Enrage Timer: N/A (see below for Master of the Hunt mechanic)
The Huntmaster is a fun encounter that is primarily a single target fight (unlike the previous several bosses) that involves brief periods of large AoE DPS on beasts. Many groups may find him a significant step up in difficulty compared to previous bosses, if not the toughest boss in the operation, due primarily to the Firestorm Grenade mechanic that requires every player in the team to be able to execute correctly.
The overall focus of the encounter is for the team to repeat a cycle of mechanics that involve staying inside a spotlight area that gets smaller and smaller, dropping Firestorm Grenade AoEs outside the group, killing adds in small burst windows, avoiding being one-shot by Huntmaster during a transition, then repeating once or twice more.
In a fun twist, the Huntmaster is done at 35% health and the true last boss of the encounter comes forth, Shelleigh. Beware though that she is hungry and not to be denied a tasty meal!
Huntmaster Story Mode Video Guide
Combat Iteration Testing Arena
Huntmaster - Spotlight Phase
Combat Iteration Testing Arena
Huntmaster - Fortress Shield Phase
Combat Iteration Testing Arena
Huntmaster - Holdout Cover Phase
Combat Iteration Testing Arena
Huntmaster - Shelleigh Phase
Key Abilities / Mechanics - Huntmaster
Note the below is intended to be exhaustive for those looking for the most information. See the strategy section below for a summarized version of the mechanics that are most important and need specific action to address.
Master of the Hunt
With every kill, the Huntmaster's senses sharpen. With enough kills, he will enter a state of transcendent focus.
Buff applied to Huntmaster throughout the encounter. Each creature killed by the Huntmaster reduces his stacks of Master of the Hunt by one. Creatures killed by the Firestorm Grenade AoE count for this mechanic. When the Huntmaster reaches 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt, he enrages and gains the Ultimate Hunter buff.
Huntmaster starts the encounter with 50 stacks in Story Mode and 30 stacks in Hard Mode. The overall goal of the fight is to push Huntmaster to 35% before he reaches 0 stacks.
In a transcendent state of lethal focus. Attacks cannot miss. Damage dealt massively increased.
Enrage buff triggered when Huntmaster reaches 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt. 6 second cast time. Ultimate Hunter applies the following buffs:
Melee/ranged accuracy +300%
Force/tech accuracy +300%
Max range increased
Damage done increased +300% in Story Mode (+400% in Hard Mode)
Removes all Lurking Beasts from the arena
Triggers an Adrenaline Rush when damage brings your health low.
Buff that prevents Huntmaster from being killed normally. When Huntmaster drops below 35% health, Fired Up triggers and activates Adrenaline Rush to heal the Huntmaster.
Maintaining health level.
Self healing effect triggered when Huntmaster drops below 35% health. The buff lasts for 10s and ticks every 0.2s, thus it can tick up to 50 times. Adrenaline Rush heals the Huntmaster for 0.75% health every tick up to a maximum of 60% health. For its duration, Adrenaline Rush also grants +30% damage reduction to melee/ranged and force/tech damage. The effect also briefly stuns the Huntmaster for 2.5s, which is just long enough to get Nommed...
Throws an incendiary grenade at the primary target's location. Creates a large patch of immolated ground at the impact site, which deals continual elemental damage to all enemies within the area.
A 3s channeled attack by the Huntmaster, it placed a large fire AoE under the feet of the target. The AoE persists for 30s in Story Mode and 1 minute in Hard Mode. The ability has a 20s cooldown, so multiple Firestorm Grenade AoEs can be active at a time in Hard Mode.
As discussed further below, the most important overall mechanic in this fight is successfully dropping the Firestorm Grenade outside the group and spotlight area.
Briefly overcharges the Fortress Bunker, knocking all nearby targets back several meters and dealing heavy kinetic damage. Only usable from Fortress cover.
Knockback applied by Huntmaster immediately after activating the Fortress Bunker personal shield and any time thereafter if a player gets into range. Ability has a 0.5s cast time and a 3.0s cooldown. During the Fortress shield phase, players need to stand at least 10m away from Huntmaster to avoid this knockback.
Deploys a powerful omnidirectional shield barrier around the caster, granting tremendous defensive bonuses so long as the user remains within the fortress boundary.
A powerful defensive buff that is applied after 2 Primal Fear casts are used. As noted in the description, it reflects damage. The Huntmaster is immobilized while this effect is active. Once applied, the Fortress shield stays active unless it is destroyed via a collision with the Charger.
Holdout Cover Probe
Continually debilitates the nearest target within 30m.
Buff applied to Huntmaster while he is retreated to the edge of the lake. The nearest target within 30m is targeted by Holdout Cover Jolt, which reduces movement speed and sets shield and defence chance to 0%.
The Huntmaster is a very very dangerous enemy.
Holdout Cover is a buff applied to Huntmaster after deploying the CI-Light Flare and using Holotraverse to teleport to the edge of the pond. The buff provides Huntmaster with additional damage resistance, swaps Huntmaster to Rifle Combat Stance, and enables the use of Culling Shot on any enemies in its 30m range. The ability technically has a very long duration but functionally ends when the CI Light Flare (see below) expires after 45s.
The Huntmaster culls the herd of his chosen targets, as well as any enemies foolish enough to enter the range of his rifle. Though, 30m is pretty terrible range for a rifle...
The Huntmaster's instant kill rifle shot. Is only usable while under the effects of Holdout Cover. Has a range of 30m as indicated by a red circular telegraph on the ground. Huntmaster will use it to kill any beasts within range but will also immediately target any player who enters its range.
The Huntmaster's sustained attack can fracture any armor plating.
A 5s channeled attack that applies Armor Break, a debuff on the target that reduces their Armor Rating to 0 for 24 seconds. Ability has a 32 second cooldown. In Hard Mode, this ability may prompt a tank swap depending on the group's strategy.
Huntmaster focuses his attacks on one target, trying to knock them off balance for a critical killing blow.
A 5.0s channeled attack by Huntmaster that is used several times during the fight. The ability targets a random player and applies a taunt for the channel duration, ensuring they are the target the entire time. The ability "ticks" every 0.5s so it ticks for 10 times during the channel, but only does damage on the 6th/8th/10th ticks in Story Mode and the 6th-10th ticks in Hard Mode.
The ability has a knockback effect that applies Knockdown (1s stun) and applies the Off Balance debuff. The debuff causes subsequent attacks to hit for +100% damage. In practice, this means the first tick hits for around 20% of maximum health and any subsequent ticks to hit for around 40% of maximum health. This suggests Powershot Volley can deal 180% of maximum player health over 2.5s, and as such requires teamwork to share the hits to avoid a player death.
The key to this abillity is that it proceeds in a line towards the target and only deals damage to the first player it hits. If it hits a player in front of the actual target, that person will take damage, be knocked back and stunned, and receive the Off Balance debuff instead of the actual target. Thus, having the team grouped so each person takes a tick and gets knocked back (leaving another person "in line" to take a hit) is ideal, as discussed further below.
Huntmaster inspires a primal fear in all his prey.
4s cast ability that applies the Primal Fear debuff to all players and enemies in the arena. See below for more details on the debuff's effects.
Huntmaster takes aim with his black market shotgun.
5s channeled attack that applies a very wide conal attack. The attack has 70m range that greatly exceeds the telegraph visual effect. The telegraph appears very quickly, so the only method to aim the conal is to identify the target and have that individual move during the cast time.
So Lurking Beasts are scared of the light but somehow this aggros them?
1.0s cast ability used by Huntmaster immediately before he uses Holotraverse to teleport to the pond and activate Holdout Cover. The buff applies a passive effect on all non-player creatures that establishes 1,000,000 threat by the Huntmaster. Lasts for 45s and ends 1.0s before Holdout Cover ends.
Stance: Bladed Combat
Any good hunter knows that sometimes you've got to get your hands dirty...
Huntmaster will typically swap to a melee stance during the transition phase after the Fortress shield is broken via the Deliberate Charger. If a Lurking Beast with the Recently Hit by Huntmaster buff is in melee range, Huntmaster will remain in melee stance until all such adds are killed. He then reverts back to a ranged stance and enters Holdout Cover.
Having a bit of a flip out. Damage and Alacrity increased substantially. Immune to taunts (not that you would want his attention right now). This ability taunts all enemies within 5m when used.
Melee damage buff applied immediately following the Huntmaster swapping to a melee stance. This buff is highly damaging, so the team should avoid it if at all possible.
A series of melee swings for an NPC.
Huntmaster's regular attack during Stance: Bladed Combat. The attack's base damage is fairly low but when buffed by Melee Frenzy hits very hard.
Stance: Rifle Combat
Using a rifle.
Huntmaster spends the majority of the fight in this stance and uses rifle attacks.
A single target ranged attack.
Huntmaster's basic attack has a 70m range that is employed while in a ranged combat stance.
Standing within a safety field.
Buff applied to Huntmaster when he is standing within the spotlight area. Does not have a direct effect on mechanics but is on his bar and affects the availability of certain abilities, like Powershot Volley and Penetrating Shot, that are only used while within the spotlight.
I guess this makes the Huntmaster a Trandoshan Scoundrel? If so, you would think he knows enough to stealth out before becoming a Nom Nom...
The Huntmaster uses Holotraverse periodically to move around the room.
Other Mechanics - Lurking Beasts
Leaping attack against any players who step into the darkness.
Lurking Beasts will perform a leaping attack to any player who is not protected by the spotlight.
Damage dealt decreased. Duration tripled against beasts.
Debuff applied by Huntmaster's use of Primal Fear cast ability (see above). Debuff reduces damage dealt by 70% in Story Mode and 60% in Hard Mode. The debuff applies to players but only has a 6s duration, while Lurking Beasts keep the debuff for 18s.
As discussed further in the strategy section, the combination of the Lurking Beasts' tendency to leap to a player combined with this damage debuff offers opportunities to group up and kill the adds while their damage is greatly decreased by this debuff.
Recently Hit by Huntmaster
This creature has been recently hit by an attack from the Huntmaster and is waiting for an opportunity to exact revenge.
Buff applied by any Lurking Beasts hit by Scatterblast. The buff does not increase the damage dealt by Lurking Beasts. However, any adds with this buff near the Huntmaster will trigger him to swap to a melee stance and enter Melee Frenzy, which is very dangerous to the team given its boosted alacrity and damage.
Seek the Dark
Moves the caster away from the nearest light source. Only usable while in light.
This ability causes the Lurking Beasts to leap backwards if they enter the spotlight and prevents them from following players into the lighted area.
Lurk in the Dark
The beasts do not like to approach the bright lights.
This mechanic governs how the Lurking Beasts move and will apply either an immobilizing effect, a 15% slow or allow normal movement by the Lurking Beasts during the fight. It is not super important to the strategy but explains their unusual movement while the team is in the spotlight.
Will not engage the Huntmaster unless no other targets are available.
Buff applied to beasts if Huntmaster enters Ultimate Hunter. It forces all beasts to attack the players and none will attack the Huntmaster.
Key Mechanics - Deliberate Charger
This creature is fixated on a specific target and its focus cannot be changed. Immune to taunts. Temporarily ignoring threat rules.
Debuff applied to Charger for 30s. Applies a taunt effect to the targeted individual. In Story Mode, the Charger targets the Huntmaster. In Hard Mode, the Charger targets a random player (usually a healer).
Knocking away anything underfoot. Enemies take damage in the process. Charging at a target, trampling everything on the way.
Buff to Charger that increases its movement speed by 250% and applies a damaging knockback effect for any players or enemies caught in its path. The trample effect only ends when it hits its target or collides with the Huntmaster's Fortress shield.
Knocked down and unable to act.
Debuff applied to Charger after it collides with the Huntmaster's Fortress shield. Stuns the Charger for its 8s duration. Following the debuff's expiration, the Charger gains the Confused and Infuriated buff.
Confused and Infuriated
Damage dealt massively increased. This charger has no idea what just happened but it is VERY mad about it.
Buff applied after the Charger recovers from the stun effect applied by hitting the Huntmaster's Fortress shield. The buff increases the Charger's damage done by +300%. Successful strategies will require the Charger to be killed before it begins attacking the team with this buff.
Key Mechanics - Shelleigh
Going in for a snack!
Buff applied to Shelleigh that lasts 1.8s. This buff places a small purple circle on the ground at the feet of the player or enemy with aggro. When the buff expires, any target inside the purple circle (including any other players) gets Nommed and immediately dies.
Passively emits a toxic cloud that deals ramping internal damage to enemies in a massive area.
Buff that applies Toxic Cloud DoT to players each time it ticks. Shelleigh casts Toxic Cloud immediately upon emerging from the pond via a 2.0s cast. The buff ticks every 5s thereafter and applies a stack of the Toxic Cloud DoT.
Shelleigh likes to play rough with her food.
1s channeled attack that applies a Pulverize Stun effect on the target. The ability has a 1.5s cooldown so is used very frequently but is only used on a target with aggro within melee range. As such, most strategies will involve kiting to minimize the frequency of this ability's use.
Increases maximum health a small amount with each stack. Perhaps you shouldn't have fed the lake monster...
Buff applied anytime a creature is killed by Shelleigh. This most commonly happens when Lurking Beasts are knocked into the pond, though can also happen if players fall into the pond. Each stack adds around 7-8% of health in Story Mode.
Some strategies in Hard Mode involve pushing adds into the pond to avoid them being killed by the Huntmaster (and losing stacks of Master of the Hunt). This makes the Huntmaster phase easier but makes Shelleigh harder by giving her significantly greater health.
Other Mechanics - Player
Standing in the fire. Probably shouldn't do that.
Damaging DoT applied to any player(s) standing inside the lingering AoE of the Firestorm Grenade. Given the potential for the fire AoE to not display on the ground, this DoT may be the only indicator that a player is standing in fire. The DoT has a duration of 1.1s and refreshes at the end if the player is still standing inside the AoE.
Additional hits from Powershot Volley will penetrate ballistic immunity effects. Target has been recently hit by Powershot Volley and is off balance.
Debuff applied by Powershot Volley that has a duration of 3s, so it lasts the entire channel and a couple of seconds afterwards. The debuff increases damage taken by 100%. This debuff makes it nearly impossible for one player to take all hits by Powershot Volley in Hard Mode.
Knockdown (Off Balance)
Hit by Powershot Volley while off balance. Knocked down and unable to act.
1s duration stun effect applied by Powershot Volley via its knockback effect.
There were probably better places to have stood just now...
Knockback effect applied to any player who collides with the Charger during its Trample buff.
Holdout Probe Jolt
Movement speed decreased. Defense and Shield chance reduced to 0. High priority target for the Huntmaster.
Debuff applied to any player or creature inside the Huntmaster's Holdout Cover area (inside the Red AoE). In addition to the reduction of defense and shield chance to 0, the effect also reduces player movement speed by 35% and taunts the Huntmaster for 3s. This effect triggers the Huntmaster's Culling Shot to target the player, which will nearly always result in an instant death.
Taking internal damage over time.
Stacking DoT applied by Shelleigh's Toxic Cloud passive buff. DoT ticks for damage every 1.0s and has no functional limitation on the number of stacks. Significant damage goes out every 5s when a new stack is applied and deals the majority of damage via this mechanic.
Unable to act. This effect cannot be broken. You are both helpless and delicious. Like a sandwich.
4s stun effect applied by Shelleigh's Pulverize ability. If targeted by Shelleigh's Nom attack (1.8s duration that is much shorter than the 4s stun), a taunt to pull aggro from Shelleigh or a friendly pull to move the player out of the purple circle is necessary to avoid a instant death.
The overall objective of the encounter is to DPS the Huntmaster down to 35% without letting him get down to 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt (the enrage mechanic), then to kite Shelleigh while attacking her until she dies. For the Huntmaster, this will entail repeating a cycle of the following mechanics:
Stay within the spotlight to avoid aggro from Lurking Beasts that spawn around the area. The spotlight will move and players should move with it.
DPS Huntmaster and deal with his attack abilities, most notably the Firestorm Grenade that should be kited outside the spotlight to avoid any players having to stand in it.
(Optional) Use Primal Fear debuff mechanic to group Lurking Beasts outside the circle and AoE them down while they are dealing much lower damage.
After 2nd Primal Fear, get away from Huntmaster and kill Lurking Beasts until the Charger crashes into Huntmaster to break his Fortress shield.
Kill Charger before its 8s stun effect wears off.
Stay outside Huntmaster's 30m red AoE from Holdout Cover to avoid instant death. Some DPS disciplines can continue to attack from 35m range.
Group Composition for this fight should ordinarily be 2 tanks, 4 DPS and 2 healers. It is possible to run with 1 tank in both Story Mode and Hard Mode, though in Hard Mode doing so will require some combination of a DWT with good defensives, careful defensive timing by the tank and/or prepared healers to burst heal through the Penetration Shot armor debuff.
No particular class or discipline is especially better or worse than others on this encounter. The one helpful capability for a group is to have multiple players with AoE hard stuns and/or AoE-based defensive buffs or accuracy/damage debuffs to enemies. This capability is very helpful when dealing with adds to help control damage.
In addition, ranged DPS disciplines with 35 range will be able to continue damaging Huntmaster during his Holdout Cover phase as they can safely stand outside the 30m red AoE but still attack. Telekinetic Sage / Lightning Sorcer and all disciplines of Gunslinger / Sniper have this capability. It is helpful but not critical to most successful strategies, so is not worth any player swapping to a sub-optimal discipline (for them) just to get some additional DPS during these periods.
The most crucial preparation is ensuring every one knows how to recognize the Firestorm Grenade mechanic and how to deal with it. See below for some suggested options, many may work depending on preference. That said, the one sure way to wipe is to leave a fire AoE inside the spotlight, as standing in it will kill the group but leaving the spotlight will typically lead to a wipe also.
See Hard Mode discussion further below for additional items to discuss regarding (1) Penetration Shot tank strategy; (2) Powershot Volley group positioning; (3) positioning to kite Charger into Huntmaster; and (4) whether to kill Lurking Beasts during first Primal Fear debuff window in each cycle.
Strategy Key Points
In the simplest sense, the overall strategy for this fight has the following key points:
Stay inside the spotlight when it is powered up. The Lurking Beasts that spawn deal heavy damage with their leaping attack and will all leap to the same player if only they step out of the spotlight. The entire team must remain in the spotlight nearly all the time. The only exceptions are discussed at #2 and #3 below.
Drop Firestorm Grenade outside the group. The Firestorm Grenade AoE lingers for a while and cannot be placed in a position where the group has to stand in it to follow #1. The player can move briefly out of the spotlight to drop the grenade, but needs to leap/teleport/rocket out/holotraverse/etc. back in immediately after the grenade explodes or they will die.
(Optional) DPS Lurking Beasts during first Primal Fear window. The Primal Fear debuff reduces damage by the beasts for 18s, which should be plenty of time to AoE them down. A tank should step out first to grab their aggro and group them up, then DPS should use AoEs to kill them (and stay inside the spotlight if possible while doing so.)
Kill the Charger ASAP after it hits the Huntmaster. The Charger will be stunned for 8s after it hits the Huntmaster and breaks his Fortress shield. It must be killed within 1-2s of the stun expiring, or else its Confused and Infuriated +300% damage buff will lead to players being one shot.
Stay outside the 30m Holdout Cover Red AoE. Shortly after his Fortress shield is broken by the Charger, Huntmaster will leap to the shoreline of the pond and utilize Holdout Cover. This effect places a large Red AoE with a 30m radius on the ground, which extends from the shore to the middle of the grassy knoll in the main area. This taunts all beasts to him so he can kill them to reduce his stacks of Master of the Hunt. More importantly, any player who enters that Red AoE will receive a Holdout Cover Jolt debuff and be killed by Culling Shot shortly afterwards. Stay out of it at all costs!
Stay out of Shelleigh's Nom Purple AoE. When Shelleigh targets a player with Nom, it drops a small purple circle. Anyone in that circle will be instantly killed in 1.8s. As long as players move out of it or are pulled out of it, Shelleigh is very straightforward to kill.
As discussed above in brief, the overall goal is to reduce Huntmaster's health below 35% before he reaches 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt. This will require 2-3 cycles of mechanics involving the spotlight, various Huntmaster mechanics while he is in the spotlight, breaking his Fortress shield via a Charger running into it, and surviving Huntmaster's Holdout Cover / Red AoE phase. These are discussed below as Phases 1-3, which repeat until Huntmaster drops below 35% health or reaches 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt and enrages.
In Story Mode, Huntmaster begins with 50 stacks of Master of the Hunt so realistically an enrage is very unlikely unless DPS is exceptionally low and/or there are many many deaths. As discussed further below, in Hard Mode it is potentially much more challenging since Huntmaster only has 30 stacks. In any case, most groups will go through at least 1 cycle, and usually partway through a second cycle, of the mechanics discussed below. An enrage will likely happen by or shortly after the third Holdout Cover phase.
Phase 1 - Spotlight Phase
At the beginning of the fight and after each Holdout Cover Phase, Huntmaster will Holotraverse (teleport) to the player with aggro and activate a huge spotlight that covers most of the land area in the room. Over about 1:20 minutes, the spotlight will get smaller and smaller and its center will move slightly around the room. Key mechanics to address are as follows:
Firestorm Grenade: By far the most important mechanic for new players in this fight. A random player will get targeted by a yellow AoE while the Huntmaster casts Firestorm Grenade (see above, 3s cast), after which it will deal AoE damage and leave a fire AoE that lingers for 30s in Story Mode (1 minute in Hard Mode). Each person must kite this AoE outside the group. It needs to be dropped at least 25m away to ensure enough space that the shifting spotlight will not force the group to stand in it.
It is important that each player know their movement and gap closer abilities well when executing this mechanic. While it is helpful to drop the grenade as far outside the group as possible, going very far out of the spotlight can be very dangerous. For classes with a leap, running out to drop the grenade and immediately leaping back in works great. For classes without a leap, much more care is warranted. Commando / Mercenaries can use Propulsion Round / Rocket Out, but be careful you don't use it in the wrong direction. This mechanic is the most common cause of a wipe and the most common cause of DPS/healers getting one shot, so take the time to think through how to simultaneously maximize distance for dropping grenades while minimizing time outside the spotlight!
Lurk in the Dark: A buff on Lurking Beasts, it keeps them from entering the spotlight. Team can largely ignore adds during Spotlight phase. Any player leaving the spotlight to drop a Firestorm Grenade needs to pop a defensive since adds will leap to them.
Powershot Volley: A 5s channeled knockback attack. It will tick 3 times over its channel with each tick knocking back the target or the player who is closest to the Huntmaster and in front of the target (i.e., sort of like how the mechanic for picking up Ion Cutter stacks in Master/Blaster functions). In Story mode it does not deal major damage so does not need a strategy to address. This is not the case in Hard Mode however, so please see below for more details.
Penetrating Shot: A 5s cast attack on the player with aggro. In Story Mode it deals high damage but does not apply an armor debuff. See below for Hard Mode strategy, as the armor debuff is significant in Hard Mode and must be planned to address.
Scatterblast: A 5s cast attack that hits along a very wide conal. Oddly, the conal telegraph doesn't appear until a moment before damage is applied so it can be difficult to face away from the group. If possible, players should watch Huntmaster's Target of Target and castbar. When he casts Scatterblast, whomever is targeted should move to the opposite side of Huntmaster from the group. If possible, try to face this attack away from adds to avoid giving them the Recently Hit by Huntmaster debuff (explosion symbol above their heads).
Primal Fear: Huntmaster will cast this ability twice during each Spotlight Phase. The 4s cast applies the Primal Fear debuff to all players and Lurking Beast adds. The debuff lasts 6s for players and 18s for adds and reduces damage dealt by 70% in Story Mode (60% in Hard Mode). The first time this ability is used, the team has the OPTION to use the time to AoE down adds. If so, the off-tank should run out of the spotlight to kite all Lurking Beasts to leap to them. If they use a defensive, they should easily survive the damage due to the Primal Fear debuff. The group can then AoE down the adds while they are dealing minimal damage.
Phase 2 - Fortress Shield Phase
After around 1:20 minutes of the Spotlight Phase, the Huntmaster will activate his Fortress Shield (reflects all damage) and will begin using Concussive Shockwave to knock back any players within melee range. This transition is immediately preceded by the 2nd Primal Fear cast.
A tank should do their best to group up adds so they can be AoE'd down while the Primal Fear debuff is limiting add damage.
A Deliberate Charger will spawn and aggro to the Huntmaster. The team needs to stay out of the yellow telegraph, or they will take damage and be knocked back/stunned by the Charger's Trample effect.
As soon as the Charger hits the Huntmaster, ALL DPS NEED TO SWAP TO THE CHARGER AND KILL IT ASAP. The Charger will be stunned for 8s and will take another 1-2s afterwards before dealing damage. If the Charger is not dead by then, it will one-shot people due to its +300% damage buff from Confused and Infuriated (buff applied when it hits Huntmaster and breaks his shield).
Phase 3 - Holdout Cover Phase
Around the same time that the team kills the Deliberate Charger, Huntmaster will go through a series of cast abilities very quickly that govern the next phase:
He will swap to either a Melee or Ranged stance (see above in mechanics). He will only enter a Melee stance if a Lurking Beast is alive with the Recently Hit by Huntmaster buff (see above, will have a marker above its head). If so, Huntmaster will enter Melee Frenzy and deal heavy damage to the team and nearby adds until all Lurking Beasts with that buff are killed, at which point he will swap to Ranged stance. If no adds with that debuff are alive, he will immediately enter Ranged stance.
Huntmaster will cast CI Light Flare. This buff does not show up on Huntmaster's buff bar but is described above. In short, it causes all Lurking Beasts to default to aggro on Huntmaster for the duration of this phase.
Huntmaster will cast Holdout Cover. This buff creates the large Red AoE 30m around the Huntmaster for 45s.
For the next 45s, Huntmaster will remain in his Holdout Cover / Red AoE. Lurking Beasts will spawn and continue to run towards him, though the team can temporarily hold them outside the AoE with taunts and stuns. Any creature or player who enters the Red AoE will be killed by Huntmaster via applying the Holdout Cover Jolt debuff and then hitting them with Culling Shot. If all adds are dead at any point, Huntmaster will shoot players outside the AoE with his ranged attack that deals high damage but is not a one shot. This attack should target the nearest player, so ideally should be a tank if possible.
The team above all else needs to stay outside the Red AoE for Holdout Cover at all times. This phase is usually much needed downtime to revive any players, recover energy, etc. It is helpful to try and kill as many adds as possible to deny Huntmaster the kills, but is not super important in Story Mode.
Any Ranged DPS with 35m range (TK Sage / Lightning Sorc or any Gunslinger / Sniper discipline) can set up just outside the Holdout Cover AoE and continue DPSing Huntmaster.
Once Holdout Cover ends, Phase 1 above resumes.
Phase 4 - Shelleigh Phase
Once you get to this phase in Story Mode, you are pretty much home free! Shelleigh will take care of the Huntmaster then attack the group. Her main mechanic is Nom, a 1.8s buff on her that places a small purple circle on the ground. When the buff expires, anyone in that circle gets one-shot and is unable to be revived. The Nom mechanic usually only happens after Shelleigh uses Pulverize (a single target cast attack, has a 4s stun in Hard Mode but no stun in Story Mode).
Thus, the key to dealing with Shelleigh is to keep her moving at all times. This reduces the number of Nom circles greatly. The group will take stacking damage from Toxic Cloud DoTs but is not a big issue in Story Mode to heal through. Kill Shelleigh and you are done with the Huntmaster encounter!
The most important job of every player is to execute the Firestorm Grenade mechanic correctly. The tank with aggro should not get targeted with Firestorm Grenade, but the off tank can and will get it so everyone needs to know how to do it correctly. The good news for tanks is they have a lot less worry about getting killed by adds.
Similar to other roles, there is not much required during the Spotlight phase in terms of mechanics. Keep aggro on the boss and stay in the spotlight.
If the team plans to kill adds during the first Primal Fear window, the offtank should step out of the spotlight just as Primal Fear goes out. This will debuff the adds for 18s reducing their damage significantly. All the adds should leap to you. Hold them in place and watch the Primal Fear buff on whichever add you are targeting. If the debuff expires and the beasts are still alive, either hit a defensive cooldown or step back into the spotlight.
Similar to above, the tank should be the first to leave the spotlight when Huntmaster activates his Fortress Shield. This is to keep the adds grouped up on the tank and to group them up for AoE DPS. As soon as the adds are grouped up, use an AoE taunt and call out for DPS to nuke them. Ideally the DPS and healers should stand in close proximity to the tank with add aggro, so that if anyone pulls aggro the adds still stay grouped up.
The tank should help DPS the Charger as well to add as much DPS as possible once it is stunned.
During the Holdout Cover / Red AoE phase, tanks can use their taunt and stun abilities to hold aggro on the Lurking Beasts before they run to the Huntmaster and get killed. Doing so is not required in Story Mode but is good practice to try and kill a few yourselves to minimize the stacks Huntmaster loses during the phase. Tanks should also try to be the closest to the Red AoE to kite most of the ranged attacks by Huntmaster, as they hit pretty hard.
When Shelleigh spawns, the tank with aggro should keep moving at all times. This minimizes the frequency of Pulverize, though thankfully it has no stun effect in Story Mode. The most dangerous mechanic is the Nom purple circle that one shots players but staying on the move ensures you will not get killed by it.
The most important job of every player is to execute the Firestorm Grenade mechanic correctly.
Healers have no specific mechanics to follow in the Huntmaster fight beyond dealing with team-wide mechanics like Firestorm Grenade and staying inside the spotlight.
The encounter has a range of burst damage phases so primarily healers need to be looking ahead to have burst heals ready when needed. Poor execution of mechanics can dramatically increase raid-wide healing, such as the group having to stand in fire, but good execution should keep AoE healing low in Story Mode and overall healing limited to consistent healing on the tank(s) and situational burst healing on other players.
Main areas that deal heavy damage consist of the following in Story Mode (see below for Hard Mode discussion):
Powershot Volley: If one player takes multiple ticks of the attack, it deals moderate single target damage in Story Mode.
Penetration Shot: Deals moderate single target damage to its target.
Lurking Beasts: Anytime someone runs out to drop a Firestorm Grenade, be prepared to give them heavy burst healing. Applying shields, HoTs, and/or probes in advance is also super helpful. This source of damage is the most likely cause of death in a Story Mode encounter, assuming the grenades are dropped well outside the group.
Ranged attack: Huntmaster uses this attack during the Holdout Cover (Red AoE) phase to attack players when no other beasts are alive. The attack is not a one shot but deals heavy damage, particularly in Hard Mode. Ideally a tank should stand nearest to the Red AoE to kite these attacks to minimize damage, in which case they will need sustained heavy single target healing.
Healers also need to be very careful during the Fortress Shield transition phase to avoid getting killed by Lurking Beasts. While they do minimal damage for 18s while the Primal Fear debuff is active, when that debuff expires they will hit much harder. If the group leaves several adds up when moving to kill the Deliberate Charger, healers can be left in a difficult spot. I strongly suggest tracking your tank and staying very close to them. This helps the tank group up adds via healer aggro and makes it much easier for them to pick up any adds via AoE threat generation attacks and taunts. Between pulling aggro and lots of damage, this phase is usually the most stressful for healers.
The Deliberate Charger tends to target a healer in Hard Mode, so healers should be prepared to kite the Charger's Trample path through the Huntmaster.
Finally, Sage / Sorcerer healers should be prepared to use their friendly pull abilities liberally. Finally the pull power can be used for good! This can be used to help save people from Firestorm Grenades if they can not get back to the group quickly. If you have a really new player, it can also be used to pull them out of the group to drop their grenade. It can also be very helpful during the Shelleigh phase to pull someone out of the Nom circle, though that requires pretty fast reaction time given the 1.8s window of that buff.
The most important job of every player is to execute the Firestorm Grenade mechanic correctly. Since at least half the group should be DPS players, the largest burden for this mechanic falls on DPS.
DPS have relatively few mechanics to execute otherwise in this fight in Story Mode. That said, the overall mechanic for this fight involves a race between the team's DPS to get Huntmaster below 35% health and the Huntmaster to get to 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt. The DPS need to be able to push Huntmaster below 35% health before the THIRD Fortress Shield. This is a pretty easy check overall, so the key is keeping everyone alive.
During the spotlight phase, DPS are essentially parsing except for running out to drop Firestorm Grenade. If you see any adds that creep up near the circle, it can be beneficial to clip them with DoT spread abilities to get some damage in early. Also, if you see the Scatterblast attack targeting you, try to face it away from the adds if possible.
If the team is going to try and kill adds during the first Primal Fear window during the spotlight phase, try to stay inside the spotlight as much as possible while DPSing adds to make it easy for the offtank to hold them in a tight group. If they stand near the spotlight, melee DPS can attack from inside the light and should do so if possible.
Apart from the Firestorm Grenade, the next most important mechanic to staying alive is the Fortress Shield phase. Handling Lurking Beasts and the Deliberate Charger can be stressful and chaotic. Here are the key points for DPS to keep in mind to deal with it successfully:
Stay near the tank if possible (especially if only 1 tank is present). The team wants to be able to AoE down most/all of the adds before the Charger hits the Huntmaster, so that the tank can handle whatever is left to keep them from swamping the healers. The easiest way to do this is help the tank group them up for AoE DPS and AoE taunts. If the group moves together, all the Lurking Beasts will naturally group up.
Prioritize any single target DPS on Lurking Beasts with a graphic above their heads. Any Lurking Beasts that get hit with Huntmaster's conal attack, Scatterblast, get a buff called Recently Hit by Huntmaster. While AoE DPS is still the name of the game, any single target DPS should be focused on at least killing these adds first. If any are still alive, the Huntmaster will temporarily swap to a melee stance and deal much higher damage until they are dead. Kill them first and avoid the damage!
Swap to the Deliberate Charger ASAP when it is stunned. After hitting the Huntmaster, the Charger will be stunned for 8s. It will also take a couple of seconds before it starts hitting people for damage. So consider that the group has about 10s to kill the Charger. That is not a lot of time so it is critical all DPS swap to him immediately. This is the only real DPS check of any substance in the encounter.
Think ahead to avoid the Red AoE. After the Charger is killed, the team will typically only have a few seconds before Holdout Cover activates and the big red AoE of death pops up. As soon as the Charger dies, start positioning yourself to a safe position. I use the grassy hill as a visual marker, as the red AoE runs through the hill and placing myself on the far side of the hill from the pond will always be safe.
Lastly, Telekinetic Sages / Lightning Sorcerers and all Gunslingers / Snipers should look to continue DPSing the Huntmaster from 35m range during the Holdout Cover / Red AoE phase. Let the rest of the DPS try and kill some Lurking Beasts while you keep pushing the boss down to 35%!
Hard Mode Strategy
Differences from Story Mode
Huntmaster begins with 30 stacks of Master of the Hunt instead of 50.
Penetrating Shot applies an armor debuff.
Powershot Volley deals much more damage and will kill the targeted player unless others share hits by standing in front of the targeted player.
Huntmaster entering Melee Frenzy after Fortress Shield will usually kill one or more players and lead to a wipe.
Primal Fear debuff reduces damage dealt by 60% instead of 70%.
The Deliberate Charger targets a player with Trample instead of Huntmaster.
Shelleigh's Pulverize attack applies a 4s stun to the target.
Overally Hard Mode Strategy - Master of the Hunt & Adds
Since Huntmaster has only 30 stacks of Master of the Hunt, the biggest difference in Hard Mode is needing a strategy to kill adds. Absent such a strategy, Huntmaster will usually reach 0 stacks during the second Holdout Cover / Red AoE of death phase and enrage. Just killing as many adds as possible after Fortress Shield goes up and until the Charger attacks will not be enough.
This fight is relatively new and more strategies may develop, but the current most popular strategies are as follows (note these are primarily tailoed for 8m HM):
Run with 1 tank / 5 DPS and push Huntmaster before 2nd Fortress Shield.
In this strategy, the second tank swaps to DPS gear or swaps to a "DPS tank" loadout (i.e., stays in tank discipline with defensive OH equipped but swaps most equipment slots to DPS gear). The objective of this strategy is to largely ignore the need to kill adds to to manage stacks of Master of the Hunt, and instead to DPS him faster than he can drop stacks. Since Huntmaster ordinarily will hit 0 stacks during the second Holdout Cover phase without specific action being taken, this strategy aims to apply enough DPS to push Huntmaster below 35% before the second Fortress Shield.
For context around required DPS for this strategy, the first time we cleared Huntmaster with this strategy our team pulled around 76k DPS for the entire fight (14-18k for each DPS, 9k for the "DPS tank" and 4k for the tank). At that level of DPS, we pushed Huntmaster to 35% around 10-12s before the second Fortress shield.
In terms of DPS capability, that requires higher numbers since the fight has some downtime during the Holdout Cover phase. I would estimate this strategy will require 4 normal DPS capable of at least 18k+ sustained DPS and a DPS tank capable of 11-12k, so it requires good DPS but not exceptional DPS given the extra DPS from the DPS tank. Any group that has enough DPS to clear the Control Center fight likely has enough DPS to execute this strategy, provided other mechanics are followed to prevent deaths.
The upside to this strategy is that it eliminates any need to take risks to deal with Lurking Beasts during the spotlight phase, either via knocking them into the pond or AoE'ing them during Primal Fear. The team can simply stay grouped up for Powershot Volley, stay near Huntmaster to kite the Charger, and otherwise essentially follow Story Mode mechanics to push the Huntmaster. It also keeps the Shelleigh phase as short as possible by avoiding any stacks of Crabby Demeanor from adds falling into the pond.
This strategy has two downsides. First, it involves significantly higher single target damage on the tank from Huntmaster. Either the main tank has to continue holding the boss with the Penetration Shot debuff (reduces armor rating to 0 for 24s) or the "DPS tank" has to hold the boss for a short time and take higher damage by virtue of much lower mitigation stats. Armor rating typically contributes damate mitigation of around 30-40% depending on the discipline (Vanguard/PT > Guardian/Juggernaut > Shadow/Assassin), though this is diluted by defense and shield chance and is ignored by certain types of damage. So, not swapping should lead to somewhere around 30% or so higher damage on the main tank while the armor debuff is active and around 20% higher damage taken for the whole fight.
In my experience, this higher damage can be healed through on 8m encounters. Our successful clears have usually had the main tank taking around 8-9k DTPS (damage taken per second). Given that the DPS tank should be around 5-6k and the rest of the team 2-3k, that contributes to overall damage taken / healing requirements of 25-33k in total or 13-17k eHPS (effective healing per second) for each healer. That is relatively high but given the boost provided by group proximity and AoE healing, the heal check for this strategy is challenging but not insurmountable for healers. Similar to the DPS check, any teams that can heal through Pack Leader (Red) and the Mutant Trandoshan Squad are likely able to handle this requirement. The main concern will be prioritizing burst heals when needed.
The second downside is it makes the Fortress Shield phase more challenging in terms of incoming damage. Nearly all of the Lurking Beasts that spawn during the spotlight phase will be active and will attack the team. For the duration of Primal Fear, damage will not be too bad. When Primal Fear wears off, it can be very challenging for both the tank(s) and healers to avoid any deaths. A key to success will be grouping up adds on the tank for AoE taunting, heavy burst healing on the tank, keeping everyone grouped up so any stray adds come into range of the tank, and using any AoE defensive or stun abilities to help moderate damage.
Push the Lurking Beasts into the pond.
If a team is unwilling to go with one tank (or 1.5 tanks if using a DPS tank approach) and/or dislikes the stress of the many adds during Fortress Shield, another viable strategy is to push the Lurking Beasts into the pond. Any creature or player that enters the pond instantly dies, so this strategy does not typically require any loss of uptime by DPS on the Huntmaster.
This strategy entails the off tank breaking out of the spotlight during the first Primal Fear window and running over to the pond while holding aggro with an AoE taunt. The Lurking Beasts will leap to them but deal moderate damage due to the Primal Fear debuff. A healer with a knockback (Commando / Mercenary or Sage / Sorcerer) should go with them and use their knockback to push the adds into the pond once they are grouped up. If the group is running 2 Scoundrel / Operative healers, a DPS with a conal knockback can handle the task as well.
The major upside to this strategy is it is very effective at killing adds so that Huntmaster's Master of the Hunt stacks stay higher, and is nearly always good enough to enable the team to make it through two Fortress Shield / Holdout Cover phases without hitting 0 stacks. Pushing the Huntmaster to 35% during the third spotlight phase is fairly easy as a result. Another benefit is that the reduced pressure on DPS allows a second tank (actually is required to have a tank to hold adds near the pond), which is a benefit to reduce overall damage taken by swapping on Penetration Shot and having another AoE taunt to hold adds during the Fortress Shield phase is very helpful also.
The major downside to this strategy is each add pushed into the lake adds a significant amount of health to Shelleigh and can significantly extend that last phase in the fight. Between the simple but high risk mechanic to tank swap on Pulverize to avoid anyone being Nommed and the heavy stacking damage from Toxic Cloud, killing Shelleigh with high stacks can become far more difficult than the fairly easy task of killing her at 0 stacks.
As such, teams should only employ this strategy to the extent needed to make it past two Fortress Shield / Holdout Cover phases without dropping to 0 stacks of Master of the Hunt. I suggest employing it on the first Primal Fear window during the first spotlight phase for sure, and then only doing it again if Huntmaster's stacks are too low after the first Holdout Cover phase (i.e., below about 17-18).
This balancing act can make it very tight in terms of balancing the act of minimizing Shelleigh's stacks while making sure Huntmaster does not enrage during the second Holdout Cover / Red AoE phase. This challenge is the main reason I do not personally prefer this strategy, though other teams favor it strongly. The biggest random variable is that RNG can kill the team if adds walk through a Firestorm Grenade and die or if a player dies, both removing unexpected stacks of Master of the Hunt.
DPS the Lurking Beasts during each Primal Fear window.
An alternative to the "push the adds into the pond" strategy is to simply kill the Lurking Beasts. The team uses each Primal Fear window to have an off-tank step out and kite the adds to them then has all DPS attack the adds for the full 18s duration of Primal Fear. When the debuff expires, the team resumes normal mechanics and leaves any remaining add health to be killed during the Fortress Shield phase.
First, let's consider the math. The Lurking Beasts each have 725k health in 8m, which is a decently high amount of health to burn in a short time. Fortunately, most DPS can easily output burst DPS of 20k or better single target or 10-12k per add in an AoE context. If we assume those numbers are good, then the team can output around 700k or so over 18s (after factoring in the first 6s having a 60% damage debuff on the players from Primal Fear). That is almost exactly the add health amounts, so killing them is very viable. In the "worst case", the team can swap back to Huntmaster and leave one DPS to finish them off with one or two more AoE attacks.
The upside to this strategy is that it has the same effect as the pond strategy without making the Shelleigh phase substantially more difficult. It similarly makes the Fortress Shield phase much easier in comparison to the max DPS strategy since much fewer adds will be present (only those spawning after the first Primal Fear window). It is also simpler to execute than the pond strategy, because there is always a chance that the knockback does not work very well and misses several adds while killing the adds should work every time.
The downside is that it extends the Huntmaster phase slightly since DPS will have 18s of downtime from the boss each spotlight phase. That said, DPS levels should ensure the team can still push Huntmaster during the third spotlight phase. It also carries some risk of the tank taking excessive damage from adds, though again this can be easily mitigated through carefully watching the Primal Fear debuff on adds and using defensive cooldowns.
Each strategy has its own risks and rewards, so really comes down to preference and which feels easiest / more comfortable to the team. My team has successfully cleared Huntmaster using the extra DPS as I feel like it is the simplest option so long as healers can handle the extra damage from the Penetration Shot armor debuff on the main tank. My guild's other prog team on Dxun has cleared with pushing adds into the pond and dealing with the much longer Shelleigh phase. My overall expectation is that using Primal Fear to kill adds is the intended strategy by the developers, as it is the "safest" in terms of surviving the Fortress Shield phase while still keeping Shelleigh at or near 0 stacks.
Other Hard Mode Mechanics / Strategies
Tanks should swap after Penetrating Shot (if applicable). Penetrating Shot applies a 24s duration armor debuff that reduces armor rating to 0, so a tank swap should normally be executed if possible. Note that with some group compositions it is possible to tank through this debuff with use of defensives and focused healing, and is critical to strategies to solo tank or use a fake tank/DPS as discussed above.
Powershot Volley requires careful group positioning. The ability ticks 5 times from 3s - 5s in the channel, with each tick dealing damage, knocking the target back and applying/refreshing a 100% damage debuff. In Hard Mode, the first tick hits for around 20% health and the next for around 40% health. One player taking all ticks would be hit for 180% of max health over 2s, so sharing the damage is necessary.
The simplest way to handle this mechanic is to have everyone group together within the spotlight. Ideally everyone would be in a line though that level of coordination is not required. This positioning ensures that the first hit damages the target (or a player in front of the target), they get knocked back behind other players and do not take consecutive hits. In this way, even in a 8m team no one should take more than one tick. 5 players getting hit for around 20% health is relatively easy to heal through, versus the alternative of multiple players getting hit for most of their health or one death.
Face Scattershot away from adds. The Scattershot conal has a 70m range (much longer than the graphic) and Lurking Beasts hit with it get the Recently Hit by Huntmaster buff and an explosion icon above their heads. These adds become a high priority to kill to avoid Melee Frenzy (see next point) after the Fortress Shield mechanic. As such, trying to minimize how many adds get the buff is extremely helpful.
Melee Frenzy must be avoided at all costs. The Huntmaster applies either a Ranged Stance or Melee Stance after his Fortress Shield is broken. Ranged Stance transitions the fight to the Holdout Cover / Red AoE of death phase, while Melee Stance leads to Melee Frenzy and crazy high damage. Melee Stance is only triggered if one or more Lurking Beasts are alive with the Recently Hit by Huntmaster (see above for debuff) and continues for as long as they are alive. Adds with this effect have a graphical marker above their heads. To avoid this mechanic, the team's DPS need to make sure those adds are killed before the Charger hits the Huntmaster.
The player targeted with Trample must LoS it with Huntmaster. The Deliberate Charger targets a PLAYER in Hard Mode, not the Huntmaster. However, we still need the Charger to hit the Huntmaster to break his Fortress Shield. The player with the graphic should place Huntmaster in between them and the Charger so that the Trample graphic intersects with Huntmaster. This overwhelmingly tends to be a healer that must kite the Trample path.
Be wary that the Charger does not run in a precisely straight line. If the targeted player stands more than 15m away from Huntmaster, the Charger may curve around and miss him. I strongly suggest the targeted player (and indeed the whole team) move together to stay relatively close to the boss to ensure he gets hit. Moving together also negates a delay in identifying who is targeted, as everyone positions themselves automatically.
Cross-taunting is necessary on Shelleigh to avoid Nom attack. Shelleigh's Pulverize attack applies a 4s stun effect that outlasts the Nom buff. This means if a player with aggro gets stunned, they will not have time to step out of the Nom purple circle. As such, a tank swap or taunting off by a DWT is necessary on Shelleigh, which should happen immediately after the Pulverize ability. Keeping Shelleigh on the move at all times will minimize the frequency of this ability.
16m v. 8m Differences
The main point to mention for 16m Huntmaster is that due to the higher base damage, it is much harder to employ the solo tank or DPS tank strategy. That said, overall DPS requirements are much easier in Dxun across all fights in 16m so I would generally expect that a skilled team can still push Huntmaster fairly quickly even with two tanks. As such, my recommended strategy is to run with two tanks and try to kill adds during the Primal Fear windows to keep Huntmaster's stacks high enough that the team can go through two Holdout Cover phases without enraging.