Helm’s Deep Hunter Skills: The Huntsman


Well, folks, we’ve had some time to absorb the class changes that update 12.0 (otherwise known as the Helm’s Deep expansion) brought to us. To recap, skill traits were replaced with skill trees, and several skills were consolidated, removed or changed as a result. For the hunter, the names remained the same – Bowmaster (red), Huntsman (blue) and Trapper of Foes (yellow), but the way the hunter behaves between lines differs tremendously. In this post, I’ll go over the Huntsman line and focus on some of the combat skills that have changed or are useful when running in this line.

Here are some of my other hunter skill guides:

Helm’s Deep Hunter Skills: Trapper of Foes

Helm’s Deep Hunter Skills: The Bowmaster

The major selling point of the new Huntsman is the ability to fire on the move without penalty, even through inductions. Since you don’t have as much range or damage output as the bowmaster line, you need to rely on speed of both character and skills. If you’re playing the huntsman like a hunter was traditionally played pre-skil tree (that is, standing back and firing big, powerful shots), you’re probably going to wonder what all the fuss is about.

According to Turbine, the Huntsman is a “mid-ranged mobile harasser”. While traiting Huntsman, I’ve definitely felt mobile AND harassing, but haven’t really noticed the loss of range. Most enemies close fast enough to get within the Huntsman’s range quickly anyway, so you may only be missing out on the initial “pull shot” in solo play, and may not be able to stand as far back from the mobs in group play.  Personally, I’ve found the Huntsman line to be the most fun to play due to all of the movement and action involved, and also possibly the most survivable of the three lines thanks to a number of speed buffs/debuffs that make the hunter a viable damage kite. I certainly am not putting up the “big shot” numbers of the bowmaster line, but the speed with which I can get arrows off makes up for it. No more standing around and watching the induction bar for this hunter.

Here are a few skills (combat, mainly) that are available to the Huntsman.

General Skills

Quick Shot

Quick Shot: Chance for additional focus point, up to 50%

Effects of quick shot are dependent on stance:

Precision – additional quick shot crit chance

Endurance – returns morale

Strength –  40% target speed reduction

Brax’s thoughts: Quick shot is pretty much the go-to shot to use when more powerful shots are on cooldown, or when managing focus, power or threat. I prefer to run in precision stance so that I don’t have to worry about focus management as much.


Swift BowSwift bow – launches 3 arrows in rapid succession


Brax’s thoughts: Not much has changed with this skill, so it’s still a great high-damage shot. Reduction of induction time with hunstman traits make this a regular in the rotation.


Barbed ArrowBarbed Arrow – Applies a bleed to target every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. 40% target speed reduction


Brax’s thoughts: This is my new favorite speed debuff skill. When kiting as a huntsman, rely not only on your speed buffs/procs, but also your target speed debuffs to make sure that the bad guy can’t catch up with you!


Penetrating ShotPenetrating Shot – Big damage, no cooldown


Brax’s thoughts: Penetrating Shot has always been one of the best “bang for your buck” shots when considering damage vs power consumption. Now that there is no cooldown, rotate it in with Swift Bow, Barbed Arrow and Quick shot to consume and then re-build focus.


Merciful ShotMerciful Shot – Big damage, available only if target health is under 50%. Removes up to 3 corruptions. Can be traited to apply additional damage to targets with a bleed.


Brax’s thoughts: I got used to not using Merciful Shot much in the past, due to the 50% health requirement and amount of power it consumes. However, it does do massive damage and the corruption removal is nice. I use it situationally now.


Distracting ShotDistracting Shot: 10 second daze applied to target


Brax’s thoughts: Distracting shot isn’t as useful in the Huntsman line as in Trapper of Foes, due to a very long cooldown time. However, it’s always nice to have an extra daze in your pocket, and now that you can fire it off while moving, it may come in handy. 


Bard's ArrowBard’s arrow: Applies 15 second fear to target


Brax’s thoughts: Bard’s arrow can be useful during solo play with a multi-mob pull, or in groups when you want to burn down one target while the other one runs around like an idiot. Fifteen seconds is a long time to not have to worry about a bad dude. When using Bard’s arrow, I most often use it to start a pull. If I’m using it when I’m already in-combat, I’m probably in trouble. But it could be a nice last-second “oh shoot” skill to scare a mob off and give you enough time to either heal up or run away.


BlindsideBlindside:  Mele attack, Interrupt


Brax’s thoughts: Blindside is one of my favorite mele attacks since it not only interrupts inductions, it also generates a good amount of focus. Since traiting huntsman, I don’t find myself in mele range as often (since I’m kiting, now), but will occasionally run up to a healing mob and attempt an interrupt.


Low CutLow Cut: Mele attack, reduces target run speed, small chance to apply bleed


Brax’s thoughts: This is another great skill to reduce target run speed, and it’s AoE. So if those ugly orcs get too close while you’re kiting around, fire off a low-cut and watch ’em try to keep up!


Dazing BlowDazing Blow: 5 second daze, removes up to 3 corruptions from target


Brax’s thoughts: Honestly, I always forget that this skill removes corruption. I use it occasionally for the daze, and because the animation is one of my favorite Hunter mele’s 🙂


Set TrapSet Trap: Single ground-target trap that roots and can be used in combat


Brax’s thoughts: It’s nice that this is still a skill that all hunters get, regardless of where we put our points. It provides some element of crowd control no matter which tree you decide to run in. Traps can now be used in-combat, so dust off this skill, you may need it for pulls where you want to burn down an archer while rooting a mele mob!


Huntsman Specific Skills

BarrageBarrage: Damage increases with each use


Brax’s thoughts: This is one of the new skills from the Helm’s Deep expansion. It’s got a short cooldown, but eats up focus. Use it in your rotation like Penetrating Shot. Mix it in with Swift Bow, Quick Shot and Barbed Arrow in order to keep focus managed. Try to get as many Barrage’s in as possible, since the damage keeps increasing the more you’re able to use on a single mob. The damage increase does seem to be mob specific, so successive usage isn’t required for the damage increase to take effect.


Split ShotSplit Shot: Targets multiple foes, up to 5


Brax’s thoughts: Split shot is the only ranged AoE skill available to the Huntsman now that Rain of Arrows has been moved into the Bowmaster tree. Hence, you are now able to trait for Split Shot to damage up to five foes. Use it in groups when the tank already has all of the aggro, not in solo play to make a pull.


Strength of the EarthStrength of the Earth: Returns power and morale, and can be traited to increase focus as well


Brax’s thoughts: This is not a combat skill, but thought it was worth mentioning since it is now granted as a part of the Huntsman tree. This skill returns morale and power, can be used in-combat, and can now also be traited to increase focus, also. Although the quantities returned are relatively small, I use it a lot to help manage power in long group boss fights like the Turtle.


Blood ArrowBlood Arrow: Can be traited to restore 6% of maximum morale on critical hit


Brax’s thoughts: I used to never use blood arrow. Yes, it did major damage, but it also cost the hunter some morale – which is something I never seemed to have enough of! Now, Blood Arrow still does a nice amount of damage, but it also can be traited to return morale, and has a chance to unlock the skill….


ExsanguinateExsanguinate: Blood arrow has a chance to grant this skill that causes a large bleed on the target


Brax’s thoughts: These two in combination do a nice bit of damage without a major cost to power, plus if you’ve traited merciful shot (or heart seeker, which is a bowmaster skill) to do additional damage on a bleed target, you could really put some hurt on a mob using a Blood Arrow -> Exanguinate -> Merciful Shot combo. 


Scourging blow

Scourging Blow: Applies additional damage if target has barbed arrow bleed, stops the bleeding


Brax’s thoughts: Scourging Blow is probably one of my least-used mele skills, mostly because I try my best not to be in mele range when traited huntsman. It seems to fall behind Low Cut, Blindside, and Dazing Blow as beneficial to my play-style. Having said that, Scourging Blow does do a nice bit of damage for a hunter mele, so if you do find yourself backed into a corner with your other skills on cooldown, it might be a good one to use.


Rapid FireCapstone – Rapid Fire: Causes skills to have no focus cost or requirement, increases physical mastery rating, can be traited to include a stacking physical mastery buff


Brax’s thoughts: I’ll admit it. I didn’t get this capstone at first. It’s not even really a combat skill, is it? What is this, Lore-Master gets “Sic ‘Em”, and we’re stuck with … this?  But boy, was I wrong. I love this capstone. Hit it right before you want to smash a mob with a simple, quick, focus-free rotation of Penetrating shot/Barrage for a period of six seconds. Pen Shot has no cooldown, and Barrage has a one second cooldown. so you can pretty much fire away to your heart’s content. And don’t forget about the damage bonus for continuous use of Barrage! Not to mention, the Rapid Fire cooldown is a mere 90 seconds, so it can be used often. Even if you don’t burn the mob down before he gets to you, you can continue to fire on the run without a miss penalty, because – hey, you’re a Huntsman!


If you’d like to see further explanation of the Huntsman specializations and see the skills in action, check out my video:




  1. Awesome stuff…my little hunter(lv12) is jealous of all those lovely skills…

    • Thanks Tsu! It’s probably worth noting that I pulled these skills from my until-recently-max-level hunter, so some of them may be improved versions of those granted at the lower levels. Case in point, Swift bow starts off firing only two arrows instead of three on baby hunters.

  2. Ralgel /

    Great guide! I’m still getting used to the skill tree format. One question—do you trait straight down through the Huntsman and max everything or do you put any points into the other lines? I’m currently only lvl 86 so I know I have more points coming.

    • Thanks! I believe at 85 I put most points into a single line, but I did skip a few. For example, I put one point into split shot to get the skill, but didn’t load it up with AoE points. I used the extras to cross trees a bit, and grab Heartseeker (from the bowmaster line) and Tripwire (From Trapper of Foes).

    • I didn’t end up just maxing everything in Huntsman over here, though my points are primarily spent in it. For another AoE (a self-targeted one), I picked up Explosive Arrow in the yellow line (though I’m now seeing it’s kinda tough to place the marker while on the move). I also grabbed a couple of the top line passives in the red tree.

      Thanks for your notes on rapid fire, Brax. I have always abhorred consumables and non-direct-damaging skills that only do their “thing” for such a short time, then go on cooldown for a minute plus. Perhaps I’ll give RF a chance, though…especially since I just hit 95 and realized I never spent any of my points since 85…

      But hey – at least Split Shot is now something one might actually USE!

  3. davidt /

    Worth mentioning that Bard’s Arrow now affects all mob types, though it can be blocked, parried, or evaded.

  4. Durrendel /

    Barrage is overpowered like hell. It’s not a complaint… 🙂

  5. Cough… ehemmm… ermm excuse me but , u failed to mention the skill barrage consume more power the more u use it , Im used to be in the blue line , but after finding a nice group for instance runs , i just cant keep up with my power usage , so , i put all my blue traits Legendary weapons in the vault , make a new into red . Now i can manage power n still throw huge damage through up-shot+quick shot+swift arrow

  6. The links at the beginning of this article are broken. I believe the correct links are at the bottom but it would be nice if both worked.

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