Each week, Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for the hunter class sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.
Back in the days when 60 was the echelon, Molten Core was a big deal, and 72% of all hunters weren't Marksman, BigRedKitty had a different role among our peers on Khaz Modan. We were a simple Hunter Class Leader in a nice guild with many friends, both hunters and of the lesser classes, and providing large quantities of sustained ranged DPS was the simple order of the day.
And then one day, we went into a Lower Blackrock Spire 10-man raid, but we took another 60 hunter from the guild with us. We were a 0/21/30 Survivalist and our hunter cohort was a 5/31/15 Marksman. He used a very fast bow, we used a very slow gun. He was a night elf, we were, of course, a dwarf. He had a wolf, we had our favorite cat, Hobbes. Opposite sides of the same class, as it were.
Now this hunter loved to pug. He pugged everything, and I mean everything. As such, loot drops for him were an everyday occurrence. Eventually he had a Beaststalker Set, whereas we never saw the chest piece of shoulders drop, and it took BRK 25 runs to Warmaster Voone to get the Beaststalker's Gloves.
Dang. Voone... I need to kill him again. Just out of spite.
Anyway, by the time we finished the Troll boss – the guy who would "frog you", remember him? – we were very much ahead in the damage meters and our "uber-geared" Marksman was way down the list. His solution: my DamageMeters were broken. Of course, six of us had the most current version, we were all syncing, and we all had the numbers the same way. Still, it was obviously our fault.
He asked, very haughtily, how anybody with my gear – the rare PvP set - could possibly out-DPS him. Of course, the explanation was simple...
- He opened with Aimed Shot, every time, never letting the tank get aggro.
- He never Feigned Death but let the mob run right up in his grill.
- When the mob was upon him, he would melee with his dual-wield Dal'Rend set.
- And all the while he was "tanking", we were never grabbing aggro because when our crits got out of hand, we smacked Feign Death and let the "tank" have aggro back.
Simply put, I said, a Marksman melee hunter is not going to out-DPS a ranged Survivalist Hunter. Don't be upset that you're not out-DPSing any the non-healers; your technique stinks, and your skills as a hunter both suck and blow. Frankly, you're embarrassing yourself and the entire Hunter community.
He scoffed, claimed the DamageMeters were broken, and continued his mastery of the dual-wield swords. As far as I know, he continues to this very day with this method. He's probably a 70 somewhere annoying the tanks in Shadow Laboratory with his antics.
He was a lost cause, but the incident made us think. Did all hunters have to learn the wrong tactics, "master" them, then keep befouling the Hunter reputation long into the end-game? Perhaps not. As the Hunter Class Leader, it seemed that it was our responsibility to try to fix this problem. Thus began our School for Young Hunters, and a great many of students we trained.
We would pick them up around level 20 and take them to the Wetlands.
"Kill that crocolisk," we would say. In their pet would be sent, Aimed Shot would fly, aggro the hunter would grab, in their face the croc would run, and of course, meleeing they would commence. No, we would say. That's totally Wrong.
"But it's what I've always done..." they would whine, and we would sigh.
We would then explain the concept of Aggro Control and how it made a good hunter the most powerful character in the game, and a bad hunter the most reviled. We would tell them to send their pet again, but just watch him fight, notice how he didn't die, and appreciate that the pet actually did good damage. Then we would tell them to start with Serpent Sting and continue with sufficient damage to bring the croc down, but not going so crazy with DPS as to pull the croc of the pet. Down the croc would go, the pet would run back to the young hunter's undamaged side, and unanimously, the trainee would be shocked and amazed. It never took more than one croc for the trainees to know that they had been on he wrong path.
Single mob combat would progress to fighting two at one time, by employing a Freezing Trap. Drop a Freezing Trap, send your pet into a two-pack of mobs, open with Multi Shot so one of the two mobs would run at you and get frozen. Finish the first mob, then take the second. This taught the basics of crowd control and focused fire, too. At this point, we'd send them into the world again, along with a nice feed pet macro, and ask them to keep to tell us when they hit level 35.
We would introduce proper hunter behavior in an instance by taking them through Scarlet Monastery. We would give them the basic Pull Shot Macro using Arcane Shot Rank 1, and teach them how to execute a "Pull with Feign Death" to allow the tank the grab aggro easily. When we reached the Cathedral, we'd add a Freezing Trap Pull as the linked mobs were in our way. It was the rare tank that didn't appreciate having their mobs served to them on a silver platter; no guns or crossbows, no running, just stand and Taunt when the mob was pulled right to their feet. And the hunters, the joy in their voices when they would trap and pull two mobs, made us smile every time.
After Scarlet Monastery, Kiting lessons were assigned. These took place at Refugee Point in the Arathi Highlands. We would teach the hunters how to kill raptors without using their pet, and if the raptor touched you, you failed. Trainees were required to do figure eights through Refugee Point with their kited mob. When they finished it off at the feet of the gryphon master, we would celebrate their graduation.
At this point, basic lessons ended. Frankly, despite the skills they learned, many of our hunters were very happy not to have to "perform" for their class leader anymore; none of the others guildies had to do tricks to satisfy the insane desires of their class officer. But we did have advanced lessons, and some hunters took us up on the offer to teach them.
When a hunter reached level 51, they were offered to be taught basic PvP strategies with a walk-through of Alterac Valley. How many hunters we watched get their Ice Blood Spears, we've forgotten. Not all continued in those battlegrounds, but for many it was their first experience and they loved it enough to keep going back to PvP in all the battlegrounds.
"DAMH! I was guarding the Stables and I had the Freezing Trap right behind me, when this Undead Rogue tried to ambush me! He was frozen so I went to range and sent my pet, then kited him like one of those Arathi raptors! He never touched me!" And we would get a beer and toast their victory.
There was more. We introduced them to theorycrafting, build and gear analysis, and how to lead a raid. Jumpshooting and advanced PvP techniques were the culmination of several weeks of training, and although few went so far as to learn how to defend against a horde push into Dun Baldar, or win a face-off against a Tauren Shamen at Frostwolf Graveyard. Yet we never had more fun than when we watched someone learn, adapt, put into practice something we taught them, and succeed wildly.
We believe that the current statistics show that the hunter class is, if not the single most-played of all the classes, one of the most heavily played. What this means is that it also houses a great proportion of the people who don't know how to play their class. BRK has run with level 70 hunters who display a tremendous lack of understanding of some of the most basic of hunter techniques.
Just for amusement's sake, let's pretend we have a group of ten hunters. Could we agree that three of them are total goofs, right off the bat. Opposing this, three are able to make sense of how the class is supposed to be played, have very successful careers and years of fun.
But we believe statistics would should that the four of them have never done an ounce of research on just how to get the most out of their character. Just look at the Survival talent distribution of a 23/21/17 spec an old guildie of ours sports. That pic isn't something we made up; it's from a level 70 hunter we know and have grouped with in Shadow Labs. He's a very nice guy and we like him a lot. He could date our sister, (if she weren't happily married). But we're worried that unless an intervention is scheduled, he wouldn't find a clue on how to play a hunter if he were covered in clue-musk in the middle of clue mating season.
You're reading WoW Insider. You probably have a handle on how to play a hunter, do great in instances, top the DPS charts, have many friends who admire you, and have a clean, fresh scent. But watch these comments and the forums for things like this:
"I melee 90% of the time"
And remember, being a bad Hunter is the form into which we are all born.
Daniel Howell continues his quest to ban approximately 1,172 terrible Hunter talent specs he has seen on the Armory as the Damh and Hobbes hunter-pet duo extraordinaire known to lore as BigRedKitty. More of his theorycrafting and slanderous belittling of the lesser classes can be found at bigredkitty.blogspot.com.
[Fan art by Moony]