Use Your Pet

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently both in game and as anecdotes on other blogs: hunters that aren’t using their pets. At all. Like, they don’t even summon them.

Okay guys, here’s the deal. I know that 99.999% of you are Marskman or Survival right now, but even so, you can’t afford to not have your pet out.

“But Pike, his DPS sucks!”

I asked some people on Twitter how much DPS their pet contributes in a raid setting. Here were some of the responses I got:

TheAllianceGuy (Marksman): “Above 1000 at least”
T_Jazz (Marksman/Survival): “the hundreds”
tchann (Beast Master): “40+ percent of 5k dps”
shizukera (Beast Master): “I can’t give you a number, but it hurts like hell when my pet dies”
jayesh (MM/SV, depending on fight): “16-23 percent. varies from fight to fight”
ILikeBubbles (Beast Master): “I think mine is…800/900ish DPS?”
dhollinger (Survival): “Rough estimate? My ulduar geared SV hunter’s wolf does ~450-500 from what I remember”
shieldbreakr (Survival): “536dps in my raid last night in my 25man naxx pug. I did 4132dps, he did 536. I use cats”
Eidtalheg (Survival): “my average pet (wolf) dps is ~730.”

The awesometacular Anna of Too Many Annas sent me some raid info from Totally Raids, Inc, on Feathermoon. Here is what she sent me:

First 3/4 of Ulduar + VoA Clear
Surv Hunter Pet – Cat – 950 DPS, 3.3 mil damage
Surv Hunter Pet – Moth – 900 DPS, 3 mil damage
Surv Hunter Pet – Wolf – 920 DPS, 2.5 mil damage

Yogg, Ony, VoA, ToC Normal –
Surv Hunter Pet – Cat – 850 DPS, 2.2 mil damage
Surv Hunter Pet – Moth – 800 DPS, 1.9 mil damage
Surv Hunter Pet – Wolf – 650 DPS, 1.5 mil damage
Marks Hunter Pet – Cat – 750 DPS, 1.5 mil damage

It’s worth noting that the marks hunter, whose pet is at the bottom of the chart, had never seen Yogg-Saron before (he’s our “sometimes” hunter, and we’ve not been doing Yoggy a lot), so he’s got a bit of a gear disparity from the other three!

Last half of ToC plus 11 wipes on Heroic Northrend Beasts
Surv Hunter Pet – Cat – 950 DPS, 2 mil damage
Surv Hunter Pet – Wolf – 700 DPS, 1.3 mil damage
Surv Hunter Pet – Wolf – 1000 DPS, 1.1 mil damage

Extremely variable numbers as you can see, and I know this is dependent on things like gear, level of content, group makeup, etc. But look at even some of the low-end numbers from Twitter and tell me that’s not helpful. Would you say no to a free 400 DPS? And check out some of the stuff Anna is doing– those pets are doing twice that! If you’re min/maxing your gear and your spec, why would you say no to using a pet?

“But Pike, I can’t keep him alive, I’m not BM like you!”

There seems to be this weird misconception floating around the blogosphere and the WoWosphere in general that raid-spec’d BM pets are magically much easier to keep alive and/or are better tanks than non-BM pets. Here’s the deal, I could spec for pet survivability, but I don’t, because I spec for DPS. The only things my pet has that yours probably doesn’t, from a standpoint of pet survivability, is one extra point in Wild Hunt, one extra point in Bloodthirsty, and one point in Improved Mend Pet. Possibly one point in Endurance Training, if you are Survival and don’t have it. That’s it. (I don’t count Improved Revive Pet because that is assuming your pet is already dead, and we’re talking about keeping him alive.)

This means my pet has a little more stamina than yours, and a slightly greater chance to regenerate a minute amount of life in combat. Improved Mend Pet is extremely situational– it’s helpful on Heigan and that’s about it.

If I can keep my pet alive, you can too. It just involves some situational awareness and a Mend Pet keybind.

“But Pike, this is [Insert Some Ridiculously Pet-Unfriendly Boss Here]”

Now, believe me, I know that some fights are a royal pain in the butt in terms of pet survivability. I understand that not all fights are created equal.

So keep your pet by your side.

Most Marksmanship builds include 2/2 Focused Fire, which is free DPS just for having your pet there.

And on top of that, a good number of you are using a wolf right now. I don’t, myself, partially because I like other pets better, partially because my stable is full, and partially because I’m a stubborn idiot making a stand against what I see as an unfair pet status quo. But guys, the wolf is free DPS just from standing there because of Furious Howl.

“But Pike, he dies on Mimiron anyway, even if he’s standing by my side!”

Yeah, I know >.> We won’t talk about Mimiron. /cough

“But Pike, it’s just a couple hundred DPS.”

And yet that new piece of gear you are drooling over will get you what, like, 15 DPS?

And what about those 1% boss fight wipes? Betcha wish you’d had a couple hundred extra DPS there.

In Conclusion:

You have no reason to not have your pet at least out and summoned. It’s free DPS. And besides which, look at your favorite pet’s face. Go on, do it.

Who could say no to a face like that? >.>

Pet control is vital, in my opinion, to all hunter specs. It’s part of what makes you a hunter. It’s part of what makes our class difficult to play, regardless of what other classes may occasionally think or rib us about. Because when the raid leader says that “ranged has to do this and melee has to do that”, we have to listen to both those things because part of us– our pet– is in fact melee.

We are the ones who have to make sure our pet is not DPS’ing the same lasher as we are on Freya.

We are the ones who have to make sure our pet is DPSing the big add on Onyxia while we focus on whelps or Onyxia herself.

No other class has to worry about this kind of thing, except maybe demonology warlocks (and Unholy Death Knights..?). It’s a big responsibility.

And spec’ing MM or SV doesn’t automatically clear you from that pet responsibility. That arrived when you chose to roll a hunter. If you want to be the best hunter you can be, that includes your pet. You’re both in this together.

To mangle a quote by a toy cowboy, “Pets. If you don’t have one, get one!”

40 thoughts on “Use Your Pet”

  1. I totally agree. Playing without a pet is like playing without half of your gear equipped. Just silly!

    I love having to control both myself and my pet, and trying to figure out when to keep him at your side and when to send him in. As for Mimiron, it is not that hard to keep your pet alive as long as you know when he is vulnerable!

    I suppose some people don’t like it because there is no master macro that will get your pet to do the right thing at the right time like there is for shot rotations. Some just prefer to be told exactly what to do.

    Mend pet, pet attack and pet recall are vital to have keybound, just like you have your own movement and emergency keys bound!

  2. It comes with experience and the right mindset. Know what situations will get your pet killed and keep him out of it preemptively. If I can keep my pet alive through mimiron hard mode, anyone can.

  3. Like I mentioned on twitter I use an owl with my survival spec for his roar of recovery keeping me out of aspect of the viper for longer, which I have seen to be the biggest hindrance to my dps in long encounters- though for shorter fights I probably don’t even need the extra dps of a pet anyway and even if I did I would probably prefer to use my raptor anyway (they have such cool attack animations)

  4. Add:

    A common fallacy that many hunters have is that “If I just keep my pet passive by my side, it will have higher chances to live through the fight.”

    Well.. that’s almost never the case. Most healers don’t have pet frames in their UI, so when you keep your pet by your side, it’s up to you and your mend pet to keep it up from any incoming damage.

    In contrast, if you simply send your pet into the danger along with the melee dps, it will get all kinds of aoe heals that the healers are throwing to keep everyone up. In addition, ferocity pets self-heals on attack. With this method, mend pet is completely unnecessary.

  5. Unholy dk here.
    My ghoul is about 25% of my dps so I need to keep it up as much as possible. Usually tough me and him have the same targets so I have to remind myself to move him with me instead of just letting wail on the boss and die. The big difference with hunter pets is that we can’t really heal our ghouls excepts with death coil wich is also a main dps ability. Since our ghoul regain a bit of health as it fights I will not usualy heal it directly.

    The advantage I have over hunter is that as soon as my ghoul dies a new one is ready to fight 35 secs later(30sec cooldown + 5 seconds to raise itself). I love my ghoulies in the same way a villain expends its minions.. just watch him die horribly, laugh a bit and raise a new one!

  6. hunter without a pet, might as well be a rouge:) I always have my pet out, now for Mimiron I will dismiss him until phase 3, but ol SilverStorm is always out and noming on the boss, Right now as sv I love seeing his 1k crits those are fun, and with my 2piece t9 the sting hits as well fun times.

  7. A hunter without his/her pet involved? Who would do that? The thought makes my brain hurt. As much as I see people talk about increasing their DPS, who in their right mind would give up free DPS from their pet? Doing so is nuts if you ask me.

  8. Recently, my pet has been dying far less than before although I didn’t change my way of handling him, I think. I’ve never been too much in love with my pet although many situations would’ve killed me if it wasn’t for him, I guess 🙂 Do you think Blizz has changed something about boss debuffs and stuff? The only things my pet dies on are the flames in OS and of course Heigan. Many other nasty debuffs seem to just surpass him (3rd phase of the black knight – dmg everywhere, pet happily nomming the boss).
    One thing on Mimiron – after seeing my pet die from the fire in phase 1 many times, I now start the fight by letting him stay at the doors and switch to ‘follow’ as soon as phase 2 begins. This works fine for me 🙂

  9. I totally agree. It drives me nuts when I see hunters not using their pets–my Spirit Wolves do less damage and don’t have the same 100% uptime and I still use them constantly, I can’t imagine wanting to lose such a huge chunk of damage.

    Besides, focusing on two targets at a time is fun. (I *heart* High King Maulgar!)

  10. Good article pike, I would add that not only should your pet be almost always out, but also almost always on the boss. If you have all your raid buffs, your pet actually has a much better chance of living because of Judgement of light.

    With cobra strikes, your pet ends up hitting about once every (Counting whites and specials) .75s or .5s as BM. Judgement of light heals your pet pet for 2% of his health each time he hits or about roughly 400 each hit. So your pet will get as much healing from judgement of light as he will from mend pet.

    Imp mend pet is great on certain situation fights (like Yogg minus mimiron, where there is a lot of dot damage). But otherwise makes little difference in pet survability. And I have been able to keep my pet alive through every fight and hard mode in the game now (Hardmode Mimiron phase 4 is probably still the biggest pain, but still doable).

    The other thing to keep in mind is that pets aren’t just for DPS. Master’s call is very useful on fights like Yogg, Thorim hard mode, faction champions etc. If your running a wolf he’s keeping you buffed with an extra 160AP, and other buffs like intervene, roar of sacrifice can be situationly very handy as well.

    And like you said even as MM/SV your a pet is a HUGE chunk of your dps. Even an exceptionally geared, ArP stacking MM hunter (who get’s the least out of a pet) will still have over 10% of his dps come from his pet. The talent that brings the second largest dps increase to any hunter is always 1 point in go for the throat (Beast within, chimera shot and explosive shot all bring the largest dps increase).

  11. So basically what you’re saying is that Ulysiss needs to get off his ass and start using his pet for every fight.

    I’ll let him know. 😉

  12. @ Xonate – What’s funny, is that I didn’t even remember that until after I started writing this post. Then it occurred to me about halfway through, and I was like “Oh hey.” >.>

  13. My raid main is my Holy Priest, and my favorite character is my Hunter. I guarantee you I have pet frames for 5-man, 10-man, and 25-man runs, and I do try to toss heals on pets. Granted, they are at the bottom of the totem pole (and why do I so very rarely see any but BM hunters using Mend Pet?? as in…almost never! Makes me cry), but they do get heals–AND buffs.

  14. What I don’t understand is isn’t the pet what made huntering “unique”? Isn’t having a true lil buddy, a companion, someone that would never betray you and would risk its own life for you what made huntering worth while? If I just wanted to do high dps as a ranged class there was always better classes for that, if I want to quest easier there are planty of classes that have that too. But if you don’t even bother with your pet, then what is the point of being a hunter? Has your pet gone from being what the in-game system would deem to be your “best friend” to being a nuisance? My pet has never been a bother to me, in fact I consider beast mastery to be the only “true” build out there for a hunter, at least in my opinion anyway. I am dualspecced survival/bm and yes I enjoy survival more currently but unless you play under the idea of your character being a master marksman then why? Just why? Why can you not even bring along the REAL reason you ever made it to 80 to a raid to at least cheer you on?

  15. I’m a BM hunter at heart but raid as a MM for when I need the dps bonus (and since I joined a new guild that’s just starting up my guild needs the extra dps). I find that my pet is usually fine and I don’t have to do much to keep him up, even in MM. This is of course not counting the freak AOE damage that will randomly hit my pet and 1 shot him. I use wolves mainly for raiding (but I’m starting to fall for raptors, thanks Pike!) and he’s doing a solid 700 dps, guesstimation-wise, and still around 10% of my overall dps. Still a pretty sizeable chunk of my dps. Of course the wolf’s value isn’t necessarily in its damage, but it’s buffs. Furious Howl and Call of the Wild + Banner of Victory and Pyrite Infuser/Mirror of Truth procs = win.

  16. I’m a BM Hunter at heart (had my pig “Scutters” since about lvl 12) and always solo and quest as BM, but I raid as MM with Fido my wolf. I can’t understand why any sane hunter would ever run without, or use their pet whenever possible. I only dismiss them to jump of ledges and such..where they might run around the “long way” and drag back several million trash mobs with them. I regularly tank Chillmaw with my pet and one one or two occasions when the main tank has gone down have managed to keep the boss engaged on heroics long enough to finish him off.

    A hunter without a pet is not a REAL hunter IMO 😀

  17. A great hunter said one day :
    “Use your pet or give in your hunter license !”
    /salute BRK

    When I pug on my druid and the hunter isn’t using his pet, I ask why, then if he tries to give me a lame excuse to be a huntard I kick him. If he just don’t know how to use it, I will spend two hours helping him get rid of his huntardiness, checking his talents, his rotation, his gear, and his pet management of course.

    Keep up showing us The Hunter Path Pike !
    /pet Wash

  18. BM huntering was “forsaken” because, as many endgame TBC raiders found out, you could practically set pet on target, get a nodding bird to tap your Steady Shot key every second and then AFK while doing damage taht couldn’t be matched – kinda smarts a bit to think about it, tbh :-/

    They are getting closer now with how to make BM both fun and viable, but I feel it still needs that extra something, both in flavour and output.

    Pike – classy article, hitting the nail on the head repeatedly and from a great height. \o/

  19. @ Ary – Precisely why I have never in my life used a shot macro. Not even in TBC. The day a macro plays my class for me is the day I quit.

  20. I would never not have my pet out that’s just plain wrong if u ask me I love my pets too much to not have them out though I’m a 46 so I got no place to talk cuz the only time my pet dies is when I’m soloing and i’ve pulled to much on me and have to feign death :/ so yeah I have no room to talk but if I could make my 80 a hunter I would but healers r hard to find on my server so I really can’t :p

  21. I remember way back in the day (Pre-TBS) I saw someone on the forums posting about how pets weren’t worth the bother and he didn’t have any. Even back when pets actually required some work to keep happy they were clearly worth bothering with. Today there’s just no excuse, it’s quite bizarre.

  22. Excellent post, and I totally agree on this. Just last night I was in a VoA pug with another hunter, and they whispered me all disheartened because they were doing so badly. A little way through one of the boss fights, he moved and stood next to me and there was his pet at his side doing nothing. I thought “Well there’s one of your problems right there”. This was on Archavon so there’s not really any AoE to be afraid of. I forgot to ask why he wasn’t using his pet unfortunately. If it’s a survivability issue, a lot of the time it’s easier to send it in to attack because of Bloodthirsty – if it’s by your side and there’s AoE being cast on the raid, you can only Mend Pet through it, which is not always enough. Mimiron is a good example of this – if my pet is at my side and I get napalm cast on me, it’s guaranteed death for the pet. If it’s attacking the boss though, it is safely out of range and you only need to pull it back before shock blast (I think that’s what it’s called!). Same for P2 – a combination of Mend Pet and Bloodthirsty is usually enough to keep him alive through the raid wide damage.

    I think a lot of hunters who don’t use their pets, just have bad pet management skills and find it easier to just not bother – I used to be like that too, but fights like Mimiron have really taught me the importance of pet management and I think it’s something all hunters need to learn. It’s part of what being a hunter is about, and as others have said I’d be nothing without my loyal pet fighting alongside me.

  23. Just about the only time I don’t ahve my pet out is in Wintergrasp, between battles, or occasionally in WSG. As hunters, we are still one of the stealthiest classes about – Aspect of the Beast does alot to help that – and being able to move around, using actual cover, while not having any of the tracking classes able to pick you up on the mini-map, is really handy. As a Night Elf, having Shadowmeld to back this up makes his doubly potent. The combo allows you to ge closer to where you need to be without having to fight or draw unwanted attenton to you.

    But when the scat hits the fan, you can bet it’s Woofie Time.

    @ Pike – I”ve used a couple of shot macros both now and then, but the tenuous benefit they provide is always questionable. These days, I won’t use castsequence unless it’s on my melee attacks. Apart from that, the rest are either due to having mouse-over functionality (Mouse over Serpent Sting is a hoot with 2 piece T9; and I just started using Mouse Over Kill Shot with surprising success – curious to see how it pans with Steady and Explosive), or having flavour text – although rare, Pet rez, when it has to happen, gets an emote,.. just to rub it into the healing team that DIDN’T SAVE MA PUPPEH!!!11 >:O

  24. My wolf, Tito, does about 10-20% of my dps depending on the fight; I send him wherever the melee dps goes. I often run with a resto shaman and Tito rarely dies due to the chain heals.

    Except when Blizz decides to autocast Growl…..

    I’ll recall him to my side to heal up if he gets in real danger, or to keep him off an unattackable boss (in the air, for example). If it’s a boss fight over a few minutes, and he does die, I rez him when I get the chance. He means that much to me, dps-wise.

  25. Not sure if this has been posted yet, but there are many ways to save your pet so you can use him/her in every fight. There’s not one fight that I go into personally without having my wolf inflicting gashing wounds to the boss’ kneecaps.

    You can make a macro to magically warp your pet back to your side without losing much dps uptime or having your pet die.

    /target (your name here)
    /cast master’s call

    Your pet will rush back to your side just in time to avoid a nasty shock blast or laser barrage from Mimiron, and it’ll removes all stuns and bonds from you and your pet, helping you get out of anything that might be slowing you down during a fight. Plus the passive script of the macro ensures that your pet won’t rush back into danger until you deem that it’s safe enough to do so.

  26. Just checked the last log i have from a 25m a week ago, (curse you job from keeping me from raiding!) I’ve chosen festergut as its a fight where I have maximum pet uptime. It’s an alt raid so I’ve done my best to get the right buffs in the raid and this was our fourth try and we killed 1sec before enrage. I’ve included 2 other hunters beneath my info who have similar gear. Karlung is Surv I believe and Eldilor is MM. Both myself and Karlung have wolves (only he has the spirit wolf you can no longer get, the lucky bastard) and eldilor is using a kitty.

    Name Amount DPS DPS(e) Active Time
    Echosnare 2481096 6.13% 8343.2 8242.9 297.4s 99.2%
    HairyMclairy 342697 0.85% 1157.1 138.5 296.2s 98.8%

    Karlung 2030186 5.02% 6801.8 6744.8 298.5s 99.6%
    Tusse 338944 0.84% 1146.2 1126.1 295.7s 98.6%

    Eldilor 1871887 4.63% 6329.8 6218.9 295.7s 98.7%
    Nightfall 290475 0.72% 985.3 965.0 294.8s 98.3%

    To be honest I rarely have trouble keeping my pet up. Most of the time as others have said JoL and MP suffice and they tend to soak some splash healing. The only occasions I’ve had trouble in WOTLK content is Mimiron (pretty much an intense pet management fight, avoiding the shock blast, fire, exploding orbs, fire, pulses from the cannon, fire, bomb bots and more fire) Yogg was annoying – although I’d leave him in the brain room munching away if I was on room duty but other wise stick him on a debuff tentacle and go to town on a big one. I can’t really think of a fight in TOC or ICC barring faction champs where I’ve had a problem with my pet. I do love the fact that i can put them on an orb on lanathel and completely neglect orb duties confident in the fact that hairymclairy is handling my biz.

    I do remember vanilla wow where a lot of hunters didnt bother with pets purely because pets were so fragile they’d die on any fight with AOE anyway. Either that or they specced them so far into resistances to counteract the problems that the dps suffered.

    Remember cower is a good skill to use when he takes a metric fuckton of dmg and if you want to be a cheater you can currently bug your pet using the call stable function to have a permanent mend pet (reported it already with no response – have not used it since I found it)

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