Category Archives: so you want to play a hunter

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 12

I’m Level 70, Now What?

There you are.  A level 70 hunter.  You’re wearing greens and ready to take on the world.  Of Warcraft.

First thing’s first: stop and think, what do you want to do?  Do you want to PvP?  Do you want to raid?  Do you want to explore things and see what is left to see?

Because my first move upon hitting 70 is usually to begin the process of getting “geared up”, and what you want to do at end-game will largely determine how you go about  this process.  I’ve always thought that getting “geared up” is a delightful thing, because you’re watching your gear be replaced at a fast clip and you can really watch your stats increase and watch your character start to look more and more epic.   Judging from some of the comments I’ve received in the past, I’m not alone in my assessment.  So, where do we leap into the fun?

Pike’s opinion: You want to start by replacing all your greens with blues, and then getting those blues enchanted.

Let’s assume you’re going for PvE here.  You want items with agility, stamina, intellect, attack power, crit rating, and hit rating.  Do not underestimate the importance of hit rating.  Period.  To achieve getting this gear you will probably find yourself doing some quests, and doing a lot of five-man instances.

The Beast Lord Armor Set is a great thing to aim for.  Heck, Tawyn’s still wearing the helm and shoulders.  Granted, Tawyn doesn’t do a lot of raiding past Tier4, but the point is that it’s a very quality set and will grant you an amazing set bonus that will help very much with your chain-trapping.  You can collect pieces of it from Botanica, Shattered Halls, Mechanar, and Steamvaults.  With a decent group these instances are all pretty straightforward and will give you a lot of practice for raiding if you haven’t done much instancing until now.

“But Pike, I sit in LFG all day and all people want is healers and tanks and mages!  Nobody wants to group with an unknown hunter!”

Friends, I feel your pain.  Believe me when I say that I have spent hours in LFG, jumped on the rare person to say “LF DPS for [some instance I need]”, whispered them excitedly, got a response like “Sorry, the group filled up 🙁 ” and then five minutes later saw the same person yelling for DPS again.   I have spent hours in LFG and found a group only to have to have the group disbanded because nobody would tank.  I have been there.  But it is not impossible to find a group.  Idle in LFG while you run around doing your dailies or quests.  Keep an eye out for other new 70s who want a group.  Every twenty minutes or so announce that you’re looking for a non-heroic level 70 instance.  Play an alt if you have to, with LFG up.  Be patient.  It will happen.  And people will remember you as a good hunter and keep you in mind in the future.

“Is there a way I can get geared for raiding without having to do all the instances though?”  Hmm.  Well, some good stuff does come through questing or crafting, or random world drops, but most of the best stuff comes from five-mans.  Besides, honestly, if you want to be a raider, you need to practice your PvE skills anyway! =P

“What about the battleground epics or the Stalker’s Chain Battlegear that you get through rep?”  The battleground epics are indeed pretty shiny and the Stalker’s stuff definitely isn’t bad for a just-turned-70 but keep in mind that this is PvP-oriented gear and is sorely lacking stuff like Hit Rating which will make a huge difference in PvE.  If you love PvP and want to jump into Halaa/Arenas/AV with gusto, then grats!  This is the stuff for you.  But if PvE is what you’re going for then you are going to want the rewards you get from, well, PvE.  I have linked it before and I will link it again, this guide is an invaluable tool here.

Do some rep grinds.  You will need Revered with Cenarion Expedition for the head inscription and Honored with Aldor/Scryer for the Shoulder Inscription (Exalted for the best version.)  In addition, Aldor gives a pretty nice ring at Revered. And don’t forget to make sure your pet has the maxed version of all its skills.

Save up your money and gather mats for enchanting and gems.  Myself, when it comes to new-70s, I enchant anything that I imagine I will be using for a while– basically most blues I get at 70 or close to it.  I got lucky with Lunapike and knew from experience which of my gear I got along the way would be sticking with me to 70 and beyond so I got some of this enchanted early on.  Check out my earlier guide if you have questions on enchanting-for-hunters.

Stay balanced, stat-wise.  You do not want to go overboard too much with one stat.  If you get a piece of gear and it is better than your current piece in some aspects and worse in others, squirrel it away in your bank in the event of having to juggle around gear later as your stats fluctuate.  Gearing up is both an art and a science, don’t worry if it seems kind of confusing.

And once you’ve got yourself decked in blues and maybe an epic or two, and you’ve done your five-mans and practiced your chain-trapping and your pet control and your shot rotations— congrats, you are ready for the first half of Karazhan.

And there you have it.  How to get a hunter from the character selection screen to standing on Attumen’s butt like a good lil’ raider, and do it the right way.  Now you can go forth and read all those great hunter blogs and resources out there that are focused on endgame.  I hope that you newer hunters have learned something from this guide and if you still have any questions, toss them at me, to give me writing fodder!  SYWtPaH’s out, until someday when I re-do the pet portions of the guide and teach you how to get to level 80.


So You Want to Play a Hunter?

Part One: Introduction & The Birth of a Hunter
Part Two: Just Starting Out & Levels 1-5
Part Three: Levels 6-10 and Jump Shot Kiting
Part Four: Talent Points & Pets
Part Five: Life With a Pet
Part Six: Levels 12-20
Part Seven: Intro to Freezing Trap
Part Eight: Levels 21-30
Part Nine: Levels 31-40
Part Ten: Levels 41-60
Part Eleven: Levels 61-70
Part Twelve: I’m Level 70, Now What? [current]


/collapes somewhere backstage

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 11

First off, big apologies for getting so off the ball with this series. I know I used to reliably post every Monday and these days it’s much more haphazard. Partially I blame real life (curse that real life, getting in the way of more important stuff! /shakes fist) and partially I blame the honest truth that it’s simply difficult to write something like this when I know I’m just gonna have to rewrite it in a couple months.

But I do this in the name of huntering everywhere!

Levels 60-70

That’s right buster, we’re gettin’ you to 70 today.

At Level 62? Steady Shot. Praise Elune, the Light, the Earthmother, the Voodoo, or whatever you praise. Now in WotLK, if the hunter trainers are correct in saying so, you’ll actually get this at level 50 which is pretty spifftastic but until then, 62 is the magic number.

Steady Shot is basically responsible for hitting you upside the head and saying “Shot rotations nub!” And this is where your playstyle goes from Auto Shot/Serpent Sting to something much more akin to what you’ll be doing at endgame: weaving your shots.

“But Pike, I don’t know what you mean by that!”

Don’t worry, it takes a little practice. You want to learn to weave your shots, including your Steady Shots, inbetween your Autos in a way that they do not clip your Auto Shots and hence cause a loss in DPS. For more details on this (especially if you are BM-spec’d) I’m going to scoot you over to a guide I wrote here and a video I made here. The macro, if you choose to use one, can come later– all hunters should understand the fundamentals first.

Moving on: Level 64 gets you Aspect of the Viper. Before the recent change to mana-regen this was a nice new Aspect, but after the recent change to mana-regen this has become an “OMG YES MY LEVELING LIFE IS SAVED” Aspect. I’m not kidding, on my latest hunter, levels 62-63 were spent with Mana Oil constantly on my weapon and an Intellect Elixir always active, and I was still going through water like nobody’s business.

Aspect of the Viper is going to become your best buddy in terms of leveling, grinding, and a lot of PvP. Some people use this 100% of the time in raids/instances/heroics. Now I dunno about the higher-level raids, but honestly I do not see Viper as a raid/instance Aspect. I use Hawk. The DPS increase you get with Hawk (and by extension Improved Aspect of the Hawk) is not to be sneezed at, and especially with an Elixir of Major Mageblood, Mana Oil, Int/Mana regen buffs or some combination thereof, I’ve done basically every heroic as well as Karazhan with Hawk up 100% of the time (with rare exceptions in cases where Illhoof or Prince will decide to drag on and on and ooooooon).

At level 66 you will learn Kill Command. Kill Command is usable anytime you crit and if you have Focused Fire, it has a very good chance to crit itself. It does a lot of damage. It also has its own little cooldown that you will learn to time and coordinate with your shots. I myself have it hotkeyed so I can easily pound the hotkey without interrupting the rhythm of my shots.

At level 68 you get your final trap, Snake Trap. Snake Trap releases a bunch of little snakes that attack something for you, using an assortment of poisons. When to use it: In PvP to annoy the living daylights out of people and slow them down, and PvE on bosses with random aggro tables, for example, our good buddy, Shade of Aran.

See, poor Shade here decided he’s tired of those motherfrackin’ snakes in his motherfrackin’ library, so he blows them up. Instead of you. Handy eh?

And at level 70… Misdirection. A wise hunter once said, “Misdirection is the best hunter skill ever. I use it all the time, in almost every dungeon I run.” This is something I heartily quote for truth. What it does, is make it so the threat of your next three attacks are applied to the target of your choice.

…that’s the tank, by the way. *pulls you away from the priest*

Use it on bosses, firstly, and if you’re like me, you may opt to use it on every pull that it’s up so you don’t have to Feign Death within five seconds because you’re a crit-monster. Also useful for pulling something straight to the tank. If that something has a huge aggro radius, be really careful when you do it. Prince likes to squish hunters. You’d think he dated one once or something. Just sayin’.

Ideally when you use your Misdirection you will use your three-biggest threat-generating abilities (I like Distracting Shot, Aimed Shot, and Arcane Shot, myself) but it’s okay to just fling the Autos and Steadys in there too, that’ll cause plenty of starting threat.

Well, congrats to you. If you’ve followed this series so far you will have followed the steps on how to get a hunter from the character selection screen all the way to level 70, and hopefully learned how to “not be a huntard” as well. The series isn’t done, because I’ve got a 12th episode planned on endgame stuff. And then of course, when Wrath of the Lich King hits, I’ll extend it to 80 (and probably rewrite much of the earlier stuff as well.)

Oh, and here’s the Table of Contents so far:

So You Want to Play a Hunter?

Part One: Introduction & The Birth of a Hunter
Part Two: Just Starting Out & Levels 1-5
Part Three: Levels 6-10 and Jump Shot Kiting
Part Four: Talent Points & Pets
Part Five: Life With a Pet
Part Six: Levels 12-20
Part Seven: Intro to Freezing Trap
Part Eight: Levels 21-30
Part Nine: Levels 31-40
Part Ten: Levels 41-60
Part Eleven: Levels 61-70 [Current]

Have a good weekend, yarr!

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 10

Levels 41-60

That’s right, we’re gettin’ you to level 60 today. Mostly because you simply do not learn a whole lot of abilities in your 40s and 50s. Here’s what your trainer is going to give you:

Aspect of the Wild
at level 46. This will give you, your pet, and your group a whole lotta nature resistance. If you group a lot, you will sometimes be asked to use it in various PvE situations; for example, the end boss of Slave Pens, or Hydross the Unstable in Serpentshrine Cavern (yeah that’s a long ways off, but see, some of your most random abilities go a long way!) I also use it when solo’ing sometimes if there’s a big poison on me or my pet, or are otherwise fighting something that does lots of nature damage. Other than that, you won’t be using it all that much. I have heard it said that it lessens the effects of hunter stings and rogue poisons in PvP but I haven’t tried this and honesty I think there are probably better aspects you could be using. (Hawk/Monkey/Viper, depending on your situation.)

Track Dragonkin at level 50. This is your last tracking spell, grats on getting it! If you are Alliance, go into Stormwind Keep and pop Track Dragonkin. No wonder Lady Prestor is so grumpy all the time eh?

And finally, Tranquilizing Shot at level 60. This shot is going to get some love in Wrath of the Lich King but until then it is mostly going to be one of your Things You Never Use. In its present incarnation, it removes frenzy effects from certain mobs and those mobs are in a limited number. I believe I’ve used it twice total, once on a boss in Molten Core and once, just for kicks, on one of those undead horses in Karazhan:

Ventrilo Reinactment:
Me: “Hey [tank].”
Tank: “What?”
Me: “I just used Tranquilizing Shot.”
Tank: “…you did what?”

Now right around in here is also when you will probably be learning your top-tier talent in your chosen talent tree. Let’s talk about ’em a little. The Beast Within is my personal favorite because it’s exciting and also sort of an “I win” button in a lot of situations. It gets you out of CC and makes you un-CCable for 18 seconds, it lessens the mana cost of all your abilities, and increases your damage output.

In PvE use it when you need to kill something fast, if you want your pet to nab more threat but your Intimidation is on cooldown– and in instances/raids I use it basically anytime it’s up so long as the following conditions are met: the tank has a bunch of aggro, and it’s not going to be wasted (using The Beast Within when the mob is going to die in three seconds, for example, is not ideal.)

In PvP use it when you’re heavily CC’d, fighting a warlock, need to kill something fast, or when you want to annoy the living heck outta rogues/warriors. Typical Line Running Through Pike’s Head In That Last Situation: “Oh you think you can slow me huh? Oh I THINK NOT! I’ma kite you I’ma kite you I’ma kiiiiite you~”

Marksman hunters get Silencing Shot. Now this is going to turn into a “real interrupt” in Wrath of the Lich King, until then it’s still a lot of fun in my humble opinion. Some of my earliest Alterac Valley jaunts were spent as Marksman and those were the days, Silencing Shotting priests to my little huntery heart’s content. Also super useful for pulling casters when trapping them in PvE. Overall Silencing Shot is probably one of my favorite things from the Marksman tree.

Survival gets Readiness. The “usefulness” of this ability often seems to be debated, but while I haven’t ever used it myself it seems to me to me to be something that could really save your rear sometimes. Trap resist and your new trap is still on cooldown? Bam, readiness, new trap. Or double-Deterrence “tanking” in an emergency. Stuff like that. Still, a lot of people opt to skip this one in favor of other talents.

Well, that’ll do ya ’til 60. Your basic Shot Rotation and playstyle is still going to be basically the same– your world hasn’t changed quite yet for another couple of levels.

Things to do between levels 40 and 60:

“The Hunter’s Charm”: a questline that starts at any hunter trainer while you are in your 50s, this will take you to Azshara and eventually into Sunken Temple and culminates in a handy hunter trinket of your choice.

Alterac Valley: All my hunters get Ice Barbed Spear, that’s just how it goes. Some people opt to get the bow instead; it’s hard-hitting but in all honesty the stats are not as good and it is slooooow as all heck, which means if you are Beast Master you will eventually run into some issues down the road. That’s far down the road though, by which time you will probably have a new bow. So pick what you want, especially because sometimes you will get lucky and find something with similar stats to my beloved Spear on the Auction House. Oh, and you get one of these rewards by winning an Alterac Valley. Pick up the quest at your faction’s AV entrance at level 51.

My Ice Barbed Spear is still in the bank. I loved it dearly. I’m tellin’ ya though: come Wrath of the Lich King, our love will be reignited.

Well, that’ll do it for this time. Grats on getting your hunter to level 60! And thanks for sticking with me on this project! For those who want to catch up, here’s where we’re at currently:

So You Want to Play a Hunter?

Part One: Introduction & The Birth of a Hunter
Part Two: Just Starting Out & Levels 1-5
Part Three: Levels 6-10 and Jump Shot Kiting
Part Four: Talent Points & Pets
Part Five: Life With a Pet
Part Six: Levels 12-20
Part Seven: Intro to Freezing Trap
Part Eight: Levels 21-30
Part Nine: Levels 31-40
Part Ten: Levels 41-60 [Current]

See you next time! /salute

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 9

Levels 31-40

Now that you are at level 30, your typical playstyle is going to go something like this: Send in pet/Hunter’s Mark, Intimidate if it’s ready (if you are pure Beast Mastery), open with a Serpent Sting, let a couple Auto Shots flow and toss in an Arcane Shot. Most mobs will be dead by then.

Isn’t being a hunter fun?

Let’s see what you’ll get in your 30s. And while you are in your 30s, don’t forget to stop by Hemet Nesingwary Jr. in Stranglethorn Vale. He and his buddies have a questline that culminates in all sorts of delicious huntery rewards. (If you are on a PvP server, do this quest at your own risk.)

Track Demons
you will get at 32. Does what it says: tracks demons. It might surprise you who is a demon. Next time you see somebody innocuously walking a round Un’Goro or Winterspring telling you they love the weather, put on Track Demons.

No, really.

At level 32 you also get Flare. I don’t know about you guys, but leveling on a PvP server this last time around has at this point trained me to be rather deathly afraid of that “zheeeew” noise that happens when a rogue or druid nearby stealths. Now what Flare does, is expose all stealthed units within the range of your Flare. So next time you hear that noise and see a shimmer out of the corner of your eye– pop a Flare where you think it was and demand that they show themselves!

It is also one of your most used moves in battlegrounds when you are on defense. When I am guarding a flag/node/etc. I will keep some sort of trap refreshed (Freezing/Immolation/Snake, depending on my mood and what I am guarding) and pop Flare every time it’s up. The best way to beat a rogue is to catch them at a distance before they pounce on you and proceed to stunlock-stunlock-dead you. I mean it too, rogues at a distance are delightfully squishy.

Moving on, at level 34 you will learn Explosive Trap. This is your first real form of AoE (aside from Multi-Shot which I honestly don’t think counts too much.) This is useful when you are trying to kill large groups of things with little HP, and useful for raids/instances where they tell you “everybody AoE!” so you don’t feel completely useless. It can pull a lot of initial aggro so be prepared to Feign Death in that last situation there, unless you want approximately four thousand and seventy-three Phantom Guests pounding on you (before they all head to the warlock who inevitably dies. Don’t tell me this doesn’t happen to your raid too! /shakes finger).

And at level 36 you get Viper Sting. I love Viper Sting. This is when to use it: in place of Serpent Sting on mobs who have mana and annoyingly powerful Fireball-of-Doom abilities that remove half of your pet’s HP, and in PvP against casters/healers/other hunters. Using it on other hunters always gives me a sort of sick pleasure; please forgive me if you are Horde on Bloodlust (or Alliance on Nightfall) and I have done it to you. I can’t help it.

Always remember it’s situational though: if you need to eke out more damage then use Serpent Sting. If the raid boss has a mana pool of over 9 million (oh there I go with the horrible internet puns again) then it’s not worth it. Usually, anyways. I’ve seen some weird boss fights where getting the mana down quickly is key.

And finally you hit level 40! Let’s see what you learn:

Aspect of the Pack: it’s basically the same as Aspect of the Cheetah except it effects your party! Granted, now that everybody should have a mount, it’s not particularly special, but it can be nice for, say, running back to your bodies in an instance after a wipe. Be careful when you use it. If anybody in your party is attacked while under the effects of Aspect of the Pack that person will be dazed. Keep an eye out for your party and if you see something heading towards a member of your party switch to another aspect immediately. The same applies for when you are using this to help out the flag runner in Warsong Gulch.

And do not under any circumstances engage in pulls/boss fights/PvP with this Aspect on. The number of hunters I have come across in Arathi Basin who are trying to protect the flag with Aspect of the Cheetah/Pack on is staggering.

You also get Track Giants which, well, tracks giants.

And lastly, you will get Volley, which is your second form of AoE. Useful for all the previous situations that I outlined and for making cool visual effects in the middle of Stormwind. Do remember though that it is a channeled spell and damage done to you while casting can break it.

Depending on your talent spec, this is usually also where you will unlock access to your 30-point talent, unless you are Pike and always stick five points somewhere else first. Beast Mastery gets the famed Big Red Kitty Maneuver, Bestial Wrath, which makes your pet do some serious damage for 18 seconds and also makes him immune to… basically everything. Survival unlocks access to Wyvern Sting which has its fans and… not-so-big-fans; it’ll put something to sleep for 12 seconds and then put a DoT on it. Marksmanship gets Trueshot Aura which will buff the physical attack power of you and your party. Spoiler Alert!!: This talent is getting an excruciatingly awesome buff in Wrath of the Lich King. /spoilers

Well, that’ll do it for today’s edition of SYWtPaH. I may be speeding things up because there aren’t too many abilities left for you to learn (though many of the ones that are left, are important). Go ye forth and do huntery things!

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 8

Levels 21-30 are fairly straightforward although they do culminate in an awesome prize in the name of Feign Death (and these days, a mount.) Let’s see what sort of goodies you’ll get:

Scorpid Sting is what you will learn at level 22. This reduces a target’s chance to hit by 5% for several seconds. Not really as useful as Serpent Sting in early-level grinding, but your friendly neighborhood tanks and healers love it on boss fights in instances and raids. Just remember to keep it “refreshed”.

Beast Lore, ah, Beast Lore is great. You learn it at level 24 and will show you information about any beast in the game; its armor, hit points, the amount of damage it does, and (most importantly) whether or not said beast is tamable and if so, what moves it teaches and what foods it eats.

It has occurred to me that we have not yet talked about taming pets for skills. Basically, you will want to continually update your pets skills and the ranks of their skills as you level. You can learn some abilities from the hunter trainer, but others you have to go out and “find” in the wild. Once you find a pet with the skill you want, you tame it (be sure to put your previous pet in the stable first), feed it and teach it growl– and then go out and fight with it. After a time, when it uses its special ability, you will get the message “You have learned a new skill: [Pet Skill and Rank]” in your text box, which means you are now free to teach it to pets who are able to learn it.

At level 24 you also learn Track Hidden. Track Hidden does not work quite like the other tracking spells; as in it isn’t going to put every rogue or stealthed mob on your mini map (that would be nice, but alas, it doesn’t happen.) What it does is increase your stealth detection and puts mobs that you detect on your minimap. This is a handy tracking spell for quests with lots of stealthed mobs (such as those prowling panthers in Stranglethorn Vale) and also in PvP if you think there might be a rogue or druid close by.

At level 26 you learn Track Elementals, which works like most other tracking spells against anything that says Elemental on the tooltip.

Level 26 is also when you get Rapid Fire. Rapid Fire is good for: emergencies when solo’ing when you have to get something down fast (be sure your pet has a solid hold on threat), boss fights when you want to unleash the DPS, and PvP to get an edge vs., say, other hunters. Post-Steady-Shot hunters, you will have to be on your toes to continue a shot rotation while under the effects of Rapid Fire but it’s certainly not impossible to manually-weave one in there.

You learn Frost Trap at level 28. It’s good for escaping mobs that you’d rather not fight (or that overwhelmed you), and it’s really good in PvP. Put one at a choke point in AV (such as on the bridge), or my favorite: put one at the entrance to the tunnel right before your flag-carrying teammate runs in. All those guys hot on his tail? Yep, derailed.

This trap is also good for kiting guys around whether in PvP or PvE, though for the most part I found that I mostly just need Wing Clip/Concussive Shot.

And then you hit level 30! Grats on your mount, firstly. (back in my day I had to walk through Stranglethorn Vale, uphill both ways! /shakes cane)

Aspect of the Beast is the newest Aspect to welcome to your stable and I’m sad to say it’s not particularly useful. It is a pure PvP Aspect– it makes it so other classes with tracking abilities cannot track you– and I’ve used it once or twice in Warsong Gulch when going for the flag (or defending it), or on PvP servers in hotly contested areas… but for the most part I don’t find it to be worth it. Your mileage may vary.

Much more importantly, you learn Feign Death, which is your lifeline when it comes to dropping aggro. Use it when you have aggro, use it when you don’t have aggro yet but are getting there, and use it to get people (and pets) to stop targeting you in PvP. Use it and learn to love it. You can read much more about the mechanics of Feign Death at my post about it here.

If you are leveling pure Beast Master you will learn Intimidation here, which is handy for stunning people in PvP, and for helping your pet to establish aggro when out questing. Marksman hunters will likely be putting their point here into Scattershot which is great for getting back into range (especially in PvP). Survival gets Counterattack but in all honesty I have never used this move so I can’t tell you much about it. I hear it is useful in PvP.

Mmm, learning more and more hunter stuff all the time. Tastes yummy, doesn’t it? We’re cooking up some more, too, and it smells delicious. But that’ll wrap us up for this week.

In case you are new to the series, here’s where we’re at thus far:

So You Want to Play a Hunter?

Part One: Introduction & The Birth of a Hunter
Part Two: Just Starting Out & Levels 1-5
Part Three: Levels 6-10 and Jump Shot Kiting
Part Four: Talent Points & Pets
Part Five: Life With a Pet
Part Six: Levels 12-20
Part Seven: Intro to Freezing Trap
Part Eight: Levels 21-30 [Current]

Until next time, go pamper your pet.

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 7

Intro to Freezing Trap

Greetings, young level 20 hunter! You’ve just got Freezing Trap which is going to make your life easier!

You may have heard of a mythical thing we like to call “Chain-trapping”, i.e., chaining your traps together such that you can keep a mob trapped indefinitely. Now, that is indeed what you are aiming for eventually, but keep in mind that it’s not exactly something you’ll be doing very much before you get Freezing Trap Rank 3 at level 60. Your traps simply will not last as long. At this point, if somebody asks you to chain-trap in Deadmines or WC, there is no shame in telling them that it’s not a good idea.

So what are you going to be using lowbie traps for, then? When solo’ing and leveling, it’s very handy for keeping extra mobs out of your hair.

An example situation would go something like this:

You see two mobs standing next to each other. You send your pet in on one. They both aggro on your pet. Now the problem is, that if you just continue this scenario as is (you and your pet both attacking one target), it’s very possible that the second guy will pick up on your Mend Pet threat and come running for you.

So what do you do in advance of this situation? You lay a Freezing Trap down at your feet right about the time you send your pet in. If Second Guy comes running for you, he will run into your trap. Usually you can keep him trapped long enough to finish up your first guy.

If your pet is taking a lot of damage you can also purposefully pull one guy into your trap by way of Multi-Shot: that will alert Second Guy to your presence and get him to come running into your trap, so he is off of your pet.

A trap can also be quite handy to give your or your pet some recovery time before you finish up the fight. If you are already both quite wounded after a large pull and you have one guy left, you can trap that guy, pop up a Mend Pet and throw a bandage on yourself, and then finish up the guy in your trap.

Overall, Freezing Traps are one of the most useful tools you have at your disposal as a hunter. Always keep them in mind. They are your main form of crowd control and as you level and get better ranks of Freezing Trap and practice with them… you will learn that a hunter who knows how to trap is a hunter that everybody loves.

Things to Keep in Mind:

-Your trap needs two seconds of “arming time”, that is, if you lay down your trap right as a guy is on top of you, you will have to take a hit or two for a couple seconds.

-Once you lay down a trap, it will be active for one minute (before it disappears).

-Damage done to the trapped target will break the trap. That includes DoTs such as Serpent Sting. If you suspect you may possibly be trapping, it is a good idea not to use Serpent Sting. You can, however, use things like Distracting Shot because it doesn’t cause damage and will not break your trap.

-Traps have a chance to break early. It’s not your fault when that happens, it’s just something that you will have to deal with sometimes. Traps can also be resisted entirely, and there are some mobs that are immune to traps.

-Remember to put some space between the trap and you, or the mob will still hit you before getting frozen. Not a big deal when out in the open field, but rather more important in a raid or heroic.

-It is very possible to accidentally break your own trap via Auto Shot. If you have this problem a lot, you may want to look into a Pull Shot macro.

Freezing Traps can be improved (along with all other traps) via Survival talents, which will make chain-trapping easier, but you certainly do not need those talents to be a successful trapper. All it takes a little practice and a little timing. Eventually, as you gain higher ranks of your Freezing Trap, you will be able to start practicing your chain-trapping; but until then, just get a feel for when and how to use your trap.

In closing, I leave you with “Tawyn’s Trapathon”, a movie I made several months ago (and which you may have already seen, but hey!):

Yes, it has its nub moments, but I wasn’t going for anything particularly fancy at the time, I was just FRAPSing one of my routine farming sessions. =P

And I will see you on our next installment of SYWtPaH, when we get to level 30!

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 6

Levels 12-20:

So we talked about Hunter 101 last time, right? Alright. Now from here until level 20, you are mostly going to be learning a lot of “filler abilities”, in my mind– stuff that can be useful but which for the most part is not going to be “ZOMG-SUPER-EPIC-HUNTER-STUFF”. For that reason, the majority of my hunters (did I mention I’ve rolled like 17 of them?) get stuck in the levels between 12-20. Once I get past 20 and Aspect of the Cheetah I’m usually on a roll and get more excited about things again.

But I’m ahead of myself. You still learn some stuff in these levels. Let’s take a look at them:

Eagle Eye is a move that you learn at level 14. This will zoom up on your vision for quite a distance. Useful for certain quests where you perhaps need to “find the item”; this way you can find out where it is. Similarly handy if you know where you have to go, but want to scope out the dangers beforehand. Also useful in Arathi Basin when you’re at Lumber Mill and want to see how many people are guarding Blacksmith.

Eyes of the Beast you also learn at level 14. It lets you temporarily take “control” of your pet and move him around, druid-style. Now, I am going to come right out and say it, and feel free to rebuke me in the comments if I’m missing something epic and obvious: Eyes of the Beast is a party trick. You use it when you’re bored and waiting for people to show up at the summoning stone, or when you’re on the Deeprun Tram/Arathi Basin before it starts and you want to see how far your pet can run by himself before time runs out.

I’m not going to say it’s completely devoid of uses; I can imagine it would be a handy scouting trick if you have a cat with Prowl. And I have actually sacrificed my pet a few times with various Eyes of the Beast strategies that are invariably my partymates’ ideas (use him to activate all the bombs in Blood Furnace (that’s the one with the bombs right?); use him to pull stuff in Heroic Mech while the rest of us stand at the elevator) but that’s about it. If you guys have discovered something super useful with this move, please tell me.

Sorry about all the times I sacrificed you, Locke. =(

Anyways, the other one you learn at 14 is Scare Beast. Scare Beast can be handy for these scary pre-Freezing-Trap days as really your only form of Crowd Control (other than Wing Clip/Concussive Shot), and I often find myself using it frequently in the early levels. Oh, and use it on bear/cat druids in PvP. Much laughter will ensue.

Level 16! Mongoose Bite is a melee attack that you can only use if you successfully dodge an attack. This means that something has to be in melee and hitting you for you to be able to use it. Now I didn’t have Mongoose Bite on my action bar for the longest time because I thought it was kind of silly, but then I got an addon which tells me when I can do stuff (such as Kill Command and Mongoose Bite) so I went and found it and put it in some random spot on one of my action bars.

I’m going to say something here that may scare you guys, so feel free to go hide or get a straightjacket or something: I actually kinda like Mongoose Bite. It’s highly situational, but I think it is moderately useful. This is when I use it: if a mob is on top of me, strikes at me, and I dodge, and then after that my pet picks up aggro… that‘s when I use it. I Mongoose Bite while in the process of gaining range (I usually just run straight through the mob; Mongoose Bite on the way). It does a little extra damage and honestly, extra damage can always help.

I do not use it if my pet doesn’t have solid aggro on the mob; that’s when I use Wing Clip/Feign Death/etc. depending on the situation. And I most certainly do not go melee a mob for the purpose of trying to get a Mongoose Bite in. Bad bad bad.

But if you happen to be in range of the mob and you happen to get a Mongoose Bite in queue, you’d might as well use it.

Immolation Trap
is the other thing you learn at this level; ahhh, your first trap. This trap isn’t a CC trap but it does do a lot of damage over time. I tend not to use it in PvE because it will generate a lot of threat which I would rather have on my pet. But it is useful if you are pure-solo and sans-pet for some reason, and I’ve found it useful sometimes in one-on-one PvP.

At level 18 you learn two things, Track Undead and Multishot. Track Undead is, of course, added to your stable of tracking skills and does exactly what it says it does (Undead players, though, count as Humanoid). Multishot is interesting, let’s talk about it a little. If you are a Survival or Marksman hunter, then you may end up using this in your endgame shot rotation. So you may want to take the time to sort of play around with it and get a feel for its odd hidden cast time. For the most part though, I do not use this shot in leveling PvE: you’ve got plenty of DPS output with Serpent Sting and Arcane Shot alone.

Remember: Multishot will break CC so be especially careful when using this in an instance or similarly delicate situation.

I’ma tell you where Multishot is king though: Epic army on army showdowns in AV. Especially when it crits. Om nom nom.

And ding level 20, congrats! You will learn Aspect of the Cheetah, Disengage, and Freezing Trap.

Aspect of the Cheetah will help you get around faster until you get your mount: remember though that it will cause you to be dazed on hit, so be careful when you use it: it’s more of a “travel from place to place” move as opposed to an “escape” move.

Disengage is handy pre-Feign Death for dropping threat; it’s kind of a mana hog and requires you to be in melee range, but before level 30 it’s basically the best you’ve got.

Freezing Trap deserves an entry all to itself and will get one in the next installment of SYWtPaH! /bow

In other news, Tawyn is 85 rep points away from being exalted with Stormpike:

The sad thing is, it took her 9376 honor kills to get there. (By contrast, Lunapike has about 3500 honor kills and is halfway through Revered with Frostwolf.) Ohh, Bloodlust Alliance. You are so silly. It’s okay though, because the Spirit of Competition Minipet looks AWESOME with my Windserpents:

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 5

Life With a Pet:

So now you’ve got a pet. Excellent! Now you get to learn about what I have long called Hunter 101: Send your pet in, let it establish aggro, and attack from a distance.

You guys have no idea how many hunters I’ve seen who will pull aggro from their pet early on and proceed to melee the mob down. Usually they’re Marksmanship spec’d too, which is possibly the most irrational thing I’ve ever heard. “I’m going to spec to buff my Ranged Attack Power and then melee stuff!” /facepalm

Here’s the thing: can you melee stuff? Yeah, if you want. But do you do more damage and kill things quicker if you’re at range and shooting? Yep!

First thing’s first: make sure your pet knows Growl. All pets can learn Growl first thing, without any training points. Open your spellbook, and in the General tab (for some reason) is Beast Training. You can open that up to get to your pet’s training screen, where you can teach your pet Growl. Growl is sort of like a Taunt, but while it does not force something to attack your pet, it does cause a fair amount of threat. Now make sure Growl is “on” and has the little glowing box around it on your pet bar.

NOW you can practice Hunter 101! Hunter’s Mark something, send your pet in on it*, let it plant a growl or two, and then start shooting. Open with a Serpent Sting and then mostly Auto Shot. You can toss an Arcane Shot in if you want. Your mob should be down pretty quickly, though.

“Pike, that’s the easiest thing I’ve heard in the game. I could be AFK most of the time and still level a hunter.”

Theoretically, yes you can, and that’s why hunters get bashed all the time and why I still have to put up with people asking me why I’m making a help blog for hunters because clearly a help blog for hunters needs to consist of only one sentence. The thing you have to remember, and which you will hopefully see as true as I continue this series of posts, is that most of these people never played a hunter past the early levels and thus never got to the point where hunters begin to get deeper and more difficult. Heck, I personally have encountered many people who have a level 70 hunter (and are skilled at it) and a level 70 [other class], who have confided to me that they feel their hunter is deeper and takes more skill to play correctly, regardless of what their other class was.

This goes back to part one, you have to remember that you will get bashed and you will be underestimated and it will look like you are doing nothing in an instance (I’ve actually noticed that lately; hunters tend to simply look like they have it easy just by standing back and shooting; this probably adds to the reputation as well.) You have to be okay with that and find your own pride in your class.

…anyways, forgive my, erm, tangent *cough*

The point is that Hunter 101 is pretty straightforward, which is why it mystifies me that so many hunters do not know it yet! Here is the basic thing you want to remember: keep yourself at range.

Now, while we’re here, another thing you may or may not want to change is your pet’s “stance”. It’s on the pet bar, and your pet will be set to Defensive by default (it looks like a shield). Myself and many other hunters will immediately set their pet to Passive (it looks like a baby seal). Defensive means that your pet will automatically attack things that are attacking you, and Passive means that he does nothing without you telling him first.

Now, I have seen people make arguments that Defensive is better for leveling/solo’ing, and I can understand where they’re coming from, but my Always-Passive argument stems from the fact that I believe hunter and pet are One and they can only accomplish being One like this if you have complete control over your pet. On top of that, I strongly feel that an important aspect of being a hunter is being able to plan ahead and calculate things out precisely: “I’m going to chain trap this mob and Wing-Clip/Kite this other mob and my pet will focus on this other mob. I want to take out the mob I am kiting second.” But if your pet is on Defensive, he is quite likely to ignore your plans and lunge for your chain-trapped mob who is on his merry way to your next trap.

See? Out of your control. You are not One because he is not doing what you want. This is why my pets across all my hunters are Forever-Passive (I make an exception for running lowbies through instances, in which case I stick my pet on Defensive and run through shooting everything while he cleans up behind me).

Now am I going to knock you for having your pet on Defensive while leveling/soloing? Well no, I do feel strongly that the other way is better and more huntery, but there are certainly good arguments for it. I will knock you for having your pet on anything but Passive in an instance/raid, but that’s another story!

So you’ve got Growl trained, and you’ve thought about it and set your pet to the Stance that you want. Oh, and check the little icon next to your pet. Is it green? That means he’s happy and will do the most damage. Keep him fed to keep that icon green! (Petopia will tell you what pet likes what foods.)

Go ye forth, young hunter, and level!

You are level 10, you will now have both Track Humanoids and Track Beasts; use whichever you need for whatever you are doing. You have Aspect of the Hawk which is going to be your primary Aspect from here on out and you should be using it most of the time.

At level 12, you learn Mend Pet, which is very important! You may want to keybind it to something easy to hit, I know I have. This is where you will learn to keep an eye on your pet’s health. You know how when you’re driving you’ll glance at the rear-view mirror every so often just to take stock of your surroudings? Same with your hunter and your pet; you will learn to glance at your pet’s health every so often, gauge how much damage he is taking or is liable to take, and use Mend Pet accordingly.

You also learn Wing Clip and Distracting Shot at level 12. Distracting Shot you won’t use very much in the lower levels, but Wing Clip is your friend. It is really the only thing you should be using if something is in melee range. The point of Wing Clip isn’t to do damage; it’s to slow the enemy down so you can get back into range. You will learn to love it throughout the duration of your hunter career.

And it’s usually at this point that I figure one of my new hunters has all the tools they need to be a reasonably efficient hunter. You have Arcane Shot and Concussive Shot for kiting; you have a pet for tanking and Mend Pet to keep him alive, and you have Wing Clip if a mob gets too close. Now obviously you don’t have everything important yet, you don’t have Feign Death or Steady Shot, but I still see level 12 as being one of your first big milestones.

And so, that’s where I’m going to end today’s episode of SYWtPaH. Your homework: practice Hunter 101 and look into getting a Threat Meter so you can learn to watch your threat in relation to your pet’s– you want your pet’s threat to be higher than yours, so he can tank for you. KTM was the big one back in the day, though it seems to now be defunct– Omen is the current threat meter of choice but a lot of people I know swear by the up-and-coming Diamond which doesn’t require other peopl

e to have a threat meter installed for them to show up. Either of those latter two will work fine for you, though, as a new hunter who is solo’ing and learning about pet threat.

…wow, there really is a lot of stuff to cover about hunters. Case in point: We’re at Part 5 and level 12. Now I’m pretty sure things are going to speed up as we continue on and need to hit less of the basics, but still, this is a bigger project than I even anticipated. I hope that you are enjoying it and learning from it and as always let me know if you have questions or need something clarified.

Happy hunting!

* Awesome Macro of Epic Win:

/cast Hunter’s Mark

It does both at once, and I don’t go anywhere without it.

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 4

Thanks for the comments on my last video. There were some concerns that the technique used in the video was hard to understand, which I was afraid of, but I went ahead and tried it anyway. I also had some concerns that the movie did not go “in-depth” enough with techniques for kiting, but in all honesty, the movie was supposed to be intended for a new hunter who isn’t level ten yet (or who has never kited before) so hopefully it was okay for me to have skipped some of the more “advanced” tactics.

So you’ve hit level ten. Yay! Two different important things can happen now: you can use your talent points, and you can tame your pet.

Talent Points:

Before you, you see three possible talent trees to put your points in. I’ma summarize them really quickly: Beast Mastery focuses on making your pet stronger (and eventually making you shoot much faster), Marksmanship focuses on increasing your own Ranged Attack Power, and Survival focuses on critting a lot and using various tricks to survive or help out your party. You could say that Beast Mastery shoots faster but for less per hit, Marksmanship shoots slower but for more per hit, and Survival is slower and does less per hit, but crits all the time. Pick your playstyle!

If you are just starting a hunter and want to get it to endgame, then you should be aware of the fact that the Marksman tree is currently considered to be a rather weak tree compared to the other two; although hopefully this will be remedied (or at least improved a little) in WotLK. It’s not such a big deal for leveling though.

In all honesty I do not see there as being a “one true spec” for leveling. They are all going to be reasonably effective. Beast Mastery is often seen as “the leveling” spec because it makes your pet more of a tank and thus you have little downtime, but Tawyn actually leveled Marksmanship until level 55 or so, and had absolutely no problems (though that was before the Growl-changes, so it may be different now). I regret to say I haven’t leveled a Survival Hunter past level 17 because I’ve been so busy with other goals I want to accomplish, but I imagine that leveling Survival, while maybe not as fast as BM or Marks, is still going to be handy because you will rarely die. That is just my conjuncture, however!

A while back Znodis did a lot of testing and found that an interesting BM/MM hybrid (enough MM for Trueshot, then everything else in BM) was actually probably the best spec in terms of grinding and pet threat generation, but it might have changed since then with the growl changes. Regardless, his thoughts are worth a look if you are okay with crazy hybrid specs.

In all honesty I think you should level up in the talent tree that you find most interesting.

If you do want my advice, I am going to say Beast Mastery, and I am going to say spec something like this. Yes, it’s a different talent spec than the “leveling spec” I posted a few months back. But I sort of waver on my own personal opinions of a leveling spec, so I change it up a lot. Anyways, the one I posted is basic cookie-cutter 41/20/0 but with some twists that hone it more for leveling and soloing: namely, you swap out Improved Aspect of the Hawk and Improved Revived Pet for Endurance Training and Thick Hide, which are considerably more useful for leveling. I am still thinking about the possibility of Catlike Reflexes instead of Ferocious Inspiration– I know it sounds like blasphemy, but for leveling it’s not a bad choice at all and I wouldn’t knock you for it (so long as you respec later if you are going to be instancing/raiding).

If you are still unsure of what you want to do with your talent points and want some time to think about it, but also want to start putting your points somewhere, I’m gonna tell you to put five points in Lethal Shots in Marksmanship and then come back at level 15 (you’ll hopefully have decided by then). Heck, all my hunters level Beast Mastery and almost without fail I put the five points in Lethal Shots first. But that’s maybe cause I’m a crit fiend.

Anyways, I don’t want to go massively in-depth on the subject of leveling talent points, but I might do that in a later post if enough people are interested or think it’s a good idea.


Pets! Yay! My favorite part of playing a hunter!

First of all, be aware of the fact that you will have to do your pet quest in your race’s homelands; at the first major town you encounter after you leave the level 1-5 starting zone. So yes, that means that if you pulled a Tawyn and ran your Night Elf to Elwynn Forest at level six, you will have to go aaaaall the way back to Teldrassil.

The pet quest itself is pretty simple and involves you going and “taming” a few different test pets that the quest giver will tell you to tame. You will do this for three different pets until you are given the skill to tame pets permanently. Then you are sent to your home city (Ironforge, Thunder Bluff, etc. depending on your race) to pick up a couple extra (and necessary! Do not skip this step) skills and then you will be good to go!

“Pike, what pet do I pick?” Well back in the day, boars were seen as the supreme leveling pet and for good reason: their threat generation was massive. But the Boar-Shaped Piñata since been whacked into oblivion with the Nerf Stick so there is really no ultimate-leveling pet anymore. You may opt to go with something that has high armor, such as a bear– keep in mind that bears cannot use Dash, though.

But see, my thoughts on pets has always been that you don’t choose the pet, the pet chooses you.

Pike would tell her young Padawan to study Petopia closely, browse the available pets that are level ten or lower, and pick the one that jumps out to them. There are no restrictions, although remember that only some pets will be able to learn Dash/Dive at higher levels (which makes leveling quicker), and some pets are considered to be better for endgame (windserpents, ravagers, cats, and raptors fall into this category), but if you like a non-standard pet, then go for it.

What’s that you say? You found a pet you like but it’s on the other end of the world? …what are you waiting for? You’re a hunter! Go get it!

And I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door…

That’s my level eleven dwarf hunter. In Durotar. Getting there was an adventure, it involved running through Duskwood (and dying a million times) and I would have died a million times in Stranglethorn Vale, too, but lemme tell you, having a level 70 priest put a bubble on you and then tell you “Run!” and follow you all the way through the zone makes things a LOT easier.

When I first got there, the dinosaur I wanted to tame was level eleven, and I was level ten. And, as you may or may not know, you can only tame pets that are your level or lower. So I grinded myself up a level on the random critters running around Durotar, managed to tame a rare

Scorpion while I was at it and nab myself Claw 2, and finally abandoned him so I could tame my new dinosaur:

So cute!

Well, I’d like to go in more detail on pets and how your huntering strategy has changed now that you have a pet, but this blog post is already obscenely long, so we’ll discuss that later. In the meantime, the afore mentioned Petopia is an amazing resource to peruse if you have pet-related questions.

As always… leave me your comments and questions!

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 3

So you’ve hit level 6 and you’ve got Arcane Shot. Great! This will make it easier for you to kill stuff before it gets to you. Now there seems to be some confusion, I think, involving when to use Arcane Shot. In all honesty, I don’t think there is a set “best rotation” for Arcane Shot in the low-levels. But the basics that you want to know is that you don’t want to use it too much, because it will eat up your mana and pull aggro away from your pet pretty easily. It does, however, round out most of the skills you will be using pre-level-62.

Hunter’s Mark is the other thing you learn at level 6. There is some debate over whether Hunter’s Mark is worth the mana. In my mind, it is: it provides a sizable DPS boost (particularly over time), and if you are spec’d for Improved Hunter’s Mark, it boosts your pet’s attack power by a significant amount, too. Think of it this way: if you are a Beast Master or Survival hunter, Improved Hunter’s Mark is basically like your own mini-Trueshot-Aura. And if you are Marksman, it’s more of the goodness! Rank 4 Hunter’s Mark is going to give you an extra 110 AP and the more you shoot it, the higher that bonus rises (for ranged only). Pike’s verdict: learn to use and love Hunter’s Mark.

Typical Lowbie Hunter Rotation:
-Hunter’s Mark
-Serpent Sting Opener
-Auto Shot until the mob is dead, throw in an Arcane Shot every so often to speed things up.

That’s really all there is to it. Before you have a pet, you are most advised to use your Arcane Shot whenever you can, though.

If you are looking into doing more PvP than PvE, Arcane Shot is going to become basically the cornerstone of your life and everything you hold dear, but us more-PvE types typically love our Steady Shot more.

And now you’ve hit level 8. And you’ve got Concussive Shot. Your mission, if you choose to accept it: put your kiting skills to the test and learn how to jump-shot-kite.

Jump Shot Kiting is accomplished by jumping, turning, shooting, and then turning back and landing, while moving. Sound complicated? It is, and it’s difficult at first, but if you practice a little, you will soon have the hang of it. It’s a little hard to describe through writing, so I’ve made a movie:

I don’t know if it is the clearest or most helpful movie, so let me know if you need clarification! Also, I have decided that Hellfire Peninsula is perhaps not the best place to hold many of these videos in the future, because over the overwhelming… red…ness… yeah. Note to self: Nagrand next time.

Well, congratulations, you have (hopefully) mastered the art of playing sans-pet. /diploma

And that’ll do it for this week’s installment of SYWtPaH. (pronounced Suit-paw…? Perhaps!) Be sure to join us next week when we go on a crazy pet-taming adventure!