Tag Archives: hunters

bangitty bang

In the wake of Gamespy’s article today, and my flipping through my boss’s copy of the art book… I have a wish.

I want one thing from WoW. And one thing only.

I want pistols.

Specifically, I want one-handed/dual-wieldable guns that count as normal weapons (ie, they don’t equip in your ranged weapon slot).

  • I want them to require either hunter class or engineering profession to wield (in addition to buying the weapon skill from a trainer – perhaps even a quest to activate the ability).
  • I want them to use ammo from bullet pouches, and I want them to use gun skill (or at least give dwarves the +5 bonus to pistols as well and require folks to level this separately – kind of like 1h vs 2s sword).
  • I want them in stead of a point-blank talent for high level hunters – possibly with a lvl 40 req to learn the skill (like polearms are lvl 20).
  • I want them to have a base range of 0-8m, which should probably be improved by the appropriate hunter talent.
  • I want them to work while moving, just like any other melee weapon (and unlike normal ranged weapons).
  • I want them to benefit from all appropriate hunter talents and buffs (ie, they use ranged attack power in stead of melee, they get firing rate bonuses from pouches, improved hawk, and rapid fire, etc…).
  • I want them to count as suitable weapons for hunter special abilities, shots and stings.

I think it would be appropriate if their base damage and rate of fire were similar to one-handed melee weapons. I think it would be appropriate if there were some pistols that were only allowed in one hand or the other.

I think it would be appropriate if hunters were required to do something like stances to switch between pistols/regular ranged.

I also think they should continue to be restricted to only applying scopes or other similar enhancements – no fiery enchant or crusader pistols thank you.

I want pistols.

Note: Rogue friend of mine thinks to complain about this idea. In fact, he was pretty vulgar about it. I don’t care 🙂 I want pistols. I want pistols so much that I’m willing to forget my complaints about absolutely every other game balance/feature issue out there…

I want pistols.

hunter rant criticism

Grin. So I discovered today that I had been sent some criticism about my recent little hunter rants. Apparently somebody I had pointed at them turned around and relayed them on to his hunter friend.

The consensus passed on to me that the text was ‘worthless’ and that it didn’t contain anything not already said by Blizzard.

I guess I should respond to this somehow, but I’m not entirely motivated to do so. My intent was not so much as a re-education of existing hunters – but as a bit of a preview of the class for those who’re considering rolling one. Of course, any hunter who did find enlightenment in these mumblings… probably needed a good bit of help 😉

As far as the notion that Blizzard has said any of this stuff… *heh* They list skills and general numerical effects of the abilities, but don’t ever talk about side-effects or admit that some skills are useless, etc…

*shrug*

I am still planning on writing something actually targeted at hunters. The idea being some suggestions on how to deal with retarded parties and take back your role as an essential member of an effective group.

hunters 102 sec 2

I was thinking about the whole improved aspect of the hawk deal a few minutes ago, and realized that I had made a serious blunder in my math. I was making it appear that the slower x-bow was significantly more useful with the speed buff than the regular speed bow was. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.

So, I corrected the math and it turned out that over 5 minutes, the 3.0 second xbow could hope to get an extra 3 arrows. From 100 in 300 seconds to 103 in 300 seconds 😉 So, yeah.

But that also got me to thinking that the speed of the bow really does make an enormous difference in how useful this talent can be. So, I’m going to figure out how good the fastest weapon in the game would be…

According to Thott, they ship a few bows with base attack delays as low as 1.6 seconds, but it looks like there is an epic rifle with a 1.5 second attack speed. So, I will do the math given the unlikely event that you somehow managed to score a Precicely Calibrated Boomstick and are using an ammo pouch that gives +14% attack speed – lowering your delay to 1.32 seconds.

20 shots * 1.32 sec/shot = 26.4 secs
8 seconds / 0.92 sec/shot = 8 shots + 0.64 seconds toward next shot
12 shots * 1.32 sec/shot – 0.64 sec = 15.2 secs until next buff
8 shots/8 secs + 12 shots/12.2 secs = 20.2 seconds for each additional 20 shots

Without improved hawk, the boomstick is delivering 227 shots in 5 minutes. With improved hawk, you’re looking at 288 bullets. That’s a blooming 27% increase in sustained damage output with this baby. Of course, this machine-gun comes with a heavy price tag.

The boomstick in question is an epic world drop – which means there’s no realistic way to get it short of paying 100-200g for it. It is also only a level 43 item (despite its purpleness), which means that there are about 50 other weapons (both blue and purple) that deliver more damage, including a few with only 1.6 or 1.7 second base delays.

The +14% attack speed quiver/pouches aren’t difficult to get. I’ve got one. They’re 16 slot. Apparently, with a bucketload of Alterac Valley reputation, you can buy one with +15% to attack speed, but that one is also still only 16 slots.

16 slots x 200 rounds/slot = 3200 rounds on your person at a time (unless you’re packing multiple quivers…)

3200 rounds consumed at a rate of 288 per 300 seconds? 3328 seconds of combat before you are 100% out of ammo. That’s 55 minutes – iff you don’t actually use rapid shot as well. You’ll be running out of juice during each and every instance you try to run 😉

Back when I was running around with my 1.7 second bow and a 12-slot quiver. I remember having major problems keeping myself from running out of ammo. And this was before improved hawk worked like this (it used to just be a +attack power buff).

My final analysis? I think this would be a very fun toy to play around with in a straight PvP build hunter. Get yourself a Bloodseeker Bat from ZG, move into Alterac Valley and mow down those pesky mages and priests like nobody’s business.

hunters 102

BLAH!

Apparently my last rant was actually too long. It borked out and clipped the last few paragraphs on survival spec talents. So, I’m moving the entire talent section of my hunter essay into this new post.

Talents

When the game launched, the hunter talent tree was terrible. Survival was a complete waste of time, beast mastery was only vaguely tolerable for soloing, and marksmanship was nice, but not wonderful. That all changed a few patches ago, with the new (and much happier) talent tree.

Beast Mastery is now insanely good for soloing and PvP (rabid flying pet of doom == superglue mage killer). Survival is actually quite worth the trouble for endgame play, and marksmanship is still worth your time. Beast talents aren’t very useful in high level groups (where your pet is frequently obsoleted, more on that later).

I used to be marks spec with a bit of beast. I’m now survival with a bit of marks. I can’t really imagine trying to play a hunter without at least some of the marksmanship talents, even if you don’t go in for the higher level abilities.

Beast Mastery

Tier One

The tier one beast talents are both vaguely seductive, and really pretty nice when soloing at low level. More health for your pet can be a no brainer if you’re soloing and your pet is tanking for you – especially if you burn training points on giving the critter even more stam.

Improved aspect of the hawk gives you a 1-5% chance per auto shot of becoming hasted and firing at +30% speed. This is really nice for conserving mana, and if you are already relying on a fast bow to do your dirty work. Even more fun is at level 26 when you get rapid shot and remember to trigger it when your improved hawk buff procs – that turns into 8 seconds at +70% rate of fire and 7 more seconds at +40% 🙂

The problem with improved hawk is that the proc only lasts for 8 seconds – and is thus only arguably useful during prolonged combat. During quick fights, it’s not likely to proc and if it does, it tends to get wasted. Tony and I did the math back when I respecced at 60 and to actually decided to drop this talent.

Let’s assume that since you care about rate of fire, you’re going to be using a fast weapon (1.8 sec cooldown after quiver and stuff).

Over the course of 5 minutes of combat, you will have time to fire off about 166 arrows. With five points spent in improved hawk, that means that your haste buff will proc every 20 shots. So, 20 normal then buff for 8 seconds. Over those 8 seconds, your rate of fire will be increased to 1.26 seconds per arrow for 6.3 arrows in that period as opposed to only 4.4.

Unfortunately, these fractions don’t seem to carry. So when the buff dies, you’re back to normal rate of fire and will have only spent 0.44 seconds recharging your bow of the 1.8 it needs before the next shot happens. The math in summary:

20 shots * 1.8 sec/shot = 36 sec
8 seconds / 1.26 sec/shot = 6 shots + 0.44 seconds toward next shot
14 shots * 1.8 sec/shot – 0.44 sec = 24.76 seconds until your speed buff is likely to re-proc

You thus are taking 36 seconds to fire off your first 20 shots and 32.76 seconds for each additional batch of 20. So, with a 1.8 second bow over 5 minutes, 5 talent points spent in improved hawk will net you a total of something like 181 arrows as opposed to 166 = 9% increase in sustained damage output.

But if you switch to a slower weapon… It is much less impressive. The same math performed with a 3.0 second delay on an end-game crossbow (after quiver):

20 shots * 3.0 sec/shot = 60 secs
8 seconds / 2.1 sec/shot = 3 shots + 1.7 seconds toward next shot
17 shots * 3.0 sec/shot – 1.7 sec = 49.3 secs until next buff
3 shots/8 secs + 17 shots/49.3 secs = 57.3 seconds for each additional 20 shots

103 shots in five minutes as opposed to 100 shots = only 3% increase in sustained dps.

This is sustained DPS. This is not counting time for arrows potentially lost from aimed shots or for running to get back into position. It is also assuming that you’re actually able to stay in combat for a very long period of time. Mobs don’t like it when you shoot them. Eventually, they’re going to try to get out of range (usually by charging into melee with you when your pet/tank loses aggro). This is even less useful in PvP, when nobody’s gonna stick around and let a hunter hammer them with arrows long enough to make the thingy matter.

In more realistic situations, you’re not firing off 20 arrows per kill and when you do proc the haste, it gains you an extra one or two arrows for the duration of the fight. One aimed shot >= two arrows. One serpent sting > one arrow.

So, the only reason to actually rely on improved aspect of the hawk to actually increase your DPS is if you’re expecting to spend a lot of time in long battles where you’re not planning on using any mana… ie, a poorly organized raid or something. Shrug.

My recommendation with improved hawk is that it can be quite worth it for soloing with a tank pet or if you consistently run out of mana. It could even be worth cherry picking with one talent point if you are using a very fast bow and have nowhere else to put it for the 1% chance per shot of getting the haste buff 😉

Tier Two

If you’re spending points in beast mastery, tier two is nice. Improved monkey means +5% dodge potentially means -5% physical damage taken if you’re remembering to use monkey in stead of hawk when you’re getting hit.

A +30% pet AC bonus is potentially incredible – and again, can be made even more brutal by training your critter for even more armour. If you’re burning talents to create the ultimate pet tank, then you probably want to grab all 3 points in thick hide as well as both points in improved rez. Normally, revive pet takes 10 seconds to cast, costs something like half of your max mana, and brings teh critter back with 15% hp. Two talents in improved revive = 4 second casting time, only 30% or so of your mana to cast, and a revived pet with 45% hp. This makes it potentially useful during combat, as opposed to an after battle only sort of thing.

Improved eyes… boggle. Burning two talent points to let you run your pet around for 2 minutes (as opposed to one minute) is kind of beyond me. I guess if you have a cat (which critters can stealth) and really really really want to use it to scout, a lot, it might be worth it? But in all reality, if you’re scouting with your pet, you can just blow through crowds of mobs and keep running – the pet will unspawn if it’s far enough away from you when the spell expires. And any decently fast pet is going to be able to make some good distance in one minute 😉 Sitting around, vulnerable, for two whole minutes in an area dangerous enough that you’re using your pet to scout… yeah.

Tier Three

Tier three offers one of the must-have sort of talents for all beast type hunters. Namely, unleashed fury. +20% pet damage output. When you’re using a dps pet effectively, it will typically account for 25% or more of your total damage production. Using this as a conservative estimate means that your total damage output is consistently increased by 5%.

Combine unleashed fury with bestial swiftness and a fast pet with dash/dive, and you’re on your way to chewing through mages like candy. Note that the swiftness buff only gives your pet the +30% movement rate while outdoors, and most instances are indoor. This is definately a PvP sort of talent and isn’t all that useful if you’re killing mobs (dash/dive are generally more than enough of a boost for your pet to catch up with a runner or something).

Pathfinding is… meh. Two talents to bump your travel aspects from a +30% speed buff to +36%? Shrug. This one’s kind of a rip-off. Druid travel form is 40%, releases them from rooting effects, and doesn’t stun them when they get hit (in exchange for being fairly expensive to cast and having to wait until level 30 for the spell). Shamans also get +40% speed in their travel form that also doesn’t stun them like our aspects do (only vaguely more expensive than ours and has the downside of only working outside – which is where you spend most of your travel time). Yeah.

Our aspect is kind of cruddy. Its only benefit is that like all of our aspects it is exceptionally inexpensive to cast, and it is instant cast. It’s slow, and isn’t useful in combat except with some careful planning (wing clip, get well out of melee range, then pack to increase distance, aspect back to hawk, concuss, resume shooting, etc… sort of deal).

The only real use I can conceive of for this talent is if the preceeding example is your standard mode of operation. Because the only other scenareo I can come up with that would motivate somebody to spend talents on this is if for some reason they’re always using pack to travel with a bunch of slow allies for some reason (aspect of the pack comes at 40 – when people just buy +60% travel speed mounts anyways).

Tier Four

Well, if you’re using your pet to inflict PvP damage, you probably want the +15% crit chance that ferocity gives – and are going to pick it up anyways since it’s a pre-req for the tier six beast talent.

Improved mend pet is kind of neat. It effectively renders your pet immune to most debuffing effects if you’re healing them often, or at least means you can cleanse them between fights. My recommendation if you pick up this talent is that you allocate two action bar slots to mend – one at your maximum current skill rank for healing hp, and one at rank one (only 50 mana – mend 7 costs 480 to cast) specifically to make use of this talent.

Tier Five

Ahh, spirit bond. This is another must-have talent. For two points, it gives both you and your pet 2% hp regen ticks every 10 seconds. This healing continues during combat, so is very nice – especially if you’ve already buffed your pet’s max hp up, and can give you sort of the troll effect of reduced downtime for healing between fights.

Figure the average level 60 hunter probably has around 4000 hp. This turns into an 8 hp per second regen effect. That’s not shabby – it’s the kind of effect people buy epic trinkets and stuff for.

Intimidate is just plain mean. One minute cooldown, 130 mana, long range. Three second stun attack that works like an improved taunt for your pet as long as it’s actually able to hit your victim in melee – which any decent beast spec hunter’s pet would.

This is another mage killer. Three seconds = aimed shot casting time. Aim, send in pet to maul him a bit while aimed cools down, intimidate and aim again. Even if your shots don’t crit (which they probably won’t since you’re beast spec), this is enough damage to put more than a little fear into the heart of your average cloth-wearing finger wiggler.

The other tier five beast talent is bestial discipline, which translates into +20% pet focus regen, which translates into 20% more special attacks from your magekilling little friend.

Tier Six

There is only one ability at tier six in the beast mastery tree. And if you’ve made it this far, you’ve been drooling over it. Five points in frenzy gives your pet an improved hawk style attack speed buff whenever it scores a crit.

Now… I’ve never played with this talent, but the math kind of speaks for itself – especially if you’re PvP and are interested in disrupting spellcasters. More damage, more speed, and you’ve already bought +15% to crit chance per attack… and probably +20% focus regen for more frequent claw attacks with which to crit as well…

Tier Seven

Bestial wrath is the final nail in the proverbial coffin of any caster you come up against from here on out. It requires intimidate, but you already have that. The spell has a two minute cooldown and costs about 200 mana. In return it gives your pet +50% damage output and makes them immune to all forms of crowd control effects for a whopping 15 seconds.

Marksmanship

Ok, unlike the previous talent branch which is 90% PvP oriented, marksmanship is kind of 50/50 PvP/PvE. It contains several talents without which no hunter is really worthy of the name. Several must-have abilities, regardless of the rest of your spec.

Tier One

And, just to make it difficult, since they know that everyone needs later talents, they wave some very confusing talents at you on tier one of the marks tree.

Improved concussive shot bothers me. I tried it for a few months. I don’t like it. Other people seem to swear by it. At least, most marksmanship spec hunters I’ve seen have it. Basically what it does is cost 5 talents to give you a 1 in 5 chance of stunning your target for 3 seconds when you concuss them.

Now, at 8% of your max mana per use, concussive shot is expensive. It is also slow, with a 12 second cooldown. This means that it is generally only usable once or perhaps twice per fight. So… assuming I am in a fight that lasts more than 12 seconds (which means I’ve fired off two aimed shots and still not killed my target), I could have a 40% chance of proccing a 3 second stun on my enemy in exchange for 16% of my mana. Not worth the trouble, if you ask me. Having this talent promotes firing off concussive shots and blowing mana in the vain hope that it’ll proc.

Improved concuss promises an average of one proc worth 3 seconds of stun per minute spent spamming the spell. That’s in exchange for five talent points and upwards of 40% of your mana.

It has been suggested to pick up just one rank in improved concuss, for the 5% chance of proc. This is almost worse than encouraging the waste of mana. This means that for every twenty times you fire off the shot – fully expecting that it will only slow your target down – it in stead roots the critter for a few seconds. This can be incredibly jarring and can totally throw off your groove if you use a complex kiting pattern.

On the other hand, the other tier one talent, efficiency, is totally worth the trouble, yet I’ve seen several people fail to pick it up. Five points to reduce the mana cost of every ranged attack you have by 10%. Sure, on a single shot-by-shot comparrison, this doesn’t make much of a difference. Supposing I only have 3000 mana, aimed shot 6 costs 310 points. With efficiency, the cost is only reduced to 279. Meh, that one shot’s savings wasn’t worth five talent points. But what this talent does earn you is reduced downtime over the course of your entire career.

The only places you’re going to be spending mana other than shots are in switching aspects (fairly trivial costs), spamming raptor strike (all of 16 mana per second), and in laying traps (which usually happens during downtime anyways).

Given the choice of the two talents, I’ll let you guess which one I have.

Tier Two

Lethal shots is a must-have talent for any hunter. 5 points for +5% chance to crit with all aimed attacks.

On the other hand, improved mark is kind of a waste. Lots of people seem to pick it up. But when you consider that 5 talent points earns you a +15% bonus to the attack power your mark gives… that only adds up to an increase of 16 attack power at level 58 when your mark is normally giving ‘only’ 110 attack. That’s an increase of 1.15 dps in exchange for 5 talent points IFF you’re level 58+, otherwise, it’s not even worth that much.

Tier Three

Aimed shot. Buy it now. 6 second cooldown, 3 second cast time. Does insane damage, and when it crits, it can outperform a rogue’s ambush. If you only dig into marksmanship for aimed shot, your trip will have been worth it.

But, as long as you’re on tier three, you really should spend 3 more talents to pick up the extra 6 yards of range that hawk eye gives you.

The other tier three talent is improved arcane shot. For five points, this reduces the cooldown on your arcane shot from 6 seconds to 5 seconds. What they don’t seem to tell you is that arcane shot is on the same timer as aimed shot. So… if you have the talent points to burn, that’s an 8-9% speed increase in your aimed shot barrage 😉

Tier Four

Mortal shots increases your damage output with ranged crits by 30%, and since you’ve already gotten +5% chance to crit to begin with, this really starts to add up. The talent applies to all ranged attacks – including your aimed shot. This is totally worth it if you’re digging this deep into marksmanship.

Improved serpent on the other hand is another kind of wasteful talent, at least at low levels. At level 60, serpent sting does 555 damage over 15 seconds (37 dps). Five ranks in this talent means +10% damage for a total of 40.7 dps from your sting. So, 5 talent points for 3.7 dps increase? Shrug, your call. I dropped this when I left my marks spec, but had it for most of my player’s career.

Tier Five

Scatter shot is the hunter’s only ability that functions inside of the dead zone. It’s a short range attack that confuses your target for 4 seconds. Fairly inexpensive, 30 second cooldown, shootable while running, it is dead useful. But, it also has one major gotcha.

Any damage caused will remove the effect. This renders the ability all but useless as temporary crowd control while in groups and makes it rather difficult while soloing – since both your pet and your dots like to break the effect as soon as it begins.

Generally, if you’re in a situation where you’re gonna be using scatter shot, you are also entirely probably in a situation where you don’t have the enemy dotted, so that’s not usually a concern. The pet however… that stupid little monkey. Or cat. Or whatever. Your pet is going to keep mauling the enemy unless you call them off or something.

Back when I had scatter shot, I had a macro that put my pet back into follow mode before firing off scatter. It seemed to work fairly well. Of course, this also interfered when my pet was dealing with one mob and I tried to scatter an add that got too close… shrug.

Improved scorpid is utterly useless. At level 52, rank 4 of scorp does -68 str/agi to your enemy. In and of itself, that’s already a seriously useful debuff when you consider that the str/agi reduction really equates to -136 attack power = -9.7 dps. To spend 5 talent points in order to temporarily reduce your enemy’s stamina by 6 points… is kind of dumb.

One point of stam = 10 points of max hp. So… 5 talent points for what is potentially a 60 damage attack that could very likely fade away in 20 seconds… yeah.

Barrage is nice. +15% to your two area attacks, multi-shot and volley. Now, volley itself isn’t all that great as far as AoE’s go. It does 80 dps for 6 seconds and has a stinking minute cooldown. Three points in barrage bumps your area dps up by 12, which is useful.

Where I really enjoy the talent is with its increase to multi-shot damage. At level 60, multi-shot replaces one normal attack with one that does +150 damage to up to 3 targets. So, even if you’re only hitting one target with it, multi is a great attack to spam. Suppose you’re hitting for 300 damage with your normal arrows. Your multi-shot is going to do 450, which is increased to 517.5 😉 With a 10 sec cooldown on the attack, that means an increase of 6.75 dps.

Of course, the real reason to pick up barrage isn’t its dps increase. The talent is a pre-req for the tier seven marksmanship talent.

Tier Six

If you’ve come this far, you’re gonna spend the 5 points in ranged weapon spec to increase your overall damage output by five more percent.

Tier Seven

Trueshot aura is the ability I drooled over from levels 10 until I picked it up at level 41. I later learned that it wasn’t entirely drool-worthy. It’s nice. Not wonderful. Not amazing. But nice. At level 60, it gives +100 attack power (melee and ranged) to all party members (and pets) close to the hunter. In a full group of physical damage dealers, that’s pretty nice. 7.1 dps for everyone involved.

The big downside to the ability is that you have to constantly re-cast it. Unlike your aspects, it only has a 30 minute duration. And it it’s expensive. 525 mana to renew at max level.

Survival

When the game first launched, survival was primarily for them dolts as wanted to try to play melee hunters. This has since changed quite happily, and there are several talents in the branch which improve your ranged combat capabilities in a major way – specifically by bumping up your traps and crit%.

Tier One

This is an interesting tier one in that it is possible to spend 11 points here in stead of 10 as is normal. Deflection is a no-brainer, and every hunter with the points to spare should pick it up. +5% to parry is just one more layer of defense, and being a tier one talent makes it exceptionally convenient to grab if you don’t want to dig any deeper into survival.

The humanoid and monster slaying talents each bump your damage and crit damage versus the appropriate critter types by 1% (that’s a plus for base damage and an additional plus for crit). Monsters are beasts, giants, and dragons according to this talent, making elementals, demons, undead, and silithids the only things unaffected by these two talents.

PvP spec hunters should strongly consider humanoid slaying. It means the difference between aimed shots that hit mages for 1800 damage and aimed shots that hit them for 1900. Monster slaying is nice for soloing/grinding. Trolls with monster slaying will be doing +8% base damage to beasts before the extra crit damage gets applied 😉

Tier Two

Tier two of survival is a bit problematic. Savage strikes costs two points to increase the crit chance of your raptor and mongoose strikes by 20%… So, while that is nice if you’re spending a lot of time in melee, it doesn’t help your ranged combat abilities any, so I can’t recommend it.

Improved wing clip is interesting, and is a good tier two choice, especially if you’re not planning on going any deeper. Five talent points buys your wing clip attack a 20% chance of rooting your enemy for 5 seconds. This is in addition to the attack’s snare effect that will continue for a little bit after the root effect fades.

Wing clip is cheap – at level 60 it costs only 80 mana – is instant cast and has no cooldown timer. So you can spam it quite happily for a few seconds in order to guarantee a rooting effect before you run away.

I actually use wing clip for training weapon skills, especially with two-handers.

Entrapment is like the wing clip rooting effect only applied to your traps, with a 1% higher chance of success per talent point spent. I am actually using this talent right now, because it works miracles with your frost trap.

The chance of rooting seems to be triggered every time a mob steps into the ice patch. This means that if your frost trap hits four mobs, you’re almost guaranteed to proc the effect. I use this any time the party is heading into an AoE encounter.

Tier Three

Trap efficiency bumps the damage on your fire traps by 30% and the duration on your ice traps by 30%. This is amazing. At level 60, your freezing trap is a 20 second crowd control effect. This talent bumps that up to 26 seconds.

For comparrison. Level 60 polymorph has a 50 second effect that only works on humanoids and beasts, heals the victim, and leaves them liable to wander into an AoE storm or something (in addition to drawing much hate toward your mage). Level 48 sap only works on humanoids, can only be used out of combat, and lasts for 45 seconds. Level 60 shackles have a 50 second duration, but only work on undead, and level 48 banish lasts 30 seconds and only works on elementals and demons.

So, frost trap has half the duration of the big crowd control abilities, and isn’t targetted like them. It also requires you to be out of combat to use – which isn’t a big deal if you remember how to use your feign button. Frost trap’s big win is that it potentially works on just about everything. If a mob is immune to frost trap, it is likely immune to other forms of crowd control already.

Survivalist is nice. It means +10% max hp. For cows… that’s really happy.

Deterrance is an interesting one. I’m using it right now. It gives you a 10 second buff of +25% to dodge and parry on a 5 minute cooldown. Add deflection and improved monkey to this and you have 38% to dodge and 30% to parry before stats and equipment come into the picture. That’s a pretty decent amount of damage reduction in hairy situations.

The big problem with deterrance is that you can’t just hit it every time you wind up in melee, because the 10 second duration divided by the 300 second cooldown leaves you potentially wishing you had saved it. It is also dangerous when PvPing against warriors – you dodge a warrior and he uses overpower on you (an unavoidable attack for +damage).

Deterrance is also the pre-req for the tier five activated ability, for whatever that’s worth.

Tier Four

Surefooted gives you +3% to hit and +15% to resist roots and snares. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to give you a chance to resist the daze effect that cheetah and pack will hit you with. It also doesn’t help against polymorph or stun type effects. So shrug. But +3% to hit is +3% to hit, and the movement impairment resistance buff is probably pretty cool in addition to the one orcs already get.

Trap mastery makes your traps 10% harder to resist. Not that critters resist traps very much, but I like to think that it helps the entrapment effect proc more often, so I’m using it right now.

The other tier four talent is improved feign, which makes your feign dead ability 4% less likely to fail. This really matters when feigning stuff higher level than yourself. If you’re only fighting mobs your own size, it shouldn’t matter much since they rarely resist the ability.

But… if feign fails, you die. So it’s up to you 😉

Tier Five

Ok. Another must-have ability on tier five in killer instinct. +3% to crit with anything, even swords if you are so inclined.

The other tier five ability is counterattack, an ability that activates off of a successful parry (with mongoose activating off of dodge). Like mongoose, counter doesn’t do much damage. Unlike mongoose, however, counter is unavoidable and procs a 5 second root effect.

I don’t use counter because I’m avoiding melee if at all possible. But more realistically, I’m not using it because I don’t have room on my action bar for it. My 1-3 keys are mongoose, raptor, wing clip respectively. 4 is whatever shot I’m using most frequently, 5-7 are stings.

Even if I did move things around to make room for counter, it’s an ability that doesn’t activate all that often that is now taking up action bar space, and I become in constant risk of wasting it by missing the parry message and forgetting to activate it when the time comes. It is this reasoning that’s been tempting me to actually remove mongoose from my action bar and put an interesting macro on the 1 key. Haven’t done it yet, but I am sorely tempted.

Tier Six

Ok. Tier six is the pinnacle of coolness in the survival tree. This is why you specced survival, after all. Lightning reflexes gives you +15% to your agility. At level 60, suppose you have 300 agility. This talent bumps that up by an additiona 45 points.

45 points of agility means 6.4 more base dps, 90 more points of AC, 1.7% to dodge, and 0.8% to crit. Of course, if your agility is higher… the bonus is even happier.

Tier Seven

The tier seven ability is really pretty useful, howbeit difficult to master. Wyvern sting is a 12 second sleep attack that can only be used outside of combat. When your enemy wakes up, they receive a bigger dot than serpent sting (at level 60 this is 600/12 secs as opposed to serpent for 555/15 or even improved serpent at 610/15). Like most other cc powers, wyvern’s sleep is interrupted by damage dealt.

Wyvern is on a two minute cooldown, so you can’t realistically expect to use it every single fight, much less more than once in a single fight (by feigning). The dot is also sometimes problematic. If you are using wyvern to extend the duration of your crowd control from a freezing trap, you’ll need to remember to hit your target with scorp before they hit the trap – or the dot will turn your potential 38 second field of containment into a 13 second one.

Of course, lay trap, wyvern, wait 12 secs, scorp, untarget so you don’t break the ice with auto-shot, feign, lay another trap means you can keep something out of combat for 64 seconds. So, while much more complicated than repeatedly sheeping something, this is potentially a lot more entertaining 😉

Especially if you realize that feign is only on a 30 second cooldown, so if you’re quick about it, you can probably throw a few more frost traps into the cycle once it’s started, and if you keep it up for very long, wyvern -will- get a chance to recharge.

This can be very mean in PvP if you want to play with your food, especially if stalling for reinforcements 😛

hunters 101

I’ve been bemoaning my fate as a hunter in Warcraft since nearly the beginning of the game 😛

Why? Well, because hunters were thrown into the game as something of an afterthought, and didn’t really come into their own until recently. They are the second most popular class now – probably because they are so heavily geared toward PvE content. This leads to two problems that I’ve noticed with the hunter population in general.

  1. Because hunters are so easy to solo with, many hunters are complacent and tend to be less than stellar party members.
  2. Because so many hunters misunderstand their own class, many non-hunter players misunderstand them as well.

Of course, lots of classes are frequently misunderstood. Warriors who think they’re DPS, paladins who think they’re tanks, etc… But hunters are fairly consistently inefficient.

Thus, as one who has played a hunter since the stupid game opened, I’m going to whip out my hubris and pretend I know what I’m talking about when it comes to how to play an efficient hunter character in World of Warcraft.

So… cringe in terror, mere mortals, as I wax really really verbose on a lot of basic hunter stuff. More advanced strategy/high end tactics will probably follow in a future post.

Race

The first choice that a hunter player makes isn’t which pets to capture or which talents to choose. It’s their race. On Alliance side (which is where I have the most experience), the choice is between Dwarves and Night Elves. Horde players can be anything but Undead. Now, if you are planning for end game, your race really doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to stats and things, so I am not going to talk about those. Mostly.

Dwarves – I like dwarves. I am a dwarfoholic. I’ve been playing dwarves in RPG’s since I was in jr high. I’m not going to change. That being put aside, dwarves are one of the most effective PvE hunter races. They get +5 levels in gun and their racial ability effectively grants immunity to poison and disease. Not many people seem to use or even know about this ability. It’s saved my life plenty of times. Stick stoneform on your action bar and spam it, the cooldown’s only 2 minutes.

The treasure tracking is potentially useful – if you can find anywhere to put it with all of your other tracking abilities… I very rarely use it (like once every few months of play).

Night Elves – Elves are sissies. Of course, I’m a dwarf and our men don’t wear dresses, but again, that’s beside the point. Elves are some of the best PvP hunters because they can stealth. Camp, aimed shot snipe, repeat. They also start off with a bit higher agility than everyone else, which isn’t bad either.

Orcs – Orcs are a wierd race. Their stats and racial abilities would seem to suggest that they’re designed for melee types. But they also have a good bit of hunter to them. Their pets hit 5% harder (which can really add up – pets are potentially 20-25% of your damage output as a hunter). They get +5 in axes – a hunterly weapon. And, they are resistant to stunning effects – the bane of all hunters.

Tauren – Cows start with guns and have a lot of social pressure from quest givers and stuff to be hunters. But they’re really not all that suited for the job. Their agility is terrible and well, yeah. They do get more hp than any other race. So if you aren’t opposed to throwing some talents at Survivalist, you could potentially get 10% more HP than other hunters with otherwise similar stats.

Oh, and I lied. Tauren’s racial ability warstomp is a potential gamebreaker. Stomp is on a 5 minute cooldown and stuns a few mobs next to you. It is potentially incredibly useful for getting back into range – kind of like scatter shot.

Trolls – Trolls get +5 to bow (and thrown, for whatever good that does), have +10% to hp regen (and continue to regen health slowly during combat – MAJOR plus for a hunter), and do increased damage to beasts. Talents can bump this up to a total of +8% damage vs beasts. And lots of hunter stuff is geared toward fighting beasts, so this isn’t a bad thing at all.

My general recommendation?

On Alliance, go sissy elf if you just want to gank. Go dwarf if you want to actually be useful in a high level party 😉

Horde, it is tempting to choose orc. Don’t be fooled. Pet damage is nice, but unreliable in raids when it might be a bad idea to keep your pet out. The axe skill doesn’t mean you do more damage with your axe, but that you hit more often with it – and your whole goal in life as a hunter is to stay as far away from melee as possible.

I would say Cows for soloing and PvP (don’t know how many times I’ve lost in one-on-one PK encounters because I was 100 or 200 hp short :P). Warstomp FTW. Trolls are ideally the best party hunters. Accuracy with your ranged weapon is all important when you are shooting raid bosses – having an overwhelming rate of fire doesn’t mean anything if your arrows don’t connect. And being able to continue your natural hp regeneration during combat means that when you get hit for trivial amounts of damage it doesn’t add up.

Weapons

Ok, I mentioned already that axes are a hunterly weapon, but that their use should generally be avoided. Hunters are designed to inflict ranged damage. All but like 4 of a hunter’s abilities are meant to kill things by shooting them. In fact, hunters are most decidedly crippled in melee. Even full survival spec hunters are in trouble.

When it comes to weapon choice. Hunters can buy skill in absolutely everything except maces (and 2h maces). It is fun to play with other weapons, but generally… they’re not going to do you much good.

My advice is to look for weapons that give agility or attack power buffs. If you insist on fighting in melee, remember that your only useful damage-producing ability (raptor strike) has a long (6 second) cooldown. The ability is cheap and meant to be spammed, so if you’re going to rely on it for damage, you really want to have something big and slow to use in the hopes that you’ll crit and actually inflict damage close to what your real weapon would be doing on normal hits 😛

For the kinds of bonuses you’re looking for, hunters will generally find that one-handed axes and daggers are nice (and since you can dual-wield, grab one for each hand) and that spears are also generally quite effective. 2h swords and axes are fun, but don’t usually offer the kinds of plusses that will improve your ranged damage.

A hunter’s real weapons ship in three different shapes. Guns, bows, and crossbows. No race starts out with xbows, you have to buy that privilege from a weapon trainer.

Which weapon you use is generally a matter of personal preference, since their damage output is fairly comparable, but there are a few things you should consider when choosing to change weapons (aside from the whole racial +5 thing). I have used all three weapons extensively in my career, with my gun skill currently actually being the lowest (at like 275 or so, xbow and bow are both capped).

Bows and crossbows both use quivers and fire arrows. Arrows must be purchased, they cannot reliably be manufactured by players at this time. Guns are engineering toys – engineers make bullets and guns and scopes (which are usable on all 3 weapon types). And engineer ammo is consistently better than what you’ll find on vendors. You don’t have to be an engineer to use any of the gun/ammo/scope stuff they build.

Bows have a higher rate of fire than the other two weapon types. As such, they don’t hit as hard (thus having more problems against heavily armoured targets) and they run out faster. Remember that it is much more expensive to keep buying ammo for a bow than it is for a crossbow with equal nominal damage output. For a few levels, I was running around with a bow that poured arrows out like a machine gun. It felt cool and looked cool. But I was always running out of ammo.

Crossbows are actually the slowest of the weapons in most cases. I have a 3.3 second xbow in my vault (recently upgraded to a big slow regular bow with slightly more +agi). Slow weapons are good if you want to kill things and aren’t worried about how you look on the damage report when the raid is over (since other dps classes hit faster and will generally be able to drop enemies while your bow is still recharging). Slow weapons hit harder per shot and thus crit for way more (my xbow would usually crit aimed shots for 1800+ damage, my current bow only crits aimed’s in the 1200 range against most targets).

Slow weapons are also very nicely compatible with aimed shot in that if your weapon’s regular rate of fire is close to aimed’s 3 second casting time, you’re not really going to be missing out on your normal shots – and will thus be able to spam aimed shot during combat with much happiness. With my xbow, I would tap aimed immediately after a regular arrow fired off. Then, when aimed fired, my regular attack would have cooled down and I would accompany it immediately with an auto-shot arrow. That’s generally going to be around double the damage you’d normally do over the same period of time just shooting normal attacks.

Stats

Agility. Nothing else matters. Really. Throw everything else away if it means you can increase your agi. Agility increases your DPS (both ranged and melee), your hit chance, your crit percent, your damage reduction (AC), and your dodge percent. While you don’t get as much dodge as a rogue would, you get more than other classes (and monkey increases it by 8-13% with talents).

Attack power is your next best bet if you can’t get agility on a piece of eq. One point of agility == 2 points of ranged attack power (one point of melee), but remember that by trading agility out for attack, you’re losing crit and hit percentage and are going to take more damage.

Hit chance isn’t so important at lower levels when you’re fighting stuff close to your own size. But it really starts to matter at higher levels, when you’re fighting mobs way bigger than everyone. This is when the dwarves and trolls win with their +5 ranks in their weapon of choice.

Crit chance is very nice for soloing and is probably the only way you are going to outperform other DPS classes in groups. This number applies to your arcane/aimed shots, multi shot, and your regular attacks. So, if you were to attack a mob with aimed/auto/multi, it isn’t unreasonable to expect a lvl 60 hunter to inflict over 1200 damage with the salvo. If all three of those attacks crit, however, you’ll be doing more like 3000+ damage in the same amount of time, for the same amount of mana 😉

Stamina is probably next in importance after agility/attack power. While you aren’t a tank by any means, you get good HP, can wear decent armour, and have a high dodge%. And when you get stuck in melee, your agility is only going to help you so much. The best green drops for hunters are generally the “monkey” set (+agi/+stam).

Intelligence is probably next in importance. As a hunter with loads of agility and attack power eq, I can generally keep up with a rogue in terms of damage production – until I run out of mana. Lots of hunters seem not to spam their shots, but shots == dps == shorter fights . If you are soloing, int doesn’t matter so much, but in parties, you’ll often be screaming for want of mana, and any little increase in max mana means that you don’t have to stop and drink as often. Less downtime in parties is good. But remember, hunter shots aren’t technically spells (at least, not when its convenient), so int doesn’t increase your chance to crit with them.

After that… not much else matters.

Spirit turns into hp/mana regen, but unless you’re a troll, you’re not regenning health during combat anyways, and you don’t want to rely on spirit alone for mana regen between fights. It can be useful in long, protracted battles when your mana runs out and you’re just waiting to regen enough juice to fire off one final shot… but that’s about it. Reliance on water for regen is generally going to serve you better than wasting equipment on spirit.

Of course, eq that offers direct mana regen is another story entirely 😉 That’s good stuff.

Strength is utterly worthless. It only increases your melee damage production, and even then, not by much (+1 str == +1 melee attack power). If, for some ungodly reason, you want to do melee damage, get agility 😉

Abilities

Hunter abilities all cost mana. This is both good and bad. Good in that you can receive int, spirit, and mana regen buffs to increase your potential damage output. Bad in that you’re pretty much hosed if you run out of juice.

Despite their costing mana, they don’t seem to be classified as ‘spells’ when it would be convenient (like for +arcane damage equipment). But they are turned off when you get hit by a silence effect.

Some of your abilites are authentic spells, but those are generally just for dealing with your pets.

Aspects

Hunters receive a number of animal aspect abilities that give them (and sometimes their party) some pretty nice buffs. Aspects are inexpensive to use, are instant cast, and don’t have to be recast like trueshot aura or most other classes’ personal buffs.

Monkey – Aspect of the monkey means an always-on +8% to dodge at level 4. With talents, you can bump this effect up to +13%.

Hawk – Aspect of the hawk increases your ranged attack power. It can also be improved with talents to give it an occasional chance of hasting your ranged attacks (more on this later). At level 10, hawk is only worth 20 attack power (1.4 dps). By level 60, however, the aspect increases your attack power by a whopping 120 points (8.6 dps).

Cheetah and Pack – These aspects give you 30% run speed (and seem to have a minor affect on your swim speed as well). If you blow talents, you can bump this up to 36% speed. The big problem with this ability is that if you take any damage (other than a dot), you will become snared for 3 seconds – reducing your travel speed to something like 40% of what it was before you switched the aspect on. Cheetah comes at level 20 and affects only you, pack comes at 40 and affects any party members close to you.

Beast – Aspect of the beast is worthless. It makes you disappear from the radar of other hunters or druids who are tracking humanoids. Blech.

Wild – Aspect of the wild is a PBAoE buff that gives your party +45 nature damage resistance at level 46 and +60 at level 56. Nature resist is incredibly happy versus mobs with poison type auras around them (like lots of undead).

Shots/Stings

This is the bread and butter of a hunter’s damage output. You should be spending the vast majority of your mana on your special shot and sting attacks. Shots are pretty straightforward. They have a single, quick effect.

Stings proc some sort of negative status effect on your enemy. You may only have one sting active at once, and each mob may only have one sting of any given type on it (excepting for the HP dot stings, which every hunter in the group may lay on the same mob).

Serpent – Serpent sting is a 15 second nature damage over time (dot) effect. At level 4, it only does 20 damage total. At level 60, with talents, it does as much 610 damage over the course of the 15 second duration.

Arcane – Arcane shot is an instant cast arcane damage nuke. It is fairly inexpensive to use, and can be fired on the run, but it is also on a 6 second cooldown. It makes the ultimate pulling attack for groups if you don’t want to generate a lot of aggro onto yourself. Rank one arcane shot only inflicts 13 damage 🙂 At level 50, rank seven arcane shot will do 145 damage – probably about half that of your regular arrows.

But, you must also remember that it is arcane, not physical damage. This means that you can use it to slowly hurt things that are immune to normal attacks, and that it tends to ignore armour and do a guaranteed 145 damage to your victim (unless they have arcane spell resistance).

Concuss – Concussive shot is a ranged snare attack. It costs a bunch of mana and is on a relatively long cooldown, but it drops your enemy’s run speed down to 50% for four seconds. If you want to waste talents, you can give it a chance of rooting the enemy in stead of simply snaring them.

Distract – Distracting shot is a ranged taunt. It generates threat with whoever you shoot with it. Good for pulling mobs off of your cloth-wearing party members. It is really very inexpensive to cast and is on an 8 second cooldown, so when paired with a good damaging attack, you can generally do quite a bit to keep your healer safe.

Multi – Multi-shot replaces your normal attack with one that strikes up to 3 enemies. With higher ranks in the ability and talents, it does more damage than a normal attack, and as long as you remember not to use it around sheep and frozen enemies, it’s a great ability to spam and increase your damage output.

Aimed – Aimed shot is purchased with a tier 3 marksmanship talent point and can then be improved with money at higher levels. It has a 3 second casting time but does markedly more damage than your normal attacks – generally somewhere in the neighborhood of 2x your base damage. It shares a timer with arcane shot, so you can’t use both of them in rapid succession.

Scorp – Scorpid sting is a very happy debuff if you are conserving mana and are relying on regular attacks to kill something. It decreases your enemy’s strength and agility by 20 points each at level 22, 68 points at 52. That’s a reduction of 2.8 dps in its weakest incarnation 😉

Scatter – Scatter shot is acquired with a tier five marksmanship talent point. It is a short range attack that confuses your target for a few seconds. Any damage dealt will break the effect, but it’s a nice bit of temporary crowd control.

Viper – Viper sting is a mana DOT to your victim. It doesn’t drain very fast, and it doesn’t drain very much. This makes it pretty useless against mobs who typically have tens of thousands of mana at high levels. It also makes it pretty useless against any player caster who isn’t already almost out of juice – it is nice for keeping priests drained while you kill them via other means for example.

What viper sting is useful against are casters who generally don’t have a lot of mana to begin with: paladins, shamans, and other hunters.

Wyvern – Wyvern sting is acquired with a tier seven survival talent point. It can only be used out of combat and lets you put an enemy to sleep for 12 seconds. If they sleep for the whole duration, they’ll wake up with a poison DOT on them stronger than your serpent sting.

Tranq – Tranquilizing shot is a Molten Core thing. You learn it from a book. The spell then only has one use – to remove a ‘frenzy’ effect from bosses, thus keeping them killable. Currently, only a scant handful of enemies go into frenzies, but when they do… the party’s pretty much dead unless a hunter is able to tranq him.

Tracking

As a hunter, you get a bucketload of tracking abilities. If you’re a dwarf or pick up a gathering profession, you get even more tracking abilities. By max level, you’ll be able to track any creature type – except for those critters that don’t have types set. And, of course critters of the type ‘critter’.

A few things to note about tracking.

  1. All players normally qualify as humanoid, even Forsaken. Shapeshifted players generally track as beasts.
  2. Hunter pets track as beasts, so even if another hunter is trying to hide from you with aspect of the beast, you can still track him unless he sends his pet away.
  3. Warlock pets do not track as demons. They are untrackable.
  4. Other untrackable critters are anything without a specific monster type associated with it – silithids being the most notorious example, but slimes and wavethrashers are also notable in their untrackability.
  5. You will track everything within a given XY distance of yourself. Unfortunately, there is no Z-axis restriction on the tracking. So in areas with multiple floors, you’ll be seeing a lot of garbage on the radar. And, unlike resource tracking, the icons on the map don’t grey out for mobs on different floors than you.
  6. Track hidden is all but useless. It increases your stealth detection ever imperceptably and only tracks those stealthed mobs that you can already see. This ability isn’t helpful at all when hunting the stealthed elementals in Wetlands, for example since you’ve practically got to run into them before they show up on your mini-map anyways. Potentially useful in PvP against rogues… but only barely.

Traps

A hunter has four traps in his arsenal. They all last for one minute after being set and all share a 15 second cooldown. You may only have one trap at a time, so if you change your mind as to which trap to set during the 45 seconds between cooldown and trap expiration, it will remove the first one when you place a new one.

You must also be out of combat to place a trap. But, feign death can take you out of combat if your pet isn’t hammering on something, so you can always feign and place a new trap. You do not have to stand up before clicking the trap button, you’ll set it while laying down and will then stand up automatically – thus generally guaranteeing you stay out of combat long enough to place it.

Unfortunately, both of your ice traps and both of your fire traps look the same. So if you forget which type you placed, you may as well set another one to make sure. It is also troublesome when party members think your shiny blue crystal thing is a frost trap and not a freeze trap… Of course, that problem can be solved with basic communication skills 😉

Immolation – Your immolation trap comes at level 16 and procs a large fire DOT on a single target. This is particularly useful against elementals, who tend to be immune to nature damage (so your serpent sting won’t hurt them).

Freeze – Your freezing trap comes at level 20 and disables a single target for 10 seconds initially. At max rank and with talents, the duration increases to 26 seconds. Like all crowd control abilities, any damage inflicted on your victim will break the spell – so make sure you don’t have an active DOT on the enemy and that your pet isn’t chewing on them or else your trap will have been wasted.

Frost – You get frost trap at 28. When triggered, it creates a large patch of ice that will slow any npc’s or enemy players who step on it down to 40% of their normal run speed. This is generally incredibly useful in parties for plugging doorways and otherwise keeping enemies away from your casters.

Explosive – Your explosive trap comes at level 34 and does fire damage to everything in a small radius around the mob that set the trap off. In addition to the initial burst of damage, it also procs a similarly sized DOT effect on all affected critters. Explosive trap does less damage to a single target than immolation trap.

Melee

The goal of a hunter who finds himself in melee should be a rapid resolution to the problem – that of being too close to your enemy. If something’s almost dead, you can generally hammer it with attacks until it dies, but you’re always less effective up close than at range.

Raptor – This is your only melee damage skill. It bumps up the damage of your next melee attack by a small bit. Crits with raptor strike are actually tolerable damage, but should probably not be relied upon for damage output 😉

Mongoose – While this attack does damage… it doesn’t do much damage. And it’s only available for a few seconds after you dodge an attack. You can use it, and probably should since you’re so low on options once you’re stuck in melee, but it’s probably not going to save your life or anything.

Wing clip – Wing clip is dead useful. It snares your enemy, letting you then run out of melee. It does very negligable damage, but is instant cast with no cooldown period, so you can spam it if you want to. I like using it to train weapon skills, and with the improved wing clip talent, you can generally wail on the button until the root effect procs.

Counter – Purchased with a tier 5 survival talent. It is an unblockable low damage attack that is enabled after you parry something. The nice bit is not the damage, but that it pretty much guarantees a 5 second root effect on your enemy. So, if you have enough fingers to use it, it’s pretty nice for getting out of melee range.

Disengage – Disengage is a melee attack that acts as a fairly wimpy detaunt effect. It is useful for returning aggro back to your pet/tank, but as it only works on one target at a time and requires you to be in melee range to function, it is pretty much obsoleted once you get feign death.

Pet Management

Tame pet – Catch a new pet. The ability is channeled for 20 seconds. If anything stops your channeling, you will fail in the attempt and will have to feign or something and try again.

Eyes of the beast – Lets you take control of your pet. Great for goofing off (making kitty dance around people and stuff) and for exploring areas where eagle eye doesn’t work.

Mend pet – This spell allows you to channel healing to your pet if you are close enough. The range is pretty short, so it is quite possible to be shooting your enemy quite happily and have to close in before being able to heal your pet. With talents, you can buy the ability to also heal negative status effects in addition to hp damage.

Revive pet – Pretty self explanatory. If your pet dies, you actually have to rez it in stead of just resummoning it like a warlock would. You don’t have to actually be anywhere near the corpse to use this ability – your pet doesn’t even need to have a corpse to use it.

If your pet’s corpse is in a safe location, it is possible for healer type players to rez it. Thus wasting their valuable mana in exchange for your expendable mana 😉 Several patches ago, they fixed a funny bug that would give rez sickness to anyone foolish enough to attempt to revive a hunter’s pet for him 😛

Bestial wrath – Purchased with a tier seven beast talent point, this attack is on a 2 minute cooldown and buffs your pet through the roof. It does increased damage and becomes immune to fear and other forms of crowd control.

Misc

Mark – Hunter’s mark puts a big bouncing arrow above your victim. It has a long duration, makes the target show up on your mini-map (and that of party members) even if you’re not tracking their type. It allows you and party members to see stealthed victims, and most importantly, it increases the ranged attack power of everyone shooting the victim by a hefty amount.

Now, nobody in your party but hunters should usually be shooting things 😛 And only one mark may be in place per mob, so you can’t have a group of 5 hunters give themselves a party-wide +600 attack power buff on the poor target. But still, it is very nice.

A word of warning about mark and PvP. People see when they get hit by mark. So, if you’re aimed-shot sniping people… don’t put mark on them or they’ll know something’s up.

Volley – Volley is a channeled AoE arcane DOT. It is on an annoyingly long one minute cooldown timer, but is otherwise quite nice in parties and in conjunction with frost traps. Despite its being a ranged attack, its radius is equal to your minimum attack range – meaning you can actually use it to hit targets in melee range with you. But since it’s channeled, any time they hit you, the spell’s remaining duration will be reduced.

Beast lore – Lets you find out information about a particular creature. Beast lore turns the target beast-type creature’s tooltip into a stat sheet. You see all kinds of numbers, including whether it is tameable, what the creature would eat if tamed, and what abilities it will bring with it. Is also nice for checking out other hunters’ pets.

Feign dead – You fall to the ground and play dead in an attempt to discard any aggro you’ve built up. Mobs who don’t resist the effect will completely forget you and just return to whatever they were doing. If you’re in a party, this generally means that they’ll run off and attack somebody else. If you’re solo, it means the mobs will go back on patrol or whatever.

As long as your pet is not fighting something, feign dead will also remove you from combat. This means that you will be able to place another trap or fire off a wyvern sting.

Eagle eye – Only works outdoors. Eagle eye lets you change your point of view to pretty much anywhere you can click on. Is great for scouting enemy camps and stuff. It creates a big sparkly animation where you’re looking from – which means that other players can tell that a hunter (or an engineer with a spyglass) is scrying on the location.

Scare beast – Causes a single targetted beast to run away for 10-20 seconds. Standard crowd control effect rules apply, so you can’t fear a critter and then shoot it while it runs around. Only one beast may be feared at a time, and the spell isn’t instant cast, so you have to stop running in order to use it.

Deterrance – Purchased with a tier three survival talent point. Deterrance is on a 5 minute cooldown and gives you a 10 second +25% buff to both your dodge and parry chances. This is particularly nice in tight spots where something pretty nasty is bearing down on you and you’re going to have to kill it in melee.

Rapid fire – Costs 100 mana, is on a 5 minute cooldown. Gives you a +40% ranged attack speed buff for 15 seconds. Quite nice for bosses and other thick-skinned enemies. Downright devastating when paired with improved hawk’s additional 30% speed buff 😉

Flare – Throws up a very wimpy firework animation and unstealths anything within the area of effect. This is generally more effective than track hidden for flushing out stealthed NPC’s, since you can use it from a greater distance. Mobs affected by flare will be kept from re-stealthing for a short while and will not be aggrivated.

Trueshot Aura – Purchased with a tier seven marksmanship talent point. This gives you and nearby party members a +attack power buff. At max level, it’s pretty good, 100 points. The downside is that it’s expensive and constantly has to be renewed – and that two hunters’ auras won’t stack.

Pets

There are lots of decisions to make when choosing a pet. Pets come in three basic types: tanks, dps, and average. Tank pets will have either increased HP or AC and will inflict less damage with their normal attacks. DPS pets will have lower HP/AC but will hit harder.

In all reality, you’ll find that DPS pets still tank better than you do and that tank pets can frequently withstand more damage than a paladin might. The choice is generally a matter of personal play style. I actually keep one pet of each type. I might consider grabbing a boar in the near future if the highest level boars weren’t so tiny.

In addition to the type of pet you’re looking at, you should consider its diet, any special racial abilities it can get, and its model’s animation. Yup, the picture does matter. Flying pets may do nice damage, but they’re dangerously spammy on your screen. Pets flying around (most notably winged serpents) will frequently make clicking on individual targets really pretty difficult. I use an owl right now, and it gets in the way a lot – but not as often as a snake would.

Diet is pretty important if you don’t mind spending all of your cash on keeping your pet fed. Pets that eat fish are the cheapest – since fish is free, or at least really easy to get for next to no price. Pets that eat meat are the next cheapest – since most beast-type mobs tend to drop edible meat. Pets that only eat fruit/mushrooms are obnoxious. These kind of drop aren’t terribly common in most places, so you’ll have to dedicate part of your allowance to buying pet food in addition to ammo.

Special attacks… can be pretty cool, and they can be a waste of time. In recent patches, Blizzard has been churning out a constant stream of new abilities for pets to use. Cats can stealth and ambush, snakes can breathe lightning, birds can screech, and turtles can stand there looking stupid.

For a really good reference on pets and pet abilities, try these sites:

  • Good Intentions – a guild on the Azjul-Nerub server has what has long been the de-facto standard in hunter pet ability cheat sheets. They list all ranks of all pet skills and what creatures may be tamed in order to learn them.
  • Petopia is kind of like a slower version of the Good Intentions Guild site. It is more picture-oriented, so you can actually see what the pet looks like. They also have exhaustive stat numbers on pets and such as well as several essays on interesting pet-related topics.

Dash/Dive is great. It’s cheap and it means that your pet will be able to close in on a target almost instantly. Definately worth having on any pet who can learn it.

Screech is incredible. It is an AoE attack power debuf that generates massive amounts of hate and does a minor bit of damage to boot. Oh, and it’s fast and cheap.

Shell Shield is… like the ultimate cower ability. Turtles will only autocast it when they’re about to die. Which is a good thing, because not only is it on a 5 minute cooldown, it also paralyzes your pet for the duration, meaning that they stop growling or anything and won’t follow the mob when it turns to come eat you. It is also available at a very low level and doesn’t improve – it’s always the same 50% damage reduction whether it’s on a level 20 turtle or a level 58 one.

Furious Howl is a waste. It costs 60 whopping focus and at rank 4 only gives a +50 damage buff to the party’s next attack. If it lasted multiple attacks, that’d be one thing, but it is only going to happen once per fight if you have anything else on autocast.

Charge is awesome. Not only do piggies eat anything, they get the 1 second stun effect on top of the huge attack power bonus that charge generates. Rank 5 means a 390 attack power buff on the pig’s second attack after the charge. Stacking charge with dash? Does this make for teleporting little piggies? 🙂

Despite being expensive, thunderstomp seems to be quite useful. Since monkeys make such better tanks than birds do, this particular AoE taunt is very nice for crowd control purposes – and it’s one of the hardest hitting pet attacks in the game.

Scorpid poison is fun. Scorpions make quite passable pets and already do decent damage with claw. Throw an inexpensive DOT on top of that, and you’ve got the potential for some great fun. For even more happy joy, throw multiple scorpions at the same mob. The DOT stacks up to 5 times.

Lightning breath is pretty lame. Not only does it cost half of your snake’s focus, not only is it for winged serpents which are annoying pets to begin with, it doesn’t really do all that much damage for your trouble – about 100 points. Bite does almost as much and is way cheaper. The only advantage here is that it is nature type damage and not physical.

Prowl gives cats the ability to stealth and then deliver an ambush attack when coming out of stealth. It stacks with dash, so the speed reduction isn’t a problem when using it to start fights.

Tactics

Most hunter abilities are best used in concert with each other. And, as a hunter, you have a lot of options which means that playing your character will require some actual thought if you want to be efficient. Here are a few basic strategies that every hunter should know.

Taming

Tired of getting knocked around while trying to tame a new pet? Try rooting/freezing/fearing the sucker first. Also, if you know that your crowd control effect isn’t going to keep the animal busy for the entire 20 seconds, make sure you’re in monkey form so you are able to avoid some of the attacks that do get through.

Also remember that as your pet advances in levels, they don’t automagically pick up new skill ranks. So, to upgrade your pet’s attacks, you will have to learn the ability from other animals who know them. This is generally done by stabling your preferred pet, catching a new creature that you know has the ability you want, and then watching the pet perform the command a few times. You’ll then be able to abandon the junk animal and teach the new technique to your real pet.

Traps

Placing traps only requires a few seconds of preparation and thinking. So if you’re not just carving a swath of unpausing destruction through a crowd of mobs, taking the time to place traps will make life much easier. There are only four types of trap, and I talked about their general use a bit earlier.

The most important thing with traps is letting your party know about them. Drill it into their head that you are using traps and that traps make everyone’s life easier. Convince the tank to back up a few steps so the mob actually hits the damage trap or whatever.

Pulling across freezing traps requires that everyone pay attention. I’ve been in more than a handfull of parties who’ve wiped because some moron attacked the frozen fire elemental in stead of the one they were supposed to hit. Concussive shot is helpful when pulling a pair of tight mobs across the trap – mark and concuss one. The other one will run faster and will freeze – and your party doesn’t have much of an excuse to miss seeing the big floating arrow 😉

The Dead Zone

This isn’t so much a technique as a word of caution. Every hunter is surrounded by an invisible ring of death. If your enemies can manage to get into and stay in this ring, you are dead. The ring extends from between 5 yards to 8 yeards away from you. Just far enough away that you can’t hit them with melee attacks and too close to shoot. Hunters are the only ranged attackers who have a minimum effective range. Casters can blast you into oblivion from up close.

The only abilities you have that can target the dead zone are scatter shot and volley. So… do everything in your power to keep enemies from exploting this.

Kiting

Kiting is a traditional MMORPG combat strategy. It involves running away from/around your enemy in such a way that you are able to keep shooting them but they are unable to engage you in melee.

Hunters are built to kite. You have several slowing attacks and (if you’re careful) a run speed aspect to increase the gap. Kiting takes more effort than sending your pet in to tank for you, but there are lots of situations where your pet will probably get chewed into little pieces if it tanks – but if you kite correctly, neither you or your pet will take much damage.

The general procedure is to wing clip/concuss your enemy, DOT, run away, shoot them a few times, and re-snare them when the wing clip and/or concuss effects wear off. Faster weapons are better for this than crossbows, and arcane shot is your friend since it fires instantly.

Jump Shot

Advanced exercises in efficient kiting will involve the jump shot. Behold the technique:

  1. Place your character in auto-run mode, preferrably running away from your enemy. One way to do this effectively is by holding down both mouse buttons.
  2. Jump. That’s the big blank button at the bottom of your keyboard.
  3. While in the air you will continue traveling in the same direction you were running.
  4. Whip your mouse to the side (you are holding the right mouse button, aren’t you?) enough to turn your char about 90-120 degrees.
  5. Tap your shot/sting on the keyboard. You don’t need to be directly facing the mob, your attacks have a pretty good arc of usability to them.
  6. The instant your attack fires, rotate the mouse back to its original position and you should land and continue running in approximately the same direction you were before you jumped.

Pulling

Hunters are the best pullers in the game. Don’t listen to the lies that other classes keep spreading about us – and that we frequently spread about ourselves.

I could wax philosophical on how to effectively and safely pull as a hunter, but that’s already been done for me. Take a look at Brian Clevinger’s essay on creating what he calls The Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety.

predictions and wishes

With the WoW expansion pack coming down the pipe, the floodgates of speculation have been thrown open once again. No topic has been more hotly contested than that of the new alliance race, and I will get to my opinions on that subject in a bit. But, there are so many other wonderful possibile new features that could be coming out as part of (or as a result of) the expansion.

Thus, I will now wander out into the realm of ideas and wishes, and vague premonitions for new features in the game. Note that for 99% of these things, I have no real evidence other than an unscientific analysis of trends in both the industry at large and Warcraft in specific.

Hunters

I’ve been playing a hunter character since the game opened, and there have always been a few gripes I’ve had with the class. The most notable of these gripes are the ‘dead zone‘ and the relative uselessness of aspect of the beast.

I would love to see some sort of ability (or ideally, multiple abilities) among the new features released in the expansion to deal with the dead zone problems. Escaping rooting effects is one possibility, but much happier than that would be some sort of point blank shot ability. Allow hunters to buy (with talent points if necessary) a reduction on their minimum attack range – just like they buy an extension. Minimum range is 8, so either at 1 yard or 2 yards per talent point, it wouldn’t take very much to eliminate the dead zone.

I would also like to see aspect of the beast made useful – or somehow replaced with something useful. The most obvious improvement would simply be to remove the big glowing red letters above your character when in this form. Another improvement would possibly be the application of the aspect over your entire party (like aspect of the wild or pack). Thus, if nothing else, it would allow you to use your pet while hiding from other hunters.

But, what I would really like to see hunters get is some sort of actual useful stealth ability. I mean, mages are supposedly getting invisibility back in the expansion. Rogues and druids already have actual useful stealth. It would be nice and quite thematic if, at the very least, hunters got stealth from beasts – which should also make you hide from shapeshifted players as well.

Along those lines, some sort of waterbreathing/waterwalking ability for hunters would be nice, but probably really quite far fetched. Numerous other classes get improved methods of dealing with water – in fact, all of the other mana-using classes get something along these lines. Call it ‘aspect of the fish’ or something 😉

It would be nice if they extended the thrown weapon skillset to make it viable in extended combat. Right now, thrown weapons are only useful as a way of giving people w/o ranged attacks some sort of inexpensive ranged pull. It would be kind of neat to allow thrown weapons to be used in conjunction with existing hunter abilities – most notably with auto-shot. I mean, they fixed wands to do it…

One last note on hunters. I want more pets. Both in terms of stable space, and in terms of mob varieties that may be tamed. With them opening up the new planet, it only makes sense that some of those indigenous critter varieties will be tameable. But notable creature types that currently id as ‘beast’ that aren’t currently valid pets: deer, kodo/thunder lizards, most dinosaur varieties, basilisks, and chimera/hippos/gryphons.

Now, obviously threshadons aren’t much of a possibility. But give me a pterasaur pet any day. They’re making moves toward giving all pet types a semi-unique racial feature. I would love to see pterasaur pets with their aoe fear attack and basilisken with their paralysis.

Crafting

My two guesses with the crafting system improvements that will accompany the expansion are (in addition to their already announced jewelcrafting profession and the new slotted item recipes that it implies everyone will be getting) an increase of crafting skill caps and more new professions.

These are both kind of no-brainers, but I actually got into an argument with a kid when I mentioned the possibility of increasing the skill caps one more time. Now, the candidates for new skill caps are 340 (70×5 in keeping with their standard math) or 375 (since every previous rank in crafting skills comes in units of 75 levels). Of course, they could go with 350 since it’s a prettier number or whatever.

But mark my words, there had better be new ranks of crafting skills to produce higher level items. It’d be really kind of pointless and game-breaking to make all of the level 70 item recipes require only 300 skill to use. Granted, they’ll probably be releasing more and more of these recipes via reputation vendors… but I can’t really imagine them doing everything that way from here on out.

Now, my guesses for new professions are pretty tame here. I am assuming that we will have two new ones – woodcutting and fletching/carpentry. It has been a longstanding gripe among players that nobody can craft staves, bows, or arrows. Apparently, there are some ways of making arrows that have been released recently, but nothing on the scale of engineers and bullet production. In fact, the reason I was an engineer for the majority of my playing career was in order to make my own guns and ammo (and scopes).

Why woodcutting? Well, it doesn’t make much sense to make it free – unless they also turn around and make skinning free (or at least a secondary skill). And it certainly doesn’t make sense to give it to herbalists. Though that would be interesting – giving the flowerpickers similar status to miners by having two crafting professions that depend primarily on them (as opposed to their current sole dependant of alchemy).

Other silly profession options would be weaving and some other way to consume/recycle junk greens (in addition to requiring an enchanter to do it). Weaving isn’t gonna happen. They have the whole cloth distribution system well in place and aren’t likely to break it. Still, it would be kind of neat to be able to actually manufacture some of these lower level varieties of cloth.

As regards some sort of item recycling profession, because it is such limited scope and because people who want to spend a profession slot on eating items already have enchanting, it would be best as a secondary skill. I envision the entirely unlikely prospect of being able to break green+ items down into some of their constituent nonmagical components. For example, a black dragonscale breastplate costs 40x rugged leather, 60x black dragonscale, 1x cured rugged hide, and 2x rune thread. Perhaps disassembling it would return some quantity of reusable leather and dragonscales, but probably not the hide (as it is a complicated material with a 3 day cooldown timer involved in its production) and most certainly not the thread (as it is buyable from any number of vendors).

New Classes

It’s gonna happen eventually. Nobody creates one of these games w/o releasing new character classes further down the line. Warcraft has a pretty solid mix right now with the nine current classes (8 available to each faction). However, even Blizzard has hinted at hopes/plans for increasing this number somehow.

As far as odds that they do ever get around to releasing the hero classes… I’m not holding my breath. I expect that they’re more likely to implement multi-classing than ever getting around to writing the hero classes 😛

Some classes that I would like to see…

Martial artist of sorts. Standard issue D&D monk type. While there is no major Warcraft precedent for this… it’s certainly not something that they’ve made impossible in their lore. I would love to see fist weapons actually become useful. Make the guys a cloth-wearing, mana-based melee class and tie all of their abilities to spirit (and give them regen during combat or something). Perhaps allow them some self-healing spells and some short-range shamanesque elemental offensive magic. Perhaps a high degree of natural spell resistance?

Bard. There isn’t a single class in the game devoted strictly to party support. Most classes can offer the group some sort of buffing and/or healing, but nobody hands out large quantities of the stuff. Give bards a seriously toned-down version of rogue melee abilities – making them do damage similar to paladins. But, let them also do a wide variety of AoE buffing and debuffing. Give them a few simple arcane damage nukes, and let them replace paladins as the new and improved buff bots. Perhaps in addition to traditional songs, a bard is allowed to perform a single song at a time – similar to paladin aura. But, when they switch songs, there is a short overlap in effects? Possibly causing interesting stuff to happen when songs switch – or when multiple songs performed by multiple bards overlap 😉

Necromancer. Well. We need another summoner class of some sort, at least. Hunters have beasts, warlocks have demons. Nobody has legions of zombies! Of course, there’s the problem of heavy overlap with warlocks. Perhaps necros could get multiple pets at once, or really cheap and disposable pets. Perhaps they could reanimate something after killing it. Maybe give them lots of ice spells in addition to the obligatory shadow stuff.

Horde/Alliance Relations

Ok. This one is actually a prediction, not just a wish. I see us being able to see the language barrier come crashing down some time after (or as a result of) the expansion. Blood elves certainly understand normal elf and human talk, ne? Well… yeah.

As a result of allowing players to learn other languages, I also see the door being opened up for cross-faction cooperation. We are already seeing some sort of pitiful attempt at this in the Ahn’Qiraj event. I see (possibly as an element of the second expansion) the ability for players of other factions to interact peacably with each other and potentially party together.

Of course, this also brings up the notion of a neutral faction, or simply allowing factionless players. I’m a big fan of this notion. DAoC seems to have had the right idea with the co-op server type. I would love to see a true PvE server type where shamadins of all nations can party together for the betterment and greater happiness of all. Of course, this would marginalize BG’s and the whole honor system crud on those servers, but meh. I’d be willing to play on a server w/o that eq floating around.

New Races

Ok, and to draw my endless ramblings to an end, I’ll finally get around to the idea of new races. My vote is for Draenei. They’re ugly and they hate Orcs. Sign me up. More on specific details later. First, the stupid race ideas that people have been tossing around.

Pandaren. Ok… pandas are… well, they started off as a joke. And people won’t let them die. According to the lore, they’re entirely too neutral to side with either faction. They’d make an interesting addition in the second expansion, if faction borders break down, but I give them about a 5% chance of being the new Alliance race.

Worgen. I don’t know who came up with this one. But giving Alliance werewolves… doesn’t really work. Aside from the whole “inherently evil” problem, they’re also too inherently cool to work. If Blizzard is wanting to try to even out the faction populations, they can’t give us something that will just draw even more 14-year-old boys to Alliance. Granted, they do have a perfect location to start off in, even if it does ruin the continent balance issue. I give them a 1% chance.

Naga. One of the only major intelligent races in the game that isn’t exactly aligned with anyone, naga are a popular vote among kids who hope for this kind of stuff. They don’t fit in with the Alliance since the night elves absolutely despise them, if anything, they’d get along better with the Horde. However, aside from that and the sheer modeling issues (a primary reason why ogres aren’t even in the running), naga are a bit incompatible with the rest of the game races. They breathe under water. Their home zones should be subaquatic… yeah. Doesn’t make visits from the neighbors very feasable. I give them <1%.

Goblins. Goblins, goblins, goblins. I’m giving them less of a chance than naga. Simply because of their decided dedication to neutrality and commercialism. I mean, they already left the Horde to take up careers in banking and explosives manufacturing. If neutral factions ever happen, I entirely expect to see playable goblins – possibly even in the merchant aspect that people seem to be hoping for. But until/unless neutrality is an option, I would be more than completely stymied if it happened.

Draenei. Ok. So, the draenei are ugly, and not in a cool jr high little boy way. They hate orcs with the burning hot passion of a thousand suns. They’re Outlanders and Outland is a major focus of the new expansion. They have a tradition of being usable units in Frozen Throne. There are already draenei in the game, even if they are a bit loopy. And, there’s a picture of what I can only assume to be one in the concept art section of the expansion site.

The only real point against them is that they apparently have a bad psychological reaction to leaving Outland – hence the draenei in the swamp of sorrows are kind of nutty and aggro (with the exception of the small neutral camp in the NW end of the zone). I guess another minor point against them is that their most notable racial feature is the fact that they are supposed to be able to shadowmeld better than night elves.

Of course, that isn’t necessarily a real problem. Blood elves are getting a tremendous amount of power in their racial abilities. Plural. I would not be surprised to see all races getting an upgrade in this capacity. That would give room for draenei to still get the good shadowmeld and give night elves something else in addition to their less effective version. Shrug. It could happen 😉