Why I Play a BM Hunter

Have you ever gone somewhere without your pet? Maybe you had to go tame a new pet for skills, or maybe you were doing a quest where you took control of something else so your pet couldn’t be there (that quest chain in Blade’s Edge Mountains comes to mind)…

If you’re anything like me, going somewhere without your pet is not a pleasant experience. You feel vulnerable; incomplete, crippled even. You skitter nervously past mobs, like a mouse running through a field with hawks overhead. You are weak.

And then you see him (or her): the pet you want you want to tame. Maybe he has just the right skills you need to learn, or maybe he is just the right color and the right style. Maybe you’ve carefully done your research to decide exactly which pet you wanted to tame, or maybe this one just pops out at you and feels right.

He, like you, is vulnerable right now. His life consists of walking around in zigzags and circles and occasionally pouncing on a hapless critter. Oh he could put up a decent fight against a passing adventurer, but it would probably all be for naught– he exists so that someone can kill him and loot him for vendor trash or some random green.

You are both vulnerable. But together…

Your eyes meet and he runs at you. You’re prepared with a trap, but eventually he breaks free and bashes on you. You try to hold out just a bit longer…

And then it happens.

A flash of light and he is standing by your side. In that instant everything has changed. In that instant, neither of you are weak anymore.

There is a beautiful synergy between hunter and pet that I have been unable to find in any other class so far. Granted, I’ve never gotten another class past level 19, so perhaps I’m biased. But the fact remains that, for the time being, I’ve yet to find that synergy elsewhere in the game.

In my last post I was geeking out a little bit about crit. You know why I like crit? It’s not just so I can top the DPS meters. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love being at or near the top of the meters at the end of the instance. It means I’m doing my job and doing it well.

But this is what happens when my pet crits:
Ferocious Inspiration procs, giving a buff to everyone in my party, including myself.

And this is what happens when I crit:
My pet gets to use Kill Command
My pet gets a bunch of focus through the Go for the Throat talent.

You see that? We’re helping each other. We make each other stronger. Everytime that big blue number pops up on the screen (thanks Scrolling Combat Text) and the little alert comes up, it means I not only get to jam my Kill Command hotkey, but a bunch of pet crits are probably coming up too. Those, in turn, further strengthen me through Ferocious Inspiration. It’s a beautiful dance and it thrills me each and every time it happens.

That’s why I play hunters. That’s why, specifically, I finally settled on the Beast Mastery spec. Sure it was Uncle BRK who put the idea into my head in the first place, but it was I who had to try it out and I who had to decide if I liked it or not. It’s about more than a DPS increase. It’s about the aesthetics. It’s about the thrill of the hunt. It’s about that companionship.

Because alone, you are weak.

But together, you become stronger than either of you could have ever imagined.

26 thoughts on “Why I Play a BM Hunter”

  1. Wow, that is a really deep and emotional piece. Are you a pet owner IRL by any chance? My best friend is a pet lover and he plays a BM hunter. Is there a connection?

  2. Well, I am not technically a pet owner since it is my mother that takes care of the pets around here. But I grew up with pets around the house and always loved dogs.

    Still, I chose Beastmastery for my hunter because it just seems fair to make my pet and me stronger at the same time. After all he is the one who will be tanking for me while I shoot from a safe distance. He is the one who never runs when we are both near death. He is the one who is always with me even when there is no one to talk to on guild chat. He never complains if I can’t always buy good food for him and can only give some random junk food from a mob. So, yeah, it is only fair to make my partner in crime as stronger with me.

  3. I could counter everything like that but it would make me seem bitter and cynical. You play what you play for a reason, and I appreciate each hunter for that reason. I will never go BM again after what Blizzard did to me – but I can understand why others would love the spec so much.

    I will always be MM/SV. I will never fully attach myself to my pet ever again, and I will never again have to curse Blizzard more than usual…

    Imagine that dream pet of yours being ripped away…that sort of thing sticks with ya.

    I hope that never happens to you and your soulpet. Your happiness together is a nice pleasant thing to read about. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so very much 🙂

    I’m going to name Owl today.


  4. And remember that sick feeling when you have to FD and leave your pet to deal with the Mob alone … the desperate attempt to bandage and come back into the fight … only to see your friend go down before you can demolish the enemy. Sure you can revive her and heal her and toss her a snack but you know in your heart that you deserted her, something she will never do.

  5. well said!
    that almost put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I know how you feel. A BM hunter and there pet are quite a pair. the Loyalty levels go both ways with a BM hunter and there pet. I hope that Blizzard does not take that away from us.

  6. Nice post. I have a similar feeling with my Warlock, I’ll do my best to keep my ‘pet’s’ alive, even though I know I can just sacrifice it and summon another!
    But it’s that felling of being alone and vulnerable when they are gone!

  7. Ah, Pike, you got that perfectly. I was reading Girl Meets WoW’s blog post on Warcraft superstitions and mentioned this exact same thing, though you put it way better than I ever could.

    And I deeply understand how you feel. As a hunter who has gone through a huge amount of different specs and pets alike, I sometimes feel like I have to keep myself from getting attached to any one pet. Getting too attached makes it all the harder to have to move on.

    Sometimes I find myself so in love with my pet that I keep it in my stable levels and levels after I have had to replace it. And sometimes I find that I am too distant from my new pet, and it often disgusts me. I think that is left over from the long time I spent as a Marksman hunter.

    But one thing is for certain: wherever I am, or whatever pet I am with, I always feel naked without one out. It took me a long time to get used to not having my pet out with me when I am mounted.

    And I have a mind-blowing amount of screenshots of old pets. *tear*….

  8. I’m attached to my Owl, but not enough to really have my heart broken to see him disappear forever.

    the one pet I will never forget…I had a /slap macro with /target and Mark…It was a ravager. i hate those things. dont ask me why but man do i hate them! But he got me the dps i needed from 64ish? I dont know when i finally ditched him again.

    In the end I have Owl and have settled happily with that.

  9. Faradhim – I love animals, not as much as a some people probably… but enough that I have two guinea pigs who I spoil rotten, oh and I work at a pet store.

    I’m not sure if there’s a connection or not; I think I’d probably still play a hunter even if I didn’t have pets IRL. But you never know!

    One Among Many – There are a lot of right ways to play hunter (and the 27/17/17 spec I saw running around Stormwind yesterday is not one of them… but I digress), and the real “meaning” behind the class is open to personal interpretation. A while ago, Mirshalak wrote up a great post about being a survival hunter, I figured I would do one about Beast Mastery. Everybody kind of has their own personal meaning for their love of playing a hunter, and that is the way it should be. ^^

    Mudge – I hate that so much! When I can, when that happens, and I know I don’t have a chance… I’ll get back up, toss a Mend Pet, turn on Cheetah and see how far away I can get… if I get far enough away, the pet disappears and you can re-summon him safe and sound.

    Everyone else – thank you so much for the comments! It means a lot to me that I struck a lot of chords with you all. I felt like trying my hand at a deeper and more essay-ish piece than my usual stuff. I’m glad it turned out. And of course, it helps that it’s all true, as BRK said.

  10. Pike – Definately agree with you. It’s why I love the hunter class most of all – we’re very versatile. While some (like me) prefer to see ourselves as ranged dps with or without our pets, some others prefer to think of themselves as an extension of their pet…and when you go big and red, look out!

    I really did used to love BM simply because I was really attached to my pet (this was on my first hunter and first and foremost went BM without knowing anything about WoW really).

    Granted, I think BM hunters are bad mamma jammas! It’s just not for me anymore.

    On the upside of things at least I’m finally at peace with it all.


  11. When I was able to tame Tikal, my Swamp of Sorrows jaguar, I went back to Azuremist to release Cleopetra back to her homelands.

    And, yes, I’ve probably died more than once in attempts to keep the pet alive “just a bit longer” and got caught when it went down anyway.

  12. Typo: “the pet you want you want to tame.”

    As for the BM “feeling”, that’s true for me as well but I also have RL pets: two cats. I’ve always been a cat lover, more than dogs because cats have their personality while dogs almost seem like they can’t live without you…

    Of course, there are exceptions: of the two cats, one is “mine” and the other is my wife’s cat! We love them both but we have a special synergy with one of them. Mine’s more “catish”, whereas my wife’s cat is a bit “doggish” and follows us around everywhere…

    The thing I like most about hunters is the pets and, due to this feeling of obligation that I have towards taking care of my pet, I’ll rather die if I can’t get away fast enough to have it auto-disappear: if I go down first, the pet will also disappear and “be safe”! 🙂 Yeah, I know, I’m a weirdo! 🙂 Having said that, there’s been a few occasional situations where I sacrificed my pet to achieve something, but not without feeling almost as bad about it as if I had thrown one of my cats out the window… Feels weird to let your pet die when it depends on you and does your bidding without questioning nor hesitation.

    In Portuguese, it feels a bit more weird: whereas in English you treat your pet as “it”, in Portuguese we use the same male/female genders to refer to animals, so a cat or boar is a “he” or “she” depending on gender…

    That’s one good thing warlock pet’s have: you’re much more willing to sacrifice them (and in fact, you even get abilities to DO so for a “profit”), and, being summoned entities, you don’t get so attached to them… On the other end of the deal, since you don’t get so emotionally attached to those lock pets, it doesn’t FEEL like you’re playing a class with pets!

  13. my first toon that i still play with cause i only have 2 lol!!! is my hunter and i understand where everyone comes from about there pets. i really never connected to any pet i had until i went to Un goro crater where i saw the Devilsaur. i have always been bm spec regardless of the new patch 3.0.8 nerfin bm hunters. i love my dino i always make sure hes out. i usually always /pet my dino or /hug him i love him alot thats why i will never leave that spec regardless of how bad the nerfs get ill always stay wit my pet dino.

  14. You just described how I feel about wolf, his name is and forever will be wolf, and he sits in my stables, all alone ever coming out anymore because when it comes to raiding, he can’t hold up the dps other pets can… but come 3.1 I will never eve use another pet except wolf.

    Quite the story me and wolf, I was a young budding hunter lvl 12 if I recall, and I felt the need to explore, still in the trial, i wanted to see the world. I found myself and my newly trained kitty, after all I needed something and the coolest looking thing I saw was that kitty in darn. At some point I stumbled upon dun morogh where i was attacked by a young wolf who clearly was hungry… thats when I said good bye to my kitty and trained wolf. Oh the adventures we had together, downing elites like they were ten levels below us when in reality they were a level or two above us. Instances, heroics, Oh how we frolicked and played. Then, the unthinkable happened.
    I joined a raiding guild and found out that My beloved wolf’s talent did not stack with the paladins might, so I was forced to make a decision will I pursue dps or keep wolf by my side I chose dps, and got a moth, who I still resent a little because shes not wolf. But in 3.1, oh my wolf you’ll come back

    hey if you read this thanks… I wasn’t gonna put this much there but I did, and now its a text wall no one will read lol

  15. Never before have I read a blog relating to WoW in which I had been so moved. Unrelentingly true, this writing describes exactly what I call “true hunters” feel when they travel next to their pet. The companionship is so strong that I’ve been known on many an occasion to drop a Volley/Distracting Shot to pull aggro from Lacertosus when he’s close to death, gladly taking the damage in his place.

    However, I was told to concentrate on Marksmanship by my peers to aid more effectively in PvP. I feel so silly not looking into the other trees, especially Beast Mastery. I’ve got an extra 5g, though…

  16. Beast Mastery forever!

    Wonderfully written post, congrats. I love my pets for everything they bring to every encounter. We are unique even when two hunters are in a raid with the same cat. No cookie-cutter characters for us!

  17. Great post just discovered your site today but I know I’ll be back lol sometimes I think the only reason I care about my own DPS is Knowing my gorilla Kong is relying on me to hold up my end

  18. You did it again Pike: put into words, very eloquently, what’s in every hunter’s heart and soul.

    Born and raised a beastmaster, my pets and I are flexible to be and do whatever we need to. There are times when I’m needed to be stronger than my pet and we gladly suffer through, knowing that soon we’ll be back to our true selves and I swear I hear Max chuckling when I have to figure out yet another new priority of shots.

    It’s a great feeling to see that so many others feel as deeply about being a hunter.

  19. I am relatively new to my hunter (I have a lvl80 pally and I took over my daughters) but I LOVE it.
    I’m BM and have a Viper from the wailing caverns – Midnight. I love her & can’t imagine changing or parting with her. Not sure what I am going to do if I have to move on, will I have to? How do you guy’s do it? How did I get so attached to a big pink & blue snake??!

  20. Hey, this is great. I grew w8th BM and by far it is the funnest. I have a devilsaur named Galbatorix 🙂 My point is in my guid we have an elitist hunter, who will remain nameless :), who uses survival and pulls like 4k dps. My brother, who writes Lights Fury, told me to read ur site for info on how to be better. Right now i pull an average of 2k dps with both marksmen and BM in heroics (elitist hunter wont move over to let me riad), with almost all conquest emblem gear. Im going to go try the spec u mentioned in this post. =D

    Just wanted to thank you and say HUNTERS RULE@!

  21. Pike, seldom has somebody so written out of my heart like you with this little essay, or story. I think I stick to my beastmaster, even if I’m worse in raids than with another spec, though your site gave me the hope, that it is doable.

    My first char (the one that’s me) and the only one I leveled up to 80 is my NE huntress. The beastmaster was the talent tree I took without even thinking twice. I still have my very first pet, a duskstalker from Teldrasil and my ghostsaber. Both I would never have given away, not for a “better” one, not for Gondria or another rare pet. I never even considered to give them away. With four spaces now it is not necessary anyway. I find it no improvement also, that now every new tamed pet is just 5 levels beneath you. And I missed the time, when the hunting companion run next to your riding beast. I still would love that!

    I’ll hope I’ll get a better beastmaster now, with your splendid blog! 🙂

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