Aspect of the Viper and You

Welcome, friends, to Hunter Kindergarten! Today’s topic: Aspect of the Viper.

First a little history lesson for your newer hunter types: You used to learn Aspect of the Viper at level 64, and it was a passive mana-regen that didn’t reduce your damage the way it does now– well, other than the fact that if you were in AotV, you certainly weren’t getting the RAP bonus from Aspect of the Hawk. Despite this, there were a lot of fights in Burning Crusade that were pretty mana-intensive and you’d see a lot of endgame hunters running around in AotV 99% of the time. Me? I was always a purist so I only used it in emergencies; staying in Hawk and living on mana pots, Elixirs of Major Mageblood and Mana Oil (RIP, my beloved Mana Oil *sniff*). But the point remains that Blizzard realized that hunters were pretty mana-inefficient, spending all their time in AotV, and missing out on the yummy RAP bonus from Hawk.

Enter Wrath of the Lich King and we have an all new Aspect of the Viper, and what’s more, we can learn it at Level 20:


^ Pike’s fourth hunter to hit the big two-oh. Back in the day Aspect of the Cheetah was the big thing you learned at 20, now I’m much more excited about Viper. Cause hunter gear with Intellect on it sorta doesn’t exist in the old world. /cough

So what’s the new Aspect of the Viper do? Simple. It slices the damage you deal roughly in half but gives you mana back at a pretty solid rate. Some of this mana you gain passively, but a lot of it you gain back per shot… as in, every time you shoot something, with either Auto Shot or a special shot, you get mana back. The damage penalty does not apply to your pet, but it does apply to things like Serpent Sting that you apply while under the effects of AotV.

When to use it:

When you’re out of mana/nearly out of mana. This one’s a given. Happens a lot when you’re out leveling or solo’ing (no downtime!) or sometimes mid-fights in instances/raids with little or no mana replenishment from other classes/specs. Not a lot you can do about it in that case!

Between pulls. Say you’re in a five-man. You pop into Hawk/Dragonhawk, do a pull, and oh look, you’re almost out of mana! Hop into Viper. Right as the next pull starts, go back into Dragonhawk. Now sometimes if you’re in a really good group the tank is just gonna be chain-pulling stuff left and right and you’ll still find yourself having to either stop and drink, or Viper during the fight, but overall I’ve still found Viper-between-pulls to be a good strategy and a very good habit to get into.

When you’re briefly out-of-the-fight. When Gothik ports to the other side of the gate, Viper until he comes back. When you get the Grobbulus debuff and you have to run to the wall and you’re much too far away to do any shooting, Viper until you can get back (alternative strategy on this fight for Beast Masters in particular: if you’re pretty full on mana when this happens, use Aspect of the Beast instead, to maximize pet damage while you’re away.) When you’ve killed all the adds and are sitting around waiting for Noth to port back, use Viper. …yeah so those were all Naxx examples, but you get the picture. >.> Ah, here’s a non-Naxx one: In Utgarde Keep when the final boss dies for the first time before whats-her-name comes down and pulls an arise-my-champion on him, yeah, use Viper.

When not to use it:

When you’re full on mana. This is a given, you don’t want that damage reduction to be on you. I know it’s easy to forget about it (I forgot alllll the time the first couple of weeks of 3.0.2) but once you’ve been playing with it for a while you start to remember it. There are addons out there that you can search for that will help remind you too.

When you really really need to kill something fast. I’ve been in fights (usually five/ten-mans where there are less people to pick up the slack) where the DPS is really important and the Viper damage reduction gets really noticeable. In that case, if you run out of mana, it might be a good idea to use a mana pot rather than Viper. Remember now that you can only use one mana pot per fight so time it wisely. (Have I mentioned lately that I love being an Alchemist?)

Viper Bonuses:

There are a few things that can improve the performance you squeeze out of Aspect of the Viper. There is a talent in the Beast Master tree, Aspect Mastery, that reduces the damage penalty by 10%. This talent is a given for Beast Masters and several Marksman hunters choose to take it too. There is also a glyph, Glyph of Aspect of the Viper, that increases the amount of mana gained on attack by 10%. Finally, the four-piece hunter tier 7 set bonus will increase your ranged attack speed by 20% while you are in Viper. I can imagine all of these little bonuses combined would be quite delicious (although I no longer use the Viper glyph, myself).

In conclusion, Aspect of the Viper has definitely become an important part of playing a hunter. It’s something you’ll be juggling frequently with Hawk/Dragonhawk and it’s good to practice using it and learn when best to use it. I also really like the imagery; I visualize a viper storing up energy before it strikes at its prey. Fun times.

As always, if I made some horrible mistake or you have further ideas/thoughts on Aspect of the Viper, lemme know! I don’t work today so I’ll be sitting around in LFG looking for Heroics or OS25 I’m sure (so did I mention that I can totally survive Sarth now? Wash can too! More on that later, perhaps!)

21 thoughts on “Aspect of the Viper and You”

  1. Another when to use it: farming low-level mobs. If you’re running around two-shotting everything with Arcane shot, you’ll fall out of mana fast. Throw on AotV and eliminate your downtime. 🙂

  2. In one of his posts BRK presented an addon that helps me a lot to manage my aspects : “Power Aura”
    It’s a great tool ! (here is the link… :

    I used to mess with my aspects : forgetting to remove aspect of the pack before a pull for exemple… Or fighting without any aspect because I just dismounted and the aspect I had was cancelled, forgetting to swicht back to dragonhawk and go on fighting in viper with full mana. ><
    – a small green leaf on my chest when in AotWild and a small yellow lion head while in AotBeast, just to remember me I’m not in dragonhawk…

    This addon is just sooo useful !
    And by the way, did I tell you I like reading your blog very much ? Thanks a lot for all the good tips !

  3. Strange, my post was cut in the middle…
    What was cut :

    So I set up the addon the way BRK does : a viper flashing over my head while in viper, and two auras to tell me when I’m running out of mana or full mana. But I added a few other useful auras :
    – a big red ugly face above my head if I have no aspect up at all. Never fighting without an aspect now !
    – a big red tiger head while in AotPack, so that my tank won’t get dazed went pulling ><
    – a small green leaf on my chest when in AotWild and a small yellow lion head while in AotBeast, just to remember me I’m not in dragonhawk…

    This addon is just sooo useful !
    And by the way, did I tell you I like reading your blog very much ? Thanks a lot for all the good tips !

  4. ViperNotify is a great add-on to help keep track of when you should or more importantly shouldn’t have Viper up. It’s extremely easy to switch to Viper then forget to switch back to DHawk when your mana bar is full (I’ve done it plenty of times). This add-on posts a “Mana Full” notice on your screen and plays a little “ding” sound to make sure you catch the alert, so you can switch back to DHawk without wasting time and DPS in regen mode needlessly.

  5. I’ve been using it while leveling pets. My damage output is low enough that I rarely pull aggro, and I never have to stop and drink.

  6. Just to echo Lassirra, ViperNotify is a Hunter must-have addon. It emits a friendly bell ding when you’re at full mana (or whatever percentage you set it to, though I find it doesn’t work if set to 100% for some reason so I keep it just below, around 95%) and Viper is still active.
    Shamefully I am one of those players who always forgets to switch out of Viper so the addon is a life-saver.

    And to agree with you Pike, getting in the habit of smacking your Viper hotkey the second you’re not in combat is an essential habit to acquire if you find yourself without replenishment often. If you’re in an instance and not fighting, have Viper on, even if the lull is brief. If you have more than a couple of seconds, have a mana snack, the two work together and your mana pool refills very fast.

  7. One other strategy that I use, which works particularly well on very long boss fights, is to save rapid fire for when I need to use Viper….the extra speed = more attacks in a shorter amount of time = faster mana regen = less time in Viper … of course this is also the reason for the 4 piece bonus on the T7 armor, but I only have 2 pieces so far. =P

  8. Thanks Pike. Most hunter’s neglect the benefits of this Aspect. I couldn’t do a better blog about this topic. Like Ace said. Don’t forget about Rapid Fire.

  9. Kohaku quotes Pike “In Utgarde Keep when the final boss dies for the first time before whats-her-name comes down and pulls an arise-my-champion on him, yeah, use Viper.”

    Kohaku have been to UK once, a long long time ago. But this situation described by Pike seems to me like Cathedral Wing of the Scarlet Monastary wings.. the one with High Inquisitor Whitemane rezzing the other dude… Kohaku thinks Pike did a mix-up. >_<

  10. While I’m grinding mobs in the real world, I wield two super fast daggers and just jump behind the mob that my pet is tanking and needle away. Surely I’m doing less damage, but the speed at which dual wielding fast daggers attacks, my mana bar flies back up. I’d rather be in Viper less time and take the dps decrease. My pet is still chomping away, full bore, the whole time.

  11. @Ace The only reason to go into viper is to increase our final damage done (avoid going OOM and having to autoshoot). Rapid fire will do more for you in terms of final damage out of viper than in it. Also, in a raid environment, going OOM typically means you’ve just had an unlucky streak with replenishment… you just need to viper to like 10 or 15 percent mana and typically that will give you enough of a buffer for the mana regen of the raid to remember you.

  12. I got to agree with Euripides here, Rapid Fire is too much of a DPS boost for me to be in Viper for it. Though I would be curious to see some math or testing regarding whether or not it’s worth it in the long run (to Viper in Rapid Fire or not to)

  13. I’m not saying it’s something I would do alot, just something to keep in mind as it does come in handy on occasion. If I’m close to the end of a fight though and can mana pot and rapid fire instead of using Viper, that’s what I’m gonna do. As long as one gets in the habit of using Viper between pulls, during movement phases, etc. as suggested, you really shouldn’t have to use Viper while DPSing at all.

  14. @ Ace – indeed, it’s another tool in the box to be aware of, that’s for certain. I suppose I tend to use Rapid Fire pretty early on in the fight before I come close to having to Viper so by the time I do have to viper, RF is still on cooldown. So… I don’t actually have any experience with using it in combination >.>

  15. Lonestryder quotes Pike “In Utgarde Keep when the final boss dies for the first time before whats-her-name comes down and pulls an arise-my-champion on him, yeah, use Viper.”

    A little off topic, but a better tactic here is to just feign death and drink.

  16. Meh used to be worth it, the damage nerf done to the talent along with the mana drain nerf all in order to make them easier to kill for paladins, Thanks Kalgan, … fucking thanks alot jackass.

Comments are closed.