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Scattered Shots: Leveling a Cataclysm hunter, part 2


Talents

This is what I suggest for a BM leveling talent spec. As always, if there are talents that particularly appeal to you, feel free to move things around. There is no one right way to spec for leveling.

As you gain talents points, just start at the top of the BM tree and work your way down. Any talents that increase the strength or healing ability of your pet are particularly nice for the leveling hunter, as is Pathfinding. Talents that increase your hunter DPS, especially haste-related ones like Focus Fire, are a much lower priority.

Glyphs

You'll get your first glyphs at level 25 and your final glyphs at level 75. In order, here are the glyphs that will be particularly useful for leveling:

Prime glyphs
Even though we're using Kill Command to start every pull, the small focus savings of the glyph doesn't make much of a difference, so it's the last prime glyph we'll pick up. It's great in very long duration fights (boss fights), but for leveling, we're more concerned with the very substantial damage boosts of the other glyphs.

Major glyphs
The Glyph of Misdirection is probably the most powerful major glyph available to a leveling hunter. Alas, we don't actually have access to Misdirection until we're in our 70s, so that glyph needs to wait. Also, once you have access to Bestial Wrath, you'll want to replace Glyph of Freezing Trap with Glyph of Bestial Wrath.

Minor glyphs
Glyph of Mend Pet is a phenomenal quality of life improvement for every hunter. With this glyph, you will no longer need to carry around pet food to keep your pet happy. Instead, you can just hit Mend Pet any time your pet looks a bit low. The other minor glyphs are suitably minor, but both give us some benefit.

Pets

When it comes to leveling, you can really use any pet that you want. After all, as we've learned, your pet is your lifelong companion (well, at least until you start raiding), and you should really pick the buddy whose company you prefer, even if it's not entirely optimal.

That said, a tenacity pet will give you the biggest advantage when leveling. Tenacity pets inherit more armor and health from you, and their talents further enable them to take more punishment than any cunning or ferocity pet ever could. Personally, I'm a big fan of the bear for leveling, because it combines the beefy tenacity advantages with the special ability Demoralizing Roar, which further reduces the damage it takes. A turtle serves a similar function, with Shell Shield offering more burst protection. Both bear and turtle are available at relatively low levels, as well.

If you're on a quest to find the perfect pet for you, I recommend hopping over to Petopia, where you can find listings of every single pet in the game, pictures of what they all look like, and where and at what level you can tame them.

Pet talents

Your pet will get its first talent point at level 20 (which is often when they get their special ability as well) and gain a new talent point every four levels thereafter. Spending talent points for your leveling pet is kind of like brewing beer -- it's half science and half art. You want talents to reduce the damage your pet takes, certainly, but you also want talents to increase your pet's threat (often by increasing its damage), and of course anything that makes your pet move faster is a big time-saver while leveling.

Of course, this typically means that you want every single talent there is. Here is a nice mix that I prefer for my leveling hunters; always feel free to move things around to suit your playstyle.


There's a lot more choice in how to proceed down your pet talent tree than there is with the hunter tree, so here are some general guidelines.
  • Get Charge first. The sooner you start a fight, the sooner it ends.
  • Talents that increase armor are more helpful for soloing than talents that increase health.
  • Get Thunderstomp as soon as you can. It lets your pet tank multiple mobs at once, and it increases threat generation even on single targets.
  • After Thunderstomp, go for Guard Dog for the threat increase.
  • Damage-increasing talents are low on the priority list.
Hunter stats

As a hunter leveling through leather gear and eventually graduating to mail gear at level 40, you'll find plenty of gear that is not made for a hunter. The following are hunter stats that we look for on our gear:
  • agility
  • hit rating
  • crit rating
  • haste rating
  • mastery (eventually)
  • attack power (sometimes found on proc items, like trinkets)
The following are not hunter stats, and their presence on gear usually means that it is not hunter gear:
  • strength
  • intellect
  • expertise
The two hunter stats that you're looking for more than any other are agility and hit rating. When leveling, hit rating is your No. 1 stat up to the hit cap (and often a bit above the hit cap, so you can fight mobs of higher level than you more effectively). You'll usually need 5 percent hit chance to be capped against mobs of your level. Hit rating increases your DPS and increases your pet's DPS and threat more than any other stat. Hit rating can be a tough stat to find when leveling, and as a general rule of thumb, assume that one hit rating is worth two agility or three of any other hunter stat.

Agility is our second most important stat -- and your most important stat if you're just running dungeons and your pet isn't tanking for you. Agility will contribute more to our DPS than any other stat, and you can safely assume that one agility is worth two of any other stat other than hit rating.

Haste is the worst hunter stat when leveling, and avoiding it entirely isn't a bad thing. Haste will increase your auto-shot rate of fire, increase your base focus regen, increase your pet's attack speed and focus regen, and reduce the cast time of your Steady Shot. It sounds like a lot that it's doing, but it does it all in tiny little increments.

When you're leveling, almost everything that you kill will be dying in less than 20 seconds -- often much less. This means that neither your nor your pet will see any of the auto-attack increase from haste. With a base focus regen of about 4 focus/second, even a 20 percent haste rating has virtually no impact, increasing your focus regen by a meager 0.8 focus per second. The best you can really hope for from haste is a slightly shorter Steady Shot cast time -- 20 percent haste will give you a base cast time of 1.67 seconds -- so again, that's saving you maybe a half a second every other pull. You can save a lot more time by putting those points where they'll increase your damage more and enable you to fire fewer shots.

Knowing is half the battle

G.I. Joe taught us that knowing is half the battle. There's a lot of debate about what the other half is. One common theory is that it's lasers; another is genetically-engineered super-squirrels. Whichever theory is right, it's certain that the other half is the implementation of that knowledge.

You now have the foundation of the hunter class -- all the knowledge you need for your leveling process. Now go apply that knowledge, start learning those hunter skills, and find out why the hunter is the greatest class in the game -- so great that the designers actually built nine other classes just to enhance the hunter experience!


Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. We're keeping up with the very latest hunter news with patch 4.0.3 changes, 80-85 leveling, optimizing your pet for leveling, and pre-heroic loot lists.

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