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.
Since there are more non-hunters who read WoW Insider than hunters, we've been asked to write a little something for the rest of the readers out there who aren't particularly interested if Hawk Eye is essential anymore, if the new Expose Weakness talent is going to be stronger than Trueshot Aura, or if guns are better than bows.
Pfft. Guns FTW, right? Of course.
There is a lot of goodness in the hunter class that BigRedKitty believes everybody needs to know about. So this column isn't for hunters but is instead for everyone else. This is the first in a two-part series about what a hunter can do for his party and bring to the table.
When played properly, Hunters provide large quantities of sustained, ranged DPS, effective crowd control for all types of mobs and an amazing ability to rescue seemingly out-of-control situations. But there are things we love and things we hate. There are things at which we excel and things at which we stink. Knowing what a hunter can and cannot do will maximize the effectiveness of the next hunter who groups with you.
"You mean hunters do more than wipe raids?" /snark
Well, yes. Although we've known several hunters who would easily top the Raid Wiping category on the Armory, we do have some good qualities too.
10. The Perfect Zone of Absolute Safety -- Let's knock this one out first. Hunters have an ability called Feign Death that allows us to set our threat to zero against all mobs that have us on their threat list. We can use this ability to pull in such a manner as to prevent wipes from bad pulls. The hunter pulls, grabs too many, smacks Feign Death, their threat list is wiped clean and they reset. Simple.
However, if the rest of the party is standing right beside the hunter they will be on the mobs' threat list due to proximity. The Feign Death will be successful and the hunter will be off their threat list but the rest of the party just body-pulled the pack. Now you have an unplanned and disorganized fight on your hands.
To prevent this from happening the hunter is going to ask you all to back up. Everybody. Tanks, rogues, all the typical front-line people need to just hang back and let the hunter go do his thing. If the hunter makes a bad pull he'll Feign Death, let the mobs reset, wait 30 seconds for Feign Death to cooldown then try again. But as for everybody else in the party, we want you to help your hunter do his job and hang back 20-30 yards from him while he is pulling. Give a hunter his Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety and the entire party will benefit.
9. We Are Not Squishies -- Hunters weal mail and mitigate approximately 30% of all melee damage. We are not tanks -- we know this -- but we can take a hit or two right on the chin and be fine. Why is this important? Because it affects how we help our tanks.
Let's suppose that during a boss fight we grab aggro. Hey, it happens. As boss leaves the tank and runs at us, we quickly look at our threat meter and see that the tank is number two on the list. We know that we can Feign Death right where we are without worrying about dumping the boss onto the priest, so we smack FD.
Aw, bad luck; the boss resists. What's next in the hunter's arsenal of tricks? As good hunters know the proper recourse for this situation is to run directly at the tank and allow him to pull the boss off of us. How can we help? By using Wing Clip. We don't want to increase our threat by hitting Raptor Strike; we're trying to give the mob back to the tank. By spamming Wing Clip we slow the mob so the tank has more time to do whatever it is he does to get aggro back.
But when we Wing Clip we're going to take a small beating; that's just the way it works. But that's alright; we can take a hit or two. A shot that would hit the tank for 1500-damage will hit us for 2000, maybe 2500, but it's not like a 4000-damage hit a cloth wearer would take. We're not on death's door, we've slowed the mob, the tank is about to get aggro back and we're running back to range to continue delivering our large quantities of sustained, ranged DPS.
8. Hunters Dislike Heals at Improper Times -- And it is at this point the healer is going to top off our health. We love you guys and we really appreciate the attention but, please, don't heal us now. As soon as Feign Death is ready again we're going to pop it, drop off the threat list and bring full power to bear on that mob that dared resist it the first time. We're not going to get hit again for the duration of the fight so don't waste your mana on us. Yes, it's a bit of a hunter-ego thing but please save your heals for the guy we love most, the tank.
We have gotten perturbed at healers who continually top us off in the heat of the battle. Do they think we're going to die? Please. Generally, the only time a hunter dies is when something has gone hideously wrong in the battle and the party is dead already. Save your mana for the melee classes and the fire mages who love to crit mobs off the tanks and then run around like chickens.
Now we're not suggesting hunters never need heals. But what we are saying is that if a fight is not out of control we're probably just fine and will happily complete the current battle with seventy, sixty, even fifty percent health.
7.5 But Hunters Love Pet Heals -- Contrary to hunter heals, pet heals are the schiznit. Healers get mad props, BRK Cool Points and the love and admiration of the entire hunter community when you drop that 5000 heal crit on our pet. You heal Hobbes and you have a friend for life. I'm going to pass on a bunch of bind-on-equip greenies so that you, my good friend, come away with a little more payola in your pocket. Having good priest-karma is something we're down with.
Hobbes does 150 DPS white damage not including Claw, Frenzy, Ferocious Inspiration, crits, and Bestial Wrath. Intimidation can grab an errant mob off a healer in a second. Pets can off-tank just about any trash mob in any instance. Hobbes is tremendously important to the party and, especially when he gets heals, he's deadly.
To a hunter, a healer refusing to heal pets is the equivalent of them saying, "I'm not going to do my best to help the team." Perhaps you can't do it; perhaps your healing skills need work. We've never played a healer, never want to play a healer and have the utmost respect for healers. We completely understand that healers work on a triage system where the most critical people get heals before less critical players. But healers who flat-out refuse to heal based upon outdated imperialist dogma that hunter pets are worthless? You should be ashamed.
7. Hunters Chain Trap -- In order to most effectively use his Freezing Traps a hunter is planning out his trapping strategy while the rest of party is discussing the DPS order. He's going to place his trap outside of the major battle so that AoE attacks don't break the trap. He's going to be watching his trap cooldown so that he knows when can place another. One he pulls and traps his assigned mob, the hunter is maneuvering away from his it so that the mob has to run some distance before it can attack the hunter again. This time-between-traps has also been calculated by the hunter so that he can place his next trap in time to catch that mob again. This strategy is known as Chain Trapping and the rest of party, if it isn't aware of what the hunter is doing, can mess up the hunter's plans and force him to spend time reevaluating and executing a new trap strategy instead of doing damage.
BRK likes his trap-mob assignment to be the blue square, that's just how we roll. During the battle, we will gently call over vent, "Hunter has Blue" to remind the party that, not only is a mob being trapped, but that they don't have to worry about it; it's under control. When Blue breaks his trap and begins running at us, we again call out, "Hunter has Blue." We know it's broken the trap, we know it's coming right for us, and we have a fresh trap ready for it.
Don't Fear our "trapped" mob. Don't pick it up and off-tank it. Leave it alone folks, we promise you that we've got it. Even if it looks like it's running right at you, we've been watching it and know it's on you. We'll get it back and get it into another trap.
A fully-engaged hunter will be DPSing the main DPS target, controlling our pet, watching our aggro, keeping an eye on the healer in case we need to pet-off-tank, watching our trapped mob for it to break our trap and planning on where to place our next trap to keep our mob out of the way until the party is ready to handle it. Yes, it's a lot of stuff going on, but that's what being a hunter is all about. Don't sweat it; we really are that good.
6. Say it With Us: Misdirection -- If you've never seen how Misdirection works you're going to be blown away. One of the main strengths of the Hunter class is our ability to manage aggro. We can build it up, eliminate it, and with Misdirection, we can direct it onto other players.
Misdirection, used improperly, will wipe a party faster than just about any other spell. It's that powerful. Used as designed, it makes the hardest pulls simple.
In Shadow Labyrinth, just before Blackheart the Inciter, are a bunch of four, five, and six mob pulls. The six-mob pull on the right hand side of the room is undoubtedly the toughest pull in the entire instance because of the level 71-elite demon that circles so close to the pack of six linked mobs. There are two places in her patrol where she can be pulled with aggroing the others and Misdirection makes taking her down easy.
Once the left hand side of the room is clear, you ask your tank and party to take position over there. The hunter should carefully position himself on the rock mound on the back wall where the six-pack is sitting. The demon will walk her route and will eventually be walking left-to-right between you and the six-pack. She will either make a left turn and "complete the square" around the six-pack or she will continue in a straight line. If she goes straight she's ready to be pulled. The hunter casts Misdirection – the tank should be in view as he's positioned in the center of the room on the left hand side – and with your Pull Shot just tap that demon sweetly. Onto the tank she'll aggro and over to him she'll scamper, leaving the six-pack sitting motionless.
If a tank had run onto the rocks and performed the same pull, he would have had to time his shot and lead the demon due to his ranged-weapon firing time, whereas our Arcane Shot is instant; a more accurate shot resulting in less chance of a bad pull. Then, if he successfully aggro'd the demon without disturbing the six-pack, he'd then have to run into a position where the battle could take place without disturbing the six-pack. Can this be done? Of course it can, and of course it has. Does Misdirection make this pull safer, more accurate, and provide a greater chance for success? You bet it does.
Mechanar. The second boss, Nethermancer Sepethrea. She has fire elementals that are a tremendous pain, so we're going to skip her, go through the tunnel and finish Calculator first. Then, position the tank and the rest of the party at Calculator's room's entrance. The hunter runs down the tunnel and casts Misdirection before losing line-of-sight on the tank. The hunter runs to Sepethrea, drops an Aimed Shot on her. She aggros the tank and takes off for him while the hunter just runs beside her. Sepethrea's elementals spawn but they are super slow. By the time they reach her side your party will have killed the boss and those elementals will simply disappear.
Shadow Lab, Blackheart the Inciter. He finishes a mind control session and has randomly aggro'd the healer. The hunter casts Misdirection, loads an Aimed Shot, crits for 3000 and Blackheart runs across the room at the tank. The tank holds him nicely so DPS and healing commences.
Shadow Lab again. The third boss, Grandmaster Vorpil. The tank and melee DPS are positioned in the corner to the left while the rest of the ranged attackers and healer are on the ledge to the left. The hunter casts Misdirection, drops another 3000 Aimed Shot crit on Vorpil, he boot-scoots over to the corner all by himself and settles in on the tank.
Botanica. Warp Splinter. The tank maneuvers himself just on the edge of the bridge while the rest of the party runs around and behind the boss. The hunter casts Misdirection, cranks an Aimed Shot and Warpy runs right to the tank in perfect position for a straight up Tank and Spank fight.
A bad pull results in a big trash mob on your healer. You send your pet to grab it but Intimidation isn't ready. The Growl isn't strong enough to divert the mobs attention so the hunter casts Misdirection on his pet. Three Steady Shots later your pet is happily off-tanking while you re-target the main DPS mob and burn it down.
You're in a pug and some dude ninjas. And not just an ordinary ninja either as he swipes someone's Dungeon Set Three piece. You privately whisper every other member of the party to move away from the ninja. You cast Misdirection on him and find the nearest trash mob. You Misdirect that thing onto the ninja's sorry ass, watch him die and then kick him and his dirty ninja'd loot from the party and out of the instance.
The Misdirect Ninja-Kick. You all wish you could do that, don't you.
Daniel Howell continues his quest to force all classes to admit "Hunters are the Schiznit" 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]