speed]
Not really a super helpful skill specifically for a hunter since the increased crit from skinning is a less desirable profession bonus than others out there, but skinning pairs great with Leatherworking, which is an amazing profession for a hunter, which makes this racial great for a hunter without bottomless pockets.
I genuinely hate that Night Elves regularly warm the bench at the bottom of my “best hunter race” lists, because I absolutely love this race. I love the animations, particularly with female Night Elves, for shooting bows, and honestly character animations can make or break your desire to play a class. On looks alone, Night Elf is definitely my first choice for hunter, so it’s disappointing their racials are so bland with blah sauce when it comes to being beneficial for the Hunter class.
Nature Resistance [Increases your resistance to harmful Nature effects]
As stated with previous resistances, this is really useful for current content.
Shadowmeld [Temporary threat drop, minor stealth]
Seems like a cool racial until you see that you can’t move, and when you cancel your meld, all the threat you were attempting to drop comes right back. Really, really situationally useful. Not that great anymore.
Quickness [Increased chance to dodge, Increase to movement speed 2%]
The chance to dodge is not terrible useful to hunters, but the increase to movement speed is great. I might even venture to say this might be better than the Worgen run speed increase because it’s a consistent, passive run speed increase.
Wisp Spirit [Transform into a wisp upon death, increasing speed by 75%]
Good for… faster corpse runs?
I have considered race changing to Pandaren so many times I can’t even keep track anymore. Aside from a general love of the design of the Pandaren race, the racials are pretty fantastic. I really do love the Epicurean buff, but I have the worst habit of remembering to consistently eat Well Fed food. Having racials or profession benefits that require me to actively reapply the buff is always less beneficial because of how forgetful I am. (Alchemy, I’m looking at you!)
Epicurean [Increased benefit from Well Fed food]
Possibly one of the most overpowered racials in the game, assuming you remember to eat every time the buff falls off… or if you die…
Gourmand [+15 to Cooking]
Pairs well with the Epicurean buff, as it allows you to make better quality food for yourself sooner.
Inner Peace [Double benefit from rested]
Amazing leveling buff, if you’re looking to get a hunter from one to max level with as little effort as possible, this will definitely help.
Quaking Palm [Stun, turns off attack]
This racial is pretty great after the Hunter class got gutted of all its stuns in 6.0. When chained with other abilities, it could prove insanely useful in PvP.
Bouncy [Reduced fall damage]
Have you ever disengaged off a cliff? Any hunter who says they haven’t is just straight up lying.
I will straight up admit right now that I think Troll is the master race for Hunters and they are absolutely the top choice for hunter out of all races, Horde, Alliance, and Pandaren included. I love my little Troll Huntress so much and every time I need to test out something on a new/lowbie Hunter, I absolutely roll a Troll. That being said, personal preferences aside, Trolls still come out on top for Horde races. Berserking is incredible, Da Voodoo Shuffle is incredible, and don’t even get me started on how much I love the in-combat health regen of Regeneration. Ughhhhh I LOVE TROLLS SO MUCH. Troll #1 master race of Warcraft.
Berserking [Increased haste]
This racial is insane at both low and max levels. Having the increase in attack speed as a lowbie is great because shaving time off those 2 second Steady Shots and almost 3 second Aimed Shots is an amazing cooldown to have. At max level, having another haste cooldown to pop in addition to Rapid Fire and Bloodlust means more DPS when it really counts.
Da Voodoo Shuffle [Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%]
It’s no free PvP trinket, but being able to get out of a stun or snare 15% faster means 15% less time spent not killing things.
Regeneration [Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat]
This racial is almost better than having your own personal HoT. Not only can you slowly regenerate health while in combat, you can heal 10% faster once you manage to get out of combat.
Beast Slaying [Increased experience gained from killing beasts]
Great bonus to have while questing and doing endless rep/shard grinds, and especially when fighting against feral druids.
A lot of people rank Orcs as the top choice for Horde Hunters, but I really don’t think their previous racials put them on top and they’ve certainly slipped down the list with the changes to racials in WOD with these super boring bland racials. I really hate to rank them so high because of how meh these racials are, but Command + Blood Fury edges the other races out.
Command [Increase to pet damage]
This racial makes Orcs a very strong contender for the top Horde race for hunters, especially if you are a Beast Mastery hunter. Pets make up a pretty good chunk of our DPS and having a boost to that pet DPS is amazing.
Blood Fury [Increased Attack Power]
A very useful ability like Berserking that can periodically increase the damage you do. When paired with other DPS cooldowns, this racial is very powerful.
Hardiness [Reduced duration of stun effects]
A slightly weaker version of Da Voodoo Shuffle, but at least you can look 10% scarier while getting out of that stun 10% faster because you’re an Orc.
Blood Elves were previously ranked dead last for Hunters, but the revamp to their racials has boosted them up the list quite a bit, partially because of improvements to Blood Elf racials, and partially because other races have been nerfed pretty substantially. I really like the animations for Blood Elf Hunters and Zanbon was originally a Blood Elf, back when I was a super nooblet to the game and didn’t know anything about min/maxing or racials.
Arcane Acuity [Increase to critical strike]
A very useful addition to the Blood Elf lineup, making this race a lot more viable for Hunter than it was previously.
Arcane Torrent [Silence/interrupts nearby enemies, restores resources]
Again, hunters should never be within melee range of their enemies, but this is a good way to shut down a healer or other caster if your other interrupts are on cooldown. This stun can be incredibly useful if you find yourself having to stack up for a boss.
The ability to instantly restore 15 focus can be pretty clutch when you’re needing to squeeze out a little more DPS to get a boss down.
Arcane Resistance [Reduced Arcane damage]
Almost completely useless except against a small handful of attacks.
Arcane Affinity [+10 to Enchanting]
Enchanting is a very useful profession for a hunter, so this is a great racial. Unfortunately, it’s the most useful of all the Blood Elf racials, and it’s never good when a race’s profession benefit is the most appealing part of the race.
I’m a little underwhelmed with the racials here. Aside from a passive ability that has a chance to deal additional damage (a very negligible amount at that), there’s not much to be excited about with this race. I have played this race a little and I definitely think their home city and racial leader are among the best in the game, but Forsaken as a race are saved from being dead last on the list only because Goblin and Tauren racials are even more meh than those of the Forsaken.
Will of the Forsaken [Removes any Charm, Fear and Sleep effect.]
Not quite a PvP trinket but it’s damn well close enough. Plus it doesn’t share the entire cooldown of the trinket, so you could ostensibly double-trinket almost back to back.
Shadow Resistance [Increases your resistance to harmful Shadow effects]
Again with the resistance. Benefit should be obvious by now.
Cannibalize [When consuming a corpse, regain 7% of total health every 2 seconds]
Super gross, but hey… it’s a heal?
Touch of the Grave [Drains health from target and heals you for the same amount]
Not only is this a racial that has a chance to cause extra damage to your target, you are healed for the same amount! Unfortunately, this is the only useful racial for this race.
I absolutely love Goblins, they’re a pretty strong contender for my second favorite race in the game. I just wish their racials provided more combat benefit rather than lots of fun toys and relatively useless tools. The Rocket Barrage doesn’t scale well and provides fairly useless damage at level cap. The formula has been changed so it provides MORE damage than before, but not enough to make this a live or die racial. The Rocket Jump skill is pretty fantastic, but the racials are fairly underwhelming for Goblins from a DPS standpoint.
Rocket Jump [Activates your rocket belt to jump forward]
Essentially a free Disengage for us, which when chained with Disengage, can get you so far out of reach of your enemy, nothing they can do will catch up to you. Just don’t try to Rocket Jump + Parachute from Lumber Mill to Blacksmith because that 10 seconds might kill you.
Time is Money [Increase to haste]
This racial is incredibly useful and is a racial passive rather than an on-use ability, so you have it all the time.
Rocket Barrage [Launches your belt rockets at an enemy dealing fire damage]
Not a particularly strong attack, but useful when you need just a little more DPS that doesn’t cost any focus.
Better Living Through Chemistry [Alchemy skill increased by 15]
Alchemy is one of the top professions for a hunter, so having this racial to increase your skill makes leveling it a heck of a lot easier.
Pack Hobgoblin [Allows you bank access anywhere for 1 min]
Especially useful for lowbie questing, since bag space is often quite limited. Also good for non-engineers because you don’t need to carry a Jeeves around with you.
Best Deals Anywhere [Always receive the best possible discount, regardless of faction]
Doesn’t stack with the guild perk (no double-discounts for a Goblin), but if your guild isn’t high enough level, this can make things a LOT easier on your gold supply.
Overall I’m not overly impressed with Tauren racials for a Hunter, having extra critical strike is always nice, but overall Tauren racials seem better suited for a melee/tank class. Despite loving the look of the race (Tauren may possibly be my favorite redesign in the entire game), I can’t say that I would ever play a Tauren Hunter and probably would have left this race out as an option for Hunters. I can honestly say this is the most disappointing combo for me, much like my disappointment with Night Elves being useless for Hunters on the Alliance side. It seems like the races that end up at the bottom of the list are visually my favorites, but are just racially garbage for the class.
Brawn [Increase to critical strike]
Brawn is the Horde equivalent of Might of the Mountain. Having an increase to crit is definitely a huge benefit to hunters, as crit is usually our top secondary stat.
Nature Resistance [Increases your resistance to harmful Nature effects]
The usefulness of this racial has been covered many times on other races. Nature resist is good.
War Stomp [Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8 yards]
Hunters should never be within melee range of their enemies, but if something does manage to close the gap, this is a good tool to use to try and get away. This stun can be incredibly useful on some fights where the strat has us stacking up within interrupt range.
Endurance [Increase to stamina]
Having more health is always useful. But we should be avoiding all damage anyway, so this racial is theoretically wasted on the hunter.
Cultivation [Herbalism skill increased and faster herb gathering speed]
Not directly a good racial as herbalism isn’t the best profession for a hunter, but it pairs well with alchemy which is very good for a hunter.
To put it briefly…
Top choice for maximizing benefit from racials:
Draenei or Troll
Top choice for best looking Hunter animations:
Night Elf, Blood Elf, Goblin, Troll, Human (in that order)
Most fun to play:
Human, Goblin, Draenei
The new racials in WOD have definitely mixed things up and I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s no longer VERY obvious which race is the top pick for our class! If you think I’ve ranked a race too high or too low, let me know! What race is your top pick for Hunter?