Note: This post is primarily directed to people who are not just new to hunters, but new to World of Warcraft as well. So if you already have fiftynine-thousand level 80s, you are free to skip this post. Or you can read and offer your own suggestions in the comments. Up to you!
There are a lot of WoW-related communities over at LiveJournal but my favorite, I think, is “WoW Noobs“, where people who are new to the game or to some aspect of it can come ask questions and receive friendly, non-judgmental advice. One of the really neat things about it is that a lot of the members are people who originally joined when they were new, themselves, and now stick around to pass on the proverbial torch. I’m one of those people; long, long ago, a BabyHunter Pike left a post there asking what the heck the meeting stone outside of Deadmines was.
I digress, though.
After all these years it appears that hunters are still the most popular class that new players pick, and it was a combination of a.) the sheer number of questions from new hunters who link their Armories on WoW Noobs and ask for help, and b.) all the hunters I’m running into in my warlock‘s random dungeons who roll need on strength gear, that inspired me to write this post. Remember, not everyone is an alt.
This is for you, new hunter! Welcome to the game! /wave
Here are some handy things to keep in mind as you travel through Azeroth (and beyond) as a hunter.
1.) Strength Is Not For You: If a gear has strength on it, you probably don’t need it. Exceptions are made if it has a ton of Agility on it, outweighing the strength. The fact, though, is that you are a ranged attacker and strength does nothing for ranged: it is a pure melee stat only! /nod
(While we are at it, Expertise is another melee stat that is not for you. Thank you to Argon in the comments for suggesting I add this!)
2.) Spell Power is Not For You: As hunters do not cast spells, spell power does nothing for you either!
3.) Agility IS for you!: It effects your attack power, your crit, and (in a roundabout way), your pet’s attack power as well. Win-win all around!
4.) Max Out Your Talents: One thing I frequently see new players do is go through every spell in every talent tree and drop one or two points in each talent. If you are doing this, don’t feel too bad. I did it too. Yes, at some point in Tawyn’s long and sordid history, she was spec’d something like 2/5 Improved Hawk, 1/5 Endurance Training, 1/2 Improved Concussive Shot, 3/5 Lethal Shots, 2/3 Hawk Eye… yeah.
However, it is generally much better to max out those talents and to, for the most part, pick one talent tree and stick with it. Now, exceptions can be made to this “rule”, and there are some cookie cutter specs that involve not maxing out talents for various reasons. However, that’s generally not something you will have to worry about as a new player.
5.) Pet Control!: With the new LFG system, more and more people are doing dungeons at low-level, which is awesome. I recommend having your pet at least on Defensive, and if you’re really old-school and curmudgeony like I am you can even put it on Passive. Aggressive is bad.
See, if you are new not just to WoW but to MMOs in general, I can see how this could cause some confusion. It confused the heck out of me when I went into my first dungeon. I figured killing more stuff was good, so I put my pet on Aggresive. Bad idea. In a dungeon, you generally want pulls to be done methodically or at least relatively logically. Stay behind the tank and send your pet in on mobs the tank has aggro on.
While we’re on the subject, be sure to turn Growl off also! It’s your pet’s taunt and you generally don’t want things in instances attacking your pet. (There are situational emergency uses where it’s okay, but that’s more of a 300 level class and this is Hunter 101.)
6.) Massive Quantities of Sustained, Ranged DPS*: You are not a melee class. Do not do it. Leave it for your pet. You are designed to stand far away and unleash damage on things from afar.
I seem to keep running into lowbie hunters who roll Need on 2H axes loaded with Strength, and when asked why, proceed to tell me they are going to “try it out”. This always baffles me a bit. What is there to try out about it? Strength is a melee stat, and you will do much better if you just avoid melee. Trust me on this one. You are not a Rogue With a Pet. Although pretending to be one in PvP is hilarious. But that’s beside the point.
7.) Getting In Gear: Bad pun is bad. Sorreh. Aaanyway, As a hunter, you wear leather until level 40, and then you “learn” how to wear mail. This means a few different things. First of all, cloth is not for you… it doesn’t have your stats on it (minus a few hilarious “of the monkey” exceptions.) Secondly, not all leather/mail is for you. Remember, keep an eye on your stats. You are looking for Agility, Attack Power, and those sorts of things.
Thirdly, just because you’ve hit level 40, doesn’t mean you have to run out and replace all of your leather right away. Let it come to you. It will!
8.) About those shot rotations…: Sometimes I see low level hunters frantically concerned with shot rotations. Some of these hunters don’t even have Steady Shot yet. Here’s the deal: Until you get all of your shots (or at least Steady Shot), shot priorities isn’t something you have to worry about very much. Keep Serpent Sting up, use Arcane/Aimed when they’re not on cooldown, and you’re good to go. It is mostly a “learn as you go” thing, so don’t worry about it too much when you’re still knee-high to a grasshopper. And frankly, it’s a lot more intuitive these days than it was pre-WotLK, so learn it you will!
9.) Pick the Talent Tree You Want: I frequently see two different variants here: hunters who level up as some raiding spec they found on Elitist Jerks, and hunters who level up as Beast Mastery because it’s “the leveling tree”. I’m here to tell you: you can do those things if you want, but you don’t have to. It’s not going to kill you/ruin your WoW career if you don’t do SFK or Wailing Caverns as the level 22 variation of cookie-cutter Survival. And on the flip side of the coin, leveling as Marksmanship/Survival is nearly as easy as leveling as Beast Mastery. And it’s even easier now that you can basically level exclusively through LFG. Trust me. I say this as someone who has ten thousand hunters and has leveled them pretty much every way imaginable. Don’t stress about it too much. Try out what looks fun to you!
10.) There Are Jerks In This Game. Just as there are pretty much everywhere. You’re going to wind up in the group with the guy who is decked in heirlooms and spends the entire instance run talking about his five-million gearscore whatever. You’re going to wind up in the group with the person who tells you rather unkindly that you’re “doing it wrong” (though half the time, they’re doing it wrong themselves, as well.) It’s gonna happen. But you know what? It’s okay. Because you’ll also randomly end up in awesome groups with great people who are willing to help you out. Just have fun!
WELL, this post feels somewhat sloppy and half-completed to me, but honestly I think the best thing to do is get it out there and have you wonderful readers fill in the holes in the comments, since I know I left a lot of things out. A wise man once said “Release early, release often”, after all. And I think you guys would have a lot to contribute to this topic. What’s your advice to new hunters/new WoW’ers?
* Keeping the legend alive with this phrase, fo’shizzle.