Ahem. Sorry. That wasn’t the point of the post. >.> Although it is quite true.
Any-whotsit, I get a frequent amount of e-mail or comments asking about how one should go about leveling a hunter, and with my latest TreePost I’m also getting some questions on how one levels a Tree. So I figured I’d give it a quick rundown!
Hunter is something I’ve leveled a bajillion times by now and I can toss up a leveling talent spec in my sleep. It typically goes something like this: dump 5 points in Lethal Shots (because I’m a Crit Monster), and then head down a “modified” version of “Beast Master Raid”. By modified, I mean 5/5 Endurance Training (instead of 5/5 Improved Aspect of the Hawk), and 3/3 Thick Hide. I used to also do 2/2 Spirit Bond but at this point I think Animal Handler is the stronger talent, even when leveling, and with Endurance Training and Thick Hide, most things would be hard-pressed to kill your pet anyway, especially if you choose to go all out and nab a Glyph of Mending.
My current casual hunter project is a level 55 hunter named Althalor; here is his talent spec thus far. (Gosh it’s nostalgic to see 41 points in Beast Mastery.)
Now remember, you really can’t go too wrong with a leveling spec. It’s not like Elitist Jerks is sitting around theorycrafting the most efficient ways to kill ten kobolds. Although that would amuse me.
Beast Mastery is obviously not your only option here. Tawyn leveled to 58ish as Marksmanship. Leveling Survival seems to be super in vogue now from inspecting the lowbies I see running around; I worry about potential pet-threat issues once you get Explosive, but hey, it’d make a great challenge I’m sure!
“I’m a level one hunter and have no idea where to start! Help me Pikey-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” is another similar question/plea I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot. My answer here would be to direct you to my 12-part “So You Want to Play a Hunter” series, which will walk you step by step through playing a hunter from levels 1 – 70.
Caveats About Said Guide: This was written pre-WotLK, so a.) it only takes you up to 70, and b.) Some of the stuff regarding things like Auto/Steady shot weaving, certain levels at which you learn things, and a few abilities are not present or are significantly different. Still, most of the lowbie stuff is relatively accurate, and it’s the best I can offer until someone ties me to my desk and kicks me into rewriting the thing for WotLK.
Most people will tell you to either level Feral and tote around a healing set for instances, or level Balance. Pike will tell you that there is nothing that will teach you to heal the way leveling full blown Resto and living in LFG and healing instances will. This is why if I plan on being a healer at end game, I level as a healer. The experience is invaluable.
I do make a few tweaks here, although it depends rather on your style of how-you-will-(slowly)-kill-things-between-healing-dungeons.
If your style is to nuke things to death as a mini-moonkin, then you may want to stick to your standard resto spec, albeit maybe getting your Balance points out of the way first, or tweaking Balance a bit so you have the shortened cast time on Wrath/Starfire. Completely acceptable.
If you tend to do as I do and play as a RestoKitty, I’ll fill out 5/5 Naturalist and sometimes Furor as well. Neither of these talents are ones you will have at as a level 80 tree, however, they make leveling go considerably smoother. Some RestoKitties have even gone one or two tiers into Feral as well, though I’ve yet to try this myself.
As a RestoKitty, it may be to your benefit to keep some of the Rogue-ish gear you will no doubt acquire in your questing and travels and toss it on when you have to do a quest. When you combine that with a RestoKitty-ish spec, your solo’ing and questing– while it won’t be blazing fast– also won’t be as gimpy as people tend to assume it is, at least in my experience.
A word of warning, however: RestoKitty does become more difficult to pull off as you get higher in levels, so it may be worth your while to switch to the spellcasting method of solo’ing once you hit 60 or 70, or look into dual-specs.
Other options: RestoKin/Dreamstate typically involves going deep enough into Balance for Moonkin Form and then dumping the rest of your talent points into Restoration; something akin to this. This makes you a versatile, Red Mage-styled, jack of all trades who can heal pretty dang well and still kill things relatively quickly. I couldn’t do this myself, partially because I’m too in love with Tree Form and partially because I’m also in love with Wild Growth, however, I’ve heard that it’s very effective and might be something you want to look into.
RestoFeral is considerably rarer, and from what I can tell involves things like Nurturing Instinct and going about half deep in each tree. The lack of overlap between gear and talents would, I think, make this more unwieldy than RestoKin, but some people have done it, and it might be worth a shot if you really like RestoKitty.
Hokays! I hope that helped a bit and/or was able to clear some things up. Lemme know if I made some dire mistake (like saying Naxx boots dropped from Karazhan, not like I’ve uh, ever done that before of course >_>;;), in the meantime, I’m off to go read more Jules Verne <3