Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class.
We hunters are basically an entire party unto ourselves. Our pet is the tank, we're the DPS, and we can split the healing duties between hunter and pet. By focusing on the right talents and gear and glyphs, hunters and pets can be a formidable soloing team, taking on content that was never meant to be done alone. We can solo our way from Molten Core straight through to even Lich King 5-mans.
Soloing content meant for groups or raids comes from the same impulse behind climbing a mountain: we do it because it's there. We do it for the challenge, the excitement, for the glory for the hunter class. And if that isn't enough for you, there's also the allure of legendary items like Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, or rare mount drops like the Swift Zulian Tiger, Midnight, and the Swift White Hawkstrider.
Join me after the cut as we take a look at exactly how you can topple Molen Core to Violet Hold on your own, how you can heal your pet for thousands of heals per second, and become the envy of your guild mates. There's nothing quite as satisfying as polishing off Ragnaros and hearing your friends bemoan how horribly broken you are.
The Extreme Solo Philosophy
Before we get into the details, it's worth covering the basic mechanics of extreme soloing. Different instance and bosses will often require not only different strategies, but sometimes even different talent builds. Keristrasza in the Nexus, for example, I found easiest to just kite to death in my standard MM build.
However in most situations, you're pet will be tanking and sucking up all the damage, while you take almost none. Because of this the only things we care about in most extreme soloing situations are increasing our pet's health, increasing our pet's healing, and decreasing the damage our pet takes.
- We do not care about our pet's threat -- that's why we have Misdirection and Feign Death. If we're still having threat problems, we can just stop shooting.
- We do not care about our mana -- that's why we have Aspect of the Viper.
- And we really don't care that much about our DPS -- after all, as long as our pet lives, the boss will go down eventually. The only reason we care at all about our DPS is that it's related to our pet's healing, as we'll discuss in a moment.
Beast Mastery is the only choice for extreme soloing. No other spec has the wealth of choices, the dedication to the hunter pet, the ability to solo so many bosses and look so good doing it. The Beast Mastery tree has several talents designed specifically to improve your pet's survivability, and we're going to really want the extra four pet talent points that BM gives us access to. Extreme soloing lets us finally take all those odd pet talents that aren't worthwhile for leveling or DPSing.
A typical all-out extreme solo build will look something like this: Extreme Solo Hunter Talents
Here we are doing everything we can to increase our pet's survivability. Let's take a look at a few of the key talents, and some of the optional ones.
- Improved Mend Pet: We really care most about the dispelling part of this talent. You can probably get away with only one rank here for most fights; however, there are fights where you really want both for the increased dispel chance.
- Spirit Bond: This isn't a lot of healing, but it can add up over the duration of the longer extreme solo fights. Keep in mind that this is healing a percentage of you and your pet's max health. Thus the more health you have, the more it will heal with each tick.
- Lethal Shots: The three talent points spent in the marksman tree are pretty much up for grabs and can be spent wherever you think they'll increase your hunter's DPS the most.
- Survivalist: Keep in mind anything that increases our stamina will increase our pet's stamina, which will also slightly increase our pet's heals.
- Hawk Eye: A fantastic talent to have for soloing Molten Core, where you can out-range several boss abilities. However in most other extreme soloing situations, you won't get much use out of it.
The best pet for extreme soloing is the turtle. The turtle brings the powerful Shell Shield ability, that reduces damage taken by a whopping 50% for 12 seconds. Between Shell Shield and the new Cower, we have a lot of ability to deal with spike damage situations. On the other hand, if you're soloing content that isn't that challenging, you'll probably prefer a crocolisk or bear for their better DPS and AOE threat generation.
Our pet's talent build should look something like this: Extreme Solo Pet Talents
As you can see, we're focusing almost exclusively on survivability and healing. Let's take a deeper look at a couple of key talents here.
- Grace of the Mantis: This talent is vital! Any raid boss is considered to be 3 levels above you (or your pet). So even a raid boss in Molten Core is considered to be three levels higher than your pet. This means that it has a 5.6% chance to crit your pet. This talent reduces that chance to 1.6% -- and we'll drop it down to zero later in the gear section.
- Thunderstomp: This is the one talent that we're taking purely for threat generation, because we need some way to generate AOE threat for our poor turtle. Thunderstomp generates 2.5 threat for every 1 damage it deals.
- Roar of Sacrifice: We don't actually care about this talent. We just took it so we could get the phenomenal Wild Hunt on the tier below.
- Silverback: Another key talent for extreme soloing. Keep in mind that this talent heals your pet for a percentage of its max health. That means that the more health your pet has, the more healing he'll get from Silverback.
Our glyphs serve the same purpose as the rest of our choices in extreme soloing -- keep our pet alive. Everything else is second to that.
- Glyph of Mending: This incredible glyph boosts the healing power of our Mend Pet by 40%. Combined with the Blood of the Rhino pet talent and Spirit Bond, our Mend Pet will be ticking for over 2,200 healing on our pet with every tick.
- Glyph of Bestial Wrath: This BM standby glyph is excellent for extreme soloing as well. It can allow both us and our pet to escape from CC (such as, for example, the frost tombs from Keleseth in UK) more often.
- Glyph of Steady Shot: I prefer to go with boosting my Steady Shot damage for my third glyph, though to be honest I often just leave whatever happens to be in my third glyph slot from other specs. I like to think of this as the one glyph you'll be using to boost your damage as much as you can.
For the most part, you do not need a whole lot of specialized gear to do extreme soloing. I remember being proud to get my pet up to 19k health when I first solo'd Nexus (my pet now has well over 30k health when extreme soloing). However your soloing will be much easier the more health your pet has, and there are some key pieces of gear you certainly want if you really want to pursue the extremely challenging bosses (like Golemagg in Molten Core).
Here's a brief extreme soloing gear overview:
- Resilience: You really want to get at least 132 resilience, which will make your pet will be crit immune. Any resilience over that won't make a difference. Note that resilience will reduce your pet's chance to be crit, but will not reduce its damage taken. That part of resilience only works against other players, but the crit reduction works against everything.
- Stamina: Stamina is the most important extreme soloing stat. PVP gear is an excellent source of high stamina gear.
- Rift Stalker tier 5 set: The 2-piece bonus of your tier 5 set heals your pet for 15% of the damage that you do. This is huge for extreme soloing (though not absolutely necessary for most bosses). You can get your t5 set from Tempest Keep or SSC in BC. You'll probably want a group of about 10 people to safely clear those raids.
- Hit Rating: You still wan to be hit-capped when extreme soloing. Not only is it a massive increase to your pet's DPS (since your pet gets expertise with your hit rating) but it also increases your damage done, which in turn can be a healing increase with the Rift Stalker set.
There are a handful of consumables that can make a big impact on the ease of extreme soloing.
- Runescroll of Fortitude: Note that you are double-dipping from this buff. Your pet gets the buff, increasing its stamina. But you also get it, and your pet gains a portion of your stamina.
- Drums of the Wild: More health!
- Drums of Forgotten Kings: More health!
- Spiced Mammoth Treats: More health!
- Mega Mammoth Meal: More health! Note that we prefer this well-fed food over agility food because our pet gains a portion of our attack power.
You now know all the basic tricks to extreme hunter soloing. All that's left is to run out and start killing things that very, very few players out there could kill on their own. The majority of bosses out there are basically just a tank & spank style fight for extreme soloing, but many of them have special tricks and tips involved.
Here are links to a handful of guides and videos on how to hunter solo several bosses:
- Lucifron (Molten Core)
- Magmadar (Molten Core)
- Corehound packs (Molten Core)
- Gehennes (Molten Core)
- Baron Geddon & Garr (Molten Core -- drop the bindings for Thunderfury)
- Shazzrah (Molten Core)
- Sulfuron the Harbinger (Molten Core)
- Golemagg (Molten Core)
- Majordomo Executus (Molten Core)
- Ragnaros the Firelord (Molten Core)
- High Priest Thekal (ZG -- drops the tiger mount)
- Bloodlord Mandokir (ZG -- drops the raptor mount)
- Attumen the Huntsman (Karazhan -- drops the Midnight mount)
- Utgarde Keep
- Violet Hold
You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive dps. Scattered Shots is the WoW.com column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you improve your Heroic DPS, understand the impact of Skill vs. Gear, and get started with Beast Mastery 101.