Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.
Playing WoW means dealing with a constant incoming stream of information. Damage and healing numbers, angry floors trying to eat us, buffs and enrages to be dispelled, casts to be interrupted, angry floors trying to burn us, proc notifications and aspect dancing, angry floors trying to suck us into a twilight realm, resource management, and angry floors trying to do every other bad thing imaginable.
But no matter how much information the game throws at us, it's never enough. We want more.
Enter the addon. While the in-game UI is constantly improving in Blizzard's ongoing efforts to improve the hunter experience, there is some information it still doesn't provide. More often, there is important information that the game doesn't provide in an easy-to-assimilate format.
Today we're going to go over some of the basic hunter addons for Cataclysm. As usual, I'm ignoring custom UIs here, since as hunters we don't really need them, and they're very personalized anyway. So join me after the cut for the must-have hunter addons.
This lovely addon is the answer to the wealth of raid buffs that hunters can now provide via our pets. This addon is delightfully simple and easy to use. It places a wee checkmark on your screen, and when you click it you get this little beauty:
This shows all of the possible raid buffs, as well as dispells, interrupts, etc. If it's gray, your raid is missing that buff, and if it's green, it's already there. You can scroll over any buff to get a list of what classes/specs provide the buff, including exactly which hunter pets provide it.
This is the super-easy way of determining what buffs your raid is missing. Then you just have to do a bit of thinking about your raid composition to determine which buff will be best for your group (as always, there is no right answer, no flowchart -- it all depends on your composition and player performance).
Download Raid Checklist.
Power Auras lets you set up customized in-game warnings when certain events occur (or don't).
I'm a huge fan of the Power Auras addon, because it lets me set up warnings for anything I want and make them as loud and intrusive (or not) as I want. Some people set up truly elegant and lovely Power Auras setups -- not me. My Power Auras are giant, pulsing, noisy idiot lights. My theory is that if I actually need them, it's because I'm not paying attention, and if I'm not paying attention, a small yellow dot ain't gonna do it.
As a few examples, I have a Power Aura that displays giant "ASPECT OF THE PACK IS ON" text that pulses while I'm in Pack. I also have large text warning me if I'm in a raid and don't have a flask active. I have one for extreme soloing that warns me if I'm in combat and Mend Pet isn't up on my pet. And of course, I have the standard stuff like symbols for Lock & Load and Aimed Shot proc warnings, complete with explode-y sound effects.
Setting up your Power Auras takes a bit of work, because it's all custom, but you can really make them look, sound, and move like whatever you want. You can also export and import Power Aura strings to share with your friends, though I'm currently waiting on a response to my email to the authors to disable that feature for elves. We don't need them polluting our game experience any more than they already are.
Download Power Auras.
Hunter Focus Bar
This is a draggable focus bar that lets you see where your focus is at without having to look up at the upper left corner of your screen to see when you have enough focus to squeeze in those extra Arcane Shots.
I messed around with a bunch of focus bar addons at the very beginning of Cataclysm and eventually found that I just never actually looked at them once I had my rotations down. Personally, I don't find a whole lot of use in the focus-tracking addons; however, I know a lot of hunters can't live without them, so I'm including Hunter Focus Bar in this list.
Download Hunter Focus Bar.
Recount is your damage meter, and as a DPS class, you should always know how you're performing in boss fights. Recount also lets you track many other valuable stats -- I'm particularly fond of leaving it set to the Damage Taken screen and fighting to be at the bottom of that meter, particularly during high-damage fights.
An alternative to Recount is Skada, which has the advantage of doubling as a threat meter and the disadvantage of being less popular and not synching with everyone else using Recount.
Your basic threat meter, and something you don't need if you're running Skada. Threat meters are a bit less essential than once they were, with the somewhat crude in-game threat warnings and metering.
Threat and the not pulling thereof is so important that I prefer to run with a threat meter. This lets me tell at a glance exactly where all the top threat dealers stand in relation to the tank and lets me know if maybe the tank needs a little bit of extra help.
It also lets me know if I'm in the #2 threat position, which frankly is someplace I never want to be. Accidents happen, and I don't want to be the one the boss munches while the raid recovers from an accident.
Deadly Boss Mods / BigWigs
If you raid, you need some kind of boss mod to warn you exactly when all those horrible boss abilities are about to happen. I don't care which you use, but if you don't have one, you are a bad raider despite your sizzling good looks. Enough said.
Download Deadly Boss Mods.
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter through optimizing for heroics, pre-heroic loot and pre-raid loot, then on to choosing the right spec for the right job and how to "aspect dance" to maximize your DPS, we've got you covered.